RSS

Guest Blog by Christopher Koehler – “Will Poz Be Controversial? I Certainly Hope So”

Poz_Blog-Tour-Sidebar-GraphicI was aware of the possibly controversial nature of Poz’s content from the moment I started writing it, although some of that possible controversy may not be quite what you’re thinking.

To be perfectly honest, I debated long and hard whether to publish Poz under Dreamspinner’s imprimatur or under its Young Adult label, Harmony Ink. But I wrote Poz with a certain message in mind. I tried to avoid being preachy, but I also wanted to convey that certain message to a young adult audience, and ultimately, my publisher, the Harmony Ink coordinator, and I decided that it suited the Harmony Ink imprimatur. So publish Poz with Harmony Ink I did, and this way the book will have a better chance to be placed in libraries and, I hope, reach its intended audience. Not even I’m so delusional to think it’d ever be used in schools.

The most obvious possible controversy stems from the subject matter: teens and sex, specifically gay and bi teens and sex. Although Remy and Michael are gay, I think it’s safe to include bisexual teens, if only epidemiologically, because part of what inspired Poz were distressing facts about increasing rates of new HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men ages 16-24. That’s roughly the ages covered by the demographics for YA and NA novels.

Any time a book (or movie or any other medium) talks about teens and young adults and sex, people—particularly parents—lose all sense of proportion. The reality is sexuality is set quite early, so trying to keep books involving sex out of the hands of teens? Mom and Dad, you’re closing the barn door after the horses have bolted. It might make you feel better, but it’s too late. Furthermore, Poz will not make your kids gay or bi. They already are.

Given the studies that have shown that abstinence-only sex education programs are an abysmal failure, teens are going to experiment. They want to know about sex, and in the age of the internet, they’re going to find the information. Poz will not put notions in anyone’s head that aren’t already there. All of the sex in Poz is off stage, implied, or the scenes fade to be black before anything interesting happens. Poz will not make your gay children run out and have the gay sex.

Remy, unfortunately for him, does not practice safer sex and that gives me the opportunity as an author to discuss safer sexual practices, as well as what the onset of HIV looks like in this particular case. As an author, gay man, and a parent, it’s my hope that Poz gives me the opportunity to slip some education under the radar, as it were. We’ll see how it’s received, I suppose.

In Poz, there is an age difference across that magic number of eighteen, and the younger man initiates it. This won’t earn me any friends, I suspect, but the reality is young men, gay, bi, or straight, don’t magically turn sexual on their eighteenth birthdays. I accordingly discuss the implications of statutory rape and the murkiness of the laws in the jurisdiction in which the story takes place—implications not just for the two people involved, but the institutions and other people around them. Nothing happens in a vacuum, after all, no matter how oblivious teens can be.

To be honest, I expect this to be the most controversial part of the entire book—a self-aware protagonist knows what he wants—or thinks he does—and goes after it. This isn’t The Rake’s Progress, so Remy doesn’t go to hell or anything, but he does face lifelong consequences. I mean, duh. Look at the title. What’s missing is judgment, and that may be controversial, as well.

All of this said, I won’t turn down a bit of controversy. Controversy inevitably draws attention and drives sales. Is that horribly mercenary of me to say?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Poz faced a certain amount of controversy from within the m/m romance community, as well.

There is a hint at the end that while Remy and his boyfriend Michael are together, they may not always be. Poz has a Happy Enough For Now ending.

I never know if people read all of the blog posts on a blog tour. I’ll assume people do. If you’ve read the other posts on the tour, you know that I torment Remy and Michael over the course of three books, and in fact they’re not together at the end of the second book. It’s a risky strategy and I expect some pushback, if not now, then at the end of the second book, currently titled All That Is Solid (Melts Into Air).

I promise everyone that Remy and Michael will be together forever by the end of book 3, and none of this Romeo + Julio nonsense where they’re forever united in death. The reality—and I realize reality is a controversial subject in Romancelandia—is that high school boyfriends never really stood a chance at a HEA without the chance to grow up first. I hope I can prove myself to you as a writer and that you’ll trust me to make good on the promise of the first two books.

