Monday, February 16, 2015

First Love or Heartbreak featuring Anne Barwell

       It’s kind of ironic that my first published book was about two men who are experiencing love for the first time. In Cat’s Quill, the first in the Hidden Places series, Cathal and Tomas are both men who have still to meet someone with whom they could fall in love.
      Cathal is from a world where men and women from his ‘background’ mate for life, so he’s not about to give up that part of himself unless he’s really sure it’s with someone he truly loves.  He is also avoiding someone he is expected to marry but does not love. Years ago he’d watched his cousin fall in love, wishes he could have the relationship they had, and wonders if he ever will.
       Tomas isn’t looking for love in any shape or form. He’s a loner, and rather deliberately set himself up that way, having lost his parents at an early age. He was also separated from his beloved sister for most of his childhood and moved between foster homes so he is in no hurry to get his heart broken.  He is very cynical, and fighting who he is. He’s a writer, and in denial that two of the characters he wrote in his last book should have got together.  His reasoning is that if he writes gay characters, someone might suspect him of being gay too.  Despite a lot of readers asking him if they got together after the end of the book he’s so far into the closet and self denial he might as well be in Narnia.
      I was asked how probable it was that Tomas—a man in his late 20s—hasn’t slept with anyone yet, or even been kissed.   It’s not in his personality.  Sex is about intimacy, and would mean letting someone else in, and past the barriers he’s spent most of his life erecting around himself.
      So when he meets Cathal, Tomas’s attraction for a man he barely knows hits him out of left field. Love isn’t something he’s thought about—hell he’s gone out of his way to avoid it—but that doesn’t stop it from happening.  It takes him a while to figure out that what he’s feeling for Cathal is love, and goes as far as to accuse Cathal of ‘making me fall in love with you.’
      Both he and Cathal are outsiders, and while it takes them both a while to admit to themselves and each other that they’ve fallen in love, but once they do, they don’t want to go back to being alone. It’s not about just saying the words but following through with actions that show very clearly that their priority is the person they love.  Despite not wanting to go back to being alone, Cathal is prepared to give up a life with Tomas to keep him safe. And Tomas—who was previously self-centered and isolated—follows Cathal into a strange new world without a second thought.  After all, that’s what love is, isn’t it?


      Tomas Kemp has two successful novels to his name and the true belief that a successful sequel is only a matter of a little inspiration. When Tomas meets a mysterious stranger under the branches of an old oak tree, he feels compelled to tell him about a book he holds dear and the sequel he wants to read. But Cathal doesn’t share that deep belief that the sequel Tomas seeks ends happily. Cathal has seen enough of a world where stories are real to know that happy ever after is sometimes the dream that won’t come true.
      But stories have never let Tomas down, and as he follows Cathal across the reality shift between their worlds, he learns that Cathal is right: Happy ever after is never just given—but sometimes, it can be fought for and won.

      Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
      In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
       She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth.

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