Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.
It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.
Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.
And today, author Jamie Deacon has answered some interview questions for me! Check them out:
MR: I loved the setting and now I long to visit Cornwall. What is your connection/history with the area?
JD: Oh, I’m so glad I’ve inspired you to visit the West Country. It’s a beautiful part of the world. I was lucky enough to enjoy many family holidays in Cornwall whilst growing up, and it’s a place that’s close to my heart. And of course the Cornish coast is a hotspot for surfers, so it would naturally appeal to my hero!
MR: What are your favorite types of scenes to write? And what are the hardest?
JD: I must have a taste for the dramatic, because I love writing scenes with a lot of angst, something which probably won’t surprise readers of Caught Inside. Opening scenes are the hardest for me, I think. Finding the best way to introduce readers to the story and characters can be a challenge. In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of times I rewrote the first chapter of Caught Inside.
MR: Is there a genre you haven’t written yet but would like to try? How about a genre you’ll probably never write?
JD: LGBT stories are my passion, and I also can’t imagine writing outside young and new adult fiction. There’s something about YA and NA, the rawness of the emotion, how the characters are just discovering themselves and what they want in life, that really appeals to me. I’d definitely like to try my hand at something other than contemporary, though. I have an outline for a romantic suspense trilogy set in a prestigious art college, and even a tentative idea for a novel with a fantastical twist.
MR: What elements do you especially like to include in a love story?
JD: Lots of obstacles. I love tender moments and happy endings, but for me these are all the sweeter and more satisfying when the protagonists have had to work hard to get there.
MR: I must ask: are you a surfer? The descriptions of the sport in the book seemed realistic to me, but then, I’ve never really tried it!
JD: Hahahaha! No, I’m not a surfer. Like Zara, Luke’s girlfriend in Caught Inside, my balance is atrocious. The closest I’ve ever come to the sport is water-skiing, and it’s fair to say I spent far more time in the water than on it. I’m thrilled that my portrayal of surfing came across as authentic, though. It was really important to me to capture Luke’s passion, and I did a ton of research in an attempt to get it right.
MR: What are you working on now, and/or planning to write next?
JD: I’m currently writing Forbidden Steps, the second novel in my Boys on the Brink series. This one deals with a fledgling step family and all the tensions and conflict that so often results when two families are dismantled, then pieced back together to form something entirely new. The fact that my heroes are stepbrothers who fall in love only adds to the drama! In the meantime, a short story of mine will be appearing in an anthology of NA m/m romances about taking chances, due for release later this year.
I am looking forward to those new stories, for sure! In the meantime, connect with Jamie:
Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are thrust headlong into the breathless, euphoric, often painful whirlwind called love.
Get Caught Inside at:
I finally saw The Force Awakens (loved it!), and was reading news stories about the popularity of the Stormpilot pairing (which of course I could totally get behind). I should know better than to read the comments, though. Oy.
I don't want to give these articles extra traffic by linking to them. You can find them easily enough if you want. I'll just say that even on the more liberal news sites, and even in this modern enlightened age, the comments section is still filled with remarks like, “Who cares what their sexuality is; why shove our faces in it?” and, “Ugh, if they include that kind of politically-correct crap, I’m so done with this series.”
And when I read those comments it makes me even more determined to keep including LGBT characters in my writing. Because if LGBT people can be brave enough to go about their actual lives up against those attitudes every single day, I can surely be brave enough to write fiction about it.
Plus I think the more examples of non-straight relationships people see, the more they'll grasp that love and desire and vulnerability and all the other parts of relationships are simply human feelings, not straight ones or gay ones. And that you can be happy for someone else even if what they're into isn't your thing.
(I can't not include a photo from Maurice when discussing this topic. And here, Willow and Tara too, for the women's side.)
From the article: "...fans are writing and ask all these questions, 'I'm bullied in school... I'm afraid to come out'. They say to me, 'Could Luke be gay?' I'd say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer... If you think Luke is gay, of course he is."
Bless you, Mark Hamill. Not only are you a compassionate human being, but one who understands that what the story means to the reader/viewer is as genuine as what it means to the story's creator(s).
Edited to expand:
I shared this on my Facebook author page as well, and someone commented, "Umm, except that is not what Mark Hamill said in the article. Thinking something is true doesn't make it true."
