Line? What Line? I Don’t See No Freakin’ Line
First of all I want to thank the Novel Approach for having me here today. Yay!! I’m so excited to be on this site. Everything’s so shiny. –touches everything- -breaks a vase- I’m totally going to pay for that. Promise.
Anyway. When I talked to Lisa about doing a blog post for the site, especially since I wanted to feature my newest release, Groom Of Convenience, I told her, honestly, that I had no idea what to write about. When she suggested that I write about the book, its characters, and why I liked to shake things up a bit in the romance genre with creative settings, storylines and characters, I knew that she understood me. I also knew that I had definitely found my blog topic.
One of the things I get asked a lot by readers, reviewers, other authors, and hell, even by some publishers, is how in the hell do I come up with the ideas for my stories/series, and why do I push the boundaries, cross the lines, and write outside of the “box”? (Okay, the profanity in that question was mine to add more emphasis, but the question was still all theirs) I always laugh when they ask me that and then I answer them honestly: “Line? What line? I didn’t know there was a line.”
And I’m not being cheeky. Or profound. Or philosophical. Okay… maybe I am a little. But honestly, my characters are a lot like me. At least, some of them are. And because of that, them, their worlds, and the situations that they endure, don’t follow the rules. They create them. I don’t start off writing a book saying to myself: “This is the formula for writing an amazing gay romance novel. I must follow this if I want this book to be good.” No. –shakes head- When I sit down behind my laptop every day (except on the weekends when I honor Shabbat and the Sabbath), I simply write the story that my characters are telling me to write. I don’t think about if writing a story about male pregnancy is going to disgust anyone. I don’t worry about if writing a story about an interracial couple and dealing with issues like racism, drug abuse, child abuse, and transgenderism is going to rub people the wrong way. I don’t even stop to ask myself if writing a historical book, set in an alternate world, and basically twisting the gender normalities in such a way that I create four brand-new genders just so that I can open people’s eyes to the plight and the normality of the transgender community is going to piss people off.
I write the story that my characters tell me to write. I write the struggles, the aches, pains, desires, the anguish, hurts, love, and journeys of couples who appeal to me to share their story with the world. I was told that I “Dom” my readers because I am constantly pushing their boundaries when it comes to their reading. I push them emotionally, I push them in their enjoyment, making some books extremely funny, and some books angsty, and some a blend of the two. I laughed at first, but after thinking about it, I wasn’t surprised that my writing was described in that way. I do that. Not intentionally but I do.
I think that’s why I both enjoyed and fretted about Lucien’s and Heath’s story in Groom Of Convenience. For some reason, GoC was the first book I’ve ever written that had me completely tied up in knots upon its release. I couldn’t understand why. I had written about mpreg before. I have even written transgender stories before. ButGoC was, and is, so very different. It’s my first historical, and being a HUGE history nerd myself I spent hours upon hours, days upon days, weeks, etc. doing research for this book before I even started writing it and then while I was writing it, I was still doing research. Not just on the big things like clothes and setting but on small things like flowers that grew, shoes, drinks and when they were served, plays and poems of the times, etc. GoC is not just a historical, for it to be what I wanted, I had to set it in an alternate world. Then I had to create four different types of genders: Male men (able to impregnate-gentlemen, head of home, a man), Male women (able to get pregnant-lady, caretaker, a woman), Female men (able to impregnate-gentleman, head of home, a man), Female women (able to get pregnant-lady, caretaker, a woman). I had to create a vocabulary, rules of my world, which are the same rules and laws of this world, because Tearth is Earth, with one or two exceptions. Female men can impregnate and Male women can get pregnant.
I wasn’t sure I completely understood the book, the series, let alone that anyone else would, but as the book took shape, and the characters began to talk I realized that I was once again weaving a pattern from the back and the picture wouldn’t make sense until after I was finished.
After the book was completed, after edits were done and the book was out… after different reviews came in and the book hit the Bestseller List I was talking to my friend Taylor and as I spoke to her the image of the book became clear to me. And that is what I want to share with you:
In Groom Of Convenience the characters who are female men and male women are transgender people. These are people who, on the outside look one way, but on the inside, are something completely different. Throughout the Scandalous Whispers of the Remmington Realm series, you will meet various people who represent the transgender community who refuse to conform to societal norms. There’s Lucien, who society tells him that he’s a woman because of his uterus, and that because of that he is restricted to behaving a certain way, looking and acting a certain way. Lucien refuses and constantly pushes against the restricting box that society has tried to place on him. He refuses to allow neither his gender nor his sex to define him. Then in The Servant Duchess Of Whitcomb you will meet Chester, who is another male woman who is restricted not only by his gender but his race and his position in society.
So when I write, I don’t see the line, or the box. I don’t write to necessarily “shake things up” (okay, not completely) though it happens, I write the story that the characters tell me to write, and if the readers get shaken up, that’s just a happy bonus for me. If the genre gets shaken up, and the lines and the boxes get obliterated completely, well that’s even better, because I’m just going to keep on writing as I have been and continue right on as if the line and the boxes don’t exist whatsoever, because for me?
