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Man & Monster
The Savage Land #2
A monster stalks the ancient forests...
It’s 1799, and Cole Seavey is a trapper running from a guilty past, seeking refuge on the vast American frontier. Lost in a raging storm, he finds himself face to face with a terrifying, otherworldly creature that seems to have emerged from a nightmare.
Cole is saved from certain death by a handsome Delaware Indian named Pakim. Together they learn that the monster is the fearsome Wendigo from native legends: a creature with a heart of ice, drawn to the evil of men.
Soon the Wendigo is terrorizing the frontier — settler and Indian alike — and Cole and Pakim join together to defeat the mysterious monster. In the process, Cole finds himself falling for the strapping brave and the promise of a new life together.
Unfortunately, the legends say that the Wendigo can only be killed by another creature with a heart of ice. But how can Cole hope to defeat the monster if it means denying the love he's finally allowed himself to feel?
Man & Monster, which the Midwest Book Review calls "a spell-binding story that is half mystery and half horror," is the second book in The Savage Land, a series that celebrates the untold gay history of the American frontier. Man & Monster is for fans of Harper Fox, Jerry Cole, K.J. Charles, and Mary Renault, as well as anyone who enjoys pulse-pounding suspense and romance.
(Man & Monster was previously published under the title Firelands.)
My head throbbed. In fact, it hurt so bad, I could barely think. Not because the Indian had tomahawked me, but because I had struck my head on the ground when I fell. Even after I lay there dazed and defenseless, the Indian did not proceed to scalp me, stab me, or do anything else lethal in nature. Instead, to my amazement, he helped me, though everything had such a dream-like quality that I wasn’t entirely certain my appraisal of the situation was accurate.
By now I shook so violently from the cold, I thought it possible I might shake loose a tooth. The Indian drew the bearskin from his shoulders, solicitously placing it over me. When I yet shivered, he vigorously rubbed my arms and legs to warm me. Next he gripped my hands in his own, rubbing them together as he blew on them. His breath was warm and smelled of sweetgrass. Needless to say, his actions were not what I expected.
I must have drifted off, for when I next became aware of my surroundings, a campfire burned right there on the trail. But it wasn’t big and even after it blazed brightly, I still trembled from an iciness that felt as if it had chilled my very blood. The Indian studied me intently, then removed his shirt and deerskin leggings so that he remained clad only in his breeches.
Yet dazed and delirious, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought maybe he planned on killing me after all and simply wanted to keep blood off his clothes. Who knew Indians could be so practical? Even though I doubted he would speak English, I tried telling him I meant him no harm, but he only shushed me, climbed under the bearskin and wrapped me in his arms. I was so astounded by this that I wouldn’t have been surprised if next a beaver had emerged from the woods and declaimed the Lord’s Prayer then and there.
Lying with his body pressed to mine, the Indian pushed us so close to the flames that I feared the bearskin would catch fire. All the while, he kept kneading my flesh, as if determined to keep my sluggish blood moving on his own. Such tactics were not unknown to me and were commonly used to treat victims of frostbite. Little by little, the shivering subsided as I grew warmer.
My mind again drifted off.
The Indian must have shifted about because at some later time, I again became aware of his body pressed against mine. Groggily, I noted that he smelled of tobacco, but also something spicy, like cloves or coriander. I rather liked the scent. I also — rather bizarrely — liked the feel of his hot skin against my own. I felt safe, cozy even, as odd as that notion was given my current circumstances. But then an alarmingly salacious tingle began spreading outward from my groin. I hoped I might yet be asleep and having one of those arousing dreams that frequented me deep in the night.
Before I realized what was happening, my shaft grew stiff. Whether I dreamt it or not, the Indian again massaged my body; and when his hand next drifted lower, he encountered my stiffening roger. I thought his fingers lingered there a moment, but then they moved on.
For some reason, I imagined his hand creeping back and taking ahold of me. I even wondered what it might feel like, should release come from his touch. I thought I would like it very much, though I ascribed such powerfully peculiar thoughts to how badly injured I was.
I became aware of a growing pressure in the small of my back. At first I was puzzled, until I realized that the Indian had himself become aroused — his roger was what I felt. What the blazes is that about? I wondered. This had to be a dream after all. I desperately hoped so anyway, because most unsettlingly, the feel of him against my flesh only inflamed me further.
In fact, I feared I verged on releasing my seed — not something I wished to do in the presence of any man, much less a savage. Whether I dreamt the whole thing or not, I struggled to drive away the hot, pulsing feeling in my groin before it was too late.
