Old school comic book fans may well remember the names Frank Miller and Bill Sienkewietz, both of whom were huge back in the 1980s and 1990s. Miller is doing shows for Netflix these days, while Sienkewittz remains an active and progressive artist.
The gender bender aspects of Love and War did not involve a full on body swap. However, there is a sequence where a male character is feeling everything being experienced by a female character, including when she decided to have sex at one point.
I am being intentionally vague as to not give away too much, but it is a pretty fun and interesting scene. If you are not familiar with Sinkewietz work– look at the over. The inside art is the same, so this is not your usual comic book experience.
So, there is some fun gender bender material in there, and it’s also a great read and visually stunning. You can find it on Amazon Kindle.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Today, I’m gonna share on where I get my ideas. I’ve written hundreds of gender swap short stories, novels, novellas and now scripts over the years. While they share a common element– someone gets gender swapped– they also are all different and unique in their own ways. Mostly, that does not result from a kind of logical process, but from an imaginative experience.
One of the greatest idea generating activities in my life involves walking. Aside from getting story ideas, I just like to walk. It’s healthy, and for me it’s a form of meditation. When I walk regularly, I just feel better physically, mentally and spiritually.
And, I get ideas. In the case of my current novel, Carrolwood, for example, the voice of the narrator came to me as I walked around my neighborhood after dinner one sweaty summer night. I sort of met this character, and I thought the voice was funny, and I began to think about what kind of story I could tell with that voice. The characters and setting all then just kind of emerged from my subconscious.
Another time I was walking around the beach down at Asbury Park, NJ, where the evil, 19th century clown Tillie still serves as town mascot, and I just started to think about what if Tillie were an evil spirit haunting the town? As I walked around, I took pictures of different locations, and the story ended up being built around that walk.
In addition to getting ideas for stories, I sometimes walk to inspiration while in the middle of a story. Sometimes when I am writing I get in a jam and can’t figure out what the character would or should do, I take a long walk, and the answer a lot of times just comes to me. Sometimes I see the scene in my head, and at those times I am very much inclined to believe in the idea of a muse that is feeding me ideas. It really does feel to me sometimes like I am seeing the story happen and just writing it down rather than “coming up with it.”
There are other ways ideas come to me. Sometimes I create a cover and then write a story to match. I have been inspired sometimes by other authors. For example, I once decided to write a TG story in the style of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Likewise, Forever Mine started out as “forced femme version of YOU (the book and Netflix series). There must be others I can’t think of right now– Oh, yeah– It Girl! What? Just started out as “TG Anime.”
But, I would say, without walking, I think I would write a lot less. There’s just something about walking along a shady, tree-lined path that allows my mind to open itself up and accept the gifts of inspiration!
So, I thought I might share some thoughts on magic in The Shattered Isles. Let’s start with what we already know about magic in this world: it is a learnable skill. We have seen this with Pattenia and Denalia training at the girl’s school, learning to cast spells or use magic to create potions. We have seen Serren spending hours reading tomes, learning the secrets of spell work. So, it is not just a gift from the gods, but a matter of technique and practice.
Why would this be the case? Two reasons. First, the training develops the part of the brain that controls magic. Most people are born with a very small part of their brain dedicated to magic. Even without development, people experience their magic instinct in the form of intuition, instinct and even, sometimes, what seems like luck. For example, if someone gets a strange feeling, then turns to realize someone has been watching them, that is their magic ability alerting them to their observer. Sometimes, when in danger, people will report that time seemed to slow down. Once more, this is an instinctive activation of their magic skills.
Without training, the inherent magic ability in all people never rises beyond this level of unaware manifestation.
However, with practice, most people can develop their magic instinct becoming capable of manipulating magic and using it to change reality itself. Remember that we now know that everything is made of energy. Energy can become matter, and matter energy. Magic users learn to manipulate the energy of their universe to their own ends.
