Class of 2021 BEQ Pride LGBTQ Leader Under 40
(She, Her) is 36
The year 2020 feels like a worldwide wake-up call in so many ways. As a leader, I realize the most important thing I have learned and will take forward is…
I only need two things to change the world: a keyboard and leggings with pockets. People fear what they don’t know, and often learn from the media. By writing inclusive, diverse, and delightfully steamy books, I can break through ignorance and be one voice that lifts a million more.
Heather Novak is an international award-winning independent author of contemporary romantic comedy and paranormal romance. Her writing emphasizes strong, independently-minded women in non-traditional fields. Novak was a leader in her local Michigan chapter of the national Romance Writers of America for nearly a decade and has been a strong voice for the marginalized in the romance industry, including minority and WOC voices and LGBTQ+ authors. As a proud bi and severe Hypopara chronic illness warrior, Novak continuously uses her visibility as a bi-author and her social media platforms to raise awareness of LGBTQ+, minority, and disability issues.
Heather Novak found a letter from her mother following her death in 2017. In the letter, her mother’s wish for her was to be brave, have an open heart, be authentic and love and respect others. Novak framed and placed the letter next to her computer and shortly thereafter she came out as bisexual to her friends family and her readers. Living a brave, open-hearted, authentic, loving and respectful life for this multi-award-winning published author means teaching others about LGBT+ representation in media, beginning with her work and across her social platforms.
Novak wanted desperately to be seen and heard as a member of the LGBT+ community instead of passing as an ally. Since she lives with a rare condition that limits her ability to engage large crowds or take on strenuous activities, activism started with a quiet invasion of queer characters in her stories. Most people don’t realize that the best-selling and most popular queer romances are written by straight identifying women and Novak wanted more than anything to see more stories written by actual queer people.
In one of Novak’s recent full-length novels, her bisexual heroine falls in love with a heterosexual, cis man. Some readers shared it was one of the first times they identified with characters in a book and they were inspired to live more authentic lives themselves. Her courage as an author writing authentically from the perspective of her lived experience was touching the lives of others in a meaningful way. Novak realized that had she seen more affirming bisexual women represented in media, perhaps she would have come to terms with her identity sooner. Understanding how representation really matters, she set out to positively portray queer characters in all her books and promote positive LGBT+ stories while being her true self. Novak knows she can spare others the invalidation that comes from overly formulaic, contrived or appropriated storylines. Her, for us by us, approach is a winner.
Novak is excited to be contributing her brand of LGBT+ affirming characters and storylines in the romance genre with its predominately heterosexual readership—times are changing. Being able to see more queer relationships and authentic LGBT+ storylines in film, network programming and across media means Novak’s voice and others like hers need to be heard. People fear what they don’t understand and Novak’s work is definitely increasing awareness and perhaps humanizing the lived experience of queer people in media can help reduce violence against the perceived “other”.
Heather Novak is leading by example and staying true to her late mother’s wish for her life.
Heather Novak’s awards include: 2020 Writer’s Digest Self Published E-Book Awards, Honorable Mention (Romance) 2019 Chanticleer International Book Awards: Chatelaine Book Award, First Place (Romantic Fiction) 2019 Write Touch Readers’ Award Winner, 2019 New England Readers’ Choice Winner, 2019 I Heart Indie Finalist and 2019 & 2020 The Carolyn Readers’ Choice Award Finalist.