Hello and thank you to Divine Magazine for hosting me today to talk about The Wild and Precious Collection, a new paperback edition of the Wild and Precious Series novellas—three contemporary LGBTQ stories with a colorful cast of characters.
One of the reasons these stories are special to me is that each one of them has one or more bisexual characters. Cody Bellstrom, who features in all three stories, is a chill dude, a musician, and bisexual. While Cody has never had a problem accepting that he’s into both men and women, Cody’s bisexuality is important to 18 year-old Sandy Nixon, who Cody befriends at the beginning of There You Are. Sandy is struggling to come to terms with his own sexuality. They have a conversation about it shortly after they meet on an Amtrak train.
“Ohhh.” Sandy lowered his voice. “You’re gay?”
“Bi.” He was about to add more, but Sandy’s face lit up. “Is that good?”
“Yeah! Sorry, I’m getting excited because that’s what I think I am! Like, I like girls and all, but… but then I… you know, did it with a guy and… wow. But like, I’m still attracted to girls too, so I don’t know.”
Cody smiled. “Yeah, it can be confusing, for sure. I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to define yourself as one way or another. It’s hard because the world wants to put people in a box, and being bi kind of blows people’s preconceptions out of the water.”
One of the preconceptions I had through my twenties was that if someone ever had a same-sex relationship then they must be gay. Sexuality lived as an “either/or” for me. This made it hard for me to realize my own bisexuality until much later in life. It’s undeniable that I was in love with my graduate school gal pal (and my high school best friend, come to think of it), but because I wasn’t “lesbian” I wouldn’t cross that gap to act on my feelings.
As my consciousness around bisexuality was raised, I started to notice how much it doesn’t seem to exist. Bisexuals face erasure all the time. If they’re in straight relationships, they’re assumed to be straight, and if in same-sex relationships, then of course they’re “really” gay or lesbian.
There’s a common trope in m/m romance called “gay for you” in which a straight man becomes “gay” but only for the man he gets involved with. This can become another form of bi erasure, because the idea of being bisexual rarely is brought up. And the guy isn’t “really” gay, he’s only gay for the other guy.
Should we even care about labels? What does it matter? It matters when people who have a particular sexuality are never given a seat at the table. And it matters when people finally sort out who they are and have a chance to claim it.
Allow me to step away from bisexuality for a moment and talk about Brent, the main character in Wild and Precious. Brent grows up in a small Southern town assuming he’s straight. But his relationships with women have always fizzled out. When he gets to the big city of D.C. he finally experiments with men, and realizes he’s not straight. He’s also not bisexual. He gets that he’s gay, not “gay for you,” but gay. And this is right for him.
Here is the section where he comes out to his conservative Christian mother:
Brent’s eyes stung. “I…. Cody is more than a friend to me.”
Her face got pale. “What are you saying?”
“You know what I’m saying. I’m gay.”
There. He’d said it out loud, and as he did, the truth of it filled him. He exhaled, feeling something let go inside, something he hadn’t even known was clenched and tight.
His mother was staring off into space. “Mom?”
“I’ll pray for you, son,” she said, still not looking at him.
“I don’t want—”
“It’s a sin, according to the Bible.”
“Do you really believe that?” He tried to remove his hand from hers, but she held on tightly and turned her gaze back to his.
“I don’t know. I used to. Your dad’s always been more easygoing on that stuff. I… shoot.” It seemed like she was struggling not to cry, but her eyes filled.
“It’s not…. Mom, don’t cry.” Brent watched her helplessly, as visions of being forever estranged from his family loomed over his head.
“Wait.” She released his hand and wiped under each eye, muttering, “Damn eyeliner. Okay, just let me… let me say this.” She took a breath. “You’re my son, and I love you. I’ve always wanted the best for you, and for life to give you what you want. If… if this is what you want, then I support you.”
Brent blinked back his own tears. “It’s not what I want. It’s who I am.”
She pulled him into a hug, crying freely, and whispered, “Okay, honey, okay.”
They stayed that way for a long time, holding on.
Back to bisexuality! One challenge for bisexuals in relationships in how their partners—straight and gay—are sometimes threatened by the mere fact that bisexuals are attracted to both sexes. This can lead to misunderstandings.
In Sand-Man’s Family, Sandy and his one-time high school hook up, Jade, have run into each other again after a year and are beginning to fall for each other. But Jade is afraid to trust what’s happening
Jade’s carefree expression changed—then he gave a laugh that seemed a bit brittle. “Sure. Of course! I’ll be your gay fling before you disappear again. Or get engaged to Brittany.” He opened his closet and peered inside.
Sandy stared at his back. “What?”
Jade turned, a bottle in his hand. “Voilà! Whiskey!” He busied himself finding some paper cups and pouring, while Sandy fumed.
“I’m not getting engaged to Brittany. Jesus, Jade. She’s not even interested in me that way.”
Jade arched an eyebrow. “That way? I thought you two were plenty interested in each other ‘that way.’”
“No—I mean, Brittany isn’t in love with me. She made that real clear.”
“Who said anything about love? Most of the married Catholics I know aren’t in love at all.”
“Okay… wait. Why are we talking about this?”
“All I’m saying is watch your back, kitten. The heteronormative pull of Rockford is strong. And let’s face it, it’s far easier to be het in this world than to be queer. Why even bother with the fag part, if you swing both ways?” He handed Sandy a cup of whiskey, then took a long drink of his own as he stared unblinkingly at him with his big dark eyes.
Whew! Well, it goes without saying that everything turns out well for Sandy and Jade.
I always enjoy giving my characters—gay, bi, and even the straight sidekicks—happy endings. I hope you’ll enjoy reading their stories, all together in a paperback book that you can hold in your hand!
A Wild and Precious Anthology
If you knew you had one wild and precious life, would you jump in and live it fully?
This band of lively characters isn’t afraid to take a chance on themselves or their dreams. Creativity runs through their veins—they’re writers, poets, singers, guitarists, and even beautiful drag queens. Some are young and just beginning to find themselves. Others have lived through tragedies. Each one discovers that living a wild and precious life means opening up to love and taking a risk to find their happy ending.
Wild and Precious Series review quotes
Wild and Precious
“This quick, one-sitting read was sweet and fun. I enjoyed watching Brent unfold and become comfortable with himself and who he was.” Inked Rainbow Reads
“As the book wraps up so very sweetly, bordering on toothache sweetness, Wild and Precious is a feel good read about finding yourself and finding true love.” Joyfully Jay Reviews
There You Are
“Phinney and Cody were as different as they could be, and just what the other needed in that particular time of their lives, a second chance at love for sure.” Bayou Book Junkie
“This is pretty much a gooey, sweet love story, start to finish. Short enough to read in an afternoon, this one’s perfect for a cozy, rainy day read.” Inked Rainbow Reads
“That is truly the theme of this story – that family is defined as those people who love and support you no matter what. Those folks who have your back and trust in you and believe in you are what make a true family.” The Novel Approach
“Sandy is an adorable character. Genuine and lovely. I can’t imagine not loving him. This ensemble in the story really brought so much to Sandy’s tale. I loved them. An ensemble can make or break a book and this one was golden!” Diverse Reader
About the Author
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.
E-mail: [email protected]