As we celebrate the month of June as Pride Month, it's with delight that I get real with some of our 'own voice' authors in the LGBTQ+ genre. An 'own voice' author is considered to be someone who writes characters from a marginalized group of which the author is also a part. These voices are important in the LGBTQ+ readership space as they afford individuals the opportunity to be their own narrative voice. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of one of Reese's books.
Today we get to know a little bit more about 'Own Voice' author Reese Morrison.
Gianni: Hi Reese, welcome to Writing With Pride. It is awesome to have you as our first #ownvoice author for Pride Month. Which three words would someone who know you quite well use to describe you?
Reese: I want to say low-key and focused, which sound like opposites, but it’s true. I’m pretty low-key about most things, but when I’m working on something I really zone in. For a third one… outgoing, maybe? I love being around people.
Gianni: What are your preferred pronouns and can you explain briefly for anyone who might not understand what using correct pronouns mean to you?
Reese: I identify as genderqueer and I use they/them pronouns. I know this sounds unusual to a lot of people, but grammatically, English speakers do it all the time when they don’t know someone’s gender. For example, “we’re hiring a new employee and when they get here, this will be their desk.”
The funny thing about English is that it’s almost impossible to talk about someone without using pronouns. (In other languages it’s literally impossible not to gender someone, though sign language is blessedly free of all that!) I introduce myself with my pronouns right away because within a few sentences someone’s going to need to use them. So it’s less about sharing my whole gender identity and more about being practical.
When people use my preferred pronouns, it tells me that they see me. I don’t feel like a woman and I never have. Trying to wear dresses made me feel uncomfortable and awkward, and I was delighted when I found a label and identity to explain why that was. I also have no desire to be a man, which comes with another set of behaviors and expectations that I don’t feel comfortable with. I feel best about myself when I look and think of myself as someone at about a midpoint between male and female, and it means a lot to me when people recognize that in conversation.
I never get upset when someone forgets--I know it’s a bit different, and sometimes I mess up pronouns for other people too. When someone consistently forgets, though, it hurts, like they don’t respect me enough to remember or trust my own sense of myself.
Gianni: What is the most listened to song on your playlist?
Reese: I have really long playlists so it’s hard to pick just one, but I’m kind of obsessed with this Tiwanese-American singer-songwriter Vienna Teng. Y’all should check her out.
Gianni: I definitely will. What's your favorite TV series?
Reese: I’m such a book junkie that I don’t watch much TV. But I really enjoyed some of the earlier seasons of Doctor Who (while it was campy and creative instead of creepy).
Gianni: I can so relate. I find it a chore to watch TV, but I try to make myself these last days. Which movie/TV series would you recommend to someone for great queer representation?
Reese: For TV shows, I might have to ask my partner and get back to you. =)
Two movies that I always recommend to people are “Latter Days,” which is about a Mormon young man coming to terms with being gay. It’s beautifully written, directed, and acted, and really intense. For fun, I recommend “Make the Yuletide Gay.” I’m Jewish, and this has become part of our annual tradition of movie watching and eating Chinese food on Christmas day.
Gianni: I might have asked that question just to get some recommendations to add to my list, lol. You mentioned in your author bio that you are genderqueer, can you explain what this means?
Reese: I think I mostly covered this above. =) But I’ll mention here that I’m really excited to be getting “top surgery” soon, which will make my chest look more masculine, and my body overall look more androgynous, so that my outsides correspond more to my inside sense of self. I’ve been waiting to do this for over a decade, but I also wanted the experience of birthing and feeding a child from my body. (Mission accomplished!)
Gianni: Go you! Wishing you all the best with your surgery. You mentioned above that you are a book junkie. What's the last book that you've read?
Reese: I read so many books, so it changes by the day. But right now reading through all of Jordan L. Hawk’s Hexworld books which are amazing. I’m also lucky enough to be reading/editing Amy Bellow’s A Mate for Lu. (She edits my books, too.)
Gianni: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
Reese: It’s still a little weird to think of myself as an author. I just got a doctorate in math/science education, and that’s still my primary passion. I’ve mostly tried writing (before and now) when I felt like I wanted to say something to the world. Usually what I want to say is that we need more trans and queer characters!
