By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
KANSAS CITY - Kansas City is known for its barbeque, baseball, and jazz. But the city is also home to some of the most talented writers making their mark in the genre of lesbian fiction, or ‘LesFic.’ Authors Kris Bryant (Whirlwind Romance, Just Say Yes, Taste), Tara Wentz (Traffic Stop, Deception by Design), and C.L. Cattano (Cursed Hearts) are just a few of the local names churning out novels that will surely have readers staying up late to turn the pages.
Liberty Press spoke with the authors about the local LesFic writing community, their own writing styles, and upcoming books readers can look forward to gobbling up next.
Liberty Press: There seems to be a burgeoning community of lesbian fiction writers in the Midwest. How would you describe this community? Do you look to go to each other for guidance and support?
Kris Bryant (KB): We are a small, but fierce group of writers here in the Kansas City area. One of my best friends is K.B. Draper who is an indie writer. We actually became friends because of writing. We schedule monthly writing dates and attend several writing functions together including Golden Crown’s Literary Annual Convention and Women’s Week in Provincetown in Massachusetts. We’ve also done a few radio shows with Elizabeth Andersen, host of The Tenth Voice on KKFI. It’s nice to have another writer who gets the struggles and the rewards of writing. K.B. is very supportive of my writing and is one of my biggest fans, and I, hers.
Tara Wentz (TW): There is isn’t there? There are several publishing companies in this genre, but I like to think we are all in it for the same goal and that we support each other wholeheartedly. I know that here in Kansas City there is a group of us that do things together and work together. Kris Bryant and K.B. Draper are among those. The late Sandra Moran was a big influence for me as far as writing goes. She was always very encouraging. I also want to point out that it’s not just writing either. The support across the board has been fantastic. From the band Radial Red including local authors at some of their events to Elizabeth Andersen and 90.1 KKFI.
C.L. Cattano (CL): There does seem to be a great community of lesbian fiction writers in the Midwest. I think I would describe the community as diverse. Everyone has their unique perspectives and strengths. They also all have their own unique writing styles and voices. There are writers who are in demand for their unabashed talent at writing the most stimulating erotica you can take to those who take their lesbian, GBT, and sometimes straight, characters into more mainstream genres like paranormal, mystery, cozy fiction, fantasy, drama, romance, and even poetry and non-fiction. I would recommend trying anyone whose book seems interesting. You never know, you may end up finding a new favorite Midwestern lesbian author.
Liberty Press: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
KB: The market is saturated with contemporary romance which is my genre. I stand out by writing first person, present tense. I love putting myself inside my character’s thoughts and dreams and telling her story from her point of view. It’s honestly not the preferred writing style by most readers, and trust me, they let me know. But I do love it when a reader reaches out to me to tell me how they never considered reading first person until they read one of my books and loved it. This helps me and future first person, present tense writers. Now, I am writing a book in third person, past tense which is how most books are written. It’s actually not easy for me because I struggle with point of view and forget the rules, but I’m having fun with it. It will take me about five times longer to write it, though, because it’s such a new way to write for me.
TW: I write lesbian fiction and right now I enjoy writing intrigue/drama with a touch of romance. I will eventually branch out, but I like to write what I enjoy reading.
CL: I’ve just recently put myself out there as an independent author. I am big on crossing genres in my books. I like digging my characters, and myself, into holes then figuring a creative way out of the hole. (I’m sure someone is going to make fun of me for saying that.) Sometimes solutions come quickly but there are a few I’m still working on. So far all of my main characters have been lesbian but, when viable, I make a point to have a diverse set of characters populate the worlds I create. They just have to work in the story and I have to feel that I can pull them off honestly and accurately.
Liberty Press: What’s next for you?
KB: Forget Me Not – rel. April 1
Touch – rel. Nov. 1
Dog Day of Summer – short story written in third person for The Girl Next Door Anthology - rel. June 1
Shameless – rel. June 1 – written under the pen name Brit Ryder – my first erotica. I chose a pen name because I want my readers to know it’s me, but it’s a different kind of book. It’s not a sweet romance with love scenes – it’s about sex.
TW: I just submitted another short story for another Sapphire anthology and I’m waiting to hear back on that one. I also have two stories that I’m working on and hope to have ready at some point. I would like to step outside my box and try something new and that may be down the road. It will be a challenge and I do love a challenge!
CL: I’m always writing of course, but my next big project is an epic drama that will be released as a serial called Salvaggio’s Light. It mixes intense drama, comedy, romance and lots of twists and turns and cliffhangers to, hopefully, leave the reader wanting more. The first book in the series is Shattered Paradise. The target publishing date for the first book will be March 2017. Get ready to settle into this epic lesbian drama filled with romance, comedy, lust, danger, thrills, regret, tragedy, suspense, and the power of love. l