So I expected some beady-eye and some “We’re watching you, Koehler” at the end of All That Is Solid, but I also hope there’s some trust there, too. I’ve fallen in love with Remy and Michael, the way I fall in love with all of my characters, and I want only the best for them. Hopefully you, my readers will, too, and will allow me to make them work for it.

PozFSBlurb:

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

The Lives of Remy and Michael: Book One

Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pacific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they’re both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia.

Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most.

Author Bio:

Christopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out of putting pen to paper.

Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged both that tendency and the writing. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting.

When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction.

Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.

Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he’s an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly.

Visit him at http://christopherkoehler.net/blog or follow him on Twitter @christopherink.

Poz_Blog-Tour-Graphic

Poz_Blog-Tour-Schedule-GraphicTour links:

7 Jan – Prism Book Alliance
9 Jan – Cody Kennedy
10 Jan – The Novel Approach
14 Jan – JP Barnaby
15 Jan – Love Bytes
19 Jan – GGR Reviews
21 Jan – Hearts on Fire Reviews
22 Jan – MM Good Book Reviews
26 Jan – James Erich
28 Jan – Joyfully Jay
2 Feb – Rainbow Gold Reviews

Buy links:

Dreamspinner eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5918&cPath=387

Dreamspinner Print: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5919&cPath=387

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Poz-Lives-Remy-Michael-Book-ebook/dp/B00RPUB96W/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Poz-Lives-Remy-Michael-Book-ebook/dp/B00RPUB96W/

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-poz-1591190-149.html?referrer=509531de39c1c

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Frugal Friday Sale on all Dreams of Fire and Gods eBooks!

FrugalFridayThis Friday, Harmony Ink is having a sale on all three of the Dreams of Fire and Gods eBooks!  That’s including the first novel, Dreams, which won Best LGBT YA Novel at the Rainbow Awards last year.

Each one is just $1.99, so the entire trilogy is just about six dollars!

Here are the blurbs and buy links for each one:

  1. Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book One

    A thousand years ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak by warring for the land and the frightened humans who lived there. Then suddenly the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.

    Now, as tensions escalate between the emperor and his regent, Vek Worlen, the vek’s son, apprentice mage Sael dönz Menaük, finds himself allied with a homeless vagabond named Koreh. Together they flee the capital city and make their way across a hostile wilderness to the vek’s keep, mere steps ahead of the emperor’s assassins.
    But Koreh has dreams—dreams of the ancient Taaweh—and he knows the looming war between the emperor and the vek will be nothing compared to the war that is about to begin. The Taaweh are returning, and the war between the gods may destroy the kingdom once and for all.
  2. Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book Two
    A thousand years ago, two rival factions of gods, the Stronni and Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak in their war for power. Then the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.Now, tensions between the human emperor and his regent are at an all-time high. The regent’s son, apprentice mage Sael dönz Menaük, has fled the capital with his master and united with a vagabond named Koreh, but assassins dog their footsteps. The future is more uncertain than ever.Since the Taaweh city of Gyishya reappeared, the mages of Harleh have weakened, cut off from the source of their power. Sael and his father struggle to keep their respective cities from crumbling under the strain or being destroyed by the gods. Then Koreh learns of a dangerous Taaweh plan to rescue their queen from the Stronni—a plan only Koreh and Sael can execute.But they may not get a chance. In Harleh Valley, a young man named Donegh pieces together what happened. Intent, he makes his way through an increasingly alien landscape to carry out his mission: assassinate the Dekan of Harleh, Sael dönz Menaük.
  3. Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book Three
    Long ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak in a great war. The Taaweh vanished when their queen was imprisoned, and the Stronni declared victory. A thousand years later, a young nobleman named Sael and his lover Koreh have rescued the Taaweh queen. In the process Koreh was killed, and now an injured Sael struggles to heal from both injuries and grief. Unknown to him, Koreh embarks on a journey across the land of the dead, trying to make his way back to Sael—and to life. But time moves differently in the underworld, and decades pass while Koreh travels.In the living world, tensions between the emperor and Sael’s father, Vek Worlen, who is regent of the eastern kingdom, have soured beyond repair. Worlen conspires with the assassin Donegh to break into the imperial palace and challenge the emperor to a duel to the death. But the goddess Imen has chosen a young priest named Gonim as her champion. Through him she discovers the Taaweh have returned, and her enraged king threatens to destroy Dasak and all its human inhabitants. Sael must save his world, must confront the gods and persuade them not to destroy humankind. But it seems hopeless. If only Koreh were at his side…
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Fantasy, Gay, Rainbow Awards, Romance, Sale, Uncategorized, YA

