Jay Mountney: Last Christmas

We couldn’t let Christmas go by without a Christmas themed story, now could we? So here’s a sweet-yet-sad little tale from Jay Mountney, obviously inspired by the old George Michael Christmas song. You can find details of all Jay’s books and stories at her website – do check them out and maybe treat yourself to a last-minute stocking-filler or two!

The zine will be taking a short break over the festive season to let all our contributors a well-earned rest. You can picture us lying on sofas, stuffed with turkey and chocolates, or zonked out of our brains on Prosecco or artisan gin. We’ll be back in the new year, suitably refreshed, with more m/m stories for your reading delectation.

In the meantime, Happy Christmas from the RoM/Mantic Reads team! And over to you, Jay…

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Pic credit: Jay Mountney

Last Christmas…

I remember it as clearly as yesterday, and you’re lying when you say it all passed in an alcoholic blur because of your new job and celebrating and so on. We were living together so it would have been a bit hard to fool me that much. Most of the time you were sober and a bit morose about having to move, to leave, even though you were pleased with the new status and even more with the new pay package.

I gave you my heart…

…right after the office party, on the way to the station. You were grumbling about having to pretend we weren’t together and I suggested we should stop pretending, let the world know, get married (it’s legal now, after all) and let the office busybodies have their nine days’ wonder, shock and salacious gossip. I said I would come to London with you, find a job somewhere, somehow, so that we could be together. We stopped under one of those huge streetlights on the station approach and you kissed me right there in public. Well, OK, there weren’t many public around and the ones there were were wrapped up in their own thoughts and destinations. But you kissed me without looking over your shoulder and I remember the sleet glistening on your hair under the light, the fiery coldness of your lips and the way my heart sang. Then you held my hand till we had to leave loose and run helter-skelter for the last train, laughing.

Neither of us had had that much to drink. We never did at those office things, too scared, I suppose, of giving ourselves away. So instead I gave my heart away and when we got home we fucked, or rather made love, till almost dawn.

The very next day…

It was Christmas Eve and we went into the village to buy a tree. We thought they might be cheaper, with less than twenty-four hours to go. We found a really nice little tree outside the supermarket, with a huge ‘reduced’ sign on it and we were just going to go in when Anna, that new girl from the typing pool, came past. We hadn’t known she lived in the same suburban village as us; she’d left the party early and of course we normally travelled in by car so we wouldn’t have run across her. She looked surprised then asked if we were together, with one of those smirking, knowing looks that some people seem to find appropriate. I was just saying yes, proud and dizzily happy when you said no, we were just flatmates. I felt the bottom drop out of my world.

We didn’t even decorate the tree and it just stood there all dark and bare till I threw it out on New Year’s Eve, tired of the needles dropping on the carpet, dry and spiked like my thoughts.

You left on the Sunday night and you tossed me your keys without a care in the world.

This year…

I was surprised to see you, pleased for you to hear about the promotion and the return up north, but not impressed that you seemed to think I’d just have been waiting all year, like some kind of doll you can throw into a box and take out again when it suits you. You were never that great a ‘catch’ despite the inflated salary. I could always have found someone else but we were good together or at least I thought we were. You didn’t. Obviously.

…someone special.

He’s already asked me privately and he’s arranged this romantic public proposal under the mistletoe at his mum’s house. They know, too, so there won’t be any outcry, just lots of people pleased for us. He’s really dependable, and not bad-looking. I’m going to be happy.

But sometimes, very privately, I just wish it was last Christmas all over again.

Jeff Baker: Five TV Shows that could have gone M/M

UNITED STATES – JULY 09: THE ODD COUPLE – “Generic” 1970-1975 Tony Randall, Jack Klugman (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

An earlier article on this site speculated about movies that could have gone M/M. So here’s my speculation about five TV series which could have gone M/M (or come close!) I’ve stuck with shows I saw first-run as well as shows that aren’t in production anymore.

The Odd Couple (1970)

Tony Randall and Jack Klugman used to play up the notion that Felix and Oscar were Gay during rehearsals to freak out the network censors and so they would be able to get away with other stuff in the scripts. Tony Randall claimed there was an episode they were going to do where Oscar is writing a story on a closeted athlete and Felix reads some of it and misunderstands (imagine that! A misunderstanding on a sitcom!) and thinks Oscar is Gay. (“Oscar Gay? He can’t be gay! I’m the one they should think is gay!” was supposedly one of Felix’s lines in a script Tony Randall called one of the funniest he had ever read.)

Felix and Oscar as a Gay couple? No, they really would have driven each other crazy…

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970)

No real speculation here except that the pilot script broadly hinted that Murray might be Gay. Watch the first episode; see how Gavin MacLeod plays Murray with maybe a hint or two that he’s not all that straight. In later scripts, that would be replaced with his unrequited crush on Mary Richards, and who can blame him?

Murray and Ted? Yuuuuuuuk!

Batman (1966)

Holy Heterosexuality! I’ve mentioned before that Burt Ward in that skimpy Robin outfit made me sit up and take notice when I was about six years old! I wouldn’t be the first to speculate about the possibilities of a not-that-platonic relationship between Batman and Robin (remember, Ward was 25 when he did the show!) But the 60s Batman was too square to act on any such desire if he had desires for anything but crime fighting. Others have noted how the various incarnations of B&R feature a lot of bondage with our heroes squirming and sweating. And they have gone into how single-mindedly Batman obsesses with his mission above all else.

