Something a bit different this week for me. I’m taking part in a Canadian blog-hop, along side some awesome Canucklehead authors (a couple of which I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through Romancing the Capital). There are prizes. There are blogs. Also hops. Wait. No. That sounds like beer. There’s hopping. You can remain seated, though. I am assured the hopping part is virtual.
But it’s all about the romance, all about the Canada, and definitely all about the crazy.
Now, if you’ve been following along at home, you know I’m almost Canadian. I’ve been living in Canada as a permanent landed immigrant for mumble-mumble years, and after I married my fella, and got my surname legally changed to match his (let me tell you, that’s a whole extra ball of fun when you have to explain over and over that yes, usually that’s what the wife does, and no, there’s no wife in this marriage, ha-ha, yes, now you get it, wasn’t that awkward?) and gathered all my newly minted ID, and then started the process of citizenship.
I’ve since passed the test (also not a walk in the park, by the way) and now I’m just waiting to swear my oath. Then it’ll be official.
But my tangling with red-maple-leaf tape isn’t why you’re here.
I love romance, and I love Canada, and as such the two often end up together in my stories. Almost everything I’ve ever written has taken place in Canada (usually here in Ottawa, where I live, or otherwise in British Columbia, where I spent quite a bit of time in my high school days). There are a couple of reasons for that, but first and foremost is as a writer, I do want to get things right.
I’m fairly likely to get the details right when I’m talking about Ottawa. I’ve spent more than half my life here (a feat I never thought I’d ever be able to say about anywhere, but that’s my nomadic childhood speaking up). More, it’s kind of liberating to head down to the NCC hosted kiosks and ask things like, “So, tell me about the Grand Trunk railway station, would you?” It’s always fun to talk to people who love their job, love their history, and love their city.
And I do love mine.
But it’s more than that. Given that I write queer romance, the setting has an extra layer of details to worry about. For example, I married my husband ten years ago (I proposed the day the Federal law changed in Canada). The US just had the one year anniversary of the Federal legalization of queer marriage. There are a million little differences that were in play during the time where my marriage was legal up here—but not down there—that could throw a wrench in a narrative set on the wrong side of the border.
I think it was my writer friend Greg Herren talking about New Orleans who said, “There are things that happen here that could only happen here.” I feel that way about setting my stores in Canada. The setting is often as much a character as anything else.
The short answer? Because we deserve some happy-ever-afters.
The long answer? I write queer characters (and especially when I write romance, I write queer romance) because representation matters. Visibility matters. Seeing stories that involve people like yourself matters. When I was a queerling, mumble-mumble years ago, there was nothing I could find. I don’t doubt things existed, but the access and the presence of those things were zilch, which meant they basically didn’t.
And the first darn thing I did find with a gay character was a story I had to study in an English class, and the queer character died and the general consensus of the story, the teacher, and the class was ‘Well, that’s what happens.’
Imagine for a sec the first time you saw a character that was someone you could connect with on a deep and visceral level died and everyone around you shrugged and said, ‘Of course.’
Yeah. That sucked.
I write the queer romance characters I write because I want queerlings to find themselves in the pages of books with futures and romances and happy-ever-afters. I once got a letter from a closeted kid in small-town Illinois who’d read a short story I’d written, “Cakewalk,” and his message to me—that this was the first time he’d read a story with a gay couple who had a kid and were a family and it was all just so possible—had me sobbing on the bus.
Understand, we’re not talking “Wow, that man is moved” sobs. We’re talking full on snot-bubble blotchy-faced ugliness on the freaking 97 South Keys bus. People moved away from me, and did so with alarm. I looked unhinged.
That one e-mail is worth more than any review I’ve ever gotten, the nominations for awards, and anything else.
It also taught me not to read reader feedback in public.
I love to laugh. The reality of being a queer guy (and, let’s be frank, I’m a white cis-gendered queer guy, so I walk with a very full backpack of privilege) is not always fantastic. There are—no lie—daily reminders that people would rather I not exist. My response to that struggle is, and has always been, to try to laugh as much as possible. Find the joy. Find the happiness. Spread that stuff around like it’s oxygen.
I generally write on the spec-fic side of the street, even when I’m writing romances. I love a dash of the unreal, or the magic, or the psychic, and part of that is how easily those things align with the reality of being a queer guy. We’re already uncommon. We’re the opposite of what’s assumed and expected. So why not take that and run with it?
All that generally combines into a magical (or psychic) world where people come face-to-face with situations that are a bit “out there.” In Light, I’ve got a gay guy trying to enjoy pride week who just happens to be telepathic and telekinetic (though he’s not very good at either, to be honest) and I hope that readers spend as much time chuckling as they do getting wrapped up in his struggle to save pride from a very dangerous foe. Also, he starts dating a yummy French Canadian leather man, because he doesn’t have enough on his plate.
In my various stories, I’ve got a psychometrist who writes history books, a psychokinetic quasi-superhero, a physical trainer who can heal, a town in B.C. with a population partly descended from naiads, a guy who can talk to the dead, someone who can see the past, a telepath or two, and even a bottle of magic ice wine. Falling in love is tricky. Falling in love when you’re psychic?
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Wait, you said “prizes…”
I did! Well spotted.
Okay, each stop on the blog hop has an individual prize, and then there’s a grand-prize, to boot.
This means there are seven chances to win various prizes, and then an eighth chance to win the grand prize (a $50 Amazon or Chapters/Indigo e-Gift Certificate). To enter for the grand prize, you’ll want to visit this link to Rafflecopter (note: Rafflecopter is not, in fact, a Transformer with a gambling problem. I asked.)
For the individual prizes you’ll need to visit the blogs and follow the individual instructions. For a copy of Light, the prize I’m giving away, all you need to do is comment here, or on my author Facebook page where this post will be referenced. I’ll connect with the winner to figure out how to mail said winning prize, so make sure you leave e-mail notifications on for replies to any comment you leave, or check back to see if you won on the 9th of July.
What should you comment? Any of the following:
- Why you love Canada (The hotness of our Prime Minister is a valid option).
- Why you love Romance (Queer or otherwise).
- Why you love Crazy (Please specify the crazy in question).
That’ll enter you into my contest. But don’t forget the other seven blogs!
Which blogs? What prizes? (This list also available through that Froggy button):
- PD Workman – Summer is Short on the Prairies Canadiana Prize Pack, including paperback copy of Questing for a Dream
- Jessica Subject – a paperback copy of Alien Next Door – the Complete Series
- Romarin Demetri – A Mirror Among Shattered Glass
- Lisa Emme – a signed copy of Home Again
- Nathan Burgoine – a copy of Light
- Kayleigh Malcolm – $20 CAD Amazon Gift Card
- Cori Vidae – a paperback copy of Rough Edges
And, finally, huge thank you to Lisa Emme for organizing this blog-hop and being so over-all cool in general.