Hi everyone, and welcome to the virtual book tour for City Mouse, our brand new sequel to Country Mouse! Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov here, and we’re thrilled to celebrate this new release with you. Co-writing from two different continents isn’t always easy, but with characters like Owen and Malcolm, we couldn’t help ourselves! We’ll be sharing exclusive excerpts & guest posts all week long, and we hope you enjoy reconnecting with these two as much as we did.
Follow along all week—each stop you comment on enters you to win a $10 gift card to Riptide Publishing! Giveaway entry closes March 22nd at 11:59 p.m.
All About Josh
by Aleksandr Voinov
Funnily enough, when I came up with Josh, Malcolm’s personal trainer in City Mouse, he wasn’t quite that abrasive and nasty. In fact, he was fairly understanding to a different guy when he made his first appearance in a book I wrote in around 2008/2009, and which remains unpublished. He started out as a minor character, then I realised I’d based him on somebody I’d met (several somebodies, actually), and it turned out he was a transman. Now, all this was way before I’d fully embraced my own identity, and I’m not going to write about that part. Or maybe just a little.
See, image can be everything. I grew up with a fitness-obsessed gay uncle who invested a tremendous amount of energy on looking his best (including the family-first cosmetic operation), and he did. He had enormous doubts about being able to “pull” when he got older (aka: past thirty), and it struck me how desperate the race for beauty, attractiveness and competitiveness in the “gay scene” is. I assume some of that went into Malcolm. Now, Josh is the flipside. Born female, he’d be worried about “passing” – being accepted as male from an early stage, even before hormones and operations. Turning him into a fitness freak—to build the shoulders and pecs and overall “male” physique—seemed logical. He simply devoted himself to building the body he wanted to attain, becoming very good at it and then choosing to teach others how to do it. So far, so good.
Josh is also my first transman. I’ve written about a transwoman in Special Forces, but Josh was always closer to home and at times too close for comfort. In City Mouse, he’s pretty unpleasant to Malcolm, which might shock some people – he is trans*, after all, so shouldn’t he be like, a spokesperson for the trans* community? Shouldn’t he be nicer? Is Aleks Voinov saying that all trans people are body fetishists and generally unpleasant?
None of that was my intention. Essentially, I’ve been irritated by trans* people always being portrayed either as victims, psychopaths or saints. Even in our genre, trans* people often die (sometimes after having been raped—which absolutely reflects real-life violence against trans people, see Boys Don’t Cry). Then there’s the psychopath (Silence of the Lambs).
Then there’s the saint—like we all turn into amazing, sweet, self-sacrificing, selfless people upon discovering our trans* identity. I’ve read a number of books where trans* people were not really people at all—they were too good to be true, mouthpieces of some Big Important Message that was being preached to the choir.
As a writer, I actually find that mildly offensive—nobody gets a halo just because they are trans*. Or gay. Or black. Or have to use a wheelchair. We are all still people first, with our flaws and issues, and Josh has both. So, yeah, Josh is being superficial and extremely body-conscious, he’s even a little arrogant. But I’m letting you in on a secret now: He has a different side. It’s just that he doesn’t particularly like Malcolm very much, so he’s hitting Malcolm’s buttons, because he can’t really believe that Malcolm is turning into a Real Human Being. For the screentime they have together, he’s having fun jerking Malcolm’s chain, and Malcolm doesn’t really notice (because Malcolm is a self-centered guy, he barely notices that). So, yeah. Not very nice. Though I think Malcolm deserves it a little bit after how he treated other people. All Josh is turn the tables on him.
A magical weekend, a breathless declaration, a happy ever after . . . Right?
When Malcolm Kavanagh took his first step toward emotional maturity by declaring his love to Owen Watson, that was just the first chapter in their story. Anyone who’s ever been in love knows that happy endings take a lot more work than that.