Happy Days (1974)

Yeah, yeah, guy in a leather jacket who’s reeeeealllly close to his best friend! Ayyyyyyy! Seriously, while Richie and Fonzie had a serious bromance going there was no hint of anything other than heterosexuality on this nostalgia piece about life in an idealized 1950s America. While homosexuality was one issue the series never addressed, the show had one big Gay template LGBT viewers can identify with; Fonzie, the Cunninghams and their friends were what we would today call “Chosen Family.” And they had a serious emotional bond. Yeah, love was all around on that show too. Anyway, I can’t be the only guy who noticed how cute Anson Williams was.

Dawson’s Creek (1998)

Yeah, this teen drama actually did have a Gay character (Jack McPhee, played by Kerr Smith) but the show toyed with the fans hinting at something more than friendship between Dawson and best buddy Pacey. Maybe they just needed a push?

And one that almost did:

That 70s Show (1998)

The first-season episode “Eric’s Buddy” introduced us to Buddy Morgan, a not spoiled rich kid who hits on (and kisses) Eric Foreman. Series creators said at the time that Buddy was intended to be a possible “love interest” for Eric, but conservative reaction torpedoed that idea, as did Gay viewer’s reaction to Eric’s panic at being kissed by a guy. (Maybe he panicked at the sudden realization that he wasn’t as straight as he thought?) Buddy Morgan was never seen again, but the actor, one Joseph Gordon-Levitt has done all right for himself. He has said that he was proud of having been involved in the first M/M kiss on a scripted show on network television. 

So, those are my picks! How about yours?

I’d love to know!

Happy viewing!

                                                               —-jeff

Meet the Contributors #2: Addison Albright

This week it’s the turn of Addison Albright, with some really fun answers to our tricksy questions (I am so there on the plot bunny!). Addison had this lovely story featured in the zine a few weeks ago. Here’s what makes her tick in real life.

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When did you start writing?

Way back in 2008 with my earliest works published by the now-defunct Torquere Press. Then I had a book published at the (also) now-defunct Loose ID in 2009. I took a break after that until 2016 when I started writing again with JMS Books, where I’ve published both new stories and rewrites of those earlier books.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

You’d think this would be an easy question to answer, but it gets kind of complicated. Often both evolve together as the idea germinates to such a degree it’s hard to remember which came first for a particular story. That said, I think the spark of the plot idea probably comes first for most of mine, but since I’m a pantser turned plantser, the characters end up driving at least the details of much of the story. For a spinoff like To Love and To Cherish, one MC existed as a side character in a previous story long before I thought up a fresh story for him.

Which of your books were the most enjoyable?

I’m interpreting this as enjoyable to write as opposed to my favorite among my own books (although this is in the running for that, too). I’m going to go with To Love and To Cherish because at the time I was more full-on “pantser” (rather than “plantser” which is how I would label myself these days), and I had no idea what I was going to do to poor Nash when I started writing what I thought was going to simply be a marriage of convenience story. I hadn’t come up with a plan for the “drama” yet when it hit me…how much fun would it be, in a story where two men jaded by love have decided on a marriage of convenience, to toss in a case of amnesia, rebooting the memory of one of them back to before the incident that had soured him on the idea of love, so of course he assumes his current engagement must be a love match, right? What else would it be? So yeah, I had so much fun coming up with the rest of that book!

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

I wish I could say I was overwhelmed with ideas, but they don’t come that easy to me. I’m in thinking mode batting around possibilities in my head now, but I keep getting sidetracked by thinking up “what if” scenarios for characters in some of my favorite books. But, what I’m trying to work out is a possible spinoff for a couple side characters in my Plans Trilogy. Same world, different MCs. (Heh, so in this case, the answer to which came first, the plot or the characters would definitely be the characters).

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading The Cooking Mage and the Parchment Prankster, Part 1, a wonderfully creative and humorous fantasy by Eric Alan Westfall, who’s both an amazing author and a wonderful person I’ve been fortunate enough to have met several times. I’m also listening to 2001: A Space Odyssey in audiobook format.

How many bookshelves are in your house?

Two. Years back I had…I forget if it was six or seven of them, all jam packed full, plus an additional two packed full of children’s books. When it came time to downsize, I faced some difficult choices, but in the end kept a variety of favorites I would want to reread, and books I swear I plan to read…someday. I’ve since weeded out a few more and occasionally add to it. These days, my first reads tend to be in ebook format, but if something becomes a solid favorite, I’ll buy the physical book, too.

What superpower would you have and why?

Teleportation. Think of how this would open the world to wanna-be travelers who otherwise couldn’t afford to be globe trotters. Spend a day abroad without travel or lodging costs! Plus, seems like a convenient way to get out of a tight spot. Here in the real world, though, I can see potential drawbacks in the form of governments wanting to eliminate me and the spy risk I represent (hmm…plot bunny?) and/or being accused of insider trading if I do better than one might expect in the stock market (gotta admit, teleporting into boardroom closets to do that might be tempting) and/or becoming a suspect in unsolved crimes. Clearly great care would have to be taken to keep my superpower secret, which sadly, would have an undesirable effect on its recreational benefits. On second though, maybe I should go with something like being able to read minds (but only if I can turn it off and on at will and direct it with precision).

Where can readers purchase your books?

Readers can purchase my books at JMS Books (https://www.jms-books.com/addison-albright-c-224_227/) and at distributors everywhere (https://books2read.com/rl/AddisonAlbright)! Note, all of my stories (though not necessarily all of the books…some of the collections are excluded) are in Kindle Unlimited. They’re not in via KDP so they’re not tied to that pesky exclusivity deal and are also available at all the usual retailers.

Welcome to our brand new zine!

RoM/Mantic Reads is a new venture by a group of around twenty m/m authors that will bring you an assortment of free short fiction, missing scenes, character interviews, book reviews, movie reviews and general m/m related fun! We’ll be posting the first stories very soon, but in the meantime why not have a poke around and check out who will be contributing and what they write? You can find all the details on the ‘Meet the Team’ page here.