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Viruses on Mars

virus1So it occurred to me that, when two colonies separated for about fifteen years meet again, one or both might have viruses the other hasn’t encountered.  After all, something as simple as the common cold virus supposedly mutates frequently.  We already know of about 200 different viruses associated with the “common cold.”

Well, now I’m not so sure.  I’ve done some digging and it appears that these types of viruses don’t survive for more than a few weeks in the body—our immune system does a fair job of wiping them out.  And they don’t live outside the body for more than a couple weeks, either.  As far as I can surmise, the common cold viruses stay alive by hopping from person to person, so that there are always people out there harboring the viruses, keeping them alive.

So how would a population of about 20 people keep the cold incubating?  After a matter of months, any cold virus going around would effectively be obliterated.  Fifteen years later, it seems very unlikely there would be any kicking around at all.

Well, it’s a question I haven’t been able to answer with any certainty.  Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a way for the common cold to stay active in a small population.  But in the meantime, a Facebook friend supplied me with a better possibility:  the Epstein-barr virus.

This is the virus we commonly associate with “Mono” in high school or college.  It’s characterized by fatigue, possibly a sore throat, a fever, swollen lymph nodes, etc.  The fatigue can drag on for several weeks, even after the other symptoms have subsided.  It turns out, nearly 90% of humans have had the virus by the time they reach adulthood.  We don’t all notice it, however, because it doesn’t always manifest symptoms.  If you catch it as a child, it’s likely you won’t ever have symptoms, or the symptoms will be mild enough your parents might think you just have a cold.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the symptoms can be more severe.  This is why some teenagers or college students who get the virus experience “Mono,” that fatigue that goes on for weeks and weeks.  In a small percentage of cases, the symptoms can be far worse.  Epstein-barr has been linked to encephalitis and several types of lymphoma.  It would therefore be a serious concern for the colonists.

And the best part (from the perspective of my story) is that it never leaves the body, once you have it.  The virus can remain dormant for decades, until some stress on the body causes it to reactivate.  At which point, it can be passed through contact with the infected person’s saliva—something as simple as a mother kissing her child, someone taking a bite of something and sharing the rest, or a parent picking up toys that have been drooled on.

(In reality, I don’t think this is “cool.”  The person who brought all of this to my attention learned about the virus when it struck her family in a particularly tragic way.)

So after researching this, I’ve had to go back and rewrite a couple chapters.  When it was just the common cold I was dealing with, I could play it for humor.  Now it’s not going to be a horrible tragedy for the colonies—that would derail the story too much—but they’ll have to take it a bit more seriously.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Gay, Mars, Romance, Sci-fi, Writing, YA

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sometimes you just need to wing it

marsI just spent three days trying to figure out whether a Martian pressure suit would have difficulties with a Martian night at the equator under normal circumstances, or whether I would have to contrive a malfunction in order for someone to be suffering from hypothermia after spending a couple hours lying on the ground.  I was also trying to figure out how bad off he could be without actually dying, and how he could be saved, if his rescuers couldn’t get inside his suit for a while.  Plus, I needed to know how long they would have to remain in the airlock before they could get inside his suit.

I could, of course, fake all of this.  I can make my Martian pressure suits behave any way I like, since they don’t actually exist  I can make the airlock take as long as I like, and I can fudge the details about how my character is injured and how he’s treated.

But I really hate that.

I want accuracy.  I don’t want to just make it all up.  I want to know what’s medically and scientifically possible, and I want to use that detail to make my novel feel real to the reader.

