June 2016 Britain Likes It Hard @AlinaMeridon

I Like It Hard – and Cinderella

My novelette I Like It Hard, a satire on Reality TV talent contests, with a bisexual aromantic woman as main character, was published on 8th June, almost exactly eleven months after submission. Less Than Three Press has been excellent all the way through the process, and I hope my novelette sells well as much for their sake as for my own. My editor, V.E. Duncan, with whom I corresponded only through comments in the margin of the manuscript, so to speak, forced me to revise the story significantly and for the better, and for that I am hugely grateful.

The one downside to choosing a romance publisher is that, although the story is explicitly not a romance, it keeps getting tagged as one. Amazon.co.uk lists it as ‘lesbian romance’ (wrong on both counts), while Amazon.com lists it also as ‘bisexual romance’ (half-wrong). Smashwords has it under ‘Gay & lesbian fiction’ (which at least doesn’t claim to be romance). At least one reviewer has complained that it wasn’t what they expected because of the labelling.

I do not intend this as a complaint about the publisher – LT3 are one of the very few publishers that have an aromantic category. This is simply a consequence of publishing categories that barely recognise the existence of ‘bisexual’ and are oblivious to ‘aromantic’. It’s also a world where the LGBTQIA community views the ‘B’ with suspicion and the ‘A’ often with outright hostility.

For the release of I Like It Hard, I wrote a guest post for Elaine White’s Vampires, Crime and Angels blog, where I deconstruct Cinderella and also propose an allo-aro interpretation of the fairytale: Aromancing Cinderella. Later this month I stumbled across an aro-ace interpretation at The Fairytale Project.

Britain and the EU Referendum

Those squabblers and separatists fight
And wail of their terrible plight
In a big pond they’re small
On an island they’re tall
And power they feel is their right

they built a new stairway to hell
so slippery that everyone fell
on a mountain of cash
they dropped with a crash
for the pound had not fared very well

Britain’s referendum on whether to ‘leave’ the EU has preoccupied me (and indeed the whole country) for the past month. Most people agree that there are problems with the EU, but there will always be problems with any kind of government. The EU’s main problem in Britain is in the way the British government has always used the EU as a scapegoat (‘We’re sorry. We can’t help you – our hands are tied!’) and the way the media have always given racist egotists like Nigel Farage so much coverage while the positive aspects of the EU (being complex and subtle) get almost none.

In the past it has led to the insane logic of: ‘We’re angry with Westminster, so we’re going to vote for the aggressively anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the European elections, just to teach Westminster a lesson.’ Hmm. Yes, let’s waste tax-payers’ money and damage our potential for influencing the EU by sending a [beep] to the European Parliament. The awful irony of the EU Referendum is that its intention was to weaken the influence of UKIP.

Just over half of British voters chose ‘Leave’. Their reasons were various. Many believe that our trading position with the world will be stronger. Many believe that we can control immigration better if we’re not in the EU – many communities have suffered as a result of immigration. Many believe that what we get out of being in the EU is less than what we put in. Many believe that voting ‘Leave’ was the best way to express their distrust of and disgust with the British government (i.e., a bunch of posh rich kids who couldn’t give a damn about anyone) and that it would be good to ‘shake things up’ and ‘make history’ [ugh!].

Unfortunately, the only clear campaign message has been UKIP’s outrageous xenophobia. Both ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ campaigners were parading ‘facts’ and ‘statistics’ that were wrong, and were busy shouting at each other to conceal the ugly truth that no one had any idea what the hell was going on. Boris Johnson’s statement following the result amounted to: ‘Maybe we can sort-of half-leave the EU?’ To which the EU promptly replied (in much the same way that an exasperated parent might respond to a troublesome child’s request for a third helping of chocolate ice cream): ‘No.’

So now the whole country is confronted with the reality that no one knows what ‘Leave’ actually means, and both of the major political parties have gone into melt down. To make things worse, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar are desperately trying to escape from England’s insanity. In the recent Scottish referendum – in which I didn’t vote, not living in Scotland anymore – I was very much against Scottish independence. Now, though, I have a great deal of sympathy for the idea of an independent Scotland.

I, along with half the country, am feeling broken by the result. All my life I have been Scottish (mostly), British and European. Now Britain is trying very hard to shatter that unity, and I feel a profound loss of identity. I really like Vasilina Orlova’s comment on it:

I wonder, do some strata of the British peoples feel like they are expelled from their own country right now, like they are in exile without moving beyond the borders? That’s the position many people found themselves in with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Borders trembled and shifted beyond your feet. Maybe you didn’t move but they did.

Some of my frustration is worked through in the following posts:

Helen & Paris

cassandra was cursed
with attention of a god
what pleasure she took
in telling agamemnon
of the fate awaiting him

This month I wrote a little haiku sequence about Helen and Paris. My usual obsession with the Trojan War centres on Iphigenia (in December I had a little haiku sequence about Helen & Iphigenia, and in April a sequence with Iphigenia, Cassandra and others: a father’s love) but the story of Helen is central to the Trojan War and is pervasive throughout European culture.

Sometimes she is framed as villain, sometimes as victim. But I have to ask: what could make Helen leave homeland, birthright, divine responsibilities and even her child? Could it really have been a romantic impulse to be with a young, foreign prince? More likely she was abducted against her will, or was escaping a life made wretched by an abusive husband, or was driven to an irrational passion by Aphrodite – and if it was any of these we can hardly blame Helen for leaving.

Cover of Elusive Radiance by Aidee Ladnier

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