Women, Caste, Queer: A Story of South India

Hi, my name is சிந்தியா (Cynthia). I'm asking for your support to help me polish my novel-in-progress, Women, Caste, Queer. It's a fast-paced story that lifts up the spirit of Indian women who stand up to the cruelty of modern India's homophobia and caste violence. I grew up in India and speak Tamil. I've spent time with Indian women who are similar to my protagonists, including law students and servants. But who am I, a middle class white American, to tell this story? Is my story truly free of stereotypes? Are the cultural references accurate? Do my protagonists, Satyam and Pahti, speak in authentic voices that ring true to an Indian reader? Does the story avoid what critics today call "the white gaze"? This fundraiser will help me answer these questions and make the story rich and believable.

The story features Satyam, a young lesbian law student, and her elderly ayah, Pahti. They are confronted with the horrific honor killing of Satyam's cousin, who was in love with Pahti's outcaste grandson. Will they gather the courage to tell the truth, confront the police and press for an arrest? In the process, will Satyam resist her mother's pressure to marry? The Indian Supreme Court decriminalizes homosexuality. Will she come out as a lesbian? Pahti has her own battles to win. Will she begin to combat the lies that servants have been keeping to protect the family and themselves? Will she grow in her own confidence and power?

Please check out my blog to follow the book's progress. I'll also be posting brief, relevant India news and thoughts related to women, caste and the LGBTQ community. India is changing! Sometimes the news is good. Sometimes the news is bad. The courts are often helpful. And it's always interesting.


Preparing a novel for publication costs money! I'm retired and volunteering with several community projects here in Ashland, Oregon. My projects include advocacy for affordable housing and helping low-income women win scholarships for college. I don't have sufficient savings to hire the two manuscript editors I need. At a minimum, this story needs an American editor to give general feedback on the story's structure and plot, and an Indian "sensitivity reader" and editor to vet my book for cultural accuracy and authenticity. You can help!

In spite of the cross-cultural and cross-class challenges of writing this book, I am passionate about the project. It's been a wonderful journey of three years, and now it gets more exciting as I get closer to publication. The story has allowed me to integrate my background in Indian life, my knowledge of the law, my experiences as a lesbian and my love of painting with words. My brain gets richer as I get older. It's staying nimble as it blends my fertile imagination, past knowledge, skills and heart.

I'm writing this story for the pleasure of readers. But I have a social justice goal as well. If I can get published in India the book will be more likely read by Indians, including LGBTQ readers. Indian publishers are interested in these stories and willing to take a risk. I want the story to inspire hope and courage. And I hope to connect and support young Indian writers as well.

Here's. an outline of my writing and pitching plan, with costs and timelines.

cost activity to be completed by

$1500 US editor 5/1/22

make revisions 8/1/22

$1500. Indian editor 12/1/22

make revisions 2/1/23

obtain feedback from at least 4/1/23
2 American lay readers and
2 Indian lay readers

complete final edits 5/1/23

pitch to publishers June-December 2023

Here's how GoFundMe works.

  • You make your contributions (with your name or anonymously) and everyone can watch the progress of my campaign.
  • GoFundMe is a non-profit and charges low fees to operate their programs. This means a 2.9% payment-processing fee on each donation, along with 30 cents for every donation. For example, if a campaign raised $1,000 through 10 donations of $100 each, GoFundMe would collect about $32. Perhaps you will consider offering a "tip" on this site to help me pay for those charges, if you choose!
  • I will be in touch with you as the campaign progresses!
  • Once the campaign is finished, I will have access to the funds.

Thanks for your kind attention! I hope you will subscribe to my blog and follow my progress over the next two years. Blessings! FOLLOW CYNTHIA' BLOG
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  • Louise F Riber 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Sarah Dettman 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Kathleen Casson 
    • $25 
    • 3 mos
  • cate roze 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Georgette Blomquist 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
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Organizer

Cynthia Dettman 
Organizer
Ashland, OR