A big ‘Thank You’ to Ashavan Doyon for being a Euro Pride Con Sponsor and Graphic Artist. It is my great pleasure to introduce Ashavan to our readers on Rainbow Gold Reviews. Please read the author’s Guest Post and comment on this post.
This is Ashavan Doyon, author of such works as Loving Aidan, I Almost Let You, and Gerry’s Lion. As part of EuroPrideCon I’m privileged to have this chance to talk about what gay romances mean to me.
I used to write fantasy and science fiction. Speculative works with lots of magic and wonder and then I’d get to the point where there really needed to be a romantic character and I’d balk. When I was growing up and learning to write, no one wrote gay characters. There were these treasured few authors who dared and they were very few and very far between. Mercedes Lackey. Ummm. Yeah, I’m stuck at ONE. One author who wrote romantic fantasy and included a gay character. Did I mention she made him the main character? She did. Vanyel Ashkevron, Last Herald Mage of Valdemar. And her stories were beautiful and romantic and you felt that struggle with Vanyel coming out, his fear about finding love. The uncompromising acceptance of his aunt, and the painful and enduring rejection from his parents.
After I entered college I continued to write. More fantasy, with gay romances that kept them from ever being publishable. The Memory of an Imperfect Death, Zeriphas and the Bones of the World, 13th Past Midnight, The Eternity Matrix. I think there’s little more frustrating to a writer than sending out book after book and knowing you don’t fit in your genre’s niche because your characters have romances with the other same gendered characters.
After a while I felt like I’d never get anything published. An encouraging letter from an editor might come. I learned later that in traditional publishing that was gift — I wish it’d felt like one at the time!
For a while I settled into fan fiction communities and I wrote … well, smut. Very risque smut with characters I probably shouldn’t mention. Somewhere there’s a rather long fanfic — over 200,000 words — melding two of my favorite fandoms together. I’m not ashamed to have come from those communities, even though I found them well after my writing started. For me they were a reminder that writing was fun, that I did it because I love the characters, and if I give them half a chance my characters will become what they’re meant to be, and then they’ll drive me nuts with surprises at every turn. That’s the gem, the best part of writing. Because when your characters rebel, they’ve become alive and they live on their own. I become something of a translator, desperately writing down THEIR words and THEIR feelings. Crying and loving and hoping with them as they become something new.
Eventually I was pestered into submitting something, and after my experiences with large publishers to say I was nervous is an understatement. I’m so proud that Loving Aidan made it first (event though it was second to be released). I’ve been blistered by reviews for Aidan’s choices, but they were his choices. *I* clearly wanted him to choose Steven, who had gotten HUGE in my head. The angry folks don’t know half of it: I cut over 10K words of Aidan/Steven in edits.
So why didn’t I make Aidan choose Steven? Because Aidan loved Sammy. He’d loved Sammy almost from the moment he set eyes on him. The moment Sammy made the very first thing he did when they met be protecting Aidan’s right to be who he is.
Why is that important? Read Loving Aidan again with that lens, and maybe you’ll understand Aidan better. An abandoned Aidan who needs to feel protected and was abandoned by the people he was supposed to be able to trust to do that. An Aidan who needed, so badly, to feel guarded by the people he loved, instead of exposed by them.
But I’m proud of Loving Aidan because Aidan is a character I can see and feel and touch. There’s a lot of a hundred young gay men that I knew in college in Aidan. There’s that desperate sense of PRIDE, and the need for others to accept it — the idea that Aidan finally was okay with being gay, and there was no way he’d ever allow anyone to make him feel bad about it again. There was no less than being fully himself.
I get really passionate about my characters, and I love it when my characters surprise me. Those who have read Steven’s Heart know that Steven is keeping secrets, but I’m constantly amazed to find that he left me hints in Loving Aidan about what the secret was. And that’s what I mean about the characters living in my head. They always know what they’re doing. They always know why. I have to keep writing to find out, because they won’t just tell me. They have to show me their secrets.
Soon (if not already) you’ll all have the opportunity to discover the next character in the College Rose Romances. Andrew Tuttleman, the infamous man who wouldn’t keep quiet from the press about Aidan. The one who seduced Steven. In Loving Aidan and Steven’s Heart he comes across as a selfish sleaze. But Andrew has his own tale to tell, his own secrets. Learn all about him in Andrew’s Prayer.
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Ashavan Doyon spends his days working with students as part of the student affairs staff at a liberal arts college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, having opted instead for the companionship of two beautiful and thoroughly spoiled pugs. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.