Guest Post by Shira Glassman
Today I’m handing over to Shira Glassman who I ‘met’ through Tumblr, where she runs one of the most interesting blogs on there, and helps me to remember how important it is to make sure there are always interesting women in my stories. When you’re writing m/m it’s sometimes easy to forget the girls.
Shira’s debut novel came out two days ago and sounds like a fantastic story for anyone looking for fantasy that concentrates on some of the other letters of the quiltbag – or indeed for anyone looking for fantasy, full stop. So without any further chat from me, here we go…
Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.
Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.
One of my main points of inspiration for this novel was the often-used trope character of the straight, cisgender woman dressed in men’s clothing to further her career in a male-dominated profession. Plenty of women have felt the need to do this throughout history, but they weren’t all straight as arrows the way they are in fiction. If there is a romance with another woman at all in these fairytales it’s a heterosexual one that falls apart when the other woman realizes what she’s got there is a sham man. As a young bisexual woman, I always wondered about those other women. What if one of them had been gay or bisexual herself? I wanted to see what it would look like if the fairy-tale trope of the female soldier posing as a man to boost her warrior credibility came face to face with a real live lesbian, for once, instead of just an adoring straight damsel.
I also wanted to give voice to the idea that it’s not just “rescuing yourself” that could flavor fairy tales with feminism, because sometimes everyone needs a little rescuing, but also rescuing each other. That, at the heart, is one of the most moving definitions of friendship.
The Second Mango is about two very different women, each alone in their own way, who come together during a search for love, family, and strength. It’s set against a backdrop of tropical beauty and Jewish culture, and contains all the elements of a good fantasy — swordfighting, a dragon, magic potions, wizards, curses, and adventure. As a side note, I’m also really pleased with the fact that the male half of the hetero couple — Rivka’s love interest — is a figure I never get to read about in a romantic context–a beefy older hunk with a goatee, if that’s anyone’s poison.
I’d be happy to answer any questions about it, or you can just read an excerpt on the publisher’s website. I hope you’re intrigued, and can join in me “in a lush tropical land of agricultural riches and shining white buildings…”