I haven’t always been a writer, but I have always written. When asked why I write, I don’t answer the way many authors do. I don’t write because I have to. I write because I love to. I write because creating stories provides me with a sense of deep satisfaction and pleasure, and without the stories, my life would feel emptier.
I started writing with no conscious purpose other than to create worlds and stories in which I could imagine myself (including my gender) as the hero. As a girl growing up in a time when girls were neither supposed nor encouraged to imagine themselves as the heroes in books or movies or TV series, I longed to be that cowboy, that doctor, that astronaut, and that soldier. So I reframed the stories I watched on television and read in books into a reality in which I could star. As time went on, the stories grew into longer, more complicated tales, until they became romance novels.
When my first book, Safe Harbor, was published in 2001, I was a full-time surgeon, and the stories I wrote of women like me falling in love with other women were simply stolen moments of pleasure and wishful thinking. Fortunately, times have changed, and now more women are the heroes of their own stories in life and in fiction, and lesbians star in many novels, from romances to SF. I continue to write because the pleasure never abates, and now I call myself a writer.
Along the way, I fell in love with the process of not only writing books, but of making books and working with others who share the same passion. This led me into publishing, and in 2004 I established Bold Strokes Books, an LGBTQ publishing house. At nearly the same time, I retired from surgery to devote my time and energy to writing and publishing full-time. Part of the day I wear my publisher hat, and part of the day I switch to my author cap.
The two professions are complementary, and the better I become at one, the better I am at the other. Learning the craft is intrinsic to recognizing the potential in manuscript submissions, and understanding what sells in the marketplace helps me decide what my next novel will be.
Many authors feel isolated, writing alone in a room, and seek community. Among the many benefits a publishing company can provide to authors is an infrastructure to support them commercially and a community to encourage them personally.
The community of authors and industry professionals at Bold Strokes Books nourishes my author self and helps me appreciate the trepidations and triumphs of the authors we publish. As an author, I know the challenges of meeting deadlines, overcoming self-doubt, and struggling to make each book the “best book,” which helps me relate to our authors as editor/publisher when we need to adjust schedules, revamp proposals, and plan for upcoming titles. Working on both sides of the publishing street, as an author and publisher, keeps me up to date with industry and market changes in today’s publishing world—which is beneficial for my authors, but also for me.
Radclyffe is the award-winning author of 50 novels of romance, romantic intrigue, and, writing as L.L. Raand, the Midnight Hunters paranormal romance series. She is also the president of Bold Strokes Books.