Do you want muscle?

esther

So, I found myself considering a proposal to create something new: an illustrated TG story.

SteeleBlazer, proprietor of the fantastic Mighty Female Muscle Comix website, who also maintains an excellent site on Deviant Art, started it off with an email proposing that we collaborate.  He wanted us to create a story together, working out the details of the plot and characters, and he would offer suggestions and tweaks and edits, then add pictures.  I thought– hell no.

My reaction had nothing to do with SteeleBlazer.  I had a previous unpleasant experience with a potential collaborator that made me very reluctant to even think about working with someone.

Besides, I enjoyed the autonomy writing and self-publishing my books gave me. I wrote what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted.  Why change that?

And yet, the idea intrigued me, and I thought – maybe it is time?  Maybe I should give this another chance?  So I sent an email, and the two of us laid out some things and got some clarity established as to how this project would work.  Between my previous unpleasant experience and my discussions with SteeleBlazer I had read Twyla Tharp’s book about collaboration, and I had realized that for it to work there needed to be clear understanding of how we would work together before either of us committed.  We established that, and then….

Disaster! The worst experience of my life!

Not really!  Actually, I have had one of the best creative experiences of my life, and I am so happy we worked together and created a really special project which I think is going to be called Lift Like A Girl.

It takes place in a small town in Iowa, and follows the lives of some typical high-school kids as something strange begins to happen:  the girls all start to get really big and strong, while the boys struggle to maintain muscle and find themselves getting smaller.

For both SteeleBlazer and I, the story is very much about what happens to the minds of the characters as their bodies change, and the ways it impacts how characters see themselves and interact with others as males become the weaker sex.  It explores how high-school dynamics might change in such a world, and it was loads of fun to create!  We look at the changes from a variety of perspectives.  Esther, seen above, is a mousy intellectual nerd with a crush on a star athlete.  Mallory is a pretty, popular girl who is all about fashion and trends:

mallory

And Kat is a gloomy goth-chick:

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We also see the world through the eyes of Derek, the stud jock Alpha Male of the school and Jack, a member of the swim team.

This story is a true collaboration, and I feel a seamless melding of our respective visions to create something that is certainly different from anything I have written before in a variety of sometimes nuanced ways.  I don’t want to give away too much away, but I had so much fun writing this, and I have to say that even days after completing the story I can’t stop thinking about these characters as they pop up in my dreams, while I am driving, eating… all the time!

It’ll be available soon!

 

5 Questions with Donald Allen Kirch

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Hey, folks!  I am so happy to share with you my interview with Donald Allen Kirch, author of the recently released TG horror novel Drop Dead Gorgeous, as well as the TG classic The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight, one of my all time favorite TG works.

Enjoy!

1. What are your top three TG experiences in terms of books, films, videos, songs?

I kind ‘a fell into “TG” fiction. I loved the movie “Just One of the Guys” and “Switch” when I was younger. I have always found the “possibilities” of this genre fascinating.

2. One of the things I admired about Ka-Ron was that you created a very detailed and fascinating fantasy world of your own in which to place the TG adventures of Ka-Ron. Can you talk about the world building process and why the details of the world were important to Ka-Ron’s story?

First and foremost, if the background of a story is not believable, neither will the front story. I created the “Ka-Ron” universe to be taken seriously. I hoped that it would be seen as a serious fantasy story. The “TG” element was added later on. Most stories which take this route, the main character deserves what happens to him. Ka-Ron, on the other hand, is an innocent. He is an honorable man. The story of the love that grew between Jatel and him/her would never have worked if their world was not believable. My favorite part of the Ka-Ron universe was the creation of “My Dwarfs.” Unlike any other fantasy, Dorian was a class act. The wizards and wicca masters, the steampunk quality of the Argo, and even mixing horror with science fiction – all of it was just plain fun to create. I love these characters. They are like family to me.

In creating this world, I took the best and most tragic memories of my own life and incorporated them into the story. I have a “game” I like to play when writing: I, honestly, place myself into each story I write. In other words: One of the characters in Ka-Ron’s world is “me” – in mind, body, and spirit. In this case: Jatel. If anyone who has ever read this story were to meet me, they would say, “Hey! You remind me of Jatel.” Don’t know what I would do if I woke up as the “female” version of Jatel, but it would be fun trying to find out.

3. In both Ka-Ron and your latest, Drop Dead Gorgeous, the men are turned into women as a punishment. Can you discuss why the themes of forced sex-change and revenge interest you as a writer?

There is nothing more frightening that losing one’s identity. These two characters are normal men doing their parts in the world they are both comfortable with. Then, BAM! They wake to discover they have brand new bodies and that everything they know, have been taught, and understand about the universe…is gone. Scary stuff.

I also am a sucker for the “fish out of water” story. You’ve probably heard this said before, “If I had boobs I’d never leave the house.” Guys say that with a confident chuckle. What would they really do if they woke to a 38-24-36 body? They’d scream themselves into a coma. Their understanding of the world would be gone. It’s within that frightening fear that I like to walk.

