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"Called out and Welcomed in" by Katy Haye

Happy Friday! Today we bring you a guest article by Katy Haye in which she tells us not only about her writing journey but she also shares how she came to understand her demisexuality and identity.


Books are often described as providing a window into another world (real or entirely manufactured), but I’d argue that books are so much more. A window suggests a reader is simply watching passively, and that’s not my experience of reading. I recently heard fiction described as an ‘empathy engine’ and that feels closer to the mark – a way to empathise with, to fully experience the life of characters on the page.

What I’ve also discovered as a writer is that stories are also a great window to gain insight into myself and my own view of the world (which perhaps makes them a mirror, rather than a window, but I’ll try not to strain the metaphor too far!).

I’ve always loved books and scribbled stories ever since I can remember. I started writing consistently, with an aim towards publication, when I was about 16 (submitting short stories to Just17 – anyone remember that?).

Many times, I’ve climbed into a book to escape from the real world, and writing provided that same escape. I had a tough summer the year I turned 16. I now understand what happened to me as an episode of poor mental health, but at the time (this was in the 1980s in rural England) I had no understanding or vocabulary to explain what was happening as I endured nearly-nightly episodes of racing heart and breathlessness, sure I was about to die.

Writing was an escape from confusion and general misery. It was, looking back, a lifeline, an arena in which it was safe to explore my thoughts and feelings. I could step through the window into the worlds I created any time I liked. No ticket required; who wouldn’t love that?

I began writing romances, because doesn’t everyone want a happy ending? And I wrote YA stories, firstly because I was a young adult myself, and then I stuck with it, I think, because I was writing for my struggling 16-year-old self. My books were M/F, a decision that took me years to even question. Gradually, I added a few queer characters around the edges. 

I never articulated that choice (no one ever asked me to), but if you’d asked me, I would have said I was simply trying to represent the world in its entirety. Representation is important and I wanted to be an ally to anyone who felt they needed one. I remember an incident, again when I was in my teens, when I ordered a copy of Gay Times to be mail-ordered to my house because I wasn’t particularly interested in boys and I wondered if I might be gay (there was this one girl at school…). A magazine couldn’t answer that question for me (and I was way, way too shy to approach the girl), but I remember how refreshing it was to read things from a different perspective; to know for the first time that a different perspective existed.

That window into other lives passed and others opened. I got a day job since the writing was little more than a hobby, and acquired a husband and child (not gay, then, I suppose…). I started self-publishing when that became possible because I didn’t have the patience to wait for traditional publishing, and I wanted the control self-publishing offers. I released twenty-four YA novels and novellas over eight years, publishing on Amazon and gaining almost no success (my income most months would have bought me a coffee; I was lucky my day job enabled my moderately-expensive hobby). I figured that one day I’d work out how to market my books successfully and I’d start to earn a living. The pleasure of writing was enough in itself that it didn’t really matter how much financial success I gained.

More windows passed by. I got divorced and raised my daughter as a single mother. Friends often asked if I was seeking a new partner, and my reply was that I was happy on my own. Privately, I couldn’t face finding the energy being in a relationship required – that emotional effort was going into my books, thank you very much.

My next epiphany came when I was reading and another window opened up, showing me something that had been there all along, but unseen until now. I came across the term ‘demisexual’. When I was going through puberty, being gay was a huge difference from the ‘norm’ while gender non-compliance was left to celebrities like Boy George and wasn’t given any name that wasn’t derogatory. I had no idea what demisexual even meant. I looked it up and found it covered what I’d thought was ‘normal’, given that I’d always wondered how in the world people could jump into bed with relative (or total) strangers. So, I was demisexual, how interesting.

While that insight was processing, I shifted from YA stories to write about adults. And this time, the queer characters moved front and centre.

Largely because I’d learned a little about marketing, my next (current) series was MM because I knew there was a market for it. It’s never defined explicitly, but my hero, Kit, is absolutely demisexual, uncomprehending about matters of the heart until attraction crashes over him when he meets his soulmate.

I loved writing the books, I adore my characters and the setting. I was confident this series was the best of my career. So I was surprised to find myself growing incredibly anxious as publication date approached. I wasn’t sure what was going on – I’d published books before, loads of them, but I’d never felt this degree of panic.

And then it occurred to me – isn’t it a bit odd for straight, cis women to write stories featuring gay men? Was that the source of the discomfort? Was I afraid I was going to be called out for venturing into places I didn’t belong and telling stories that weren’t mine to tell? I hoped I was writing as an ally, but I was still a woman, the feminist in me ensuring I wrote plenty of strong female characters alongside my heroes.

Finally, I realised – I wasn’t worried because I feared I was going to be called out for writing a queer story as a straight woman, I was fearful because I was being called in to own my identity as a queer woman myself. Cis woman, yes. Straight one; not so much. What I was really afraid of was being called to defend my demisexual identity.

That insight provided the most extraordinary sense of relief. I looked back at my books so far and realised they’d all been ‘straight-passing’. Instinctively I’d wanted to write about queer characters, but had shuffled them off to the side because I didn’t have the confidence to own either them or myself.

I launched Assassin in June 2023 and the universe was ready to reward me getting out of my own way: it’s the most successful book I’ve yet published. Not every reader likes it, but those who like it seem to love it.

I have mixed feelings about putting labels on every degree of difference when it comes to sexuality (or anything else, for that matter). It feels like putting people in a box, which can make it hard to get out of the box if/when the label no longer fits. However, as a writer I do approve of giving things their proper names (I have to ponder whether that awful summer might have been a little easier if I’d been able to define what was happening as a panic attack and research what that meant and how to help myself through it).

And I can’t argue with the results I’ve gained from accepting an accurate label. In my tenth year of publishing I finally feel as though I’ve hit my stride and it feels wonderful. I have more queer stories planned – an off-shoot series about a queer pirate crew launches in April, while I’m also working on the series-of-my-heart which features a female demisexual character who absolutely feels like a sister.

I was afraid of being called out, but instead I’ve stepped into my community and found a place for myself. 


Katy Haye lives in the UK where she leans into the Brit stereotype by drinking gallons of tea, and the writer stereotype by staring into space and letting a solid 50% of the tea go cold.

When not writing, she can be found enjoying her garden or spoiling her two indulged cats.

Assassin: The Prince’s Soulmate Book 1 is exclusive to Amazon, universal link at: 

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