Pride is a very important month for so many reasons, especially amongst the furry community. Furries, as a whole, are significantly more queer than the rest of the population. Many identify with the lgbtq+ spectrum, and all efforts should be made to preserve the furry fandom as a space that is safe for everyone. The furry writing community is no different. This Pride Month, we will shine the spotlight on a few of the writers who give the furry community its wonderful diversity.
The first spotlight for this year’s Pride Month is Ian Madison Keller (he/him).
FWG: Tell the guild and our readers a bit about yourself.
Ian: I grew up in Utah and southern Idaho, and escaped to the Pacific Northwest as soon as I could. Although I wanted to be a writer since High school I ended up majoring in Accounting and not writing for many years. But in 2012 I picked writing back up again and released my first book in 2014 and my first short stories were published in 2015. I also went back to school to get a certificate in editing, and have been editing stories and novels since 2018.
FWG: What is your favourite work that you have written?
Ian: Short stories, my favorite would be “Don’t Cry” one of the flash fictions I wrote for Flower’s Fang about the queen. I wrote it while figuring out the motivations for the queen and I just really love everything about it. Novels would be one of my latest, “Ritual of the Ancients.” I had a lot of fun writing the thriller elements and figuring out how the vampires and shifters of my world interact with each other.
FWG: What do you think makes a good story?
Ian: A strong emotional core. No matter how action packed a book or movie, if I don’t care about the characters then I probably won’t finish it.
FWG: How long have you been in the guild, and what changes have you seen with regards to how writing is handled since joining?
Ian: I’ve been with the guild since 2016. I’ve seen a lot more encouragement to new writers lately and more inclusivity, like with the online writing convention put on by the guild and the multiple ways to communicate, with the Discord, the forums, and the telegram channel.
FWG: Can you give us a little insight into your identity, and how you fit onto the lgbtq+ spectrum?
Ian: I am trans-masculine and bisexual.
FWG: What does Pride mean to you?
Ian: Being proud, not ashamed, about my identity. Something I’ve struggled with a lot from growing up in the mormon church/church of latter-day saints. That’s why Pride looks like a big party, a celebration, because for so many of us we were told that our identities were wrong, something to hide, and even repress.
FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us?
Ian: A very long one. I didn’t even know transgender was a thing until I was in college. I actually found out about it by typing “I wish I was a boy” into google and stumbling on LGBT and trans positive websites. Surprisingly the college I went to in Utah had an LGBT center, but there weren’t any trans-masc folks there. Even at the local Salt Lake City trans support group, I was usually the only guy there, and I got a lot of pushback from both that group and the women I dated to not transition. I ended up going back into the closet for more than a decade before actively pursuing transitioning again.
FWG: How do you think being lgbtq+ has inspired or affected your stories? Have you written lgbtq+ characters into your works?
Ian: It affects all of my works, and almost everything I write has LGBTQ characters in it. Flower’s Fang has a lesbian couple, in The Dragon Tax you find out that one of the characters is bi, as well there is a non-binary elf character. And in my urban fantasy Changing Bodies story, the main character is a gay trans-man in the middle of transition. As well, I’ve written many short stories with a spectrum of characters of varying identities.
As far as inspiration, some of my stories have been me wondering how a certain species might approach transitioning. Or how a vampire might deal with being transgender and unable to take hormones. Or about how dragons might feel about gender identities.
FWG: Do you have favourite queer authors and has their literature affected your writing in the fandom?
Ian: I honestly have not read a lot of books by queer authors. However, that is something I am currently working on by actively seeking out works by out queers. The way this has affected my writing is leading me to put lots of queer characters in my stories, so that others can read about the kinds of characters I wished I’d been reading about my whole life.
Recently I did find a nonbinary author, Dorian Graves, who writes queer urban fantasy stories that I’ve greatly been enjoying.
FWG: If you could convince everyone to read a single book, what would it be?
Ian: I would go with House of Shards by Walter Jon Williams. This book is probably the biggest influence on my writing. Lots of humor wrapped in a serious story, and a whole host of alien races.
FWG: Any last words for our readers and guild members?
Ian: Don’t forget the outside world exists! Be sure to put down books sometimes to venture out of the house. You’d be surprised by the things that can jump-start your creativity. Try to have hobbies outside reading and writing
Ian Madison Keller is a fantasy writer currently living in Oregon. Originally from Utah, he moved up to the Pacific Northwest on a whim a decade ago and never plans on leaving. Ian has been writing since 2013 with nine novels and more than a dozen published short stories out so far. Ian has also written under the name Madison Keller before transitioning in 2019 to Ian. His most recent series is Changing Bodies, a vampire & shifter urban fantasy published with Goal Publications. You can find more at his website, http://madisonkeller.net.