Today I am so pleased to welcome Christian Baines to Joyfully Jay. Christian has come to talk to us about his latest release, Sins of the Son. e has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Christian a big welcome!
SINS OF THE SON Blog Tour #2: Envy
IS THE GRASS REALLY GREENER OR IS IT JUST YOU?
Welcome everyone to the second stop on my Sins of the Son blog tour. Thanks for joining me, and thank you Joyfully Jay for hosting today’s post. It`s partly about envy, and partly about an issue that has played a major part in shaping this book and carries a lot of mixed feelings for me including envy, which is the role of religion when I write LGBTQ fiction.
Now, like anything to do with religion and sexuality, this is super individual and sensitive for some, so I want to be very clear that I’m speaking for myself and nobody else when I post this. I have no intention of bashing anyone’s faith or diminishing anyone’s experience. The post is by and about me and how religion and sexuality has affected my writing, that’s all.
Hold onto something. We’re gonna get just a bit heavy.
I was raised Christian in one of Australia’s most religious regions. I finished high school at a charismatic Christian school, which had both good and bad points. As a teen in the 90s, I knew that I didn’t fit in with my peers – nobody was openly queer, and we had no queer role models – so I found ways to actualise that and stand out.
Unfortunately, like a lot of religious kids, I was surrounded by the belief that my sexuality, which I still didn’t really understand, was sinful. So, rather than risk discovery of my queerness, I went the other, extremely destructive way, embracing religious dogma to an extent that not only denied my own feelings, but alienated even most of my Christian peers. That self-denial led to depression, dramatic weight gain, self-loathing, alienation from anyone who might have accepted me for who I really was, completely unhealthy ideas around sex, and a whole lot of envy, particularly of people who, in my eyes at least, seemed to enjoy the simple privilege of being themselves without fear of losing security, respect, or family.
No surprise, this whole toxic, religious dance didn’t bring me any closer to Jesus. In fact, it put me about as far from ‘Christlike’ as you could get. I finally came out at the end of my teens, and looking back, the Christian idea of ‘redemption’ feels weirdly resonant. Honestly, being queer saved my life, because without it, there’s no knowing how long I would have stayed on this destructive path. It left its scars and still requires a certain emotional labour to push through and remind myself how much has changed.
I think what’s truly destructive about fundamentalism is that it promotes the idea of ‘knowing’ without thinking, or even asking questions. Once you start asking questions, and finding the answers for yourself in a way that is earned and authentic, you’re forced to reject certain preprogrammed ideas. So asking questions was the last thing fundamentalist Christianity wanted me to do. If it weren’t for my being queer, I don’t know if I ever would have learned to ask those questions, much less flexed my creative muscles in writing stories that explore them.
Do I envy those raised with a non-religious worldview? Or at least one that didn’t necessitate so much unlearning on reaching adulthood? At one point, I’m sure I did. But it’s more complicated than that. For one, my Christian upbringing offers me a vast creative resource. I doubt very much I’d be writing the stories I am without it, and for that I’m grateful. What’s more, I know many queer people are supported and loved by their faith community, and that’s a wonderful thing. I envy those with the courage to embrace their own freaky path in or around that community, finding personal faith on their terms, rather than putting on a toxic artifice. Had I felt able to do that, I might even still associate with the church today.
But what does this have to do with my writing, its subject matter, and my creative worldview?
Fundamentalism has been a hostile presence in the background of all the Arcadia Trust novels. In Sins of the Son, it takes a more actively antagonistic role, as an organisation of religious assassins, fuelled by self-loathing of their own supernatural blood, find a new way to strike at the once impenetrable city of Sydney. The Scimitar of Light, as they’re called, see their supernatural lineage as a daemonic curse, and so dispose of those children who fully change into a Blood Shade (vampire), werewolf, or whatever their blood predisposes them to be. To our shame as a species, ‘honour killings’ to secure supposed salvation are more than mere fiction in some communities, as are forms of torture such as so-called ‘conversion therapy.’
Reylan, my protagonist, is on a mission to save one such Scimitar assassin in Sins of the Son, before the boy can turn into something far more dangerous. As crazy and action-packed as the book is, there are parts of this story that hit close to home. Millions of people are unable to express themselves or live their own truth because of how others interpret ‘god’s will.’ Some live with that willingly, while others know on some gut level that they’ve been sold a lie, and are envious of those with the opportunity and courage to be authentic and true to themselves.
My hope for each one of them is that if their Reylan doesn’t arrive, that they find both the opportunity and confidence to be their own. Take it from personal experience, it’s better late than never.
GIVEAWAY:WIN your choice of one e-book edition of either of the first two Arcadia Trust novels, The Beast Withoutor The Orchard of Flesh.
NEXT: But they take so loooooong! I talk about SLOTH over at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
Abandoned by his werewolf lover, the only thing Reylan wants is to return to his vampire life of blood and beautiful boys. It’s a solid plan, until his first meal as a single man tries to kill him.
Hoping to free his young would-be assassin from the religious zealots that sent him, Reylan enlists the help of Iain Grieg, a charismatic priest with unsettling knowledge of the night’s secrets.
Surrounded by conflicting agendas and an army fuelled by hate, Reylan fights to secure his future, if he can only trust the mysterious priest and bury the ghosts of the past.
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Christian Baines has written on travel, theatre, film, television, and various aspects of gay life, factual and fictional. Some of his stranger thoughts have spawned novels, including queer urban fantasy series The Arcadia Trust, the horror novella Skin, and Puppet Boy, which was a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on those odd occasions he can’t find his passport.
Christian has brought a winner’s choice of The Beast Without or The Orchard of Flesh to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, January 20th at 11:59 pm ET.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
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- Void where prohibited by law.