January 2009


Tuesday 5th May 1998, BBC News: Justin Fashanu was found dead in a lock-up garage in east London on Saturday. The former Norwich City and Nottingham Forest footballer died as a result of hanging, a post-mortem examination has concluded.

Justin Fashanu was the first footballer to come out; at the time of his death he was coaching a team in the US and was facing a sexual assault charge.

Tuesday 13th January 2009 BBC News: Eleven people have been charged with indecent chanting at a football match after an inquiry into suspected abuse aimed at Sol Campbell. The abuse was both racist and homophobic.

That’s not to say that Justin Fashanu killed himself simply because he was gay, nor am I suggesting anything about Sol Campbell’s sexuality – that’s his affair – but I choose these stories to illustrate the prejudices which still run rife in the so called ‘beautiful game’. For examples of what any gay footballer would have to face, I can highly recommend the article here.

Surely that prejudice, the risk of mockery and abuse, is why so few sportsmen come out, especially when they’re still active within their field. Sportswomen seem more likely to do so; there are plenty of lesbians ‘out’ within the sporting community – Amelie Mauresmo, Clare Balding, Karrie Webb among many others. But ‘out’ sportsmen, those still competing at the highest level? You could count them on your fingers.

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Interestingly enough, a number of them are within equestrianism, about the only sport where men and women compete on equal terms. I’m not for a moment implying that equestrian sport is in any way ‘effeminate’. It takes a huge amount of strength, guts and skill to manoeuvre a horse around a three day event cross country course; Blyth Tait does it to great effect, becoming Olympic eventing Champion in 1996. Then there’s Lee Pearson, CBE, who’s won nine paralympic gold medals in dressage, despite having very little use of his legs (he controls the horse through his backside – he says he’s got a great bottom). He’s certainly talented enough to compete in able bodied events. Carl Hester and Robert Dover are other noted ‘out’ riders.

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Olympians feature heavily here: diver Matthew Mitcham went to the Beijing Olympics not only having revealed his sexuality, but having applied – successfully – for a grant to enable his boyfriend to go with him. Matthew became 10m platform gold medallist. But of the thousands of competitors who go to the games, only a dozen or so are known to be ‘out’, most of them women.

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Rob Newton, Britain’s top hurdler, declared his sexuality and, interestingly, it seems to have had very little coverage. (I’m an avid – some would say rabid – sports fan, and I only found this fact out while researching this article.) That’s a feature about all these sportsmen I’m mentioning here – their being out is neither hidden nor generally discussed , and why should it be? Commentators don’t introduce William Fox-Pitt as ‘the straight rider’ so why should anyone describe Blyth Tait as ‘the gay one’?

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I couldn’t finish without a mention of rugby and of course, Supernige – Nigel Owens – who’s not a player but a highly respected referee. And he brings the story full circle, having attempted suicide when younger, tormented by his sexuality and steroid addiction. The fact that he got through that difficult time is testament to his highly supportive family and the fact that he takes to the pitch and doesn’t get abused is testament to the great nature of rugby. He does get the odd shout of “Are you bent, ref?” (meaning biased), sometimes followed by “Sorry, Nige, didn’t mean it like that…”

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In contrast to the attitudes within rugby, I still find it difficult to believe that, in my lifetime, any association footballer could come out as gay or have his boyfriend among the WAGs. I hope to be proved wrong.

 

I’ve been noticing recently that almost every historical to cross my path has a Regency or possibly Victorian setting. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this – those ages are more modern in their outlook, and are also very popular in costume dramas on the TV and the movies.

But there are other eras to choose from. Here’s a little list. In fact I grew exhausted by the end, so here is the start of a little list, and I’ll carry on with the Iron age in another post!

Stone Age

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This is a long, long period of time, during which all sorts of exciting changes in human society occurred. Modern humans interacted with Neanderthals – there were two different kinds of human on the planet! Amazing. Agriculture was invented. America was discovered and colonised. Stonehenge was built.

How about a gay Clan of the Cave Bear? Lots of things to discover, invent or fight for the first time. Was there homophobia in the stone age? I suspect we really don’t know, so this might be a good place for a happy ever after. And men in leather, hunting mammoth for a living, can’t be a bad thing.

