Sawyer was the main character in Worlds Away, which came out at Christmas last year, and he was a departure for me. Readers of my series already knew his secret, because they'd met him in a prior book: he was a big, burly guy who felt at home in women's clothing. A few of my readers were uncomfortable with this, and some of them told me they had to take some time to examine why that was.
To that I say: mission accomplished. Not that I wanted to make my readers uncomfortable per se, but I did want to challenge preconceived notions about gender, masculinity, and femininity. Sawyer was intended to bring up questions about gender roles and societal expectations.
Almost always, when we see androgynous characters in books, or in movies and television, they're slim and small. They often have long hair and other traditionally "feminine" characteristics. But societal acceptance can't be limited to one body type. Because Sawyer is tall and muscular, he doesn't fit the stereotype of what an androgynous person should look like. But this is still his truth. This is who he is, regardless of whether or not that fits our expectations.
If a big guy in a dress makes us uncomfortable, but we fawn over a slim, young, "pretty boy" in makeup, then really, how open-minded are we? I'm not pointing a finger here. I'm the first to admit I carry some bias too, and I wrote Sawyer to challenge my own perceptions, as well as society's.
Throughout Worlds Away, Sawyer gradually learns to accept who he is and begins to show his true self to the world. In the following scene, his love interest Alastair is finding out about Sawyer's other side for the first time:
“Thanks for being so open with me.”
“Well, I think you should know who you’re taking to bed.” I hesitated before adding, “You don’t have the whole picture yet, though. There’s something I need to show you. It might be a deal breaker, but I don’t want to hide it from you, like I do with almost everyone else.”
He watched me curiously as I pulled off my shoes and socks, then got up and turned to him. I took a deep breath as I began to unbutton my shirt. “If you’re not into this, that’s fine,” I said. “I know it’s…different.”
Alastair stared at me with rapt attention as I began to undress. I tossed my shirt on a nearby chair before unfastening my jeans, stepping out of them, and kicking them aside. My heart was pounding, and I swallowed hard and mumbled, “So, this is me,” as I stood before him. I was wearing one of my favorite outfits, a corset, stockings with garters, and a thong, all black.
His eyes went wide as they ran down my body. I was sure I’d freaked him out. He didn’t know what to make of me, he didn’t even know what to say. I was mortified, and so sad that I’d fucked up what could have been a great night. I should have hidden it and changed in the bathroom. I never should have—
“You’re the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Alastair’s voice was low and thick with desire, and he pulled me to him and kissed me with raw hunger.
Sawyer and Alastair will be back in a supporting role in Quinn's book, tentatively entitled Take a Chance on Me, which should be out in later September.
As always, thanks for reading!