Saturday, 6 July 2013

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Guest Post: Adèle Geras on silent snow, secret snow

Today, I'm honoured to have Adèle Geras stop by my blog to talk about her YA novel silent snow, secret snow for LGBTQ YA Month!

Adèle Gerassilent snow secret snow.... by Adèle Geras

When I wrote this novel in 1997 (it was first published in 1998 by Penguin and is now out of print) the original idea was to see what would happen to my characters if they were brought together in some way and unable to get away from one another. The ancient Greeks were very sensible about a lot of things concerning drama and one of their best ideas was the one that advised UNITY OF PLACE. From the point of view of a writer, it means not having to travel between locations, not having to keep describing different landscapes, interiors, cityscapes etc. It means you can bed down in one spot and make that your world.

The traditional sites for 'we're all in this together' are schools, hospitals, prisons, and army camps. I'd already written a novel (HAPPY ENDINGS, also out of print) set in a theatre which is another enclosed world. I didn't want to repeat myself. I thought that if I was going to isolate my characters anywhere, I'd enjoy the whole process more if the place were luxurious. So because my idea of heaven is a wonderful hotel, I decided pretty early on that a privately owned, ridiculously posh hotel would be my setting.

I wanted to write about one family rather than all the visitors to the hotel, partly for reasons of laziness. If you do a 'hotel' novel, you are managing lots of separate stories and I felt that wouldn't be appropriate in a book for Young Adults. If I confined the story to the family, that would be much more economical. Also, tensions between family members are always much more dramatic and fraught than those that crop up between relative strangers. So my main problem was: how to get the visitors who'd normally be in the hotel, out of it. Christmas seemed a gift. Most hotels do their best business at Christmas, it's true, but the Golden House was prosperous enough not to have to worry about such things and so Irene Golden, ex-opera singer, gathers her family around her while the hotel is closed for Christmas.

Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Adéle GerasSo they all arrive and then the snow comes down and cuts them off....they have to stay there till they can drive away because the hotel is in the depths of the countryside.

When I decided on my young characters, it seemed entirely natural for me to make one of them, (Laurie,) into a boy in love with a school friend, Carlo. He plucks up the courage to invite Carlo to spend Christmas at the Golden House, not quite understanding the suffering he's going to have to go through, because Carlo is in love with Laurie's sister, Marianne. The matter of his gayness or what the reaction would be to this strand of the story when the book came out, was not something I particularly fretted about. I didn't see anything strange in writing about a young man struggling to deal with his sexuality and his adoration of another boy and I'm happy to say that when the book was published, no one so much as mentioned this aspect of the story. No review (and it was well and extensively reviewed!) thought it worth pointing out; no one complained about it in the Daily Mail, and that was that. It simply wasn't a big deal. Nor do I think it should have been. If a gay young person read it and it made them feel less excluded, and more just a person among a great many other people, then I'm glad of that.

There was no explicit sex in 'silent snow', which might be why it avoided any shrieks in the press. When my adult novel, A HIDDEN LIFE came out in 2005, there were two female characters who fell in love and the sex there was quite explicit but again, no one in reviews was in the least bothered, and I think that's good. I am happy when such scenes and loving relationships between couples of the same sex are simply included in the book as a normal part of the whole.

Thank you, Adèle, for such a great guest post! Be sure to check out Adèle's website, and read my review of silent snow, secret snow.

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