Blog tour, stage 6: review and guest post at Short Book and Scribes

ASITW blog tour individual 9 May

Today the blog tour takes us to Short Book and Scribes, where you can find both a review of A Spoke in the Wheel and a guest post by me, talking about the difficulty of fitting particular books (particularly mine) into particular genres.

Nicola says,

… there isn’t that much actual cycling going on in this book, but it’s an excellent read about redemption and friendship.

I say,

I’ve never been able to pick a genre and stick with it. Sometimes I think the whole concept of genre is more trouble than it’s worth.

And you can read all of it here.

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Blog tour, stage 2-4

ASITW blog tour individual 7 May

It’s a rest day on the Giro d’Italia. Not here! Today there are three stages on the blog tour. This might be a tad implausible for a cycle stage race – very occasionally, one finds a time trial and a standard stage on the same day, but I’ve never heard of any organisers brave enough to cram in three – or even for a physical book tour, but thanks to the wonders of the internet I can get around three very enjoyable blogs with no trouble at all.

Today you’ll be able to find me…

Stage 2

… over at Jera’s Jamboree talking with Shaz about the writing process for A Spoke in the Wheel, the research that I did, and how very grateful I am to my fabulous friends. You can read my Author Q and A here.

Stage 3

… at Trisarahtops blog, where Sarah has reviewed A Spoke in the Wheel.

Stage 4

… talking to Debbie at My Random Musings about my favourite books and when, where, and why I write. Here’s the Author Interview.

 

If you’re in the UK, I’d like to wish you a very pleasant bank holiday Monday, and to hope that the weather is as good where you are as it is here. I was going to go out on the Reach Ride, but my bike has a puncture and I’m neither organised enough to have a spare in the house, nor hardcore enough to ride 29 miles on a Brompton – which would have been the only alternative. Anyway, wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a lovely day!

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Grand Départ (we’re off!)

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I’m back! I have been through eleven different countries, ridden on trains, trams, buses, and a ferry. I have been further north and further east than ever before in my life, and also higher up. I have had a fantastic time and I will write it up over the next couple of months.

While I’ve been away, the wheels have been turning (see what I did there?), and I’m now very happy to announce that A Spoke in the Wheel is now live.

Available from some reputable booksellers, and some less reputable ones too. I’ll leave you to decide which are which, while I contemplate my laundry and catch up on the Giro d’Italia.

And I’ve got a tour of my own – over the next couple of weeks A Spoke in the Wheel and I will be visiting several friendly book bloggers for reviews, guest posts, and extracts. Here’s what’s coming up…

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A Grand Tour

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If we’re talking cycling (and we probably are, aren’t we?) a Grand Tour is one of the three big ones: the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a España, or, of course, the Tour de France. Ben, the – hero? anti-hero? narrator, anyway – of A Spoke in the Wheel, never got quite good enough to ride one of those.

If, however, we’re talking travel, a Grand Tour is a circuit of Europe undertaken by the privileged youth of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries before they had to settle down and be grown up, sometimes taking several years.

I couldn’t swing more than three weeks off work, but I am spending my Betty Trask prize money going InterRailing. When you read this, I’ll be somewhere between Brussels and Hamburg, assuming no undue disruption from the SNCF strike, of course. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home. (I am aware that I said this about the Camino Inglés. I’m still going to tell you all about that.)

And three weeks from now I’ll have a book to share with you, too. We’ll have a blog tour. A grand one.

Listening to the stories: Our Witness

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Some people have very specific ideas about what a Christian story ought to look like. You can tell by looking at the reviews of Catherine Fox’s books on Amazon. Too much swearing: one star. A story about Christians can never, ever, include the F-word. Other stories are to be ignored, overwritten, or, if the worst comes to the worst and one finds oneself reading one, given a one-star review.

Because Christians don’t swear. Except they do. We do. I do. And if you say you don’t – well, I’ll happily believe you, but it doesn’t stop the rest of us existing. Or swearing.

I really enjoyed the Lent course I attended this year. We started with something constructed by the Diocese of Ely, improvised icebreakers concerning the idiosyncrasies of our socks, ate snacks introduced with increasingly tenuous connections to the themes we were talking about (the Club biscuits – ‘set apart’ in their own wrappers, but yet together in the packet, and therefore an illustration of ‘holiness’, were my personal favourite) and tried to discern our own callings. For many of us, I think, that turned out to be something about being who we were, about not trying to force ourselves into what we thought a Christian ought to look like, about showing up, just as we were, and trusting that this was who we were meant to be.

For me, that was about being out as bisexual. It often is. From curling up in a ball the first week, muttering darkly that actually the Church isn’t necessarily a safe space to be yourself, to outing myself by telling a story of when I outed myself, to making and wearing symbolic jewellery (see picture at the top of this post) being myself as a Christian does tend to involve to ensuring that people know that I’m queer, and that I believe that that’s how God created me.

I’m always aware of a push-pull: the pull of the conviction that what other people think about me is none of my business; the push of knowing that, if I don’t say in so many words that I’m bisexual, people will assume that I’m straight. And – particularly in Christian circles – because I’m bisexual married to a man, if I don’t say that I understand a hypothetical relationship with someone who wasn’t a man to be as valid as the actual one that I have with someone who is, there’s the risk that people will assume that I chose to be with a man because he was a man. As opposed to falling for this person that I happened to live with.

In LGBT Christian jargon this is known as the ‘Side A/Side B’ question. (I have to look up which side is which every time.) Side A is LGB Christians who see no contradiction with same-sex sexual activity. Side B is LGB Christians who accept their identity but who would understand acting on same-sex sexual desires as sinful.

My problem is that I am very much Side A, but I know that in a heteronormative society I look very much Side B. And the only way to correct that assumption is to fill in the gaps, to tell the story. I am always telling stories, both fictional stories and true stories, and it’s almost always because the story that I’m hearing, or that I’m reading, isn’t the whole story. And when stories that don’t fit the dominant narrative – whether that’s Christians don’t say ‘fuck’ or A woman who’s married to a man must be straight or Christians don’t have sex with people of the same gender – are erased, it’s all the more important to keep telling them.

And so we come to Our Witness: the unheard story of LGBT Christians. The British edition came out last year; the US edition was released yesterday. Our Witness tells the stories – mine, The Amazing Invisible Bisexual Christian, and many, many more. The stories are all different, but they resonate with each other. If you’ve already bought the British edition and you only wanted to read my story, you don’t need to read it in the American edition. It’s the same, bar an ‘own goal’ metaphor which didn’t survive the voyage across the Atlantic. If, however, you’re looking for different stories, for a wider sample of all the different voices that make up this communion we call the Church, then read both. Every voice, every story, adds something to the symphony, and the more I listen, the richer the sound becomes.