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Queer Crime Fiction: A Roundtable Discussion

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I have discovered the secret to making a great roundtable: Alex Segura. If Alex is involved, or I get interested in a book by someone Alex has introduced me to, it’s a breeze to fill our imaginary table. This time I wanted to focus on the positives and negatives LGBTQ+  writers face. I’ve been thinking about it ever since we did the sex roundtable: if we rarely see any vanilla sex, then all of the other flavors are probably not being served either.

Anyway, this came about because of PJ Vernon’s excellent new thriller, Bath Haus, and his enthusiastic participation at the aforementioned sex roundtable where he was suggested to me by…Alex Segura! The rest of our distinguished panel: Mette Harrison, who writes the Linda Waldhiem series of Mormon mysteries and is currently at work on a new series with an asexual protagonist; Mette identifies as agender; Greg Herren, a gay crime writer whose series protagonist in in a throuple; the aforementioned gay male writer P.J. Vernon; and Robyn Gigl, a trans lawyer whose series debut featuring a trans lawyer was published earlier this year. We also had the talented Cheryl Head, who writes the Charlie Mack Motown mysteries featuring a queer African-American detective; Kelly J. Ford, whose coming-of-age in the deep south novel Cottonmouth is a stunner; and Eddy Boudel Tan, a queer Asian Canadian author who writes fiction with undercurrents of mystery.

For more on our panelists, check out their recent books:

Mette Harrison: The Prodigal Daughter (2021)

Greg Herren: Bury Me In Shadows (2021)

P.J. Vernon: Bath Haus (2021)

Robyn Gigl: By Way of Sorrow (2021)

Cheryl Head: Find Me When I’m Lost (2020)

Kelly J. Ford: Cottonmouths (2017)

Eddy Boudel: After Elias (2020)



“P.J. is like a queer Raymond”


Mette Harrison: Hi

Robyn Gigl: Hi

Eddy Boudel Tan: Hello! :wave::s

Lisa Levy: Hi earlybirds!

Greg Herren: hey

Kelly J. Ford: Hello!

P. J. Vernon: Hayyyyyy y’all!!

Lisa: Hi PJ!

Eddy : HEY PJ!!!!!!


Cheryl Head: Hi all!

P. J.: Maybe we should do intros because I don’t know if I’ve had the pleasure of meeting everyone!

Eddy: Hi everyone! I’m Eddy from beautiful Vancouver. I’m the author of AFTER ELIAS and the forthcoming THE REBELLIOUS TIDE.

Lisa: Eddy is our token Canadian.

Eddy: And yes, EVERYONE knows PJ (Mr. Popular)

P. J.: God I love After Elias so damn much!!! I’m PJ author of Bath Haus!

Cheryl: Hi Eddy. Hope to get to Vancouver one day.

Kelly : Everyone knows PJ!

Robyn: I’m Robyn Gigl from NJ – author of BY WAY OF SORROW.

Lisa: He’s like a queer Raymond?

Robyn: LOL

Eddy: I love being joined by two adopted Canadians!

Mette Harrison: I write the Mormon mystery series, The Bishop’s Wife.

Kelly: I’m Kelly, author of Cottonmouths (based in Arkansas, where I’m from)

Lisa: I am dying to read your book, Kelly. Alex Segura (who also knows everyone) raved about it.

Kelly: Aw, thanks! Appreciate it

Robyn: It’s great – reading it now

P. J.: Mormon mysteries FTW! And yes, COTTONMOUTHS is incredible (and I’m lucky cause I get to read Kelly’s fresh stuff)

Eddy: Cheryl Come on over one day! It’s a beautiful place

Cheryl:  I’m Cheryl Head. I write the Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries set in, guess where, Detroit.

Lisa: Mette writes a series I love, and has a young man come out in the last book.

Cheryl: Oh, and Hi Mette!

Mette: Hi

Eddy: Adding all your books to my TBR

Lisa: Doing these always means my stack of books gets higher!


“I’m writing crime fiction, not romance.”


Lisa: And an opening salvo: Do you think the crime fiction community is welcoming of queer/nonbinary voices? What has your experience been like?

Robyn: I’m a lawyer and trans woman who wrote a legal thriller about – wait for it – a trans lawyer.