4. Can you talk about your journey as a writer? What was the process like for you in terms of reaching the point where you felt ready to put your work out there for the world to see?

Writing is a cruel taskmaster. It’s demanding, lonely, and fantastically fulfilling. It takes great courage to expose your work. I have been writing since I was 13. Each story is a complete journey, and I learn so much about myself upon completion. However, I was quite shy when I first started doing this. It took a great deal of soul searching for publishing my first book. One bit of advice I can give to any writer starting out: Always remember – no matter how good your work is, there will always be that “one” who will gain great pleasure out of trying to bring you down. Whether it be the local “Grammar Nazi” or critic…you cannot please everyone. Learn to ignore what people say, and accept praise with honest humility. Most important: Never take “No” for an answer. Learn to accept rejection as a learning experience, and move onward to the next publisher, agent, or editor.

5. What has been the most positive aspect of publishing your work?

I’ve learned so much about who I am. Before “The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight” I barely understood what “TG” was. As I have moved forward with this adventure, I have come to admire the courage and pioneering spirit of these brave people, and I hope that I have created heroes for them to embrace. Friends have come forward, informing me that I gave them the courage to stand tall and make their personal choice to go forward with their transition. That it was the acceptance of Ka-Ron and Jatel, when each went through their adventures; and that it was love which saved them both – these stories helped them say “Yes.” I am happy with who I am and where I stand in my life. If, however, I awoke within Jatel’s female body…after a few hours of heavy meltdown…well…I could live with it.

6. What’s coming up next? Let’s hear about your next projects!

I am working on a second book in the “DROP DEAD GEOGEOUS” series. An audio book will be coming out for DDG later this year. Keep in mind, “DROP DEAD GORGEOUS” is a horror novel. It is filled with gore and some disturbing scenes. Not at all like “Ka-Ron.” Speaking of Ka-Ron, the rights of the first trilogy revert back to me at the end of 2017. I plan to see if I can republish in the States. I am also finishing up a prequel trilogy in Ka-Ron’s universe which follows the heroic adventures and tragic downfall of Count Voslow. Next to Dorian, the Count is one of my favorite characters. I have at least four novels I am currently researching. I am always looking for a great story to tell.

I hope to meet all of you, one day. Perhaps, we can meet, plan a quest, learn a little about each other, and fulfill a quest on our way to Mull Garden.

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You can find links to all of Donald’s books on his homepage where you can also buy his books from a variety of sources and in a variety of formats.

Thanks, Donald, for a great interview!

New Book

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This time, I want to tell the story of a gender swap from a woman’s perspective.

That’s the idea I came up with to get started on my newest ebook.  I have written a lot of genderfluid books in the past couple years– more than 1000 pages worth, and I am always striving to find ways to challenge myself to write something different from what I’ve done before.

This time, I decided to do a first person account of a husband and wife who switch genders all told from the first person perspective of the wife as her husband gradually turns into a gorgeous little female and she turns into a tall, muscular male.

I think it will be a lot of fun as most of my books have always focused on the male experience of being swapped into a female body or gradually changed into a woman.   This time, I will focus just as much on how the woman feels about her own transformation as well as the conflict she feels as the big, strong man she married blossoms breasts and becomes smaller, weaker and more vulnerable, now looking to her for protection.

Once I had the idea for the perspective, other parts just started to occur to me.  I dreamed of the couple trapped on a desert island, and once that happened I knew I would have to write a classic TG story with my own twists and turns.  I began to see scenes from the story, including what will likely be the opening scene.  It’s all coming to me now as I work, drive, sleep, and so now the story has to be written because I know that until I do write it I won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

I haven’t seen the end yet, but I am excited and curious to see where these characters take me.  I am excited for them, to see what they discover about themselves and how they deal with their changing bodies and challenging new environment.  It will be fun.  It always is, and the biggest challenge for me now is to just let the characters and the story take me where they want to go, to resist the urge to make it happen in a different way than what has to happen.

Here I am.  At the start.  Let’s see where we go!

 

5 Questions with Lyka Bloom

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Hey, readers!  Today I am extremely happy to share with you my interview with one of my favorite TG writers, Lyka Bloom!

 

  1. What are your top three TG experiences in terms of books, films, videos, songs?

It’s hard to remember now where the interest came from.  I was always fascinated by mental and physical manipulation of one form or another.  There’s a Clive Barker story called The Madonna Pool that was one of the first memories I have of reading gender transformation and really responding to it.  For some reason, Saturday morning cartoons seemed to be littered with gender change storylines, and I always found those viscerally attractive to me.  I know I am being vague, but it’s hard to point to a single thing, or even three things, that were formative.  Lately, I can point to certain books others have done.  I loved Pinsedo by Tom Tame, and I thought Allmyth was really wonderful, too.

