What did it feel like to write a demisexual character in an erotic romance? By Kaelan Rhwiol

What did it feel like to write a demisexual character in an erotic romance?
By Kaelan Rhwiol

Asexuals aren’t interested in sex or are repulsed by it, right? Well, yes and no.

Many asexuals have little interest in sex, or they may lack sexual desire. Some asexuals lack attraction, meaning they may experience sexual desire but lack attraction to others. The asexual spectrum is incredibly broad and varied. There are so many ways people experience being asexual, but there aren’t a metric ton of fiction books exploring those individual realities.

Sex very much repulses some of us, and anyone talking about asexuality needs to know that aces like that exist. People also need to know that my kind of ace exists, too.

That for some of us, we can and do have sex for a lot of different reasons. As many varied reasons as there are individual aces; including wanting to please our partners because it pleases us to do so, to wanting to have children, to experiencing connection, to enjoyment. Some of us, given the right circumstances, can and do enjoy the act itself, really. We’re still asexual.

Have I blown your mind yet?

And what in the world does this have to do with the book I have releasing today? My BLOODBOUND?

A couple of years ago, after figuring out that I’m demisexual, I did what I usually do and looked around for fiction books, ideally in my favorite genres of romance and SFF that featured demisexual main characters.

I didn’t find many. In fact, I only found three. Three books and two of them were self-pubbed, so not well known. Thankfully there are more now, but at the time I felt that I needed to write a book in order to see someone like me on the page.

A gray-ace who very much identifies as asexual who happens to be in a happy relationship and who enjoys sex. One who, for all intents and purposes was a sex-repulsed ace until I wasn’t. Until I needed to start identifying as a gray-ace instead. I wrote all of that into BLOODBOUND.

So what did it feel like to write that?

It was hard, very hard. I’ve been known to liken it to scraping the main character, Rhian, out of my soul with a sharp blade and then bleeding her onto the page. Because a lot of the time it felt exactly like that. I had to relive a lot of relationships where I wish I hadn’t gotten sexual with people, and that wasn’t pleasant. I also had to examine a lot of my feelings and experiences from a semi-impartial writer’s viewpoint. So yeah, it wasn’t easy.

I write almost exclusively own voices work, meaning that my characters share parts of my marginalizations’. Most are queer or mentally ill; some are kinky, some are mixed-race or non-binary, some are autistic or have survived a lot of trauma, some experience the pain of a sibling’s death, but they’re all parts of me. I find I do my best writing when I’m passionate about the subject, and for me, lived experience gives me a unique perspective into a lot of intersectionally marginalized identities.

I’m used to the experience of writing bits of myself and my life into my work. So I expected writing BLOODBOUND to be similar, hard, but not too hard, easier in fact than writing things I’m not. 

It didn’t turn out that way. Rhian, my demisexual assassin, is the most of me that I’ve ever put on the page before and BLOODBOUND was the hardest book I’ve ever written. Rhian exposes the most personal aspects of myself in a lot of ways, the parts that I feel are most likely to be the worst reviewed, and the most hated parts. Why do I feel that? Because demisexuality is still so misunderstood, so unknown, and aces, in general, get a lot of hatred to start with. Demis tend to be the red-headed step-children of the asexual spectrum in my experience.

During the writing of it, I felt like I had to be so very careful with concepts and word choices, and at times I questioned what the hell I was doing writing an ace character who enjoys sex of all things, in an erotic romance!

But why not? Why shouldn’t people like me be able to see ourselves on the page as well? Why shouldn’t people who used to be sex-repulsed, like me, or who just never had any interest or understanding for it, (me at other times in my life) have that experience, that reality, to read? I think we should; I think we need to have that, as much as any other marginalized identity needs to see themselves. It’s imperative for us to have mirror books. Those books that we can see ourselves in.

So no matter how worried I am, or how afraid I am that people won’t connect with this very profoundly personal part of myself, shared through the vehicle of my main character, I still wrote and shared it. I needed to. Even if it hurts.

