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Title: The Pill Bugs of Time
Author: Angel Martinez
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis
Genre: Bisexual, Gay Romance, Humor/Comedy, Paranormal
Release Date: 10/05/2016
Vikash Soren, the perfect police officer except for his odd paranormal ability, never seems to lose his temper. Always serene and competent, he’s taken on the role of mediator in a squad room full of misfits. But on the inside, he’s a mess. Unable to tell his police partner that he loves him, Vikash struggles silently, terrified of losing Kyle as a lover, partner and friend.
But life in the 77th Precinct doesn’t leave much room for internal reflection. A confrontation with a stick-throwing tumbleweed in Fairmount Park leads to bizarre consequences involving pill bugs, statues and…time travel? If Vikash manages to survive the week and stay in one point in time, he might be able to address normal things like relationship problems. He just needs Kyle to have a little more patience. Maybe a few centuries’ worth.
It’s All Fun And Games Until…
As a writer, I divide my time between serious and not so much. Action, drama, suspense? Yes, I love those things but the wacky stuff has a special place in my heart. Animated outerwear. Anti-gravity cows. Carnivorous pink teddy bears. Writing absurdist humor makes my heart happy and clears out the cobwebs for the next serious thing. Here’s the sneaky thing about humor, though. It’s often exploring something painful that might otherwise be hard to look at. That’s true with the Offbeat Crimes stories, to some degree. Vikash is bi.
So am I. And it’s not always an easy thing to be.
Sure. I’ve written a number of bisexual characters in other stories, in the Brandywine Investigations series for instance, but these characters, often immortals, were far too comfortable in their own skins. They don’t live human lives and therefore sidestep human issues, never having to worry about how their sexuality would be perceived or how they might be mislabeled because of it. Dionysus couldn’t possibly care any less if you don’t understand his sexuality.
For humans, it’s not so easy. I reached the point where I wanted to portray a bisexual character who does have human issues. Vikash goes through the struggles many bisexual people do. Struggles with trust and with disbelief, with scorn and erasure. His past partners, male and female, accuse him of fence sitting, of being unable to commit to a “side,” of future infidelity, and this shapes how he approaches relationships. His caution and his reticence to become too deeply involved have been carved into him with every relationship gone wrong. His inherent honesty makes it impossible to hide his bisexuality from his partners, and yet he knows perfectly well that when he dates women, he’s perceived as straight and when he dates men, he’s perceived as gay, often to the point where his partner has insisted on erasure for his or her own comfort.
It’s all fun and games until someone id’s as bi.
For someone like Dionysus? It’s easy. He doesn’t care what you think of him and he’s had centuries of practice. For someone like Vikash, for most bi humans, it’s not so simple, especially when you consider family, friends, co-workers and possible love interests. You find yourself coming out again and again, explaining again and again, smacking up against the same prejudices, the same stereotypes even with people you thought would understand. Add to that a work culture that has not had a stellar tradition of supporting queer officers and one that actively discourages close-colleague involvement, and you have a character who carries a mountain of burdens with him into a workplace relationship.
Vikash has a lot to work through, but most of what he’s internalized has come from outside sources. Most of his demons took the on-ramp from other people’s misconceptions. He’s not the type of person who can say I don’t care what you think, since he does care, and it’s often hurt him.
Now you know the terrible, dark secret of so many absurdist humor writers. We’re pleased when you snicker and giggle. We want to give you weird and wacky things. We want quirk, surprise, and the nonsensical. But we often come in with agendas—frightening ones about acceptance, understanding, and reaching outside yourself. Oh, and insidious plans to suggest more offerings of coffee and chocolate. You didn’t think we were entirely altruistic, right?
About the Author
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.
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