If you can’t live without a city, however, how about Çatalhöyük a stone age city in Turkey. It would make a change!

Wikipedia starter on the Stone Age

Bronze Age

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In Britain, you have the mysterious Beaker people, who arrive and establish friendly relations with the indigenous stone age inhabitants. They ‘improve’ Stonehenge and build their own massive earth and stone circles. Classic stranger in a strange land territory; love across the divide of culture. This is also the age when textile production starts. Surely there’s a f/f story there somewhere?

In Mesopotamia you have the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians and the Sumerians. But this is also the great age of ancient Egypt, which is a setting made for romance.

You’ve got Persians, Anatolians, the Canaanites, the Hittites. You’ve got the Minoans – bull dancers and minotaurs and carmine stained pillars in cool palaces on the Greek islands.

There’s the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon, where a mass migration of people from what is now Russia and China ends up leaving cultural and metallurgical traces in Finland. Surely there’s a story there!

There was an Indus Valley civilization in India, and Chinese civilization is going strong. There’s the fascinating Dong Son culture in Vietnam. There’s all sorts of stuff going on with the Tumulus people in central Europe, and in the Americas the Inca civilization developed bronze independently and simultaneously (or did they…? Might the knowledge have been brought over by a shipwrecked Cornishman in a Dover bronze age boat?)

Wikipedia starter on the Bronze Age

Iron Age

Now we’re really motoring!

This is a good age to be a Bantu-speaking native of East and South Africa, who discover iron and use it to drive out the stone-tool using hunter gatherer peoples they encounter on the Savannah. I’d like to read a story about that from either pov or both.

I have dibs on the Etruscans, my favourite not-quite-Romans, whose morals scandalized the ancient world:

A Greek historian’s account of the behaviour of Etruscan women.
Theopompus of
Chios, 4th cent. BCE (Histories Book 43)

Sharing wives is an established Etruscan custom. Etruscan women take particular care of their bodies and exercise often, sometimes along with the men, and sometimes by themselves. It is not a disgrace for them to be seen naked. They do not share their couches with their husbands but with the other men who happen to be present, and they propose toasts to anyone they choose. They are expert drinkers and very attractive.

The Etruscans raise all the children that are born, without knowing who their fathers are. The children live the way their parents live, often attending drinking parties and having sexual relations with all the women. It is no disgrace for them to do anything in the open, or to be seen having it done to them, for they consider it a native custom. So far from thinking it disgraceful, they say when someone ask to see the master of the house, and he is making love, that he is doing so-and-so, calling the indecent action by its name.
When they are having sexual relations either with courtesans or within their family, they do as follows: after they have stopped drinking and are about to go to bed, while the lamps are still lit, servants bring in courtesans, or boys, or sometimes even their wives. And when they have enjoyed these they bring in boys, and make love to them. They sometimes make love and have intercourse while people are watching them, but most of the time they put screens woven of sticks around the beds, and throw cloths on top of them.
They are keen on making love to women, but they particularly enjoy boys and youths. The youths in Etruria are very good-looking, because they live in luxury and keep their bodies smooth. In fact all the barbarians in the West use pitch to pull out and shave off the hair on their bodies.

And who have a very fine line in tomb-decoration:

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Thanks to http://www.mysteriousetruscans.com/theopompus/index.html

But I think they may deserve an entry of their own.

I’ve suddenly realized that this is a topic which is going to stretch on and on, so I’ll draw a line there and do part two another time!

by Kiernan Kelly

A reader recently remarked to me that he found the thought of writing a historical piece of romantic fiction intimidating. “I don’t know enough. I’m not a historian, like you,” he said.

 

After I finished laughing hysterically, I had to set him straight.

 

When it comes to being an authority on anything besides tying my own shoelaces, I’m the first to admit to my sad lack of expertise. I am not a history buff; I cannot quote the dates and places of famous battles, nor can I pull details of Victorian Age fashion, or Renaissance architecture out of my ass. I cannot intelligently contribute to discussions of pre-Greece Middle Eastern culture — or post-Greece, for that matter. I do not offhand know the difference between a brigantine and schooner; or what Edwardian men wore under their trousers. 

