One of the things that will be evident almost immediately when you read Bloody Notes is that Vanessa isn’t your typical woman, especially for the Victorian era.
Vanessa doesn’t like to abide by societal norms. She absolutely detests corsets, because it makes it difficult to breathe when run around and being active, which she likes to do. A lot. Dresses are too long and can get tangled around the legs and get in the way when trying to climb trees. So she prefers to wear men’s clothes. Slacks are comfortable for her, and button downs aren’t restricting on her chest. However, because of her clothing choice, she tends to get pestered from other people, particularly men, throughout the story.
Writing how she dealt with people’s opinions of her came slightly from hearing stories from the LGBTQA+ community as well as my own personal experiences. I’m not exactly normal either. Though what Vanessa’s choice of clothing would be considered normal by todays standards, my personal choices are still a bit frowned upon. I love boys clothes. Not just female clothing that has a “boyfriend” cut to them, but actual boys clothing. They are heavier, warmer, looser. I hate tight fitting clothing. It makes me extremely uncomfortable.
But it’s more than just the shirts and pants. I like to appear as a boy. Vanessa does play with this a little bit in the story, but that’s part of her job, since no one would take a woman seriously with what she does. For myself, I go slightly more to the extreme. I wear a binder, I wear boxers and pack them, I will do makeup in such a way that it gives my features a slightly more masculine look rather than so feminine. That’s where things got difficult for me with my family.
My mother has always wanted a daughter. She grew up with four brothers, when she married my father, he had two sons from a previous marriage. She REALLY wanted a girl. Whenever I wore even just baggy shirts in the past, I would get scolded. When I started exploring my gender identity a little more, and asking for boys jeans, she would always be quick to suggest “this would look so cute if you wore this one shirt, and then with a pair of heels!” and I would always have to just stand there and in my mind cry about how it wasn’t meant to look girly or cute in the end. As I’m finally being able to distance myself from my parents, I’m able to explore my identity a little easier, and thankfully have a boyfriend who is completely okay with my constant trials and many looks that I go through. I know so many people out there have had it a lot worse. Being kicked out of their homes because of their identity [either physical or sexual], which is something Vanessa had to deal with.
And that’s the big question most people, especially in the LGBTQA+ community have to deal with. Do I suppress my own feelings, my own comfort, to make other people happy, or do I deal with the consequences and just be who I feel I should be? Vanessa struggles a little with some of these fights. She is completely adamant about being who she is, and trying to get people to understand that it’s okay for women to be different from the cookie cutter mold that society wants them to be. Through her struggles she meets people that are okay with it, but there are also those that are very much against it. Her father is one such person who is against it. It causes an extreme strain on her parents as she was growing up. For more on that, you’ll have to read the book when it comes out. =P
Though Bloody Notes isn’t exactly an LGBTQA+ book, there are some themes that will pop up throughout the series. I would like to hope that some people that struggle with their physical identity can feel safe reading my stories and that they aren’t unusual for it. That they are valid for whatever it is that they may identify as [as much as I hate using that term, because you are what you are, whether your body matches that or not].