Title: Fool School by James Comins
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Its a pleasure to have James Comins here today. The author will be letting us into writing YA stories and its challenges with sex. On to our guest post by James Comins.
On Writing Kink for Kids by James Comins
I think I’ve only read one book in my whole life that features kinksters. It was, oddly, a kids book: Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher. It’s only a small glimpse, and the sequence and the world don’t reflect modern consensual kink in any way. Other than that and a few internet fiskings of that awful Fifty Shades book, I’ve never read any kink-based books.
I remember, as a kid, wanting to. I’d watch and re-watch scenes in Ninja Turtles where someone got captured. I’d thrill to sequences in movies where people got tied up by evil villains. Or books in which the bad guys faced their comeuppance and had to be thrown into cramped prisons forever, and I’d think, how exciting! Why couldn’t that be me? I’d play-act getting captured by Shredder, or Dr. Claw, and my best friend would ask when it would be our turn to get the bad guys.
Never. It was much more fun to be got.
But all of the stories I watched and read as a kid were stories of bad guys capturing the good guy’s girl against her will, then getting punished for it–also against their will. There was never any question of consent; the mere notion that anybody would want to be punished, or want to be held captive, was so crazy that nobody–with the possible exception of Patricia Wrede’s Princess Cimorene, who was quite happy to get captured by a dragon, thank you–ever imagined it. Nowhere could be found stories of trustworthy romantic partners you could trust to make your life more exciting (and scary!), or stories of princesses who sought out evil sorcerers in order to punish them because they’d been bad, or even just two adults who had a slightly peculiar power dynamic (with the exception of innumerable picture books featuring gargantuan women married to feeble little milquetoasts).
But no kink.
And the thing is, kinksters like me are as alienated and different from vanilla straight people as gay people are. I don’t “get” vanilla. It’s a world I don’t fit into at all. Lacking positive role models in movies and books, we wind up pining for a world in which the ethoses (ethi?) of slavery, cults, or God forbid, Goreans are the backdrop to human life. This freedom business is simply alien to us. A lot of kinksters have wound up skulking as inverts in the kink closet out of shame about their identity. Our society just doesn’t have many places for people to be out and kinky.
So I tend to feature kinksters of various sorts in my kids books. I want readers to have role models–both positive ones to aspire to become, and negative counterexamples. In Casey Jones is Still a Virgin I show the good and bad of a newbie entering a kinky relationship. In My Dad is a Secret Agent, I lay out a world of strict discipline and no choices. In Fool School , the protagonists see various sides of authority in a medieval world where authority may never be questioned. I hope kids get to see what a healthy kink-based corner of society could look like.
This is the world I live in. Power vs learned helplessness, cruelty vs noblesse oblige, bossy girls and demonic kings and sassy slaves and snuggly loving relationships that happen to feature Hello Kitty nipple clamps. Having dwelt in the internet for much of my life, I know I’m not alone. I hope my stories can provide kids with a sense that, as gay kids have rapidly been learning, it does get better. Grownups get a huge advantage in life, which is that we get to surround ourselves with a reality of our own invention, one that bends and distorts through whatever lens we bring to it. My lens happens to be kinky, and those are the stories I most often tend to write about. Kids might have to dwell in consensus vanilla straight cis white male culture, but they can escape through books.
And that’s what books are for. They give you a window into a world slightly different from your own. A new lens, a new garden of possibilities. Sometimes an escape, but always a place to go where the bad things in society can’t follow.
In the year of our Lord 1040, fourteen-year-old aspiring jester Tom is en route to Bath to begin his studies in the art of being a Fool, following in the footsteps of his father, and his father before him.
Along the way he meets Malcolm, a fire-haired boy with eyes green as forest glass. A Scotsman whoís escaped from the ravages of the usurper Macbeth, Malcolm elects to join Tom at school. Though the journey to Bath is hazardous, it pales in comparison to what they face at the austere and vicious Fool School, where all is not as it seems. A court jester must aim to be the lowest rung on the ladder of life, and the headmaster will not abide pride.
As they journey through lifeís hardships together, Tom and Malcolm find they only have each other to depend upon.
Genre: Young Adult, gay romance, historical
Fool School Excerpt 2
by James Comins
It’s strangely gratifying when one of your audience finds joy, actual joy, in the music you make. Reassuring. The ealdorman conducts with his fat fingers, a genuine stupid smile on his lips.
There’s danger, too, in overplaying to the one man in the audience who’s happy with your performance. I overplay to this man.
“Enough,” sighs the ealdorman’s wife before long, and my tune dies away. I feel a pit of danger inside my chest. A warning. I see that the ealdorman himself is not the most powerful person in the room.
“But… eh… darling,” he murmurs, “don’t you think… couldn’t we… he’s but a boy-”
“Enough,” she repeats.
“Madame,” I find myself saying, “how may I entertain you?”
The room fills with a terrifying void, borne from her cold Welsh blood. A mist of icicles forms over the longtable draped by the red tablecloth, and people find their hands halfway to their mouths, food raised but uneaten. I fear for my life. I will be hanged now, taken to a gallowbraid and thrown off the side of the platform by this dark-eyed woman and her timid, complying husband. I will be kept in the wine cellar until dawn, swatting drunken mice, and in that moist-eyed fresh breath of day I will see the whole of creation pass before me as I take fugue steps up from the damp to the sunlight and the dew of summer’s toil, my feet drawn by the woman’s harsh words toward a fate of breathless… and… but here the ealdorman’s wife is speaking to me.
“Play a love song,” she whispers, and this is somehow worse than being executed on the gallows.
I don’t understand love. I say so. She dismisses it.
“Madame,” I repeat, “I’ll play for you, but I know nothing of love.”
“Yes,” her lips say, “that’s what I want to hear again.”
I’m frightened of her passion.
There is an old song, some say it comes from Master Boethius himself, that speaks of the devotion that the constant Penelope felt toward her husband, the warrior errant, Odysseus. It speaks of long years alone, sequestered in a house surrounded by enemy lovers like flies buzzing. They’re trying to convince her that her husband is not coming back, that she is alone, but she is strong, a fire buffeted by the wind, and she maintains, year after solitary year, tending her flame.
I cannot sing it-there’s a thousand thousand verses, well, not really, maybe five, but they’re long. However, the melody is familiar. I can play it on the recorder.
There is a very different world inside your head and in the shape of your mouth, playing a love song.
It begins in the first note.
Don’t miss the 30% discount of the Mammoth May Sale on Wayward Ink Publishingís website!
- WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/fool-school-by-james-comin/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XE3Z9VA/
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About the author
JAMES COMINS is incapable of writing about himself in the third person. His future autobiography will probably be titled, ìThe Man Who Groaned His Way Toward Death.î He writes stories for children and adults.
Born down the street from Stephen King, he now divides his time between Denver and Seattle.
JAMES COMINS can be found at:
- Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jamescomins