But after three days—with a lot of help from friends on Facebook, mind you, who sent me links and gave me information from the perspective of medics and EMTs—I realized I’d hardly written more than a paragraph.  That’s no way to write a novel.  They tend to be longer than a paragraph by a considerable amount.  I don’t need to be writing this thing twenty years from now.  By that time, there may very well be people walking around on Mars, at least for a visit.

So I’m using the information I collected to put together a scene that at least seems reasonable, and then I’m plowing ahead.  I’ll come back to it later, and hopefully I won’t have to do much restructuring of the chapter.  As of about an hour ago, I made it past that chapter and now I’m starting a chapter that won’t have so many nit-picky details.  I hope.

Anyway, I thought I’d post an excerpt from the chapter.  This is when the main character, Dylan, convinces his friend, Alex, to go out on the Martian surface with him before sunrise, because Timur—the guy he’s befriended at the rival colony—told him to meet him by the satellite antenna.

I’d been too fidgety to sleep and I’d called Alex a couple hours before it grew light. That had given us time to sit around in the airlock for an hour, adjusting to the lower pressure outside, while Alex complained bitterly about how tired we were going to be during our work shift at the farm. We were out at the antenna a bit before the sun was visible. Technically, it was just past sunrise for our latitude, but the crater walls still cast long shadows over us. The temperature was well below zero and we were jiggling up and down to keep ourselves warm.

“This is his idea of a joke,” Alex grumbled. “He’s probably in bed, warm and toasty right now.”

“No. He’ll be here.”

“If there was a crawler coming, we’d see the headlights by now,” Alex said.

He had a point. It was too dark out on the canyon floor to see much, apart from the slightly darker peaks of some prominent rock structures. But we sometimes caught sight of lights at Huozhing, when someone was working outside at night, just as they could probably see the lights from my headlamp and Alex’s, at this very moment. Crawler headlights should be visible for several kilometers.

There was nothing.

“Maybe we should have brought some blankets,” I said. There were blankets packed in lockers just outside the airlocks. They had outer layers of Mylar and inner layers with battery-powered heating elements built into the material. They couldn’t protect people for long in the middle of a Martian night, but they certainly helped.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have been suckered into this,” Alex replied.

“He’ll be here.”

“If you say so. But I’m going back to grab a couple blankets.”

“Okay,” I said. I didn’t like the idea of being out here on my own, but I was really starting to feel the cold. Blankets would be a good thing. “I’ll wait here for you.”

Alex took off at a trot. We were within sight of the airlocks, so it shouldn’t take him long. In the meantime, I scanned the floor of the canyon anxiously, searching for any flash or moving spot of light. Nothing. The sun gradually peeked above the east wall of the crater, illuminating a sliver of stone wall just above our colony. Supposedly, our parents had chosen to build the colony in this location in part because the sunlight reached it first thing in the morning. By building on the other side of the canyon, Huozhing had deprived itself of that benefit. But their governments insisted they be on the opposite side.

As I waited for Alex to return, the light crept silently down the canyon wall behind me. I kept turning around to check for Alex, and eventually saw him running toward me through a pool of sunlight that now stretched to the solar array. He crossed into the shadow I still stood in and pulled up in front of me.

“Here,” he gasped, holding out one of the folded blankets.

I took it from him and unfolded it. The battery pack was a long, flexible strip along one side about a centimeter thick and a few centimeters wide. It was activated by squeezing a circular spot on one end. I did so and wrapped the blanked around me, hoping the damned thing would warm up soon.

“Thanks,” I said.

Alex and I stood together, wrapped in our blankets for a while longer, until the shadow of the canyon wall had receded enough that we were finally in the light.

I could now see into Alex’s helmet, so I saw him frown and shake his head. “This is ridiculous, Dylan. He’s not coming.”

I wasn’t far from admitting he was right. But I was stubbornly clinging to the belief that Timur wouldn’t have made me stand out there just to be mean. I was sure he’d intended to meet me, which meant that something had to have prevented him from coming. Had he been caught trying to sneak out? Or was it more serious than that? “What if he crashed the crawler?” I asked.

“I’ll bet he never left Huozhing.”

