• A Nightingale
    In The Sycamore

    The moment Nick laid eyes on Dan, standing on a frozen school rugby pitch; he fell in love with him. For Nick, there was only ever Dan. For years Nick kept his love locked inside, never dreaming that Dan could feel the same way.

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  • The Shadow Of
    Your Wings

    In a stunning debut novel, Tim Bairstow takes us on an unflinching and forensically observed journey in to the darkest recesses of the Church, laying bare the hypocrisy, deceit, self-delusion and damaged lives that lay behind the glittering image.

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  • What Do You Want For Christmas

    Achingly nostalgic and acutely observed, Tim Bairstow's highly acclaimed second novel is by turns sexy, poignant and hilarious. 'What Do You Want for Christmas' strikes deep emotional chords for anyone who has ever been young and in love and not just at Christmas!

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  • Cloven
    Tongues

    Thought provoking and tense, passionate and hugely sexy, Tim Bairstow's latest novel is another compelling addition to British gay romantic fiction.



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Sexy Priests - collars, cassocks and ... !

People often ask me about the Society of the Incarnation where "The Shadow of Your Wings" is set and which also features in "Cloven Tongues" too. Usually, they want to know where it actually is ... not that it would actually be called that, of course, but on which real place is it actually based? I ought to tell them, really, the place would get loads of visitors thumbing through copies of the book and looking for the parts of the buildings where their favourite bits of the action took place: "Is this where Jonas finally gets in to Felix's pants?" or "Can we go in to the vaults under the church and look at the tombs, please? Oh, is this Felix's room where that old priest used to stalk him?"


I have to confess, though, that the Society of the Incarnation owes bits to a lot of different places and a lot to my fevered imagination. Like most places in novels that aren't explicitly a real place, it is an amalgam of all sorts of stuff real and imagined that came together to provide the suitably 'Gothic' background to the story that I wanted. Similarly with the people - they're fictitious though, as with every character, little bits of a lot of people that you know get rolled up in to a composite character that actually develops in ways that you didn't imagine it would as you write.

The other question is: what is it with you and priests and sex? Do you find priests sexy?

Well, let's face it most of them aren't although the Vatican's clergy calendar rounded up some specimens that would have every self-respecting homosexual getting more than a little hot under the collar (dog or otherwise) in the right circumstances! It's more to do with the 'pressure cooker' environment that the church creates around sexuality. I mean, take a fundamental and ultimately undeniable human urge (i.e. not merely sex alone but the desire for love too) and then forbid its expression, or even the search to find an expression for it. You then stick people together in places and circumstances where temptation is massive and outlet is theoretically nil and ... boom! The lid will at some point blow of the pressure cooker!

That's what creates the sexual tension in "Shadow" in particular. It's the forbidden nature of it all. Part of the attraction of the sexy young clerics in the Vatican's outrageously homo-erotic calendar is that they are dressed in a way that says: "Hands Off" but there's so much else about them that it screaming out: "come here!!!" That's how the church operates its all: "you want it but you can't have it! You really, really want it don't you? But you can't have it! No, never! But you still really, really want it don't you?"


Of course this creates damage too and "Shadow" doesn't back away from that. It damages those who try to live that way and they, in their turn, especially when they are in places of authority, power and trust such as being a priest, damage those around them with a variety of abuses ranging from petty spite all the way up to full-blown sexual predation. Such a fundamental denial of what it means to be human inevitably produces humans who are, in one way or another, warped. Auto-castration was one of the less well known but quite prevalent acts of early Christian communities ... saints lopping their balls off because their balls just wouldn't leave them alone. It's a hatred of the body that is shot through Christian traditional moral teaching and that the modern church would do well to finally jettison once and for all.

But ... are priests sexy? Not all of them, of course, but ... generically ... are they? I have to say yes but, I confess, that this may well be a case of going back to the dreaded Curse of The Thorn Birds ... damn that Cardinal de Bricassart!

Sigh - it's the scarlet robe that gets you every time!

But, snooty about it as let late Colleen McCullough might have been, she did create the template for what I mean. A man like other men yet seized with a desire to serve God but obsessed with the woman that he loved and the need to be with her.

It's a potent story - gay or straight - and endlessly fascinating in the telling and re-telling of the multi-faceted, multi-layered, rich, poignant and tragic lives that our sexy priests feel compelled to live.

They are a rich seam for fiction if nothing else.

 

If you're interested in the religious life (i.e. monasteries such as The Society of the Incarnation) within the Anglican Church then just search "Anglican Religious Communities" and links to all the houses that still exist are gathered in to one place for you to browse at. But, remember, if you think this will be a place away from temptation, you will be very wrong: there it sits, quietly, biding its time, gathering its power and planning its next lethal move on you!

 

Talking About Sex ....

  I wonder, do you remember reading your very first gay sex scene in a novel? If, like me, this was at a time before you'd actually got around to acting something similar out for yourself then I bet you do. It's one of those moments, isn't it, when something intensely private, maybe even deeply hidden and that is very particular to you is suddenly represented in an objective world. It's no longer just inside your own head, it's here and shown as something that actually does happen and that people other than you not only want to do but actually get on and do. It is one of those moments of connectedness that helps us along the path to becoming who we are!

