When I was nine, my family moved from New Zealand to Singapore. I attended two International schools in Singapore, and American and a British school. At both schools, my sister and I were the only New Zealand students. My classmates were from mostly from the UK, America, Australia. Somehow, I got the impression that kiwis were less important, that all the important events happened to or were made by other people. There was no place in this world for an awkward kid from Upper Moutere.
One lunchtime, I wandered into the Overseas Family School library and picked up a book from the shelf. It was The Changeover by Margaret Mahy and it changed my life. The Changeover told the story of Laura Chant, a girl with woolly brown hair and a dysfunctional family. As a girl with woolly brown hair and a dysfunctional family, I immediately related to Laura. But then something amazing happened. As I read down the very first page, I realised I was reading about a New Zealander. Seeing someone like me in a book was the recognition I hadn't even known I was missing. I was no longer alone. For the first time since leaving New Zealand, I felt accepted. More than that, I felt that maybe, just like Laura, I could be the sort of person that stories happened to.
I wanted to be a writer even before discovering The Changeover. At first I wrote fanfic, finding an instant home in the slash fandoms. At the time, I didn't think too hard about why this was, or why reading and writing stories about same sex couples finding acceptance and love meant so much to me. In retrospect it was obvious that I was searching for something that I was lacking. I grew up in a very Christian household where same sex attraction wasn't talked about at all. I knew there was something different about me, that I was not exactly straight. But I wasn't yet ready to ask myself why.
I stopped writing fanfic and decided I was going to write 'a real book.' I decided I wanted to write gay fiction so that people from all sorts of backgrounds could see themselves in stories, just like I'd found myself in The Changeover. It sounded nice and at the time it felt true. But as I wrote and as my characters challenged each other and found their truths, I discovered that as much as I enjoyed writing gay romance, that I felt a need to explore experiences and write characters with truths closer to my own. I realised that it was time for me to embrace and explore my truth.
I no longer consider myself an M/M romance author. Instead I write LGBTQ+ fiction, stories that reflect the many and varied experiences of our vibrant rainbow community. Whether I'm writing gothic mystery, mythological fantasy or paranormal romance, at the heart of my writing is my belief that love is owning our individual truths and accepting ourselves in all our ugly beauty.
Thank you for reading and for joining me on this journey. I am honoured to have you with me.
Lots of love,