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bear by san

March 2017



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froud magician

got my seeing eye dog. he's blind as justice.

So here's some more Q&A. If you've got any more questions, I encourage you to ask them here. Come on: don't be shy!

Q: Which one of your books would you recommend first to some one who is interested in reading your work, but hasn't - and why?

A. See, that's a totally impossible question. Because it expects me to know what All Readers Like Best, and of course all readers don't like the same thing, even remotely. And it's not like most of my books share a lot of common ground. So generally when confronted by somebody in person who wants to read one of my books, I have to quiz them on their likes and dislikes.

Not-in-person, I'd suggest dropping by my website and looking at the various pages for various books. (Click on the thumbnails along the top and left to go there.) Or you can go to the extensive free fiction page and browse. Or you could go read some of my stuff at Shadow Unit. Lots of options!  

Q: Why did you decide to make your werewolves male-only? I ask because I think werewolves are neat, and I hate to see women excluded from something so cool for no reason, at least that I can find.

A: While this question doesn't specify, I have to assume that you're asking about the Promethean Age books, because that's where the male-only werewolves appear. Other continuties may include other sorts of werewolves. Or things that look like werewolves, but aren't. Exactly.

The flip answer is that, in that world, lycanthropy is fairly obviously linked to the Y chromosome--either magically (metaphorically) or biologically in fact. But of course that's not what you're asking: you're asking why I chose to set it up that way.

I chose to set it up that way because the story is more interesting that way. Because the werewolf society is patriarchal and authoritarian (and in general very much unlike real wolf society) and it contrasts interestingly with the matriarchal societies in the book, and becaue it forces the werewolves to seek mates in outside society. Because it adds a layer of conflict to the narrative, and lets me talk about all sorts of cool things in the subtext.

But the meta of your question really interests me, because at base you're asking me why something in the Promethean Age universe is unfair, and to that all I can say is--is there one single thing in that universe ever that is even remotely fair or just? Because if there is--if there's one particle of justice in there anywhere--it's probably due to auctorial oversight. 

Blood & Iron is a book about Faeries. There is no fairness here: everything in that world is capricious and arbitrary and cruel, from the Will of God right down to the fate of a single human being. That's part of the point.

Q: Do you think about sexual orientation as identity when writing your queer characters? It shows up in my reading of A Companion to Wolves, and I was wondering if that was part of the feminist/Animal-companion-deconstruction impulse to write the story.

A: Personally, I think sexual orientation as identity is a social construct, but then, I was trained as an anthropologist, and the end result of that is to be deeply suspicious of identity and suspect that almost all of the things out of which we build it are social constructs. Family, job, relationships, passions, ethics, principles, religion--all of it. All constructs.

I tend to identify Isolfr as straight, when asked, because I'm usually talking to modern Western persons, who generally consider straight/gay/bisexual to be important building blocks in their identity. And because he's sexually attracted to women, given his druthers. This doesn't mean he won't fool around with men when it's socially demanded, or when it's convenient, because let's face it, he's an eighteen-year-old man in a homosocial society and honey, any port in a storm (so to speak)--but to me at least it's pretty obvious that all his limerence is directed at women. Just as it's pretty obvious, for example, that Vethulf really likes boys.

I think you can get a much better idea of how I  think about constructions of gender and sexuality from The Stratford Man, wherein I have two advantages of ACTW. One is that I have Christopher Marlowe, Early Queer Theorist and Academic, to use as a voice with which to question his society's assumptions of gender and sexuality. And the other is that I have two societies to contrast, one in which sex is sex, and the plumping of your partner does not matter--but in which loyal pair-bonds or even friendships are vanishingly rare--and the other in which there are extensive homosocial structures and male/male love is taken for granted and even mythologized, but where everyone is expected to marry and get children and sodomy is punishable as witchcraft, which is to say, by means of a bloody, protracted, and painful death. (However, it is also a society in which same-sex romances seem to have been generally winked at, once the bluster and a certain social stigma are pushed aside.)

So I can lend tongue to Master Marlowe, and let him speak freely and with wit as to the topic of why it should be that God would damn him for behaving as God made him, et cetera.


Generally, I make a fairly serious effort to write books that raise questions rather than ones that answer them. In general, because I believe there are no good answers, and also because I'm not interested in being a propaganda artist. Also, I think our modern models of sexuality are so mixed up with politics and ideology as to be almost useless.

