Hello everyone! It’s been a while since we really posted something on the blog (personal things got in the way and needed our attention) but we hope to have more new reviews, interviews and more soon!
But now back to why we’re here today: After the Gold from Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae was released today and we’re super excited to have Racheline on the blog today to talk about writing their bisexual heroine.
The world of competitive figure skating is – especially when it comes to pairs and ice dance – is often a deeply heteronormative one. On the ice, pairs skaters and ice dancers almost exclusively tell stories of M/F romance (the most notable current exception being the Shibutani siblings, who won bronze in PyeongChang). Male skaters who are openly gay have long-faced scores that seem lower than their skills and artistic presentations merit. Meanwhile, female skaters – formally referred to as ladies by all relevant sports bodies – are often critiqued for being too muscular looking or otherwise not feminine enough; additionally they were not allowed to wear bodysuits without a skirt in competition until 2006.
Basically, the concept of non-cishet identities doesn’t exist officially in the world of competitive figure skating, and it can be a big deal when skaters deviate from heteronormativity in even the minutest ways. Short hair on a lady? A pairs narrative that doesn’t place the male skater as sexually and romantically dominant? A male skater who embraces fun, colorful costuming? All tiny things that can be a very big deal.
Despite this, just like any other endeavor, competitive skating is a world full of QUILTBAG people. Statistically, we must assume this goes far beyond high-profile out athletes like Adam Rippon, Johnny Weir, Brian Boitano, and Rudy Galindo – not all of whom were out during their competitive careers. We must also assume that the number of women in the highest levels of competitive figure skating who identify as something other than cis and straight must be greater than one; Fumie Suguri who won a silver at the World Championships in Calgary in 2006 came out as bisexual in 2014, long after she was no longer competing – if there are others, I haven’t heard about them.
As Erin and I started to write After the Gold with all of this in mind, we very quickly realized that while this was a book about a world we weren’t in, it still needed to look and feel like the world as we knew it. Which meant it didn’t just need to include queerness, but that queerness needed to be present as pervasive, ordinary, and common.
Deciding our heroine, Katie, was bisexual and had romantic history with men and women was easy. Realizing she struggled with an anxiety disorder was a natural outgrowth of that; not only are bisexual people more likely to report experiencing anxiety than their lesbian, gay, or straight peers, Erin and I are both AFAB bi people with anxiety. We were more than happy to have Katie on our team.
It was also important to us that Katie’s queerness was neither isolated nor challenged. That meant including her being matter-of-fact about her attractions, making sure she wasn’t the only QUILTBAG character in the narrative, and including scenes in which attraction to more than one gender was something characters could easily acknowledge or consider even when they weren’t examining their own identities.
People who have never been a bi+, pan, ace, and/or trans person in a relationship perceived as being cishet may not get how an M/F romance belongs in the QUILTBAG bucket. But After the Gold is, we hope and believe, informed by a fundamentally queer worldview encompassing desire, gender roles and expectations, and the joy of limitless possibility.
For over a decade, world-champion ice skaters Katie Nowaki and Brendan Reid have been partners in every way but one. But now that their electric on-ice chemistry has led them to Olympic gold, they’re retiring from competition.
As they cross America on an exhibition tour with their fellow athletes, Katie and Brendan’s always volatile relationship becomes more turbulent than ever as they face down the media, their fans, and their increasingly nosy teammates.
When Katie realizes she wants to go back to the farm she grew up on, leaving Brendan behind in the city where they trained, their fairy tale seems destined to end.
But will Brendan be able to convince her to trust him with the off-ice intimacy that only spelled disaster in their past?
Erin McRae is a queer writer based in New York and Washington, DC. She is a researcher, statistician, and novelist.
She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada) and a master’s degree in International Affairs from American University (Washington, DC).
Together with Racheline Maltese she founded Avian30, a literary collective dedicated to stories with magical and sexual realism. She is a hybrid author. She and Racheline Maltese have self-published titles (A Queen From the North, 2017; The Art of Three, 2017, and the Love in Los Angeles series, which was originally published by Torquere Press in 2014 and is being re-released in 2017). They have also published work with Cleis Press (Best Gay Romance, 2015), Dreamspinner (The Love’s Labours series, 2015), Supposed Crimes (Young Love Old Hearts, 2015).
She lives with her spouse and their two cats.
Racheline Maltese can fly a plane, sail a boat, and ride a horse, but has no idea how to drive a car. With Erin McRae she writes romance about fame and public life. She is also a producer and writer on Tremontaine, Serial Box Publishing’s adventure of manners, swordplay, and chocolate that’s a prequel to Ellen Kushner’s gay lit classic, Swordspoint.
Racheline’s training includes a journalism degree from The George Washington University, as well as acting and directing coursework at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School (New York City) and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Sydney, Australia).
Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared in numerous outlets, and she is a regular speaker on pop-culture topics at fan and academic conferences. Racheline also voiced Desire and Delirium in a benefit performance of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman for the CBLDF.