A few days ago, I released a new book! It’s called Textual Relations. It follows Henry, a psychology professor who could win an international competition for most clueless guy ever. Henry prefers books to people and analyzes social interactions from a decidedly academic standpoint. He’s incredibly awkward and totally naive and after getting a wrong number text, he accidentally ends up on a date at a night market with a man…except he doesn’t realize it’s a date until Asher kisses him at the end of the evening.
Technically, this story falls into the “Gay For You” category, which seems to be a fairly polarizing trope for readers. Some people love it and some people won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. I see both sides of it. Personally, it’s one of my favourites to both write and to read, as long as it’s done well.
With Henry’s story (and as a cis-het woman), I really wanted to do my best to be respectful. It has been an interesting journey as a writer to watch the way people’s opinions and attitudes have changed on this topic. I’ve written a few GFY books, including the first couple I ever published, but this was the first time I’ve ever had a reviewer ask about the character’s sexuality. And it wasn’t just one reviewer. Multiple people asked me if homosexuality was fetishized in the book or if there was any form of bi-erasure.
There’s still a lot of ground to cover and there is still an abundance of disregard for some of the other letters in the LGBTQ alphabet, but the fact that people are starting to ask questions, to take a stand, even in small ways, makes a huge difference.
Yes, this book can be categorized as Gay For You, but the trope’s name is misleading. Henry discovers his sexuality after being blindsided by his attraction to Asher, but although he falls in love with a man, he’s not gay.
Here’s a teensy excerpt after Henry realizes he’s not so straight after all:
He stayed quiet, letting me rattle on without interruption and without judgment, just silently supportive.
“I know that I want you, that I’m attracted to you. I’ve thought other men were attractive before, but I’ve never wanted them the way I want you, and I don’t know what that means. You shattered my beliefs on my own sexuality, and that’s incredibly confusing.”
He ran his fingers through my hair, slow, soothing, and we breathed together for a few minutes before he spoke.
“You don’t have to know what it all means. I’m not a psychologist—I haven’t spent my life researching and analyzing human behavior—but I know that sexuality isn’t black and white. There’s a reason we wave a rainbow flag.”
“Actually, the colors on the flag represent sex, life, healing—”
The rich timbre of his laugh surrounded me. “Someone’s been spending some time on Google.” He couldn’t see my sheepish expression. “People can identify in a thousand different ways. You could be bisexual, or demi-sexual, or gray-A. No one can decide that for you except you, and if you aren’t comfortable with labels, you don’t need them.”
“I don’t know what half of those mean,” I admitted. Apparently, I hadn’t googled hard enough. “There’s a lot of uncertainty with regards to classifying myself into one group or another, but I am certain of how you make me feel.”
So, that’s a little bit about Henry. I hope I’ve done him justice.
And on much a lighter note, while I was coming up with ideas for things the characters could see and do while they’re together at the night market, I came across a shop on Etsy called BohoGypsyChild. The owner sells needlepoint artwork, all with feminist messages. They are fabulous and I knew I wanted to include them in the story. Perhaps a bit odd to include vaginal wall hangings in a story about two men falling in love, but I thought it worked out well.
The more books I write, the harder it is to think of interesting and unique dates for my characters to go on, but I really enjoy living vicariously through them. One of my favourite parts of plotting out new books is thinking up new and exciting activities for them to do (and food for them to eat, because it wouldn’t be a Cate Ashwood book without food).
And how about a giveaway??
Comment below with the most inventive date you’ve been on for a chance to win a copy of the ebook of Textual Relations!
About the Book:
Evolutionary psychology professor Henry Hathaway is ready to spend his birthday the same way he does every year: a good teeth cleaning followed by lunch with his brother. But when he receives a wrong-number text confirming the details of a date, he does what any considerate person would—he goes to meet them and explain why they’ve been stood up.
Asher Wescott hadn’t expected his blind date to go well, because when do they ever? Henry shows up instead, and things are suddenly looking up. Socially awkward and attached to his routines, Henry is nevertheless one of the most charming and kind men Asher has met in a long time.
Too bad he’s not Henry’s type.
An accidental date, an impulsive kiss, and a few conflicted feelings later, can Asher get Henry to see the world—and him—in a different light?
About the Author:
Cate discovered her love for books of all kinds early on, but romance is where her heart truly lies. She is addicted to the happily ever afters and the journey the characters take to get there. Currently residing in White Rock, B.C, Cate loves living just a stone’s throw from the ocean. When she’s not writing, she can be found consuming coffee at an alarming rate while wrangling her children, her husband, and their two cats.
Cate loves to hear from readers. You can contact her at email@example.com or on her website http://www.cateashwood.com.
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