I’ve worried, all along, from the time I had the idea all the way up through writing, submission, acceptance, cover design and editing that demisexual readers will hate my book. It can only show my experience of being demisexual, which may be remarkably different from other demis. It has had four demisexual sensitivity readers, so hopefully, we’ve caught any issues there may be with representation, but it can’t represent all of us, because I’m only one person. Maybe it can let some of us see ourselves though, and that was my goal in writing it.

To let some of us see ourselves.

About Blood-Bound
Rhian is content in her life. As a pwca, a Welsh shapeshifter, she is bound to the Dark God Arawn as an assassin. So when he assigns her as ambassador to oversee Ontario for him, it’s a shock.

Her new job? To find out who murdered her predecessor and bring them to justice, as well as to oversee the otherkin and clean up their messes before the humans find them—all to preserve the illusion that magic and supernatural creatures do not exist.

The problem? One of the otherkin she’s supposed to oversee is her estranged husband, Kai, the only person Rhian never regretted having sex with, and the only one she can’t forgive.

Buy Links:  Blood-Bound from the publisher | Amazon | Indigo for Kobo | Barnes and Noble for Nook. And you can add it to your Goodreads TBR shelf here and read some reviews.

Plus, the first chapter and a giveaway are here on the Erotica for All blog!

If you’d like to read more about the author, you can find out a lot about xem on xyr website. Social Media for Kaelan on: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Kaelan was born and raised in upstate NY, in the Adirondack mountains.
Xie started writing when xie turned 11 and hasn’t ever stopped as evidenced by the massive amount of notebooks and digital files of xyr writing xie has hanging around.

Xie identifies as queer, because xie fits many of the letters of the QUILTBAG/LGBTQQIP2SAA acronyms.

Kaelan holds a B.A in bioanthropology/forensic chemistry and an MST in education/world history. Xie loved University, so holds minors in English, Literary Fiction, Creative Writing, Linguistics, Graphic Design, Folklore, Medieval History, and Modern Dance.

Xyr hobbies include reading, spinning wool with a spinning wheel, cooking, knitting, sewing and making jewelry.

Xie currently lives in Southern Ontario, Canada with xyr partner of 20 years, their two kids, three cats who put meaning to the phrase ‘foot fetishist’, and a grumpy rescue chinchilla.

The best place to connect with Kaelan is on Twitter, where xie spends way too much time.

 

Interview with Author Claudie Arseneault

I’m thrilled to have Claudie Arseneault on the blog today because I so rarely am able to show all the love I want for this growing body of work. City of Strife is a new series coming out soon so I hope you jump on the hype train with me!

Many authors have overarching themes from book to book. For people who are already your fans, or would like to be, in what ways is your newest, City of Strife, like your other works?

The major thing they have in common is the importance of teamwork—of several people all doing their own small part to fight something. I don’t do The One Hero. Viral Airwaves might have Henry as a lead, but a lot of its message is that you can’t stand aside and let others do the work, that “being a hero” really only means doing your best, no matter how small.

City of Strife has a slightly different approach to this. The trilogy’s overarching storyline starts when Diel Dathirii decides to go against the imperialistic enclave that is slowly invading his city’s politics. A lot of his struggle is in how the rest of the city won’t join him, and how alone, he doesn’t have the power to do this.

All of my work has this “don’t fight alone” and “don’t leave anyone behind” feel, and a lot of it also translates into major non-romantic relationships—friends, family (found or otherwise), mentors, etc.

I adore that message and thrilled to see more of it. The first thing that stands out about the book’s blurb is the character’s age. Does Arathiel being older change how you go about writing him? If so, in what ways?

Having elves in a story creates great opportunities to play with age, memories, and maturity. Arathiel is older, true, but this prolonged survival is artificial—most of the hundred thirty years he spent away from Isandor passed in a flash. This creates a huge amount of dissonance for him between the city he knew when he left, and the one he finds upon returning. People he knew back then are dead now… all except the elves.

So those elves do remember him, but they lived that 130 years fully. Arathiel is a lot more distant in their memory, because their lives changed and evolved since. I had to give a lot of thoughts on how I wanted to treat elven longevity in the context of an otherwise human city. It was a lot of fun.

