AI Position Statement

The TL;DR version of all of this, is that I, as a writer and creator, commit to an absolute ban on the use of AI in the creation of my books and marketing content. Any images you see on my covers, inside the books, or within my social media, website or newsletter, will be made by human creators (paid, gifted or in the public domain.) Any writing will be my own, except where otherwise credited to other human brains.

For the rest of my take, please read on.

Y’all AI art is theft.

This is something I didn’t fully understand when I very first started my fledgling author career.

Here’s what I did know: I wanted to support other creators and I wanted to ensure I did it right. What I already understood from engaging with other creative people is that a rising tide floats all boats. Anywhere I ever manage to go will be due to the support of other humans, and wherever I can, I too, will always bring others up with me.

I was lucky enough to find an amazing cover designer, who specialises in sapphic indie books and she’s a dream! It was one of the very first Real Author moves of my career and I booked her ahead of time for the first four books I knew I was releasing. The gorgeous cover that now exists for Falls From Grace is her creation (as are all four of the books I'll release in 2024) and let me tell you there's not a machine in the world that would have created this piece of absolute perfection.

Because she's great she was booked ahead by months and in the meantime, I was overwhelmed by tasks. I don’t know quite how to explain the intense overload that being a brand new indie writer involves, but honestly writing it all out only looks like I'm trying to find an excuse.

There isn't one.

At any rate, in the midst of the maelstrom of cognitive overload and dilemmas involved in new indie authorship, I learned that as part of the process I should write a prequel as well and put it out for free to encourage newsletter sign-up (great tip, by the way new authors!) You know what this means? Another cover. Having paid for beta readers, sensitivity readers, editing and four cover designs already, I knew I couldn’t justify a paid cover for this, nor did I have the ability to wait for the next slot to come up with my designer.

What sucks, is that I didn’t even second think using AI. I wanted to play with an emerging technology and get my elder millennial brain around something that sounded straight up bananas. This is where I was both thoughtless and ridiculously ignorant. I assumed it was essentially a weird computer generated creation. I didn’t look too closely. I didn’t think remotely hard enough.

Here are the two AI generated images you may find from me if you go out and look for them: the original cover for Two Tickets (featuring two women in the desert) and the old placeholder cover for Falls From Grace (a woman in a beanie, looking at the winter view) while I awaited my paid cover design. I'm not proud of them, but they're out there, crappy design choices and all.

The very first time I paused and realised that of course, dummy, AI art is generated by essentially throwing every available piece of human created art and photography into a blender and recycling it, I was horrified and embarrassed.

Both have been removed from any kind of circulation and promotional use. The covers of the novellas outside of my main releases are still made by me, using free-to-use donated photography by real human photographers, with crediting.

I do want to apologise to any creator who has been impacted by my brief foray into the use of AI art and fully commit to never engage with AI processes again in the creation of my work.

Now, that we’re out there, let me tell you about the horror that was using AI.

Let me be clear. This isn’t just the usual issues of “that looks great…hey, why does she have three legs?” I’m talking extreme misogyny and bias against all bodies.

I quickly learned that AI thinks all women are extremely thin and extremely naked. I found myself entering increasingly frustrated, all caps terms into the generation instructions like “casual clothes, wearing clothes, wearing a t-shirt with sleeves, NOT NAKED, FULLY DRESSED” and still AI would spit out an image of a woman wearing the tiniest thread of clothing, or with her ass perfectly outlined through a transparent skirt. Um, what?

I very specifically wrote my Two Tickets main character Maggie Dale as a full-figured woman. Her feelings about her body were part of what made her experience feel real to me. But could AI create anyone other than an incredibly thin woman? Absolutely not. I won’t recreate my search terms here to avoid a lot of body image triggers but trust me that I tried hard to ask the bot to present images of women that were in any way non-catwalk-model sized and it simply wouldn’t do it. Bodies that weren’t deemed proportionally perfect by patriarchal standards, just weren’t recreated in the AI generator I used, no matter how hard I tried.

Anyone who believes that AI is in some way benign or that it could ever be neutral in a world so filled with racist, misogynist, ableist, ageist and fatphobic ideas of what women look like, or indeed what we’re for (apparently being fuckable is all we’re put on this planet to be, as per what the bots have learned so far) is intensely misled. AI is actively creating a world that is emphasising the very worst parts of dominant human narratives.

As queer people - and as people with intersectional identities - we should be intensely wary of this. And that’s on top of and beyond the shameful fact that we are contributing to the obliteration of human art as a valuable endeavour.

As queer artists and queer consumers, we need to actively support each other as AI makes increasing in-roads into our worlds. Having briefly dabbled, I am honestly kind of terrified. It’s going to be so easy for AI to create a world that’s even more filled with dangerous imagery and ideas about our basic humanity, with real life ramifications. Is that a world you want to help bring about?

Right now, real art and representation matters more than ever.

As for me, my brief foray into AI was both an error and a horrible experience not to be repeated. Everything you'll get from me will be human: flawed, real, paid for its value, delicious and messy.

Fuck the bots.