My answer, and further thoughts:
The headline does make it sound more definitive than it's meant to be, but I directly quoted almost everything he actually said in the article. They also include a tweet from him, in which he says, "Luke is whatever the audience wants him to be, so you can decide for yourself."
Since Luke's a fictional character whose sexuality isn't directly addressed in canon, there isn't really a "true" or "false" on the question. And mainly what I'm commending is Hamill giving hope and validation to kids whose families are failing on that job.
I think it's fine and good for the writer to say publicly, "To me, the character is this, that, and the other," in addition to whatever is already established in canon. But I think it's better still for them to add, "But if you have head-canon in which he or she is something else, and you love this idea, then that's fine too, because that makes the story meaningful in a new way."
Obviously no one wants their story to be the inspiration for a murder or anything--e.g., John Lennon's murderer being obsessed with Catcher in the Rye. I wouldn't go so far as to say, "If you think this book is saying, 'Go out and kill people,' then that's valid!" I'm talking, obviously, about head-canon that doesn't hurt anyone else even if it's fancifully different from established canon. (And in any case, I rather suspect that even if Catcher in the Rye hadn't existed, Chapman would have still had serious issues and simply named some other justification for them.)
I dread being controversial or political online, but I want honest and sincere thoughts on this, with as few in the way of flame wars as possible. My question is more or less: if you’re not a member of a certain minority, do you get to write about it? Since I’m a novelist, I’m thinking in terms more of fiction here than nonfiction or journalism.
On the “no” side, the argument is basically (I’ll just quote this blog post here), “It is not the place of a cis straight person to represent the LGBTA community in order to claim progressive thinking on their part. … By all means we should be allies and make all efforts to be diverse in our work, but we should not seek to take their stories from them when there are so many creators from the LGBTA community who go ignored in favor of mainstream medium, and who would give a far more accurate account and portrayal of their stories. The same goes for race. In that instance, write what you know is applicable.”*
Fair enough. But on the “yes” side, which I admit is the side I’ve been working from all these years, the argument is: assuming the portrayal is done with as much taste, compassion, and realistic accuracy as the author can scrounge up (as opposed to using stereotypes or playing the characters’ culture/orientation/etc. for laughs), then surely it’s better to have more types of characters in more books, no matter what background the author comes from.
Even though I’m white and heterosexual and middle-class and American and therefore boringly generic and privileged in most ways, I recognize the problem of ethnic minorities and LGBTQ characters being underrepresented in entertainment. Plus I’m honestly into some of the stories that could be told with such characters (I’ve long squealed in delight over slash fiction, as nearly all of you know), so I want to write about them. I have this perhaps naïve hope that if someone reads a book that gets them (the readers) thinking more kindly about types of people they didn’t think about very much before, and gets them seeing more types of people as fellow humans with equal status to themselves, then hurray! The book has done something worthwhile! And it doesn’t really matter who the author is, in that case.
In fact, I’m the self-effacing type of author who doesn’t want you to think about ME; I want you to notice just my stories, my characters. It isn’t about me. This becomes a problem when it’s time to get out there and market my work in person with bright smiles, which is a task that sucks the life force out of me, but I digress.
So am I wrong? Should I be respectfully backing off and allowing “those groups” to tell their own stories? I certainly encourage anyone to do so who wants to, and I don’t want those stories to be ignored in favor of mine just because I’m white and privileged and stuff (though given my superbly modest sales figures, I really don’t think anyone’s favoring my work over others, so honestly I doubt this is currently a problem).
In my Greek myth series, I have some gay or bi characters, and others I picture as black or mixed-race. I don’t make A Big Thing of it for the most part; they’re just character details, mentioned alongside what color clothes they wear or what kind of salads they prefer or whether they like loud parties. (As an introvert, I found it WAY easier to write the gay or bi aspects of characters than to write Tabitha’s extroversion--she’s the reincarnated Dionysos, and loves organizing and attending parties, and drinking and being loud. I can’t comprehend being like that. But love and crushes, sure, I get those.)
I do try to avoid stereotypes. I’d rather a book didn’t include any gay characters than have it include one who lisped and called everyone “sweetie” and wore glasses with pink glittery frames. Same goes for all the ethnic-group issues you could run up against. I imagine, if anything, I err on the side of my black characters being too much like the white ones, such that you might not even know they’re black. But then, I also went that route because for the purposes of this story, it doesn’t exactly matter what their genetic makeup is. Also, a friendly mix of races and cultures is part of the new global civilization, and I feel like we do get to be casual about it, as long as we’re compassionate to everyone.