 

In my opinion, it’s much easier to write contemporary romance. I already know what the locations look like — even if I’ve never been there personally, there’s a good chance I know someone who has, and there’s always Google Earth, travel documentaries, and the web. I know the protocol of dating, the etiquette of the dinner table. I know from personal experience how it feels to ride in a car, a train, a plane, and on a cruise ship. I know how hot dogs taste, have eaten truffles, and understand how a thick, frosty milkshake can give you a brain freeze. I know how to rent a room in a motel, and the differences one might find between a room at Motel 6 and the Hilton. I can place a character virtually anywhere on the planet, and describe him and his setting with some conviction.

 

Writing historical romance is much, much trickier. The details of the story, the setting, the props, and the landscape are as alien to me in my personal bubble of experience as the far side of the universe.

 

All of which raises the question: why is this person, who admits to being the human equivalent of a historical factoid void, posting to a historical fiction writers’ group blog?

 

The answer is simple. While I know precious little about history, I do write historical m/m romance, and enjoy it. Before anyone begins sharpening the guillotine or fashioning a hangman’s noose, let me explain — my statement isn’t as oxymoronic as it sounds. While my brain cells aren’t steeped in historical data, I do hold both a fondness for, and interest in our species’ past. I don’t profess to be a historian, neither professional nor amateur, but I do possess a healthy imagination, a computer, and a library card.

 

That said, all I can possibly contribute to this blog is to share what I told the reader who mistakenly pegged me as an expert — my view from the short bus, the remedial history class as it were, where I sit at the back of the room trying to pass the exam by shooting my cuffs.  

 

I believe it is entirely possible to write a piece of credible, believable historical fiction without holding a PhD in Ancient Civilizations or the high score in Jeopardy. While I won’t begin to pretend to be a historian, I can discuss how I, someone who doesn’t know the difference between a cutlass and a scimitar, can write a historical romance.

 

The trick — for me, at any rate — is research, and lots of it. It isn’t unusual for me to spend as much or possibly more time researching details as it does for me to write the story. Sometimes I begin collecting data months before I even take the time to rough out a plot.

 

I’ll take trips to a brick-and-mortar library where I’ll take copious notes in chicken scratch decipherable by me alone, later to be transcribed into a Word document, and I’ll surf the web until my fingers are worn down to nubs. I’m in the process of building my own library of reference books, fettered only by the limits of my sorely overtaxed credit cards.

 

Has any of this research made me a historian? No. Again, I must remind the reader that I am not an expert. What I am is an information pack rat.

 

I keep my notes along with everything I’ve found scouring online resources — whether in the end, I use them or not — in a computer file. I never delete these files. My reasoning is that if, in the future, I decide to write another story set in that period, the research is already done and at my fingertips.

 

I never make the mistake of assuming I know anything. Aside from the entire ass/you/me thing, assuming I know something as fact is a surefire way to screw up the details, and believe you me, someone, somewhere will notice and call me on it. I once got an angry two-page letter from a reader berating me because I didn’t correctly describe the splatter pattern of a shotgun blast.

 

Two entire pages. Seriously.

 

The only other tip I can offer is never to take anything you read at face value. Wikipedia, perhaps the most oft-used — while equally oft-lamented — database on the Internet is a good stepping-off point for research, but an unreliable one. I’ll take what I’ve learned there and find other, credible sources to support the information. I’ll double-check my facts, then triple-check them to be certain. In this stage of the game, I feel free to be as obsessive as I’d like — in this instance, anal retentiveness can only stand me in good stead when I finally put pen to paper. 

 

I question everything as I’m writing. For example, if writing a dinner scene set in ancient Greece during the Bronze Age, I’ll ask myself whether my characters would know what a fork is, let alone how to use one (probably not, considering the fork didn’t make an appearance in Greece until roughly 400 AD, and yes, I had to look it up). What type of furniture did they use? What type of bowls and serving platters? What did they eat? What kind of clothing did they wear, and of which type of fabric? I’ll make a list of these questions and more, then hit the books to find the answers.

