Please join us in welcoming author Francis Gideon today, on the tour for his upcoming release A Winter in Rome, and also be sure to check out the giveaway details below for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.
Hi everyone! I’m Francis Gideon and I’m here talking about my recent release with Less Than Three Press, A Winter In Rome. This work is part of their Intertwined Collection call, which, if you’re into poly romances at all, you should definitely check it out.
A Winter In Rome also contains a trans character called Sybil, who identifies as genderqueer. She realizes this over the course of the narrative; there are several discussions and her partners, Alan and Craig, work through their very minor issues and everything is squared away. I never wanted Sybil’s genderqueerness to be the “issue” of the text, and what minor quibbles the characters have during the “coming out” discussion are mostly about language. Sybil doesn’t like to be thought of or referred to as a woman, but she doesn’t mind she/her pronouns. She also doesn’t transition medically, and decides to keep her birth name.
I thought about these changes a lot, sometimes to the point where it kept me up at night, because I was very aware that Sybil didn’t fall in line with a typical trans narrative. We’re really used to seeing trans stories about the sudden discovery of a true gender, followed by gender transition. We have shows like I am Cait and Transparent that feed into this standard narrative as well. While these stories do have value–some trans people find it immensely relieving to shed everything that they once disliked and adopt something new that better fits them–it’s not the only transgender story out there. To measure all trans people by a single narrative is completely unfair, because with any kind of life transition, people all process it in different ways.
There are also lots of articles and essays written by very persuasive and savvy people about how the medical transition narrative seeks to fit all trans people into normative bodies that are often judged via European ablest standards of beauty. Transition is really expensive, too, and since most of these characters (save for Alan, an art professor) are working minimum wage jobs, medically overhauling something like this isn’t feasible. Also: Sybil doesn’t want to. So why should she have to medically transition?
I know Sybil is a character and characters don’t have any motivator other than what I tell them to do. So perhaps it’s unfair of me to say these things, when I’m really trying to justify my authorial intent. In that case, I want to tell you about my friend Amy. She insists on keeping her birth name because she likes it, and she doesn’t really care about pronouns, but knows she’s not a woman. She’s not cisgender. She was the model for Sybil’s character–though it’s pretty safe to say I’ve deviated a little bit with other attributes. Like how Sybil really enjoys poetry readings, whereas Amy would never be caught dead in one of those.
So that’s it! Sybil is trans, and while that was fun to write, it was also really stressful because I’m very aware of how little trans representation there is in media in general–let alone LGBT romance. As a publisher, LT3 has been working hard to change this fact, and I’m delighted to see that my story isn’t the only one in the polyamory collection Intertwined involving a trans MC! Sometimes diversity seems like an uphill battle, but the joy I have from checking LT3’s coming soon page each time they update, and seeing more and more trans stories appear, will never get old.
Blurb: Craig is a man adrift, never quite feeling like he belongs or like he’s as successful and settled as those around him—especially his lovers, Alan, an art professor he met while in college, and Sybil, who tutored him throughout his Italian class. When Alan goes to Rome life becomes even shakier and the only grounding point becomes the corkboard of memories Craig creates for the three of them.
By the time Alan returns, Craig isn’t certain how his relationships will change—especially when Alan starts to fall for Sybil, bringing two pieces of his world completely together and leaving Craig worried it will create a world that has no place for him.
Publication Date: November 11, 2015
Pre-order Link: LT3 Press
Excerpt: Alan pulled back the sheet and gave us a crooked smile. Sybil made some hums of approval, but I was stuck silent. I knew this painting; the canvas was black, stretched out and filled with dotted gold stars. It was the same one Alan had been working on when he and Sybil decided to be together, the same one that, according to Sybil, had been inspired by Sagan’s notion that we’re all star-stuff. The canvas was built up now more than before. The constellations had depth, and so did the black space around them. I felt as if I could fall into the painting and disappear before I was found.
“It’s beautiful,” I said. “What’s it called?”
“Ad Astra,” Alan said. “I was going to call it something more dynamic like Alone in the Universe or Seeking Orion. But I liked the simplicity of Latin. It allows some of the meaning to be obscured.”
I nodded, still somewhat speechless. It was so odd to see all the conversations we had had with one another displayed without an origin point. I had been so sure that Sybil was asleep when I had mused about the stars and the phrase ad astra. And Alan—he hadn’t been around when I told Sybil about Carl Sagan. But here he was, in front of me, with his canvas full of impeccable, intimate details. He had created a universe of us. For Sybil especially, it must have felt like a self-portrait.
“I’ve never done space paintings before,” Alan confessed. “I was up online studying nebulas for the past week, and now I’m pretty sure aliens exist. Also, did you know you can make your own galaxy online through a program? Kind of like Microsoft Paint in space. Really cool. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What do you think?”
“I love it,” Sybil said. She stood up from the couch and walked over to Alan with a hug. “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome, dear.” Alan rubbed his hands up and down her back, and then waved me over too. I wrapped my arms around both of them, eyeing the painting behind us on the easel long after the embrace was over.
“Don’t get too attached, though,” Alan stated. “Because I think Rebecca wants me to sell it. Knowing her, anyway. She hates it when I keep any painting project for myself because I’m not ‘networking’ that way, or something.”
I was about to argue for the painting to stay when a knock echoed through the apartment. I heard Rebecca’s laugh right after the knock and Alan’s demeanour shifted. He pushed his shoulders back and straightened his jacket, before giving Sybil and I a quick kiss.
“Be right there, Becca. Just be patient.”
More laughter from the other side. Alan moved across the apartment, but I wasn’t ready to let him leave.
“Surely you can’t sell it.” I grabbed Alan’s shoulder before he got to the door. “It’s too important.”
“Why not? It would give me an excuse to paint more. To paint both of you again.” When I was still unconvinced, he added, taking my face in his hands. “We have our corkboard, Craig. We can add to that. We have control over that. Paintings are never really the artist’s alone. That’s why I can let it go—because I have to.”
Author Bio: Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante. He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal. Find him at francisgideon.wordpress.com.
I’ll giveaway two (2) e-book copies (any format) to those who comment with their email addresses. I’ll use a random number generator and contact the winners via email.
The Fine Print:
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