meet mega, the antihero

character introduction: mega

character introduction: mega

I’ve said I have to fall in love with my characters to write well for them, and that’s true. Sometimes it’s love at first thought, sometimes it takes a little while to form an attachment. Every character I write for more than just a scene deserves this love, the ability to see them from all sides and write compassionately about their faults as well as their virtues.

Mega is a character I fell in love with before I wrote one word about him. He reveals himself in Becoming, book II of Secrets of the Senses, and he is my badass. I won’t call him a villain, because he has my empathy – he’s not a one-sided character there to muddy the waters; he has his own path to travel.

He is a bad’un, unquestionably. He’s dangerous, hungry, manipulative, selfish. I love him so much. He might even rank as my most favourite character, and he shows up in more than one book. In book three, Echo, which I’m working on now, his background is revealed. You get to see how he came into being, and what motivates him. I see him as a sympathetic character, because he genuinely has some very valid complaints against the sabball. He has his place in the world, he plays an important role, and he has been unseated from his throne, a seat of respect he rightly earned through virtue of his worth.

I don’t have a physical image of Mega that I can show you, and perhaps that’s all for the better; he’s very much a unique person, based on nothing but his own nature. He’s beautiful, because it’s a necessity of his craft; he’s clever, alluring, funny, menacing. He seduces easily, and those he pulls in do his bidding. He uses them for his own means, and discards their broken bodies. He needs what they have, and has no compunction in taking, because he desperately wants his throne back.

There are a few things he doesn’t understand about his quest, and these are the things that make him a likeable character, because we all do it; we all refuse reason, and pursue and covet and seethe with rage when we’re denied the things we believe we are owed. He’s in each and every one of us, and he’s misleading, and indispensible.

Mega is my boy, he is such fun to play with, and so rewarding to write. Come and meet him in Becoming, won’t you? Let him lure you in, toy with you, adore you, bite right into your flesh. I promise, it’ll feel so good.

becoming

becoming_ryalwoodsFriday was an amazing day. Kind of an understatement – it was a landmark day, historic. I woke up to the news of the SCOTUS affirming the right of all citizens to marry whom we love, wherever we live. Then President Obama delivered a moving eulogy in honour of slain Reverend Clementa Pinckney, so personal and touching and managing to touch on points about the things that divide us, like holding onto weapons and past shames, the symbols of our shortcomings, without politicizing it, yet bringing forth in the wake of tragedy the call to re-examine views and stances with the grace of compassion and positive action.

Oh, and my second novel was released. Which left me standing there, wondering how it fits into all of this – if it fits in at all. What a day for it, yeah? Kind of left me in a lurch. Do I say something, do I keep quiet out of respect for the things that deserve to take precedence? I decided to tweet about it, and leave it at that.

But now, today, I want to say more because it is an achievement for me, and I don’t want it to pass unacknowledged. And yes, upon reflection it does belong, it does apply. The message of Becoming is clear: embracing the inborn yearning of humankind to become more than we are. The fear connected to change, and the will to push through that fear, creating a greater understanding, a richer experience. That is us at our best. We’ve witnessed a huge stride forward as we collectively said yes, it is the will and right of all people to share the greatest gift of our human experience, the inherent ability to love and to express empathy for one another, and to offer the selfless wish of loving kindness for every heart that beats.

Yes, there are those whose fear is so great that they are unable to reach inside for the best of themselves and openly share with their fellow human beings; that is their personal sorrow, a sad burden of ignorance to carry around. But the majority celebrated our step forward to becoming.

At its heart, my series, Secrets of the Senses, is a tribute to our natural super powers: our ability to see ourselves and one another, hear our individual voices, taste our collective passions, feel our personal joys and sadness, our fears and hopes, and breathe freely in the purity of understanding one another. We have five gifts to guide us, and it’s only by engaging fully and opening to our senses—common sense, the sensibility to reason, the knowledge that sensation is how we process and communicate and share in the mutual experience of life—that we advance. When we learn that we can part with the fear and open to fuller engagement, we find our individual lives are part of a whole, and our personal sensations are richer for it.

On Friday we became closer, we united in compassion and strength and joy, and didn’t it feel wonderful? It felt like Becoming.

Please accept this little offering as my contribution to the celebration.

my novel murmur out october 11

murmur coverI have a release date for Murmur, October 11, and a beautiful cover courtesy of the lovely Anna Reith – there are links to her blogs in the sidebar.

