Let’s chat for a minute about taking storytelling risks.
The Queer and the Restless features violence against queer people. I’m a little nervous about this. For a long time the only queer stories that were permitted to be told were stories in which queer folks lived tragic lives, or stories in which queer folks were villains as a result of their innate wrongness.
In Queers of La Vista, the majority of the recurring characters are queer. Some are grumpy, some are kind, some are obsessive, some are driven, or sweet, or goofy.
Some are murdered.
People who are queer face a higher rate of violence than non-queer people over the course of our lives. Ignoring that in fiction means writing a sort of fantasy world, where real life concerns don’t apply. Sometimes we write the world the way we wish it was, not the way it actually is, and as long as that’s intentional, it can be amazing reading.
The danger in writing the world as it actually is, of course, is that when it’s not pretty, you run the risk of aligning queerness with tragedy.
This isn’t a book about the tragedy of being queer or trans. It’s about the reality of being queer, about being trans, and how aware I am, as a queer person, that some people consider me a target because of that.
It’s also about conquering fear, surviving grief. It’s about fighting the good fight, and listening to your friends when they suggest that maybe you need to take a break from fighting and gain some perspective. When you feel like your community has a target on its back, it’s easy to become entrenched in that, to face the world like it’s on the attack, because some parts of it are.
This is a thing that probably anyone who’s found themselves neck-deep in activist communities can relate to. It’s hard to look beyond the reaches of what you know, and the changes you want to see, when they feel keyed in to your survival.
When I set out to tell a story about a tight-knit queer community that was living under the specific threat of a killer in their streets, I knew it was possible that’s all some readers would see: danger, fear, the tragic nature of queerness. But I hope that most readers see beyond that, to the inherent resiliency of oppressed communities, to the way that identity is forged in fire sometimes, and to the deep connections between disparate people who find themselves aligned together.
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a little kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.