They is Awkward, But Important
Defying Convention does something I’ve never come across in a book before, though it’s something I’ve wanted—needed—to see. AJ, one of the main characters, is referred to by they/them pronouns throughout. I’d like to explain why that’s so important to me, both as an author and a reader.
Let me start by telling you a brief story. I was at a party for a friend’s birthday not so long ago, and not knowing every person she knows, I was surrounded by strangers. I’m not the world’s greatest social butterfly, but these were cool people and I know this, because something happened that’s only happened a handful of times before in my life: someone asked me what my pronouns were, and then went on to refer to me by them.
Like AJ in Defying Convention, I am a ‘they’. We experience our genders in similar ways, and again, like AJ, under most circumstances people assume I am a cis woman. It genuinely means the world to me when people have the good sense to ask, because I know that people like me—non-binary people—are practically invisible.
Lemme tell you a secret: I know ‘they’ can be awkward to get your mouth (and even your written grammar) around. Believe me when I say, I’m painfully aware of how easy it is to talk yourself into a corner if you’re not accustomed to planning out your sentences before you speak. I also know that people use they singularly without thinking all the time, but the pressure of doing it consciously makes it difficult. I have misgendered my friends and wanted to cut my own tongue out for it.
That’s why it was so important to me not just to write a book about trans characters, but specifically about the kind of trans character who practically doesn’t exist. Danny is lovely and special and there are parts of him you might not see very often in fiction, but AJ’s presence means that there’s a whole book out there that uses they/them/their pronouns throughout. I hope that makes it a little easier for people to use them in real life, because I know how much it means to so many of my friends and siblings.
I mean, the whole book is mostly about two huge dorks getting a happily-ever-after on their own terms after years of pining for one another at a distance, but the gender stuff is important, too!
Danny and AJ have been online friends for years, and secretly in love with each other. When the opportunity to attend a comics convention comes up, they decide to go and share a room. But friendship online does not always translate to friendship offline, and both are anxious about how the meeting will go, and the friendship change, when faced with challenges easily avoided behind the safety of computer screens...
Cecil Wilde resides in Australia, accompanied by a cat who takes up most of the bed, a family of possums in the roof space, and more spiders than they’re entirely comfortable with. They write altogether cuter queer romance than their image as a grumpy cynic might suggest.
You can hang out with them