My special guest today is Jane Kindred, the author of the absolutely fabulous House of Arkhangel’sk series, as well as the book of the day, the decadently delicious Prince of Tricks. Jane’s guest posts always pack one hell of a punch, and this is no exception. So do her books!
On Loving Russia When it Doesn’t Love You Back
by Jane Kindred
If you’ve spent any time at all on social media in the past six months, or own a television, you’re probably aware of the controversy surrounding the upcoming Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi in the Russian Federation. Following the passage of similar local laws throughout Russia in 2012, Putin’s government passed a Draconian law in 2013 that criminalizes the public discussion or support of “non-traditional sexual relations.” Anti-LGBT human rights abuses and crimes have been on the rise, with hate groups abducting and filming the torture of alleged gay youths to “teach them a lesson,” while authorities look the other way or actively encourage such crimes, even when they result in death.
Many LGBT groups have called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics and of its sponsors. Others, including the International Olympic Committee and sponsors such as Visa, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola, have dismissed the concerns, despite the fact that the Olympic charter stresses human dignity and disavows “discrimination of any kind.” For better or worse, the Sochi Olympics go on.
And for better or worse, so does my Russian-based series featuring a pair of gay and bisexual demon protagonists whom I like to call my “Russian leather demons.”
My erotic m/m fantasy novel, Prince of Tricks, takes place in Russia and in the celestial city of Elysium, patterned after St. Petersburg of the early 20th century. Russia has never been a particularly friendly place for men who love other men, so it hasn’t been easy for my boys, even before the recent political developments. Belphagor has been in and out of the gulag system over the past 100 years, so he’s experienced the country’s worst. And yet, like me, he still loves Russia. And loves it enough to share it with his Vasily, despite the danger.
Having spent the last eight years of my life falling in love with Russia and writing these books (the Demons of Elysium series and the related epic fantasy series, The House of Arkhangel’sk), I’m extremely disheartened by the path this country I love has been taking. It’s hard to maintain that love in the face of increasing hatred. I can no longer travel to Russia (my choice, for reasons of personal safety as well as taking a moral stance), and my books cannot be sold there.
As things began to escalate in Russia over the past year, I found it increasingly difficult to keep writing the Demons of Elysium series, to keep celebrating Russian culture and my love for it. I wondered if it was time at last to let these books and these characters go. But I believe the only positive act I can take is to continue my love affair with (almost) all things Russian by continuing to write my now subversive stories.
I dedicated Prince of Tricks to Pussy Riot (two members of the Russian feminist punk group were imprisoned in 2012 for staging a protest performance against Putin’s government in a Moscow church) and others in Russia whose voices are being silenced by these laws. I wish I could do more. But as the Human Rights Campaign says, Lyubov Pobezhdaet Nenavist…Love Conquers Hate.
Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, the Demons of Elysium series, and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.
Jane is giving away a fabulous Caviar gift basket from the House of Caviar, or one $150 gift card to one US winner. Ten winners will receive their choice of a $10 gift card from either Amazon or B&N. Wow!
To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter below.
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