 

If I’m writing a pirate story set on one of the aforementioned brigantines during the early 18th century, I’ll research how the ships were built, find diagrams, and learn which parts served what functions. I’ll learn how many sails there should be, how they were rigged, and the difference between the forecastle and the poop deck.

 

Speaking of poop, I’ll even consider how my pirate hero might manage the most routine of everyday chores and ablutions — how was food cooked aboard a wooden ship, and how did they manage their waste? Even if I don’t use all the information collected, I feel the knowledge of the most intimate details of my character’s life will only add believability as I write the story.

 

I’ve become comfortable saying, “I don’t know,” and “I need help.” When all else fails, I’ll ask an expert. The web is stuffed full of contact information for historians. I’ll send an email explaining who I am and my mission, along with my question to an appropriate source, and politely ask for an opinion. At worst, I’m ignored, and at best, get an educated response, or at least, a nudge in the right direction for further research.

 

I’ll also ask other authors for their favorite informational sources. Most, like the Macaronis, are more than willing to share their special sources, those books and websites they rely on when fishing for facts.

 

I think another invaluable tool for a historical writer — or any writer for that matter — is a strong sense of empathy. It isn’t enough to simply find the facts, to envision a ship or a castle, to stare at illustrations of doublets and frock coats, or paintings of wattle-and-daub huts, or cobblestone streets lined with gas lamps. I think a writer needs to be able to feel what it’s like to be their character in that setting, wearing those clothes, living in that civilization, in that time period.

 

As children, we found this an easy task. We became the pirates, the knights, the princes on our white steeds. We lived and breathed inside their skins, with little or no effort on our parts. As we grew older, we were taught to put aside childish nonsense, to act our ages. What a shame. The ability to pretend so easily, so completely, would do us in good stead now.

 

A writer needs to know how to recapture that long-lost freedom to believe we are the character, to look at our modern kitchens and see an open hearth and rough-hewn table, to walk the aisle of a supermarket and see an open-air market in Babylonia. That skill and the facts uncovered during research will combine on paper to form a believable, historically accurate story. 

 

Will I ever be a historian? Probably not. I am a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, stuck forever in the back row of the remedial history class, admiring those among my peers who’ve aced the honors course.

 

Can I write a believable piece of historical romance? Sure. I can, and I have.

 

So can you.

 

 

Kiernan Kelly is the author of In Bear Country, and In Bear Country II: The Barbary Coast.  

 

 

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What books would you want beside you if you had a lovely, private cottage with your computer on a solar-recharger, a story to write, and lots of time … but no library available?   I know which ones I’d want.

I’m not going to list the bare-bones: an Unabridged Dictionary, Bartlett’s Quotations, The Elements of Style, a World Atlas, or Roget’s Thesaurus – almost anyone who’s serious about writing has probably got favorites in that category, and those are essential tools for anybody writing anything, from contemporary horror to the wildest fantasy.

The books I’ll be talking about here are the ones closest to hand on my reference shelf, and they’re the ones I’ve turned to most often in writing m/m historical. They’re the books I would want with me if I had a month to spend on a quiet island with nothing to do but write… what a lovely notion!

1. A Sea of Words (King, Hattendorf, & Estes, Henry Holt, 1995.)

A Sea of Words was written as a companion book to Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, and it did the job beautifully. It’s also a boon companion to writing Age of Sail – you will find not only explanations of the sea-dog terminology Mr O’Brian used so fluently, but a copy of the dreaded Articles of War – the document that essentially abrogated the civil rights of anyone serving in His Majesty’s Navy. An article on how medicine was practiced, diagrams of the essential bits of a ship, and a brief explanation of how the Royal Navy was organized during the Napoleonic Wars makes this essential for any grass-combing landlubber of a writer who doesn’t know a head from a halyard.