This is book one of my Secrets of the Senses series. I call it metaphysical fiction. The book isn’t sex-centric like my erotica, though this excerpt contains one little getting-to-know-you scene. It’s really a story about Aonghas, a gifted guy with a skewed view of himself, and pretty much everything else. He works to change that, sometimes with success, sometimes not. As gifted as he is, he’s far from perfect. That’s what I love about him.

I’ll be talking more about Murmur as the release date approaches.

Excerpt from Murmur, Chapter 3

Fog on the moors is beautiful. In that ethereal atmosphere, one can believe himself to be floating in a cloud; the limited sight, the vaporous essence creates a world within a world, at once exciting and playful, and foreboding. On one such evening I walked through the low scrub, careful of my footing, cloaked within the fog and feeling myself to be a phantom traversing an otherworldly landscape. The sky grew darker, the fog thickened with the approach of night. I gave up sight, and navigated relying on other means, other senses—my knowledge of the terrain, my instincts. It was a thrilling experience that brought to full attention all of my being, and I walked with bold confidence.

Continue reading

murmur becoming echo

ode to joy - immortal beloved

ode to joy – immortal beloved

I have a novel coming out in the fall. No, it’s not an erotic novel, but it is a very sensual story. In fact, sensuality is a key characteristic. It’s the first book in a series of five I have planned. The third in the series is the one I’m working on now, it’s my wayward child.

Murmur did not give me difficulties. It came pouring out so quickly, I could hardly keep up with the flow. I’d easily write for 18 hours at a time, and be ready for more. I began it as soon as I had finished writing a book I had started years and years ago.

That first book was the birth of the concept, and I’ll get into what inspired that one at a later time. I began it as a stand alone story, but saw about ¾ of the way through that I could easily expand the initial concept into a series. In fact, it was the only thing to do. Murmur came soon after, and when I had finished, I realized that it made more sense for it to be the first book in the series. So the first book I wrote became second, and Murmur took over first position. Follow?

I’ll reveal more as it gets closer to the release date, I just wanted to offer a bit of a touchstone for my Third Book rants.

talking about stories for boys: vienna to prague, 1926

trainIt may seem odd, but part of my inspiration for Vienna to Prague, 1926 is the writing of P.G. Wodehouse. I’ve talked about Wodehouse before. He’s one of my very favorite authors, certainly in my top 10. How this man can turn a phrase! It’s sublime. He writes about the silliest of silly upper crust Englishmen (and women) of the 20s and 30s, and that’s where I grab hold.

Roland is such a guy, though he’s showing his darker side in this story. This isn’t the happy-go-lucky oblivion of a Wodehouse character, this is the underbelly – the sex, drugs and jazz that doesn’t surface in Wodehouse’s work. Truth be told, it’s the language of Wodehouse I’m paying tribute to – not with finesse or elegance, merely with a few nods to his phraseology.

I see Roland as one of those ultra privileged, old money lads who hasn’t a clue – or a care – about others. He’s young, beautiful, his family is powerful, his knowledge of the world rather sheltered and confined to prep schools, universities that act more as boy’s clubs, and parties, parties, parties. He meets Henry Robert Jenkins on a train, and his first inclination is contempt.

Henry is middle class, married with two kids, and very closeted. The encounter with Roland is a bit of a mindblower, upending his world. The question is, will he ultimately benefit from this brief but provocative encounter?

I love stories set in the 20s and 30s, but always in the back of my mind are questions about the realities of life at that time. Gay men were in danger – legal, scandalous, ruinous danger. But there were also friendships, clubs, and loving and successful relationships going on behind closed doors. So which one will have a shot at true love when all is said and done?

Oh, no no! I don’t tell you. It’s more fun if you decide.

stories for boys anthology out this friday!

stories for boysMy short story collection, Stories for Boys, is available Friday, April 19.

Looks campy, doesn’t it? I had in mind a campfire theme and while this ended up a few yards away from what I had envisioned, I’m happy with the release and hope everyone has s’more. Yeah, I went there!

Now, I know I had said earlier that I was going to talk about these stories on this blog leading up to the release, and I lied. But I have every intention of doing so (ad nauseam, most likely), and I’ll begin with a little blurb about each.

