Please welcome Alex Beecroft and
I've been spending a lot of time on this tour talking about non-binary gender and the Minoans. Which is entirely appropriate, since this is a novella set in the Minoan civilization, featuring a non-binary main character.
That's weird enough, right? I mean, here I am, writing in a setting which is not known to be a popular setting for historical romances, with a main character who is not among the most represented of types of people. So I should probably play it safe after that and write a story in which my ever-so-slightly-girly protagonist is swept off their feet by a very manly chap who possibly makes them captive in a war and takes them off to a pampered life of being an adored pet and sex-slave in my ruggedly manly character's ruggedly manly home country, right?
|Image by DavidDaguerro de Madrid.|
Ha! It's like you don't know me at all ;)
Nah. One of the things I am also interested in, as an agender, asexual person, is non-traditional family units. Say you have Person A in a relationship who is sex repulsed, and Person B who loves A but who has a strong sex drive and can't be content without having sex. In that situation, a typical monogamous pair bond is going to come under extreme strain, and that's a shame when those two people love each other and want to stay together.
What's the solution? Well, a lot of people would say “cure the sex-repulsed person, and then everything will be fine.” But that's unconsciously biassed towards the needs of allosexual people. Why is the solution to change one person to force them into sex they don't want? Wouldn't it be better to introduce person C, who can give B the sex they need, while also making sure that A remains included and loved?
I don't know if my final solution in Labyrinth qualifies as a polyamorous relationship or not. There are still only two people having sex, and they are my main romantic pair. But I definitely think of the solution they come to as a 'found family' that includes all four of my characters. Not only Rusa and Kikeru, who are my main sexual and romantic couple, but also Maja and Jadikira. I hope by the end of the story it's clear that the entire household would be weakened if any one person in it wasn't there any more.
It was an interesting experience trying to let the reader know that – for example – Jadikira was heterosexual aromantic, while Maja was asexual aromantic, Rusa was bisexual and Kikeru was gender-fluid without being able to use any of those labels. Although the Minoans did have the concept of a third gender, they certainly wouldn't have conceptualized any of this in the same way we do.
But the challenge of expressing something that is difficult to say with the words available is half the fun and a lot of the purpose of fiction. Since human beings don't seem to have changed for thousands of years, it's a certainty that there were queer people in ancient societies of all the same different facets of queerness that exist today, and the question then becomes “Where were they hiding?” “How did they manage to conform themselves into their own particular societies in such a way as to meet expectations that must not have fitted them very well?”
Labyrinth is one way of answering those questions, and as such it's a little experimental as a love story. I hope you'll give it a try and enjoy it nevertheless. At least the scenery is good!
Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.
Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?
The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.
It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.
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Meet the author:
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.
To celebrate the release of Labyrinth, one lucky winner will receive their choice of an eBook off Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 26, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
Promotional post. Materials provided by the publisher.