For me, the first one was in Edmund White's brilliant novel: "A Boy's Own Story". It nearly knocked me over backwards; I couldn't believe what I was reading! The scene starts on only page fourteen of the novel and lasts only a couple of pages. Nor is it especially graphic. In it, two teenage boys experiment with 'corn holing' (use your imagination!) and, what it lacks in erotic language etc it more than makes up for in hugely erotic atmosphere. I've already written about the seminal (no pun intended) impact on me of David Leavitt's "The Lost Language of Cranes". There is only one remotely explicit sex scene in that and, again, it is brief but, again, it was stunning to even read it.

Maybe it is because there was so little gay fiction around back then (this was in the 80's) and so things like this were so rare and encounters with gay sex in novels were like a million to one chance that they seemed so important. I'm guessing but I imagine that the 'innocence' that was so breathlessly blown away by something as simple as White's 'corn holing' boys has long gone. Nowadays, I suppose that first encounters with gay sex in the abstract come via the internet and are, therefore, de-contextualised and rather more mechanical. I suppose that is rather a shame although, one does have to say, what wouldn't we have given back in the 80's for access to something like that at a time when a photo of a shirtless celebrity in a newspaper ranked as high grade turn on material.

Given that, almost because of that, it is important that sex in gay romantic fiction is done well - restores some of that context that is lost via the streams of porn and embeds it in human relatedness that goes beyond seemingly random genital contact. Which begs the question: what is good sex in a novel?

I guess that I have been mulling this one over since some correspondents have noted with approval and some with raised eyebrows that my latest novel (A Nightingale in the Sycamore) is by far the 'sexiest' of my novels so far. There is more sex in it and it is described in greater detail than in the others. My response to this was: "it had to be like that." It had to be like that because the novel deals with first love and a part of the intoxicating potency of first love is the astonishing discovery of physical intimacy for the first time - it is mind blowing, as you may well re-call, to find that someone wants you every bit as much as you want them and the emotional impact of making love, exploring someone's body, their reactions, what gives them pleasure and opening yourself up to them reciprocating that is colossal. Hence, we had to be there whilst that was happening to the characters - very much in love and finding there way inch by inch in to the physical as well as the emotional reality of that. We had to be there to see their reactions, both at the time and afterwards, to what was happening to them. There was, there is a very good reason why we are quite such a fly on the bedroom wall as Nick and Dan find and deepen their love between the sheets.

I suppose that I am saying that, for me at least, good sex in a novel needs to be plot driven. If we are really going to get down to brass tacks, there needs to be a good reason for it. This also helps to explain why, as some have noted, I tend to write 'bad sex' more explicitly than 'good sex'. When characters are having bad sex, for example in What Do You Want For Christmas, something is wrong. It reveals something about them and about their life choices at that point - an explicit scene underscores the wrongness. It makes you squirm since squirm you really should. If you have read 'Christmas' then you will know that Jonathan and Mark's sex is written rather more atmospherically and romantically - there is a veil that they can retreat behind. We know what's going on and we know that it is good and there isn't really a good plot driven reason for us to stand and watch in graphic detail whilst they make love.

Sometimes good sex also needs to be revelatory - revealing something about the character or a revelatory experience for the character. This was the approach that I took in 'The Shadow of Your Wings'. The gruesome episodes in Jonas' life with dodgy priests are revelatory of the mind-set of the clergy involved. The sauna scene, possibly the most explicit in the novel, is revelatory on a number of levels and in every way possible. Jonas and Felix certainly have sex but it isn't minutely observed because the plot doesn't call for it to be unlike the prurient glimpses we get in to Jack's mind and covert activities. I confess that, whilst reading myself (and I read a huge amount of gay fiction) I can get a little irritated when, as the plot transpires, we occasionally take a break from the plot while the characters nip off to bed or, often, find themselves in the vicinity of one or other of them in the shower and we are invited along to watch while they have a shag for a few pages until ... back to the plot!

Equally, and this is a personal judgement, I like the sex that I read, and I try to write it in the same way, to be 'real'. What I mean by that is that it ought to be recognisably the same sort of sex that you yourself have or have had. I get a little impatient with unfeasible athleticism (maybe I've just been unlucky then ...) and way too many adjectives expressing rigidity. My favourite bête-noir at the moment is a growing tendency it seems to mention the prostate gland in descriptions of sexual encounters e.g. "his prostate lit up with each thrust" or "he expertly found his prostate" or "his prostate was screaming for more" (yes I have read that one!). It sounds a bit like someone has been reading a gay sex manual or a medical text book rather than reflecting the real experience of sex which, albeit the prostate may play a part, doesn't usually give it a starring role ... "Oh, yeah! Prod my prostate, yeah! Go on ... more prostate stimulation, please!" Perhaps, like the campaign for real ale, we should have a campaign for real sex? Erotica is, of course, a different thing altogether - anything goes, really! But, perhaps, and allowing for a little wish fulfilment along the way, 'real' sex is better than 'porn' sex in novels as, I would venture to suggest, in life.