  1. Why does the theme of TG interest you as an artist?

I think like science fiction at its best, the TG world allows you to do morality plays and also examine a real issue beneath the obvious real-world TG issues.  You can do crime-and-punishment stories in a way that has a sexy edge, and who doesn’t like a little sexiness in their lives?

Also, the idea of becoming something that you were not before appeals to me.  I think there’s a long-standing taboo regarding men expressing femininity, so I like to play with those ideas.  For some of my characters, the idea is repulsive while others hurtle towards it.  Sometimes it is a punishment, but that leads to the idea of how you can punish someone who is no longer the person they were.  I think my work tends to be a softer branch of the genre, where I introduce some optimism amid the changing bodies and minds.

We live in a time now when gender fluidity is more acceptable, and playing with the variations of the masculine and feminine, whether that’s shemale or futa or what have you, is fun as a writer.  You can explore the notion of attraction – what’s sexy now?  Is it the buxom woman or the slender man, is it the muscular, tall woman or the man with long hair and a hint of makeup?   Honestly, one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with how culture is changing.  As much bigotry and sexism exists, there is a surprising acceptance and tolerance for LGBT issues, and that’s really refreshing to see.  I think more people are open to the kinds of work I do and other authors in the genre do.  It’s come out of the closet, so to speak.

  1. TG fiction is very category driven.  What types of TG fiction are you most drawn to writing?  Why?

I really like the magical and mythological TG fiction.  I’ve always been attracted to the discordance in the male mind in the feminine body and so forth, so much of my fiction has to do with the man being conditioned into womanhood.  There’s an element of reluctance to it, but I don’t generally do humiliation in the stories, which is a theme I see running through a lot of the TG fiction.  I suppose I’m enough of a romantic to want a happy ending for most of my characters.  Even if they are fundamentally changed by the end of the story, the characters tend to be left happy.

I’m intrigued by the humiliation/sissy stories, but I’ve never been able to successfully write one.  Halfway through, I end up finding a way to make the characters find the upside in things. Sometimes I wish I was crueler, because some of that work is fantastic!  Ann Michelle, in particular, I enjoy for her feminization stories, and Kylie Gable does fantastic stuff there, too.

For me, I like to be more Cinemax than XXX, though I do like to get naughtier now and then but I think real affection between the characters finds its way in, whether I want it to or not.

  1. Can you talk about your journey as an artist?  Who were your influences? What was the process like for you in terms of reaching the point where you felt ready to put your work out there for the world to see?

My mainstream influences were Stephen King and Clive Barker, because I loved horror novels for most of my childhood.  I think King, in particular, has an eye for subtle detail that really grounds the stories of the fantastic in reality, and I still love that.  I try to do a hint of that in my work, but only a reader can say if I have any success in that arena.

I’ve written in one form or another for years and years, but I think the moment when I was ready to publish my work came when I was reading some of the stories available in this genre.  Yes, I’m a fan, too.  Without being overly critical, it really was a case of reading something and thinking I could do better, or at least no worse.  And then I read some truly impressive pieces and I realized that, yes, there is an element of the erotic in these stories, but there’s also real work being done to make interesting characters and to explore the nature of gender identity and sexual identity.  I put out a couple of stories to see if anyone was interested and they did quite well.  That really gave me the confidence to start producing more, and to play with expectations a little, too.  While the vast majority of my work is in the TG realm, I step outside of it to do some other things, including some horror erotica that is definitely influenced by my early reading.

What has surprised me most about starting and having been writing in this genre for several years now is the loyalty of the readers and the creativity that they express, too.  I started a Patreon thing so that readers could contribute and, in exchange, I would develop as try based around their ideas.  So, stories like the “Muffy the Demon Slayer” tale and “Casino of Change” are ideas that came from readers (I hesitate to call them fans, it sounds immodest to me) who were kind enough to offer a contribution in exchange for entrusting me with a story they would like to see.  It’s really fired my imagination, too, and I think I’m doing more diverse things now than I’ve ever done.

  1. What has been the most positive aspect of publishing your work?

I get the occasional email from a reader that will tell me how much they enjoyed a particular story, and that’s an unbelievable thrill!  I think the nature of doing erotica is that most readers tend to feel secretive about their reading experiences;  When someone reaches out, it’s very flattering, because it implies that that person is coming out of the shadows a bit to say that a particular story pleased them.  It’s very satisfying.

I’ve also had authors tell me that they were inspired to do their own stories after reading mine.  I try to be as much of a force of positivity as I can be, and I encourage every reader to write their own fantasies at one time or another, even if they never publish it.  The TG community has been too long dismissed, and knowing that there is this community of readers who find TG fantasy fiction enjoyable makes all of us less alone.

  1. What’s coming up next?  Let’s hear about your next projects!

I try to do about a story a week.  Left to my own devices, I can be terribly lazy so I try to keep a consistent schedule to stay productive, otherwise I’d only do a story every couple of months.

