I’ve been working on my third book for Bold Strokes Books titled, Whiskey Sunrise, and it’s been interesting to watch the characters for this story evolve. Unlike with my first book, All Things Rise, where I knew the characters well before I started writing, these characters have been revealing themselves to me a little at a time. Currently, of the two leading women, one character is more butch and one character is more femme, but I’m learning that the fabric of their personalities is much more complex than those two labels imply. In addition to the context of operating a moonshine operation in a dry county in the Deep South in 1939, this book is also turning into an exploration of gender.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to be good friends with a few trans men and it has made me take notice of the subtle aspects of gender conditioning in our culture. Neither of the characters in this book are trans, but my exposure to a bit more trans culture has broadened the way I think about gender, and how we are expected to act, even write, a certain way depending on who we are perceived to be in our gendered society. I think my trans friends uniquely experience this reality, and they have influenced how my Whiskey Sunrise characters tap into this truth.
This story is also tapping into deeply personal religious experiences that I had growing up in the South — experiences that relate to gay issues, roles of women in the church and racism. I realize I’m making this sound like sort of a heavy read, but believe it or not, there’s actually quite a bit of humor in this book. The best humor has its roots in heartache I suppose.
Oh, and yes, there is a steamy romantic thread weaving all of these elements in the story together. The one thing that has been obvious from the first few lines of this book is that these two characters have incredible chemistry. I’m enjoying this glimpse into their world, feeling what they feel as they learn to be authentically themselves while at the same time falling in love.