Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one out there who loves the heist subgenre–but I can’t help it. I ADORE IT–and while it’s mostly found in movies, it has its roots deep in literature and our oldest myths.
I know for me, it started with Barry Hughart’s The Flower and the Stone, which featured a premier thief/prostitute who would go seduce jewels away from a man or a woman in the name of the good that Ox and Master Li were doing, and simply saunter up with the needed tchotchke.
“Where did you get that?” they would ask.
“I’m a very bad man.”
“Oh–you ARE a very, very bad man.”
Except he WASN’T. He was a very GOOD man who played fast and loose with the law to get justice.
That concept was just so delicious!
Indigenous Peoples loved this idea–there was a Coyote or Crow myth for every tribe. Coyote, the trickster god, was their favorite. And he wasn’t just out there to make the bigger, more powerful gods learn humility, either. While it’s true that sometimes Coyote got his ass handed to him on a platter, in the end, his ultimate goal was to lead The People to safety, to the place under the stars, where they wouldn’t need to worry about pain and sorrow any more. In some tribes he foretold the apocalypse–and in some tribes he saved The People from the coming doom. And in some tribes he stopped it altogether, because he wanted to play with those on earth.
But that didn’t mean he couldn’t play merry hell with the self-important other gods while he was waiting for the big battle.
There is something almost compulsively sexy about a trickster god or goddess. They’re a scoundrel, a rake, a seductor–or seductress. The trickster often flirts with gender, sexuality and the societal bounds that we all yearn to cross. Loki spent six years as a mare–where he got bred by another god and gave birth. Cupid changed form in order to seduce Psyche in the dark. The Egyptian god Seth went from married male god to the gay party god depending on his story–and Bugs Bunny, the ultimate American trickster god, looked damned fine in a dress. And men and women would follow a playful, coy Kitsune into adventure. And people root for these gods in their adventures–they go places that the ordinary farmer can’t.
In the first book of the Long Con series, Stirling (whose book I am writing RIGHT now) asks Danny–the original Mastermind–“Are we good guys or bad guys?”
Danny tells him they are tricksters. They’re there to give things a bit of a push towards both chaos and good. The chaos is the fun part–but the good is what drives them all.
So that’s what I keep in mind in this series–but of course that’s not my only inspiration–and I’ve made this very clear. In my real life I tend not to see queer couples absolutely everywhere–I’ve done a lot of mental matches of het couples as well. We all exist on the same sphere, right? That said, Ocean’s 11, Leverage, and The Italian Job all had their moments when I said to myself, “Naw… Charlie and Left-Ear were definitely a thing,” or “Parker, Hardison, and Elliot could totally have made it work,” or–and I felt this very strongly–“Danny and Rusty just have to admit that their love for each other surpasses all other love.”
That’s not to say that Charlie and Stella didn’t make a very nice couple, and Parker and Hardison have done great things–but Rusty and Danny will forever be head canon, and I wanted to write a series that did that. “Yeah, sure–they are all gay, and the gay gang gets bigger with every book. But the adventures are fun and the hijinks ensue and the banter is dry and surprising. That is the book series I want to write.”
And that really came together in this installments. It has old family revenge, noble quests, buried pain, true love, action sequences and murder birds– what’s not to like?
And it also has one of my top twenty favorite couples of all time.
Michael is one of the sweetest, most adorable, most innocent characters I think I’ve ever written–and he spent two years in prison for armed robbery. Carl assumes he’s the boring second-ran of the very flamboyant Salinger crew but he is constantly proving that his very practical mind can run a surprising straight line when everybody else is trying for curves. I loved putting these two men together and seeing something very pure–and very unbreakable–emerge between them.
But they’re still tricksters-Carl possibly even more than Michael, although he’ll never be arrested in his life.
They’re smart and sexy and a little unpredictable, and they’re forces for chaos and good.
That’s my kind of love story right there–I hope you love it too.
You can find it here: