I did a recent blog post about how Mercedes Lackey opened my heart to writing about LBGTQ characters in genre fiction. Still, I struggled to find other characters (main or side) who represented lesbians in particular, in the genre books I loved to read.
I guess I was thinking about characters like Madame Lefoux, who so many of my readers expressly told me they admired seeing in print. (In case you are out of the proverbial loop, Genevieve Lefoux makes her first appearance as a main character in Romancing the Inventor but she’s a pretty active side character from Changeless on in the Parasol Protectorate and in the Finishing School series.)
So I threw this question out to FB and Twitter, where are all the great lesbian characters in genre? My readers came up with this list.
Now, I’m not claiming it’s comprehensive. I certainly haven’t read most of these myself so I can’t vouch for quality, but I figured since I was interested, some of you might be interested too. Many of these are certainly getting onto my to read pile.
I tried to put them by category, as I know not everyone has the same taste in which commercial genre they like to read. But in some cases I couldn’t figure out from blurb or cover what was going on so I made an educated guess. In a few cases, I eliminated on the basis of utter confusion.
First: Other People’s Lists
- For those of you who prefer to consume by audio, here’s Goodreads’ Best Lesbian Books Available On Audible
- For those of you who are particular fans of Madame Lefoux here’s a list of Butch lesbian characters
- Lesbian Shapeshifter Fiction
- Lesbian Vampire Books
- Lesbian Werewolf Books
- F/F Paranormal and Urban Fantasy
- Casually Queer Books
- Lesbian Steampunk Stories
- Lesbians in Space: A Reading List
- Lesbian and Bisexual Women (etc) Sci Fi
- Lesbian Steampunk Books
- Lesbian Knights in Fiction
- 31 F/F Books That Made Us Laugh Out Loud
Without further ado!
Awesome Lesbian Characters in Genre Books
Curated by Gail Carriger’s Readers
Entirely Biased and Not Definitive*
- Tipping the Velvet & Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
- Bittersweet by Nevada Barr
- Pam in The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
- May & Jazz in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series
- Samantha Black Crow from American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- Diana in The Keeper’s Chronicles by Tanya Huff
- Sarah & Katie in Black Blade Blues by JA Pitt
- The Gilda Stories by Jewel Gomez
- Avery & Emma from The Immortal Empire series by Kate Locke
- Frost from The Skin Dancer books by Anthony Francis
- Menolly in the Otherworld series by Yasmine Galenorn
- Elphaba & Galinda in Wicked by Gregory Maguire (bi)
- Ivy in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison (bi)
- Kate Delafield series by Katherine Forrest
- Kate Martinelli series from Laurie R King
- Dr Mac from the Phryne Fisher books by Kerry Greenwood
- Butch Fatale from Christa Faust
- Slow River by Nicola Griffith
- Kage Baker has some fantastic gay characters in her Company series
- Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
- Arianne Seaforth from Pyramids of London by Andrea Host (steampunk)
Shadow Man byMelissa Scott (edited: @quartzen on Twitter says nope this is about an intersex nonbinary person, but that Scott has other books)
- The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
- The Winter Triangle by Nikki Woolfolk (I read and enjoyed this one quite a bit)
- Loup Garron from Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
- Ash by Malinda Lo
- Raina & Berdine from Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series
- Lark & Rosethorn (bi) from Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books
- Shadows of Aggar by Chris Anne Wolfe
- Sword Masters by Selina Rosen
- Sarah Bisop in A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
- Keren/Ylsa/Sherrill from Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen
- Shasta & Talon in the Legends 0f Ithyria series by Merry Shannon
* Please note these are recommend by MY FANS not me. If you are ONE OF MY READERS and you know what style of books I write, then you should feel free to add more in the comments. If you are on a self promo bandwagon, or have attitude, or an axe to grind then you should have a cup of tea and a nice baby cupcake, and reevaluate your life choices. This is not a shouty, mean, or uncomfortable part of the Internet. This is my blog. I am queen here. Shoo.
TV Honorable Mention
- Garnet from Steven Universe
- Sailor Moon’s Sailor Uranus
- Legand of Korra
- Thelma in ‘HEX’
- Carmilla & Laura, Lexa, Clarke from ‘The 100’
- Nicole Haught & Waverly from ‘Wynonna Earp’
- Cosima from ‘Orphan Black’
- Bo & Tamsin from ‘Lost Girl’
- Helen Magnus from ‘Sanctuary’
- Cassandra from ‘The Librarians’
- Dorothy (bi) and Portia (lesbian) from ‘One For All’
- Root & Shaw from ‘Person of Interest’
More Lists & Such!
- YA Books with Lesbians/Bisexual girls as protagonists
- Fantasy & Sci-Fi Featuring Lesbian Characters
- The Lesbian Lounge podcast includes a Lesbian Bookgroup segment
- Tumblr blog post recommending 9 books featuring Lesbian Women of Color in genre fiction
- Bi WOC SFF ~ Science Fiction/Fantasy novels with bisexual women of color. Preferably, but not necessarily, main characters.
- Related lists featuring LBGTQ characters.
- Portal Fantasies and Falling in Love with Cross-dressing Girls from The Rose Garden
Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella
A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
Competence: The Custard Protocol Book 3
All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail.
Primrose decides, finally, to come out.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Harlequin Lawsuit’s Happy Ending
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
20 Book-Title Hacks that Work for Any Genre
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
House Passes Bill Making it Illegal for Companies to Sue for Negative Reviews
Quote of the Day:
“I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.”
~ E.B. White
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
I saw that Jacqueline Carey had been listed for Santa Olivia, but she also wrote 3 trilogies in the Kushiel Universe that don’t shy away from lgbtq protagonists. The third (Moirin Trilogy) goes more in depth with Naamah’s path and was beautifully written. It actually made me cry and that’s rare.
Melissa Scott’s Shadow Man is about an intersex nonbinary person who is primarily/exclusively interested in men and a gay man, and so far as I can remember does not have important lesbian characters at all. Her books Trouble and Her Friends, Mighty Good Road, Night Sky Mine, and Burning Bright (my personal favorite) do, however!
Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman don’t have an explicitly stated queer protagonist, but I love the world for its nonchalant attitude toward the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters, and Shadow Scale has my favorite transgender character in fiction!
My first novel just came out, a YA steampunk fantasy with a female bi protagonist set mainly in Australia. I actually wrote it before I realised I was bi myself (although I did know I was Australian).
I was warned that gay main characters don’t sell in Australia, but ultimately decided my protagonist’s sexuality made the story better. My favourite rejection (before it found a home with Odyssey Books Australia) said it was “too much in the vein of Gail Carriger” (based on the light-hearted adventure-ness, not plagiarism I swear).
It’s called “Heart of Brass” (by Felicity Banks). It’s on Amazon.
I would also add the following one :
– Caxton in the Vampire Story story (by David Wellington). Badass urban fantasy. And she’s the main character, btw
– Carmilla von Karnstein in Le Fanu’s Carmilla. First lesbian vampire !