Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guest Author Post: Gabriel Belthir and Lily of the Wastelands

Hello, my name is Gabriel Belthir. Thank you so much for hosting me today here on Babbling About Books & More. I'm quite excited to present my first solo story, a post-apocalyptic journey that frames a love story between Evelyn Johns, the medic for a caravan, and Lissa, a younger girl who hitched a ride.

More recently than not, I've found all kinds of calls for heroines with curves. This is a strange and beautiful development for me. I love the idea of having a hero that looks something like me. By the same token, Evie Johns from my newly published story, Lily of the Wastelands, wasn't created with the idea of simply appealing to someone who wanted to see curves on their protagonist. When creating her, I found that I started estimating myself in a post-apocalyptic environment. I'm a very strong person with a lot of muscle to my curve, and I saw her as being the same. During one of the fight scenes in Lily of the Wastelands, Evie ends up sitting on her opponent. I took great enjoyment in figuring out how I would have handled the combat, and it made me smile - if we've got the weight, we're going to go ahead and throw it around.

Evie is designed to be a point-of-view character, and she can look like anyone the reader imagines, for the most part. I personally see her as about 210 pounds or so with wide hips and strong arms, having had to lose a lot of the excess water weight in the post-apocalyptic world after the Cataclysm. The world is light on food and water, but Evie wasn't the type of larger girl who was all softness beforehand, either. She could bench at least 275, helped people push their cars off the interstate with little problems, and was generally flexible. Lissa is a little wisp of a thing by comparison. Many of the unwritten scenes of sexy times between the two involved Evie keeping Lissa off the floor, holding her up and around her waist or against a wall.

The idea of strength was a strange one, however. In my opinion, big heroines tend to be sought after because they're thought of as strong, intimidating, or have the general attribute of being protective. My opinions of a larger heroine is that she's the one standing in front, pointing whatever weapon at her enemy with a half-baked grin on her face to protect someone else. Do we simply expect a larger girl to be a Big Damn Heroine? I believe that this is a growing stereotype, albeit a positive one, in the same manner as a young, beautiful, slight boy is expected to be effeminate as well as the receptive partner in an M/M romance as a stereotype. At the same time, many of the BDH's I've seen to date haven't been willing to take that extra step into violence. They have the protective streak and the attitude of a girl who can use the hips she's got, but I rarely see the willingness to violence. It became clear for Evie as the story progressed that she had to be willing to do quite a bit to survive in the story's harsh environment.

I loved watching her teeter between a strong fighter and an insecure lover. Speaking as a larger person, I'm willing to roar to the world how strong I can be, and how I may not be trampled by society's view of size. However, when it comes to the quiet times when I'm with my lover, there's an underlying hesitation that rears its ugly head from time to time. I want to serve them, and please them, and protect them... because that's the very best part of me. Not the only part, and not the only good part, but it's the best part. Evie mirrors this well, and I believe that there are many others who share the sentiment. It's not about being ashamed of a size, or feeling self-hatred. I nor Evie feel any less who we are for what we look like. It's about realizing that the whole world doesn't see what we do, and stepping on such delicate ground with someone beautiful who waltzes into our lives. The moment our worlds get shattered by being noticed by the person we adore, the moment our eyes are opened by a new romance, or the moment we have to catch our breath and thank what we believe in that we are so wonderfully lucky, are the moments that a Big Damn Heroine should treasure. It's my hope that Evie portrays my wonder in these moments, and that I'll get to show more of them someday.

Gabriel Belthir is a freelance author who lives with a husband, a cat, and a dog in Ohio. After forays into poetry and game design, zie has decided to begin exploring the worlds of fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history. Between an active academic life and running hir own photography business, Gabriel enjoys all kinds of creative pursuits, including graphic design and painting. Hir short story, Lily of the Wastelands is now available from Storm Moon Press.