The books A. Zukowski writes have been variously described as “powerful”, “dark, yet strangely gentle” and “a rollercoaster of emotions.” Their latest book from the London Stories series, Blue Jay, appears to fit into the same mould, featuring characters who try their best to find their own place in the world, and rebuild lives shattered by history and circumstance. I’m very much gone for redemption stories, so this is one’s on my TBR.
Blue Jay will be released on October 4th. It is available for pre-order now.
I am apprehensive.
Writing my forthcoming novel Blue Jay has been a long, difficult process. Chris Neeser is one of a kind; they got under my skin until I had to create a character easy to fall in love with. They are genderqueer but their daily life isn’t an exercise in political provocation. If I were writing a rhetorical piece about queerness, I would have been more forceful, but Blue Jay is a story.
Chris’ gender and sexuality are rooted in lived experiences. I didn’t want to only make a cis male character appear more feminine. Instead, I tried to challenge gender norms through language. All the pronouns they/them/he/him/she/her are used to refer to Chris throughout the book. I struggled to write them more than I could imagine, but the creative process also brought out the gender variance within me.
The novel shows my struggles and my refusal to conform as much as that of the protagonists. The other character Alex is bisexual. Alas, I am more familiar with his socioeconomic background and mental health issues. As always, the creation of a novel makes me aware of a range of my own, at times painful, emotions. In subtle ways, I hope Chris and Alex complicate some preconceived ideas about who we are and who we can be.
Blue Jay (London Stories, Book 3)
Blue Jay will be released on October 4th.
Boxing was all Alex had ever known, his entire being now shattered beyond repair. One night and four years in jail changed everything. These days, Alex prefers the shadows and dreams of nightmares. Will he find rainbows and glitters in the run-down flat he’s moving into?
Chris has been selling their looks and body for too long. It may be time for a life change, but one thing is clear. The fairest of them all will make a lousy lover until they stop acting the smart-mouthed and blasé cynic. Their story begins with an elegant tango up the narrow stairwell…
A match made in London.
Featuring Chris from Liam for Hire, Blue Jay is a hopeful and romantic story with genderqueer and bisexual characters.
Excerpt from Blue Jay
Chris’s clever come-back hangs in the air when Girls/Girls/Boys blasts out of the monitors. “Oh, my Gosh. I love this song!” Chris screams. “We’ve got to dance.”
Alex glares at her. “You’re fucking kidding me.”
“No, I’m not. Come on!” Chris pulls Alex’s arm.
“I don’t dance.”
“Yeah? You do now.” Chris tugs the big man along. “You performed in front of millions, Alex. Are you scared of these people? In the dark?”
Chris has a way of pointing out the absurdities in Alex’s life. Alex slips down from his stool.
“One fucking song,” he says.
They dance along to the tune. The singer is pleading to another to change their mind and find him. Surprising himself, the boy abandons the girls for another boy.
Lost in the heady scent of body heat and sweat, they move with the rhythm. Being so close to Alex makes Chris all tingly and hot. Alex’s body under the tight dress shirt does wonderful things—unfamiliar and tender things—to Chris’s insides.
Chris dances like a pro, gyrating to the song, lost in the intoxicating scent of Alex. The other revellers ogle her and by default they take in Alex. Chris closes her eyes and grins. When she opens her eyes again, she is gazing at something close to magic. She throws her arms around Alex’s neck and makes him swing along with her.
Alex is not a practised dancer, but heat radiates from Alex’s body, as they rub against each other on the dancefloor.
Chris closes in and puts her warm soft cheek against Alex’s. Inches apart, Alex’s hot breath tingles Chris.
“You’re doing great.”
“One song,” Alex insists.
About A. Zukowski
I am a London-based British writer who grew up in the gay village and red light district of Manchester, UK.
I was trained in screenwriting at the University of the Arts, London; National Film & Television School and Script Factory, UK, followed by a series of misadventures as a film journalist, writer and producer of short films. My stories are based on personal and emotional experiences, and feature strong LGBTQ-identified characters.
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