Monday, July 21, 2008

Guest Blogger: Selah March

GAY COWBOYS
IN THE
POST-BROKEBACK AGE


by Selah March
http://selahmarch.wordpress.com/


When I first got the idea for a gay cowboy story, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN had yet to hit the big screen. By the time I got around to writing SEVEN YEAR ACHE, the film had been out for eighteen months, but I hadn’t seen it — mostly because I’d heard it featured irretrievably damaged characters and a heartbreaking ending.

I write romance, both “het” and gay, which means fixable characters and a happily-ever-after every time. So while I was intrigued by the concept of the movie — the love that dared not speak its name among the rough-riding icons of the American West — I was afraid to let the tragic tone of the film color my own story. Finally, in between writing SEVEN YEAR ACHE and its sequel, WILD HORSES, I took a chance and bought the DVD.

Wow. I’d been right in waiting, and I ended up wishing I’d waited a little longer, because writing WILD HORSES was exponentially more difficult with the ghosts of Ennis and Jack floating around in my head.

With the sad themes of BROKEBACK playing like background music in my brain, my main and secondary couples, Kris and Blake, and Rafe and Jamie, kept wanting to do self-destructive, irredeemable things...and I’ll be damned if I didn’t almost let them. After all, life is hard for a man who loves other men in a part of the country that doesn’t tolerate nonconformity, and I’ve spent enough time in the Flathead Valley of northwestern Montana (which is where SEVEN YEAR ACHE and WILD HORSES are set) to say that though the people there are as nice as you’ll find anywhere, they’re also deeply traditional and slow to change.

I kept having to remind myself that SEVEN YEAR ACHE and WILD HORSES take place in the present, while BROKEBACK is set a generation in the past. Much of the hatred and ignorance that caused the tragedy of Jack and Ennis still exists, but the threat of such deadly consequences for loving the wrong person has diminished somewhat. I only wish I could say it’s disappeared completely.

I tried to address that reality in my stories — the existence of ignorance and hatred and the threat of violence that lurks beneath it. But since I don’t write tragedy, I had to find a way to balance that reality with a sense of safety by creating a home and a supportive circle of friends and family within which my lovers could explore their new relationships. Part of the reason Jack and Ennis’ love ends so badly is because they were isolated. The folks of the Lazy C guest ranch, where SEVEN YEAR ACHE and WILD HORSES take place, are surrounded by people who love and protect them and give them the chance to be who they are without fear.

Riding the line between the fantasy that readers often crave and the reality of life as we know it isn’t easy, especially with the phantoms of Jack and Ennis looking over your shoulder, reminding you that it’s often a cold little world we live in. I like to think I’ve found a good balance in my Lazy C stories. I hope my readers will, too.

Purchase links:

SEVEN YEAR ACHE: http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/SevenYearAche.html
WILD HORSES: http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/WildHorses.html

***

EXCERPT from WILD HORSES, available now from Amber Allure/Amber Quill Press:

"What about you?"

"Huh?"

Blake finished folding his shirt and dropped it on the chair next to the bed where all his other clothes were piled. When he spoke, Kris could hear that Mississippi drawl coming on strong. "I said, what about you? You're still dressed."

Kris shrugged. "You trust me?"

Blake blinked at him. His mouth turned up in a smirk. "I'm here, aren't I?"

The sudden, thick tension between them felt like the drop in air pressure that came before a storm. Like maybe the bunkhouse was about to be at the center of a very localized bit of wild weather.

Kris crossed to Blake in three quick steps, leaving no more than a couple feet between them. "I think it's time for you to shut that smart mouth, Biloxi."

"Is that what you think?"

"Yep. Most definitely." Kris didn't give him a chance to come up with another helping of sass, but backed him up till Blake's thighs hit the edge of the mattress of the double bed across from the bunks. "I'm gonna ask you one question, and you're gonna answer it, yes or no."

Blake looked him straight in the eye and nodded.

"You ever been with man like you're about to be with me?" He leaned in, already pretty sure he knew which way the wind blew, but needing to hear it all the same. "You ever been fucked?"

He waited, patient and careful, as Blake's throat worked around whatever he was about to say. It was a loaded subject for any man. Girls were allowed to be proud of their virginity. Men...not so much.

"No." Blake squeezed shut his eyes, then opened them and gave Kris another straight look. "No, I haven't."

Kris nodded. "Good enough. We'll go slow, and you'll let me know if--"

"I already said I trusted you."

"So you did. I'm just tryin' to be..." Kris sighed and shook his head, at a loss to explain his all-of-a-sudden need to take special care without letting on how much he knew of Blake's recent history.

"A gentleman?" Blake's mouth twisted up in a smile.

"Don't sound so surprised, boy." He backed off a few feet and grabbed the hem of his shirt. "Now get your ass on that bed."

***



2 comments:

Lyndi Lamont said...

Interesting and thoughtful post, Selah. I look forward to reading about your cowboys.

Lyndi

selahmarch said...

Thanks, Lyndi. :)

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