Lisa: Write what you know Robyn!

Cheryl: I’ve seen you do a reading from the book, Robyn.  It was great.

Robyn : Thanks Cheryl – I’m trying to react with an emoji and getting nowhere – lol

Mette: I grew up super Mormon and had a very typical Mormon life (5 kids, etc). But in the last ten years, I became first an ally, then when I was diagnosed as high-functioning autistic, became aware of the crossover between queer gender identities and autism. I now identify as agender (or gender agnostic). My experience is almost every space is more welcoming to the LGBTQ+ spectrum than Mormonism.

Cheryl: I don’t think the mainstream crime fiction reading community is particularly welcoming to queer/nonbinary voices. But I think a lot depends on what kind of books you write and how you market them. I haven’t had any blatant shade, however.

Lisa: Interesting, Cheryl

Robyn: I’m new to all of this – March 2021 – so no experience to draw on yet.

Lisa: I ask in part because I’ve been in this racket for seven or eight years and can count the number of queer books on half a finger.

P. J.: My experience has been a mixed bag on the industry side, but readers are what makes the community for me. I’ve been really encouraged by the reception I’ve had from early, broad readership.

Robyn: The queer writing community has been wonderful!

Lisa: I think readers are open to things that publishers shy away from.

P. J.: Turns out they just want a good story — I feel like the problem is sometimes when folks/gatekeepers make assumptions.

P. J.: Agree Robyn!

Lisa: I would like to see more books that have queer characters or storylines.

Greg: I’ve been around for 21 years or so—longer—I started as a reviewer in the queer press. I think right now the general publishing world is more open to queer books and writers than it has been, but there have been booms and busts before.

Lisa: It seems strange to me that so much crime fiction is set in a white straight world. We don’t live in a white straight world, so shouldn’t books reflect this truth?

Eddy: It’s hard for me to say whether the crime fiction community is welcoming of queer/non-binary voices because I’m so new to it myself, but I suspect it reflects many other areas of publishing in that there is a strong queer literary community that often feels distinct from its non-queer counterparts.

Lisa: So you all feel like you are in a queer community of writers, but not necessarily crime writers?

Cheryl: In particular readers seem reluctant to try a book if it’s labeled lesfic. My publisher (an indie) specializes in queer fiction, and it’s been difficult for me to break out of the label.  My protagonist is lesbian/bisexual, but there isn’t a lot of specific sex scenes. Each book in the series has less emphasis on the queer aspects of the character and you just see Charlie living her life with her partner, Mandy, and their dog. I’m writing crime fiction, not romance.

Kelly: Agreed that the queer writing community is incredibly welcoming. When you know one, you seem to know all (that’s how Eddy and I are connected, via PJ). As Cheryl noted, I do think that readers, and maybe publishers, are slightly more reluctant to try lesfic.

Lisa: Romance is actually doing a better job with respect to inclusion than crime fiction is IMHO

Greg: I have been with a traditional New York house but I find that the queer publisher I currently work with is a lot easier to work with.

Lisa: Totally Greg. I think smaller houses are more willing to take risks.

Mette: I’m with an indie publisher and I haven’t had any pushback on queer characters/plots, but my main character is straight.


“There’s often heightened scrutiny with queer elements in a book, as if they need to be justified.”


Greg: A lot of the romance novels centering gay men aren’t written by gay men. But Patricia Nell Warren and Mary Renault were lesbians who wrote about gay men.

Robyn: I have two trans characters, but I want my book to appeal to everyone – so far, not so much.

Cheryl: I have started seeing more books written by straight cis folks writing queer characters. I think it’s trendy right now. Kind of pisses me off, if these characters are only included in a work because it’s trendy.

Lisa: But there are so many lesbians who wrote crime fiction in the 1970s and 1980s. Rita Mae Brown! Sandra Scoppettone!

Mette: But we can’t know if a writer is straight or just straight-appearing. I think sometimes they don’t know yet.

Greg: And Patricia and Ms. Renault were best sellers. There’s an audience out there for these books, but how do you find them? And Cheryl is right—the queer label often scares people off.

Lisa: Absolutely Cheryl I worry that this all might be lip service and then it’s business as usual. #Ownvoices now and forever on pause.

What I would like to see are more books like Bath Haus!