So, one part of the training develops the brain and the magic ability. In addition, magic users learn to use and channel energy to and through their brains much more efficiently than most people. Although the brain takes up only 2% of the body’s mass, it eats up 20% of our daily energy needs– about 320 calories. Cognitive tasks cause the brain to eat more energy, and none more than magic. So, spell casters have to become very “fit”– the equivalent of long distance runners, with tremendous mental endurance.
The spells, symbols and secrets learned all serve to help a witch or wizard focus and bend reality to their will. They can also serve to protect them from others who would seek to use their magic against them. So, in addition to developing their brains, spell users learn certain chants and spells that have been developed over the years to help the caster bring about a specific result. The spell the hekatin used to transform Serren into a girl is an example of such a spell. Transforming someone’s sex is very complicated and difficult to manage, so the spell helps make that transformation happen without some sort of error or mistake. Even the faith necessary to believe such a transformation is possible must be learned and bolstered, and the spells help with that sense of faith as well.
Much of magic remains a mystery, even to the users. Were you to ask Actonia how she turned a buck into a doe, she would have to admit that she really doesn’t know. She only knows that when she casts the spell, the change happens. Magic defies logic, rationality, reason– which is one reason the Priests of Maxis look upon it with suspicion. The hekatin, however, celebrate creativity, emotion and the irrational, and they are quite comfortable with the notion of change, and that nothing we see might be what it appears.
Magic versus Miracles
So far, I have been writing only about the magic worked my the men and women of the Isles. There is a second kind of supernatural power in the world, however, and that is the work of the Gods and their agents. When the power comes from a deity, that power is in the realm of a miracle, meaning it is worked and granted by a divinity. Mortals have no control over miracles; they are granted according to the will of the Gods. Sometimes, a mortal of particular merit may be granted the ability to request certain miracles such as healing or protection, but this is always a power coming from outside the person as a gift. The power does not come from them, and this is not a skill that can be learned.
I reader recently wrote me asking for the names and insignia of the royal houses of The Shattered Isles. I felt more readers might be interested, so here along with a little more history, are the royal families that make up the ruling class:
The names of the groups and houses originate after the success of the revolt and the rise of Maxis. The men each chose new names for their families, rejecting the “goddessed” names of their ancestors and starting new lines in the light of Maxis.
The Houses Denae
These houses are all closely related, tracing their ancestors back to the three men who banded together to overthrow the rule of the goddess Progenita, who they refer to as Pestilentia.
Symbol: Sun Hawk
Symbol: Summer Eagle
Symbol: Falcon Moon
As the Three, they stand slight higher in status than the other royal houses.
The Houses Sey
The Sey joined the rebellion some years after the beginning of the struggle. Thus, they rank lower than the others since they came along to the cause later, and were awarded estates of lesser value.
Symbol: Griffin of the Light
Symbol: Sea Tiger
The final royal house is the only one that dates back to before the great war.
Symbol: The Ancient Spider
Gaunefer was one of the ruling clans from the days of the goddess. They betrayed Progenita and served a key role in the defeat of the forces of the goddess. As a reward, they were allowed to keep their ancestral lands and retain status as a ruling family. However, they have always been looked upon with distrust and rumors have circulated for years that they sheltered witches, who kept the cult of the goddess alive in secret.
House Kybele was the last ruling family during the matriarchy. Once King Denae seized power, he sought to hunt down and kill each and every member of the family as well as all hekatin. This was when he formed the order of the Witch Hunters. Their primary function was initially to eliminate all descendants of Kybele, but later became the suppression of goddess worship and witchcraft. Whispers have long haunted the Kings Denae that a heir survived, and her descendants have lived on in secret awaiting the return of the Witch Moon.
Originally, the lands now known as The Shattered Isles consisted of one large land mass. When House Kybele fell and Maxis rose, the Witch Moon vanished from the sky and there was a great tumult. The very ground shook and the seas boiled. The land shattered into a series of islands, great stretches of land sinking into the sea and leaving them divided. King Denae and the priests of Maxis determined this “shattering” represented the shattering of the bonds that had been placed on them by “Pestlentia” and so celebrated the breaking up of the lands by renaming them The Shattered Isles.
