Carlin Grant and Katey Hawthoarne
Dec 29, 2015
Stronger, Better, Faster, More
When he gets super-endurance powers out of nowhere, being a culinary student and kids’ soccer coach isn’t enough for Beau Warren--he has to be a superhero too. A sweet, hardworking trans man from a close knit family, it’s important to Beau to use his new abilities to stand up for people who can’t protect themselves. When he runs into a speedster at a fire rescue, he doesn’t expect it to be his high school crush, Vel Chandrasekhar. Turns out Vel got superspeed when Beau go his endurance, so they decide to make their single supe act into a duo.
With their immediate attraction and superpowered libidos, it’s not long before Beau and Vel are roommates-with-benefits. That’s the idea, anyhow, if only Beau can keep from falling back into his old crush hard, since Vel’s self-esteem issues have left him skittish about relationships. Just when things are at boiling point between them, though, their search for their own superhero origin story leads them and their families into mortal danger. The only way to survive the truth is to depend on each other--and admit they’re a lot more than friends.
Thanks so much for having us here at Diverse Reader! Today, I--Katey--am going to take a step back and give my friend and co-author Carlin the stage to discuss something important to both of us. So without further ado, here's Carlin:
While both Katey and I came up with the story together and had input on all aspects of the book, we split the load when it came to fleshing out characters and backstories. Katey was responsible for Vel and his family, while I took on Beau and the rest of the Warrens. One creative choice that meant a lot to me and is an important aspect of Beau, as well as the book as a whole, was the decision to make him a trans man.
Transgender people are a little more well known to the mainstream thanks to shows like Orange is the New Black, as well as high profile trans people in recent media, such as Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, and Laura Jane Grace. However, I’ve found there’s still a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the subject. With that in mind, I thought I might share some of the reasoning behind some of the choices I made for Beau.
One thing that was always part of the plan was that, while Beau has had chest masculinization prior to the surgery, he does not and never plans to have ‘bottom’ surgery. The reason for this was that there is such a huge focus on what surgeries trans people have had, and the common assumption is all trans people plan to get them. In reality, surgery can be prohibitive for many reasons including cost or being medically unfit, some people worry about it affecting sexual function, and many people simply just don’t want it. Phalloplasty is especially rough, requiring additional surgeries every ten years. I don’t know many people who would want to sign up for that, and yet there’s this idea surrounding the whole thing that surgery equals legitimacy as a trans person, a trial by fire to prove you’re really trans. I wanted Beau offer a counterpoint to that, and show a trans man who, while he still experiences dysphoria, is more or less at peace with his body.
Tied into that same idea of the common narratives regarding transgender experience vs the lived experiences of trans people was the choice to have Beau have (and very much enjoy!) sex involving his genitals. There’s this idea that dysphoria and being transgender involves hating your body, to the point where, while researching, I came across several young trans men doubting themselves because they’d been told if they wanted that kind of sex, they weren’t really trans. That really upset me, because this wasn’t just an idea causing other people doubting trans people, it was causing trans people to doubt themselves. So, while there is a wide range of experiences and preferences (just like with any group of people!), it was important me that Beau was in the group that didn’t mind.
One last choice that I wanted to touch on is the fact that Beau’s original given name is never mentioned. Because Vel and Beau went to high school together, we used the habit of athletes to call each other by their last name to mitigate any awkwardness in the text, but even if we hadn’t been able to, it was important to both of us that his birth name not be mentioned. There tends to be this fascination with trans people pre-transition -- wanting to know what someone’s birth name was, what they looked like, and so on. In addition to being invasive and often offensive, it once again treats trans people as a before and after, rather than a full, complete person. While Beau mentions things about himself in high school, and the fact that he’s glad he no longer looks like he did in high school, there’s no mention of another name, and very little description of how teenage Beau differs from adult Beau. No matter his name or what he looked like, he’s always been Beau, and that’s all that was necessary for this story to be told.
Author bio and social media links:
Carlin Grant is a queer writer who likes to put the focus on LGBTQIA+ characters and has a sweet tooth for romance. Growing up in backwoods North Carolina left them with a love for the characters, culture, and folklore that is common in the rural South, and these themes often show up in their stories. When they're not writing, Carlin enjoys reading, video games, superheroes, mixtapes, and visiting the beach. They currently reside in coastal NC, where they spend most of their time chasing after their toddler.
Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills.