I don't have a lot of clear memories from my childhood, but there are a few, and some of my best memories are the days, especially the nights, that I would spend with my grandmother. My grandparents had a farmhouse that they heated with a wood stove even though the rest of the house was wired for electricity. I remember snuggling down under a mountain of quilts with my grandmother beside me, and she would answer my hundreds of questions, or just listen to me talk.
The cool thing about Grandma was that she answered me like I was an adult; I always knew she would give it to me straight. She never told me to be quiet, or to not be so bossy, or any of the other things adults said to me when I was a child.
On one of those many evenings that we shared, she and I were in bed at my parents' house. I remember being so happy, and on that particular evening, I felt exceptionally safe and secure. I told her I hoped nothing ever changed. To my surprise, she laughed and said that everything changes, nothing stays the same forever, and that I needed to learn to change with the world around me.
To her surprise, I burst into tears, because I wanted to be six years old forever, and I wanted my grandmother to live forever, and of course, I wanted to feel safe forever. The thought of the world changing terrified me. The concept seemed unstable. Why change? Why disrupt happiness?
What I didn't understand then was I wanted the feeling of safety to last forever, not for the world to stay the same. But I was six, and as a child, I thought like a child, and my grandmother, well, she was so much wiser than me.
Nothing stays the same. In spite of our desires to freeze-frame life, the world moves on. Attitudes change, perceptions change, people change, and unlike the six year old child that I was, I now embrace change, even when it frightens me.
As I grew up and began to read, I happened upon R.A. MacAvoy's brilliant Damiano series in A Trio for Lute. Damiano is a witch, who loves his little town and his life there. When an army marches on his city, he takes it upon himself to make a deal with Satan, because Damiano wants to preserve his hometown exactly the way it is. Satan argues against the deal at first, telling Damiano that if his town doesn't experience privation and war, the city will likewise become stagnant and die. The devil's argument is that adversity leads to growth, a polemic that Damiano ultimately rejects, persisting in his desire to save the town.
As a condition of his bargain, Damiano is forced to leave his hometown, never to return, and by leaving, by experiencing the very change and adversity that he doesn't want to visit on his town, Damiano grows wiser and more worldly. In regards to the town: Satan was right. The world moved on, but the town did not. Peel back the layers of those three novels, there are metaphors there, the kind that I love.
As I became older and discovered adversity and grew through my pain, I began to truly understand my grandmother's wisdom. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same forever. The world moves on.
Not wanting to be left behind in the changing world, I learned to travel through books. Likewise, I write about people and cultures so that I might research them and gain a better understanding of the world in which I live.
In the process of trying to comprehend this ever evolving world, I wrote a novel, it didn't sell, and at the time I was very frustrated by that particular turn of events, but now, in hindsight, I am glad. In spite of all my research and numerous attempts to avoid tropes about gay men, I accidentally wrote those very tropes into that story without realizing it. If I get a chance to re-do the novel, I will, and I will do it differently.
The world moved on, and I listened and I learned.
However, I was so pleased with the characters from that novel, I wanted to resurrect them in a different way. The loveliest thing about embracing change means we get second chances, or as Diago likes to say, "Our incarnations change us."
When you read Los Nefilim, you see those characters, Diago, Miquel, and Guillermo, in a new form.
It's no longer Guillermo's story--I don't think it ever was. Diago Alvarez is my protagonist, and Diago is gay, so is Miquel. With these stories, I wanted to reverse the negative stereotypes of gay men that I had read about or seen on film. For a long time, these perverse images were all that were available and colored people's perceptions: the gay man always on the prowl for sex, or the prancing effeminate male, or the man dying of AIDS. Each of these stereotypes indicated that living as a gay man had terrible consequences. The not-so-subliminal message is that to be true to one's sexuality risks unhappiness, ridicule, and death.
Yet I knew gay men who lived happy fulfilled lives with caring partners. When I write about Diago's and Miquel's relationship, I am showing you what I have seen in my friends. Two men who love one another and are trying to work through life's everyday difficulties while remaining true to themselves.
You know, just like any other couple.
Well. There are a few differences ...
Welcome to Los Nefilim where Diago's world is changing around him, and he is struggling to keep up. He isn't entirely comfortable with his sexuality, but he has something very important in his life: close friends who love and accept him for who he is, not who he sleeps with, and a loving understanding partner, who wants nothing more than to protect him. It is love and acceptance that sustains a person through even the most violent changes, and in these opening novellas, Diago experiences quite a few of those, but he keeps getting up, a little taller each time, because adversity gives him the impetus to grow emotionally.
Collected together for the first time, the three novellas—In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death—brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between.
Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.
You see, the world moved on, and I listened and I learned, and when the opportunity arose to make critical changes to the story, I grabbed the chance. These novellas were an absolute joy to write. I hope you enjoy them half as much as I loved working on them.
Whether everyone is ready for a protagonist like Diago or not is still up in the air, but let me tell you something, I have no regrets.
The world moves on, and I listen and I learn, and I hope I never stop.