Swoon Author Caitlin Lochner: Ace Rep in YA
Something that’s been getting a lot more discussion in the YA field over the past few years (and deservedly so) is representation of diverse identities. Just look at how many amazing and diverse books have been coming out! The Hate U Give; Love, Hate, and Other Filters; If I Was Your Girl; Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda; The Astonishing Color of After—to name just a few. It’s so important for kids to be able to see characters like them in the books they read, for them to not feel like they don’t exist, or if they do, it’s as sidekicks and background characters in someone else’s story.
For me personally, I’m dying to see more books with ace main characters—especially in YA, and super especially in my favorite genre of fantasy. I didn’t even know about asexuality until around two years ago, and as soon as I heard about it, it felt like everything clicked into place for me. Oh. That’s why.
It suddenly felt like I could breathe again. I wasn’t abnormal, this was just the way some people are in the same way that some people are gay or straight or trans or non-binary. I can’t imagine how much better I would’ve felt if I had found out about asexuality when I was a teenager, and then been able to read about characters like me going on adventures and getting their happy endings.
Now that I know I’m ace, I want to see stories with more characters like me. Romances that don’t need sexual tension, relationships where both people involved are okay with not ever having sex. Because while I still enjoy reading about straight or LGBTQ romances, sometimes it’s hard to read them and feel like I’ll ever be able to find love of my own with the way I am.
This is why rep is so important to me. This is why I write characters like me into my stories and actively search for books with ace main characters. I wish I’d had these sorts of books when I was growing up, to show that I could find happiness as I am, that I could be the main character to my own story without having to sacrifice anything about myself. And I hope that someday, my books will make it into the hands of those looking for a story about someone like them.