The next four or five will be a continuation of the Corporate Takeover series, the conclusion to the Stable Games pony-girl stories, a new Pink Institute story and a sequel to Muffy the Demon Slayer, in no particular order.  Plus, I do a free short-short every month on the website (LykaBloom.com to be shameless for a moment).  And then, who knows?  But something spicy, I’m sure!

 

Transparent (Spoilers)

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So, I finally watched Transparent, mainlining the two existing seasons over the course of a weekend.

And I don’t know what to say.

I liked the show.  I found it very watchable, and I feel it won on all fronts from a creative perspective: great writing, acting, directing, music.  However, The Pfeffermans are horrible people.  Unbridled narcissists, they crash into the lives of much nicer, more caring people and remorselessly shred their psyches and then cast these people aside like outgrown toys, occasionally popping back in to see if they can inflict new pain upon their victims.

Transparent feels very much like a soap opera, where a lot of the drama is driven by the lurid pleasure that comes from watching these people lure one victim after another into their web of lies and then wait for the moment when the poor person realizes that they are just another victim of a very sick family.

What makes Transparent different from Falcon Crest, however, is that many of the characters, not just the father, find themselves exploring their identities, sexual and gender.  The father, Maura, has come out as transgender and expressed her desire to live as a woman.   Sarah leaves her husband to rekindle a lesbian relationship she had in college.  Gaby pursues both a trans man and later a lesbian relationship with an old friend and one of her brother’s former conquests, and Shelly, the mother of the family, explores a lesbian relationship with her former husband.  So, with the exception of the son, so far, they are all what I would call genderfluid, open to exploring their own sexualities if not always very accepting of others.

But they are all assholes! Narcissists. They are a prevalent stereotype of LGBT people as people who love only themselves and do not seem to care at all how their actions impact others.  They are always me, me, me, and they lie and abuse people with impunity. So, isn’t it a problem that this show, being lauded as a ground-breaking step forward for LGBT people, portrays LGBT as horrible, selfish parasites?

No, and for this reason; because it is just like Falcon Crest. Or Dallas.  Or countless other shows where rich, entitled turds go around being selfish and abusive toward others. Transparent is not a documentary or an after-school special. It is a soap opera, and nice people are boring, so naturally these characters need to be flawed and terrible, because that is what viewers find entertaining.  No one is going to tune in to watch a well-adjusted family work out their problems like mature adults.  No one.  No one is going to tune in to watch a happily married couple go on an uneventful vacation.

There needs to be conflict.  Disaster.  Bad thinking.

In addition, among the victims suffering for the misfortune of getting involved with any of the human misery machines known as the Pfeffermans, are straight and LGBT characters alike.   We see that in the world there are good and bad people, and some of them are straight and some of them are not, and it is a good thing that this show can portray a balance.

If I were going to fault anything it would be the classification of this show as a comedy.   It seemed very clearly a drama to me.  There are some funny moments, but they emerge out of dramatic situations and are far less frequent than more dramatic moments.  It seems to me that the only reason that anyone would find this to be a comedy is if they are an immature person who thinks anything with non-traditional gender roles is automatically funny.  There is a scene, for example, where Maura has decided to perform at a LGBT talent show, and as she comes out and begins to sing all of her children begin laughing uncontrollably and then flee the room in the middle of her performance.

When Maura first emerged onto the stage, I was thinking– yes!  Do it!  Live your life!  I didn’t find it hilariously funny that she would have the courage to get up there and do it. Not at all.  Nor did I find it hilarious that her children would burst out laughing and then run out of the room.

But then I am one of those kind-hearted folks that people like the Pfeffermans would prey upon, so maybe that is why I found it sad people would be so hateful toward their own parent.

Transparent is a soap opera, and I would say a good one.  Season Two got more and more into gender identity, and I found it more and more interesting.  I am looking forward to the third season.  To me, I would call is Falcon Crest in transition.

If you are looking for a show about good people who are interested in growing and becoming better people– for real, not just for fashion– this probably isn’t the show for you.  But if you want to see horrible people being horrible, check it out.

Free on Amazon Prime

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Questions with CBlack

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CBlack’s Page on TGComics

Hey, folks!  Five Questions returns with an interview with the TG author and comics creator cblack, which many of you will know from his prolific production at TGComics!  I am a huge fan myself, and want to thank CBlack for taking the time!  Enjoy, all!

 

1. What are your top three TG experiences in terms of books, films, videos, songs?

#1— Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. I saw this on late night TV when I was a teenager and was hooked. I’d never seen anything like it before and the images of Ralph Bates turning into Martine Bestwick and then feeling herself up still gets a rise out of me.
#2—I Will Fear No Evil, by Robert Heinlein. I read this in college, and re-read it, and re-read it, and re-read it… You get the idea.
#3 — Frankenstein Created Woman. Somebody at Hammer Studios must really like me! 😉

2. Why does the theme of TG interest you as an artist?

Good question, because I’m not so sure of the answer myself. I’m not TG myself or even gay (of course I can immediately hear readers going, “Yeah, sure you’re not! Denial!!”), but human metamorphosis has always intrigued me. Originally, it was movies and comics where a plain girl transformed into a stunning, sexual beauty. (The classic Cinderella-syndrome.) But that eventually evolved into a deep fascination with men morphing into stunning, sexual beauties. Artistically, creating the changing men and then presenting the final woman in various sexual and social situation is where I get the bulk of my fulfillment.

