As an author, how much social media is enough?

I have two designated days a week to write. That’s more than most.

One of those days is Monday and like most people find, Mondays fly by quickly. I usually do the washing on that day as well, and pop off to the gym in the morning. So I don’t get to my laptop until about 11.30.

Tuesday is a better writing day as I can lose myself in my thoughts after a quick morning swim. But there’s something I really don’t like invading my writing days – social media.

I know as an author it’s a necessary evil, but it takes away from our art.

At the time of writing this blog I’ve also been busy writing guest blogs, creating social media artwork and formatting my newsletter in preparation for a new book that is about to be released. So I think it’s been hitting me harder the last few weeks. And I can already hear that little voice inside me saying “This is part of what being an author means in the twenty-first century.”

But the other thing that makes it harder is that I’m in a different time zone than most of my followers.

This blog will be scheduled to post at 1 a.m. Monday morning which corresponds to Sunday brunch time US EST. I’ve learnt this is the best time to post. Along with it will be a Photoshopped graphic to promote it on Twitter and Facebook. More time to be consumed.

I also have to set up my auto-tweets to share the link, along with scheduling other content that I think would be of value to my followers. These tweets are spread out everyday for maximum impact.

I have brief moments to relate one on one on social media, but sadly Twitter, Instagram and Facebook work on personal algorithms. If we haven’t been in touch recently we won’t see each other’s posts. I checked my Facebook friends count and found it was 575, yet I keep seeing the same twenty or so people in my feed. Instagram also seems to show me just a handful of people.

When I have insomnia, Twitter comes alive.

If I wake at three or four in the morning, then my Twitter feed has lots of interesting interactions going on. That’s when I discover certain hashtags that pertain to author questions and join in, in real time. But if a glance in the evening, then most of the people I’m following are in bed so their tweets are random.

I also see live commenting on Facebook in the middle of the night, where authors discuss topics. If I look during the day, the algorithm is less likely to show me these posts so I lose touch with those conversations.

I know this blog sounds like a bitch session. 

It kind of is and it’s kind of not. I love seeing new and interesting people follow me on any platform. I love those moments of interaction.

I think my point is, social media is not a twenty-four seven thing to me, or at least not live anyway. Those algorithms have made it less interesting. So my auto scheduling is my only connection to meet new people and contact the old. It’s social media by remote control, but it works.

So if it’s a writing day, don’t expect me to be looking at my social media feeds. If I’ve managed my time properly, I’ll be writing.

My Sensitivity Read for ‘Speedbump’ – Guest blog by Charli Coty

The last edition of Australian Author had an interesting article about Sensitivity Readers. These are people from a certain background or minority that will read your manuscript and give you feedback on the character that represents them. For example, if I wrote about a transsexual, I would offer my work to a transsexual who would advise me on what could be an issue with trans readers.

So I’m really glad my guest blogger, Charli Coty, has tried this for the novel Speedbump. And I’m glad to have Charli here at my site to talk about the experience.

Thanks for having me, Kevin!

I wrote a lot of Speedbump from personal experience—the bikes, Ezra’s garden and obsession with firewood, having a friend who was mixed-race white and Native American, and growing up with Latino friends. So, when I wrote it I didn’t think much about sensitivity reads.

No. I didn’t think about them at all, because in 2015 I didn’t know about sensitivity reads or why they’re important.

Most of the book is about a bisexual genderqueer person finding love with another bisexual. The Bi + Bi Romance is one of the main reasons I wrote Speedbump—because I wanted to read a book like that and couldn’t find one that I could identify with.

As usually happens when I write, a few characters showed up without any planning or prompting and introduced themselves. Brett Corona, one of Ezra’s best friends, was one of those. Brett is a tall, sexy lesbian who runs her own biker bar. I love her. She has characteristics from a few people I’ve known in my life, but wasn’t modelled after anyone in particular (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😊). The reason I mention her is that she calls Ezra Latinx instead of the singular they. Back when I was in high school I was practically adopted into a Latino family while I dated one of the kids, so I based that on the way they had treated me.

