~ I am very excited to have Alexis Hall on the blog today. I have been hearing wonderful things about this one, so I am really excited to read it. Please do say hello and comment to win.~
Hello, and welcome to my first ever blog tour, celebrating Riptide Publishing’s release of my first ever novel, GLITTERLAND. Yay! Thank you so much to Pants Off Reviews for hosting me. And, to you, dear reader, for stopping by. If you’d like to come with me and keep me company on my virtual wanderings, you can find a full listing of when and where I am here.
There’s also some kind of contest type thing happening. The truth is – and already I reveal the rather limited scope of my imagination – quite a lot of the incidental things in GLITTERLAND have a little bit too much reality to them. In the sense that they’re, cough, in my house. Occasionally about my person. One of the things that absolutely isn’t about my person, and has always been solely decorative, is the peacock feather Venetian mask Ash has in his bedroom. I, too, rather admire the beauty of artificial things. If you’d like to win this slightly random souvenir, answer the three questions below (answers in the book) and drop me an email. I’ll announce the winner a handful of days after the end of the tour on the 3rd of September.
1. What other peacock feathered themed item does Ash own?
2. What does Darian has tattooed on his hip?
3. What is the name of Chloe’s boutique?
Love Reveals Us
I opened my mouth to say something—anything—and burst into tears. It was messy and mortifying, and I’d had no idea I was still capable of it. Pressing both hands to my mouth in a futile effort to stifle my sobs, I spun away from him. But the more I tried to compose myself, the less I succeeded, and the worse it all became. “Oh God. Oh God. I’m so sorry.” It came out a damp and hopeless garble.
My life had been little more than a parade of indignities. Mania. Institutionalisation. Drugs. ECT. Depressions so deep they have flayed my humanity to shreds and patches. The times I’d wanted to die. The times I’d tried. The doctor who sewed up my arms without anaesthetic to impress upon me the stupidity of what I had tried to do.
Yet they all paled to this: weeping my wretched heart out in front of a man who no longer wanted me.
--Somewhere near the end of GLITTERLAND
Originally, the ending of GLITTERLAND was a lot more downbeat, and a lot more uncertain. I did know – and I think I remained true to this through the many, many revisions that followed – that I didn’t want Ash to “win” Darian. Love isn’t a goldfish you get for knocking over three coconuts. So I wanted it, ultimately, to be Darian’s choice. In early drafts, this involved a lot of Ash explaining why his mental illness made him act like a dickhead, and a few slightly vague commitments to try and be less of a dickhead in the future. And I could tell it wasn’t quite right, there was something I wasn’t
quite getting but, for the life of me, I couldn’t work out what it was. Sarah kept trying to gently get emotion out of me, but it just wasn’t happening. I’m English. I don’t really do emotion.
We’d actually gone through developmental edits (the bit when you’re allowed, even encouraged, to change the plot) and into line edits (the bit when you’re really really not) by the time I finally got what Sarah had been trying to communicate to me all along. There was too much Ash, and not enough Darian, in that final scene. Essentially, it was playing out exactly as Ash – as the worst of Ash, the self-deluding, selfish, frightened part of him – would want. He gave very little, and got everything he wanted.
And that was also when I realized how much I … yes me … me at the keyboard … was holding the scene back. I was as scared as Ash. Probably more because I’m, y’know, a real, alive human. But I knew, then, two things had to happen in the scene. I knew that Darian would want, and need, a declaration – an absolutely straight forward, romance novel approved “I love you”. This was something I’d actually avoided in the original ending because I’m as cagey around those three words as Ash is. But it meant Ash was never really taken out of his comfort zone, just as I was never really taken out of mine.
And, secondly, I knew Ash had to abandon, or have taken from him, his dignity and control. Because love is beyond those things, beyond pride and shame. If you love someone, you have to trust them, and you have to let them see you. Let them know you. In all the naked ugliness of being human, and afraid, and full of hope and shame and wanting.
The vulnerability of that is hard to confront, even in writing. Ironically, I’m sort of doing it again, and edging unsuccessfully around something that was quite emotional for me. I suspect like a lot of people, I was brought up in a certain way, to believe certain things, and to associate certain expressions and behaviour with weakness. I grow further away from such ideas with every year at passes, but childhood weeds have deep, deep roots. So although it was a difficult scene for me to write, it was also liberating in many ways. I mean Ash is fictional, obviously, but it was nice to be able to remind myself that vulnerability isn’t weakness, it’s okay to cry for God’s sake, and if you love someone you should, y’know, tell them.
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
You can also find him all over the internet, on his website, twitter, and goodreads.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission,
Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy the book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.