They don’t.-Vicktor Alexander
Blurb: In an alternate universe, in the country of Angland, 1814, the gentry live lives of culture and class. It is a time of courtships, marriages of convenience, and titles, where scandal can ruin an entire family. Gender lines are blurred, and making a good match is of utmost importance. Children are born to men and women, which has led to the acceptance of same-sex marriages. Lady Lucien Timothy Hawthorne is shocked and angry when he is betrothed against his will to Lord Heathcliff Eddington, III, the Duke of Pompinshire. While drowning his frustration at a popular gentleman’s club, he meets “Robert,” a gorgeous older man whom he sleeps with as “Timmy,” regardless of the potential damage to his reputation. After their liaison, Lucien corresponds with Robert via letters left at Remmington, and they decide to elope. Before they can get away, Lucien meets his betrothed, Heathcliff, who he is surprised to discover is also his beloved, Robert. Both men desire a marriage of the heart, but they find out that sometimes a marriage of convenience can turn into love under the right circumstances. But Lucien has a secret, and Tlondon isn’t as safe as they once thought.
Excerpt: “Here we are,” Rosemary announced, her voice louder than normal, with a false cheeriness to it. Lucien’s eyebrows rose at his mother’s behavior, and he stopped her in front of the closed doors, which once again let Lucien know something or someone was behind those doors that his parents didn’t want him to know about until they’d had a chance to explain it to him.
“Mother, what is going on?” Lucien asked her. Rosemary looked at Lucien and shook her head. “Why, Luce, absolutely nothing. Why would you ask me something like that?”
Lucien was really concerned, as neither of his parents used his nickname. Ever. He said nothing to her, just staring, unmoving. Rosemary removed her hand from Lucien’s elbow and raised it to the pearls hanging at her neck to play with them a moment. Lucien was very aware of that gesture; it meant Rosemary was nervous and trying to figure out just what to reveal. He waited expectantly, confident she would let him know what was going on before he had to face his maldy, but when Rosemary shook her head and squared her shoulders, Lucien knew his ploy of silence wouldn’t work this time.
“All you need to know, Lucien, is that everything we do, we do as your parents and because we love you,” Rosemary told him. She raised a hand to his cheek and stroked the skin gently, lovingly. “We were so happy when I gave birth to you and discovered you were a girl. We had been surprised by the pregnancy, as the doctors told me I was past my conceiving years, but you were a delightful surprise. We always wanted a son, and we were finally given one.” She dropped her hand from Lucien’s cheek and lifted it to her face to wipe away the tears that had gathered in her eyes. “We do this because we care about you and only want the best for you.”
Rosemary turned back to the double doors of the red rose room and pushed on the handles to open them. She grabbed the skirt of her morning gown in one hand and glided into the room. Lucien stood in shock for only a moment before he followed her. “Close the doors, Son.” His maldy’s husky voice came from the direction of one of the chairs next to the fireplace.
Lucien nodded and, as he turned to close the doors, saw the Duke and Duchess of Cumbria sitting on the loveseat across from his maldy. He froze in shock for but a moment. Years of etiquette training wouldn’t allow him to just stand in front of the door, but he had never seen anyone in the red rose room who wasn’t family, and now here were two of the most prestigious peers of the realm, not only in their home but in their private family room. Lucien took a moment to compose himself. He smiled at both of them and bowed slightly before turning back to close the doors. After he released the handle, Lucien took a steadying breath and moved to face his parents.
“Well, have a seat, Lucien,” Annabelle directed him.
“Yes, Maldy,” Lucien answered automatically. His maldy was a stern woman. Lucien could only remember one instance where he had ever seen her be soft and loving, though he wasn’t supposed to have. He had woken up in the middle of the night when he was seven years old and had walked out of his room and down the family wing toward his parents’ room. He knew he was too old to actually sleep in the bed with them, but he had wanted comfort from a dreadful nightmare. Halfway down the hall, he’d stopped, frozen in place as he saw his mothers pressed together against the wall next to the bedchamber. They were dressed in evening attire, Rosemary in a gorgeous dress of blue velvet, one hand holding a white shawl, her black hair spilling down her back in a mass of curls. Annabelle was pressed close to Rosemary’s body, her thick blond hair pulled back into a harsh, unforgiving bun, her face pressed into the crook of Rosemary’s neck. Annabelle wore a slim dark green evening gown, embroidered in onyx gems under her small bust and around the hem.
As Lucien continued to watch them, he saw Rosemary lift her leg and circle it around Annabelle’s waist, while Annabelle dropped a hand beneath Rosemary’s skirts. Lucien’s eyes had widened, and he’d turned to leave, not in the least bit interested in watching his parents copulate in the middle of the corridor. It was something he only knew about because he’d overheard his sisters speak of it and because he’d sneaked into the servants’ quarters many times and seen the same thing occurring among the servants. Just as he started to turn away, he saw Annabelle lift the hand that had been pressed against the wall on the side of Rosemary’s head and tenderly stroke Rosemary’s cheek. She had leaned close and kissed Rosemary’s lips gently before lifting Rosemary’s leg higher. It was Rosemary’s gasp and harsh groan of Annabelle’s name that had spurred Lucien to turn and race down the hallway to his room.