Gianni: Wow, congrats on completing your dissertation. That's an awesome feat. How would you describe your author brand?
Reese: This is another one that’s been evolving. I started writing romance because I wanted to see more trans* characters, and figured I’d better write them! All of my books have trans, genderqueer, and/or gender non-conforming characters, and usually they have a range of other identities and backgrounds, too.
Beyond that, I wanted to write books about characters that look like the people in my life. I find that a lot of books (in MM romance and in general) either contain only white, young, able-bodied, English-speaking, cis-gendered (that’s the opposite of transgendered), middle class, slim, attractive, Christian, etc. characters or the characters have just one “identity” that’s kind of a focus. In the real world, people have multiple identities and intersectionalities between those identities; it’s important to me to have that represented in books. There’s such beauty in different ways of being in the world, and I want to highlight those.
I also just love writing kink. Partially because I have submissive tendencies, but mostly because I love the intensity of interactions and the endless creativity.
Gianni: I know which character of yours is my favorite. And I'm (im)patiently waiting for his book. Do you have a favorite of your characters? Who and Why?
Reese: Hehe. I had no idea that Zhong would be such a hit! I’m also waiting impatiently for his book, which I suppose means I’ll have to write it…
Of all my characters, I’d probably say my favorite is Dakota in Game for You. They’re like me in a lot of ways (though I can’t play darts at all). I would definitely hang out with and/or sleep with and/or want to be them.
Gianni: Now I'm curious and I'm going to have to read that book! What’s one of the most surprising things you’ve learned about yourself from writing your books?
Reese: I’ve learned that I write out of order. I usually like working on a lot of different projects at once, but I didn’t expect to do that within a single book. I’ll write chapter 7, then chapter 2, then work on the ending… I have a lot of chapters that are called things like “Chapter X + 4.”
Gianni: Wow, sounds like you have a system that works for you which is awesome. What's one thing you'd love to see more of in the LGBTQ+ author/reader community?
Reese: I’d like to see more writers writing about a range of identities and expressions, and I’d like to invite readers to seek out those books.
There’s definitely a crowd of readers who are queer and want to see themselves reflected in the books they read. There’s another crowd of readers who are predominantly straight women reading MM romance, and for them this is more of a window into another culture. With that in mind, I encourage both readers and writers to broaden your horizons a little bit and consider books whose characters represent a whole range of identities.
Gianni: And final question before you go, what’s the title of the most recent book you’ve released and tell us briefly what it is about.
Reese: There are two!
Love Lessons is about an outgoing but emotionally-reserved sub who offers to train a nervous new Dom. I got about half-way through writing it when I realized that the sub was meant to be a middle, and the Dom was his Daddy. I had fun writing all of the kink, but I mostly love this book because I got to write a genderfluid character (the sub goes by Landon and Lena, depending on the day) and all of the main characters communicate mostly in American Sign Language. It’s been a unique challenge to represent the beauty of a language that doesn’t have a written equivalent, and I’ve done my best. You can get Love Lessons here.
I also just put out a short story called My Kraken with a shape-shifting sea monster for a tentacle giveaway. (Hee hee!) I had a blast researching squids, and writing kinky scenes with tentacles. It’s a cute story about an enthusiastic chatterbox and a grumpy quiet one finding each other. Now I’m expanding it into a longer book (with a trans-omega wolf side character) that’ll be out soon.
Gianni: Thanks so much, Reese for discussing your Writing with Pride. We'll definitely have to catch up some time again. All the best in your endeavors.
There you have it. Our interview with genderqueer author Reese Morrison.
To win a copy of any book from Reese's backlist, check out Reese's books and comment here or in my Facebook group Gianni's Gems the title you'd like to read.
You can connect with Reese in the following places...
Facebook: Reese’s Rebels
Amazon: Reese Morrison Author Page
Our next Own Voice author comes to you on Monday June 8th! Stick around to find out who's Writing With Pride!
Until next time, keep shining like the gems you are.