The one “minority” I belong to is that of women, and I’ll go on record as saying I have nothing at all against male authors who write in depth about female characters. In fact, I think more of them should, as long as they follow the guidelines discussed above: avoid stereotypes, view everyone as a human with equal rights and personal subtleties, be as fair and realistic as you can.
Anyway. The more I ramble about this, the more I realize it could be an entire doctoral thesis (and I’m sure it has been for lots of people), so I’ll leave it at that. But I welcome anyone’s thoughts! If you’re gay or trans, does it bother you if straight/cis people write LGBTQ characters? If you’re black or Latino or Asian (or fill in the blank), does it bother you if generic white people write about your ethnic group?
Further good reading on the topic: Why I Am Scared to Write About Diversity, by Cait at Paper Fury
* I do love this quote from that same post, though:
“ 'You should only ever write what you know.'— Whenever I read advice like this I can’t help but feel like Mary Shelley had some fucking weird anatomy classes I never got at school, and that I’d like to try whatever Tolkien was having." Ha! Quite so.
My list goes to 12:
1. Quitting Facebook, or at least spending waaaaay less time on it
2. Finishing a trilogy!
3. Starting a new novel that is not going to be a trilogy and is way simpler and smaller in scope but still paranormal and romantic and quirky in my usual ways
4. Getting into the habit of daily meditation - I like the app Calm to help guide the practice, but there are lots and lots of others that do similar things and look good too
5. Stepping up my exercising. In addition to making sure I take walks on an almost-daily basis, I've started doing some high-intensity-ish exercises a few times a week. (Try this one if you dare. Calling it "beginner" may be a stretch! But it'll give you a workout for sure, and I'm getting better at it with practice.)
6. Also tai chi. I've been doing various YouTube sessions of that on occasion, and find it really does make my joints all feel happier.
7. Recognizing anxiety for what it is; i.e., my imagination working overtime; and redirecting that imagination into creativity, such as writing stories, or thinking up ways to improve my surroundings
8. Probiotics for all in the household. Or at least, definitely for me, in the form of things like kombucha, yogurt, kefir, and fermented pickles, and for my kids in the form of chewable probiotics when they won't eat those other things, which is usually. It has correlated to a notable decrease in number of viruses and other infections we've caught. I won't claim it has caused the decrease, but it has at least correlated, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a cause and effect here.
9. Earlier bedtimes for kids, better enforced. More sleep for me too. The meditation and similar breathing exercises help relax insomnia's grip on me. And more sleep surely helps our health too.
10. Being a lot gentler in how I think of myself, and getting a lot better at not giving a damn what other people think of me. Self-care feels real good, and ends up making me more patient with everyone else, so hey, win-win.
11. Leasing my soul, for a time anyway, to the Merlin (BBC) fandom, and in particular the Merthur ship. Yay, slash daydreams and fanfics! I've missed your siren song.
(It's pretty much canon, anyway.)
Also, maybe I just haven't dug deep enough yet, but so far the Merlin fandom is one of the sweetest-natured I've ever encountered. Everyone has been wonderfully nice.
12. Trying doing things in new ways, or doing new things. I'm starting small, no bungee jumping yet, but practicing flexibility in daily life is like yoga for the brain.
So my resolutions for 2016 are pretty much to keep all of those up, and do even better at them. Happy New Year, everyone!
I was lately remarking to various people in comments that, by the end of Merlin, Arthur and Merlin "out-Frodo-and-Sam Frodo and Sam." But maybe it's a tie, to be fair. Now my mind won't rest until I've delineated all the items on the bromance checklist that both pairs seem to be using as their guidebook. Let's go!
Master and servant situation: check!
Save each other's lives a whole bunch of times (bonus points if you get soaked): check!
Also make verbal promises about continuing to save each other's lives: check!
Wear armor together even if that isn't usually your thing: check!
Play with ropes together: check!
Occasionally fall under evil magic influence and try to kill your bro: check!
Carry each other in case of unconsciousness: check!
Come around to seeing servant's mighty worth even if you took him for granted at first: check!
Hold your bro tenderly at the end and make us all cry: check!
Tearfully see him off on a boat headed for magical lands: check!
Yeah. I guess it's a tie.
I will go down with these ships. Bromances. Things.
Emotional exhaustion and late-blooming fangirling!