Eddy: My work doesn’t fit neatly into genres—it’s a bit literary, contemporary, mystery, and suspense—and publishing’s hesitance with supporting queer work/voices seems universal to me, across genres. There are more and more queer books breaking out with mainstream success, but I think there’s often heightened scrutiny with queer elements in a book, as if they need to be justified.

Greg: The 1970’s were a very different time, though–it was after Stonewall and there was a big push for queer voices—one of the booms I mentioned. But then the 1980’s came and there was a very conservative pushback on progressive issues. Most gay fiction in the 1980’s—midway on—centered HIV/AIDS.

Lisa: Good point Greg.

There are definitely queer writers who are building writing careers but I think it is harder in crime fiction than in mainstream fiction, or even romance.


The plight of the “bad gay”


Kelly: I think, too, that with a queer audience, as crime writers, we’re often fighting stereotypes that have been in place for queer characters forever in pop culture (bury your gays, for example). So the quest for a HEA can hinder a writer who is more interested in writing the “bad gay.”

Cheryl: Mette, you make a good point. But the same trend of adding a Person of Color into a novel for the sake of “diversity” is at work too. Since diversity is everywhere, I think diverse characters should be included in a realistic manner. But I want the writer to have done their homework on the tone/culture/language/description of that character in a knowledgeable way.

Greg: Another boom came in the 1990’s, but by the turn-of-the-century queer writers were getting dropped right and left. I do think some of the work that’s being done now—especially by the people here—is extraordinary. Cheryl’s books are amazing, and I loved Kelly’s. I am reading Robyn’s now and loving it. And can’t wait to get my hands on PJ’s new one and the others here I’ve not read.

Robyn: The big publishing houses just don’t appear to be friendly to queer stories, crime fiction or otherwise.

Lisa: “Bad Gay” is a good name for a book.

Greg: “Bad Gay” is the story of my life I think.

Kelly: Hahahaha, Greg. That’s why I like you.

Lisa: I think there is some of that Robyn.

P. J.: My hope is that when readers get these titles in their hands, the business case for queer books will be strengthened… and yes “bad gays!” are the fictional best.

Mette: For me, the problem comes more when white people write a MAIN character that is a POC, or tell a story that focuses on stereotypes within the queer community.

P. J. : and by bad I mean… human.

Lisa: Why can we not have bad gays? We have bad everything else.

Eddy: I’m all for bad, messy, terrible gays!

Mette: As long as there are many gay characters, it’s great to have bad gays. But when that’s your only gay character, it can be problematic.

Eddy: But I do think we also need kind, joyful, healthy gays.

Lisa: Make up your mind Eddy.

Greg: When I wrote my first book, I was determined to make the villain a gay man. But the main character was a gay private eye.

P. J.: characters like Elias who give us both are amazing Eddy.

Kelly: Absolutely. We need both.

Eddy : Haha! My point is we need balance and diversity of representation.

Robyn: For me, everyone is dumping on the trans community, I don’t need bad trans characters to reenforce that.

Greg: Ugh, Robyn is so right. There’s been so much damage done to trans people in films and books by using them as villains.

Kelly: Absolutely, Robyn.

Lisa: That makes sense, Robyn. You do want some kind of critical mass.

Mette: I just didn’t want to tell someone else’s story. And I still get pushback from the trans community that my first trans character ends up dead. Which I understand. Trying to work on that in later books.

Lisa: I wonder if this hesitation in publishing is just fear. This is the new will X people read Y books? Like women read men but men don’t read women.

Eddy: I find rep in fiction is often overly binary. Characters are either good or bad. It isn’t that simple in real life, and so it shouldn’t be in our stories.

Robyn: Look trans people are killed all the time, especially trans POC, so I understand it happens. I just want people to avoid tropes.

Mette: I think there’s a heavy bias towards the “other” being the villain in crime stories.

Greg: I always say villains don’t know they’re villains and they should be written that way.

P. J.: I also push back on what is “bad” because it’s always decided through a heteronormative lens. Like am I writing about bed hopping cis-gay men? Yes. But who decided bed hopping is bad in the first place?

Kelly: Give me grey area or give me death! (Just kidding, I just like the way it sounds, ha)

Lisa: Also, as PJ knows, I’m curious as to why there is so little sex of any kind in crime fiction.


