Friday, July 26, 2013

Posted a new excerpt: Interlude 1981.

There are some Naughty Bits at the end. If two men being naughty together is likely to offend you, don't read it.

Now. You have been warned. If two men being naughty with each other does not bother you, enjoy!

And here are a few thoughts I have about "fading to black" in a story...or not.


I face a quandary many authors have faced at one time or another. Does one follow one's characters to the bedroom / back seat of the car / living room floor / beach / jacuzzi etc., or leave it totally to the reader's imagination?

I have struggled with this for as many years as I have been writing fiction, and have come to the conclusion that sex is part of life, and if we are looking in on the lives of various characters, there ought to be no shame in looking in on this part of their lives as well.

One editor puzzled me. Heterosexual lovemaking, described in what I fervently hoped were artful, sensitive terms, was considered "gratuitous." Better I should simply "fade to black." However, to this same person (a heterosexual woman), descriptions of sexual relations between two men were an entirely different matter. There was never any objection to those scenes. Hmmmmm...

Admittedly, one of my gay male characters has been declared "hot" by folks from all walks of life: young and old, male and female, gay and straight. More than once, someone has been known to remark, "Man, I wish he was real!"

He -- Tamlin -- is a strange combination of many diverse, possibly contradictory elements. He is a Scot with an incredible accent: tall, dark, and rugged: a bit dangerous, a rugby player, and a bass viola da gamba virtuoso. He's a heady, intoxicating, overwhelming force of nature.

His partner, Neal, whom you may have met in Book I, is every bit as intense, albeit for different reasons. He certainly looks the part of the sensitive musician, but looks are deceptive. In his own way, he may be even tougher than Tamlin.

Neal is the character who has been with me longest, born one Spring morning in 1977, in the carels outside my Algebra classroom. I was supposed to be studying Algebra, but my mind wandered in a different direction. I loved my Algebra teacher, but I hated Algebra. What can I say? And what a coincidence! Neal  also hated Algebra and managed to avoid it completely by being an independently wealthy, orphaned musical prodigy, studying at Juilliard at age 15.

Admittedly, he has changed a bit since the days of my idealistic youth. Yes, he did end up being a prodigy, though not an orphan, and attended music school in New York City (Juilliard is implied, but never stated), and commuted from Long Island with his father every day, until he was old enough to move into his own (funded by his parents) apartment. Eventually, he found a life partner, moved in with him, struggled through some really hideous corrective surgery on his bad leg, and established his career. (Teaching, and oboe performance).

His messed-up leg and the way his parents dealt with it ended up being a metaphor for my own asthma, in a visible form, and the way my parents dealt with that. Overprotection was the rule of the day. For both Neal and myself, being as closely guarded as we were, it was a wonder we ever became able to function in the real world.

Since Neal was that brother / alter ego I could look up to, if he succeeded in my fiction, then I could succeed in real life, too. This little charm never worked quite as well as I would have liked, but it was always there as a touchstone and did help to some degree, especially once the stories began to mirror "real life."

I find myself once again considering sex in literature, specifically MY literature.

In some scenes, it's just good old honest sex. It's detailed enough to be pleasant, but doesn't take up a whole lot of space.

Then, there's Epic Sex. Every book I have written has at least two Epic Sex scenes that I can think of. Sometimes, Epic Sex is nice, and sometimes not.

One of my personal favorites in this series of books is really not nice at all, and involves Tamlin seducing one of Neal's (consenting adult male) students. Of course, that sort of thing wouldn't have happened, if the student had not always had the hots for Tamlin, or if Neal was well and not dying by slow degrees, and Tamlin deprived of carnal relations as a result, which makes him a bit crazy. It's a bad combination of factors, and both participants are sorry for it afterwards.

Epic Sex scenes go on for several pages, not just a few paragraphs. There is the setting of the scene, the establishment of the general atmosphere, and a progression of events leading to the inevitable conclusion. Some say I write this sort of thing well. Some, as noted above, say it's gratuitous.

Do I still feel squeamish sometimes, after writing sex, be it ordinary or Epic? Absolutely! But squeamish enough to leave those parts out of my stories and "fade to black?" Hell no! It's part of life, and if I am to be an honest writer, I must embrace those moments, and accept them as part of the whole.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In Case You Were Curious...

To continue my current Heckelphone obsession...

If you ever wondered what one sounds like, Paul Hindemith wrote a trio that features it. I bought this recording in order to obtain copies of his oboe and English horn sonatas, and the Heckelphone trio happened to be one of the selections on the album.

It is an extremely rare instrument, not even being made any more. However, a few people have managed to find one of the hundred or so remaining in the world today, and taught themselves to play it.

There is no one who teaches it.

There are no fingering charts.

The player must make his/her way alone. Since it's essentially a bass oboe, having oboe and English horn experience would help. Being a bassoonist, not so much, as the embouchure is different, and so is the method of tone production.

Hot-diggety-dog! Look what I found on You Tube! Here is one movement of the Hindemith Trio!

I think my oboist character "needs" one, to add a further dimension of classical music geekery to my already-plenty-geeky story...

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Hello, there, and welcome!

I am Jehan St. Marc, author of O Fortuna and To Walk in Newness of Life.

I was never completely happy with the finished books, and am now intending to re-visit them for electronic publication. Since someone (not me) decided to format both books for the Amazon Kindle reader without my knowledge or consent, I will be deciding upon a name for the series, and calling each volume within this series I, II, III, etc.

Readers will hopefully soon have a choice between purchasing a Kindle book from Amazon, or a printable PDF file directly from me. Details will be posted here as they become available, but first things first.

The re-write is well underway on O Fortuna, but it will be awhile before it's actually done. And let's begin calling it by its new name: Like Leaves, We Touch, Book I.

In-progress excerpts may be found here. Comments or questions? At the end of each excerpt, there is a link to contact me, and I welcome those questions and comments.

It's hard to classify these books within any particular genre, so I'll try for a description: gay literary fiction with more than a touch of romance, spirituality, and classical music geekery. (I mean, where else in fiction would one find a reference to a Heckelphone?) There is also a lot of stuff dealing with obstacles and challenges, and how one makes something good out of a bad situation. My lead character has a physical disability/challenge, and it has defined his life, his boundaries, his interactions with people, etc., etc. It's basically a tangible, visible metaphor for how I was treated, growing up with asthma, and how it affected my daily life, and how, in order to overcome, one pushes the limits hard to see just how far s/he can go before some unpleasant consequence pushes us back into our boxes and slams the lid down tight.

Do we stop trying to pop the lid off the box? Hell, no, and many times we not only pop the lid off the box; we leap out of the box and try to run.

Ultimately, I guess my stories are about just how far one can run, and just how determined one is to do it, and stay on that path.