2. Every Man Will Do His Duty (Hattendorf & King (again), Henry Holt, 1997)

This book covers the period of 1793-1815. An excellent selection of first-hand accounts, log entries, and source material drawn on by the likes of CS Forester and Patrick O’Brian, both of whom borrowed heavily from the adventures of Thomas Cochrane, Sir James Gordon, and other real-life naval officers. The excerpts from the memoir of one officer who spent time as a POW in France could spawn any number of plot bunnies all by itself. It isn’t a reference in the strictest sense, but the language gives a feeling for the time that no textbook could.

3. English Through the Ages (Brohaugh, Writer’s Digest Books, 1998 )

Not sure if your 1800 sailor would use the term ‘pile-driver?’ This incredibly useful tome has words indexed and cross-referenced to the page where the word passed into general use… so, given the way the language migrates, you find that you may safely put the word in his mouth, since its pedigree says 1775. But he wouldn’t ask a friend, “Are you okay?” since that wasn’t heard of until 1839.

4. The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (Rodger, 1986, W.W Norton)

This book deals with a period slightly earlier than the Napoleonic Wars, but it’s the era under which many adults of that age first went to sea as boys, most of them 14 or younger. Wooden World has useful charts – how many guns would you find on a Third-Rate man-o-war? How many lieutenants on a sloop? It also shows how things altered in His Majesty’s Navy over a few decades, from an age where sailors might complain of a bad captain with some hope of relief to a structure where the ordinary seaman could only pray that a bad captain would be killed before he took the whole crew with him.

5. A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, Grose, Dorset Press, 1992.

As Erastes has posted elsewhere on this blog, a very useful book, and very colorful. If only someone had thought to index it, it would be very much more useful, because in its present condition it gives an interesting browse but a frustrating search. If you happen upon ‘wapping mort,’ you know she’s a whore (tis pity..) but you can’t start with “prostitute” unless you have an hour to search.

6. Colonial American English (Lederer, A Verbatim Book, 1985)

This is a step up from Grose in terms of organization. This contains not only slang, but ordinary terms (eg, ‘fustian,’ that favorite of Heyer, is “a coarse, stout, twilled cotton.”) It also gives hints of how words have changed – “manure” used to mean working a field (a quote from a letter reveals that George Washington once “manured a field and then laid dung on it,”which would seem awfully redundant in the currant usage.)

7. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, (Benet et al, 1st ed 1948, Harper & Row.)

Do you want your character to toss off a reference to a contemporary work but you’re not sure if it had been written yet? This is not only useful for that purpose, it’s interesting to browse through. Where else would you look up “ode” and find you have Pindaric, Horation, and irregular to choose from?

8. Pages Passed from Hand to Hand (Mitchell & Leavitt, Houghton Mifflin,
1997.)

This book is a collection of what the title says: many of the excerpts in it were not published at all, or published only after the writers’ death. EM Forsters’s Maurice is among them; at the time it was written, censorship prevented its publication. This is another book useful mostly for inspiration and the sense of speech patterns, and ideas. There’s a big, conspicuous time-period missing in this collection; the period between 1757 and 1857, when persecution against “sodomites” was fierce.

9 My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters through the Centuries (the indispensable Rictor Norton, Leyland Publications, 1998.)

What can you say about a book that contains snippets of love letters from as long ago as 139 AD to as near as 1960? This is a fascinating window into history and the human soul, and another excellent source of how men spoke and wrote… and an illustration of why ‘happy ever after’ is a bit of a stretch for most historical m/m couples.

10. Debrett’s The Stately Homes of Britain (Flower, Webb & Bower, 1982)

Bless the history-lovers of England and the second-hand stores of Ontario! I’ve found some real gems since moving here, and this is one of them. It’s considerably easier to describe a staircase and gallery (the better to spy from, my dear) if you have a picture of the entryway and stair of Antony House open before you. I would love to someday take a “stately homes” tour, but in the meantime, this book and others like it are a good second-best. Before you can set the scene for a reader, you have to set it for yourself.

Ten books seems a good round number to include in this sort of post – I’d be happy to hear suggestions from anyone out there. You may see another book list from me, or other Macaronis, in the near future.

conflict200x300I am happy to announce the release of CONFLICT,  the sequel to my novel CANE.  I seem to have been waiting a long time for the release of the follow up novel but it’s been worth all the effort :)

BLURB:
Two men, one war. Can love survive when each takes a different side?