What a frustrating show. In a charming way. It became quite addictive, despite the problems, such as the ridiculous silly plots, and the big magic reveal coming waaay too late, as everyone says (come on, Merlin, you know you could have sat Arthur down and talked him onto your side; you even could have used MAGIC for it; it would hardly be the most underhanded thing you've ever done). And most frustrating of all, we didn't really get our prophecied great future where Arthur was the best king anyone ever saw and magic was no longer outlawed and Merlin got to be court sorcerer. I get that Arthur will rise again, so that's still in the future, I suppose, and from the modern-day last ten seconds of the series are we honestly to understand it still hasn't happened by the 21st century, and Merlin is STILL waiting? Gah. Between that and Rory on Doctor Who, I have to conclude the BBC has a fetish for making devoted friends wait millennia for each other.
Like Buffy, this series went through an erratic range of moods. I mean, seasons 1 to 4 were mostly all:
Genuine angst and sorrow happened here and there, but still, fluff was the order of the day. Good thing they had their fun while they could, because then season 5 was largely like:
It pretty much became Les Misérables. The series finale is not unlike the barricade scene meshed with the Grey Havens. Pain! But that's in keeping with the tragic nature of (most of) the Arthur legends, and in fact as a tragedy it turned out to be very well crafted. The rifts ran too deep to fix easily; the villains frequently were human enough that I felt sorry for them (Mordred! and of course the fabulous Anthony Stewart Head as Uther). I see why Merlin fans everywhere are saying, even three years after the series ended, that they'll never be over it.
At least half the reason it's so heartbreaking, though, is Colin Morgan alone, who throws tremendous talent into his role. He's one of those wonderful actors who, like Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy, doesn't care if they're being handed a somewhat formulaic script and are going to have cheesy special effects painted onto them. They're going to live this part and treat this like it's the Royal damn Shakespeare Company, and they'll win you over forever. Actually, all the Merlin actors turn in lovely and often amazing performances--as another example that comes to mind, Bradley James and Angel Coulby seriously impressed me with their powerful Arthur/Gwen showdown over Lancelot. But Colin is the standout of the series. Which is why he won all the awards and stuff, I suppose.
And what of the shipping, you ask? The Merthur? Slash, yes/no?
Well, yes. By the end of season 5, if you have any slash neurons at all, it's kind of impossible not to ship Merthur. Unlike some ensemble-cast shows that spread the stories around more among the characters, in this one probably 75% of screen time involved either Arthur or Merlin, and frequently both. They spent an awful lot of time in each other's company. Plus, in practically every episode, Merlin performs an "I'd die for him" courtly-love gesture or declaration without any irony, and sometimes Arthur even does it back. I fully believed in their other and more canonical relationships--Arthur/Gwen made me squee, Gwen/Lancelot was done with surprising good taste and romance, that one single episode of Merlin/Freya-the-doomed-magic-girl was beautiful. But even the cast and creators say without missing a beat that the "bromance" was the most important relationship of the series.
"Even the dragon ships it," as the fans say. (Prophetic!Dragon is always telling Merlin that Arthur and Merlin are two halves of the same whole and are each other's destiny and similar shippable statements.)
So yeah. Count me among the heartbrokenly thrilled Merthur people. Devastated it's over, but thank goodness there's those earlier seasons to rewatch, and also there's fanfiction! In fact there's so much fanfiction I could be reading it the rest of my life and never run out of material, if I chose, so that's...good?
Postscript: I'd also like to thank Eoin Macken (Sir Gwaine) for his cheeky attitude and gorgeous hair.
Also if someone could send me every dress Morgana ever wore, tailored to fit me, that'd be super. Thanks.
Started reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to the kids last night. They seem to like it. Differences from the movie I'm noting now (which I once knew but had forgotten):
There's a "Wonderful" in the title.
They're silver shoes, not ruby slippers.
No long lead-in with Dorothy running away and thinking of a place over the rainbow. It's more like, "Once upon a time, CYCLONE." Which works fine, actually. (Also, it isn't a "twister" or a "tornado;" it's apparently a "cyclone.")
The good witch they meet in Munchkinland isn't named and isn't Glinda; she's just the good Witch of the North. Unlike Glinda, she is a small, wrinkled, white-haired old woman.
Yes, I'm sure there are webpages detailing all the differences. It's fun to use my own brain, though. Once in a while.
