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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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


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Still Waters

Usually, I have a hard time writing to prompts – but I risked it for the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s “Love Is an Open Road” event, in which group members write free image- and prompt-inspired gay romances. And I am very glad I gave in to temptation, because I was lucky enough to snag the perfect prompt for me! It’s by Kathleen, and reads simplyI only have two words for you: ginger merman! Everything else is up to you.

Still Waters Cover

My myth-inspired novella “Still Waters” is roughly 30k long and will be published this summer – first in the M/M Romance group, then in all the usual places. And it will be entirely free!

This is the book’s blurb – extract to follow.

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A reformed nix.

Drakjan has been living as a harmless freshwater merman for so long he sometimes almost believes in the lie himself.

Almost.

A deadly hunter.

Hraban has dedicated his life to taking down creatures like Drakjan, protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

An uneasy truce.

When fate forces them together, the nix and the hunter discover a dangerous attraction… and a threat that can destroy everything Drakjan has come to love.

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(Why, yes. Faced with a prompt consisting of two words, I still managed to avoid complying with both of those words, if you want to get technical. Ahem.)