Monthly Archives: November 2013

Guest Blogger: Posy Roberts on “Fusion”

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A survivor of abuse is not easily spotted. People don’t wear signs or buttons or have such extreme reactions to stimuli that it’s obvious. Most walk around and go about living their lives without anyone around them knowing they’ve had horrible experiences. What many people expect from abuse survivors are PTSD symptoms, which are not universal by any means, nor are they a daily occurrence, even when they do happen.

What if the abuse was emotional? What if the signs of abuse are subtler?

Emotional abuse is much harder to see. It’s elusive because there are no bruises, cuts, or torn skin. Rejecting, isolating, terrorizing, ignoring, corrupting, and being overly controlling are some of the ways people emotionally abuse. This type of abuse often starts out small, and the actions of the abuser may initially seem justified even. But then the abusers escalate and chip away at those feelings of self-worth and independence.

In the North Star Trilogy, my character Kevin Magnus was emotionally abused by his father. It was chronic, persistent, and life altering. As seen in book 1, Spark, Kevin’s abuse started when he went off to kindergarten and continued until Kevin moved away from home. Peder rejected Kevin, refusing to give him any sort of affection. He isolated him, not allowing him to have normal peer interactions unless they were pre-approved and deemed to have value beyond simple friendship. Peder shamed, belittled, and ridiculed Kevin, and even exploited Kevin to help his own career. There were never any tender moments between Kevin and Peder. More than anything, Peder thought he could control every little part of Kevin’s life, even as he matured.

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In Spark, Kevin is extremely compliant and passive with his father. When many of us would’ve yelled and screamed at our parents in the same situation, Kevin keeps his mouth shut, nods, and agrees with the man. He’s afraid, even years after his emotional abuse has stopped, of doing something wrong, because Peder made it abundantly clear that mistakes were never acceptable. Kevin was withdrawn as a teen, not attached to his father at all, and he also acted more adult than was typical of his age.

Kevin was in his mid thirties when Peder died, and still he had very little attachment to the man. That was all because of how Peder emotionally abused and programmed him. I use the word program, because Peder started chipping away at Kevin’s self worth before Kevin was old enough to defend himself. These abuse experiences don’t simply wash off or go away after the abuser is gone. Kevin will continue to struggle with these tendencies that were programmed into him.

Kevin was able to rebel in Spark by secretly falling in love with Hugo as a teen, but then he went on to live the expected, perfect life by marrying Erin and having two children with her. The marriage wasn’t good, but Kevin waited until his father died before he asked for a divorce. Months later, he reunited with Hugo and now they are anxious to start their lives together.

In Fusion, they are just beginning to live that life, but Erin delivers horrific news that will put Kevin’s relationship with Hugo at risk. Kevin is faced with a very tough decision. With Peder’s training just under the surface, Kevin is conflicted. He has to find a way to build a bridge between his old life and his new one, the one he truly wants to live.

FusionHow do you tell your friends and family you’ve fallen in love with a man when they’ve only ever known you as straight? How do you explain to your kids that you loved their mother very much, but your new partner is your best friend from high school?

Kevin Magnus must figure it out while trying to build a relationship with Hugo Thorson, whose bigger than life, out-and-proud drag queen persona is simply too big to be contained in a closet—even for the time it takes Kevin to come up with an explanation for his kids and Erin, his soon-to-be ex-wife.

But Erin faces an even bigger obstacle—one that shakes the entire family to the core. When she unexpectedly turns to Hugo, they form a connection that forces Hugo to grow up and offers Kevin the chance to become the kind of father he wants to be. Despite the coming complications, they’ll all benefit from a fortunate side effect: it becomes clear that Hugo is very much a part of this unconventional family.

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In defense of “instalove”

CakeOne of the (many might say “overused”)  tropes of romance novels is two characters meeting and, in the course of a weekend or even just one night, falling madly in love with one another.  Often, so much happens during the course of the story that it’s easy to forget how little “real” time has actually gone by.  It feels unrealistic to many of us, when we realize this couple just met a day or two earlier.

