Hey guys, this is the first *official* Rainbow Thursday post. Last week, the first not-official post was done by Lee Bantle, and it was really great. :) This time, the post is by another favorite author of mine - Hayden Thorne. Her historical and contemporary fiction books are amazing, and worthy of any bookshelf. Here she is to talk about romance and more, man to man style...
I promised John a guest blog that focuses on romantic aspects of my books. So I decided to talk trivia about the "better halves" of some of my books' heroes. Who are they? Why are they significant? What were my experiences in writing them?
To add to the fun, I also used pictures of actors and a comic book hero to give you an idea how I visualize these characters' appearances.
Poor, orphaned, and initially timid, Daniel Courtney makes up the second half of the main romantic pair in Icarus in Flight. He starts off fairly archetypal as a character, but he grows up pretty quickly the longer he remains in James's company. Because of his disadvantages going into his friendship with the older boy, he shadows James around, practically worshiping the ground his protector walks on, but he proves to be a fast learner and develops his confidence because of (and in spite of) James.
Of all the characters I worked on for Icarus in Flight, Daniel was the most problematic, particularly in the second half of the book. As a preteen and a teenager, he was easy to write, largely because his naïveté was pretty accessible to me. His adult ambitions, though, proved to be a pain. I honestly did not want to turn him into a writer because it's such a cliché for writers to write about writers.
I thought of giving him a job in the postal service because during that time, London, especially, enjoyed an incredibly efficient mail system, and I figured that Daniel being forced into taking a job that might've been a miserable one for him, given his temperament, would've been a good direction to pursue. Unfortunately, the plot also required that he be somewhat nomadic in his lifestyle in order to reinforce the choices he and James need to make for their future together. I forced all sorts of odd jobs onto the boy, poor thing, till he had no choice but to move from one county to another, feeling utterly dissatisfied and frustrated. So he ended up being what I didn't want him to be: a writer. I guess once everything's said and done, it all works out.
The image I'm using to "show" Daniel is from one of the countless adaptations made of Nicholas Nickleby, and I chose this because Charlie Hunnam (at least in this shot) looks very much the way I picture Daniel. The hair's rather long, though, but it's close enough. Besides, he's blond.
Miles is the third son and the second to the last child of Lord Lovell. Vincent's good friend from university, he's every bit Vincent's foil, which instantly earns him Natty's admiration. Miles is negligent and friendly when around his friends, but he instantly turns into the sober, firm, obedient son when he's with his family. He's able to control his father's surliness and bluntness toward Vincent and Natty (especially toward Natty), and even comes to Nathaniel's aid when Lord Lovell mocks the boy at their first meeting, calling him a "mere child" because of his age and appearance. He behaves as a suitor would when he visits the vicarage, but it's all very subtle to the point of non-existence, which partly causes Natty's confusion regarding their connection. Groomed from his childhood to fulfill his obligations to his family, Miles finds himself questioning the path laid out for him after meeting Nathaniel.
Miles offered me a chance to explore other options when it came to privileged gay gentlemen. Considering his position in the family and the role for which he's been long groomed, I wanted to see what a fellow like him would do when presented with the perfect opportunity to stop and question the direction he's taking with his life. Miles isn't an innocent when it comes to his homosexuality. He engages Natty in a long and private chat about his past and how he first discovered that he's gay. That scene was one of the hardest I wrote not because I had problems working through the scene and the dialogue, but because that scene marked one of the major turning points in the romance between Miles and Natty, and what came out of it dictated the characters' choices from that point on. I waffled a lot - a lot - but in the end had to take that position that was pretty much shaped by Miles himself since the moment he and Natty first crossed paths. It was that which was most consistent with his character, I thought.
"Miles" is Oliver Milburn, who played James Steerforth in one of the more recent productions of David Copperfield.
Peter Barlow is the quiet, smart boy who makes up the third of Eric Plath's tiny circle (if one were to call it that) of good friends. Born to a wealthy and overachieving interracial family (his mother's Japanese, and his father's English), Peter would rather hang out with the regular kids, even wear the same cool second-hand stuff that they're wearing. One of his prized possessions is an old denim jacket that he's purposefully ripped up and slapped with paint and all kinds of anti-censorship buttons. He never takes it home, given his family's uptight attitude, and it's Eric who washes it for him. He loves art but isn't artistic; in fact, his "natural" talents lie elsewhere, a fact that becomes a constant source of angst for him.
Eric can't have his story without a proper foil, and that's Peter. He, along with Althea, represents the less humorous side of the process which brings about all the superhumans in Vintage City (both good and bad). More so with Peter than with Althea, anyway, I wanted to take a little more of a serious approach to the situation that superhumans find themselves in. Sure, he's got his lighter moments as well, especially in the process of developing his powers and coping with the unhappier effects on his life as a normal teenager. But at sixteen, he's way too young to take on the kinds of responsibilities that are forced on to him, no thanks to his parents and their ambitions. He's therefore forced to be the more mature one of the two boys, even though he stumbles quite a bit in his relationship with Eric.
The image above is a really cool sketch of Cosmic Boy that was made by the late Mike Wieringo. How very Peter/Calais...though the half-mask is missing.
In case anyone's wondering if I've ever written - or if I'll ever write - contemporary realistic fiction involving LGBT teens, my answer is no. I'm straight, so I can't even begin to fathom the emotional roller-coaster ride that comes with the journey of self-discovery among LGBT teens. It's too sensitive a subject for me to attempt to tackle without inadvertently messing things up along the way. So I leave it to LGBT writers to connect with each new generation of kids with some of the most amazing stories of their lives ever written.
As a straight writer who loves writing about LGBT teens outside realistic fiction, all I can offer is an escape.
ON GENRE FICTION FOR LGBT TEENS:And that's my fiction in a nutshell. For those who've read any of my books, I hope you enjoyed them. :)
LGBT teens have all sorts of stories to tell. They’re heroes not only of contemporary adventures or of fantasy and magic, but also of history. The rules might be different — stricter, a bit more frightening given 19th century laws, for instance — but there’s still romance to be discovered, dreams to be shaped, character to be developed, and all of these done within the parameters set by the genre. It’s going to be a challenge, sure, but if it means allowing LGBT kids their own time in the “limelight” of, say, the Victorian stage, I’m game.
Thanks for stopping by, Hayden! That was majorly cool. If you are an LGBTQ author, publisher, writer, or blogger, please email me if you want to do a Thursday post. I'm open to reviewing LGBTQ books of any type that are appropriate for teens, and I'd love to help you get more promotion for yours. Until tomorrow, dears, check out Hayden's blog and be safe.