However, when I am writing a modern-day queer character, you betcha I think of sexual orientation as identity. Because they probably will. (Two queer Shadow Unit characters leap to mind: sexuality as identity is a major issue for both of them, in very different ways. Actually, make that four SU characters, because it's an interesting issue for at least two of the heterosexual characters as well.)

Q: Will Isolfr appear in the sequels [to A Companion to Wolves]?

Yes. Probably not as a POV character, however. He deserves a break.


Personally, I think sexual orientation as identity is a social construct, but then, I was trained as an anthropologist, and the end result of that is to be deeply suspicious of identity and suspect that almost all of the things out of which we build it are social constructs. Family, job, relationships, passions, ethics, principles, religion--all of it. All constructs.

I hadn't known that you were trained as an anthropologist (just as I am), but that definitely explains one of the reasons that I enjoy your work so much - the awareness that such many basic features of personal identity, including both gender and sexual orientation are cultural constructs.
Undergrad only, but I studied anthropology and English critical theory, which explains two things about me. One, my alienation, and two, my loathing for the deconstructionists. *g*
Undergrad only

I was ABD in anthro when I realized that I enjoyed writing role-playing games far more. Also, I didn't need footnotes for writing RPG sourcebooks, and if I didn't know something, I was free to make it up :)

"my loathing for the deconstructionists"

*nod* I vividly remember American deconstructionists who were clearly attempting to write like like a fairly poor English translation of Michel Foucault. That said, I've read works by people working on the edges of deconstructionism, such as James Clifford. On the other other hand, from my POV Claude Levi-Strauss is best avoided other than as an insomnia cure.

I still have violent reactions to any mention of Derrida. *shudders* I'm so glad that the deconstructionist academic fad more or less passed by the time I went back to get my English MA. My program was all po-mo close reading.

With Judith Butler. Which is like queer Derrida standing on his head. *sighs*

I guess I can't really escape it after all...
PoMo was fairly big in anthro when I was doing my graduate work (in the late 80s & early 90s). The material ranged from silly to excellent, and it had a huge affect on how I think about culture.
Oh, Derrida isn't so bad. It's the people who take him too seriously who make me shudder.
And the other is that I have two societies to contrast, one in which sex is sex, and the plumping of your partner does not matter--

Plumbing? Although "plumping" sounds far more interesting, like Elizabethan slang for fluffing. There may be a sonnet in there somewhere, something John Davies would write:

"The plumping of one's partner matters not..."
I am a crappy typist, as we have previously established. There's no sport in mocking my typos.
I didn't mean to mock: this looks like a happy accident.

I thought it sounded kinda cool, and plausibly of that time period. It makes me want to run to a dictionary and see if they would have used the turn, but I think it would be buried in the OED's alternate definitions.
I think it's a awesome euphemism. Even if you just made it up.
Well, you know, Bear, there are places where partners are plumped for pleasure. As well as plumbed, that is. Regardless of what plumbing tool you are using.
Mm. Plumping.
Doesn't the "all stories are true" aspect of the P.A. imply there are female werewolves out there somewhere? Just apparently not in the group we are interested in for the stories...
Except that bit mostly applies to Faerie. Other, more worldly monsters, not so much.
I just want to know who the beauty is in your icon...
It's a detail from Brian Froud's "The Magician."


Hopefully I don't insert foot in mouth.

Trying to find a way to word this. :P

I'm a self-identified queer, I label myself as a lesbian if that’s important. I like to read books that have queer characters, but I avoid books that star gays or lesbians that are struggling with being gay. The books I like best are the ones where sexuality is never questioned, or even brought up. I like to read about a romance I can relate too, without it causing some huge dramatic backlash of what’s right or wrong. If I wanted that drama, I’d read the news. Thank you for being some one who identifies sexual preference as a social construct, and knowing that there’s more to giving a character a certain preference than the shock value of being gay.

-love your friendly neighborhood lesbian. :)

Re: Hopefully I don't insert foot in mouth.

Absolutely. And I should have said that I support the right of anybody who wants to identify as anything at all.

I do in fact write books occasionally in which people have crises of sexual identity, or in which they struggle with societal expectations. It's very rarely the main theme of anything, though, because it's just not that interesting to me. But you know, I've been hanging around the queer community for my entire life now (I grew up during the Sex Wars, dog help me) and really, if people's sexual preference is not bred to the bone, it's pretty damned close.

We love what we love. The fact that we are in so many ways an infinitely malleable and trainable species does not mean that there aren't some things that just come in the package. And right or wrong--or sin and temptation--is a silly way to look at it.