I might have grown up in racially diverse neighbourhoods, but I’m white. I don’t have a lot of privilege in my life, but I am very aware that I do have white privilege. I don’t want my words to hurt anyone, so I was concerned about whether it was appropriate for me to write a Latina character who gives a white person the nickname Latinx. So I asked for a sensitivity read, and when the reader came back and told me one sentence was problematic, I re-wrote that entire paragraph. Reading those comments was a sobering experience for me. I’ve done (and continue to do) the work to be aware of my own privilege and to minimise the impact of my blind spots on others, and it scared me to think of someone reading the original passage and feeling hurt or insulted. I urge all authors to seek out readers so they can avoid mistakes like the one I almost made.

Any excerpt containing the re-written paragraph would be spoilery, so here’s one from the first time Brett appears in the story. Maybe this is obvious, but it’s from Ezra’s point of view.


If I didn’t know better, I’d think ESP was real. Or maybe telekinesis.

The night before, riding in that GTO so near a man I wanted to…do things with, made me think of other people I used to feel the same way about. Especially the two I was still friends with. When the roar of a Harley interrupted my morning coffee, I wondered which one I’d brought by thinking about them. Then I wondered which one I hoped it would be.

Before I could figure that out, I was crossing the front porch, watching the most beautiful gal I’d ever seen in real life dismount. She leaned the black and chrome Shovelhead on its kickstand and stood in a single practiced motion. Brett towered over me—even more than most men, at six feet—and when she took off her helmet and freed her long black hair, it was all I could do not to sigh out loud. How she could look so strong and so feminine at once was beyond me, but nobody could ever mistake that Brett Corona was all woman.

She looked me over for a few seconds, smiling like she was thinking something good, and then walked around the bike to the porch. She stopped at the bottom of the steps and waited.

“What’re you doing here?”

Brett looked like she wanted to laugh but thought better of it. “Just stopping by to say hi. It’s been a while. Tray around?”

“Why?” He was always around now, but I didn’t want him to hear me say that.

“I’m holding. Thought we could get ripped, like old times.”

“I need to get wood today. Got some yesterday, but even if it’s still there, we’ll need more.”

“Yeah. I saw the truck.” Her dusty black boots landed on the first step and then the second, bringing our faces as close to the same level as they ever got while we were vertical. “Need a ride out to it?”

“You offering?”

“I’m offering. We can get the truck today and more wood tomorrow. I’m offering to help with that too.”

I couldn’t take that kind of kindness and charity overload on a good day, and so far, the day hardly qualified as good. I’d spent the whole day before filling the truck and had no doubt it sat empty where I’d been forced to abandon it. My cold little heart clenched—it could have been because all of yesterday’s work was gone, but it probably had as much to do with staring right into the sultry dark eyes of my most recent ex.

Thanks Charli for sharing your experience and your own self reflection. If you’d like to pick up a copy of Speedbump, check out these links:

Nine Star Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

And if you’d like to spend more time with Charli:




NineStar Press Author Page:





Trusting my author instincts

Something has changed in my approach to writing.

Or perhaps it’s just a change for the book I’m currently working on. I usually meticulously plot chapter by chapter, but for the sequel to Social Media Central, that’s not the case. Maybe it’s because it needs twists and turns as its a dystopian thriller. It’s better for me to surprise myself by which dilemma Tayler finds himself, while I work out ways of bailing him out.

I have a mass of notes for this project and although I did plot many chapters for the first quarter of the book, I didn’t follow the plan. The same things happen, just not in the same order and sometimes not in the same way.

Social Media Central also ended up being written with the same approach.

While I had much of it plotted I went off course to experiment with other ideas. Even several versions of the same scene were penned before I felt the details were right. And while I knew the ending would be about Tayler giving in to mass culture by becoming famous for creating something just as mundane as cat videos, a better ending came as I was writing it.