So while one part of him was happy to know his maldy had a gentle side, the self-preservation side of him tried not to remember how he knew that. Lucien settled himself on the edge of the chaise next to the loveseat where the duke and duchess sat.
“I believe you know the duke and duchess?” Annabelle said, smiling thinly up at Rosemary, who stood and began pouring tea for all of them. Lucien crossed one leg over the other, balanced his teacup and saucer on his knee, and sat straight up—something else he’d learned how to do in his etiquette class—and nodded.
“Yes, Maldy. So nice to see you again, Your Graces,” Lucien said with a smile at two of the highest-ranking members of society. The Duke of Cumbria was a harsh-looking man. His skin had a healthy tan from spending a great deal of time outside, no doubt riding his horse or hunting, like most titled members of the gentry. It was a luxury Lucien wished he would have once he married, but one he believed he would have to go without once that occasion happened upon him. The duke’s black hair was brushed back from his face and pulled into a queue at the back of his neck; gray had seeped into the dark strands and colored his temples. His eyes were a mesmerizing shade of light gray, almost silver, his chin pointed, a dimple resting in the middle of it. He had broad shoulders shrouded in a brown morning coat over a startling white dress shirt with a white cravat and a black vest. He wore black breeches, which could barely contain his large thighs, and black boots on his feet.
Next to him, the Duchess of Cumbria wore a morning gown of yellow that caused her pale skin to look sallow. Her red hair, cluttered with gray strands, was pulled back in a bun, tendrils escaping to curl around her rounded face. Lucien admired the fact that the Duchess had not felt the need to buy a wig of blonde or black hair that would make her much more fashionable. She no doubt felt she didn’t have to, being a superior member of the gentry. Her bonnet rested on her lap, and Lucien wondered if perhaps she had just removed it moments before he’d entered. Where his mother Rosemary had foregone heels for slippers, the Duchess wore a beautiful pair of white heeled shoes with lace and embroidery over the front of them. Her eyes were a deep jade color, and she smiled brilliantly at Lucien when his eyes fell on her.
“And it is indeed a pleasure to see you again, young Lucien,” the Duchess, Jane, if Lucien remembered her Christian name correctly, said, her voice light and melodious.
“I am sure you are wondering why you were summoned to the family home when we did not have a scheduled meal,” Annabelle stated, and Lucien gave the Duchess a final smile before turning his attention to his maldy.
“The thought had crossed my mind, yes, Maldy,” Lucien admitted.
“Well, my dear, we have taken it upon ourselves to make a decision about your life that I am sure you will find not only agreeable but practically miraculous and fortuitous,” Annabelle stated with a pointed look. That look Lucien knew quite well. Even if he didn’t find the decision “miraculous” or “fortuitous,” he was being ordered to pretend he did in front of the duke and duchess.
“Thank you, Maldy. I am sure that I will,” Lucien agreed. He wondered if he had been offered to be a companion to the Duchess. While it wasn’t at all a notion he would have chosen for himself, it was inherently better than what he thought he’d been summoned to the estate for.
“Your mother and I have decided to accept the suit offered by the Duke and Duchess of Cumbria,” Annabelle told him before calmly lifting her teacup to her lips and taking a sip.
“Suit?” Lucien questioned, looking back and forth between the two couples.
“Yes. You are to wed Heathcliff Eddington III, His Grace, the Duke of Pompinshire, Marquess of Manchester, Earl of Southerby, Viscount of Berkinstock, Baron of Hempstead, heir to the Dukedom of Cumbria, in six months’ time.”
About Vicktor: Vicktor “Vic” Alexander wrote his first story at the age of ten and hasn’t stopped writing since. He loves reading about anything and everything and is a proud member of the little known U.N. group (Undercover Nerds) because while he lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps sports, he also breathes history and science fiction and grew up a Trekkie. But don’t ask him about Dungeons & Dragons, because he has no idea how to play that game. When it comes to writing he loves everything from paranormal to contemporary to fantasy to historical and is known not only for being the Epilogue King but also for writing stories that cross lines and boundaries that he doesn’t know are there. Vic is a proud father of two daughters one of whom watches over him from Heaven with his deceased partner Christopher. Vic is a proud trans* and gay man, and when he is not writing, he is hanging out with his friends, or being distracted by videos of John Barrowman, Scott Hoying, and Shemar Moore. Vicktor has published numerous bestselling novels and has a WIP list that makes him exhausted just thinking about. He knows that he will be still be writing about hot men falling in love with each other, long after he is living in an assisted living facility, flirting with the hot, male nurses.
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