Love Spell by Mia Kerick
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris
Mia Kerick Talks Writing Trans and Gender Fluid Characters…Our Interview With Mia Kerick
• Do you consider your character Chance gender fluid or transgender?
The way I think of it, Chance is gender fluid, which means that his gender identity falls under the trans* umbrella. So, in some respects, Chance is both (trans* and gender fluid). If you are asking yourself, WHAT EXACTLY IS THE TRANS* UMBRELLA? I will offer you several explanations.
I found the following explanation and image on TransAustin: A space to foster development of the transgender, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming community of Austin. Here is how TransAustin defines The Trans* Umbrella: “The Trans* Umbrella is a term used to refer to the range and diversity of gender variance. The words “transgender” and “trans*” are all-encompassing terms that refer to a broad spectrum of identities and expressions.”
ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com (IPS), another online organization that supports the reality and correctness of nontraditional gender identities, defines trans* as “an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum.” Sam Killerman of IPS created the graphic below to illustrate what his group means by the term trans*.
And I found this simple image on the blog Disrupting Dinner Parties, which speaks very clearly to me:
But what really matters is the way that Chance thinks of his gender identity, right? And this topic is a great source of agitation for him throughout the entire novel. In fact, it has been a source of distress for him over the course of the better part of his life. You see, labeling an aspect of yourself that is this individual and distinct from one person to the next—and in Chance’s case constantly changing—is not a simple task. He sees himself in many of the terms in the graphic below, and he struggles to find one ideal term to fully identify with. Interestingly, Chance is never actually successful in finding the perfectly appropriate term for his gender identity; he does not realize “the trans* umbrella” even exists in a formal sense. Instead, over the course of the story, Chance learns more and more about himself as a person—he very gradually accepts that he likes some things that are considered too feminine for a boy, but that he also likes being male. And without finding the perfect label for “who or what he is”, Chance pushes through his emotional hardship and manages to find meaning and acceptance in his life with friends and romance.
• Transgender or gender fluid? What prompted your decision to make this the focus of your character and story?
You have heard that children learn what they live, I’m sure. But more truly, all people learn what they live. The aspects of life with which we are familiar become “normal” (I dislike that word but you know what I’m getting at) to us. For example, if you see lots of people whose faces have been dyed to resemble the stars and stripes of an American flag, then red, white, and blue skin will eventually become, in your mind, commonplace. Picture this… at the grocery store—half of the shoppers sport patriotic faces. On television—red and white stripes on the cute guy in the car chase scene, whose nose is incidentally a solid navy blue. In romance novels, you can’t help but be reminded of Betsy Ross when you’re reading the physical description of the romantic lead character.
My point, however, is less patriotic than it is merely encouraging of open-mindedness. The more we see anything the more “normal” it becomes in our eyes. For kids who are struggling with gender issues, they need to see their likenesses in books. The message “YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR STRUGGLE” is truly quite comforting. And for those who are not struggling with gender issues, they need to see characters who are. They need to read about boys who feel like girls sometimes, and girls who are certain they were born with the wrong body. All kids and people need to become familiar with those who are unlike them in terms of gender identity. This is the only way we can get past all of the alienation and isolation and depression and suicide. And we can finally find acceptance.
• Transgender people are in the news recently, from Bruce Jenner to the Washington Post article on Asexuality. All of which has sparked a lot of discussions over sexuality, acceptance and equal rights. How big a part do you think literature plays in the LGBTQIA community gaining acceptance?
I guess I went into this subject in question number two, but I will elaborate. Literature MUST open people’s eyes. As a writer, I am inspired when I see Bruce Jenner bare all in front of the harsh American and worldwide public. He is opening eyes by sharing the most intimate details of himself. In my eyes he is a hero, as I am certain that it will cost him a large measure of pain. And I can do no less in my literature. There doesn’t have to be a super-preachy theme—the story doesn’t need to be a moral wrapped up as a story. Just by creating characters who are “different” –ones who love differently, in that they love the same sex or both sexes or neither sex, and ones who identify differently than what is traditional in terms of gender, and ones who decide to change their sex from male to female or female to male, we are all together creating a very different “new normal”. Which is true acceptance of all varieties of people.
