My book, Uncharted Hearts, goes live this week. I know I’ve been pretty horrible about blogging lately (sorry) so I thought I’d do some posts on the characters. Should be fun, right?
The first character is Clayton (he’s the pov bearer in this first person story.) Usually when I come up with a story I start with one scene, and the first scene I wrote was the one where Clayton is kind of lurking on the ladder between decks, deciding if he should follow Peter’s orders and stay below, or go help with the wheel. It was a moment that interested me, because of that tension. Clayton knows Peter is trying to protect him, and yet he wants to help. Peter knows he should use Clay’s help, but loves Clay and doesn’t want him hurt. I’m not sure how well that tension translated into the story, but that was my intention anyway.
Clayton is a young man from Newport, Rhode Island (you know I work my home state into everything I can, LOL) and he is the only child of an upper-middle class family. He is smart, and loves maps, and has been a bit spoiled by his parents.
I use models or actors as inspiration when I write, so that I have a clear picture of my character’s physical description. For Clayton I used Kellan Lutz. I’m not really sure what movies or ads he’s been in, but I thought he was cute with his sandy hair, and he had almost the right build. There are some more pics of him on my pinterest page.
Clay starts off as very idealistic, wide-eyed, and almost naive. But he is intelligent and observant, and he knows what he wants.
One of the things I wanted to explore with Clayton was the idea that homosexuality is not always a hated, shameful thing. I gave Clay supportive parents, who know about his sexuality and (though they keep it secret, of course) are not ashamed or disgusted by it.
My logic in doing this is simple. Most statistics place the percentage of humans who “identify as homosexual” around 4% (though the number of people who will admit to engaging in sexual activity at least once with a person of the same gender is a lot higher.) Either way, I think it is fair to say that close to 5% of the population at any given time and place in history is somewhere on the homosexual end of the Kinsey scale. So why do we assume that of all those people (would be over 250,000 of England’s population of 8 million at the time), all those families, none are going to be supportive of their gay kids/brothers/uncles/friends? Sure, many would be against it. But it doesn’t take too deep a look into history to see that lots of famous and influential people were openly gay. Yet they were not ostracized or killed! Amazing.
I think there is a tendency, especially among mm historical romance writers, to play up the drama in this area. According to public records, only a small number of people were hanged or pilloried for sodomy in the late 18th century, even in the British Royal Navy. Admittedly, such records are somewhat incomplete due to time period, but the number of convictions – official or otherwise – is pretty low, all things considered. Certainly not thousands or even hundreds of men, which is what you’d expect if only a small fraction of homosexual men were caught and brought to “justice.”
By this I don’t mean that being gay in the late 18th century was easy. I assume it would have been extremely difficult and dangerous. Even without the threat of death, there is always blackmail or extortion to worry about. Still, I gave Clayton an open sexuality, and a supportive family. Because it’s quite possible.
Clayton uses this support as a source of inner strength. He knows he is worthy of love, and that he deserves a good, happy, life. This is unique to him in the story, as all the other characters come from much harder circumstances and are happy just to survive. So my idealistic MC carries the narrative and the plot to a happy ending.
I hope you will enjoy reading Clayton’s story!