Have you noticed the lack of prominent gay characters within the epic fantasy as a genre and do you ever include (or will ever include) gay or lesbian characters in your own work?
That’s an issue that I feel I should speak about delicately, because it’s one of those charged issues that can create a lot of division. But my basic feeling is that a character should not be any more or less sympathetic, or more or less evil, or anything like that, because of sexual orientation or because of basic beliefs or philosophy on things like religion.
So there are gay characters in my books, though so far they have been side characters. I don’t make a big deal of it, because I tend not to make a big deal of the sexuality of side characters in general. For instance, in The Way of Kings, Drehy, a member of Bridge Four, is gay. He’s based on a good friend of mine who is gay. There is a lesbian character in The Alloy of Law; again I don’t make a big deal of it though it’s a little more obvious.
Basically, I just try to write characters and try to have different makeups of characters. I feel gay characters should be included, and I’m annoyed that sometimes there seems to be an association between including gay characters and using that as a means of making them seem like a reprehensible character. You may know what I’m talking about; I’ve seen it in books before and it bugs me. Just like it bugs me if an author makes a character religious and the tone of the book implies, “Well, obviously, religious people are all idiots, so I’m not going to make this character actively an idiot, I’m just going to represent them as being religious,” which by the tone of the book indicates that they’re an idiot. That’s not to say that there can’t be social structures like religions that will push people toward doing things that are questionable or morally reprehensible—there can, of course, and it will happen—but I’m talking about the individuals. I don’t know that I have strong feelings on the subject other than that I think people should be represented as people.
I wrote a bit more about the subject in my essay on Dumbledore.