One problem: Malcolm has never been in love. He doesn’t know the rules of a relationship and isn’t confident enough to trust that his is real. He learns the ropes by sharing his life and his flat with Owen, but relationship boot camp proves a challenge. Everything is a struggle, from accepting Owen’s low-status job to putting his boyfriend above his personal trainer.
Luckily, Owen knows a little more about relationships, and labors patiently to survive the first six weeks of their life together. From the art galleries of Cambridge to the tawdry majesty of the Dominion theatre, Owen adapts to England while Malcolm adapts to the whole human race. Maybe, if Owen is patient enough and Malcolm learns to give, the two of them can make it past Relationship Armageddon to a real happy ending.
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head. She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies. She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
You can find Amy at:
- Website: www.greenshill.com
- Blog: www.writerslane.blogspot.com
- Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/#!/amymaclane
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001702070484
Aleksandr Voinov has been published for twenty years, both in print and ebook. He has ten years’ experience as a writing coach, book doctor, and writing teacher, and he works as a financial editor in the research department of a pan-European investment bank.
After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write edgy, dark, sometimes literary M/M and gay fiction (much of which is romance/erotica)—the only way he can use his American Literature degree these days. He’s been published with Heyne/Random House, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, Loose Id, Dreamspinner, Storm Moon Press, and others.
You can find Aleks at http://aleksandrvoinov.com.
10 thoughts on “Guest Post and Giveaway with Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov”
Thanks for sharing that insight, Aleks. It has always been a sore spot with me when characters who are not “the norm” get put into a story as a caricature or written with less depth than the norms. First because that’s just poor writing, second because exposure, in all media types, to differences is what helps fosters understanding in the real world. I have always stressed with my kids that you can’t judge anyone one way or the other based on anything you see about them. If a person is in a wheelchair, Chinese, overweight, a woman, WHATEVER, they are no more saint or sinner. They are human and complicated and allowed to be just as much of an asshole or just as sweet or just as stupid or just as loving or just as brilliant or just as whatever as any of the ways society has let us know loud-and-clear about the norms.
I think it’s difficult whenever someone is a part of that underrepresented group when you get a character that is less than flattering. It’s hard to let that be one of the few representations. It’ll be great when the diversity of the people on this earth is shown in media so often that people can just go back to loving and hating a character based on their personality, like they do now with the norms.
All the best with the book, and thanks for taking the time to share with us on the tour!
“…nobody gets a halo just because they are trans*. Or gay. Or black. Or have to use a wheelchair. We are all still people first, with our flaws and issues…”
100% agree! 🙂
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That raises some really good points…there’s a photographer near my hometown who had a fairly acclaimed exhibition of photos of trans* people. More than a few trans* people in the area, though, felt that she tended to approach the subject with an inherent “they’re so brave” sense of martyrdom and victimhood, and that did seem a little more apparent when I looked at it again. Come to think of it, the only matter-of-fact, not-a-big-deal presentation of a trans person that I can think of right now was in one of the last issues of FILAMENT (God, that was such a good magazine, so of course it had to die after ten issues). Anyway, to make a convoluted comment short, it’ll be refreshing to see more of Josh!
Thanks for the insight into one of your characters. I always find it interesting where the authors get there ideas for a character.
Interesting post and not what I was expecting. When Chaz Bono was on Dancing with the Stars they were so uber supportive it became insulting. Chaz Bono was starting to show how irritated he was with it too. Supporting someone with a difficult lifestyle is one thing, deitifying them is another.
I appreciate the insight to Josh’s character, thank you. Country Mouse was great, and I am glad that you both wrote a sequel! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about Owen and Malcolm, and luckily it sounds like you might have more ideas for future books. Thank you for participating in the blog tour and giveaway!
It’s always interesting to gain some insight for a character. You mentioned Josh has a different side, are we going to be seeing this at any point?
Really interesting post. Thanks for the insight.
Heh… getting this tomorrow! YES! <3 I really look forward to reading it!
interesting info about the characters
Thanks so much for this post. I appreciate that you created a character like Josh and were so willing to openly talk about why you did.
Congrats on your new story!
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