Monthly Archives: August 2012

Release Day!

And here it is, at long last:  By That Sin Fell the Angels has officially been released today!

Itineris Press, the best in quality GLBT faith-based fiction, is proud to offer By That Sin Fell the Angels by Jamie Fessenden.

It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart. 
At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.

Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open for the devil—and for a second tragedy to follow.

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Filed under Drama, Psychological Drama, Religion, Writing

And the Winner Is…!

I want to thank everybody who stopped by my blog this weekend during the Rainbow Book Reviews bloghop!  It was a great time and I loved chatting with everybody.

Second, since I had such a great turnout, I decided that I couldn’t just give away one measly copy of my novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels.  Instead, I decided to give away three copies!  (To different people.  Giving three copies to the same person probably wouldn’t be that exciting.)

I hope that doesn’t violate some unwritten bloghop code I haven’t been informed of….

Everybody was probably expecting me to announce the winners on Sunday.  You know…actually during the bloghop.  Unfortunately, things got hectic for me and that didn’t happen.  I apologize to everyone about that.

But anyway, I’ve drawn three names from a hat and the winners are:

Tali Spencer

Ruth Sims

Yvette 

Congratulations!   

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What does writing GLBTQ literature mean to me?

Part of the Rainbow Book Reviews bloghop!

When I first confronted the fact that I was gay as a teenager, after years of denying it, I began to seek out books that featured gay male characters.  In a very real way, I was searching for role models — for examples of gay men who managed to find happiness with other men.  Unfortunately, I seldom found that.  Instead, what I found time and time again were tales of raunchy sex, misery, and death.

This was the early 1980s and the local bookstores didn’t carry many books featuring gay men.  For the most part, all of the novels I bought during these early years came from Annie’s Book Swap, a local used book store.

There was Patricia Nell Warren’s The Front Runner, which I still love, in which a college gym coach has a wonderful romance with his star athlete — until the athlete is shot in the head and killed when he’s competing at the Olympics.  I consider this to be a great novel, but it certainly didn’t give me hope for a happy future.

There were a number of other novels in which the main characters were killed, or committed suicide, or ended up alone and miserable.  So many that I began flipping to the last few pages of any novel I picked up before purchasing.   If there was no mention of a partner — a living partner — at the end, I put the book back on the shelf.

Then there were books like those by Gordon Merrick.  Now Merrick was a pioneer.  He was one of the first American authors to portray happy gay relationships that were still happy gay relationships at the end of the book.  I have immense respect for him.  But as a teenager, I had a problem with his novels.  They were full of musclebound men with enormous cocks who flounced around calling each other “Darling” all the time.  That was about as far from me as it was possible to get.  I was just over a hundred pounds, not a muscle on me, and well…my cock isn’t enormous.  I have also never mastered the “gay voice.”  You know the voice I mean — the voice every gay man is either supposed to use in his day-to-day life, or at least be able to put on for company.  I can’t do it.

As a gay man, I’m dull, dull, dull.  (I was once interviewed on a show that featured drag queens.  Talk about contrast.)

Also, the Merrick books had romance, but it was wrapped up in tons of raunchy sex.  It was better than the short stories in the gay porn magazines Manhunt and Torso, which I’d picked up under much duress from a convenience store and stop doing it after I found out this could cause problems in men’s health, as I read in an article of How does Porn-induced erectile dysfunction affect a man’s health?.  Anyways those stories were nothing but sex.  I wanted romance — someone to love me forever.  My church upbringing had claimed that gay men were incapable of real love, and these stories weren’t doing anything to convince me that this was wrong.

This was a miserable time in my life.  I’d been a devout Christian, as a teenager, until I could no longer deny that I was gay, whether I liked it or not and no matter how hard I prayed.  That realization made me feel cut off from my church, my family and society.  I turned to these books for some guidance and reassurance and what I found was depictions of a future devoid of hope and devoid of real love.  According to gay novels in the 80s, I had nothing but raunchy sex in porn theaters to look forward to, in between nights of loneliness and despair, until I committed suicide or died of AIDS.

Then I stumbled across The Catch Trap, by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  Here was a novel with very little sex in it, but a very intense romance between two men in the circus in the 1950s.  And at the end…they don’t die.  They may, in fact, have a future together.  It was amazing!