I must have succeeded, for the next time I awoke I wasn’t the least bit aroused, even though my flesh was hotter than before. In fact, I didn’t think I had ever been so feverish. I was desperately parched as well, the inside of my mouth as gummy as a drained honeycomb. The Indian knelt in front of me. He placed a cool hand on my hot forehead. “You are burning up with fever. You need someone with healing skills greater than my own.”
Needless to say, I was startled to hear him speak English. Too exhausted to query him about it, I closed my eyes and listened to him hurry away. I vaguely wondered where he was going.
I felt so hot, so ill, so weak that I doubted I would ever rise again. As my mind drifted toward sleep, the final bizarre thought I had was that if the Indian’s visage were the last thing I saw, that wouldn’t be so bad.
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Johnny Appleseed Was Gay? Maybe, Which is Why I Write Gay Historical Fiction
I’ve been a writer my entire life and my writing career has always involved gay-related content. Early on that meant writing essays for the local paper about gay topics and firing off letters to the editor criticizing how gay issues were covered. Later that included writing my books, as well as the ten zillion articles, columns, and blog posts I churned out for AfterElton.com (a website I co-founded that covered pop culture for gay and bisexual men).
Yeah, the gay has always been strong in me.
I think another reason I’ve been drawn to historical fiction is because it’s always pissed me off how often the LGBT community has been pinkwashed out of history. Did your history class teach you that Abraham Lincoln was married to Mary Todd Lincoln? You bet. But fat chance you learned that Leonardo da Vinci had relationships with men. (“Gay” wasn’t really a concept back then, but dude-on-dude action definitely went on.)
I’d also bet that you never learned that one of George Washington’s top aides who helped win the American Revolution was a ‘mo. And did you know that Bayard Rustin, who worked hand in hand with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement, was an out gay man?
Unless you went to a very progressive high school, the answer is almost certainly no.
So I see part of my job as a novelist is trying to try fix that.
Which brings us to Man & Beast, book one in The Savage Land series. In Man & Beast, I tell the story of John Chapman, a young man who left the civilized world of Massachusetts and plunged into the savage lands of the American frontier in the 1790s.
You might better know John Chapman as Johnny Appleseed. Yeah, that Johnny Appleseed. And in my telling, he’s a man who is attracted to other men and is trying desperately to find a place where he can be himself and, if he can be brave enough, perhaps even find love.
Is there actual evidence John was gay? No, but there is also zero evidence he was straight. In fact, looking at the details of his life -- a young, intelligent, sensitive man who moved west and apparently never had a single romantic relationship with a woman -- set my gay Spidey senses tingling.
So I set about telling a story of how John fled westward (like generations of LGBT folk down the years) to a place where could escape society’s expectations and scrutiny of his personal life. Once on the frontier he finds other misfits like himself, including a Delaware woman who teaches him all about apple trees. And in doing so, she sets John on a path to become one of the most iconic figures of the American frontier.
Only he’s gay.
In Man & Monster, the standalone sequel to Man & Beast, I tell the story of Cole Seavey, a trapper who unexpectedly find himself caught up in a brewing border war between settlers and Indians, as well as falling for a Delaware brave named Pakim. Unlike John, Cole isn’t based on an actual person, but one of my intentions was to remind everyone, gay and straight, that LGBT folks have always been everywhere -- even out on the American frontier.
But Man & Beast and Man & Monster aren’t just about making history more inclusive. Both are also sexy, thrilling, and, yes, romantic, stories of how far two men will go to find their place in the world and how much they’ll risk to save the men they love.
Because that’s always been part of American history as well.
Check out my books and let me know what you think! I love hearing from readers and you can reach me via email, Facebook, Twitter, or you can connect with me through Goodreads.
More about Michael:
Michael Jensen is an author and editor. His books of gay historical fiction include two series, The Drowning World, which is set in 5500 B.C., and The Savage Land, which takes place on the American frontier. Man & Monster, the second book in The Savage Land series, was a Lambda Award Finalist (under the title Firelands).
Michael is also the co-founder of AfterElton.com, which covered pop culture for gay and bisexual men, and eventually become one of the largest and most influential LGBT websites on the internet. In 2006, AfterElton.com was sold to MTV/Viacom in a multimillion dollar deal. As editor, Michael interviewed hundreds of writers, directors, and actors, breaking numerous stories and advancing the issue of LGBT visibility in Hollywood.
Michael also created the Big Gay Fiction Giveaway which helped promote more than 80 M/M authors to great success.
Michael lives in Seattle, WA with his husband, writer Brent Hartinger.
Find out more on Michael's website.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.