Jude the Unsure

A nod to Thomas Hardy’s novel, Jude the Obscure, with step-brothers as the two who are grappling with the complexities and consequences of an illicit relationship. Jude suffers much the same affliction as Thomas Hardy’s character – erotolepsy brought on by an obsession for his younger stepbrother. Lexi’s love sustains Jude, even as he risks compromising his own wellbeing.

Vienna to Prague, 1926

The story of two very different men, one of privilege, one of modest means, whose worlds collide in a chance meeting on a train. In 1926, men’s desires aren’t often openly shared, but Roland has an advantage over Henry Robert Jenkins, and he uses it to entertain himself on the long journey. It’s a deliberate misunderstanding between the classes as Roland finds amusement in sending Henry into a tailspin. Perhaps it’s contempt for Henry’s lifestyle that leaves him cold; a reminder that, despite his privilege, he too occupies a hidden world.

Twist It

One young man’s obsession over what he cannot have is intertwined with another young man’s obsessive efforts to keep what he possesses. Derik recalls a night of passion spent with the object of his desire, even as he struggles to find his way out of the wish to twist fate in his own favor.

Redemption for Sale Part I

Kurt is captivated with a rent boy, but he can’t admit it. James is just doing his job, but Kurt, who is used to having his way with his sex partners, doesn’t want to be just another trick. When he finds he can’t break through James’s carefully structured façade, he decides to break in, determined to leave his mark on James.

Redemption for Sale Part II

It is James who has left a mark on Kurt. After several weeks of denial, Kurt seeks James again to attempt another breakdown of the boy’s barriers. But when he realizes he truly has broken through James enough to reveal his vulnerabilities, he changes his motivations and works to tear down his own façade.

Floating

A quickie all about sensation in the dark.

Undone

A young man works to preserve his undead boyfriend. The macabre task is breaking down his sanity; the lines are blurred between what is real, what is right, and what has come undone. But he refuses to let go.

Stolen Life

A little work of poetic prose full of Easter eggs. Hidden inside is the story of poet Paul Verlain’s love for Arthur Rimbaud. It takes the reader through their tumultuous relationship via Rimbaud’s poem, “Vowels”. Several months ago, I posted this one on my site as a freebie.

About Last Night…

The musings of a young man who wakes beside his sleeping friend after they’ve shared a sexual encounter the night before. As Robert relives the evening in his mind, he worries about Hamil’s reaction upon waking. Can they both face the truth?

Revolving Door

The story of a man still attached to his former lover through a bond of secrecy, addiction and trust. They’re addicted to one another; Matt wants to break the bonds, Leo works to keep him entrapped. This is Matt’s first person account of his latest encounter with Leo: his longing for strength to resist him, his giving over, and the battle within as they play this longstanding game of wills.

coming soon: stories for boys anthology

I have a collection of nine shorts on the way, titled Stories for Boys. In anticipation of the book’s release, I’m going to talk about some of them here, beginning with Jude the Unsure.

Yes, it is indeed modelled after Thomas Hardy’s novel, Jude the Obscure. Hardy did not write happy stories, but they are compelling. His characters are often dealing with societal restraints that hold them back from their dreams and desires. Hardy’s Jude longs to be a scholar, but he is limited by 19th century low expectations from the working class, and as he enters into his teens, other things *ahem* rise up to distract him. Suddenly he finds himself saddled with a wife he does not love, and a life he never wanted.

He does, however, want his cousin, Sue. They share an attraction that wasn’t considered scandalous for the period, but was rapidly falling out of favour. She marries another man to escape her own desires. In fact, she ends up running from desire altogether, troubled by her feelings about sexuality.

My Jude and his stepbrother, Alexander are struggling with similar obstacles. Their association as family is definitely a hindrance, and Jude is also troubled by his sexuality – he doesn’t seem to know who he is. The difference between Hardy’s Jude and mine is the difference in societal structure from then to now.

In his novels, Hardy pummels institutionalized systems such as marriage, religion, and higher education as the privilege of the upper class, by pummelling his characters, who struggle within these constraints. We’re still feeling a lot of restriction from these same things, but more and more, the structures are being recognized as outdated and oppressive, not just to the marginalized, but across the board.

But they’ve definitely left a mark. Old standards are hard to shake off, and some people will choose to remain confined within them because they see no other way. So how does someone manage to get out from under? That is what Jude and Alexander are confronting.

That is the inspiration, and the underpinnings of the plot. Lucky for me, I’m not held back by moral restrictions on explicit sex in literature, as Hardy was. Jude and Alexander are free to explore their desire for one another as they work their way through and around the obstacles. Hurrah for that!