The Catch Trap had an enormous impact on me.  It was about this time that I discovered Maurice, another gay romance with a happy ending (In fact, it wasn’t published until after E.M. Forster’s death, because the happy ending was considered too controversial!), but frankly it lacked the emotional impact of The Catch Trap.  Looking back, I think it was probably twenty years before I came across another novel with a gay romance in it that really drew me in, although that one ended unhappily (The Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey).

Over the past decade or so, M/M novels have finally come into their own.  You can now find gay romance (for men) in all genres, with happy endings, sad endings, or ambiguous endings.  There are enough on the market that you don’t have to peek at the ending to see if the book will end badly — you simply buy one that’s advertised to have a happy ending.  For those of us old enough to remember how things were, back when homosexuality was still labeled a mental illness, the change is miraculous.  There is still a long way to go, I think.  The sub-genre is dominated by M/M, which I prefer, but I’d like to see more variety:  more lesbian romance, more trans romance, more polyamorous relationships….

I write GLBTQ literature for myself — for that teenage boy who was desperate to find love and acceptance, and had to wait decades for it.  The world has changed for the better, for the GLBTQ community, but there is still a long way to go.  That’s not to say that I only write serious stories about issues facing the gay community.  I don’t.  I write whatever strikes my fancy:  Victorian romance, science fiction, silly comedies, psychological dramas.  But I write the type of stories I wish had existed then, when I needed them, to add to the pool of stories available to today’s teens and adults, for when they need them.  Because we need to find ourselves in the stories we read.

As part of the Rainbow Book Reviews bloghop this weekend, I’ll be giving away a free ebook copy of my novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels, which will be out on August 29th from Itineris press.  It’s a drama about how the suicide of a gay teen affects the people in his small town.  Just comment on this blog entry or send an e-mail to jamesfessenden @ hotmail.com to put yourself in the hat for a drawing!



It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart.

At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.

Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open for the devil—and for a second tragedy to follow.

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“By That Sin Fell the Angels” will be out on August 29th!

By That Sin Fell the Angels

Edits are basically finished on my novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels.  I have the final galley proof in my hands and I’m going over it for minor errors before it gets sent to press.  That has to be turned in by Tuesday.

And then the finished novel will be released on August 29th!

It’s already up on Dreamspinner’s Coming Soon page.

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Guest Blogger: Sue Brown

It’s a first!  I’m hosting a guest blogger this week — fellow author and long-distance friend (she lives in the UK), Sue Brown.  I could say wonderful things about her (I certainly enjoy her writing!), but I’ll let her speak for herself.  After the blog, she’s been kind enough to supply us with a short bio and an excerpt from her current novel, The Isle of… Where?, which is available through Dreamspinner Press.

I am asked on a regular basis how I can write gay romance. Actually what they normally say is gay porn and that’s the point I roll my eyes and contemplate tearing their heads off.

Let me say this slooooowly.

I don’t write gay porn. Ro-mance. Re-la-tion-ships.  Okay?

With men.

Yes, with men.

Two men.

You’re on the ball today. Yes, with two men.  Sometimes more. Otherwise it would be het or femme fiction.

But why men? You’re a woman.

So good of you to notice. What gave it away?

Why don’t you write about a man and a woman?

Because I don’t want to.

But…

Yes?

They’re men. Isn’t that icky?

Did you mean sticky? Hopefully.

There’s usually a horrified face at this point. I’m good. I don’t point out that het sex is icky too. Still have bodily fluids, chaps.

So… how do you know what happens?

What happens?

You know…

Is this twenty questions? You’re an adult. Ask a bloody straight question.

You know, between two men?

Are we back to sex again?

*whispers* How do you know what they do?

Me. I can keep a straight face now. IKEA produce a guide. Stick cock A in hole B. It’s a fantastic guide. Not in English of course and the diagrams are bizarre but you can still recognize the…

You’re taking the piss, aren’t you?

Oh yeah.

I was only asking. No need to be sarky.

At this point my companion used to stop, but now, oh no, the torture doesn’t stop there. It carries on… and on.

You write sex?

Haven’t we just been there? Yes I write sex.

Why don’t you write…

Please don’t say it, please, please, please don’t  say it…

Fifty Shades of Grey.

You had to frigging say it, didn’t you?

Well?

Because it’s been written already.

But you could make millions.

Plagiarism. Heard of that?

But…

Look, I don’t write het and I don’t write BDSM.

But…

And if you say Brokeback I am going to kill you. Slowly, painfully and you are going to wish you’d never brought the subject up. Do you understand?

You’re very touchy, aren’t you?

Yes, yes I am.