And so too with my current project. I trusted myself to start it before I had worked out three quarters of the plot. Yet I’m finding inspiration in daily life and through random thoughts that have become the notes which are driving the story. Usually these ideas help shape the next draft of a book but this time I’m working through my chaotic ideas, piecing them together as I go along.

My other work in progress hasn’t been approached the same way.

The Midnight Man is a Magic Realism story about a guy finding the man he needs in his dreams. This was plotted, as all my fantasy books are. It’s currently resting before I tackle it for its second draft, and as usual, other new scene ideas have come up.  This is my usual approach.  For this project I feel I need to include more backstory and to give my main character an obsession for muesli bars.

So maybe I’ve found a new way of working. Or maybe just a different way to approach a particular genre. I’m enjoying where this ride might take me. The irony is I read Stephen King’s book about writing recently and found he doesn’t believe in plotting. It was the only advice of his I didn’t agree with. Yet here I am working closer to his style.

It seems I’m more confident to break my own rules these days.

Writing ‘At Your Service’ – Guest blog by K.S. Trenten

Author K.S. Trenten has popped over to tell us who’s the fairest of them all in her reinvention of the Cinderella story for the NineStar Press anthology, Once Upon a Rainbow, Volume 2.

K.S. Trenten

I’ve been thinking about desire, what makes a person desirable for quite some time.

Certain images are used in the media, marketed as desirable. A massive, bare male chest. Prodigious feminine cleavage. Bare skin, ripped shirts, and slitted skirts.

There’s a very different aesthetic in certain types of Japanese manga and anime, an aesthetic which hooks me and reels me in. It’s an aesthetic that gives characters an androgynous, almost angelic perfection beyond gender.

The latter works much better on hooking me. The former has captivated countless readers.

This got me thinking about how different notions of desire could be. Lately, I’ve had a mischievous impulse to explore eccentric tastes, ideas of beauty that most people would raise their eyebrows at. This impulse inspired me to write ‘Seven Tricks’ but I’d explored this theme in an earlier story, ‘At Her Service’.

One wouldn’t think of a bony ankle as being sexy. The old ‘Cinderella’ image of the wicked stepsisters, trying to cram their enormous feet into the tiny slipper isn’t meant to be attractive.

We’re supposed to laugh at it. What if someone didn’t? What if that someone enjoyed tickling and squeezing her mistress’s big, bony foot into a small glass shoe? How could I make it a sensual experience? How could I relay how she felt, touching that foot?

I was already thinking she, because ‘At Her Service’ was originally intended to be a f/f story for a fairy tale anthology. I’d started writing the story which would become ‘Fairest’, when inspiration for another submission struck.

I was trying to reinvent classic fairy tales without the prince. In Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, the conflict is between the main character and a woman who torments her, hunts her, or curses her. Sometimes she’s a wicked stepmother. Sometimes she’s a evil queen. Sometimes she’s a witch or faerie.

What if she was something else entirely to the main character?

I love fusing romantic tension into a conflict between two characters. Once I had the initial idea of the slipper, the rest of my story began to blossom around Cinders and her mistress.

Cinders would be a girl very much like I once was. A klutz, perfectly hopeless at housework. There was only one thing she had any skill at, coaxing her mistress’s feet into the glass slippers. She’d pour all of her repressed passion for her mistress into this act. For this Cinderella was going to be infatuated with her lady, not some prince she met at a ball.

I couldn’t dismiss the prince, though. I found myself thinking a lot about him, the power of the myth surrounding him (see my interview with Matt Doyle). Exploring that legend provided another source of inspiration for the story.

Ultimately, I wanted Cinders not to be interested in him. He’d court her, try to tempt her, but he’d be unable to offer her what she really wants.

Not every girl can be swept off her feet. Some are more than happy to simply admire another girl’s ankles.

Cinders is one of them.

Thanks for joining me at my place today, K.S. Trenten. You can check out some wonderful twists on classic fairy tales, including the story At Your Service, in  Once Upon a Rainbow Volume 2.