Many fantasy worlds comment on real life organizations or nations, is there any symbolism hidden in your world building?

No? Maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t call it symbolism. I didn’t put anything in it thinking “this is a stand-in for X” and part of that might be because I first imagined this world some 8-9 years ago, and my political awakening was barely beginning at the time.

On the other hand, the parallels are really easy to draw, and I am very aware of them. There’s no denying Isandor is literally lead by a handful of merchants and that these rich peeps will gladly let the poorer folks rot if they can keep living in luxury, including through laws that maintain their status. Then there’s Avenazar… It’s kind of surreal, how the main villain of this is abusive, racist, vengeful, reckless, and easily-provoked. He’s existed for as long as the universe, and much longer than I knew Trump did, but here we are. I’ve had readers comment he should get more of a backstory to explain why he’s like that, but in all honesty, recent US events make me think the shithole racist empire Myria is constitutes all the backstory Avenazar needs.

Fiction has a way of being a bit too real at times… You’ve mentioned there is an all LGBTQIAP+ cast, and I know an aromantic character is included in that lineup. Could you tell us more about this diverse cast?

I could spend a long time talking about that. Isandor is written with a huge cast and many narrating characters (I approached this as a mosaic of point of views). Here’s the secret rule to it: if a character narrates, they’re queer. It’s not always explicit in the first book, but it will be through the trilogy.

But let’s talk about the aromantic and asexual characters! The cool part is that I technically don’t have enough of one hand to count them. Writing this book was like sprinkling the A everywhere. ^^ The most important ones are:

Nevian is a sex-repulsed biromantic asexual nerd. He’s a teenager who constantly deals with abuse (there are massive tw for abuse in this novel, and most of them are tied to Nevian). He’s also resilient, wary, and he loves to be right, even on technicalities.

Cal is both aromantic and asexual, although his aromanticism is the one briefly discussed. Cal is everybody’s friend, he’s a bit of a gossip monster, and although he neither has attraction or really wants a relationship, he loves seeing other fall in love and get together.

Hasryan is demibiromantic and heterosexual. Most of his relationship with his aromanticism is a big ???? because he also has fairly solid trust issues, and as the story starts he can’t be bothered to figure out where one starts and the other finishes. He definitely treasures his close circle of friends, and as the story progresses, there’s a lot of movement in it that leads to more exploration.

Larryn is grey-Ace and bi, though this stays Word of God in the first novel. A friend once called him the Grey-A Rage Baby, and that’s pretty accurate. He’s the owner of Shelter for the homeless, the bastard son of a Dathirii, and perpetually angry at the amount of injustice around him. Which would be great if he dealt with his anger a tad better.

There are more aro and/or ace babies! They become more important later in the trilogy, though, and this is already longer than it should have been sooo, let’s stop here.

Wow, what a huge collection! In a guest post you mention that the book is friendship-centered could you tell us more about the dynamic, and possibly the tension, between Arathiel’s connections to the Dathirii, and the new friends he meets?

A lot of Arathiel’s storyline in City of Strife revolves around trying to find a new place in the city, and the dissonance caused both by what he remembers of Isandor, and what he now discovers of it (this plays on several level, as most of Arathiel’s senses were numbed by what happened to him when he left, adding another distance).

There are… multiple layers of complexity here. His new friends (Cal, Larryn, Hasryan) live in the Lower City, and upon arriving he stays in a Shelter meant for homeless folks (owned by someone who absolutely cannot deal with rich people, no less). His old friends are nobles who live in pretty tower and spend more time discussing trade deals than scrambling for their food. These are two very different lives, and Arathiel’s not sure he can, should, or want to jump back in the old one. Figuring what home means to him and how to reconcile the different parts of it is a huge aspect of his story.

City of Strife’s official cover has just be revealed, can you tell us about the the style, or even feeling you want it to convey with it.

