Writing and Splicing
I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog post ever since this past weekend. I was at home and flipping through the channels when I came across the movie Splice on HBO. I had been wanting to watch it for some time but never got around to it. When I saw I only missed a few minutes I decided to watch, not expecting to get an idea for a guest blog from a creature/horror movie, but I did.
I should state, I am a fan of creature features and usually end up sympathizing with the creature in question. Splice was no exception. Since this isn’t a movie review, I won’t get into details but it is worth watching and you will at some point bleed for “Dren” the half woman-half animal hybrid. I wonder if future humans will be hybrids like cars. We’ll get less disease per years on earth. Maybe that could be a selling point.
But I digress. After watching the movie, I went out to Dim Sum and proceeded to have a discussion with a friend about the movie but also the ideas and themes I took from it. I found our discussion invigorating and inspired me to want to write a blog based on the movie but also how it relates to the question of gender and cross gender writing. I’ve been interviewed many times and every other interview ends up rephrasing the question of “what do you think of women writing from the gay male perspective?” I’ve answered in various ways, and have stayed true to my initial and steady thought of, “why not.”
I’m going to give a slight Splice movie spoiler (Sorry) but in the movie, the creature starts as a female and then evolves into a male. Interesting. I pondered aloud over dumplings and Chinese broccoli, “are writers who write from the perspective of the opposite sex forcing a creative evolution within themselves?” It’s an interesting thought. My friend felt most writers would simply write how they wanted, or thought the opposite sex should act and just go with what their idealized version of said gender would be. Hmm, I see the point but had to dig further. If a male writer invests, truly invests in the POV of a female aren’t they in fact evolving not only as a writer but as a human being? Of course, the opposite would also be true. I write in a genre dominated by women who write from a gay male perspective. Sure, some may be idealizing a male stereotype but I’ve found most of the women writing the genre are truly invested in understanding the male perspective and the gay male perspective as well. Not only are they invested but are adamant about getting it right.
Think about that, it’s almost like two for one. Not only does a woman who is writing a gay male romance have to invest in what it is to be male, but a male who is in love with another male, I can’t imagine this to be easy. I’m sure the challenge must be rewarding and as I mentioned push, if not break down walls creatively and evolve the writer’s literary boundaries. After all, aren’t we all a little bit male and female? I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to indulge the less dominant side every once in a while.
I have written female characters and have earned some praise for my understanding of a woman’s perspective. I attribute this to my willingness to invest time, the powers of observation and history to help me along. I grew up around tough and sensitive woman. I have many strong female friendships and when I write I am not only writing for myself but also honoring the memory of people I’ve known, places I’ve been and my own creative self. When a woman tells me I got it, I am proud to know I’ve creatively pushed myself and am honoring the women I know and love.
Another Splice spoiler ahead (sorry twice) when the scientists reveal two blobs to a convention (one male and one female) in a walled cell (each in their own compartment) and the wall comes down all hell breaks loose. They fail to realize the female has evolved into a male. The males attack each other and bloody mayhem ensues.
I bring this up to challenge another creative boundary. Perhaps distance is needed when one is writing about ones own sex/identity. I think there is something to be said for creative distance. Maybe distance can work to keep ideas fresh and interesting. I for one am always intrigued and willing to read a writer who has gone somewhere new within themselves and their work. Distance can sometimes be the very thing needed to avoid destroying what we have worked so long to create. So I say yes to women writing male characters of all kinds and yes to men writing women and everything in-between. As Splice inevitably shows, it may not always be successful but sometimes crafting and creating new and strange creative boundaries may be essential when we are striving to evolve and create something new.
Speaking of new, have you read my new release The Birches from Seventh Window Publications? You should! It’s all about food, sex and men. Talk about a tempting trio!
Perfection isn’t everything, although it’s everything Leo wants. His desire to become the perfect chef may keep him at the top of his class, but it drives his friends and family crazy while keeping love and passion on the back burner. That is until he meets Dock, owner and chef of the new and popular restaurant, The Birches. Although Dock isn’t a trained chef, Leo finds the food he cooks delectable and the man behind the food irresistible. The lessons taught at the hands of an untrained cook may be just what this uptight chef needs to let go.
He pulled into the parking lot of The Birches and sat on his bike a minute. He felt nervous, like he was about to meet a celebrity and the self-doubt that plagued him made him queasy.
“You gonna sit outside or come in?”
Leo jumped at the sound of the man’s voice. He pulled his helmet off and looked around, but didn’t see anyone.
Leo looked just past his left shoulder and saw a man emerging from the nearby woods that surrounded the little restaurant.
“Oh, hey,” Leo called out, his voice cracking.
“You looking for something to eat?” the man asked, coming closer.
Leo was shocked to find himself riveted to the spot, staring at the man who came towards him.
The man offered Leo a rough, calloused hand. “I’m Dock,”
“Hey,” Leo managed weakly.
“I was out back, picking blackberries, they grow wild around here. I thought they’d make a great dessert. Don’t know what kind of dessert, but how can you go wrong when you have stuff like this?” He said as he offered up a large, wooden bucket half-full of dark, purple black berries.
There were purple smears across Dock’s white tank top that seemed barely able to contain Dock’s impressive chest. There were several brown freckles on Dock’s shoulders, next to where the strap of tank top clung to his body.
“Lucky berries,” Leo said under his breath.
Sweat ran down Leo’s back, he felt so nervous. For a brief moment, he thought of hopping on his bike and taking off. Instead he said, “Um, nothing, sorry, I just wanted to come by and--”
“You want to come inside and have an iced tea or something?” Dock asked, “It’s hot as hell out here and I know I need to cool off.” He swiped a hand across his face and left a smudge of blackberry juice across his cheek.
Leo’s heart was pounding, what was it about this place, this man?
Where to find Xavier Axelson:
Typical! I've just finished the cheesecake and Xavier has made me hungry all over again! I am off to fire up my Kindle and add this one to my list! Thank you for entertaining us today Xavier, it's been a blast!