This week I was so excited to send The Stealth Lovers to my publisher, Renaissance. The manuscript still has to go through the Acquisitions Committee, so I have about three months to wait before I know if they’ll publish it. (Please, please pick me! Pick me!)
The Stealth Lovers is the origin story of Commander Xaxall Knightly and Commander Vivoxx Tirowen, two legendary Draga warriors. Life in the ’Cosm fans know them as Xax and Viv. When I announced last October that I would write their story, I was delighted by readers who expressed their excitement. Their enthusiasm fuelled me to complete this project.
Now, I am cisgender, straight, and female. Why am I writing this story? Well, first because I just love Xax and Viv. They are my heroes, and their relationship is so robust that I wish I could sit with them for hours and learn from them. They are not perfect, but they’re perfect for each other. Second, I alluded to them being military legends through the character Ash Hearth in Life in the ’Cosm, who is totally in awe of them. I felt we needed to know the Draga’s backstory. And third, but in no way less important, I asked my queer buds if I should. (I was met with a resounding yes from all, including Nathan Fréchette from Renaissance!)
I have an interesting life. The vast majority of my buds identify as queer. They took me in and spiritually adopted me at a time when I really needed healing. I love them fiercely. Because of our friendships, I am privy to their opinions, feelings, trials, and joys. One of the things I’ve learned from them is not to fly a ship alone when you are straight and writing queer characters.
So, The Stealth Lovers has already had two sensitivity editors go over the manuscript: My best friend and sensitivity editor Talia Johnson was also there for me while I wrote the first draft, to help me with nuance. One of my favourite authors, S.M. Carrière, graciously agreed to sensitivity edit as well. Most of my beta readers were chosen based on representation, but all of them were chosen because they’re awesome and great critics (my husband validated my military world-building and Jen Desmarais gave great notes on the emotional impact of scenes). One of my close friends and beta readers, prolific and bestselling author Jamieson Wolf, talked me off the ledge many times when I had self doubt. He’s already written a draft of the afterword! I’m so stoked!
Because my actual life is filled with diversity, I think I would hate to write space opera with cis straight white humans. Well, I don’t have any humans in my space operas, so there’s that, too. And it only made sense to me to world-build while taking into account things like gender-amazingfulness and such. Otherwise, I’d lose interest in the story, I think. I’d like readers to see in all the colours when they read my novels.
Anyway, if the book is accepted, in addition to the three editors who’ll take care of typical editty things, listed on the credits page will also be my sensitivity editors. I can’t tell you how much more confident I feel knowing my beta readers and sensitivity editors had my back for this project.
You know, I really can’t imagine not asking people who match the representation in my novels to give me their feedback during the writing process. Truthfully, if they weren’t there, I’d be a huge anxious mess! (Consider yourselves hugged and torpedo-kissed, my lovelies. Thank you so much!)
Now if you’ll excuse me, I will be spending some time trying to distract myself until October.
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s on an adventure to save half the person he loves. Cait is currently working on a prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a military space opera. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors are writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.