Pick up a copy through Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Make sure you also say hello to K.S. Trenten at her Facebook page, via Twitter, on Tumblr and on Goodreads.

Then go and check out her blogs. Yes, blogs, plural. Also known as the Cauldrons of Eternal Inspiration.

The Paradox of Science Fiction (Guest blog – Rebecca Langham)

Rebecca Langham has several things in common with me. Firstly, she is a fellow author at NineStar Press. Secondly, she is Australian and lives north of Sydney in the Blue Mountains. Thirdly, we’ve both been emailing each other frantically because we are going to promote our sci-fi books (mine comes out in March) at the Supanova convention in Sydney in June.

Rebecca’s debut novel, Beneath the Surface, is the story of alien outsiders and a human named Lydia, who finds a different reality about those who live beneath the surface to what she was told.

So welcome Ms Langham to my blog as she talks us through the paradox of science fiction.

I started writing Beneath the Surface to write the kind of story I wanted to read. What kind of story is that? Yes, it’s one with female main characters who are attracted to other women, but who also have positive, complex relationships with the men in their lives. I’ve read so many stories in the #lesfic world where the men end up sexually assaulting the women and/or completely disregard or denigrate their same-sex attractions. You won’t find much of that in Beneath the Surface.

There are no simple ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’ either, though people of course do things that we could judge as either moral or immoral.  It’s also a story driven by character and world-building, with a gradual and subtle sense of evolution for my leading lady, Lydia, who’s biggest flaw is her passivity, her blind acceptance of the world as it is presented to her by those in power.

Beneath the Surface is not a story for those who look for action, horror, or thriller elements in their sci-fi. It is a classic style of literary genre fiction, looking to explore some elements of our zeitgeist – the spirit of our times. Culture. Politics. Power. Greed. History.

I also started writing this book because I was inspired by the multitude of strong female and queer writers and characters I was seeing more and more of out there in the world of fiction. Inspired…but also frustrated. I love the warrior women (Xena, Lexa…yeah, don’t start me on Lexa), but I wanted to see more women who were strong because without a weapon. Masculine traits (which are, of course, not just for men!) tended to be used to symbolise female strength. Whilst this is a good thing, and I want us to keep seeing women who can kick ass – literally – there was a trend where that was the main way to represent female empowerment in sci-fi. Or maybe I’m just reflecting my own book, movie, and TV show choices here. Hmm.

Sci-fi has a long history of breaking ground when it comes to inclusivity. Martin Luther King Jr’s conversation with Nichelle Nichols is a famous and poignant example of how important representation can be. Not only did MLK convince her to remain with Star Trek as Uhura because of the power of representation, she then went on to become involved in advocating for NASA to include both woman and African Americans in the space program as astronauts.

There are countless examples of powerful representations of gender, sexuality, culture, politics, power, and historical forces through science fiction books, films, and TV shows. Sci-fi pushes into areas of human identity that most genres are unwilling to explore, as we can use distant settings in time and space as a means to examine that which is actually right in front of us.

At the same time, there’s been a long history of the androcentric in sci-fi, with female writers struggling to get their stories out there. Those who critiqued Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein without knowing the writer was a woman, were largely impressed by her work. However, consider this response from The British Critic:

The writer of it is, we understand, a female; this is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should; and we shall therefore dismiss the novel without further comment.

It may have been 200 years ago that this novel was gradually released, but the genre is still one that’s characterised by a paradox of both inclusion and exclusion, with most award-winners being men and most protagonists also being men. Women are often included as part of an ‘ensemble cast’, and usually there are less of them than their male counterparts.