Eddy: I love the complexity of morally grey stories and characters, queer or otherwise, which is a truer reflection of the world.

Kelly: Yes to morally grey.

Lisa: And is the classic definition of noir. There are some interesting noirs about closeted gay life. Morally grey=noir

Cheryl: I had a trans character in my third book. A character based on a compilation of the people I know, have worked with, and care about. However, the trans woman dies—quite a heroic death really—and I got criticism for that. I really tried to keep that character alive, but she wouldn’t let me. However, I thought the overall treatment was empathetic, open and realistic. Plus the character’s death changed the other characters in the series.

Greg: My second series character—Scotty—was deliberately written to be promiscuous and to enjoy it. Then again now he’s in a throuple so….even I feel prey to that.

Mette: I tell a story about a Mormon woman who asked why I couldn’t have the villain be a non-Mormon. I was like—that would not be very interesting for the next book in the series. But also—I’m trying to hold up a mirror and show that Mormons can also be bad. This seems difficult for Mormons to accept. They want to believe that they are good and that people like them are good. I think it’s true for most groups.

Lisa: It’s often the position of people who feel underrepresented, Mette.

Greg: I also wrote erotica when I was first starting out with the end result that all of my work—whether there’s sex in it or not—gets dismissed as porn.

Kelly: As Robyn noted, avoid tropes. It’s not my place to tell people what to write, but I do think that any writer who does not belong to the marginalized community they are writing about have a responsibility to that community to not do harm.


“I start with their sex lives, because that tells you so much about who they are.”


Eddy: Why is there such little sex in crime fiction? I’ve never thought about this before

Robyn : Cheryl – I get it, it happens – it’s life. Not being critical of real life stories.

Mette: I agree, no sex seems like an unwritten rule in crime fiction.

Lisa: Oh, we did a whole roundtable on it!

Cheryl: Noir-pure, traditional, noir-doesn’t have a lot of sex. Much more innuendo and maybe a romantic liaison.

Eddy: I can’t wait for BATH HAUS to change all that

Greg: I was on a panel at a “mainstream” literary conference about characters, and I said “I start with their sex lives, because that tells you so much about who they are.” The other crime writers were aghast.

P. J.: Didn’t we evolve storytelling in part to share cautionary tales for survival? I would’ve appreciated all these stories when I was younger and making mistakes left and right. And yes, plz to more healthy/hot/toxic/codependent/stagnant/whatever sex in crime fiction!


“I’ve always read Sherlock as autistic and likely ace.”


Lisa: Agree Cheryl. But the noir protagonist—like the early detectives—feel very queer to me. They live in homosocial worlds.

Cheryl: The rules are certainly changing as we add new voices, and sensibilities, to the crime fiction writing landscape.

Robyn: I just can’t write a good sex scene – that’s the reason for me.

Greg: Well, I stopped writing erotica because it got boring after a while. Just the same old same old!

Lisa: I mean, Holmes and Watson are the OGs of shipping

Eddy: Yes!!

Cheryl: Lisa, they were probably all closeted.

Lisa: Yes, they were. Sometimes it is about sex but there are other reasons why people hide their true selves.

Cheryl: Every time I see Sherlock and Watson wearing their smoking jackets in the parlor on PBS, I go…hmmm.

Greg: ME TOO


Lisa: Greg I worked at an ecumenical Christian magazine and nearly everyone there had worked in porn.

Mette: Idk, I’ve always read Sherlock as autistic and likely ace.

Greg: Ha! My first publications were erotic fiction…

Mette: But probably me reading myself into that.

Kelly: That makes sense to me, Mette.

Greg: It actually does make sense re: Sherlock.

P. J.: Greg — I took an erotica workshop once and holy hell did it help sharpen my ability to write fear and panic!

Lisa: It would be great if the new Sherlock actually took on the reason why Holmes never gets any.

Cheryl: He loves getting brain fucked.


Greg: I recently wrote a gay Sherlock story for an Australian anthology.

Greg: NO sex, tho.

Eddy: I would have loved to see Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law get hot and heavy on Baker St.

Greg: Who wouldn’t?

Mette: I’m working on an autistic, female Holmes series.

Cheryl: That would have been good, Eddy.

