We're so happy to host NineStar Press as they celebrate their 1st anniversary!! Happy birthday, NineStar from BMBR!!
It’s our first anniversary.
Thanks to Boy Meets Boy Reviews for hosting us today!
Don't forget to comment here, on our Facebook posts, and our Tweets. We will be giving books away each day to commenters.
You will also be added to the drawing for a FREE year of books.
Some thoughts from Sera Trevor, a proofreader in the NSP family.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about NineStar Press, the company who will be publishing my next book. NineStar is having its first anniversary this week, which is very exciting! I’ve been proofreading for them for about six months now, and it’s been a wonderful experience. Everyone there is a fantastic human being, working hard to bring readers great books. But in addition to that, NineStar is a little different from most small gay romance presses. We publish across the entire spectrum of queer experiences: every letter in LGTBQA is represented in our catalog, including books that do not fall under the parameters of the romance genre.
As to why this is so important, you can read our owner’s statement about her own quest to find herself here. I was extremely moved by Raevyn’s statement about what this company means to her. I urge you to read her post in its entirety, but the gist of it is that when she was young, she had no narratives to help her navigate her queer identity. In all of the books she read, there were no voices like hers, no people like her, and that lack had a devastating impact on her life. In her post, she says: “I want LGBTQA+ people of color to be able to find their likenesses in characters. I want great Lit/Genre Fiction books out there to show that gay/lesbian/queer people have a voice. Trans people can be in hetero relationships, and Bi people are still bi, even if they end up with someone of the opposite gender. Ace people can have loving and fulfilling relationships without sex scenes, and characters can be gender fluid. Mostly, I want people to see they can find a character like them who is okay and “right” and BEAUTIFUL.”
It’s a wonderful mission statement, and one that I am thrilled to support in my own small way, both as an author and as a proofreader.
But in addition to providing stories for LGBTQA+ people to find themselves in, I think it’s also important to acknowledge the powers of these narratives to reach out to people who do not identify as queer. All over the world, there has been a pushback against empathy and tolerance. The United States especially is entering into a very dark period; large swaths of the country have rejected inclusiveness in favor of insulation and ignorance.
The good news is that people have been fighting back. As a part of NineStar’s mission, Raevyn has pledged that NineStar will donate to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, The Trevor Project, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), and the National Center for Transgender Equality. Every week in our newsletter, she highlights a charity that could use our help. It’s our way of making our voices heard in these difficult times.
But even beyond donating to important causes, NineStar and all queer publishers are already forces of powerful, positive change in the world. And it’s not only the publishers: it’s you, too! As a reader of queer narratives, no matter what orientation you are, YOU are changing the world every time you read a book. I know it sounds a little out there, so let me explain.
One of my favorite academics, Steven Pinker, wrote a book that changed the way I see the world: The Better Angels of Our Nature. It’s a very dense, 844 page book about history, psychology, and philosophy, so it’s impossible to sum up here. However, there is one small section that I found amazing as someone who reads and writes books. He states that “The growth of writing and literacy strikes me as the best candidate for an exogenous change that helped set off the Humanitarian Revolution.”
He goes on to explain that literature—and in particular, the novel—gave people the ability to “live” other people’s experiences. The novel as an art form emerged in the early 18th century and exploded in popularity in the 19th century. Printing presses, cheap paper, and a more literate population made the mass dissemination of novels a possibility for the first time. The special thing about novels is that they require people to put aside their own sense of self for a time and put the thoughts and experiences of characters in their minds instead.
This was a radical form of empathy, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Pinker tells an anecdote about an officer in the British army weeping over Pamela, a melodramatic novel about the misadventures of a young woman. Until he read that book, that man probably had never thought about what it must feel like to be a fifteen-year-old maidservant, but thanks to Pamela, he found himself living the experiences of a person vastly unlike himself.
Charles Dickens understood the power of the novel when he wrote his incredibly popular books. In addition to being a literary genius, he was also a passionate advocate for the rights of children and the poor. His books asked comfortable middle- and upper-class people to live the experiences of the less fortunate, which helped push Victorian society toward social reform. Over on the other side of the Atlantic, Harriet Beecher Stowe used her words to change her society as well. Her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel about slavery in America, energized the Abolitionist movement, so much so that when Lincoln met her, he said, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”
This is why novels matter. When people talk about the importance of representation in books and media, it’s not only for the benefit of those who are searching for validation of their own identities. It’s also a way into the hearts and minds of people who may otherwise dismiss the experiences of those different from themselves.
That’s why I feel so strongly about NineStar’s mission. A good book is not just a pleasure to read—it’s also an empathy machine. With every novel that you read, you become a better, more compassionate person. I urge you to share novels you love with people who could maybe benefit from a change of perspective. Novels change lives, and when they change enough lives, they can change the world.