Leaving his lover behind to support the Abolitionist cause, Piet Van Leyden finds himself leading one of the first all-black Union troops
into the heart of battle. Reuniting with free slave and former love, Joss, brings some comfort, but will his presence tempt Piet into forgetting the love waiting for him at home?

Sebastian Cane wonders how he’s able to go on without Piet by his side. When a series of unfortunate events lands him a prisoner of the Union, Seb knows he must rely on his wits and his love for Piet to survive…and get home to him.

EXCERPT:
It was difficult for Pieter to concentrate on Grainger’s words. Of course he had thought on the possibility of running into Joss once it was permitted for blacks to join the army, but he had never really believed it would happen. There were literally thousands of men in the Union army, the numbers rising all the time and the odds must be enormous.

His thoughts faltered again as he heard the lieutenant state the private’s name. Peters? Joss had taken… Pieter didn’t know what he felt about it, that Joss had taken that as his name. Flattered? Appalled? Touched? Oh, Joss!

“Peters?” Pieter queried haltingly, his voice sounding odd even to his own ears.

“Yes, sir,” Joss replied, keeping his voice formal, staring over his commander’s shoulder. Then abruptly he shifted his eyes and looked directly at Pieter. “Named for the only man who ever showed me a kindness, sir.”

Pieter stared at his old friend and ex-lover, emotion running through him to find him looking so well. “I see,” he replied softly. “Thank you, private.”

“Sir!” Joss said smartly, stepping back into line.

Pieter knew he gave orders and passed out praise and criticism in equal measure, but when the day ended the only thing he could clearly remember was the look in Joss’ eyes as they had stared at each other. Pieter just had to talk with him but he couldn’t simply single him out to speak to privately without reason. A company commander would have no cause to communicate with a private soldier without going through junior officers, unless for censure or commendation.

He paced his tent for thirty minutes until he recognized there was a way. Grainger had inadvertently given it to him.

“Grainger!” he called, sticking his head out of his tent, looking round for the lieutenant.

“Here, sir,” a voice floated from nearby in the dark and then the pale face of the lieutenant came into view.

“That private, the one who you introduced?”

“Peters, sir?”

“Yes, that one. Send for him. I want to have a few words and he should be ideal for providing me with background.”

“Yes, sir, immediately.”

Pieter sat in the rickety chair behind the small folding table in his small tent. He was nervous at the prospect of seeing Joss again, and being able to talk to him. Pieter smiled at his own reaction, he knew it wasn’t at all logical.

Presently, the lieutenant brought Private Peters inside the tent and the black man saluted his officer smartly, eyes staring straight ahead, back ramrod straight as he stood to attention.

“At ease, Peters,” Pieter said, a surreptitiously shared look between them at Joss’ choice of surname, and then with a glance at Grainger he added, “Thank you, Lieutenant. I will take it from here.”

Grainger glanced from his captain to the private as if silently asking if he were sure, but he merely nodded, saluted and left.

Pieter just stared at Joss for a long moment and his old friend stared back and slowly smiled. He was suddenly assaulted with images of the two of them together, long years ago when all that mattered were those snatched moments together. Memories of his hands moving slowly as they skimmed over Joss’ ebony skin; Joss kissing him with abandon and each murmuring promises of forever. Those had been naïve times he realized now but they had been good times.

Things were very different now, the love he’d felt for Joss then had been real but he knew it paled into comparison with what he’d learned he was capable of, but he would never regret his feelings for Joss. Suddenly Pieter’s face was split by a grin and he rose and strode around the table, and the two men embraced. They didn’t hold the hug for long, both being aware of the difficult situation.

“God, it’s good to see you looking so well,” Pieter commented as he retook his seat. “Grab a stool,” he said as an afterthought.

Joss did as he was asked and sat opposite his captain. “Oh yeah, I never expected to see you here.” He hesitated a moment, giving Pieter a long look.

“What?”

“I didn’t know if you were still in Louisiana,” Joss explained, his voice low.