This is one of my favourite stories I’ve written. I love paying tribute to the things that inspire me, and Thomas Hardy in particular is a novelist who has left a lasting impression with his poignant stories. His work was a great influence in my understanding society as both victimizer and victim of its own self-inflicted rules.

Jude the Unsure:

He hesitated for a moment, then his lips parted against mine, kissing me back. I was in heaven. His was the first male mouth I had ever tasted, and I eagerly took in the experience—the scratch of his stubble on my cheeks and chin, the firm softness of his lips, and the flavor of him, sweetly pungent and sensual and unmistakably masculine. He put his hand on the back of my neck and I was ready to fall onto the bed with him, explore his body with my hands and mouth before I gave myself to him, let him push up inside me and fuck the innocence right out of me. But instead he pulled me away, pulled his lips from mine and slid back, shifting his eyes to the floor.

 

out now: revolving door by ryal woods at mlr press

Matt is still attached to his former lover through a bond of secrecy and obsession. He wants to break the bonds, Leo works to keep him entrapped.

This is Matt’s account of their latest encounter: his longing for strength to resist Leo, his giving over, and the battle within as they play this longstanding game of wills, from initiation to inevitable conclusion. This time he’ll break the rules, and stop Leo before he can make a quick exit.

Because Matt isn’t so innocent: it’s a double play, they’re both participants. Will breaking the silence be enough to break the spell?

Available at MLR Press, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other outlets

revolving door, evolving life

My book has been released. Emotionally, the timing is… ironic? Happiness colliding with great sadness over the loss of my mother, and the ensuing aftermath.

But I’m going to switch gears and talk about my book, because it is a source of joy for me, and I don’t want to completely lose sight of that.

The story is called Revolving Door, and has a bit of a scandalous origin. I don’t know about other writers, but I most want to write when it is least convenient for me to sit down and tap at the computer. If I’m honest, I think that’s partially due to a desire to avoid whatever it is that I’m occupied with at the time, because lets face it, writing is more fun and fulfilling than practically any other activity in my daily life. Certainly better than working, and it was at work that the need to write overtook me to the extent that I just had to set all else aside and go with it.

I began with nothing more than the desire to do a stream of consciousness sort of thing involving a man’s encounter with an ex. There are times when the words flow through my mind so quickly that I can hardly type fast enough to get them all down – that’s how it was in writing Revolving Door. It’s a sensation more than an effort, hard to explain, but I’ll say it’s like watching the story unfold rather than creating it, and I’m just as curious to find out where it’s going as I am when I’m engrossed in another author’s work. I watched the characters of Matt and Leo come to life, and tell me their story.

The names I choose for my characters are often a reflection the person’s general characteristics. Leo is a lion, bold and strutting his stuff, knowing he’s the king of the wilderness and unwilling to bow to anyone else’s needs, other than his own. And Matt – well, he’s that matt at front of his door, welcoming Leo with hospitable surrender to his entry, even as he tries to deny his own need. But he’s not a chump – he’s well aware of what he’s doing when he lets Leo in again and again. They’re both willing partners in their incessant mating dance.

What happens after the door closes on their encounter is up for debate. I don’t know – they didn’t take me that far. I have my guesses, but they’re no more valid than anyone else’s conclusions, and for me, that’s part of the fun. I know some find it a frustration when things are left unresolved, but life is like that, really. How much is ever truly resolved between people? It’s that lingering need for another step toward some form of action that draws Matt and Leo together into another encounter, and another, and another. Perhaps eventually something will happen to push them into action, perhaps not. I’m not even sure if they care, or truly want a resolution. They want one another in the moment, and that’s enough.

I’m anxious to see how Revolving Door does – will it be noticed? Will it be enjoyed, will it be accepted, will it survive the scrutiny? Or horror of horrors, will it be met with silence.

The final editing process meshed with the death of my mother, I was elsewhere in mind and body and didn’t have the experience of excitement, anticipation, attentiveness to every little detail as it hit the front page at MLR Press. I’m focused on pulling myself through the worst blow to my emotional being that I’ve ever experienced. Whatever reception Revolving Door gets, the reality is that it’s hardly consequential. And perhaps that’s the best way to approach the publication of my first story. My emotional survival isn’t tied to praise or panning of this story. I love it, I loved creating it, and I love having the opportunity to share it with you. And that is enough.