Lisa: Awesome! Now I want to edit a book where people take classic crime fiction and queer it.

Eddy: Do it, Lisa!

P. J.: There goes my day Eddy thx bahaha

Lisa: I mean, the investigator in Double Indemnity could easily be a woman.


A Gay Mouse?


Cheryl: I’ve said in public, that I want Walter Mosley’s character, Mouse, to be queer.  That would be SO dangerous.

Greg: I’m writing a gay noir right now, in fact.

P. J. : I could go for a gay Miss Havisham

Eddy: There’s an entire genre of classic literature that was forced to be closeted that could be reborn in today’s somewhat-queer-friendlier world.

Lisa: Huh I never thought that about Mouse but it makes sense.

Robyn: WOW Mouse as a gay man – love it.

Mette: I don’t see a lot of ace representation in any genre right now.I  keep wondering when that will happen.

Cheryl: I mean he’d still be a sociopath though.

Lisa: Why not? We do need more queer protagonists but we also need minor characters who are not straight white cis.

P. J.:  I haven’t either Mette.

Lisa: Second that, I can’t think of any books.

Greg: There is some—but not very much and it’s mostly self-published, I think.

Robyn: But a gay Mouse would be a totally different spin on Easy’s problems with him.

Lisa: When I first started out editing crime fiction pieces I did one on Josh Lanyon. I had no idea he existed until the writer pitched the piece to me.

Greg: There used to be an m/m writing awards—the Rainbows—and I remember people complaining because there wasn’t a category for ace stories, which would mean there would have to be some, right?

Mette: Maybe there are some, but I think there hasn’t really been a breakout yet for wider rep and recognition like there has been for other groups. Ace people aren’t even the villains. Just invisible.

Lisa: I think an ace detective is a great idea.

Cheryl head: Poirot?

Lisa: Queer!

Lisa: Miss Marple—queer!

Greg: I think an ace detective is a great idea, myself.

Lisa: Poe’s Dupin—so queer!

Greg: Nero Wolfe.

Lisa: But Poe’s detective stories are like Conan Doyle—narrated by a man who is a friend but feels like a lover.


“That’s my requisite Ree Dolly is queer reference.”


Mette: There are a lot of female detectives who blur gender lines and might almost seem agender in the right light. Kinsey Millhone, for instance.

Lisa: Interesting. Could be.

Cheryl: All those Scandinavian male crime protagonists seem conflicted.

Lisa: That’s because it’s so damned cold, Cheryl

Cheryl: Ha Ha

Greg: That’s what I was thinking, Lisa

P. J.: Thank you for that Cheryl. I thought I was just heavily projecting

Greg: But I can’t handle cold weather, which is why I live in New Orleans.

Lisa: I agree. Remember, the Scandis ushered in socially conscious crime fiction.

Lisa: I think there could be a queer detective there who breaks the mold.

Lisa: Isn’t Lisbeth Salandar bi?

Greg: I always wonder about foreign language queer crime fiction that never gets translated into English.

Mette: Lisbeth definitely isn’t straight.

Cheryl: Definitely isn’t straight

Lisa: I think there is at least one scene where she goes home with a woman.

Lisa: And her romance or whatever with the journo is so unconvincing.

Kelly: So many of these characters might have been conceived of as queer but were censored/neutered when prepared for publication or mass release (such as with Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone).

Kelly: That’s my requisite Ree Dolly is queer reference.

Lisa: I didn’t know that Kelly!

Lisa: thanks for your service!

Kelly : She’s in love with her best friend.

Eddy: Yes, agreed, Kelly.

Lisa: There is def a queer feeling in Tomato Red.

Greg: Well there was a gay character in Tomato Red.

Greg: The brother.

Lisa: Aha! Thanks, Greg.

Cheryl: The Fall has Gillian Anderson having a liaison with a woman.  I enjoyed that.

Lisa: YES Cheryl that was excellent.

Lisa: It was played really matter-of-fact, too.

Eddy: I suspect it still happens today. There’s so much queer-baiting in mainstream culture and literature, with characters having ambiguous sexuality, which I suppose is corporate America’s way of appeasing everyone.

Lisa: and satisfying no one!


Lisa: Thank you, capitalism!

Lisa: Oh PJ do you miss Alex?

