Alex Gabriel

Writer. Reader. Romancer.


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Why it is never “just” fiction

In recent months, I’ve had several discussions in which I criticized the way a sensitive topic was treated in a fictional work. The topics in question varied, as did the fictional works, but the course these discussions took was always the same. I’d object to the way the matter in question was portrayed, and would be told that it was just a book / movie / TV series, and I was making a fuss over nothing.

It was just fiction! I should be more open-minded; it wasn’t meant to be taken so seriously, OMG; it was all in good fun, and everybody (except me, apparently) understood that; the only thing that actually mattered with fiction was how good (well-written, well-acted, …) it was.

Except that this is complete nonsense.

letters-637182Fiction does not exist in a vacuum. Books, movies, TV series: All fiction is both the result of the common views and opinions of the society it is created in, and – inevitably – a reinforcement of these views and opinions. Even the most uncontroversial novel or TV series incorporates countless social mores and generally held beliefs, and it reinforces them simply by referencing them.

Fiction can (and does) perpetuate commonly held ideas, reinforce stereotypes, prejudices and other beliefs, and validate popular opinions. It always does this, by its very nature; it’s a feature, not a bug. Fiction can also bring people to think and reevaluate, of course. Either way, it has a very real and material impact on people’s views, and on their lives. It matters.

A homophobic book or movie will validate the homophobic views of readers or viewers, and support a general air of homophobia in society. A comedy about men being drugged and raped by a woman (and loving it!) will perpetuate the harmful myth that men cannot actually be raped by women. And so forth. It’s the same for all issues.

Treating a sensitive issue in a highly objectionable way in fiction is not just a bit of good fun. Instead, it is both a symptom of a problem in society, and an actively harmful influence that perpetuates the problem.

So, no. It’s never “just” fiction.

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Best Book Debut Winner!

You guys! “Love for the Cold-Blooded” is the 2nd Place Winner in the “Best Book Debut” category of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group Member’s Choice Awards!

Best Book Debut
1. Roan Parrish for In the Middle of Somewhere
2. Alex Gabriel for Love for the Cold-Blooded, or The Part-Time Evil Minion’s Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero
3. Avery Cockburn for Play On

I am incredibly happy and proud. Thank you so much to everyone who voted! I can’t tell you how much it means to get this kind of encouragement and affirmation from readers.

Congratulations to Roan Parrish, Avery Cockburn and all of the other amazing authors who won. If you’re a member of the goodreads group, check out the full list of winners here.

2nd place debut

 


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M/M Romance Member’s Choice Awards!

Love for the Cold-Blooded, Still Waters and First Contact have been nominated for eleven M/M Romance Member’s Choice Awards!

Thank you so much to everyone who nominated my books. I am beyond thrilled! While I don’t expect to win any of the awards, I feel that being nominated so many times is a wonderful compliment.

If you’re a Goodreads M/M Romance group member, you have until the 15th to vote. Here’s a list of my nominations with links to the polls. If you’d care to vote for any of my books, I’d appreciate it very much, needless to say!

First Contact
Best Contemporary/Mainstream

Still Waters
Best Love is an Open Road Story

Love for the Cold-Blooded, or The Part-Time Evil Minion’s Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero
Best Book Debut
Best Book of the Year
Best Fantasy
Best Humorous
Best Main Character (Patrick West)
Best Coming of Age
Best Story that Should have a Sequel
Best Virgins (unlike me, Pat would not be thrilled to know he is nominated in this category – rub it in, why don’t you *g*)
Best Family Drama

members choice badges overview


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Walk the Walk: Free “Learning How to Lose” Short Story

Ryuu Shiwasuda still isn’t a fan of losing, so it’s a good thing he doesn’t have to… much. His lover Hiro does tend to be better at the games they play – even when the game in question happens to be an unexpected bout of roleplaying of the “hooker and john” variety.

But then, there really aren’t any losers in a game like that, right? At least that’s Ryuu’s position, and he’s sticking to it.

lhtl ep2 walk 1600Download “Walk the Walk”:

