A Word from Alex Beecroft
I only heard about asexuality for the first time three years ago, and it took me a certain amount of time to understand what it meant and think it through and fully claim it for myself. One of the symptoms of trying to find a label for myself for so long only to discover that after a while I always started to find the ways in which they didn’t fit, was that when I did find the one that did fit, it took me a long time to feel confident about that.
I’m also not a big fan of groups. I’m not used to thinking of myself as part of a community, because my existence has always felt somewhat invalid.
This is a long winded way of saying that although I first heard of asexuality three years ago, it’s only now that I’m beginning to become aware of some of the issues and debates in the community.
Blue Steel Chain, with its story of asexual Aidan being rescued from a situation of domestic abuse, was finished and on my editor’s desk at Riptide before I found out that abuse was a sensitive subject in the asexual community.
Much as there always used to be people who claimed that homosexuality was caused by abuse (there probably still are), there are people today who claim that asexuality is caused by abuse.
My kneejerk reaction to this was to point out to myself that Aidan is not asexual because he’s abused. I’m very clear that he was asexual before the abuse began and his abuser used his preexisting asexuality as a way to make him feel that he was wrong and bad and the abuse was all his own fault.
Abusers by definition tend not to be nice people, and they’ll go for any vulnerability they can find.
There’s this concept in asexual circles of a ‘gold star asexual’ – which is an asexual whose orientation cannot possibly be attributed to some other factor. They’re not religious or repressed or traumatized. They’re not unbalanced or mentally ill. Their asexuality cannot be assailed by anyone eager to write it off as a psychological problem.
My first reaction was to say “well, I don’t want people to be able to say that Aidan doesn’t want sex because he’s traumatized.” And that’s still true, because you know that if the chance to find any explanation for a character’s lack of sexual attraction to other people which isn’t “they were made that way and it’s a valid orientation,” a lot of people are going to take it.
I don’t want people looking at Aidan and saying “So what your book is saying is that abuse can put people off sex, right? Big deal.” I want them to understand that some people really are just born without sexual attraction for anyone.
Nobody wants their orientation to be invalidated. No one wants prying do-gooders to assume they must want to be fixed from being who they are.
But my second thoughts are a little more complex. For a start, I’m not a gold star asexual myself. I was emotionally abused as a child. I don’t know whether that had any affect on my orientation, and I can’t ever really know for sure. All I know is that I’ve been asexual all my life and that doesn’t look set to change. Does the mere possibility that there might be some aspect of nurture to my psychological make up invalidate the fact that asexual is what I am?
I don’t think so. I think if you look at yourself and you find you have no sexual attraction to other people at all, you get to claim you’re Ace however you got there. Like the good people at AVEN say, if the label is useful to you, you get to use it, and it is not for other people to gatekeep that.
Aidan’s story is only one of many possible stories that could be told about asexual characters. I certainly didn’t intend it as some kind of template against which real people’s orientations could be measured. I hope that now that more Aces are writing more asexual characters we’ll soon have a wide variety of characters to choose from, so everyone can find someone who they recognize.
In the mean time after this long post rambling about abuse, it’s probably redundant now to say ‘there is violence, domestic and emotional abuse in this book. The first half is pretty grueling. I hope the second half makes up for it, but be warned.’
Blue Steel Chain
Series: Trowchester Blues #3
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Published: 27th July 2015
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
At sixteen, Aidan Swift was swept off his feet by a rich older man who promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. But eight years later, his sugar daddy has turned from a prince into a beast. Trapped and terrified, Aidan snatches an hour’s respite at the Trowchester Museum.
Local archaeologist James Huntley is in a failing long distance relationship with a rock star, and Aidan—nervous, bruised, and clearly in need of a champion—brings out all his white knight tendencies. When everything falls apart for Aidan, James saves him from certain death . . . and discovers a skeleton of another boy who wasn’t so lucky.
As Aidan recovers, James falls desperately in love. But though Aidan acts like an adoring boyfriend, he doesn’t seem to feel any sexual attraction at all. Meanwhile there are two angry exes on the horizon, one coming after them with the press and the other with a butcher’s knife. To be together, Aidan and James must conquer death, sex, and everyone’s preconceptions about the right way to love—even their own.
::: MARK’S REVIEW :::
Trowchester Blues Reading Order
Meet Alex Beecroft
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
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