Bastra: A Marneaux Design Company

You don’t need me to tell you that politics is the hot topic. THE current affair. The subject in everyone’s heart and on everyone’s tongue and on everyone’s social media. It’s so prevalent that to continue to call it ‘politics’ is probably a misnomer. We’re all just trying to figure out how to manage this new world. How to be kind and supportive and welcoming in a world where The Big Bad is closing doors at every turn.

I’ve never considered myself much of an activist, although I have very strong opinions. Oh, I’ll share an article and add a comment to them. I’ll stand up from time to time, although that’s happening less and less as I see that arguing via social media rarely changes people’s viewpoints. I’ve been sending money to various organizations like it’s growing on trees. (While they had their biggest donations as of late, it’s never overkill to give to the ACLU. Go on. Every little bit helps.)

And… I write. I have to admit that I never saw writing as a political act. I saw it as an escapism from the politics. Which, it can be, but it’s also political. Fellow author, KJ Charles posted about just this a couple days before the inauguration.

Let’s start with stating the obvious: If you are a novelist you already talk about politics, all the time.

The personal is political. When we write any sort of fiction—medieval historicals, contemporary fluff, dystopian sci-fi, fantasy with cute animals—we write about power, interaction, systems, groups, how people live, who’s in charge. We create worlds and talk about how they might be, could be, should be; what’s fair, what’s wrong. That’s what writing does, and it’s what politics is.

I write queer love stories, and by doing so, I’m making a political statement. To quote KJ again, I’m saying, “that queer people’s stories deserve to be told, and that they deserve to be loved and happy. If those aren’t political statements, I don’t know what is.”

As I’ve been going through my book again to help lure you into the story I’ve told, I realize I’m also writing political characters. They’re political through their art, through their life, by living the fullest of lives even when some in society would tell them that they shouldn’t.

We met Sid Marneaux a couple weeks ago. Bastra, his design company, is an extension of him, and it is one hell of a political statement. I’d imagine him to argue that point with me for a bit until, yes. The truth of it becomes clear.

It’s the business founded by Sid, a queer man, inspired by Dottie, his queer friend and the teachings of Sid’s immigrant mother. (Wouldn’t it piss Trump off!!??) His clients are all over the queer spectrum, all over the racial spectrum and are his clients so they can be quietly (or not so quietly as in Shi’s case) political by simply living their lives in a way that they choose–not in a way that’s chosen by society or by the demands of other people.

As of this morning, it was all his. The lease agreement had Sid’s company name on it: Bastra.

In time, that word—his brand—would be etched into the glass door of his brand new atelier just as it had been etched into his heart since high school when, the night before the spring sports award ceremony, his best friend Dottie had come to him in a state close to tears—the closest to tears he would ever see her.

Everyone was to “dress appropriately” for the ceremony. “Appropriately” translated to dresses or skirts for the girls and anything from khakis and polo shirts to suits and ties for the guys.

“I will not wear a dress,” she had said, locked in a state between anger and fear. “Slacks and blouses don’t fit right.” She picked at the shoulders of her shirt and tugged at the waistband of her jeans. Her upset had no words, but that day had sparked a flame in him. Nothing was wrong with Dottie, her less-than-feminine taste, or her thick, athletic body. The problem rested in the clothes. Clothes he would, over time, design for people like Dottie who slipped into the cracks
of fashion’s persistent binary system.

And now, after a decade—college first, then running the online business out of a spare bedroom and tailoring suits for wealthy businessmen to make ends meet—his loyal clientele contributed to a successful Kickstarter campaign and allowed his vision to blossom on the fifth floor of a historic building north of Lincoln Park.

If you want to understand the cheese ball, you’re going to have to read the book. 🙂

Beneath the Stars, releases on Feb. 16, 2017, and is available for pre-order. Enter now to win a free e-book bundle and a $25 gift certificate to my publisher, Interlude Press.

You can win a free print copy by entering the giveaway at goodreads.

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