THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
This past year has been awful.
I know I'm not alone in thinking that. A lot of advice for writers talks about that struggle, where inspiration fades into despair and how important it is to burst through that fog and share your art... because art, make no mistake, is resistance. Especially when you're writing gay love stories in a society that has, according to most recent news, for the first time in recent memory become less accepting.
So there's a been a fog. It's not been without light. Through Purple Horn Press I released my short, American Pride, and managed to get three of the four College Rose Romances back in print. The final one will release before the end of January. That's not the end of the story for our college students. Jim Puffton, the resident bully, is our next reluctant hero, and I wonder if part of my hesitance in getting that story out is tied up in my worries for the state of the union: because why should I shine a light on a bully?
But Jim, as you'll hopefully discover, is so much more than that. Redemption stories are never easy, and maybe it's important to show that sometimes bullying is also coming from a place of pain that we don't see, that people are more complicated than that. That story, Forgiving James, will come later in the year.
In the meantime, Becoming Rory is coming out. I adore the transformation of Lawrence/Rory, and we've seen a peek of it in Andrew's Prayer, as the timeline of the books overlaps. We finally get to see Rory's hinted at mysterious boyfriend, and their relationship is really intense. We get a love interest with a mental health issue, and that's not something we often see. It was really important to me to put that into the story and deal with it honestly—something that cost me in reviews. But I stand by my portrayal. This can be hard to read... mental illness is so difficult in a relationship, and both characters are young college students, but really, mental illness makes everything about a relationship hard. Rory finds out how hard, and what he's willing to do to keep his love.
I know a lot of us are still in that fog. I find it a little strange that the first release that I had in this era was titled American Pride. Because that story is really about a character who has had a lot of loss, and it's his pride in his country that has defined him. But that loss makes him doubt that pride, and it makes him question everything. But this is a character who has lost so much, and at the end of the day, it's the ideals of the United States: Liberty and Justice for all. Freedom and equality that keep him steady. And even with his questions, he still keeps his flag lit at night, so it can fly even in the dark. Dustin is very much lost in the same sort of fog I know so many of us are feeling. But some days, I hope that I can find that bit of optimism that I wrote into the character.
Purchase American Pride at Purple Horn Press.
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Growing up, my favorite films were fantasy films, of which there were few. Don't get me wrong, I love Star Wars. But it never claimed the same spot for me that the Last Unicorn did, or the top of the list for any fantasy bookworm: The Neverending Story. Of course the film is considerably more happy than the book, ending halfway at this triumphant point where Bastion has all of these wishes to make the Empress's kingdom great. But the consequences were relegated to a failed film.
Never the less, The Neverending Story had a few points that made it great. It pulled at emotions. It made you part of the story. And in the midst of the story, as Atreyu pushes forward searching for answers, you are drawn into what it means to despair.
His trusty steed fails this test and is sucked into the swamp. Indeed, Atreyu himself falls to the despair too, and is only rescued at the last minute by the luck dragon, Falcor (I don't count this as a spoiler, since the movie is 30 years old). It's meant to show that even when we despair most there is still hope. It's an ongoing theme in the story. We see it in Atreyu's determination when he continues in the Swamps of Sadness, and also when he faces the servant of the Nothing, defiant to the last.
I've felt a little like Atreyu in that swamp for the last year. Hopes. Dreams. Things I've worked on for decades and others that are newly minted. I feel like it's all falling apart sometimes.
I'm sure others have made similar points with Star Wars, the First Order, and The Last Jedi. Maybe I prefer the fantasy nebulous enemy. Maybe I stopped believing in the Force. Regardless, I find it interesting that these stories actually resonate in similar ways. To rebel against the First Order/Empire/the Nothing is a fools errand. And yet it is the action of the few: The scavenger. The deserter. The farmer. The reader. For them to rebel is the only hope.
Perhaps what I need to do is remember that story came from the rebellion of someone else first—a writer.
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.