What's your preference?
Today is always my Dad’s birthday. It feels strange to remember it is now thirty-one years since he passed. The older I get, the more I wish I was able to have the chats an adult me could have had with Dad. In all honesty, I never knew him enough to know how he felt about growing up, or the changes in himself and in the world he lived through. That saddens me.
Jaysin’s Song hit 65,000 words this past week and I’m facing a week off work which might allow me to add more words than usual.
Over the last fortnight, I’ve wrestled with plot and character. Jaysin has offered himself in exchange for his brother Chasse’s freedom. Of course, he intends to escape as soon as he knows his brother is safe, but the story demands he remains in the Kermakk Empire where he grows in stature and ability as a sorcerer, so it has been an interesting exercise to determine how to ‘lure’ him to stay. In response, I’ve created a mentor, a person who can show him how to become more powerful and able than he currently is, someone a lot like himself.
Determining character sexuality is, in itself, always a fascinating process in writing. Although I have mapped Jaysin’s sexuality, along with his siblings and other characters, it becomes interesting when sexuality forms a part of understanding characters and their relationships and motivations.
Tam, in Tamesan’s Song, is portrayed as heterosexual, given the interest the male characters have in her, and her own responses to events. However, as we learn by the story’s end, and definitely into the second book, Tam’s life is intertwined with Harmi the dragon, and she has no portrayed desire to seek a human partner, leaving her sexuality either subsumed entirely by her commitment to Harmi, or dormant, or asexual. Her story begins with her aged fifteen, on the cusp of being chosen as a wife in the Harbin community. By Book Three, she is twenty, but in a very different relationship with Harmi and Book Four (not yet started), Harmi’s Song, will reveal more of this aspect of her character.
Chasse is developed as a sixteen-year-old heterosexual male in book one and during Book Two – Chasse’s Song – he establishes an unrequited romantic relationship with Banni, a widowed village woman. In Jaysin’s Song, at age twenty-one, he is betrothed to a fellow and female warrior, but since his enslavement as a prisoner that relationship is yet to be developed further.
And then we have Jaysin. As described in previous entries, Jaysin is the odd child out, a loner, and circumstances and his passion for learning magic have isolated him from potentially romantic relationships. He is, after all, just fifteen by the opening of Book Three – naïve and inexperienced in matters of love and sexuality. What Jaysin hasn’t faced yet, but what is true about him, is that his sexual fascination is with males. In Jaysin’s birthplace, Harbin, no one even considered sexuality being non-heterosexual because the society was based entirely on a heterosexual tradition. The place all four escape to, Machutzka, sexual orientation is not questioned. People partner as they choose, and when they have chosen a life-mate the relationship is formalised and celebrated. To a degree, this is also true of the Kermakk Empire where Chasse and Jaysin are imprisoned (at this point). The Kermakk ruler, the Karudar Marfek, is a female with a female partner, and Jaysin is only about to learn the extent of this relationship, which will spark his exploration of his own ‘need’ for a lover and understanding of his sexuality.
The subject of sexuality is a very minor sub-theme across this series, neither included to titillate, challenge or shock (I leave that to my darker fantasy novels), nor to make statements. It exists to flesh out the characters as being multi-faceted within the context of their world and their social groups. It’s fascinating to determine a character’s sexuality, however, in line with how it affects the way they respond to other characters and to situations. It cannot be ignored, any more than how they eat, dress, speak and see the world.
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...