Torn in Two anthology is my first time publishing with Storm Moon Press, and my first story with a bisexual protagonist.
Bisexual characters are sadly underrepresented in romantic fiction, and in the media in general. Too often, they're the punchline to a joke (as Woody Allen said, “The good thing about being bisexual is that it doubles your chance of a date on Saturday night.”) or their bisexuality is seen as an in-between stage, a step on the path of self-discovery that ends up with a character realizing they've been gay all along. Many would say female bisexuality is more visible and commonly accepted than male in western culture, but if you discount the “Girls Gone Wild”-style of bisexuality, in which female sexuality is promoted as entertainment for a straight male audience, I'd say both female and male bisexuals suffer from the same level of invisibility.
In my story, “Syncopation,” the main character, American singer Jonathan Tager, ends up in a committed, monogamous relationship, but that doesn't mean he sees himself as anything other than bisexual. Throughout the story, he has romantic and sexual relationships with both men and women. His longtime girlfriend Ruby, herself a bisexual woman, is a constant presence in Jon's life, even though they are no longer together. While on tour in Europe, Jon has an unexpectedly heated encounter with an otherwise icy Russian flautist, Valentina Verenskaya. At the same time, he finds himself drawn to the comfortable domesticity offered by English single dad Peter Merritt. Rather than doubling his chances for a date, Jon's bisexuality muddies the waters, as he struggles to figure out what exactly he wants from life and whom he wants it with.
Another important aspect of the story is how bisexuality is viewed by the general public. Jon is a celebrity, although he doesn't consider himself as such. At the beginning of the story, Jon is surprised when a paparazzo snaps a picture of him with another man, a picture which is spread across the tabloids and forces Jon into “coming out” as bisexual. He's frustrated when no one seems to understand what this means; even his mother believes he's come out as gay. The general public takes a black-or-white, straight-or-gay view of sexuality, which frustrates Jon as he feels forced to explain, over and over again, his less rigid bisexual identity.
The title of the story, “Syncopation,” is a musical term. The National Symphony Orchestra of the United States defines it on their website as “a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm... the placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur.” Basically, it's a musical word for something unexpected. Bisexuality, even today, is something unexpected, as shown in the story by Jon's continual encounters with people who think he must really be gay, or straight. But syncopation also makes things more interesting. It's a technique which lends pizzazz to all genres and styles of music. At the beginning of the story, Jon sees his bisexuality as merely a part of him, something neither to be celebrated nor hidden. As the story progresses, he learns to embrace it as a unique attribute, as something not only different but special.
I'm very pleased to have this story published by Storm Moon Press. Most of the anthologies to which I submit my stories have very specific, well-defined themes, but this one was more nebulous. By being tasked to write something, anything, about bisexuality, I was able to really allow myself free rein. At the same time, my story is not standing alone, but rather beside two other fascinating explorations of bisexuality and what it means. I look forward to reading both of those stories, and to sharing “Syncopation” with the world.
www.gswiley.com. There, you can read more about my published works, enjoy several free stories, and learn about my upcoming projects. Thank you, and happy reading!