Happy Wednesday Scribblers. As promised, this week I step aside and allow fellow author Gillian St. Kevern to take over my Scribble Page and talk about her new novel Morgen Prince and share a little about her gender and sexually ambivalent character Duhywynt.
Without further ado, take it away Gillian.
Thank you, M.D. Neu, for hosting me on your blog! I’m especially glad you invited me to talk about my experiences writing about a character who is ambivalent toward his gender. As you’ll find out, writing Morgen Prince was something of a personal milestone for me. Being able to share that means a lot.
A little background: Morgen Prince is the fourth book in my Deep Magic series, an urban fantasy set in North Wales and blending the magic of story telling with the world of morgen, Welsh sirens. While the first and third books focus on the relationship between a human witch and a morgen prince, this is the first book narrated by Duhywynt (commonly known as Dewey), the aforementioned prince’s younger brother.
Dewey prefers hanging out with seals to interacting with people, finds dresses more comfortable to swim in than jeans, has a complicated friendship with Myfanwy, the newest witch on the cliffs and the only human he finds tolerable, and has a deep distrust of romantic relationships due to being starved of affection by his cruel grandfather, an evil King. In the five years since Deep Magic, Duhywynt’s been forced to attend school and received a crash course in human customs and societal expectations--and frankly, he’s having none of it. He would still prefer to be living in the ocean, hanging out with seals.
I expected writing Morgen Prince to be a lot harder than it was. This story has been coming ever since Duhywynt splashed his way onto the pages of Deep Magic. He is blunt to the point of rudeness, easily outraged, suspicious and dismissive of anything he doesn’t immediately understand, and clings to his erroneous assumptions, but underneath his hard exterior, he retains this wonderful kindness and innocence, and is fiercely protective of his animal friends.
Deep Magic was published in 2015. Morgen Prince written late 2017, and I’m only publishing it now, after a long period of dithering. Why did it take so long? Well, I got a bit hung up on the fact that Duhywynt is ambivalent about his gender and sexuality, and I wasn’t sure where exactly he fit on the spectrum. I wanted to get the experience right so much that fear of messing it up made me procrastinate on the story. When I finally decided I had to write what was right for Duhywynt, everything came together really quickly. There were a few sticking points, a few dead ends, but they had more to do with Duhywynt’s emotional development arc, than his identity. Actually, Duhywynt was incredibly easy to write.
As it turned out, that should have been my first clue. After I tidied up the first draft of Morgen Curse and sent it to an editor, I got caught up in the usual end of year nonsense complicated by a birthday, a lot of dog-sitting, and a chance encounter with a critique group. The woman leading it looked at me, looked at the other person present and said, ‘wow, we’ve inadvertently formed an all-queer critique group.’ The immediate feeling of relief was overwhelming--and really unexpected. I identify as bisexual and asexual, but neither label really feels like it fits me. As I never expected to act on either one, I didn’t feel like I was queer enough to be allowed to call myself queer. Although I’d never shared my sexuality with her, this woman’s comment freed me, unlocking something for me, and set me off on a journey, questioning how well I knew myself.
The edits on Morgen Prince came back during this period, and I was astonished by how much of my own gender ambivalence and ambiguity about my sexuality was present in the story. In writing Duhywynt’s struggles, I’d been grappling with my own truths. It’s always a little scary when you realize how much of you is in your writing, but I think it’s important to be able to put yourself out there at times.
It’s also incredibly important that we tell stories and share experiences from all over the LGBTQ spectrum. I didn’t see any experiences like mine in the media, fiction or even social media I consumed, and so I came to the conclusion that my experiences were less valid than other peoples or so not representative of being queer that I wasn’t helping anyone by sharing them. I now hope Morgen Prince will empower and encourage people still exploring their identity.
Gillian St. Kevern is the author of the Deep Magic series, the Thorns and Fangs series, the For the Love of Christmas series, and standalone novels, The Biggest Scoop and The Wing Commander's Curse. Gillian currently lives in her native New Zealand, but spent eleven years in Japan and has visited over twenty different countries.
As a chronic traveller, Gillian is more interested in journeys than endings, with characters that grow and change to achieve their happy ending. She's not afraid to let her characters make mistakes or take the story in an unexpected direction. Her stories cross genres, time-periods and continents, taking readers along for an unforgettable ride. Both Deep Magic and The Biggest Scoop were nominated for Best LOR story in the 2015 M/M Romance Groups Member's Choice awards. Deep Magic also received nominations in Best Cover, Best Main Character and Best Paranormal, while The Biggest Scoop was nominated for Best Coming of Age.
Morgen Prince Blurb:
Duhywynt’s only weapon against the world will cost him everyone he cares about.
Duhywynt plans to spend his summer catching the legendary Ceffyl Dŵr and swapping make-up tips with his best friend, Myfanwy—until he discovers his older brother has traded his morgenau heritage for mortality. Worse, Myrhydion is far more concerned with Duhywynt’s lack of social life than his own untimely demise.Duhywynt will do anything to avoid losing him for ever, even if that means faking a friendship with Drew, a tourist.
As Drew’s fascination with Duhywynt grows, the prince discovers the deadly legacy of his morgenau heritage, emperilling his relationship with Myfanwy—a relationship with depths he is just beginning to understand. Can he overcome centuries of pain and embrace the unknown, or will his morgenau heritage claim another victim?
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