One thing is for sure, though: isn't it fabulous that, whilst in my teens I occasionally stumbled across a brief account of gay sex in a very few novels, today I can sit here and actually write about the plethora of gay sex in the huge number of gay novels that are out there - thank God for the trail blazers and more power to each and every writer today!

What's the best thing in the world?

Ultimately ... this is!

 

There is no finer thing in the world than love! There is nothing in this world that can better break down barriers than love! There is nothing that makes you more truly yourself than love! If you have it, in whatever way, cherish it and never, ever let it go. If you haven't, never, ever give up hope of it.

COMING THIS SUMMER: "All Blood Runs Red" the latest gay romance from Tim Bairstow


Thanks to all who have read and enjoyed 'A Nightingale in the Sycamore' recently - I hope you'll enjoy the others too! If you haven't read them yet - please do and let me know what you think ... e-mail me anytime from this site.

Wishing you love in abundance!

Tim xxx

Look Out! Here Come the 'Gaystapo'!

Had enough of the election yet? Had enough of a curiously square-jawed little Scots woman with glee in her eyes salivating over the prospect of wielding undemocratic amounts of power over a UK electorate the overwhelming majority of whom couldn't vote for her even if they wanted to? Had enough of a breezy, bright eyed Welsh lady telling us all just how crap life is in "W - aaaales" as if we could do anything about it? Had enough of a bluff ex-businessman blaming the poor weather we've been having recently on an influx of immigrants or a corn-crake voiced Aussie ex-pat wooing us with a vision of just how fluffy communism will be? To say nothing of the buck toothed career politician gazing fixedly down the camera to tell you how in touch he is with the common people, how empathic he is with those whose experiences of life he can simply only have read about (if he'd been bothered) That's before we start on the bloke who looks like his wife's just left him and taken the play station with her, earnestly beseeching us to give him one more chance to show us we can trust him ... 'I mean it this time! This time it will be different!" Oh, and then there's the amiable 'toff' who speaks solely in sound bites ... "long term plan for hard working families fearing a coalition of chaos taking us back to square one" ... when he can be bothered to turn up at all.

Yes, thought you had! Me too!!! There's just no drama in it, no flair, no panache ... no guts! Wouldn't it be fun if the leaders actually had to spend a day wooing the gay vote? If they had to devote one day to trying to catch our eye, engage our attention?

You might get things like:

"Believe me, I'm not Mr Average but I promise to stand up for any average guy who'll tick my box!"

OR

"Hell Yes, I'm hard enough!"

OR

"The British people need to know: there's more to me than meets the eye!"

 

 

 

 

 


Or maybe this:

"It's great, really! Yeah! I'm loving it!!! Just don't leave straight afterwards ... not until you've promised that you'll always vote for me!"

OR

"Ed!!! You said you'd be gentle with me!!!"

OR

"Does this make up for the tuition fees thing?"

 

 

And a bit of real honesty would be good too:

"Let me tell you, quite frankly, what's on my mind ....!"

OR

"Whenever I think of my own world class education at Eton, one memory always stands out ...!"

OR

"How do you really feel about your coalition partners, Prime Minister?"

 

 

 

 


Ah, well ... one can dream! The leaders of the minor parties don't need any help from me to make themselves look a bit daft - they're doing a great job of that for themselves! However, if you thought that there was absolutely no danger at all from any of the rather amiable little creatures vying timidly for our votes, then have a read of this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/04/13/ukips-alan-craig-former-christian-peoples-alliance-leader-gets-iced-from-conference-on-unwanted-same-sex-attractions_n_7056420.html

Whilst one might be rather used to rather sinister odd-balls oozing up from the murk of the nether regions of UKIP (ghastly thought) it is interesting to note that this guy used to be a part of the Christian Peoples' Alliance, a group that makes UKIP look positively left-of-centre. Again, one can't blame the dear old Church for every loony fringe group that decides to rip off the name of its religion but note this also: the guy's obnoxious views were first published in no less august a publication than ... The Church of England Newspaper, that well known organ of the evangelical wing of the Church of England! Interesting take on political coverage, that, from the jolly old CofE. It's a good job that they don't have any gay clergy or gay members in their Church, isn't it? I mean, some of them might be quite offended!

Speaking of offensive:

 This is apparently the result of a survey of gay men (yes, you did hear me correctly .... gay men!) Would you, would you really those 10 per cent who said they'd snog Nigel Farage????

Perhaps it was the bacon sarny face that put folk off poor old Mr Miliband, languishing in 4th here?

At least Nick Clegg won something!!!!

I'm with the tasteful 45 per cent who clearly reached for the 'none of the above' button!!!

I guess that these unlikely heart throbs have a couple of weeks to try and ensure that we don't start a campaign for 'none of the above' to be on the ballot paper!

In the meantime ... Up the 'Gaystapo'!!!!