Eddy: YES PJ!!! Let them love each other!!

Greg: Yes. I’ve been watching a lot of Spanish language crime series and they often have queer characters and stories and treat it like it’s no big deal. It’s refreshing.

P. J.: Right. This is the second time I’ve thirsted after Poe specifically here.

Kelly: Ugh to queer baiting.

Eddy: Ambiguous sexuality is great if it’s interrogated and explored

Cheryl: Wow. I’ll have to check out the Spanish-language crime fiction.

Eddy : But it’s usually employed as a gimmick, it seems

Greg: ELITE is amazing, Cheryl.

Kelly: Greg, are you thinking of MONEY HEIST?

Kelly: Shockingly queer friendly. For armed robbers.

Greg: I’ve not watched MONEY HEIST, but there are sooooo many!

Eddy: Side note: PJ — Oscar Isaac is my casting choice for Elias :joy:

P. J. : My and Kelly’s Pitch Wars mentee Lyz Mancini has a fabulous manuscript and its totally fluid and label-less and wonderfully refreshing to read. It felt reflective of real life and I want more of that.

Lisa: Oscar Isaac can play anyone he wants in the movie of my life.

Kelly: Please someone watch MONEY HEIST. I’m begging my fellow Americans and Canadian friends.

P. J.: Ha Eddy!

P. J.: killin’ me!

[In Which I Am Forced to Live Google “otter”]

Cheryl: S.A. Cosby’s new book has two fathers avenging the deaths of their gay sons. That story is going to be a game changer for crime fiction.

Greg: Some of the actors from MONEY HEIST are in ELITE, Kelly.

P. J.: that book is a fucking work of art!!!

Lisa: YES Cheryl His last book was so good and won a zillion prizes.

Greg: He’s amazing!

Lisa: OK I need to watch Money Heist if I can get it on crappy Canadian TV

Greg: Netflix has it.

P. J.: Not super related, but when I first met S. A. Cosby he was deep in research for Razorblade Tears and we bonded over the fact he knew what an “otter” is lol

Eddy: It’s on Netflix, Lisa!

Lisa: Oh good!

Kelly: thank you for your support. Ha

Lisa: PJ are you making me Google?

Lisa: Is an otter just a wet bear?

P. J.: everyone wait!

P. J.: Lisa is googling otter

Cheryl head: Waiting…

Eddy : A WET BEAR :joy::joy::joy:

Eddy : Awww

Greg: Ha ha ha ha. I suppose this is the time to mention I work as a sexual health counselor?

Lisa: OMG I was RIGHT! It is a small bear.

Cheryl: Yes. Greg.

Eddy: Wet is optional

Lisa: Eddy, not for me

Kelly: The thing is, I just want more queer characters in more facets across the board, good, bad, morally gray. As long as the writer has done the work and isn’t being lazy with characterization and stereotypes, I don’t care who writes it. I want more than coming out and coming of age stories (which I wrote). The rising tide of good queer characterization lifts us all.



Greg: Indeed.

Cheryl: Agreed, Kelly!

Eddy: I very much agree

Kelly: Of course, I’d PREFER that queer authors get the cash and the accolades.

Lisa: PREACH Kelly

Kelly: But I’m also greedy. I’m older. I really can’t read about teenagers having sex anymore. IT FEELS WRONG. :joy:

Greg: OMG yes, Kelly.

Cheryl: But, I do sort of care who writes it, the more I think about it. Like who are all these middle-aged white women writing m/m fiction. I think that’s effed up.

Lisa: Well, then, stick to crime fiction where no one has sex unless they are about to be murdered.

Lisa: I think we’re not there yet, Cheryl. Eventually everyone should write diverse books. But now we need to hear from people who have been silenced or marginalized.

Greg: I’ve always wanted someone to write LOOKING FOR MR. GAYBAR

Eddy: Visibility and normalization are critical for our community. Of course, in terms of principle, these stories should be coming from our community, but the enhanced representation helps us all in the end.

Cheryl: Greg: I think I’ve heard you say that some of those books are pretty good. Right?

Greg: The m/m romances?

Cheryl: Yes.

Eddy: I also think it’s incredibly unhelpful for authors’ sexuality to be policed. Who’s to say that a straight-passing author doesn’t identify as LGBTQ+?