3. As a follow-up to the second question, I feel you as much as any artist have explored a wide range of different kinds of TG themes. Can you talk about why you feel you have looked at so many different aspects of the TG world and if any particular themes interest you more than others?

I mostly try and explore different TG themes to keep my comics fresh and different. I don’t want them all to rehash the same thing over and over but just with different characters in different settings. I don’t know if I have a favorite theme, but most readers would recognize that a lot of my comics take place in a college setting. That’s probably because I spent a LOT of time in college (I refuse to say exactly how many years) and my experiences there still influence me today.
But, as I’ve written more and more situations regarding the TG community, I always do research and try to incorporate as much factual information as possible (as factual as you can be when a truck accident causes a jock to turn into a hot coed). This research has allowed me to learn a great deal about the community and develop a deep respect for those in it and what they have to deal with.

4. Can you talk about your journey as an artist? Who were your influences? What was the process like for you in terms of reaching the point where you felt ready to put your work out there for the world to see?

I think my first foray’s into TG art were in High School when I was copying (tracing) images of sexy women from comics. (I had to trace because my hand-drawn artistic skills are abysmal!) I then started to “reverse engineer” the drawings to make them more masculine so I could reverse it and eventually see the F —> M progression I wanted.
My computer-based interest started with basic programs that morphed images into one another. (I can’t remember the name of the one I used, but I still see others using it today.) When I discovered Poser (I think it was Poser 4 at the time), I was like, “Oh My God! This is the coolest thing ever!!” I’m now using Poser Pro 2014 (and sometimes Carrara) to do my work. If you could see the comparisons of my early works to current ones, you can really tell the difference in the programs evolution, as well as mine.
My biggest influence in the TG community online was obviously Mako. I don’t remember exactly how we connected, but she had established the Siren Song website and allowed me to put my work up there along with hers. We then started collaborating on a few things. Mako also introduced me to Second Life where she had a whole island dedicated to the Siren Song world. Being able to live in SL as a woman was a very eye-opening experience, to say the least!

5. What has been the most positive aspect of publishing your work?

It’s got to be the number of people who are reading my works and their feedback. When Femur first asked me if we could start publishing my comics, I had no idea there would be so much response. I guess I just never realized how widespread the TG community (or those who just like reading about it) was.
I guess I also can’t ignore the fact that my income from the sale of the comics has also been beneficial… in paying off my student loans from all that damn college! 😉

6. What’s coming up next? Let’s hear about your next projects!

I’ve been working on my next project since right after “College Life” came out. Since I started doing this, I can’t seem to stop. As soon as I finish one project, I start fiddling around with images until I get an idea for a new project. This project is tentatively titled, “SuperEgo” and takes place in a (Surprise!!) college setting. As the title implies, it’s a little more psychological in nature than some of my other works. It’s currently at about 1200 images and I still have at least one more chapter to go. I hope to have it out by spring (my real-life and Femur’s schedule pending).

CBlack!  You are the best! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience.  Can’t wait to read your next one!

Zeus. Goddess. The Metanoia

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I felt like Zeus needed a sex-change.  That was my first thought when I started playing with the idea of a genderfluid book set among the world of the Olympian Gods.   As selfish an a-hole as any mortal man has ever been, Zeus had all the worst traits of masculinity, having done such wonderful things as rape his sister and then force her to marry him.

Sunday school must have been truly disturbing back in the days of ancient Greece, and probably caused more than a little uneasiness among siblings.

So, I figured, let me put this rapacious and repulsive embodiment of the worst of masculinity into a female body and explore what happens to him. I sat down to write what I thought was going to be a forced femme/vengeance story, but then I just couldn’t seem to write it.Nothing was coming out that felt good to me.

I started and stopped more than a few times.  Put it away and wrote some other material.  Figured it was just one of those ideas that wouldn’t work, but it wouldn’t go away.  Every time I finished a story, the idea of doing a TG story featuring Zeus would come back to me and linger.

One day I stumbled upon a New Zealand television series called The Almighty Johnsons, in which the Norse Gods were reborn in modern times as a bunch a beer swilling kiwis,  so I thought to do something similar with the Greek Gods;  Zeus and company would be reborn as fashion models working for Olympian Fashions.

But the story just turned campy, and I felt like I wasn’t really getting at what I wanted to get at.   Freud had based a lot of his ideas regarding all the stuff percolating in our subconscious minds from his readings of the Greek myths, and I wanted the book to be something of a Freudian dream.

Finally, I started to just play around with images, taking classic representations of Zeus and other figures from Greek mythology and giving them a TG twist.