This argument was going in circles, so I let it drop. For a few more minutes, we stood in silence, watching the line of sunlight slowly inch across the crater floor. Then, about fifty meters away from us, it illuminated something that made my hair prickle on my scalp in horror. What had looked like no more than a pile of rubble on the crater floor when it was in shadow now revealed itself to be a pile of heavy-duty containers like those used to transport water or other liquids. And lying still and motionless in the midst of them was a man in a pressure suit.

Timur had been lying there the entire time we stood at the antenna arguing.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Yes, I’m still here, and still writing

This blog has been quiet for a very long time, which I didn’t intend.  There’s actually been quite a lot going on.  Unfortunately, most of it has been under the pseudonym I use for adult novels—one novel wrapped up, and two short stories.  I’ve also been doing a little plotting for another novel idea, but I won’t go into that just yet.

I attended the first Rainbow Con this April, which was terrific.  Next year looks to be even larger and more fun.  Unfortunately, I came into contact with a family of sick, coughing children on the plane and came down with something like strep throat immediately after the con. That laid me up for weeks, even with heavy antibiotics, and unfortunately prevented me from attending the Harmony Ink  workshop this year.  But they mailed me my “swag” and several authors wrote nice notes to me inside a notebook, which reminded me what a wonderful bunch of authors we have.

eau-douce-marsIn the meantime, as a favor to a mutual friend, a mainstream agent agreed to look at the first three chapters and synopsis of Martian Born—not to represent it, but simply to give me some feedback about whether it would be marketable as a mainstream YA novel.  Unfortunately, though I was told it was nicely written and absorbing, it wasn’t very fresh.  Since I began working on the novel, several YA novels about Martian colonies have come out, such as the best-selling Red Rising.

That sort of thing is always depressing to a writer.  We come up with what we think must be an original idea, because we haven’t seen it anywhere or been able to find similar novels with searches.  Then, while we’re working on our masterpiece, a bunch of books hit the shelves with the same theme.

In most cases, this has nothing to do with people copying from one another.  But we all see the same news articles going by, we’re all observers of popular culture, so we tend to come up with similar ideas at the same time.  Mars has been in the news a lot in recent years, and there has been a lot of talk about establishing a Martian colony, so of course a number of authors start thinking about that as a good basis for a story.  From that point, certain things click into place for all of us—dust storms, two moons, sub-zero temperatures, water frozen into the soil.  Some of us will go in one direction, some in another.  My story is, as far as I can tell, more scientifically accurate than a number of the stories on the market now, but that’s not an enormous selling point.  Neither is a gay protagonist, from a mainstream perspective.

However, from my perspective, a gay protagonist is an enormous difference that sets my story apart from others.  So I intend to finish it.  Even if it the most original novel to come out this year or next, I’m still convinced it’s a good novel.  It’s worth finishing, and I think it will be worth reading.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Gay, Romance, Sci-fi, Work in Progress, Writing, YA

 

Tags: , , , ,

An interview with Maliha from Beloved Pilgrim by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Today we’re featuring a new novel release by author Christopher Hawthorne MossBeloved Pilgrim, from Harmony Ink Press.

The blurb for the novel is at the bottom of the post, but first, and interview with one of the main characters:  Maliha, the love interest of Elias.

Maliha is the daughter of a Turkish woman whose Greek lover had abandoned her.  She used to live in a Turkish village but married a Turkish man named Yukop in an arranged marriage.  Yukop has been away fighting alongside Kilij Arslan, and may be dead at this point.  Maliha lives with her son Taceetin and her harridan mother-in-law in the street of the laundresses outside the city gates of Constantinople.  There she is forced to work as an “entertainer” in Andronikos’ villa, serving the male guests of Andronikos.

Elias is enthralled by Maliha from the start but cannot reveal himself.  When Maliha is fired for not fitting in, Elias goes to fetch her back.   It is then that the kiss Maliha mentions below takes place.  Maliha follows Elias back to the villa she, where she persuades Elias’s squire to let her into his room while he is bathing.

The rest is, as they say, historical fiction.

Interview:

Did you realize that the man you knew as Elias had a female body?

