What first made me want to interview lesbian fiction author G Benson was the fact that, well, she wrote fiction about women who love women. I dig that. I’m a woman who likes women. (To my wife, who will read this one day: just you, baby. Just you.) And I love reading fiction that reflects my life, the same way other people like to see themselves reflected in the fiction that they read.
But what made me sit up and listen to her words was the very real “bury your gays” uproar that was made more noticeable this year with the death of Lexa from The 100. (We’ll discuss that later.)
So when I got a chance to interview her, I had to do it to find out what else she felt strongly about, and how it reflected in her fiction. Her answers might surprise you.
Welcome, G! Sell us to yourself in a paragraph.
Benson is an Australian currently living in Spain, travelling as often as budget permits and writing as often as possible. Snowboarding is a passion that has led to a lot of humiliating falls, but this is quickly remedied with a beer. She´s been a nurse, a teacher, a nanny, apparently an author, and a backpacker. She wrote All the Little Moments and the recently released Flinging It.
Who do you write for?
Anyone! I write stories about women who love women, but I believe that anyone can read these stories. I try to write for anyone who may want to read stories about women who love women. If you look at movie posters, they´re a sea of white, cis, straight men. I´m working on doing the opposite of that.
Will any of your books turn into a series?
I say no all the time to this question but have recently thought, “But…what about her…”
Ten points if you guess which her.
[Adan’s note: Any guesses, readers? Share them in the comments.]
What kind of research did you do for your latest book, Flinging It?
A weird mix. Cora, one of the protagonists, is in a very unhealthy relationship and I read a lot of material about her situation and the ways it can manifest in victims and the abusers—especially when it comes to the feeling of guilt. I spoke to a lot of people, too. I really wanted to ensure it came across as genuine. I hope it did.
I researched Vietnamese refugees and the issues they can face. I read anything and everything I could on issues faced by trans boys/men, and then focused my research here on things to avoid using as a cis writer, to try and ensure I didn´t use any tropes or negative stereotypes.
I researched names used by first, second, third (etc) generation children of immigrants of various backgrounds living in Australia. I researched the cultures that both of my protagonists came from—Frazer´s background was inspired by a uni friend.
I refreshed my knowledge on birth and all the things that go on there. Frazer is a midwife and I wanted to ensure what I wrote about was accurate—I´m a registered nurse but it´s been years since I studied maternity. The things writers google could be made into a book.
Oh! There´s an amusing moment (again, I hope) in which Frazer tells Cora about something a mother asks for in her birth plan that is…very, hm…how to word it…specific and intimate? And that is something I stumbled across during my research that has actually been requested. So…
Are you working on a new book now?
I am! I´m working on something very new for me: a Young Adult book. I love the genre and remember scouring the shelves for hours to find something when I was younger. I´m really enjoying writing it and hope it´s a good contribution to a genre that needs as much diversity as it can get.
You had a lot to say back in May about the controversial death of Lexa in The 100. Do you believe TV series and books featuring lesbian characters should never end with death, or do you think it’s sometimes truer to the story for a tragic end?
Good can of worms question. Do I think that TV series and books should never end with death? No.
TV series and books are also two very different ideas. TV has almost no LGBT representation. Autostraddle compiled a list and it´s currently at 160 dead women loving women and 29 women loving women who have had a happy ending ever on TV. That´s appalling.
So yeah, I do want to say that for now, they need to stop killing LGBT characters on TV. Just stop. It´s getting old. Scratch that, it´s already old: it´s ancient and decomposing and that trope needs to be shot with a stray bullet. Especially when added to the fact that an LGBT POC is far more likely to die. Or an LGBT character that has just found happiness is brutally killed, leaving behind a devastated and grieving lover, and therefore strengthening the idea that to be an LGBT person is to be inherently unhappy and to have your life end in tragedy.
What message is being sent to LGBT youth?
Books? I think that it´s entirely different. Lesfic is vast and out there. We have many, many stories now. Most with a happy ending. So if a writer has a story they want to tell that has a tragic end? I feel that´s okay. People may not agree with me there, though…
How do you think moving from Australia to Spain has affected the characters and situations you write about?
I have always been a big advocate for incorporating the world into writing. Diversity is really important to me. But I think living in another country, especially one in which they don´t speak my native language, has truly shown me a different side. It´s not necessarily shaped the situations, but making sure my characters really reflect the world that surrounds us: yes.
Do I recommend it to other writers? I recommend it to everyone, if they can.
What fuels your writing?
- Chocolate and coffee!
- A line can enter my head and I just have to write it down and suddenly I have a collection of scenes and characters and oops…a book idea.
- Anger fuels it well… I get so frustrated at TV and the lack of representation in the media, and it lights a fire that helps me write when I´m a bit blocked.
- Linking to that: simply the need to get some representation out there. When Lexa died I sat and wrote for days and days.
- My publisher. She´s a great motivator.
Tell us about your writing hideout.
I write best sprawled on the floor on my stomach. I write the most at a desk in a study…I´m trying to form good writing habits, and it means having a specific place to write and a time I always do it. But you can find me anywhere…floors, beds, couches…
This sounds like a different kind of list…
Link us to your web presence.