To the new ruling class, Pestilentia (and all women) represented chaos, emotionalism, illogic and the irrational. In their new order, women were denied any leadership positions and consigned to be wives and mothers. In the eyes of the men, women lacked the mental facilities to lead properly, allowing their feelings to govern their decisions. The only magic allowed was the magic of men– primarily spells to wage war and aid in physical tasks such as building. With their power in the rise, they constructed wonderous temples, roads and aqueducts.
For several hundreds of years after the rise of Maxis, girls received no formal education at all. Even many royal women lacked the ability to read. However, as time passed, it was determined that “properly” educated women made better wives for their husbands, and so gradually girls were allowed to learn some non-domestic subjects, primarily in what would become The Girls’ Academy in the royal city of Denaerk. The initial teachers came primarily from Gaunefer, where the lax leadership had allowed them to learn academic subbjects over the course of years, despite royal mandates forbidding such learning.
Some More History
According to The Hekatin
The priests of Maxis and the hekatin relate very different stories as to the origins of the world. According to the hekatin, Progenita gave birth to the world and to all life. She ruled over the lands as a loving mother, the hekatin her loyal servants. The lands, once known as Progenia, had always been ruled by a matriarchy. She placed the Goddess Moon in the sky to show her eternal love for her people, that they would ever know of her goodness. The people lived in harmony, harvest was abundant and all dwelt in comfort and safety.
They teach that a matriarchy is the natural and original order of the world. Men are all little boys who need a strong mother to guide their actions. And it was a dark God named Maxis who came from distant lands and tore the world asunder.
According to the Priests of Maxis
The priests of Maxis teach that Maxis forged the lands with his great hammer, Granite . He then made men of steel to fight and lead, and women of silver to provide comfort to their men. He placed the Ever Moon, later called the Witch Moon, in the sky as an expression of his love for his wife.
Pestilientia was his wife. She grew jealous of how much the people loved Maxis, and she revolted against her nature, seeking the power and the role of a God. So, she did betray him, slipping a sleeping drought into his wine one night and then binding him with mighty chains and spells in his own dungeon. The wicked queen then drew his power from him and gave it to women, allowing them to subjugate men and bringing an era of chaos and darkness to the world.
Finally, Maxis freed himself from her spell using the power of his mind, took back his power and restored the rule of man to the isles, striking down the Witch Moon, cutting out Pestilentia’s tongue and consigning her to serve as a maid in his palace. The wars to restore the rule of man shed much blood, and so Maxis cursed women to bleed once a month as a reminder of the folly of woman’s rule.
I’ve been watching a new gender swap TV series of Youtube lately that has a lot of fun moments for fans of TG romantic comedy. The main character in the series is a modern day hit man who wakes up after an accident to find himself in the body of a princess in ancient China.
Not only is he a princess, but the first wife of the crown prince while also the subject of romantic attentions from the crown prince’s brother. The creators of the show are happy with a slow build both in terms of the main character adjusting to being a woman, but also the romanic entanglements. You’ll get to see him deal with having a period, having men fight over him, struggle with other women, faint into a man’s arms, run screaming, crying for men to protect him and a whole lot more.
Netfix has released a body swap series that borders on horror. In this series, a cute and popular girl finds herself switched with an outcast, and we see things mostly from her perspective as she is shunned, mocked and humiliated by the kids in her school, many of whom were her friends when she was in her own body.
The show is disturbing in a powerful way, because of how much the girl suffers when she experiences what it is like to be an outcast. I had expected it to be one of these stories where she proves that her soul is superior by transforming herself in her new body, but in fact, this show suggests that bad parents plus a lack of traditional good looks dooms her to outcast status. It is, however, a love story, and we do see a character who is able to see who she is beneath the skin and whose love for her goes more than skin deep.
Excellent performances by the actors, and this is a well shot professional series.
Anyway, don’t want to give away too much, but if you are interested in getting into body swap stories that deal with bullying, status and teen-cruelty, this is the one for you.
Yes! You heard correctly! The second book in The Shattered Isles series is now available on Lulu and Amazon in ebook form! The paper will be available any day now! I am just waiting for it to process.