Recently, however, an acquaintance mentioned on a forum that he’d met his partner of about twenty (or longer—I don’t recall) years and gone home with him that night.  They’d been together ever since.  Then an interesting thing happened—quite a lot of people started telling their stories of “love at first sight” developing into long-term relationships.  I also realized that I was one of those people.

My husband and I met at a get-together in Portsmouth, while I was living with someone I’d been with for several years.  No, we didn’t fall into each others arms or do anything else that would have been inappropriate for me to do while I was seeing someone else.   But we talked for a long time and he made quite an impression on me.  Years later, when my current relationship had finally and utterly fallen apart, I dated for a short time, but my thoughts kept coming back to this guy I’d really connected with years ago at a coffee talk.  I didn’t even remember his name.

So I called the friends who’d hosted the gathering.  When I said, “Do you remember this guy I was talking to the whole time who knew a lot about Norse mythology?” I expected them to say, “It was years ago?  How the hell would we remember who you were talking to?”  Instead, they shocked me by saying, “That was probably Erich.”

So they contacted Erich and told him they knew a psycho-stalker who’d been interested in him years ago, and would he like to risk his life by emailing me?  Fortunately for me, he was foolish enough to do it.

So, yes, there was that gap, created by circumstances.  But I’d be lying if I said our courtship was slow.  We met and hung out for an afternoon, after which I said, “Do you want to have sex?” or some equivalent of that, and we did.  We had to wait nine years for same-sex marriage to become legal in our state, but the first night Erich and I got together after that, he proposed.  We were married the same year the law went into effect, moved into a house together, and got a dog to torment my three cats.

We still seem to be doing all right.

Can relationships begin more slowly?  Certainly.  In the past, I’ve met men who didn’t interest me until I got to know them.  Then suddenly something clicked and I was head-over-heels.  Oddly enough, those were the relationships that didn’t work out, ultimately.  But of course, for others, that’s the story of their long-term romance.

This past weekend, I attended the wedding of a couple who met at one of the parties hosted by Erich and his housemates twenty-one years ago.  Was it “love at first sight” for them?  I think it was.  At any rate, I think it’s silly to deny that “instalove” happens.  It happens all the time.  I would argue that it’s embedded in the human psyche—it’s a behavior we’re often prone to.

And it frequently works out well.

 

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NaNoWriMo rocks!

cover2So after a pretty rough month, during which I made some progress on A Mote in the Eye (but not enough, considering how long it took), I’ve dived (dove? doven?) into NaNoWriMo with a murder mystery novel that takes place on top of Mt. Washington and in the Mt. Washington Hotel, in Bretton Woods, NH.  And now I’m cruising!

For a while, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this one.  Plotting a murder mystery turns out to be really hard, and so many of the initial ideas I had turned out to be impossible.  My first idea was to have the whole thing take place on top of the mountain, because I thought there was a hotel up there.  It turns out… no.  The observatory is there (and in fact, my father used to work there, when I was a small boy), and it’s been expanded, but the cafeteria and museum close at night, and there are no accommodations for  hikers/tourists.  I could have had the whole mystery take place in the observatory, which I vaguely remember from my childhood, but it’s a really small space with a very small staff (three full-time, two interns, and two volunteers).

So what I did was have the murder take place at the summit and involve some of the observatory staff (fictional — not real people who work there) in the search for the missing person, but the bulk of the interviews and such will be conducted at the beautiful Mt. Washington Hotel at the bottom of the mountain.  To that end, my husband and I have booked ourselves into the hotel for a couple days in December.  I’m really looking forward to it — the place is gorgeous!

I created the “cover” you see in this post to motivate me, using two photos I found online that match what my characters look like.  The cover isn’t really what the book will end up with for a cover, assuming it’s published.  This is just for inspiration.  And yes, I’m aware that the final “N” in “Mountain” is clipped off.  After all the work I put into making it in the first place, I haven’t been motivated to go back and fix that.

But NaNoWriMo has provided a nice kick in the pants to get me writing again.  I’m a bit behind, but I’m already over 9,000 words going into Day 7!  I’m hopeful that I’ll at least hit the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words by the end of November, though the full novel will be at least 60,000 words.  I think it should be completely finished by the end of December.

 

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