Tag: writing

Is Call Me By Your Name Queer?

Thinking more about a post I made yesterday over on FB about the new queer film, Sublet, and it led me back to my complicated reaction to Call Me By Your Name. Which I enjoyed when I first saw it, but have cooled on since then. Because, for while it does feature around two men who fall in love and have man sex, I don’t think of it as a queer film at all. The book was written by a straight guy, the film was directed by a straight guy. And the lead actors were two straight guys. But more than that, the relationship literally comes out of nowhere. And that doesn’t jibe at all with what queerness is to me. My queerness was there pretty much from birth. I was never really in the closet as much as I was in denial. I took shit from other kids and other grownups my whole life. For the things I enjoyed, the way I talked, for just existing. I knew there was something different early on. It was there in how I identified more with women characters than little boys were supposed to. It suffused everything I was. I was even physically assaulted for it, though, thankfully, not severely. My queer identity has evolved in the ways I understand it, but it has literally always been there.

Call Me By Your Name has what they want us to believe is a grand passion literally come out of nowhere. Two “straight acting” (yes, I hate that phrase too) men, who have never thought of loving another man for even an instant fall in love.

Okay. I guess. But I want movies and stories from people who lived queerness. Who fought for it, bled for it. Lived it with every fibre of their being. Who have gone through it and are finding a way to navigate the world and their relationships and all the ways that queerness informs one’s very being. And I’m unsure most of the time if straight creators have the knowledge and equipment to tell those stories properly. I want more queer creators telling queer stories in more queer ways.

I would never shame an actor for taking a role. Acting is what they do, how they pay the bills, and it’s a fickle career that can end at any time. (unless we’re talking trans roles. No cis actors in trans roles. That promotes the stereotypes and attitudes that hurt trans people.) I just want the industry to give more and more voice and opportunities to queer voices.

Our stories matter. And how they are told, and by whom, is crucial to them being told well.

Anatomy of a Character: Lexa-Blue

So, the name came to me long before the character actually did. I just wrote it down somewhere and meant to come back to it at some point, because I thought it sounded cool.

Then, around the time I was writing the very first draft of what eventually became Soul’s Blood, I got into a comic called, of all things, Atari Force. It was one of those marketing deals between big companies, but it ended up being fun Space Opera, and far better than I expected. There was a character in the series named Dart, a mercenary of prodigious skill and coolness. As the novel idea developed, Lexa-Blue became character in that mold.

The second element of who she became was the scar on her eye, replacing the facial tattoos that Dart had. This piece came from the Legion of Super-Heroes, another far future comic that I loved. At one point, Keith Giffen did an arc called Five Years Later. In it, after a time jump, we saw that much of what had been familiar had been shattered. One of the characters, Shrinking Violet, had been injured in a war between her world and the planet of one of her best friends from the Legion, Cosmic Boy. She was left with the scar bisecting her eye. Another element fell into place.

The final piece for me was an actress I liked back then, one who had made her career in daytime and night time soaps, as well as in miniseries, which were big at the time. Her name is Terri Garber and there was something I really liked about her. She went from good girl to vixen, and then seemed to have found her niche as the conniving bad girl. She had an interesting mix of vulnerability, humour, and smartass that resonated with me and, at the time, felt like the energy I wanted the character to have.

So, Lexa-Blue became a combination of Dart’s competence and formidable fighting skills, with a scar and black artificial eye, with the cropped, dark haired personality that I could imagine Terri Garber portraying. And she just grew from there. With a healthy dose of my own snark and smart mouth for good measure.

Worldbuilding and Story (Part Three of Three)

So, you’ve built a world. You might not know all the details yet, but you have the basics down, and have begun to answer the questions of why the story is taking place when and where it does. Now, you have to get down to telling the story, putting together the elements that make up your narrative structure.

People often ask about the how of writing, the nuts and bolts of the process of coming up with an idea and following it through to a final form, be it short story, novel, essay, or memoir. But the thing is, ask a dozen writers and you’ll get a dozen answers, all different and all specific to writer and the genre and the stage of that writer’s career. So, I figured I’d throw my two cents, or my three ideas, into the ring along with all the others

I’ve talked in previous posts about how I’ve arrived at specific ideas or decisions in my own writing, even talked about the process of world-building. Where world-building is more about creating the back drop for the story, and the conditions where it can occur, this is more about the story telling process, the business of creating a plot and crafting a narrative that makes use of the world you’ve built. Continue reading “Worldbuilding and Story (Part Three of Three)”

Worldbuilding Basics (Part Two of Three)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I tend to think of the world building process as Decision>Question>Implication. You come up with your premise and begin asking questions about what the premise requires your world to contain, then you explore the ramifications of the choices you’ve made and the questions you’ve asked.

It’s important to remember that world building choices extend in all directions. And what I mean by this is that they come from somewhere, they affect the world and characters in the present and they drive the story forward in specific ways. Once you’ve made a decision as to where your story idea springs from, be it a character, situation, or some other detail that inspires you to write the story down, then the process of building the world begins.

Let’s take a basic, fairly simple idea and start from there: a child has wings. Continue reading “Worldbuilding Basics (Part Two of Three)”

Worldbuilding Basics (Part One of Three)

I write science fiction (no, DUH), space opera specifically. And it’s either a case of choosing a genre to match my skill set, or developing skills over the years that served my genre choice, but I’ve been told I am skilled at world building, which is a fundamental skill when writing spec fic of any kind.

I’ve never really written stories set in the real world. Writing in the real world means research. If I’m writing a story based in London, I’d better have lived there, spent a lot of time there, or spent a lot of time in a library. If I decided to write in Toronto, it would be easier, but, honestly, I don’t want to be constrained by the fact that the CN Tower is beside the Rogers Centre. Maybe I’m just a control freak.

I’m honestly a little hesitant to talk about this, because when I’m making decisions about the settings I put my characters in, I make a lot of decisions based on what feels right, without actually quantifying they why of the decision. This piece is me trying to get at those reasons. Continue reading “Worldbuilding Basics (Part One of Three)”

Guest Blog at Spoonie Authors Network – On the Body

In lieu of a post here this week, I was fortunate enough to write a piece over at Spoonie Authors Network this week. Inspired by a conversation I had with a friend at Glad Day Bookshop during Pride this year, that set off a host of thoughts about my body and how I feel about it.

Check it out here.

Worst. Blogger. Ever.

I’m a bad blogger. I admit it. I have neglected my site for far too long. I released a book, finished rewrites on a second and signed a contract for it.

Blogs posts? Nada.

Excuse me while I hang my head in shame.

I’m a writer. It’s kind of my thing. I mean, I have a dull, yet well paying day job with benefits and lots of vacation and stuff, but the writing is the thing that gets me going, that makes me feel like I’m not just taking up space and emitting carbon dioxide. I love the act of creating the worlds and the people and moving them around. I even enjoy the times I have to do horrible things to them.

Continue reading “Worst. Blogger. Ever.”