Selume Proferre is out on Wednesday November 6th and is available to buy right now.
An-An Li-Johnson lives an easy-going, quiet life. She works part time at
her friend's bookstore, is active in the local LGBTQ scene, manages to
avoid the occasional crazy ex, and does temp work for the big name
spell-craft firm Simon and Davidson.
Then she's hired to work with M.C. Anderson, an up and coming exorcist
at Simon and Davidson. M.C. is deeply involved in the world of high
stakes spell-craft, determined to carve out a place for herself among
the extremely hierarchical and old fashioned world of professional
exorcists. As they work together on an intense case of demonic
possession, An-An finds herself more and more intrigued by her new boss.
But just as the relationship looks like it might be deepening into
something more, the case suddenly takes a turn for the worse.
Much, much worse.
I wrote the first draft of Selume Proferre almost two years go. For me it represented a lot of first, the first stand-alone f/f story I ever wrote, the first story with a contemporary setting (even though it is a fantasy/paranormal story) the first time I wrote a non-binary character, the first POC main character I ever wrote. The story is relatively short, solidly a novalla, but I agonized over every decision I made in it.
For a long time the draft sat in my 'to edit' folder before I finally got up the nerve to go back over it.
I was intending to submit it to Storm Moon Press which was actively looking for both lesbian romance stories and trans* stories at that time. I than had an online-conversation with S.L Armstrong, however, in which she, speaking for SMP, responded extremely negatively and aggressively towards my tentative idea of having M.C. use gender neutral pronouns. I decided maybe they were not as open to trans* stories (in all forms of non-binary goodness) I had thought.
The conversation had exacerbated my anxieties about the story as a whole. I made the decision not to submit it and back-benched it for several months before finally working up the courage to take another look. After editing it again, I send it off to the amazing Talya Andor to read over. She assured me it was a good story and urged me to submit it to Less Than Three Press, who accepted it.
I think part of my anxiety over this story was that I didn't feel it solidly fit into any of the pre-existing LGBTQ romance categories.
With both characters being masculine-of-center it didn't fit nicely into f/f or lesbian romance which tends to be dominated by femme/femme or butch/femme couples.
With one of the characters identifying as cisgender female it didn't fit into the m/m romance genre, and the whole thing was far too queer to be a heterosexual romance.
The Main Characters:
M.C. Anderson is genderqueer and feels most comfortable being positioned under the trans* umbrella. In the story she does not use gender neutral pronouns (I have only recently worked up the courage to try that again) but would probably be most comfortable doing so. M.C. does not during the time the story takes place identify as a transgender man, instead feeling more comfortable in the grey area between genders but may be transitioning in that direction. She is a estranged from almost all of her family. This is particularly painful for her in the case of her older brother with whom she was extremely close growing up. She is also a deeply closeted sub, although this is not addressed in the story.
An-An Li-Johnson: is a cisgender woman and an old school cowboy butch. She is also finds 'stud' to be a label that holds meaning for her especially when she is around other queer people of color. An-An is Chinese-Irish American and grew up in the American South West. An-An is a self identified womanist and member of the queer kink community were she identifies as a dom and sometimes Daddy.
The world itself is one where magic is common space, and spell-craft practitioners are license and organized into professional firms. There are universities with programs in different kind of spell-craft.
If you are willing to pay, (or find someone working pro-bono) There are firms or spell-craft practitioners who can do anything from magical security, to exorcism, to spell-craft infused tattoo work to help heighten your own abilities.
Not everyone can do spell-craft and most people might not be aware of exactly how it works but it's not a secret or part of any separate world, any more than law, medicine, politics is.
In this way I actually did base the world of professional spell-craft on law and the legal fields.
M.C. is the up and coming exorcist, trying to make partner in her firm. While An-An is a, inscriber, or the spell craft equivalent of a paralegal.
Ultimately both the world and the characters are something that I am proud of.
I hope you enjoy it!