I adored Bad Beginnings, the new M/M romance release by Nicole Field. I was lucky enough to get a chance to ask a few questions of the author!
Q: One of the core elements of this story is a longtime crush. What’s fun about writing that kind of romance? Where are the challenges?
A: One of the pieces of feedback I got through one of my rounds of edits was that I needed to offer more depth to the friendship. These are people who have known each other over half their lives, including at ages where the age gap of four years was actually a big deal. I guess it was a challenge to get that kind of history on the page, to invent it, but honestly once I got going with it, it was loads of fun to create the in jokes and camaraderie between characters.
Q: I fell really hard for Kit, especially, with his determination to get things right, and his anxiety and how caring he is, not to mention his strawberry blonde hair and adorable pajamas. Tell me about Kit and his arc in the book. What do you think he sees in Dante?
A: It’s really important to me to show how characters like Kit live their lives with anxiety. That’s part of Kit’s arc. His anxiety doesn’t define him. He’s able to do his job and have his relationships with anxiety, even though he doubts that at various points in this book. I think when he starts to fall for Dante, he focuses too much on getting things wrong and losing him, without realizing that Dante has known him since they were both teenagers. Dante already knows and accepts him for who he is, warts and all. After that, it’s just a matter of getting Kit to accept himself, and trust in Dante. Once he stops seeing him as the kid brother of his best friend, he sees someone who is caring but also strong and passionate and willing to fight for what he wants, and for others.
Q: Dante begins a new project in this story, one that is very dear to him. What made you decide to write this into the story? What does it tell us about Dante that he cares so much about doing this?
A: Dante’s brother Con is trans, but obviously Bad Beginnings isn’t a ‘trans story’. Still, I didn’t want to have Dante be completely unaffected by seeing his brother come out as trans. It wouldn’t seem like a real or honest portrayal. But, of course, being four years younger than Con, Dante was powerless to have much part in helping his brother when their parents didn’t accept him. This is what we see playing out again when Dante comes across the character of Tony: a young, trans teen who steals from his shop. Suddenly, Dante is an adult. He is fully able to step in and help where he feels like he failed before.
Q: Actually, one of my favorite things about this book is Con, and how he feels fully developed and whole, which is unusual for secondary trans characters, in my reading experience.
A: Con is a character who has been in my head since 2008, before Kit and before even Dante came fully formed. For me, it seems impossible not to write him fully formed on the page. The difficulty was keeping him from being a show stealer. In all honesty, I would hope that all of my secondary characters would feel developed and whole, trans or not. In that way, Con is no different to any of my other characters.
Q: There are characters in Bad Beginnings that appear in an earlier book of yours. What made you decide to link the books and write about two queer brothers?
A: I knew that I had a couple of stories I wanted to tell, one for Con and one for Kit. Kit was always gay, and never felt like he fit in. He’s not as confident or suave as his business partner and best friend Con. For that reason, he’s always felt like he exists in Con’s shadow. The idea of Kit’s love interest being Con’s brother Dante came to me later on, once I asked myself how other people in Con’s life reacted to Con’s first coming out as trans in a book yet to be released. (I write non sequentially, it’s a terrible habit.) When I realised how Dante reacted, it just sort of came to me that he’s always had a crush on Kit, even before understanding that he himself was bisexual. I’ve little interest at the moment in writing a character who is conflicted about their sexuality, so it suited me well to have those understandings for both characters be in their backstories.
Q: One of the things I love most about this book is the portrayal of chosen family. Tell me about family in Bad Beginnings, all different kinds, including chosen family.
A: In real life, I have an incredibly strong network of chosen family. I think that’s something that comes across in many of my books. That small group of people who bond together. It’s not always because the biological family isn’t accepting or loving, but in this case that’s a lot of what started it. In Dante and Con’s case, of course, they are biologically related. But the point is that they have chosen to stay together. It’s their actions that have caused them to be brothers, rather than blood. One of my favourite scenes in Bad Beginnings is when Con articulates to Kit just how much a part of his chosen family Kit is. It isn’t reliant upon whether or not Kit dates Dante at all. I knew that, and I’m sure the reader will know that, but it was important for me to have Kit have that aha! moment within the story too.
Q: What is next for you, and for the Bad Beginnings crew?
Well, I mentioned before that I don’t write sequentially. Ironically, the book in which Con comes to realize his gender identity was both the first story with these characters to come to me in 2008, and also the hardest for me to write. However, Con’s story has been written in an upcoming novel called Growing Pains. It’s set around 10 years earlier than Bad Beginnings, but all our favourite characters, Dante, Kit and Con will be there. Hopefully it will be out in print and ebook towards the end of this year, or early next.
More about Bad Beginnings:
After the recent ending of a relationship, Kit feels lost and uncertain about where he stands without being in a relationship. Dante, on the other hand, has been waiting for this moment for years, and now that Kit is finally single he has no intention of wasting this chance.
But even the most sincere feelings and best intentions aren’t enough to guarantee happiness, and it’s a long road from a bad start to a happy end.
I was able to convince Nicole to read a snippet from Bad Beginnings for you, and am delighted that it’s one that includes Kit in his pajamas. So. if you want a taste of this wonderful queer romance, here’s your chance to hear it, in the author’s own voice!
Bio: Nicole Field writes across the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity. She lives in Melbourne with one of her partners, two cats, a whole lot of books and a bottomless cup of tea.