It’s an exciting time, though! Stories that feature a female protagonist are, slowly but surely, being recognised, promoted and accepted. Some of these are even written by women, too. Gender and sexually diverse characters are also appearing more frequently than ever before both on the page and on the screen, though there’s still a sense of trepidation from major publishers and producers when it comes to putting these characters anywhere other than on the periphery. TV programs like Orphan Black and Lost Girl, however, have been immensely successful, helping to prove that people are interested in female leads that aren’t strictly heteronormative. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see a female Doctor (Who)! Women, people of colour, LGBTQIA+…characters and writers alike are venturing into a new space in sci-fi where quality stories both by and about minorities are being produced in ever-increasing numbers.

The next few years look to be bright in the world of genre fiction. I’m so proud that my novel, which may not be for everyone (but hopefully it will resonate for a few readers out there), will contribute in some small way to finding a way to break the paradox of sci-fi as one of the most inclusive, yet exclusive, genres.

Thanks to Rebecca for popping over to my little spot on the web. If you’d like to know more about this talented author, check out her website at

And check out her novel at NineStar Press or grab an old fashioned paperback from Amazon.

Words. They have power!

I’ve often blogged about my favourite editor, Mary Belk.

She was assigned to my first novel and totally helped me re-imagine it. But I realised something the other day. I have no idea what she looks or sounds like. That’s not unusual as I have the same relationship with my current editor, Jason.

I wanted to Skype Mary but she wouldn’t allow it. The same book, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, was assessed over three drafts by a woman named Janet who I’d met. I even had one of my consultations over the phone.


Photo courtesy of Start Up Stock Photos

But without knowing her voice or seeing her face, Mary sticks in my mind.

She taught me so much more about writing. She’s passed on since so I’ll never get to know what she looked like (yes, I’ve Googled. Nothing!) or hear her voice for the first time. Yet, through her written words, she’s touched me.

This made me ponder my other modern relationships, especially those I only experience online.

There’s a stark difference between those who use words and those who use images.

Those that I know in real life that share pictures, I feel connected to. Those that I know personally who only use pictures but I don’t see regularly, I feel are disconnecting. Yet others who I’ve never met but share comments with regularly on social media feel closer.

I know you’ll probably read that last paragraph again. If you’re my age and remember the difference between an acquaintance and a friend then you might recognise that in an online age, this distinction has already blurred.


Image by Kellipics, courtesy of Pixabay

I used to love talking to friends on the phone for hours as a teenager.

Often a phone call seems like a hindrance now. And if you ever ask me what was humankind’s greatest invention, I’d pick language over the wheel any day. And even though a picture is worth a thousand words, we don’t communicate just by sending images back and forth.

Words are what affect us. They comfort us. They show us what we all have in common.

Our Christmas tree

It’s time for a confession. Some years our Christmas tree doesn’t go up. We may have to travel to see family straight after working all the way up to the holidays so, as no one is going to visit, it stays in its box in the garage.

Maybe I’m getting older and sentimental, or maybe it’s because we have a few new decorations, but I decided it was time to get back into the spirit of the season.

So today’s blog is about our decorations, the idea partly stolen from a recent blog by Canadian writer, ‘Nathan Burgoine, and partly because I’ve been doing Instagram posts of our decorations and it seemed like a good idea.

Above and below are images of harlequins that we bought during post Christmas sales at David Jones (for those outside Australia, it’s a ‘fancy’ department store). So now comes my ‘first world problems’ gripe. It’s hard to find Christmas ornaments this beautiful here in Australia anymore. These are nearly twenty years old and have never stopped being my favourites.

The little fella below is an ornament a friend hid down his pants. Seriously! How this fragile thing didn’t shatter is beyond me.

My partner took me to Cirque du Soleil as a birthday present last year. This guy was based on one of the main characters in the show, and although I fell in love with him in the gift store, I decided to buy the soundtrack album as a memento instead. So my partner bought it and gave it to our friend to hide. He rushed off to the toilet and buried it under his jeans, leaving his shirt loose over the top. Thankfully, it survived.

Many gay guys have discovered Diamond Mermen (imagine the Village People extending into a larger singing group and each of their characters being immortalised with a sparkling fish tail), and although we’ve bought three from the range, only one of them is a merman. Come to think of it, we’ve only bought these on trips to America and its always a challenge to repack our suitcases to bring these home in the large boxes they come in.

