I am super excited to welcome M. Hollis to the site this month, because not only is she an author of some of the cutest f/f Romance out there, but she’s also a huge f/f advocate and blogger and someone you must know if you don’t already!
You have a new novelette out! For those who are new to your work, can you give us a brief summary of A Night at the Mall and what you love about it?
A Night at the Mall is a story about two girls who get stuck in a mall store after it closes. I just love being able to write chick-lit with two girls because this is such a rare thing to find! Writing something that is just pure comedy with an overly excited protagonist that tends to romanticize everything was also a fun change. The prompt I came up with for this story was: What would happen if Elle Woods and Becky Bloom ever met? And then I created my own story from that.
This past September, you released Ripped Pages, an f/f retelling of Rapunzel. What inspired that choice of source material and what retellings (if any) can we expect from you in the future?
I wanted to publish an f/f retelling this year and then I did some research on what retellings were being released lately before I chose Rapunzel. With all these remakes of the classic Disney movies being made, I always end up leaving the movie theaters with this sense of something is missing. And then I watched a live musical of Beauty and the Beast and all I could think about it was how much I wanted a version where Beast is a girl.
The lack of pure romance movies with f/f rep is one of the things that most upsets me these days. I stopped going to the movie theaters and I’m always disappointed when these movies are all indie and I can’t watch it on a big screen. The fact that I may never get to watch a fairytale on a big screen about two women falling in love is just underwhelming.
So all of this inspired me to just write the retelling the way I wanted them to be. The kind of story young people don’t see or read while they are growing up because everything needs to be heteronormative otherwise it’s considered inappropriate.
I’d love to write a part 2 for Ripped Pages about Aurélia, Agnes’ little sister. I have an outline of a Sleeping Beauty retelling for her set 6 years after the first novelette that plays more with magic and the dreaming world. I may write this someday.
Your characters are basically the freaking cutest ever. Which one are you most attached to and why?
I really do feel attached to all the characters I create to the point that I always want to write spin-offs for all of them. Mostly, because they have so much of me and of the people in my life. But if I had to choose I’d say Lily from The Paths We Choose and Val from Ripped Pages are the ones that I feel more attached to right now. Lily because we are extremely similar in personality and in how we deal with our sexuality. And Val because I love her journey of figuring out her sexuality through books and I feel that so many of us can relate to that.
In addition to being an author, you’re also an f/f blogger with Bibliosapphic. What are your favorite books to push over there?
All of them! Because every F/F I read feels like an underrated book no matter what. Every time someone asks me for recommendations I end up sending a long list because they don’t know even half of them.
Some of my favorite books that I rarely see anyone reading or talking about are When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson, Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley, Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon, and Complementary and Acute by Ella Lyons.
What are you still dying to see in f/f lit?
Romcoms. I love romcoms so much and I want to see more of the most cliché love stories ever. Bodyguard falls for the princess, childhood best friends, actress and common girl who need to date in secret, and online dating. But the kind of books you can imagine being turned into movies people watch after a bad day. Stories that don’t overuse the queer pain or miscommunication for 100 pages.
Being based in Brazil, access is obviously a little different than in the US. What’s it like to obtain queer ARCs and books there, as both a reviewer and a reader?
I didn’t know I could get ARCs until last year so this is all very new to me. I remember friends mentioning NetGalley and thinking this was only for US people. So I’d say NetGalley was one of my saviors when it comes to finding ARCs to read. But unfortunately, I only get accepted to read books by small presses. It’s frustrating because I see everyone else reading and mentioning all these awesome new trad books and I know I won’t get to read them for a long time because they are usually too expensive even in ebook format in my currency.
Buying actual queer books in Brazil is one of the hardest things ever. F/F is not being translated here and so far, we mostly have short stories published in Portuguese. I think I can count on my fingers the number of F/F books that got translated in the last years, to be honest. The only books I have in paperback are English books I found randomly in bookstores after doing a lot of research. It’s sad because this lack of access to LGBT+ books is exactly why it took me so long to figure out my sexuality when I was a teenager, and yet, years later the change is still happening so slow. I read incredible F/F books in English and I’m happy I can read them but then I remember that someone out there needs them in Portuguese and they won’t be able to read these books.
I collect my readings pretty much using NetGalley, following authors I love who are always promoting these books and looking at the free section of Amazon and Smashwords to fill my Kindle until the next time I can buy more ebooks.
As a major advocate of f/f, what would you like to see more of in terms of support?
This is going to sound so silly but I wish people actually cared. It’s easy to say F/F is treated badly by readers but then turn around and never read or promote these books. That’s what happens most of the time. People say there are no books out there but they never even Google or look for the people who are working on this kind of literature.
I want to see people making fanart, fanfic, metas, and discussion about these characters. It’s so rare to see this. So many authors who I talk to believe no one would ever buy their books if they wrote stories about women. At the same time that I try my best to encourage them, sometimes I’m also discouraged myself. Because I know how hard it is to make people care or to try to think about why they don’t care. I’m not a person who cares a lot if my books never get into mainstream, but I know for many authors these things matter. They want to be NYT bestsellers or to have their books turned into movies. Why should they not deserve this too? And it can only happen if readers and publishers rally behind them. People need to show that there is an audience willing to pay for these stories.
One of the arguments I see going around all the time is that female characters never have stories written as well as male characters. It gets on my nerves every time. I’m not going to say this doesn’t happen. It does. But usually when they are being written by cis men. I wish people would be more self-aware on what they think it’s acceptable for characters of certain genders to do or not. When it comes to female characters if you make them unlikeable people hate them, if you make them too perfect, they are a Mary Sue. And yet, so many male characters I know fall into these spectrums and they have huge fandoms making loud noise about how amazing they are. Women can’t cry, can’t punch, can’t make mistakes without people judging them as characters.
What I want is to see readers actually buying F/F books, reviewing them on Goodreads and retail websites, making noise about these characters like they do for everyone else. And to stop saying these books don’t exist if they didn’t make a proper research. We are here trying our best to help people find these books and I hope they start paying attention and giving attention to these stories when we talk about them.
What’s the first LGBTQIAP+ representation you remember in media, for better or for worse?
The very first time I saw two girls kissing in media was in All The Things She Said by t.A.T.u, which was definitely not the best and I mostly just remember feeling scared my mom would think I enjoyed watching that.
A lot of the LGBTQIAP+ rep I watched growing up made me feel like this. Uncomfortable and like I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing. No one ever told me this was wrong, but I was aware it wasn’t considered normal.
It took me until I read Ask the Passengers by A.S. King and Far From You by Tess Sharpe around three years ago that I started to feel better about it. I’ll never forget how validating it was to read about two girls having sex in Far From You. It was life-changing to know people could even write this in books. After that, I started researching for any kind of F/F media I could find and couldn’t stop anymore.
What’s next for you?
I’m in two anthologies that are coming out in the first months of 2018. In Queerly Loving Vol. 2 by Queer Pack, you can find my epic fantasy short story The Warrior and the Dragon. It’s about a warrior who seeks justice for her father’s death and ends up finding an unexpected ally. And in Into the Mystic, Vol. 3 by NineStar Press I’m going to publish my first vampire/human short story! I’m very excited about both of these.
I also have a fake dating novella that I’m still looking for a place to publish with. So fingers crossed for that!
M. Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundreds of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.