And it's been long noted by Oz fans, but L. Frank Baum's books, and this film accordingly, pass the Bechdel Test, and not just barely, but soaring over the requirements. Heck, women, good and evil, pretty much rule the land of Oz. Well, the Wizard rules too, but he's a humbug. Now that I look up Baum on Wikipedia, having realized I know almost nothing about him or his life, I learn his wife was from a family of women's suffrage activists, so indeed, he was well up in the progressive stuff.
On the music side, I never noticed before that they use Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" in the score for a short time, during the fight in the Witch's castle. Cool.
The 5-year-old: I want to be the Wicked Witch of the West for Halloween.
Steve: Cool. Maybe your brother can be your Winged Monkey.
Me: And I can finally realize my childhood dream and be Dorothy. Dad can be Toto.
Steve: Or the Scarecrow.
Me: Ooh! Yes! We can have a Dorothy/Scarecrow thing going on.
Steve covers his face.
Me: I've traumatized Daddy.
Steve: I'm broken.
Kids, meanwhile, are doing a rather excellent job cackling like Margaret Hamilton.
We finished reading The Marvelous Land of Oz (book 2) to the kids last night, and ha! I had forgotten that the boy Tip turns out to be, unbeknownst to himself, the princess Ozma under a magical disguise, and he gets changed back into his true feminine form and takes the throne. Yes. Ozma is a trans woman. Kind of.
Considering that chapter came with this Glinda/Ozma illustration as the header, we can at least safely say Baum is a treasure trove for LGBTQ/progressive-thinking type fans, even if he didn't anticipate all the ways in which he might be interpreted:
(I mean, sure, this is likely a "magical kiss of life" kind of thing, but the kiss wasn't actually in the text, so, up to interpretation...)
I do honestly believe Tolkien didn't intend to make Sam and Frodo's relationship romantic. But I also know from experience that characters start doing their own thing after you've been writing them a while, and I'm sorry, Professor, but those two hobbits REALLY seem like a couple. And they seem like they have been for YEARS before this quest. Or, at the very least, Sam's in love with Frodo, and Frodo complacently humors it. I'm not even trying to be a swoony shipper here--the conditions of the quest are not exactly sexy--nor am I trying to be subversive. This is my (admittedly 21st-century) writer's instinct talking.
Sam does marry Rosie after they get home, so maybe the strain of the quest is what finally ends the relationship. I can see how the Ring would do that. (Curse you, Ring!) But up till then--really, I'm trying to bring non-shipper-ish, clear-headed analysis to this, and they STILL feel like a couple to me. I keep shrugging off one eyebrow-raising endearment only to have them voicing new ones the next page.
Yes, LOTR is a book full of close male relationships--which it would have to be, given the absence of females. But none of the other guys act the way Frodo and Sam do. Merry and Pippin are close and chummy, but theirs is more a bromance. Legolas and Gimli make a nice Odd Couple or pair of Grumpy Old Men willing to travel together after the quest, but that's about all. And Legolas does say how he, and others, will follow Aragorn anywhere because they love him so much, but that feels like a kingly-worship thing, along with an Elvish-courtliness thing.
None of them sleep in each other's laps the way Sam and Frodo do. They don't gaze at their buddy as he sleeps, find him "beautiful," and murmur, "I love him" (Sam, The Two Towers). They don't fondle each other's hands and say, "My dear" (both Frodo and Sam, lots of times). When parted from one another, they don't long only for that fellow, "for one sight of his face or one touch of his hand." (Sam looking for Frodo, The Return of the King.) In fact, only Éowyn so far, to Aragorn, has used stronger words of romantic love, and shown stronger signs thereof, than Sam and Frodo have to each other over and over throughout.
Sam is Frodo's servant, which does alter the nature of how they'd relate to each other, especially since this is a fantasy world where social norms could be different. Frodo's role as "master" could--people say--account for Sam's brand of loving devotion. Tolkien claimed he meant their friendship to resemble that of an officer and his batman in WWI. A rural gentleman and his familiar valet, perhaps, one could also say. As regards the cooking and pack-carrying and looking-after that Sam does for Frodo, sure, I accept that. But I'm sorry, Professor, my instincts say he's gone beyond the feelings of a faithful servant. Or else being a batman apparently means acting like someone's boyfriend.