I wanted the city on it. Isandor is a character in and of itself to me, an universe I’ve been building brick by brick for a long time. I asked my cover artist to convey the eclectic feel of the tower, to go wild with the architecture. The end result is gothic towers, lions spitting water, beautiful glasswork, and a fantastic amount of details. Bonus: this is a concept we can reuse with every cover to give them a unified feel while still being quite different!

City of Strife releases on the 22nd! Which is the day after Hello World, it makes me feel hopeful so that such an aggressively a-spec filled book sits next to mine date wise. Last week had the re-release of The Princess Saves Herself In This One and Island of Exiles and now these two being so close to each other is just- well beautiful really.  Make sure you add it to goodreads so you don’t miss Claudie Arseneault’s newest gem.

#HOLLYWOODHOMICIDE COVER REVEAL

I like the  gratuitous use of suggested hashtags. I’ve found my caps chill so you don’t have to worry about that. Today we have a cover reveal for you. I was promised it was pretty cool and I agree! But let me know what you think!

hollywood-homicideHollywood Homicide

Detective By Day Series
Book 1

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Book Blurb:
Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

About Kellye Garrett
Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, will be released by Midnight Ink in August 2017. It’s the first book in the Detective by Day series.

Connect with Kellye Website|Facebook|Twitter|Blog 
You can pre-order the e-book and print edition on Amazon.

 

 

Books That Inspire

Books That Inspire: The Legend Mirror Series
(A Guest Post By Saruuh Kelsey)

I’ve always been inspired by books one way or another, whether that was children’s stories when I was younger, or YA novels when I got older. But a few books stood out and spoke to me as a writer, as well as a reader. These are the books that inspired me to write, and keep writing, The Legend Mirror series.

The Lynburn Legacy Trilogy, by Sarah Rees Brennan 

These were the first books I read that featured bisexual and lesbian characters, and it thrilled me so much to see part of the queer community represented without the tragic ending I’d heard of and dreaded. Reading about Holly and Angela falling in love made me desperate to write my own f/f story, and The Beast of Callaire—the first Legend Mirror book—was born from that.

The Soul Screamers Series, by Rachel Vincent 

This was the series that got me really hooked on mythological creatures. Kaylee in the Soul Screamers series is a Banshee, and reading about her, I became interested in other creatures like her. At some point down the long road of research, I discovered Persian mythology and Manticores, and that’s where I got the idea for Yasmin – the main character in The Legend Mirror – being a Manticore shifter.

The books of Maggie Stiefvater 

Maggie Stiefvater always blends romance and fantasy perfectly, so I took a lot of inspiration from her books, more notably the Shiver series and my favourite, The Scorpio Races. Whenever I’m low on inspiration and my creative well is dry, I’ll read a Stiefvater book and usually by the end, I’ll have a clear idea where to go with what I’m writing.

These are just the books that I consciously know inspire me but I’m sure I’ve got ideas from every book I’ve read, maybe even from the ones I didn’t like.

The Powers of Callaire is out now! It’s YA Urban Fantasy and has a homoromantic asexual lead. Um, all seriously among my favorites things.Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.  Or anywhere because this blog will come back for this series. – Tiffany

The Powers of Callaire

Yasmin’s girlfriend is dead, but she will stop at nothing to bring Fray back. Even if that means going to the Otherland and making a bargain with the Ruler of All Souls. If Yasmin finds Pluto’s lost power, they’ll return Fray’s soul to her body.

Yasmin’s search takes her, and two of her friends, from Bucharest to France to Wales, and exposes a horrifying secret with Venus, Yasmin’s mother, at the heart of it. With a murderous, fiery god and the incarnation of death in her way, Yasmin will have to compromise her morals and harness the Legendary power in her veins. If she fails, Fray’s soul will be lost forever.

Author bio

SARUUH KELSEY lives in Yorkshire, in a house halfway between the countryside and the city with an absurd amount of books and craft supplies. She’s the author of The Legend Mirror and Lux Guardians series. Find her online or follow her on twitter at @saruuhkelsey.

You can get The Beast of Callaire for free right now on Amazon!  Definitely give this series a try!