For those who have not yet come to visit The Shattered Isles, the books tell the story of Crown Prince Serren, first in line to the throne and the embodiment of male privilege. That is, until his sister uses forbidden magic to turn him into a girl. As Pattenia’s younger sister, Serren no longer has claim to the throne and watches as his sister takes his crown and consigns him to a life of corsets and gowns.
Book II continues his struggles learning to live as a princess, while his sister continues her journey into masculine territory, going off to war and adventure! I will say if you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it, you will be in a blissful state beyond words for the duration!
Buy it on Amazon!
Although I mostly review books that explore gender through body swaps and magical changes, I also find it fascinating when authors explore gender through the roles a character plays and the ways society treats them. Such is the case with teen age Alice Bell, who loved hockey more than anything and hopes to keep playing by joining the all-boy’s Chicago Falcons, where the level of play is high enough that professional scouts regularly visit to look for professional prospects.
Through a k-drama series of events, she ends up joining the team as a boy named Al.
Having dedicated her life to the sport, Alice wants to play with and against the best, to have a chance to prove herself. In the world of hockey, her identity trends pretty much dude, with her concerns being sports, eating whole pizzas and winning. She barely even sees the other players as having any sexual identity, other than the star player Hayden Trembley, who much to her horror she finds herself crushing on.
Now, where this story gets interesting and I feel reflects the reality of many women today, young and not so young, is how embarrassed she feels whenever she feels or is forced to act in traditionally feminine. In addition to her hockey, for example, her mother insists she participate in some figure skating, and she hates the dresses and the make-up, wondering what her hockey playing team mates would think if they saw her in a sparkly little dress and fake eyelashes.
She relates to Trembley dude to dude, repressing her romantic feelings because, yes, she is pretending to be a boy, but also because he is her team mate, and she feels that getting close to him romantically would be bad for the team, and also, I feel, because since her relationship with him is based on her being a dude, she worries what will happen if she acts or looks feminine. In fact, she has to work to hide her femininity: the way she sits, talks and uses her hands.
It’s all good fun, but I also feel reflects the lives of contemporary girls who shift and morph from competing as athletes to getting all dolled up for the home coming dance, or who pretty much dress like dudes most of the time– hoodies and jeans and sneakers– but then feel the need to dress “girly” for certain occasions, or maybe when they want to get the attention of certain guys.
This story deals with all that, and it even offers a resolution, though I won’t what. It is also at heart a very modern rom com, and a fun read. Check it out!
I love it when authors from other genres choose to write a gender bender, and so I was quite excited to stumble upon a body-swapping romance from New York Times best selling author of romance novels Katherine Ashe.
Lady Corrina, an intelligent, well-read young woman, has intellectual ambitions, largely stifled by her sex. lord Ian Chance loves horses, drinking and bedding women. Naturally, Corrina thinks she despises Ian, though they have known each other all their lives. Of course, it does seem the lady doth protest too much.
Enter a magic statue which causes them to switch bodies. Ian wakes up in a room so feminine it makes him want to puke, only to look down and become more horrified to discover he now has a woman’s shape. The situation only gets more nightmarish when he realized he has become Corrina. Corrina, meanwhile, finds herself equally horrified to be in his body. They communicate, trying to figure out what to do, and decide they will have to live each other’s lives as long as they are trapped in their new bodies.
There are some very fun gender swapped moments. Ian complaining of his corsets and being forced to spend his nights at salons. Corrina getting a thrill as she is finally allowed entrance to the exclusive men’s clubs she has been barred from, and then being surprised to find the men she’d thought so shallow are actually intelligent and fun.
Ian suddenly finds himself constrained and limited, having to worry constantly about his reputation, and when a man besmears it Ian finds himself standing behind Corrina while she punches the man to protect Ian’s honor.
We do get some sexual tension between the two as well, but alas their is no physical consumation until they are back in their own bodies. All in all, this is a very fun read, one that derives its enjoyment mainly from being a traditional romance with all the expected beats, but where we get to see a man in the woman’s role, and a woman in the man’s. I say– read on!