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And then I had an image; Zeus, Lord of the Heavens and King of the Gods, would wake up with breasts.  How would he react?  What would he do?  How would having his body slightly feminized change or threaten or alter his personality?

Once I get started, I often will begin to dream my stories, to wake up with scenes playing out in my mind, or I will see them when I am on the train.   I also plunge into research, in this case learning a great deal about lesser known Greek Gods, such as Kybele, who was born both male and female, and whom makes an appearance in my novel.

The novel became about the relationship of the characters to themselves and others, and how those relationships would be altered as the gods changed not only in their bodies, but in their minds.  How would Zeus relate to the world as he became the goddess of marriage and wife to Hera?  What would happen to Ares as he transitioned from a God of War to a lesser goddess in service to Athena?  How would the goddesses react as their bodies and roles changed?

All in all, I have to say that writing Zeus.  Goddess. was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as an author.  I was inspired and excited about the discoveries I made as the story unfolded, and I loved expanding my knowledge of Olympian mythology.  Now that one is done, and it is on to the next one, and in order to stave off my usual post publication depression, I am already working on the next one.

This time, I hope to do something I have never done.  I want to write a genderfluid comedy.  I don’t know what else it will be just yet, but I can’t wait to find out!

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The Skin I Live In: Off The Mark (Spoilers!)

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I should love The Skin I Live In, the Pedro Almodovar film featuring forced femme and role-reversal themes right off the pages of Fictionmania.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading and enjoying stories like it, often somewhat poorly written stories just like it, which I enjoyed anyway due to the themes, and when I first heard about it I became as excited as I’ve been about anything since the first Lord of the Rings.

Here was a film by one of the great directors of my lifetime, a director who had explored gender themes throughout his career, and he was making a film out of the French noir classic Mygale. How could I not love it?

And then it came out. And I didn’t.

The movie is full of great performances, and is very well-constructed, but in the end it just didn’t quite do it for me, and I recently watched the DVD to try and figure out why.

Now, the actress chosen to play the lead character after his forced sex-change is exquisite.  Here are the before and after shots:

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In addition to have a very feminine beauty, and it has always been interesting to me to think about what would happen to a straight male’s mind if he found himself pretty, but the actress also has a very small, feminine voice, very much the “little girl voice” often assigned to characters in forced femme stories, so he finds himself not only with a very pretty face, but an extremely feminine voice.

The character, renamed Vera after the sex change, is subtly placed in the context of a storybook damsel in distress, a beautiful female who is trapped in the surgeon (mad wizard’s) tower and subjected constantly to his watchful gaze via cameras in his room.  This connection is driven home as we see the character sitting in poses which are then echoed in classic paintings of female nudes that hand in the surgeon’s palatial home.

Vera even starts to dress and act feminine, wearing flowery dresses and putting on make-up as he seduces and then becomes the lover of the man who turned him into a woman:

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Now, one of the first disappointments for me comes with how much is not in the movie in terms of seeing the character struggle with the change.   I have always found the struggle the most interesting part of these stories– how the guy deals with his new body and face, what pressures and incidents could lead him to accept a new life and even go so far as to offer his woman’s body to the man who gave him a vagina against his will.  But, in this film, we don’t see much of that struggle.

For much of his physical transformation, Vera just seems in a daze, staring out into space with a stunned, glassy face.  We see him after getting breast implants, looking stupefied but not reacting or emoting.  The doctor comes to him at one point and informs him that he will need to start inserting dildos into his new slit, and shows him a collection of dildos that get bigger and thicker, informing him he will need to progress until his new slit can take the biggest, deepest one.   The scene is disturbing to watch, and would no doubt be a horrifying revelation for a straight man, but again Vera just sits staring blankly.

The idea that Vera is in shock, suffering PTSD seems very plausible given what he is going through and has been through along the way, including being kidnapped, starved, kept chained up like an animal and then emasculated, and I do not question the likely reality of such a reaction, but it doesn’t work for me in terms of a dramatic choice.

Similarly, when the doctor sends down a bunch of women’s cosmetics and a book on how to put on make-up, Vera sends them back. He seems perturbed, and we see his efforts to resist being feminized in mind as well as body here, and in a scene when he shreds a bunch of flowery dresses that have been left for him to wear, but otherwise we don’t see much more in terms of the doctor’s efforts or Vera’s resistance.  For much of the movie we see him sitting around reading (women’s fiction), watching television or else passively posing when he knows the doctor is watching him.

Vera breaks out of his feminine passivity, finally, when he decides to use his curvy new body to try and gain his freedom.  It is delicious and fascinating to see when Vera first tries to seduce the surgeon.  Vera becomes the aggressor, pushing his body against the doctor, following him when he tries to retreat, and much like a man insisting “I know that you want me.”  The doctor, we have seen, has been identifying with his creation, even mirroring Vera’s feminine poses:

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But, and here is another artistic choice that disappoints:  Almodovar is afflicted with the contemporary belief that being artsy and literature means being vague, suggestive and creating works which are indeterminate.  The doctor’s mirroring is never really explored, much like Vera’s own move to seek to seduce him.  We are also kept in the dark about Vera’s motives.  Is he suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?  Has he fallen in love with his captor?   Or, is he now forced to use his feminine whiles and pretty face to get what he wants?

