Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Tuesday Tangent with Kate Sherwood
Sexual orientation is a relatively new concept. In fact, although same sex behavior has always existed, the idea of a homosexual identity or a homosexual person is only about 100 years old. – The American Psychiatric Association at http://www.psychiatry.org/lgbt-sexual-orientation
One of my favourite things about speculative fiction is the opportunity it gives us to explore ideas that are important to our society, but in a safer, more hypothetical environment. In Sacrati, I wanted to write about the idea of homosexuality as a behaviour rather than an identity.
The Torian society is strictly gender segregated. Men and women rarely interact, and when they do have sex with each other, it’s for procreation. The rest of the time, the sexes find pleasure with each other.
The women chose the men they want to sleep with, so it’s considered an honour for a man to be chosen. All the same, at least some of the characters aren’t too excited by the prospect.
Elios shook his head. “Too much trouble. Why get cleaned up, walk all the way to the city, and go through all their nonsense, just to fuck a woman, when I could roll over right now and do whatever I wanted to Achus?”
Of course, all of this is more fun if there’s someone from outside the culture to observe and react. So Finnvid, recently captured from a neighbouring valley, tries to understand it all.
“Torian men spend most of the summer away from home,” Finnvid countered. “So it’s the same problem, isn’t it? Your women can’t have sex when you’re not around.”
Theos looked at him blankly, then turned toward his fellow Sacrati, hoping one of them could interpret the Elkati’s words. Receiving no help, he said slowly, “They have sex with each other. They don’t need us for sex, any more than we need them. That’s . . .” He was still searching for some different meaning in the boy’s words. Finnvid was supposed to be a healer, so surely he’d understand these things? “You need a man and a woman for babies,” Theos explained. “That’s all.”
In our world, we more-or-less accept that there will likely be homosexual behaviour in gender segregated settings: private schools, prisons, etc. But we seem to see those incidents as aberrations, times when people resorted to being with their own sex because the opposite sex wasn’t available. In Sacrati, it was interesting to explore the idea that maybe our societal defaults aren’t quite as hard-wired as we might assume.
Obviously in the current climate in our world, there are social and political reasons to identify as LGBT. Coming out is important in a world where one will otherwise be assumed to be straight. But for most of human history, this concept wouldn’t have made sense. Maybe we’ve just finally started identifying people accurately, and given a name to a reality that gay people have long felt without being able to label it.
What do you think? In a society without any homophobia, could homosexuality be a behaviour rather than an identity? Might we still have the extremes, the zeroes and sixes on the Kinsey scale, but might most people fall somewhere in the middle and act accordingly, without worrying too much about labelling themselves? Are most people at least a little bit bisexual, identifying as one extreme or another because of societal expectations rather than biological imperatives?
I have no answers for any of these questions. But it was fun to explore them at least a little in Sacrati!
As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.
Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.
For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.
Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!
Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”--other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!
Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy--the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?
Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.
After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a draw for a $15 Riptide gift card. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 10th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!