Kelly: #ownvoices will always take precedence for me.

Greg: I did read one that was awful. But I am sure there are good ones and bad ones. It just bothers me because so many of them seem like a het romance and they just turned the woman into a man.

Kelly: Yes, Eddy.

Cheryl: #ownvoices isn’t just a reaction. It’s a way to even the playing field.

Eddy: What’s most important for me is that the rep is accurate and sensitive. That helps all of us, queer authors and readers alike.

Lisa: Let’s start wrapping up. Tell me your vision for queer crime fiction. What do you want to see?

P. J.: Not to mention we have enough barriers to our work without restricting it to characters who don’t share our lived experiences

Greg: I do think that non queers can write queer, but they need to do the work to get it right.

P. J.: everyone else draws from that creative well endlessly

Robyn: I want to see all of us on the best seller list – it means we’ve broken through.

Lisa: Yes Greg. I’m thinking about Brian De Palma and how he is merciless with his queer characters.

P. J.: My vision is that we have these stories because they change and save lives

P. J.: genre fiction does that hands down

Lisa: Gay YA crime fiction? YES YES YES

Greg: I want to see more representation across the board, and bestsellers would be lovely. I am very excited about all the up-and-coming queer writers who are doing amazing work.

Lisa: Not just shipping Harry Potter and Ron the ginger

Mette: I think the main thing I want is more understanding of the different ways to be human, and that all are still human. I struggle with this on autistic/disabled depiction as well as queer depictions.

Cheryl: Queer crime fiction is in the crime and mystery section of the bookstore and not in the LGBTQIA+ shelves.

Robyn: We need to educate the cis straight community to the richness and diversity of our lives.

Greg: What Cheryl said.

Eddy: My vision is that queer themes in crime fiction are explored and expanded, rather than being reduced to over-simplified plot points

Lisa: I love that, Robyn 

Kelly: I would love to see more queer characters across the board, of course. I want the ace characters, the trans characters, the bisexual characters, the poly characters. And not characters who activate the main character who happens to be cishet. There’s been a lot of support from non-queer writers of queer stories of late, and I hope that trend continues.

Lisa: And 100 percent to Cheryl

P. J.: No diversity table! just the crime fiction table


“I’m done writing with the white gaze or straight gaze in mind.”


Greg: I’d also like to see more queer characters of color represented.

Lisa: The change in attitude in my lifetime toward queer people is astonishing. This is a civil rights movement that really made a mark.

P. J.: and its not nearly finished

Lisa: But there is a long way to go in normalizing—or not normalizing—queer people and their relationships.

P. J.: if the most vulnerable folks aren’t safe in the room, none of us are

Cheryl: I’m old and have decided that even though I want to write stories and characters that white /straight readers can learn from, I’m done writing with the white gaze or straight gaze in mind.

Greg: As a sixty-year-old, it still astonished me but we aren’t there yet.

Eddy: We’ve come a long way, but there’s so much work to do still

Lisa: Yes, there is work. But the attitudes young people have are so much more progressive.

Eddy : Cheryl YES. I’ve also made that conscious decision.

Greg: Likewise, until everyone is equal no one is.

Lisa: Nicely put

Lisa: And rock on! Write your characters. Tell your story. We need more of you!

Robyn: Thanks Lisa and everyone

Mette: Thanks!

Greg: Thanks everyone!

Cheryl: Young readers of books will be the ones to make our literature mainstream.  For so many of them diversity and inclusion are not constructs but the way they live their lives. That’s why YA is leap years ahead of crime fiction and most other genres.

Lisa: thanks so much! This has been great. I am going to order some books now…

Cheryl: Thanks, Lisa. Thanks all.

Kelly: Thanks everyone. Lovely to chat with you all. And Eddy and Robyn can’t wait to chat with you for Writer’s Bone!!

P. J.: Thank y’all so much and happy Pride!! We need those YA readers in leadership roles ASAP!

Eddy : Thanks for bringing us together, Lisa. What a fun and thoughtful convo. I’ll have wet bears on my mind for the remainder of the day.

Lisa: I will be rethinking everything I know about Mouse.

P. J.: Bye y’all!!! see everyone around in all the places!!!

View the full article

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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