So there we are, folks. Identikit questions. Identikit answers.

The next topic of conversation is the book that is burning inside of every person who discovers I’m a writer. I have a very short answer to that.

Author Bio: Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has got expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

She can be found at her website, her Facebook, and twitter.

The Isle of… Where?

Blurb:

When Liam Marshall’s best friend, Alex, loses his fight with colon cancer, he leaves Liam one final request: buy a ticket to Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, and scatter Alex’s ashes off the pier. Liam is tired, worn out, and in desperate need of a vacation, but instead of sun, sea, sand, and hot cabana boys, he gets a rickety old train, revolting kids, and no Ewan MacGregor.

Liam would have done anything for his friend, but fulfilling Alex’s final wish means letting go of the only family Liam had left. Lost, he freezes on the pier… until Sam Owens comes to his rescue.

Sam’s family has vacationed on the Isle of Wight every year for as long as he can remember, but he’s never met anyone like Liam. Determined to make Liam’s vacation one to remember, Sam looks after him—in and out of the bedroom. He even introduces Liam to his entire family. But as Sam helps Liam let go, he’s forced to admit that he wants Liam to hang on—not to his old life, but to Sam and what they have together.

Excerpt:

The beach was empty, miles of golden sand laid out for them to dig up. It was also freezing, and Liam shivered. It hadn’t occurred to him to bring a jacket, and the wind whipping off the sparkling waves sucked any heat from the sun.

“You’re shivering,” Sam said unnecessarily. “Here.” He slipped off the hoodie he was wearing, holding it out so that Liam could slip it over his head.

“Then you’ll get cold,” Liam pointed out.

“Put it on,” Sam insisted.

Giving in, because he was fucking freezing, Liam tugged on the soft gray hoodie. It drowned him a little, but it was warm and Liam didn’t care. He cared even less when he looked up and saw the open lust in Sam’s eyes.

“You like me wearing your clothes, huh?”

Sam swallowed and Liam had the feeling that if they weren’t in the open, Sam would have jumped him. As it was, he got up close, too close.

“I wanna fuck you wearing that hoodie and nothing else,” Sam whispered in Liam’s ear, his hot breath ghosting over Sam’s neck. There was no need to whisper, no one was in earshot, but it was hot as hell, and Liam couldn’t help the hitch of breath or the moan that escaped him. But because Sam was talking about fucking, Liam had to retort.

“Just remember, I do the fucking.”

“If you wear this hoodie and your arse is bare, I don’t care who fucks who.”

Liam swallowed hard. Sam chuckled and brushed a quick kiss over his lips.

“Sandcastles.”

“Huh?” Liam was soaking up the way Sam filled his senses. Words took a while longer to process.

To his regret, Sam took a step back. “Sandcastles,” he repeated. “Otherwise things could get interesting out here, and much as people like me, I don’t think they’d forgive a display of bare-arsed man-loving in a hurry.”

Sadly, Sam was probably right, and Liam had to postpone the thought of throwing Sam down on the sand for another time. It didn’t occur to him until much later that he was already planning to spend more time with Sam.

Sam jogged back to Molly and picked up the kids’ buckets and spades from the pea-sized trunk. Liam had been firmly corrected and told it was the boot. Whatever. It was still miniscule.

He handed Liam the purple spade and the orange bucket, keeping rainbow ones for himself. When Liam protested, Sam just gave him a look.

“You got my hoodie. Now stop complaining.”

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New Cover Design for “By That Sin Fell the Angels”!

Cover art by Paul Richmond

I’ve just received the cover art for my new novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels (coming out at the end of August), and I think it’s absolutely beautiful!

The painting is by Paul Richmond, who also did the cover art for my first novella, The Christmas Wager.  He’s extremely talented.  He told me that this image was inspired by the scene in my novel where Daniel strips naked and stands on the railing of the bridge, looking down at the train barreling underneath him as he contemplates jumping.  I had been insistent about doing something with an angel motif (Duh!) and Paul found a way of working that in by suggesting the shape of a wing in the clouds.

I love it!

Incidentally, I had the privilege of spending an evening with Paul and two other cover artists, Catt Ford (who did the covers for We’re Both Straight, Right?, The Dogs of Cyberwar, and Saturn in Retrograde) and Shobana Appavu at the drag club, Lips, in NYC this spring.  We were with fellow authors Jonathan Treadway and M.D. Grimm.  (I think that was everybody.)  What an amazing night!

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