(The files are hosted on box.com – please let me know if you have any problems downloading.)

~~~ “Walk the Walk” is a slice of life story set after the “Learning How to Lose, in Six Easy Steps” trilogy, and features a large percentage of hot sex. It also includes unexpected sweetness, spontaneous roleplaying, Ryuu being awkwardly sincere in strange moments, Hiro being surprisingly good at being a fake hooker, and more. (Also, Yo is a troll. But then, we already knew that.) ~~~

PLEASE NOTE:

While it doesn’t contain any actual spoilers, “Walk the Walk” is written as an epilogue rather than a stand-alone story, and builds on the characters and their relationship and history as established in the earlier books. Thus, it may not be as satisfying to read without knowledge of these works.

The story is also available on Smashwords and All Romance.

ETA: Amazon has declined to lower the price to 0.00 via price-matching, so the story will not be available there for the foreseeable future.

Alternately, if you can’t get “Walk the Walk” through the above links, just drop me a line – I’m also happy to send it per email!


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Coming Soon: Sexy Free Bonus Story “Walk the Walk”

Very soon — shortly before the year is out — I’ll be publishing a FREE, all-new short story featuring Ryuu and Hiro of Learning How to Lose, in Six Easy Steps. It will include hot sex, unexpected sweetness, roleplaying of the “hooker and john” variety, Ryuu being awkwardly sincere in strange moments, Hiro being surprisingly good at being a fake hooker, and more. (Also, Yo is a troll. But then, we already knew that. *g*)

Walk the Walk is something of a self-indulgence on my part; it’s a slice of life set after the Learning How to Lose trilogy, with a large percentage of hot sex included, and basically, I just wanted to write it. 😉

lhtl ep2 walk 1600The story doesn’t have any real spoilers, but it does build on the characters and their relationship and history as established in the earlier books. Personally, I’d recommend reading the previous works in the series first, but hey — go where your reading whims take you!

Learning How to Lose is a Rainbow Awards 2015 Finalist, and an ARe besteller. Here’s the synopsis:

Losing is a thing Japanese pop star Ryuu Shiwasuda does not do — certainly not gracefully. Image is everything to hot-headed Ryuu. Sure, his macho bluster is only a cover for shyness and social awkwardness, but he takes it (and himself) very seriously.

So when gratingly cheerful punster Hiro Takahashi delivers the ultimate insult of letting Ryuu win at a video game, Ryuu is cut to the quick, and vows swift vengeance. Can’t be too hard to beat a dork like Hiro, right?

Wrong. As Ryuu chases after his elusive victory, he’s forced to add more and more items to the list of “things to beat Hiro at” — and is shocked to find that Hiro’s quirky charm is sparking never-before felt desires in him.

Ryuu’s life and career have no place for a male lover. But he’s already in too deep. Can he risk going all in? And what does he stand to lose if he doesn’t?

rainbow_finalistBestsellerIcon100X100-1


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Alex Gabriel Newsletter

Exciting news: I’m starting an email newsletter! If you want to keep informed about my upcoming releases – and also receive sneak peeks and exclusive content, writing updates, special offers and more – there’s now an easy and convenient way to do it.

Anyone who signs up gets my novella “First Contact” for free. Undercover cops in a gay BDSM club run by the mob, anyone?

You can sign up here – it only takes a minute.

I’d love to see you there! I won’t spam you, I promise. I may, however, ask your opinion on cover layouts. We’ll see.

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Bewildering Plots: The Secret Coolness of Lost Lovers

Several bestselling books in recent years have featured the protagonist looking into the mysterious death of a loved one, and discovering that their beloved was leading a secret life as – say – a heroic amnesiac assassin, or infamous pop star art thief, or celebrated grave-robbing archeologist. When they weren’t with the protagonist, they were actually out saving the world with their metal arm (or making youths faint in rapture while making off with priceless treasures, or sexily wielding a bullwhip while breaking into the tombs of dead kings… whatever), and were even more amazing and wonderful than the protagonist ever suspected.

love-in-a-cage-515682These books have made me stand in a number of bookstores in complete, befuddled lack of comprehension. My theory is that the interest of these stories lies in puzzling out an intriguing mystery, and perhaps – to some extent – in learning to live with loss while keeping the love alive. But this is a wild guess, because the truth is that I do not understand. At all.

This is basically a love story where one of the lovers is already gone forever, right? It’s about losing someone you love, and then discovering you never really knew them at all. You loved them, sure, but you never knew and loved them as completely as you would have wished to know and love them. And now it’s too late.

No. Just, no. Have I mentioned no?

It’s no better when the dead loved one is a sibling, or parent, or whatever. (It IS better when the person who died turns out to have been a villain all along, because that’s a different kind of tale altogether.)

I think every reader has certain plots that just don’t work for them. I’ve found that this is one of mine.

Maybe someone who does like this kind of plot can explain the attraction to me someday.

Do you like this kind of plot – and if so, what is it that attracts you? What kinds of plot don’t work for you?


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On Fanfiction

maple-leaf-638022My views on fanfiction can be summed up very briefly with: YES. Yes, please.

To me, fanfiction is one of the greatest compliments an author can hope to receive. Fanfic doesn’t take anything away from either the original author or the original work, and it doesn’t harm the author’s vision in any way. How could it? Readers are never passive “recipients” of a story, anyway; they are always the ones who create the story in their minds through the act of reading. There are already as many different versions of the story as there are readers.

If someone finds an author’s fictional world and characters so compelling they want to pour their time, effort and creativity into spending more time within this world, engaging with it, and transforming it, then that cannot be anything but a good thing.

I read fanfic. I write it. I love it. And should someone create fanfic about one of my books, I’d be thrilled.


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Nix and hunter go live

still waters 200

A reformed nix. A deadly hunter. And an uneasy truce that may destroy them both.

“Still Waters” is now up on All Romance and Smashwords, for free. I’m so excited that this story is finally available for everyone, and I can’t wait to hear what people will think.

Check it out if you’re interested in dark myth-inspired worlds, water shifters, ginger mermen, and/or two natural enemies (and alpha males) trying to work together to take down a common threat… only to discover a dangerous attraction along the way.

island japan smallThe story is also available on Amazon, but since it’s not possible to set the price at 0.00 there, it isn’t free yet. It will be, though. In a few days (hopefully), Amazon will price-match the story down to nothing, and then it will be free everywhere.

I’ll keep you posted!


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What I Like In A M/M Romance

A well-written story can make me enjoy (almost) anything. Still, like every reader, I have certain things I tend to particularly love in my m/m romance reading. I don’t mean specific themes or tropes, but general, underlying factors in the way the characters are portrayed and the dynamics of the relationship.

vogue-405148_1280I’m going to talk about this in several entries, because there is a lot to say. Today, as the first installment: Equality!

Please note: These are my personal preferences only, and I in no way intend to set them up as rules, or indicators of literary quality, or anything of the kind. Tastes differ; other readers and writers have other preferences, which is exactly as it should be. The world would be a sad and boring place if everyone liked the same things.

So if you have different preferences (or if you share mine), tell me! I love to talk about these things.

Equality

I am not a fan of hierarchical relationships or other types of power imbalances in romantic relationships (I do love power reversals, though, provided the end result is a balance of some kind).

An Advantage of Same-Gender Romance

For me, one of the great things about m/m romance is that there is no inescapable social inequality tied into the main characters’ genders. Continue reading