Go see my Goodreads profile if you want to find the reviews for *all* the books, famous or not, that I've read lately. Otherwise, here are the indies that can use your help and are actively seeking avid fans. Most are available as paperbacks, and all (I think) as ebooks, and please do find one that'll make a great gift for someone you like--or a treat for yourself. So, in no real order...
The Hambledown Dream, Dean Mayes. Two young men's souls, one living and one dead, fuse into one body, linked by a passion for music and the love for a certain woman in Australia. Will he find her again, across the borders of death (not to mention the International Date Line)? Literary fiction meets paranormal romance. Made me weepy in a happy way.
Dark is the Sky, Jessica Chambers. This was such a skillful "ensemble cast" novel, full of all kinds of characters in a dysfunctional family. I was gripped by both the sympathy for their sufferings and misunderstandings, and the burning need to find out what exactly happened on that tragic day that damaged everyone so thoroughly. Intricately plotted, and written with a gorgeous sense of setting, this book is a sure bet for those of us who grew up on darkly romantic stories like Rebecca.
Shadow of a Distant Morning, William Topek. I don't usually like film-noir-ish detective stories, but this one rocked. The protagonist was super-smart, funny, and human, and the plot was devilishly intricate, while the violence was kept to tasteful levels. Great historical detail too. Come visit Kansas City in 1934--but bring a bulletproof vest.
Tallis' Third Tune, Ellen Ekstrom. Beautifully written, this novel takes the ordinary life of a twentieth-century woman and turns it into a poignant, surreal ride through the afterlife and our own world. Makes you ponder what you'd do differently if given the chance to alter your past. And, of course, makes you hope our heroine will find a way to end up with that one romantic, sweet musician who got away. (This year I also read Ellen's Armor of Light--a magical-historical retelling of the legend of St. George and the dragon. Tolkien fans, give it a try!)
Counterpoint: Dylan's Story, Ruth Sims. Oh, fans of historical slash, this one's for you. Nineteenth-century Englishmen in love against all odds, while trying to pursue respectable careers in music. What's a virtuoso to do? Non-graphic as far as the sexual content, but still highly romantic--and heartbreaking at times.
Letters from Wishing Rock, Pam Stucky. When Ruby, stinging after a broken engagement, moves to a quirky little Puget Sound island town where everyone lives and works in one big apartment building (which is in fact the town's *only* building), she knows life is about to change. And Pam Stucky shows the change--along with some trips to Scotland and other far-flung locations--in a story told entirely in the form of emails; a modern epistolary novel. With some free recipes. Delightful overall, with a "Northern Exposure" vibe.
Between, Cyndi Tefft. Outlander fans, take note: those of you into historical Highland men in your paranormals, sexy accents and kilts and all, try Cyndi Tefft's book on for size! Modern college freshman Lindsey, upon her death, meets such a fellow in the realm between heaven and Earth, and they're instantly attracted to one another. But the rules of "between" mean they'll have to be torn away from each other...unless they can find a loophole.
Priscilla the Great, Sybil Nelson. Got a smart, sassy middle-school kid on your gift list--or anyone, really, who enjoys fun superhero stories like "The Incredibles" or something Joss Whedon might write? Snap up this book, which has some truly funny, and definitely original, twists on the usual "kid superhero" tale. Adventure for the whole family!
Roeing Oaks, Kristina Emmons. Here's a good one for fans of sweet historical romance. Emmons begins with the unusual (though historically factual) premise of auctioning off one's wife, and follows through into the disinherited daughter's mission to reinstate justice to her family. Luckily there's a kind and mysterious rich man willing to assist her...cue the Cinderella romance!
Amber Frost, Suzi Davis. Ready for an all-out young-adult swooningly romantic paranormal novel? Well, here you go--and it's set in our beautiful Northwest but is blessedly free of vampires and werewolves! The paranormal element is still quite magical, but subtler and more original. The young hero's skin does NOT glitter, I am happy to say. Rather, he has black hair, tattoos, earrings, and regular warm blood in his veins, on top of a private-school uniform, and possesses a sweet and philosophical temperament with just a hint of danger. Totally squee-worthy. Sequel is now out, too! I am excited.
The Gentleman and the Rogue, Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon. Last but certainly not least, male/male lovin'! Yaaaaay! Yes, it's erotica, be warned. But it's well-written erotica. It has, like, an actual plot, and realistic, likable characters. (And sizzling Scenes of Adult Intimacy. Aplenty.) Bonus points for the authors' research on street cant of the times. The linguist in me enjoyed that.
* * *
Now. Weren't those some beautiful book covers? I tell you, great work is being done out there. Round of applause to authors, indie publishers, and cover artists! Happy holidays!
One of my stories is in Volume Three (the one with the pretty blue cover)--it's called "Midsummer Daisies," and, for what it's worth, I sort of pictured David Tennant as the hero. You can tell by my description of his "reddish-brown hair in a tousle of controlled chaos." That story is rated PG and purely heterosexual, as are all the Vol. 3 stories. Volume One contains male/male romance that can get very steamy (woohoo, slash!), and Volume Two contains erotic male/female stories. (No, I don't have any stories in those two volumes--this time...)
Enjoy! And remember, for online gift shopping ideas that don't involve standing in line outside department stores on Black Friday, check out the comments in this post. It's becoming quite the books-and-crafts fair. Very cool. Browse, pick something for someone you love, and support an independent artist or entrepreneur!
Snap it up in paperback or Kindle.
On the sidebar I noticed this interview with Ewan McGregor from the same magazine, so I read that too. In it he said, regarding his kiss with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Velvet Goldmine, "I remember when I kissed Johnny. It was just a rush at the end of the day. ...I like kissing boys on screen. As a straight guy, it’s quite an interesting proposition. Anything on a film set that takes you by surprise like that, that gets your blood up, is good." The magazine's writer also said, regarding that kiss, "theirs might be about the most satisfying gay kiss ever committed to film. It’s got all you need: gold lamé, an Oscar Wilde quote (“The curve of your lips rewrite history”), the deceptive vulnerability of McGregor with his wide grin, the cruel-seeming beauty of Meyers. Oh, and eye shadow -- dark, glam pools of it."
So that led me to look up the kiss on YouTube, since it's been probably a decade since I saw it. And, yes, it's gorgeous.
Also I remembered liking the soundtrack to Velvet Goldmine, so I dug that up and listened to some of it. Which in turn led me to request the Platinum Collection from Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music via our public library's website. Which should be fun once I get it.
I just have to chuckle, since a role like that is such a perfect way to discombobulate shallow teen fans. They're used to their heartthrobs doing predictable chick-flicks, action films, and heartwarming family dramas, not moving straight from Twilight to a biopic about an eccentric Spanish painter. For that, RPattz, I give you bonus points.
This year, though I did a goodly amount of reading, I cannot come up with ten books I'd enthusiastically and wholeheartedly recommend. Too many just did not grab me; or they were good for the first three-quarters, then slogged along for the final one-quarter; or some other mix resulting in dissatisfaction.
So, how about three? Here are three novels I can actually recommend. (Oh yeah--I should mention I seldom include nonfiction in this list unless it really quakes my world.)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I once saw it advertised as "a novel in the tradition of Jane Eyre," and I rolled my eyes because jeez, what a cheap gimmick. Who wouldn't want their novel advertised that way? But as it turns out, it really does have a Jane Eyre feel to it. The British setting, big old mansion, dark family secrets, things that might be ghosts or might just be mysteries, death and maiming by house fires, and a tremendous love of reading woven throughout, are all factors designed and destined to hook someone like me. That is, yeah, someone who loved Jane Eyre, and who lingers in used bookstores with contentment and joy; but also someone who admires the disturbing, quirky works of Joyce Carol Oates, too. Check it out.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. If you tend to find my juvenile-yet-well-intentioned brand of humor appealing, you may be a good candidate for becoming a Moore fan. He's an oddball, no question, but such a creative and funny one. This book in particular impressed me with (I kid you not) the scholarly research he had to do to fill out the world in which Joshua (a.k.a. Jesus) and his pal Biff ("Levi who is called Biff") set out on a trek to help Joshua figure out this Messiah stuff. The Bible doesn't cover what happens to Jesus between childhood and age 30 or thereabouts, so Moore decided he'd do the job--making sure to include that time when Jesus learned martial arts, of course. It's hilarious quite often, bawdy most of the time, and yet somehow not offensive unless you're completely without humor. It's even poignant and heartbreaking in a few spots. I daresay plenty of the Christian folk on my friends list would love this, and I have no doubt the agnostics and other-religioned would too. It's the atheists I'm less sure of.
