Trans Historical Romance and The Doctor’s Discretion

The Doctor’s Discretion comes out today. It’s my first historical romance and it features a trans hero as well as an interracial couple in 1830s New York City.

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About midway through 2016 I started reading nothing but historical romance.

I just needed an escape from the increasingly grim day to day realities of being a queer, trans person living in the US. For me, historical romance was that escape.

I love historical romance. It was some of the first romance I read back before I considered myself a romance reader. I love author’s depictions of historical periods, the hurdles the main characters must overcome to be together, the happy endings.

I went through Audible, since I was listening mostly to audiobooks at the time, and bought every historical romance I could get my hands on.

I listened to classic m/f historical romance with handsome dukes and women of noble birth down on their luck. And I listened to every queer historical romance Audible had: books by Ava March, KJ Charles, Cat Sebastian and Bonnie Dee. 

There was, however, a serious lack of trans characters in historical romance. Not just in audiobook too but in the subgenre in general. While I managed to track down a couple, historical romance as a whole was just really cis dominated.

I have written books in the past with trans characters and historically inspired settings but they’ve always had a fantasy twist. The same is true for other trans romances I knew of.

But I was craving actual historicals with lots and lots of swoony romance, adventure, and improbable life choices.   

I considered writing one myself but historical romance as a subgenre intimidated me. It’s such a well-established branch of romance with well-loved tropes that feel like they haven’t changed in fifty plus years. On top of that when you write speculative fiction you pretty much make stuff up and when you write contemporary you can always fall back on your own life experience. When you write historical romance though you kind of have to actually know what you’re talking about and that intimidated me.

In the fall of 2016, I went to Read with Pride Northwest (previously called Gay Romance Northwest Meetup.) There I mentioned in passing wanting swoony, trans historical romance. The idea was immediately met with excitement from people attending. Trans readers told me stories similar to my own about growing up reading historical romance, like those written by Georgette Heyer, wishing that they could read historical romance with trans dukes and ladies in them too.

That really sold me on it. This needed to be something I did.

I dusted off some old story notes I’d made years before and started writing The Doctor’s Discretion.

Although Regency is my favorite kind of historical romance I am not well enough versed in British history to feel comfortable writing about it.

So I set the book in the United States, in New York City, a historical setting I know very well. I still wanted to give it that early 19th-century feeling so I set it in 1831 and the rest kind of unraveled from there.

The Doctor’s Discretion has a trans hero, lots of adventure in the seedier parts of 19th New York City, spies, one of the most adorable love interests of all time, and hot bathtub sex.

 

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art based on the Doctor’s Discretion by the amazing Arden Powell

 

I am really pleased with how my first historical romance turned out.

Buy it: 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

Apple iBooks

Kobo

I fanboy over the cover for Documenting Light

Documenting Light coverI love the cover for my upcoming release Documenting Light.

For me, it embodies so much of what the book is about. The central photograph is a tintype taken by artist Nathan Pearce. The border is actually the backing from a cabinet card, another common 19th century photograph type. This references both the actual 19th century photograph that the main characters’ discover but also some of the main themes of the book. Historical photography is important to this project in that it is ephemera, which embodies a person for a single moment in time.  They are a documentation of intimacy between the people being photographed, the photographed and the photographer, and the photographed and the viewer. They are also fragile, easily lost, damaged or misidentified. In this way, they can stand in for queer or trans history itself both intimate in the way it connects us to the past but too often fragmented, lost and erased.

Obviously also the central photograph itself is amazing. Pearce did a whole set of photographs with these models and they are all tender, beautiful and vulnerable. I really hope we can share more of them. This beautiful sweetness really expresses Greyson and Wyatt’s struggle to trust and be emotionally vulnerable with each other and themselves through the book.

I could talk forever about this cover but suffice it to say I love how it turned out and I can not wait for the book to finally be released.

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