New Orleans author KD Williamson got a crash course in LGBT+ politics and a tough skin when she started writing lesbian fiction books. Here’s what she’s learned.
Please tell us five unusual or important things about yourself.
I can be blunt. I can be an asshole. I can be silly. I can be sweet. And I try to always be compassionate. This all translates to the characters I create.
How did you come to be an author?
In the tenth grade, my English class had to do a descriptive paper on something we’d done to change us individually the past year. I wrote my paper about rappelling off a sixty-foot tower at a Junior ROTC training camp. When done, we all had to read ours aloud. I read mine and the class, including the teacher, were laughing and expressing shocked excitement. Some fellow classmates stated that they felt they were actually there and my teacher told me I had a talent that I might want to explore. I took her advice later on. As a college student I really got into it. I then discovered fanfic, wrote it, and have been writing ever since.
What is the book/achievement you are proudest of and why?
My first book was called Forever Mine. I was proud of it but it was tentative because I thought it had to be. When I re-wrote my story, Blurred Lines, for publication I was myself. I wrote for me, no matter what readers might say about the character development, the language, and so on. Once I let myself fly that way, the door way was opened to get better and be freer with each project.
What is the one thing you wish you’d been told when you were starting out?
Don’t just sit there with stars in your eyes because you’re being published. Ask questions, lots of questions, so everything that needs your signature is understandable to you.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
Blurred Lines was my baby and I hoped that everyone would see that too and treat it as such. That was my biggest mistake. Thinking this cost me during editing, by assuming everyone would be as attentive to every word as I was, so I didn’t pay enough attention.
Those same views on my book, that is was my baby, also led me to getting hurt by reviews. I learned that no one could treat my baby…babies…as well as I could. So I pay very close attention. I listen. And as for the reviews, I smile with the praise. I take the critical ones under consideration for my next work, and the weird ones, the ones that contradict themselves, and the ones that make no sense, I sometimes find entertainment in them but value as well.
What role does the queer community play in your work? Or the fanfic community or any other community you consider yourself part of?
I would say the queer community sometimes is for and against me. I have some readers who love the stories I have written so far and others who are shockingly offended because some of my characters have been bisexual. This was and still is a shock to my system because LGBT+ means we’re all in this together. I don’t get separatism. Division has done nothing for us, and can you imagine what we could do, what power we’d have, if we were all united together? To me society’s homophobia has trickled down and I’ve seen lesbians spewing the same hateful rhetoric toward individuals in the bisexual and trans community.
As far as fanfic goes, I had a base before I rewrote Blurred Lines and they have been supportive as well as encouraging. They also did their part in helping me toughen up as far as reviews go. They were the first step in strengthening my hide. Goodreads has been the second. (Laughs)
As far as the black community, I haven’t heard a lot from them, and I hope sometime in the future to hear what they have to say. Growing up, I had a tough time and wasn’t seen as “black enough.” To be honest that moniker follows me around to this day. So, while I look forward to future feedback, I am hesitant that I will get more of the same thing and my characters such as Tonya, Shawn, Gerald, and so on will be found wanting.
KD Williamson is the author of Blurred Lines, Crossing Lines and Between the Lines (Cops and Docs Series). She just published Pink with Ylva. KD is also a veteran in the mental health field working with children and their families for over ten ears.
Ylva’s First Steps in Publishing blog series introduces people from all walks of life in the publishing business. Check out our interviews with up-and-coming Australian author Cheyenne Blue, talking about what she’s learned along her writing journeys. Best-selling German author Jae reveals her experience of working full-time as a writer and editor. Also coming in November: Designer Glendon Haddix recalls how he got started, the tools he relies on, and the biggest mistakes cover artists can make. And Ylva publisher Astrid Ohletz lays bare the truth about this stressful but rewarding creative industry. So stay tuned!