The Footmen is almost here!

One powerful woman. Five talented lovers. 

Can she keep her head… and her harem?

footmen_frontcover_LFI’m so excited to show off The Footmen‘s cover, slated for release July 1, 2013! I love how the warm and loving circle of people contrasts against the cold, hard, linear world around them. Yria’s a lucky girl, don’tcha think?

Yria’s world is a gynocracy, where women hold all the positions of economic and political power. Few men have access to education, and even for those that do go to school, their subsequent career opportunities are limited. The majority of them are relegated to domestic duties, reliant on mothers, sisters, or a Mistress to provide for them. If they can’t find a woman to take care of them, they’re forced to live on the streets, at the mercy of paltry governmental support.

Any part of that sound familiar, ladies?

Marriage doesn’t exist in this world: there’s no such thing as a wife or a husband. Domestic arrangements are purely contractual, although employment in certain high-level positions tends to be very long term, if not for life. Achieving a position of footman in a woman’s House is a mark of status and what practically every young man aspires to achieve. Wealthy, powerful women can afford to keep “harems” of footmen, and there’s a hierarchy within those ranks. There are five commonly recognized footman-level positions within a successful woman’s household:

Primeri is the first hire, serving as head housekeeper. He’s the highest-ranking footman due to tenure and expertise, oversees all other staff within the House, and often manages his Mistress’ personal social calendar, depending on her status in society.

Derecha (Spanish term meaning “right-hand”) is the second in command and the second footman hired. (Note that subordinate roles are not capitalized, but the titles of Primeri and Derecha are.) He may serve in any of the following capacities…

shīfu (Chinese term meaning “master/father/teacher”) is traditionally hired when a woman’s first child is born. He personally supervises all of the Mistress’ children, regardless of sire, but other footmen would be expected to help chaperone whenever needed. He home-schools her children and would administer all federal educational testing requirements. He’s basically the nanny and tutor of the House.

An iator (Greek term for “healer”) serves as the family’s nurse/nutritionist/trainer. He monitors the diet, health, and exercise regimen of the Mistress and her children. He is responsible for general checkups and nursing ill members of entire household, and this position requires extensive nutritionist and nurse practitioner training.

An esthete is like a publicist, stylist, and esthetician rolled into one. He is responsible for his Mistress’ wardrobe, arranging her hair and makeup, and providing any other necessary personal grooming (like massaging, waxing, etc.).

A vigilant is responsible for family’s security and defense training.

Which of the four roles a woman selects as her Derecha can tell a lot about her. Yria, for instance, chose an esthete for her Derecha, indicating a carefully cultivated public persona was crucial to her ambition from a very early age. Since most women choose to become mothers, nearly everyone has a shīfu. Often, if a woman can only afford to hire only one or two footmen, she might choose a shīfu as her Primeri or Derecha. (Though a fellow who serves as both Primeri and shīfu would find himself spread pretty thin, depending on the number of children!)

The third, fourth, and fifth footmen would serve in whatever roles are left over, if and when a woman can afford to support more members of the family. If she is unable to afford another footman to serve in these capacities, the one(s) she does have either pick up the slack, or they do without. Not everyone can afford a personal iator, but if a woman or one of her children were in poor health, she’d probably like to have one around. And only women of wealth and celebrity would bother with the expense of an esthete or vigilant.

Some very wealthy women have even larger entourages of footmen. Certain unflattering assumptions are made about the roles of men beyond the fifth footman, but I’ll let Amelior explain that later…

Welcome to “The Next Big Thing” Interview

Welcome, blog-hoppers, to my little corner of cyberspace. Thanks for clicking through from Camelia Miron Skiba‘s site (for those of you who stumbled here from other parts – please give her a look-see). I’ll get right down to my interview.

1. What is the working title of your latest work in progress (WIP)?

The Footmen

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to experiment with traditional gender roles and explore what might happen if they were reversed. So I created a gynocracy where women hold all the positions of power and authority, but still retained some of the traditional trappings of femininity and maternalism. How might women run the world if they didn’t have to “act like a man” to do it? And how would men fit in this society?

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Dystopian fantasy, or maybe alternate reality—I’ll let readers decide which. It’s romantic and sexy, chronicling the initiation of loving relationships between an ex-soldier hired as a bodyguard, his female employer, and her male harem. It’s got some LGBT undertones, since it depicts both homosexual and heterosexual relationships within the polyamorous group. There’s a heavy dose of political suspense, too.

Trouble with a question like this is my stories seldom fit in any of the usual pigeonholes.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This one is really hard, because I seldom envision my characters in Hollywood-pretty terms. Yria, my female lead, has a Mediterranean look about her. The first image that comes to mind is a real-life version of Jasmine from Aladdin—especially the hair. The four men of her harem are a multicultural bunch and range in age from a few years older than she to more than a decade younger. And her new bodyguard, Semper, is a strong contrast to the other men, burly and surly and bald as a cue ball.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a woman’s world, what makes a man a man?

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I plan to self-publish this summer, in June or July 2013. 

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About three months over the course of last summer. I was working on four other books at the same time. This is the shortest story I’ve ever attempted, not much beyond novella length (44K), so it went pretty fast.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can honestly say I can’t name another story like this, which is kind of the reason I wrote it. The fact I’ve never run across anything similar is most likely due to ignorance on my part, though. I can’t imagine I’m the first person to theorize the situation, but I’m thinking my take on it is unique.

9.  Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This particular plot bunny was spawned by a conversation I had with some dear friends and fellow authors about gender identity, equality, and relationships in general. I had just read a (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) misogynistic blog post about how men are “trained” to hate women, and had written a rebuttal, lamenting how divisive and derogatory and whiny the fellow’s tone had been. My friends and I wandered off on a tangent about how hard (or easy) it is to be a man these days, and from there, what it truly means to be a man. I took that idea, turned it on its ear, and ran.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’ll leave you with this little blurb I wrote about it: 

When Senator Yria Kolossa’s family is threatened, her male harem insists she hire a bodyguard. But burly, brutish Semper, their new Head of Security, doesn’t exactly fit in with the rest of Yria’s refined, courtly footmen. As tensions rise within the ranks of her lovers, Semper’s no closer to finding out who’s responsible for the threats… until she’s kidnapped right from under his nose.

Nobody understands why the gender ratio has been so skewed in the last generations, resulting in five males for every female born. In a gynocratic society where women hold all positions of political and economic power, the swelling population of homeless, hungry men is a perfect breeding ground for ominous rumbles of revolution. And Yria’s idealistic campaign for gender equality has made her some very powerful enemies in the capitol—people who believe the only way to preserve the female-biased status quo is by reducing the number of males by any means necessary. When Yria’s caught between rival political factions with opposing social agendas, will she survive?

You can read an excerpt of The Footmen here.

Thanks for stopping by! And please check out my pals and wonderful storytellers, Annette Francine and Leslie Jones for your next hops!