Also in the Diamond Merman range was this guy. If you look closely you’ll see this Jesus style ornament has green fairy wings on his back. This was discovered on (you guessed it) a trip to the US. I caught up with author, SA Collins, while visiting San Francisco back in September and when we passed a Christmas shop, well, I didn’t stop at just window shopping. And yes, I know Jesus should be represented as a newborn at this time of year, but look at it this way, at least he’s represented somehow as part of our Christmas.

There’s more ornaments on the tree I can talk about. There’s more I’ve seen overseas that I’ve never bought including one based on Kiss’s Gene Simmons. Yes, Kiss make Christmas decorations!

But I’m glad the tree is up this year. Often we are too busy that Christmas suddenly appears before we’ve made an effort to be part of it. I miss the days when we genuinely slowed down toward the end of November and shopped and drank too much. And we found time to catch up with everyone we worked or played with before the day of family arrived.

So putting up the tree this year was my way of getting a little of that back.

‘A Face Without A Heart’ by Rick R. Reed

I have a confession. Although this story is set in modern times, I kept picturing it set in the late nineteenth century. This is, after all, a retelling of an Oscar Wilde classic. When a modern prop like a g-string was mentioned my mind re-adjusted, but just as quickly all the characters were back in steam-era clothing.

Rick’s updated version has Gary as the doomed man who discovers his own fountain of youth. His early naive then  hedonistic exploits drive the story, as drag queen, Henrietta, becomes the closest person to understand what makes Gary tick.

The darker chapters of the tale, especially in the second half of the book, worked for me. Details of debauched parties, of Gary submitting to his darker side and of Henrietta’s observations of what’s going on were, to me, this book’s highlights. Liam’s immature yearnings for Gary made me cringe as I knew someone like him long ago — old enough to know better but somehow not wiser with age. He quickly became the lesser important wheel to this story.

Rick R. Reed

As I know the original story well, it was the second half that felt more fresh. I was in no hurry to keep reading until I reached half way. Also, Gary seemed like an odd name for a main character who’s charismatic. Liam, who is the reserved artist, has the more exotic name. As the tale is told first person by several characters, I had to keep reminding myself that Gary was not the artist and Liam was not the man losing his soul. But this tells you more about me as a reader than it does about the book.

An aspect I particularly liked was the way the writer ended the book. I’m trying not to give a spoiler but at the same time I’m trying to shed light on a certain style. Several days ago a millennial friend told me she was reading H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. I asked her to discuss the ending with me once she finishes. To me, Wells’ novel ends perfectly with the second last chapter. Maybe, as this was originally serialised in a sci-fi magazine, there was a reason to summarise key thoughts in one extra instalment. Why am I rambling on about another novel entirely? Because Rick’s book has the opposite approach. You know the book is finished but the story definitely isn’t. There’s lingering confusion and heartache. I was both satisfied and intrigued.

So in the end, Face Without A Heart reeled me in. I liked the characters from the start but as the years moved forward the story found its own momentum.

The Multimedia Author

Three things happened in the past weeks.

One involved film making, the others involved the challenges of social media. After much badgering from my younger work colleagues I finally joined Instagram. The odd thing is, I’m enjoying it more than I thought.

My high school teacher friend groans about how we have several social platforms that do exactly the same thing. I don’t agree. I already knew the difference between a Facebook and a Twitter audience, but I couldn’t see much variation between sharing photos on FB and Insta. As I’m a visual person I now know finding creative artists and photographers on Instagram is the trick.

Image by Kellipics, courtesy of Pixabay

I’ve already unfollowed a few that treat this photographic platform for selfies, or for sharing, well, Facebook-style posts. 

Instead, I’m exploring the imagery of those who are sharing the offbeat, or a wider world that’s bigger than themselves. Why would I want my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds to all look the same?