Not until we kissed at my husband’s mother’s hut.  You see, I had raised my hands to push him back when I saw he meant to force me.  My palms pressed on his breast, or should I say breasts.  Even through his clothing I knew those were the breasts of a woman.  That’s why I kissed him back.

You prefer women?

Yes.  I discovered this when I was a younger girl and spent time with her at her home.  We got up to all sorts of mischief, including in her bed.  In my culture, such relations are overlooked, so long as we marry and have children.  I was married and knew I had not at all liked the rough handling of my husband.   When I felt Elias’s breasts it was such a wonderful memory

Then what did you think when Elias told you that he was a man in his heart and mind?  Did you believe him?

My Elias would never lie to me.

Could he not have been mistaken?

That is not something one makes mistakes about.  I trust him to tell the truth and also to know the truth.

So you were still attracted to him?

Oh yes, of course.  I loved his woman’s body, but I had the companionship of a man in the same person.  I have more than any woman such as I could ever hope for.  And he is a man inside, I know, but he is a wise and good man.  And he loves me and my little boy.

The Blurb for Beloved Pilgrim:

At the time of the earliest Crusades, young noblewoman Elisabeth longs to be the person she’s always known is hidden inside. When her twin brother perishes from a fever, Elisabeth takes his identity to live as a man, a knight. As Elias, he travels to the Holy Land, to adventure, passion, death, and a lesson that honor is sometimes found in unexpected places.

Elias must pass among knights and soldiers, survive furious battle, deadly privations, moral uncertainty, and treachery if he’ll have any chance of returning to his newfound love in the magnificent city of Constantinople.

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

2nd Edition

1st edition by Nan Hawthorne published by Shieldwall Books, February 2011

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A computer game about a teenage girl coming to terms with her sexuality

I just finished playing an indie game from The Fullbright Company called Gone Home and it’s worth mentioning on this blog, because of the subject matter.  Basically, you (the main character — Katie) come home in the middle of the night from a trip to Europe.  You’ve been gone a year.  You discover the house locked up and nobody home, with an ominous note from your younger sister, Sam, stuck to the front door warning you not to tell anybody what you find inside.

As you make your way through the house, you discover more notes, pictures, receipts, music tapes, and sticky notes from your sister and your parents that eventually help you piece together what happened not only during the past year, but also during the years you were away at college.  The atmosphere is creepy and you keep expecting to find a corpse or something equally horrifying in one of the rooms.

I don’t want to give too much away, but what you find is basically a love story between Sam and her female best friend in high school, as they discover how they really feel about each other.  The parents are less than understanding, and there are problems at school, among other things trying to pull them apart.  There is a sense of foreboding as you wind your way through to uncover the final outcome, hidden behind the locked attic door….

This doesn’t really meet my definition of a game.  It’s interactive — you pick up things and examine them, and you uncover combinations to locked cabinets, and find keys to locked rooms — but you’re a ghost (figuratively) in the house.  You can’t change anything that’s happened.  You’re just uncovering it.  And you can’t affect the outcome of the “game.”

So it’s more of an interactive story.  This has sparked outrage among gamers, especially those delightfully misogynistic gamers who think the entire idea of Gone Home is stupid and pointless.  My favorite recurring quote is “It’s been done better.”

Really?  Where?

On the other hand, I’ve come across an accusation that the game is kind of a “bait and switch,” and that does have some validity.  I think the biggest problem is that everything is just too creepy.  The designers played that aspect up a lot and it builds expectations the game really doesn’t deliver on.  You stumble across journal entries about a ghost in the house, about the possibility that the previous owner went insane.  You find ouija boards and other occult paraphernalia.  The father seems to have been struggling with his writing career, and you wonder just how stable the guy was. All of these things lead you to expect some kind of horrific revelation, and… well, you might be disappointed in that regard.

However, as a story, I would still recommend the game.  It’s short, and people have pointed out that it probably isn’t worth $20 for the amount of game play.  So perhaps it would be good to wait for the price to drop.

You can purchase the game through Steam or the game website:  http://www.gonehomegame.com/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Games, Gay, Romance, YA

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers