The Incidentally Gay Character

A number of people who read Tragedy lately have specifically approached me about Garren. Some of those comments were from people who have not read Fathers and Sons, and they (perhaps understandably given the lack of representation in genre fiction) asked if my reference to Garren’s husband was a typo. Just to be clear to those who were not prepared for this: yes, Garren is a gay man. I am not afraid of that fact, and indeed, neither is he.

Incidentally, Garren was not originally written as a homosexual character; this fact evolved slowly from my experiences with him. When it came time to discuss his past it just seemed natural that he preferred relationships with men, and that was that. I made a conscious decision not to “hang a flag” on Garren’s sexuality while writing the scene in question, and I’d like to give you a little insight as to why.

Even though I didn’t set out with an agenda to have a gay character, I put considerable thought into how I wanted to deal with issues of skin color, gender, and sexuality before I started writing Tragedy. I think there is great merit in highlighting the struggles of minority groups through stories. As I’ve said before, societal shifts are slow and subtle, and the media can be an incredible vehicle for change. However, when I was thinking of what I wanted to portray in my work, I decided to take a radically different approach. I thought to myself, what if I made a series of societies in which color, gender, and sexual orientation were non-issues? What would that look like?

How could a story like that affect a reader’s perspective?

In the end I decided that I wanted to create a world where those problems are not paramount in order to showcase our human similarities. I’d like to think that all of us are more similar than we are different – I see it in my life every day. We all experience love, loss, hardship, and triumphs – these are things that bind us, and in my mind, these things are the most important. This was one of the chief motivators behind writing Fathers and Sons – it is a story about love, family, and loss in which the main character’s homosexuality is far less significant than his emotional journey.

I’m very pleased that most people seem to like Garren a lot, regardless of their views on his sexuality. Several have even pointed him out as a favorite character. Garren’s strength, honor, and compassion are the attributes that most people remember about him. It’s hard for me to play favorites with my imagination-children, but if I had to… well, I don’t want to make the kids jealous. 😉

As an aside, this is probably a good time for me to explicitly state that you’re not imagining things – yes, Elden is bisexual. He shows up only briefly in Tragedy, but rest assured I am having tons of fun with Elden in Suffering. 34,000 words and counting, folks. This is real!

“Fathers and Sons” Short Story FREE in all E-Book Formats

I wrote Fathers and Sons for several reasons. First, I love Garren as a character in ways you might not expect while reading Tragedy. He is a deep-thinking, kind, independent person who, despite his hardened exterior, has a love for his friends and family which may be unmatched. He is an incredible person with an incredibly tragic story, and I wanted to find a way to show readers the man behind the tough mask.
On a more practical level, I wanted to see how the publishing process works and offer a low-risk or no-risk way to sample my work. I wanted to upload it for free from the start, but hadn’t figured out the best way to do that at the time. While it is not yet free on Amazon (still need to get them to pricematch it), it is 100% free to read across all platforms on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and the iBookstore. If you’re at all interested, please check it out!
Garren has spent many years building his home in the Kaldari border town of Plen. A satisfied husband and father, he is known as one of the best scouts in all the provinces despite his identity as a half-Kaldari bastard. Although he tries to ignore the war brewing between the Kaldari and the Children of Elseth in the north, one man’s mistake brings that war to his doorstep and changes his life forever.This short story told from Garren’s point of view is a prequel to Sydney M. Cooper’s novel, “Forsaken Lands Book 1: Tragedy.”

Obligatory Year-in-Review Post

I hope that all of you made it through the holidays intact and are had a safe, happy new year. I’ve been busy the couple weeks with family and last-minute vacations before work begins again. That work thing just will not go away.

It’s been a very interesting year, as you may have noticed. I’ve been job searching all over the country in my non-writing life, published both Tragedy and Fathers and Sons, and have already started working on the sequel to Tragedy. Publishing has been a lifelong dream of mine, and while I haven’t been as wildly successful as some other authors, it’s enough that I’m happy to continue. I’ve met the goal of distributing my work to people I don’t know, and fortunately I’ve gotten some good responses.

It’s not much, but it’s enough for me.

The e-publishing game is tougher than many people will make it out to be. With so many borderline publications out there in the indie author world, very few readers specifically seek out indie writers – and of course, most indie writers to not have spare cash to sink into advertising. We get most of our traction through blogs, social networks, offering free stuff, and just generally trying to prove that we’re good enough to warrant the “risk” of a few bucks. Me, I don’t have a vast network of people to automatically like/share/endorse my work, so I’m making slow, gradual gains by virtue of the work itself. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme in any sense of the word, and it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re thinking about going the indie route.

