We have another treat for you this Friday: an article from Diane Billas, who just released her YA sapphic romance, Does Love Always Win?
Diane tells us about her journey in becoming an out-and-proud pansexual author. Be sure to check out her brand new release, and visit our Instagram to enter our giveaway at 5pm, where you can win a signed paperback!
They always say write what you know. What happens if you are too scared to let the world know who you are?
I had the spark of an idea to write the queer book I wished I read in high school, but I kept worrying that my friends and family would wonder why I was writing a sapphic love story, especially when I’m married to a man and they think I’m straight. I worried about this a lot, but I really wanted to try my hand at writing a queer book. At the time when I first got this idea, there weren’t many sapphic YA books, and I really thought maybe if I could write one, it would help someone, somewhere, somehow. I decided to forge ahead and really write the book I wanted, which shaped up to be my YA sapphic romance novel Does Love Always Win?
I built the book around the idea of the main character not being able to connect or be attracted to any of the guys she dates and then when she has to show around the snarky pansexual new girl, she begins to realize why none of her other relationships worked out. I myself had relationship issues in high school similar to Shorty; I couldn’t connect with a lot of the guys I dated, but unlike Shorty, I am not a lesbian. For the story I envisioned, I wanted the MC to be different from how I identified, because if I made the MC bi/pan, I was scared I would out myself. By making Shorty not too much like me, I would be in the clear. I even made her love pink, which was my least favorite color.
I wanted to have some representation though of how I identify, to have more of my experience somewhere in the book. I first created her love interest, Kristy, as bi but then during the editing process I begun to internally think about my identity and when I learned about pansexuality that’s when I realized that’s how I identify, and decided to make Kristy identify that way as well. That’s when her character really came to life. Not going to lie, her character is my favorite, and I’ve heard from a few readers she’s their favorite as well. So much so that I decided to create a short prequel story called Broken Dreams that features her.
I queried Does Love Always Win? over the span of a couple year and took a break in 2020 to do some editing with my friend Brianna Wyble. During that time I also began seeing a therapist and realized I had internal biphobia that we worked through so I could start to accept myself and my identity.
I finally got a publishing contract in 2022 from Creative James Media. I was ecstatic and when I called my family to tell them about it, they asked me what my book was about. That’s when it hit me. I would have to start telling people the topic of my book. I couldn’t skirt around the issue anymore. Before I would just say, oh a young adult romance book with lots of drama. Now everyone would eventually know what my book was about.
I knew what I needed to do. I wanted to authentically speak about my book but I couldn’t do so unless I was fully out. As my press release was being released, I drove two hours to my parents’ house and told them about me and my book and they were fabulous. My mom even said she wished I told them sooner. But before that moment, I hadn’t been in the right head space to do so. I had needed to accept myself to be okay telling the world.
Does Love Always Win? will be published on June 20, 2023. Yes, I’m still scared that people will read my writing, but who wouldn’t be scared of that. I’m just hoping that my story will help someone that’s also questioning their sexuality feel not so alone.
Diane Billas lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her husband and son. When she’s not writing she can be found reading multiple books at once, performing the French horn and piano, or dreaming of the next country she’s going to visit. Diane can be found at dianebillas.com, on Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook @dianebillas, and on Instagram @dianebillaswrites.
Diane Billas is the author of the YA sapphic contemporary romance novel Does Love Always Win? releasing June 2023 and the YA superhero LGBTQ+ novel Superficial releasing September 2024.