There is a type of person so diabolical, so evil that the very mention of them causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand on end, and my toes to curl.
No, I’m not talking about sociopaths.
Or even cannibals.
I’m talking, of course, about extroverts.
(I kid, I kid.)
Imagine, if you will, the scariest situation in the world for someone like me who is absolutely not an extrovert: going to get a haircut. The very idea of small talk causes me to borderline panic, but then to have to engage in small talk with a stranger who has scissors in their hands while I’m pretty much blind (given that I have to remove my glasses), and it’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
(first world problems, I know, boo hoo.)
But small talk is a necessary evil. When we’re kids, even the shyest of us can make best friends forever over a simple question like do you want to play video games?
But when we’re adults, it’s so much harder. We’ve lost the sense of wonder and ease we might have had as kids, and given in to cynicism and distrust. When someone appears to actively trying to be my friend who I don’t know, I tend to be convinced they want something from me. (What, exactly, I have no fucking clue, because sure, I have some expensive furniture, but I also have Fallout bobbleheads that I love just as much, and also a really big TV? For my video games, of course, and no, you can’t have any of that. It’s mine. WHY ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?!?)
This is a particular conundrum Josy, the star of How to Be a Movie Star, finds himself in, though from the complete opposite perspective as me. Sure, like me, he has his small group of friends in Casey and Serge and Xander, and that’s just fine with him. But unlike me, Josy is an extrovert, and not everyone understands him. They have the cynicism that comes with adulthood. Josy doesn’t always see the forest for the trees, but I think that brings out the goodness in him. He’s the type of person you’d expect to break out in song and dance because he’s so happy. That still doesn’t help in the act of adulting, however.
When he meets Quincy for the first time, he’s unsure of how to ask for them to be friends, even though he really, really wants them to be. As he goes on to say, he has a friend-crush on Quincy and doesn’t know how to deal with it.
Thankfully, Josy has a secret weapon.
And that secret weapon is called Gustavo Tiberius.
When I decided to write Movie Star, I went back through How to Be a Normal Person and zeroed in on the sections where Josy and Gus interacted. In Movie Star, a year has passed since the events of Normal Person, and I wondered what Gus and Josy would have taken away from their time together, and if something more would have come from it.
Much to my delight, I discovered it did.
(Much to Gustavo’s dismay, of course.)
In fact, next to the primary relationship between Josy and Quincy, the relationship between Gus and Josy is the most important aspect of the book. Josy wormed his way into Gus’s life and never really left, though Gus repeatedly threatened him. Their dynamic is one I did not expect, but was delighted to see grow as big as it did. They couldn’t be more different. However, I think that’s what brings them together. Gus is there to help Josy work through his confusion over what Quincy is to him exactly in a positively Gus-like manner.
Which brings me to another aspect of Josiah Erickson:
A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless a strong emotional connection is formed. It could be argued he’s also demiromantic, which is romantic attraction instead of sexual attraction.
I’ve written ace characters before: Morgan of Shadows, Casey, Gus (perhaps), Kelly Bennett in the upcoming Heartsong. Just because a person identifies as ace doesn’t mean they don’t have sex. Not everyone is sex-repulsed.
Casey is, which is why there was no sex in How to Be a Normal Person.
There isn’t sex in How to Be a Movie Star, either. Oh, there are frank discussions about sex and sexuality, but at no point does the relationship turn sexual on page. This was done by choice, but it doesn’t mean Josy is like Casey at all. He just has other things he focuses on that he considers more important in terms of a relationship.
Sex scenes aren’t always pointless, and under a skilled hand, they can add to the narrative. But if you don’t feel the connection between the two characters unless they consummate their relationship explicitly on page, then I’ve failed as an author. Sex isn’t the be-all and end-all. Smut has a place, just not in this specific story.
(But boy oh boy, wait until you see what happens in Why We Fight, Corey/Kori’s book. Let’s just say I surprised even myself. Yeesh, I’m gross.)
But don’t allow yourself to think it’s because ace people don’t fuck around. We can and do. We can enjoy it just like everyone else. The term asexual doesn’t mean one specific, regimented set of rules. You may not understand that, but that’s okay. In 11 days, you’ll get to hear Josy’s point of view on it all, and I think he’ll explain it better than I ever could.
(So long as he doesn’t get distracted by pretty much everything given that he’s probably stoned.)
Next week, I’ll post an excerpt. And then the following week, the book I swore I’d never write comes out.
I can’t wait for you to see what happens when we return to Abby, Oregon.
It’s almost February 12!