Despite the drawbacks, I couldn’t be happier that I live in a time when this method of delivery is available. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have kept submitting to publishers, suffering rejections, and maybe never published anything at all. It may be arrogance on my part to assume that readers should look at my stuff despite a lack of interest from traditional publishers, but honestly, I just want the subject matter out there. I’m not the best writer to grace the earth, but I do think I can run up against some of the traditionally published authors on the shelves. My stories are stories worth telling, at least to me, and apparently to some other people in the world, too. Dan Carlin posted a pretty nice video to his homepage about “new media” and how it gives a voice to people who never had a way to connect with an audience before – he speaks from the perspective of a podcaster, but I think it’s relevant for indie authors as well. We are one part of the new media revolution, relatively uncensored by the former great gatekeepers (i.e., publishers). It is a great time to be a creative person.

What’s the point of this post? I suppose it doesn’t have much of one. It’s not very long for a year-in-review post, but I suppose it will have to count. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions (seeing as anything labeled “new year’s” is swiftly forgotten about within the first two weeks of January), but I do have some general goals. As I move on to making some actual money here in the future, I would like to endeavor to buy more things from local or independent producers, be it food, music, jewelry, or books. There are incredibly talented people all over the place with wonderful gifts to share – I think that supporting them with whatever extra dollars I have is simply good karma.

I’ll keep you all updated going forward. I’m 25,500 words into Suffering and cannot wait to get through this first draft. Have an absolutely wonderful 2014, readers and writers! I’ll leave you with a little taste of what I’ve been working on lately.

    “I told him not to do it.” Les shook his head, “I told him that she’s a snake, and he won’t listen.”
“She who?”
“Drei,” he rasped.
The sound of the name instantly drew Adria’s brow together. Drei was the Commander of the Kaldari Coalition of Tribes, a woman who threatened to kill as many people as were necessary to “take back” Elseth’s Lands. A warrior race from the south, the Kaldari lived brutal lives which were reflected in their religion and their treatment of others.
“If this is a joke you should know that you’re about to walk away with a black eye. It’s not funny.”
“No joke. As Adreth said, this isn’t a government and it’s certainly not a democracy. He’ll do what he pleases, and he thinks this is a good idea.” Les pulled the cig from his lips to steal a swig from Adria’s drink and coughed. “Skies above I hate ale.”
Adria snatched the mug out of his hands and leaned forward, lowering her voice. “And he made this decision tonight?”
“Skies no, he made the deal a while ago. She’s on her way here tonight.”
“Here?” Adria seethed. She was on her feet without meaning to be, ready to turn and walk up the stairs to strangle her goddamned twin.
Les grabbed her by the arm tightly. “Rendezvous was in Saphena. The detail left to pick her up an hour ago. They’ll be here any minute.”
She wrenched out of his hold easily. As much as Les had grown as a fighter, she was still a fair twice as strong as him. The man couldn’t easily make up for a lifetime of privilege. “I don’t need very long, trust me.”
When she looked up she was too late. Adreth was on the catwalk overlooking the hall, staring down at her. His large, callused hands were gripping the banister, and did not move when she made a direct and deliberate line up the stairs to him. Adreth’s expression remained tight and strong, the way it always was when he had made up his mind. Adria fisted both hands by her sides when she approached. Les sat and watched apprehensively, but knew better than to follow.
“We need to talk alone,” she said as calmly as she could muster.
“Not the time, Adria,” Adreth replied.
“I don’t think you catch my meaning. We need to talk alone or I’m going to bring your business out real public.”
“You spoke with Les.”
“Damn right I did. He thinks you’re half cracked, and so do I.”
He spoke slowly, gaze fixed on the men and women socializing in the hall below. “You of all people have to know how hard it was for me to make this call. I didn’t make it lightly. We’re losing this war, Adria. We will never be able to defeat the Celet with this strategy.”
“You told me that if we found the engineers-”
“It’s more than firepower.” This time he turned to look at her, fierce brown eyes stone cold, surrounded by his bold features. They had similar faces, Adria and Adreth, but Adreth always had an intangible edge in him that Adria could never match. “We don’t have enough trained men and women to keep this going. Drei’s people are harder than us. They’ve lived like no one in Elseth’s Land could imagine, and because of that they have something we don’t.”
“And what is that?”
“The dedication to sacrifice everything for what they want.”