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. Men, you might want to skip this one, unless you're gay. And even then, it might be too girly for you. For despite the cast being almost entirely male, and the story consisting of vampires spilling truckloads of blood, the book is basically slash, eyeliner, slash, hair products, slash, music like The Cure, and more slash. As a seasoned Cure fan with occasional slash-reading tendencies, I of course thought it charming. Truthfully, it does have an alluring dark-magical edge that pulled me in, and even an almost-literary touch of Southern Gothic style. If you find Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) too slow and bland, and Anne Rice too maudlin and flowery, invite this one out for drinks.
Next I'll check my movie-viewing history for '08 and see if I can scrape together ten worthies on that front.
Enjoy your champagne and confetti tonight, me lovelies!
Robert Downey Jr. to play Sherlock Holmes, with Jude Law as Watson, in new film(s).
Yum, yum. I love both those guys, and have lately been reading and enjoying more of Doyle's Holmes stories as well. Sounds like fun.
And yes, we will need a new library in Slashland to house all the fics that will get written.
In other news, thank you to those who have signed up so far to read aloud a line or two of "The Raven." There's still plenty of time, so if others are interested, come sign up here!
Mark Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka is worth looking into, as a totally insane and eloquent parody of the English royalty--and American politics too. Goes on longer than it needs to, but was fun.
Marrying Mozart was a rather sweet little historical piece, but it was amusing to me that they were being coy, till the end, about which of the Weber sisters ended up marrying Mozart. Anyone who has heard "Rock Me Amadeus" knows it was Constanze. ;)
Mary Renault's Fire From Heaven was a remarkable achievement of historical fiction, and impressed me even though I was flippantly calling it "Brokeback Mount Olympos." (The book used the spelling "Olympos," rather than "Olympus," so I shall too.) Alexander and Hephaistion were really good friends. Not that this was unusual in ancient Greece. It also illuminated for me where the slash-artists The Theban Band (NOTE: NOT a work-safe link) got their name--evidently Thebes had an elite army entirely made up of Very Close male companions. *smacks forehead* Hello, history idiot. (I had heard of such armies, but didn't know their names.) Anyway, the original Theban Band (Sacred Band of Thebes) kicked ass; book claims they never had lost a battle, until Alexander caught up with 'em. However, I have no interest in using this space to debate gays in the military (since I'm sure I somehow just offended both the pro and the con side), so moving on...
Less impressive was a bit of fluff I read because it was supposed to be a ghost story. And it was a ghost story, a fairly fun and decent one, but it was basically a grocery-store romance novel. The funniest thing about it was that it was set in England in 1876, but it was like the (American) writer didn't even bother to get it Britpicked, or edited to match the era properly. The characters kept using colloquial phrases like "The thing is," and "I guess" (to mean "I suppose so."). I couldn't be entirely sure, but I was almost certain people weren't saying "I guess" in England in 1876. So, just now, I did a cursory search through a few famous English authors' texts from roughly that era on Gutenberg.org--Dickens, Thackeray, Wilde, Stoker, Wodehouse, R.L. Stevenson--and indeed, only the Americans say "I guess." Example: The Texan, Quincy P. Morris, in Dracula:
"Miss Lucy, I know I ain't good enough to regulate the fixin's of
your little shoes, but I guess if you wait till you find a man that
is you will go join them seven young women with the lamps when you
quit. Won't you just hitch up alongside of me and let us go down
the long road together, driving in double harness?" [boldface mine]
Alas, the romance novel was nowhere near as amusing as that. However, it WAS amusing to be able to say to Steve, "Ah. We have reached the part where 'Desire slammed into his loins like a fist,'" and to watch him cringe when I threatened to read more of it aloud. Sounds painful in any case, doesn't it? Something slamming into your loins like a fist?
But to name something I found linguistically delightful, and indeed excellent in all ways, we saw Everything Is Illuminated last night. Poignant, beautifully filmed, and at times quite funny thanks to "Alex" with his English malapropisms and his goofy hip-hop outfits. Oh, and the mentally deranged dog, of course. (And Elijah Wood kissing the dog was deeply cute.)
Whoo. Thank the heavens for LJ's "saved draft" recovery. Safari just crashed on me. Eeep. Goodnight!
Romance of the Jedi, a Revenge of the Sith preview done in the style of, say, Brokeback Mountain. Ah, what an impact editing and soundtrack can make. (It's work-safe, but it does require the audio to be on.)
Thanks to darthdogbert for passing that link along.