Today, I welcome Chace Verity to Queering Up Your Bookshelf to talk about the importance of explicit and specific queer representation in speculative fiction, inspiration from fanfic, and how an important part of the writing process is always to “think about the tiddies.”
Chace Verity (she/they) is publishing queer as heck stories with a strong romantic focus, although friendships and found families are important too. Chace prefers to write fantasy but dabbles in contemporary and historical fiction as well. As an American citizen & Canadian permanent resident, Chace will probably never call a gallon of milk a “four-litre.”
Find Chace online:
1. What is your writing origin story?
I don’t overly know. I know that I was in love with books before I could really read. I know the adults in my life couldn’t understand what I was non-stop babbling about. I know I was penning stories as soon as I could write.
In my memories, I can see the first “book” I wrote in preschool with a fifth grader at my side. I can see the first AOL chatroom I discovered filled with kids roleplaying. I can see my first website where I posted fanfiction. I can see the look of horror on a trusted adult’s face the first time I confessed I was writing a story about lesbians. I can see the first time I “finished” NaNoWriMo while sitting in the room where my grandfather would pass hours later. I can see the first award I got in college for a short story contest. I can see the first time a publisher accepted my submission. I can see the first tweet someone made about being excited for my debut novella.
Storytelling has always been a part of me. I often wonder when was the first time I decided to take writing seriously, but I think it’s always been serious. Just because I was a kid doesn’t mean I wasn’t crushed when people mocked my stories. Just because I was a kid doesn’t mean I lacked passion.
2. What inspires your writing and how do you keep that inspiration alive?
I like writing. It’s easy to keep doing something I genuinely like doing.
What I don’t like is trying to figure out which of my writer friends are real friends and which ones just think I’m a tool for their success, submitting stories that are my lived truth and being told it’s too unrealistic, promoting my books on social media and websites, coming up with back-of-cover copies/blurbs, trying to understand the new updates to programs I use for writing, and doing my taxes.
There are so many non-writing parts of writing that I didn’t cover up there. I think a lot of us get burned out by those instead of the actual act of writing itself. I get bogged down by the non-writing parts so often. Venting to my trusted friends helps. Taking a break helps. Reading my old stuff and remembering why I’m writing helps.
3. What does representation mean to you and how does it feature in your writing?
When I turned fourteen, I realized I was attracted to more than one gender. I started craving those kinds of stories with people like me. I started writing them.
I buy books now solely for the rep - both rep that aligns with my identities and rep for everyone with a marginalized background. I buy indie frequently since indie authors are more likely to tell me what kind of characters are in their books. I don’t know what the plot is sometimes. My hungry brain just sees “aromantic neurodiverse Thai unicorn tamer” and I’m like, “yes, thank u.” (Before I get anyone’s hopes up, I don’t know of any books with an aromantic neurodiverse Thai unicorn tamer. But if you have one, please send me your buy link.)
I make the representation in my books as clear as possible. I think it’s important for my readers to know there are queer folks, people of color, disabled people, and mentally ill characters in my SFF as well as in my historicals/contemporaries. I use modern queer terms in SFF to help signal who a character is for the reader. The first time I saw a reader excited to see the word “nonbinary” in My Heart Is Ready (which, incidentally, is now free forever), I knew I had found what worked best for me.
On the issue of queerness specifically, if I don’t explicitly state a character’s sexuality or gender, it’s usually because the character hasn’t told me. If a reader reads a character in a specific way, they probably saw something I didn’t see. I always hope that however a reader headcanons a character, it will help the reader feel validated.
4. What are some of your favorite tropes (or ways to subvert them)?
I love found families in books across all genres. Mentor/mentee relationships, people from broken homes finding a healing reflection in other people from broken homes, lifelong friends realizing they would commit sins for each other, big bad villain accidentally adopting a cute little homeless kid, etc. I can’t get enough of it.
In one of my upcoming books, the first love confession is not a romantic one. It is from one person to another as they realize they had found a family. It makes me cry when I think about it.
5. What is your writing process?
- Get a plot bunny
- Let the idea percolate forever
- Maybe outline? Maybe write a back-cover-copy?
- E-mail my CPs, asking if it’s a bad idea
- Think about the tiddies involved if there are any and get thirsty (there are always tiddies; I have sodium bicarbonate desires)
- Draft!!! Sometimes in a few weeks and sometimes in a few years
- Always Be Working On Multiple Projects. There Is Never Just One.
- Work with my CPs on revision plans, revise, revise, revise
- Take frequent breaks from writing, often because my other job needs me to “show up” and “actually earn the paycheck”
- Get a plot bunny and start the process over
6. What is your best piece of writing advice?
Don’t surround yourself with people who won’t let you shine. There are a lot of people who will never be impressed with you for writing 100 words, writing 50k, publishing a short story, hitting the NYT best-selling lists, getting a movie adaptation, etc. Those people are always going to be like “is that it?” or “well, I did this” or “you better enjoy it while it lasts” or...well, I think you know what I mean.
Each of your victories should be celebrated. It’s hard to outline a story, figure out why your villain isn’t villainous enough, send queries, ask people to buy your book, etc. This is a world that doesn’t reward writers for being writers, especially those with marginalizations.
If you did something today in the name of writing, you are amazing. You don’t need someone to tell you that you are less than anything less than a glowing ray of sun.
7. What is the hardest lesson you learned while writing?
The events that led to my response for the above question.
8. What do you hope readers will take away from your work?
Even if they don’t find a character exactly like them, I hope readers will see they are welcomed in the worlds I craft across all genres.
9. What is a great queer book you have read recently?
Shelby Eileen’s Goddess of the Hunt is a breathtaking collection of poems centered around an aromantic and asexual Artemis.
10. What are you currently working on? What’s next for you?
When this interview comes out, my 1920s historical m/m novelette, Lucky Charm, will have just been released! Deaf protagonist, swindling childhood best friend, petty heists… I love writing historical fiction from the first half of the 20th century, but I haven’t gotten much of a chance to publish them yet.
May is going to be a contemporary month for me with my m/m novella Team Phison Forever’s release and a cis m/trans f short romance called “The Blundering Billionaire” in the Rogue Ever After anthology.
Later this summer, I plan to release a taboo fantasy romance I wrote last year. The center romance is an enby/f/f triad with a m/m side couple and an aromantic allosexual trans deuteragonist. The villain is queer, too, which I don’t often write because we too often see the only queer rep in media being the bad person. But if everyone else in a book is queer, it’s okay to write queer villains, yes? I guess that’s a topic for a different day.
Once I get that amazing trashy story released, I plan to return to my Absolutes series. The Absolutes are taking a tiny break for now, but it’s the fantasy series I am most passionate about. The prequel novella, My Heart Is Ready, is free to read!
As always, I’ve got other projects going on. Some need more time than others. They’re all diverse and mean so much to me. I hope they will touch other people’s hearts too.