. Or does it play a part?
Yes!! I won’t say I feel a responsibility to open people’s eyes, but I really am inspired to do so.
Q This doesn’t look YA but would you consider writing a YA or New Adult novel?
Love Spell is true Young Adult literature. In the unique, snarky voice of a seventeen-year-old a story is told of self-questioning in regard to vital contemporary issues. The main character experiences peer pressure and parental woes, and he dares to try some rather risky behaviors for the very first time. To teens, the main character is relatable in terms of his language and the way he sees popular culture and the world, as he struggles to find his unique place. I would, however, definitely consider writing a New Adult or Adult novel on this same topic.
What prompts you to write a certain story? Where do you get your inspiration or story prompts from?
Inspiration comes most often from pop music, but I am also inspired by events in the news, actors and movies, or even a concept I come up with for a character. Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was very inspirational to me as I wrote Love Spell. Chance César and Jack Sparrow share some characteristics.
7. What’s next for Mia Kerick?
I have put aside a very dramatic, not nearly as humorous as Love Spell, YA novel. I wrote fifty thousand words, found it to be a very heavy and emotional topic, put it aside, wrote a novella inspired by The Beatles, and am now promoting Love Spell. But I will get back to my partially finished book soon. And I look forward to it. Lanny and Trevor need their HEA.
Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.
As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”
But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.
An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.
Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.
Pages or Words: 44,300 words
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Not to say that I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days, but I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days. Yes, I was oh-so-pathetically waiting for his call, which I am aware fully explains the need for the phrase “get a life.” But Jazz hadn’t been at school on the Thursday or Friday after he had called and cancelled our playdate, and now it’s Sunday night, and I still haven’t heard from him. And although I’m frustrated that all of my elaborate plans to make him fall head over heels in love with moi have apparently tanked, I’m also growing genuinely concerned.
That’s when my cell phone, which I placed on my chest before I lay down on my now “love-spell-pink” wrapped mattress, starts singing Express Yourself.
“Yo.” I don’t check the number. It’s Emmy—who else would it be?
“Hi, Chance.” The deep voice is so not Emmy’s.
Yaaassss!!! This is what ninety-nine percent of my insides shout. One percent says quietly, “It’s about frigging time you called, asshole.”
But my voice is calm. “Jasper,” I say blandly. In my opinion, he hasn’t earned the right to be called Jazz any longer.
“Um, sorry, no. It’s Jazz.”
I try not to roll my eyes even though I know he won’t see, but it’s an epic fail. “Whatever.”
“I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch for a couple days. My mom’s been real sick. I was lookin’ after her, gettin’ her to the doctor, goin’ to the pharmacy, bringing JoJo back and forth to school, and stuff.”
“Mom caught JoJo’s strep throat and had to go to the ER because she couldn’t even swallow.” He stops talking for a second and then clears his voice. “Alls she could do was spit into a rag whenever she needed to swallow.”
Well, that’s definitely TMI, but I get the fucker-nelly revolting picture. “I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault, dude.”
And then there’s silence.
“Gonna take JoJo to the library after school tomorrow. But first I gotta stop by the cable company and pay up or we’re gonna lose our TV and internet at home. They already warned us like twice.”
“Want me to pick up Yolo at school and take her to the library?” I’m so freaking pissed off at him. Why am I offering to save his ass again?
“That’s cool of you to offer, but there’s a bus she can take to the library from her school. Could ya be waiting for her at the library, in case I get held up?”
“Of course.” I’m a Class A sucker.
“You’re such a cool pal.” Ugh—so not what I’m going for.
“I’m not gonna be at lunch tomorrow seein’ as I’ll probably be collecting my makeup work. So, I’ll see ya at the library. ‘Kay?”
I don’t say kkkk cuz it’s not even slightly cool. “Sure. The libes after school, it is.”
“Thank you, bro,” Jazz offers.
One more silence, and then I say, “Later.”
I have research to do.
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.
Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Stop by Mia’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind. Find Mia on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.
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