Guest Post: Demisexuality in Fantasy Worlds by Lynn O’Connacht

Today I’m really happy to host Lynn O’Connacht on this blog, with her latest release Among The Glimmering Flowers coming out today! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this novel, which is such a cozy and comfy fantasy read with a shared point of view between a princess and a stable boy.

Lynn O’Connacht has an MA in English literature and creative writing, but wouldn’t call herself an authority on either. She currently resides on the European continent and her idiom and spelling are, despite her best efforts, geographically confused, poor things. Her tastes are equally eclectic, though fantasy will always be her first love. She has been chasing stories one way or another since she was old enough to follow a narrative.

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When Nicole suggested the topic of demisexuality in fantasy worlds to me, I didn’t know where to start. There’s so much I could cover. But something about why Nicole suggested the topic struck me and stayed with me through all my brainstorming: Seeing demisexuality represented in a secondary world fantasy setting is rare, even amongst a spectrum of representation that is assumed not to be that common. (There is so much more out there than people think!) If I stretch the definition of ‘fantasy world’ to its absolute limit, I can come up with maybe a dozen books?

Most books featuring demisexual protagonists, fantasy or otherwise, are set in this world and in contemporary times. They’re also, I hasten to add, twice more likely to be an M/M pairing than anything else. And about as likely to read like a thinly veiled attempt to avoid criticism for writing the Gay For You trope rather than a genuine attempt to write demisexual representation. But why is that? Why do so few secondary world fantasy books feature demisexual characters?

To be honest, I don’t know why. I could speculate, but it’s likely a combination of various factors including a lack of knowledge about asexuality in general. While indie publications are decent at providing asexual representation if you know where to look (Claudie Arseneault’s aro & ace database is a great place to start!), small presses and traditional publishing still largely focus their asexual representation on aromantic asexuals or, if it’s a romance, alloromantic asexuals. Demisexual representation, when it happens, occurs strictly in small queer romance publications.

Among the Glimmering Flowers

Among the Glimmering Flowers is the first book in a slow-burn romance series centring a demisexual main character. As a demisexual myself I was tired of seeing demisexual romances that focused solely on M/M pairings and failed to capture my experiences in any way. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to write about Felicity and Horse-friend and it’s the main reason why the story starts with establishing their friendship in this book.

Among the Glimmering Flowers won’t give you much insight into demisexuality on its own, to be quite honest. Felicity is only just starting to figure out that she’s on the asexual spectrum, never mind exactly where she falls.

Mine is not the only or even the first secondary world fantasy setting that prominently features a demisexual character, though. On the 26th of June, Claudie Arseneault is publishing Baker Thief, in which one of the leads is demisexual. Long before Among the Glimmering Flowers became a thing, Shira Glassman had published The Second Mango, featuring a demisexual deuteragonist (ignore the description calling Rivka straight; she’s demi). If M/M romance (without the GFY trope) is more your thing, Becca Lusher’s A Courtship of Dragons is a good bet too, though I’d recommend reading the series it’s a part of in order for maximum impact.

These books all treat demisexuality differently. Baker Thief is loud and proud using-the-label, The Second Mango is detailed in its descriptions but remaining mostly word-of-God representation, A Courtship of Dragons intersects demisexuality with anxiety and offers a subtler approach. Among the Glimmering Flowers offers a few hints here and there, but is mainly focused on friendship and those moments of growing from a child to a teenager and all that comes with it mingled with a retrospective. All of them together, however, offer up a small spectrum of what demisexuality is, or can look like, for a person.

There are more books, though, like I said, it may require stretching what one considers a fantasy world, such as in Heather Rose Jones’ The Mystic Marriage. This is, strictly speaking, historical fantasy in a Western European Ruritanian setting, but the fictional country is isolated enough that it can easily be read as straight-up fantasy. This is just a small selection of the books that are available out there and I hope that readers will be able to find books that resonate with them and their experiences!

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