Sunday, April 28, 2013

Guest Post: Moon Shadows by Neena Jaydon

When I was coming up with the characters for Moon Shadows, I wanted Theo to be a geek. Geeks are under-represented. Let's face it, there are more geeks around than ever before. The things we like aren't just in comic book stores and on bookshelves, they're on TV and in movie theatres. Yet we don't often see ourselves on the page or on the screen -- or if we do, we are either totally stereotyped or just plain unrecognizable. Not only did I want to offer a slightly less traditional romantic hero, I wanted him to reflect my experiences being a geek. That meant making sure of a couple of things.

The first one is pride. While he is incredibly shy, Theo is not ashamed of who he is. Sometimes this puts him in conflict with Max, who is far more mainstream. Also, Theo's passions are not a substitute for something better. He doesn't like what he likes purely to escape from his problems. He considers being a geek an essential part of his identity. The connections he makes with imaginary characters are important to him and the skills he's learned as a geek keep him happily employed. To put it simply, he's a proud geek.

Secondly, my geeky werewolf is not a loner. Theo came into being in my imagination with friends in tow. His circle of close friends may be socially awkward, but they have jobs and relationships. They spend a lot of time together, and they support each other. As many dust-ups as can happen in any given fandom, this is my experience with having geek friends. They are open-minded, helpful, and love to share their passions. That sharing has enriched my life, and so I knew Theo had to have good people like that in his.

Theo takes strength from other geeks. Even when they are complete strangers, geeks add energy to a room. When I lived in Japan, I went to many events, from tiny fanclub gatherings to large conventions. It was addictive being in spaces full of people just as enthusiastic about something as I was. As a group, we geeks transform those spaces just as we create new things out of what we love. Whatever else happens in our lives, no one can take away that creativity, that love for the imaginary, or those wonderful connections with other geeks.

And on top of all that, as this Geek Week has shown us, the geek can also get the guy!

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Excerpt from Moon Shadows

Slouched in a computer chair, Theo had his hair tied into a ridiculous little topknot. There were dots of paint and holes in his worn-out T-shirt. He was squinting through his glasses at the very small statue of a chariot in his hand. Then he visibly stiffened, tiny paintbrush hovering in midair.

"Hi," Max said. Amusement and embarrassment warred within him, but he tried to keep his tone normal. "Sorry. You forgot this." He held up the sweater. "Your friends said to come in."

"Oh." Theo set down the miniature chariot. "Thanks. Just, uh --" He pointed with the end of his paintbrush to an empty chair.

Max sat down and saw by the startled flutter of Theo's lashes that the chair had been intended for the sweater, not him. That made him perversely want to stay.

"So, what are you doing?" he asked.

"Worldhammer. It's an RPG. You can use miniatures for it." Theo laid aside the paintbrush and rubbed his hands against his jeans. "D-did you want some coffee?"

"Sure." Max watched Theo get up and move to his coffee maker. Theo's baggy jeans didn't quite hide the length of his legs and the curves of his butt. When Theo turned back to set a mug of coffee in front of him, Max saw the strong column of his neck, how it tapered out to his shoulders, and pressed his lips together. What a waste.
Theo began to tidy up, hands deftly putting little glass bottles of paint into a plastic storage box. They were big hands, yet not clunky, with long, agile fingers.

"You think it's weird." It hadn't been a question, and he almost hadn't heard it.

"What? No." Max handed Theo a stray paintbrush, a laugh escaping him. "Yeah, a little. I'm sorry."
Theo shrugged stiffly. "Not everybody has to be into the same, uh, things."

"That's true. You're right. I shouldn't judge." Max felt something inside him relax. He leaned on the table, looking into his coffee mug. "Most of my friends think I'm just playing around, being a dog trainer. To them it doesn't sound like a real job."

"Yeah," Theo said, dipping paintbrushes into clear liquid. "I get that all the time." Finally turning his head, he looked at Max sidelong. That conspiratorial look made Max's heart beat faster. Then Theo turned away, going to the sink.

Damn. Did we just have a moment?
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twitter: @NeenaJaydon

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