When I learned Solarwyrm Press was gearing up to publish an anthology featuring non-traditional relationships and cultural/racial diversity, I immediately began stalking their website to see how I could get my hands on a copy.
Confession: I’m white. I’m heterosexual. I’m monogamous. I identify as female.
So why exactly would I be drawn to this sort of collection?
It’s no secret mainstream publishing tends to lack diversity, especially when it comes to stories featuring romantic relationships. I bet if you search the top 50 books on Amazon in the romance genre, you likely won’t find a story with a polyamorous, transgender, or gay protagonist. And yet, people who identify with the “other” and their multi-faceted, deeply rooted, relevant, and beautiful relationships exist in our world—in droves. When media and cultural representation lag behind the ubiquity of real-life experiences, well, we aren’t being very inclusive to people who don’t align with “societal norms,” are we?
On a more personal level, limiting my readership to narratives that I can directly relate to thanks to my own life experience is … boring. Like, really boring. Because guess what, I’ve already lived it. Or I’m living it now. Give me something new!
Solarwyrm Press certainly did. Marked by Scorn, edited by Dominica Malcolm, is a fresh, emotionally charged, and entertaining collection of fiction, poetry, and memoir finely woven together by currents of love, sexual energy, and relational diversity aplenty.
When I first received by advance review copy, I will admit, I was a little worried. Clocking in at nearly 300 pages, I was concerned the stories would become repetitive, but no two stories in this volume are alike, just as no two relationships in this world are alike.
In “Emergency Encounter,” Cindy Stauffer emphasizes our human need for physical intimacy to endure potentially soul-sucking hardships—even if that intimacy is at the hands or lips of someone other than your significant other.
Tara Calaby’s “Breaking Point” shows us just how far we’ll go for someone we once loved, even if that relationship was complicated at best.
Sara Dobie Bauer’s “If It Ain’t Broke” tells the story of Professor Nate Evans’ crush on his awkward yet beguiling student, Henry, and the magic of Christmas and acceptance.
Vanessa Ng’s “Keeping Mum About Dad” lends insight to the experience of a daughter growing up with a father who identifies as female.
Baylea Jones’ “Spar” dissects the cruelty of first love and keeping face in high school.
Kawika Guillermo’s “Love is in the Blood” speaks of the delicate balance between tradition, inevitability, rebirth, and identity.
GK Hansen’s “Roulez” uses the pronoun “they” in relation to the story’s gender non-binary protagonist.
And that’s only a taste of the beautiful stories in this volume that stirred up my emotions, made me laugh, made me ache, and taught me a thing or two.
Altogether, the collection is uplifting, heart-wrenching, sexy, fun, wicked, but most of all, utterly important. Because the one thing that ties all of these stories of breakups and makeups and threesomes and violence and werewolves and partnerships and understanding together—is love. And what could possibly be more important than that?
Though Marked by Scorn is not yet available for purchase, you can support the anthology’s IndieGoGo campaign and receive a copy prior to its official publication date, July 31.