So, my heroine Kallisty is trying to be helpful by pointing out to one of the second-tier characters that hero Quint fancies men, since she is under the mistaken impression that said second-tier character fancies Quint. And I had to hedge her remark about with a couple of sentences to make sure that it was clear that she was trying to be helpful, rather than trying to insult the second-tier character.
Requite has its social problems (they have chattel slavery, for a start) but they don’t have a culture of assuming that same-sex relationships are automatically funny or shameful. But a lot of the cultures that people will be reading the book in do have that assumption and also Kallisty is quite prone to insulting people, so I have to make it clear that’s not what she’s doing in this case. And that annoys me, in a sort of low-grade sad ‘why is the world such a mess’ way.
Mind you, one of the things that cheers me up about this small scene is that I’ve been convinced right from the beginning that in the unlikely event that the book comes to the attention of the universe of Internet fandom, a whole bunch of them will absolutely hate Kallisty. Fandom has a huge blazing sore spot about female characters, to the point that almost anything anyone says about any female character has the potential to accidentally remind someone of something blatantly stupid that someone said to them in the past and cause a huge row. If you imagine the present-day members of fandom living on a coral reef where the coral is all made up of stupid things people have said in the past about female characters, you’ll have some idea of the magnitude of the problem. Also, the coral is the kind that cuts rubber-soled shoes to strips as soon as people try to walk on it and then starts in on people’s feet.
Anyway, now people who don’t like Kallisty can accuse her of being a Yenta Sue as well as everything else, which amuses me no end.
(I’m not just indulging in some kind of weird persecution syndrome by proxy, I promise. I’ve hung out in fandom, and I’ve followed Kallisty around documenting the things she says and does, and it’s not so much oil and water as oil and high velocity explosive. She’s cheerfully sexual with a variety of people she’s not romantically in love with! She makes bad decisions because of bravado and lack of life experience! She is irreverent, stubborn, defensive, frequently foul-mouthed, and couldn’t spell ‘self-deprecating’ even if she had any idea what it meant! Fandom will not like any of this. Though the vastly most likely thing to happen, of course, is that fandom will continue to sail happily past the books, and that’s what I expect.)