And what does he want?  Does he want his freedom?  Or, has he resigned himself to a woman’s life, and does he truly wish to live with the doctor as the other man’s wife? Does he want revenge?

And why put him in that ugly flesh-toned body sock, which may be the single least appealing item of clothing I have ever seen in any movie, including Joe Dirt?

I am all for sophisticated storytelling, but I would prefer to be even more confused, for the psychological complexity to be more deeply and fully explored.  It is very possible that both Vera and the doctor are conflicted, that they don’t know what they want, which is fine, but it is all glossed over, hinted at, and what’s left is a study in characters who are often cold, cruel and detached, who we are the viewers never get to really know and I, at least, didn’t ultimately care about all that much, which reduced the impact of even the moving final scene where Vera, now a woman, goes back and sees his mother for the first time.

Lastly, the story, like too much modern art film, hides safely in a world of grey.   Unlike much forced femme literature, the character of Vincent/Vera may or may not have had it coming.  He had sex with the doctor’s daughter, but it seemed consensual, and she only panicked at the last minute and tried to stop him after he was already in the act.   Often, forced femme stories deal with people who we as readers feel deserve what they get, and in Mygale the character is much less blurry in terms of his immorality.

In The Skin I Live In, the character may be innocent. Did he rape her?   He is portrayed as a basically decent kid before the incident, and by making him possibly innocent, the story lacks the kind of he deserves it quality that for me makes forced femme stories palatable.

To watch someone who probably didn’t have it coming being tortured and cut apart made me feel a little sick.   Now, Almodovar may have been going for that, I can’t say.

But what I can say is that I didn’t love the experience.

Rent or Buy It On Amazon

 

 

 

5 Questions with Robyn Rhedd

 

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Hey, everyone.  I am super-excited to bring my latest 5 Questions interview to you all this week.   I first came across Robyn Rhedd’s work when The Parts Store was suggested to me by Amazon’s BuyBot.  I enjoyed the story, and feel that Rise of the Nymph, the latest book by this author, shows amazing growth and evolution.  I am excited to see how Rhedd’s work continues to evolve, and super thankful Robyn took the time to answer some questions for me!

  1. What are your top three TG experiences in terms of books, films, videos, songs?

 

Top 3… Okay… here we go… 1) Videos: Among my favorite videos is Ranma 1/2. I own most of the first season and watch those episodes frequently. I love how the tg elements of the story and interwoven into it. It’s not always the focus, but its always an element. Plus they always make me laugh.

2) Books: Jack Chalker… He’s my hero as far as how he was able to interweave tg elements into all of his stories. Among my favorites of his is Identity Matrix which focuses exclusively on a tg transformation. I also like his Changewinds saga for the same reason. Chalker was always able to interweave his tg into his stories making the transformation an essential part of the narrative.

3) Stories: I’m going to cheat here, but I have always been sustained by the tg fiction and comic community online! You didn’t ask about that…but there you go. When I can’t find a good Chalker book to read or find a Ranma video to watch, I can always find a good story or browse a tg comic online.

 

  1. Unlike a lot of TG fiction, which explores forced fem themes, I feel like your work deals with people who are TG but are in denial or don’t realize it until something forces their change, as in Rise of the Nymph.  Why do you feel this theme interests you?

 

I would hope that when people read my books that they can see themselves in the characters. People reading may be struggling with their own gender identity. They may wonder if they identify as a man or a woman and what does that mean? Should I be ashamed of who I am or not? When they see a character undergo a change in gender, discover the feminine part of themselves, and accept that part of themselves, it may help them accept themselves too. At least, that’s what I hope it does. 

 

3.  In Rise of the Nymph, the conflict comes not so much from the male character experiencing a sex-change as his being put into a traditional feminine role– a pretty object to be seen and not heard.   Can you talk about why the gender roles people are forced to inhabit interests you and what you would like to accomplish by exploring it in your writing? .

 

 In a perfect world I think we would be able to dress as we like, work as we like, and do as we like, free of the expectations society places upon our gender. Sadly we do not live in a perfect world. We are tied to what society places upon us and upon our gender identity. This applies not only to the transgender, struggling to determine what gender they identify as, but it also applies to people struggling with their own gender. What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? That’s what Alee, the main character in Rise of the Nymph faces. By becoming a woman, she escapes the gender roles imposed on men only to have them unconsciously imposed on her when she’s a woman. Liberation comes when she acknowledges those gender roles, escapes them, and lives her own life on her own terms. 

 

  1. Can you talk about your journey as a writer?  What was the process like for you in terms of reaching the point where you felt ready to put your work out there for the world to see?

