1. Tell us a bit about yourself:
Well, where to start? I am a writer, a Health & Safety Manager (for now), a partner, a daughter, a sister, a step-mum, step-grandma (eek!) and auntie to five wonderful nieces and nephews whom I adore!
I am co-founder of MWiDP (www.markwilliamsinternationaldigitalpublishing.com) and the face and voice of the Saffina Desforges writing partnership.
I have written since I was a child and it’s only now that I am actually making a living out of it and hope to write full-time at some point in 2012 and onwards.
I love football (playing and watching), in fact, I’m a bit of an addict! I love music, reading, snowboarding, hockey and films and cooking, if I’m not writing, I am in the kitchen.
2. Tell us all about your novels, and why you chose to have a lesbian as the main character in the ‘Rose Red Crime Series’ (which of course, we love that you do!)
Well, this will sound like a huge cliché, but I didn’t choose it consciously. The characters in my books usually just walk into my head, introduce themselves and then we base the stories around them. Red (Cassie Rose) just kinda announced her arrival one day and it went from there. Suddenly, she had a stuck up, snobbish Barrister for a partner, Pippa, three insta-kids and was on the trail of The Hunstman. Before we knew it, we had sketched the first five books in the series and half written the first one!
With ‘Sugar & Spice’ it was different. When I met my writing partner, he had been researching and sketching out the main plot for it for some time, but the subject matter was so ‘taboo’ that he had never done anything with it. We re-wrote what he had and then took the plunge with sticking it on Amazon. A year on and it got to number two in the UK Amazon charts and has sold over 100,000 copies. It is still in the Waterstones Top Ten.
It doesn’t stop there. Before the end of 2011, we will have released the second book in The Rose Red series, ‘Rapunzel’, an anthology of short stories from other writers called, ‘Saffina Desforges presents…’ and hopefully, a Young Adult book about a boarding school, ‘St. Mallory’s Forever!’
2012 is very exciting for us. Not only are we opening our own digital bookstore (MWiebooks) and starting a project called ‘STW2R’ (Saffina Desforges teaches the world 2 read), but we will be releasing book one of our Equilibrium trilogy, ‘First Blood’ (which your readers will most definitely be interested in!), the first in ‘The Chinatown mysteries’ (chick-lit at its finest) and books three and four of Rose Red, plus lots of other stuff!
3. When did you come out and how did your friends and family react?
I was ‘outed’ by a friend (yes, she was my friend and still is) of mine at the time who was struggling with her own sexuality. We had a ‘fling’ and her mother found out (as did her fiancé!) and she thought it only fair that my parents knew too.
I denied it at first, but then decided that I had to ‘fess up. My parents were hurt that I hadn’t been able to tell them and then angry. It was tough at first (it was only 1991, things were still a bit ‘backward’ then) but gradually, things got easier and my parents came to terms with it. My friends were cool (and intrigued!) and have remained so.
4. Why is it important to you to be out and proud as a lesbian
Well, this one is a toughie. I am out and I am proud of who I am, but I am not the kind of person who feels the need to announce myself as a lesbian the second I meet people. Being gay is secondary. I am me first off and I happen to be a lesbian.
However, I do feel that it is important to be open about being gay and you should be proud to admit it, but don’t let it define you. Let you define you and be who you are, as a person. You just also happen to be a girl who likes girls ;-)
5. Have you or your family experience any homophobia? How do you deal with it?
Personally (and thankfully) I haven’t had any negative experiences. Sure, we have always had the usual ‘can we watch?’ and ‘which one’s the bloke?’ comments from people (mostly men) when out and the odd ‘dyke’ utterance when walking down the street, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t consider that homophobia as such, more ignorance or jealousy! As for my family, I think maybe my two younger sisters might have had some stick at school about me, but they dealt with it and it doesn’t seem to have bothered them hugely. I think it’s important to remember that for the most part, it is a defence mechanism for people who don’t fully understand or are questioning their own sexuality and that you should take most of it with a pinch of salt, however, if abuse becomes regular or physical, then that’s a whole different ball game and needs to be stopped.
6. Do you think that there is a lack of lesbian role models? If so, Why?
Again, I am not sure where I stand on this one. There might be a lack of strong, independent women to look up to, who happen to be gay, but do we need lesbian role models? Sure, it is great when famous women come out and stand up for their rights and beliefs, but I don’t think it’s important for there to be a raft of gay women to aspire to be like, I think it’s more important for young girls to know that you can grow up and achieve your goals and do whatever you want, without having to rely on a man to get there. If you’re gay too, then hey, that’s just a bonus! ;-)
7. Any thoughts on being a ‘Real Life Lesbian’ and helping fill the lack of role models/ raise lesbian visibility?
As I say in answer to the previous question, I hope to be looked at as a successful business woman and writer who happens to be a lesbian, not a lesbian writer, but I am a ‘Real Life Lesbian’ and if it helps to raise visibility and awareness, then cool.
8. Do you have any advice to those struggling with their sexual orientation or fearful of coming out?
Sure: it gets better!
It is probably one of the hardest things you will do in your first few decades but you will look back on it eventually and think that you’ve done a lot harder things as your life progresses. It is usually a relief once everyone knows and you can start to find yourself. No more awkward questions about boyfriends or having to pretend to your friends that you fancy Robert Pattinson or whoever, you can finally become who you were meant to be – and that’s cool.
9. Anything else to add?
Well, I’d like to say how much I love your site and thanks for having me, it’s been a blast!
Oh and, lesbians rock! ;-)
Wow, Saffina surely has a busy year with it all happening in 2012! We wish her all the best. What are yout thoughts on her answers? Do you think we need lesbian role models? Drop us a comment! & let us know if you win her book :) & yes- lesbians rock woo!
Details of the Giveaway! (YAY)
Win the book 'Snow White' by Saffina Desforges
1) Follow What Wegan Did Next via google friend connect
2) Follow WWDN on Twitter
3) Follow Saffina on Twitter
Once you have done all three, please comment beliow with your email address. First 10 to comment will receive a digital (for e-readers/kindle), word or PDF copy of the book.Good luck!