Last Tuesday I was part of a Facebook promotion day with my colleagues at NineStar Press.  

It was for the release of a new anthology, Once Upon a Rainbow, and, although I’m not in it, I welcomed the chance to go live for an hour as did the authors before and after me. I’d done this once before, sharing quizzes and games with whomever turned up online. This time I had Facebook Live on my side.

I’ll be honest. I only prepared for my part in the forty-five minutes leading up to my slot in the schedule. I practised some readings and quickly found the old graphics I used that last time. And I learnt that my wrap around phone case is perfect for hanging my mobile over the laptop screen. I can still type on my keyboard while using the decent camera on my smartphone to telecast with.

Image by Geralt, courtesy of Pixabay

The same team of authors is thinking about a scheduled author live event once a month, or quarterly. This could catch on. As I found out recently, a Facebook Live video is four times more likely to show up in a person’s news feed after the broadcast than an uploaded video. It’s worth considering for any author who needs more exposure.

Finally, I shot and edited my next book trailer.

I used three topless men and a femme fatale to promote my novel, Social Media Central. Oddly, this book won’t be out until March 2018, but it feels good to know I’m well ahead in my marketing.

Anyone whose followed my blog knows that this was an effort. I had every cast member locked in since August except for my redheaded female. I didn’t find her until October, but at the eleventh hour she had to work on our shoot day. I had to rethink the storyboard and add an extra location just for her. We shot her special appearance the following day.

I’m really excited with the way the trailer turned out but know I have to keep it under wraps until next year. It’s not easy. I’m dying to share even though there is no final product shot (as the cover won’t be designed for a while). As my partner always says to me – I have to learn patience.

Image by Methodshop, courtesy of Pixabay

But tomorrow I’m looking forward to a whole day of getting lost in my current work in progress – ironic considering that in the end, all of the above is to help get my name out as a writer.

‘London Triptych’ by Jonathan Kemp

I don’t rave about books on my blog, yet there’s been quite a few I’ve loved. So I decided I’m long overdue in sharing what I’ve been reading.

Several books ago I picked up a copy of Jonathan Kemp’s London Triptych. I’d read some reviews in the past, so when the novel was begging me to pick it up and buy it, I headed its call. It’s probably the last book I’ve read that I couldn’t put down.

Arsenal Pulp Press

This is a slow burn tale, or more to the point, three slow burning tales. But each carries the same dramatic arc as each chapter flicks back and forth between three characters in three timelines.

We first meet overly sensitive Colin, trapped in fear in the 1950’s. He’s a man who has suppressed his homosexuality, even though he grew up aware it was there. His backstory, as he carefully shares it with us, is heart breaking. A marriage of convenience and a lack of any type of sex life lead him close to breaking point when he finds a young nude model to paint.

Colin’s misplaced sexual exploitative years come to the surface as this middle aged man tries to make sense of his desires, without the help of gay friends or life experience. He is equally aroused and repulsed by his own thoughts toward the younger man he desires, as he is about his own sexuality.

Next we meet David, a man in jail in 1998, recalling his life during London’s punk/new wave/new romantic period. He lives in a time when being gay wasn’t easy, but it is definitely easier for him than it is for the other two characters in this book. So why is David in jail?

As I said, these are slow, yet captivating, stories, and as David tells his tale over the course of the novel, we find that love led him to his fate. How, why and whom are gradually and satisfyingly exposed.

Then we have Jack, the sassy rent boy from the 1890’s. Out of all these characters, Jack is blessed with a network that enforces his identity without guilt. He is a young man with the world, or London at least, at his feet. He lives in decadent times, as long as he has someone like Oscar Wilde to foot the bill. But like the others, Jack too falls from grace.

Jonathan Kemp

Colin, David and Jack are three distinct gay men, all at a different age and all shaped by the times they live in. Yet all of us can relate to their social influences and their inner turmoil, even when their own pain is hard for them to pinpoint. At one point in our lives, we too have been equally broken.