Pieter nodded, dropping his eyes as he said, “I didn’t want to leave Sebastian. I remained as long as I could, but I just wasn’t able to stay among those people down there. I was… I couldn’t keep bottling up my real feelings and it was starting to…to. I didn’t want to damage what we had by staying,” his voice barely above a whisper as he spoke. He looked up at Joss then, attempting to smile at his friend, but it might just as well have been a grimace.

Joss recognized the sorrow in Pieter’s eyes that his friend was trying to hide, the ex-slave knew him too well.

After a moment, Pieter continued, “I tried to persuade Seb to come up north with me, not that I really expected he would. He has too much of a commitment in Louisiana.”

Reaching across the small table, Joss laid his hand over Pieter’s and gave it a small squeeze, attempting to comfort him. “I’m sorry, Piet, but I can’t say I’m surprised. His family have lived there for generations, don’t suppose he feels he can simply walk away from that.” He didn’t add that he also felt that if Cane had loved Pieter
as much as he claimed he ought to have had different priorities. It would be no kindness to Pieter to voice that thought.

“I know and also in the few letters I did manage to receive from him before the mail stopped getting through, he admitted to feeling a greater responsibility to his slaves now and that…” Pieter stopped, as if remembering just who he was speaking to. He shrugged an apology.

Joss looked Pieter square in the eyes and commented, “Well, we know who to thank for that change in outlook, don’t we?”

“Enough about me,” Pieter said decidedly. “How about you?”

Joss gave Pieter a quick rundown of his life since they had parted in New Orleans, admitting that after a slow, difficult start the life he now had was good. He explained a little about Nathaniel and how the old Negro had helped shape his new outlook. Joss told him that Nathaniel had even taught him to read, and he reminded himself that he should show Pieter the letter he’d written when he got the opportunity.

He admitted he was glad to be able to accept responsibility for his own life, though it had been hard at first to get work and he had felt so lost and unsure most of the time until Nathaniel had taken him under his wing.

He gave a deprecating laugh. “Strange as it sounds,” Joss confessed, “I have felt happier since I joined up. Even after a year or so of freedom I was used to the,” he sought for the word he wanted and smiled wryly when he remembered it, “constraint of slavery and oddly I missed the…structure it gave my life.” He shook his head at his own confused thinking and Pieter smiled sadly at what had been done to people like Joss.

Joss regarded Pieter, giving his old friend a long assessing look. A little unnerved by the stare, Pieter asked, “What?”

“You’ve changed,” Joss said quietly and as Pieter frowned, he explained. “You’re more…comfortable, more sure of yourself.” Eyes lighting up as if Joss suddenly understood, he smiled broadly and added, “You know who you are.”

<end excerpt>

Available from Phaze Books: http://www.king-cart.com/Phaze/product=Conflict/exact_match=exact

[There is in fact a longer excerpt available if you follow the link on the book page at Phaze, as per the above link]

Stevie
http://steviewoods.com
http://swquill.wordpress.com/
My Publishers:
http://www.phaze.com
http://www.torquerepress.com

I have to recommend this blog

Got Medieval

because my life was not complete without ambulatory genetalia.  I particularly like the one on stilts, and the girl power one with the crowned vagina being carried on high by three phalluses.  I swear that one in the hat is wearing roller skates, though.

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But it isn’t all pudenda. The Medievalist can be funny on practically any aspect of his chosen area of study. I have this blog bookmarked and it gives me a giggle every time. But watch out what you use the word for! You don’t want him going all medieval on you ;)

There’s a wonderful article here about gay life at Britain’s top university.

“The chapel of Gonville and
Caius has a similar memorial,
set up even earlier, in 1619.
Commissioned by the master
of the college, Dr John Gostlin,
it commemorates himself and his
friend Dr Thomas Legge. Below
the depiction of a flaming heart
held aloft by two hands reads an
inscription: `Love joined them
living. So may the earth join
them in their burial. Oh Legge,
Gostlin’s heart you still have
with you’.”

Look at me running away before any Oxford or St. Andrew’s graduates come and smack me.

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