 

I have dabbled in writing tg fiction privately but have never really found a story that I wanted to publish…until I found The Parts Store. Or rather it found me. That story spoke to my heart and really touched upon what has become a theme for me: gender identity and how we see ourselves. Shame and acceptance featured prominently in that book too. The story had a good reaction on tgstorytime so I considered what it might look like published. Confident in my story, I submitted The Parts Store to TG World Books who loved it. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

  1. What has been the most positive aspect of publishing your work?

 

Probably getting to do interviews like this. This is really something else! But, seriously, I have enjoyed connecting with the larger tg fiction community. They are amazing. When my work was on tgstorytime, I read the comments religiously. It was amazing how people anticipated and tried to predict the next chapter.

 

  1. What’s coming up next?  Let’s hear about your next projects!

 

The biggest project I’m currently working on is my TG Olympic War Saga. The war has just begun and there are many more mythological characters that enter the war and receive a TG Olympic War treatment. I’m already finished the second tale, Attack of the Harpies, and am working on stories with sirens, mermaids, furies, fates, and many more mythological minor characters. The great part of Greek Mythology: Most of the minor characters are female which makes giving them a tg treatment that much easier!  Besides that I have a few other stories up my sleeve. A mystery tale or two and one that might make it out before the rest centered around marriage therapy. We’ll see…

Thanks so much, Robin.   Readers, check out Robin’s author page on Amazon.com

Metanoia

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Writing for me is learning, and I have been digging deep into Greek mythology lately as I dive into work on my next novel.  I feel like I have been in a rut, and I have decided to challenge myself now to create a bigger, deeper and more complex TG story than any I have ever made.  I know this much– the story will feature Zeus, King of the Gods and the embodiment of male virility, being stripped of his manhood and turned into a goddess, now the goddess of marriage and females while Hera becomes King of the Gods in his place.

I have always done research for my stories, whether it was researching the cities and locations, looking up recipes and police procedures, the impact of different drugs or even the history of the bra.  But this time I have delved deep into Greek mythology and done more research than ever, reading primary source myths, looking back over texts I had read before, like Metamorphosis, and reading up on the views on mythology by thinkers such as Otto Rank, Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud.

I am looking at these stories and characters as archetypes who ruled over aspects of the masculine and feminine, and I am going to explore slowly, carefully, and very deliberately what will happen when the God Zeus, most powerful of all male figures, finds himself gradually turning into a goddess, and now the goddess of marriage and females.

Hera, meanwhile, will become more and more the essence of the virile man, and I will explore the changes in her as well as she gains and loses in her own transformation.

The Greek myths have also been of interest to me.  Early on, when i was very young, I was attracted mostly by the shape changing.   As someone who was never comfortable in my own skin I always loved the idea of being able to transform into an animal of some sort, of being freed of the burden of myself.

But the universe portrayed by the Greeks also offers a lot to me as a writer now.  The Greek Gods are epic fuck ups and prone to surrender to their passions far more than to any kind of logic.  Justice is capricious and even non-existent.  People who really did nothing wrong get turned into flowers or statues, deer or warthogs.  Gods who do everything wrong suffer no consequences.

And the relationships are fraught with dysfunction.  Zeus raped Hera, his sister, and she married him out of shame.  She once drugged him and helped the other Gods tie him down as part of a plot to overthrow his rule and he changed in her the sky and made her suffer.   How fun it will be to explore their relationship as Zeus finds firm young breasts blossoming on his chest, as he grows smaller and weaker, while Hera gets bigger and stronger.  How will Zeus react as he finds himself losing his power as God of the sky and Lord of Lightning, and instead finds himself the goddess of marriage, and the object of his husband’s lust?

My process for these stories involves many things including the creation of images and art that I am inspired to make as I write and which in turn inspires the writing.   The image at the top of this article came about because as I was researching the story I kept seeing this image of a statue of Zeus in transition, now with his own breasts, and I just had to make it.   I will be making more.

I also look to other sources, music, videos, films, and right now I have entered kind of a fevered state where I am just writing, writing, writing, making art, looking at movies.  It’s kind of a creative obsession, which is when I am at my happiest.

The idea of writing something with the Greek Gods first occurred to me sometime ago, when I thought I might a story in which the Greek Gods are reincarnated in modern times as gender reversed versions of themselves.  Gods reborn in modern times has been done before in comic books and TV shows like The All-Mighty Johnsons, but even though I made some artwork I didn’t feel as excited by it as a do now.   Here’s one image I made back then:

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But the idea didn’t ignite, and it just kind of floated around in my mind until I decided instead to set the story back in ancient times and to create what, to me, would be a new series of Greek legends, ones which featured those traditional Greek Gods facing a genderfluid moment together.  I would even go so far as to say my ambition is to create a religious text for genderfluid people using these iconic figures of masculinity and femininity from the ancient world.

I want to do something epic, something I have never done.  I am excited by the challenge and the possibility that I will fail, but I know also that I won’t be bored.

I hope to have some readers who can say the same thing.