I thought it might be questionable fun to dissect one of my books…and decided to do it anyway. LOL. For this little ‘operation’ I’ve chosen Snow Angel (and to some degree its sequel Angel Heart) because it’s wonderfully controversial, and has been out a few years now.
Warning: spoilers. You may wish to stop reading now.
Some regard Dean as he appears to be — a Jack-the-Lad, out to have fun at the expense of others. When you delve deeper, Dean is indeed, fun. Friendly. Flirty…
He’s also loyal, protective, and supportive. Dean is someone who doesn’t love easily but when he does, he’s capable of devotion — the type of devotion that moves heaven and earth. He demonstrates this with Jay when he tries to ‘do the right thing’ and let him go even though he knows he doesn’t want to. He’s afraid — of what he’s feeling, but also of not being able to *be* all that Jay asks of him. He’s capable of accepting pain — his or someone else’s — for the greater good.
He also shows his protective nature when Jay is in danger and, without hesitation, runs to the rescue. Even when he only thinks Jay may be in danger, he’s deeply troubled and willing to trawl the streets, all night long if need be, in freezing snow.
His last great act of devotion comes with the realisation that he does indeed love Jay, that he doesn’t want to consider life without him, and that he wants to give Jay what Jay wants (and Jay wants his love). Although he doesn’t understand his feelings, he puts his trust in Jay and is determined to do right by him. I suspect he’s deeply embarrassed about coming out and a show of looking people right in the eye and holding his head up contains a degree of bravado.
Jay has a quiet nature, but he’s nobody’s fool. He doesn’t believe he can have what he wants — Dean’s love — but makes peace with his feelings.
When that situation changes, Jay never truly has any doubts. He *knows* what he wants. He doesn’t doubt himself, just the possibility of Happy Ever After so for a time accepts Happy For Now. He’d rather love and lose than not love at all.
Jay seems to be a pushover at times. This is untrue. Jay is the one in charge and, once they become involved, fundamentally in control.
Jay doesn’t doubt that Dean *is* capable of loving someone and being loyal. In Jay’s view, Dean doubts himself, and in this he’s very perceptive.
Dean and Jay:
Dean and Jay’s ‘relationship’ is very much Dom/sub. It’s not a BDSM book, but the Dom/sub dynamic is prevalent here, just as it is in many everyday relationships: often one partner is dominant even if this proves interchangeable. When people pair up, whether it be a working or loving relationship, each individual invariably has strengths. When one physical or emotional ‘strength’ is needed more than another that person steps up, takes the ‘dominant position’ whether it be a physical requirement or deciding which one should argue with the cold caller at the door. In Snow Angel I created this collaboration subconsciously at first.
I repeat: Dean and Jay’s bond is very much one of Dom/sub, and as everyone who has an inkling of BDSM knows, the sub is the one in charge. It’s power exchange but the sub can always call HALT.
Deans gets Jay because it’s what Jay wants. He agreeable and determined to have this time with Dean even if it cannot last. Jay manipulates Dean more than Dean ever knows, although he doesn’t have to try very hard. Jay can draw love from others just by being himself.
When they enter a relationship proper, it is Dean who doubts himself. Jay never doubts him at all. Jay is the stronger one in this pairing. Despite appearances it is Dean who relies on Jay’s guidance and Dean who self-doubts. Jay is the only one who has faith in Dean.
I particularly realised what an incredible interchange I had created when the owner of my publisher contacted me to say, “Well done. Very subtly nuanced.” Too subtle for some perhaps, but the pairing continue to delight me. I love complex characters.
April (Jay’s sister):
Simply put, she comes across as a bitch. That’s fine. She’s supposed to. But even then not all is as it seems. People can appear at their worst when scared or protective. April is scared for Jay. She’s fiercely protective of her brother, and bares her teeth at Dean. April’s motivations all stem from love.
Dean’s confusion is something I never fully addressed. I stand by this decision in the two stories I penned for these characters so far. Dean is bisexual. There’s no real question of that — he’s not simply ‘gay for you’ as there are hints to his psyche in past events, things he’s seen and chosen to do. However, it takes loving the right person for him to truly be moved to taking that step towards acceptance and discovering more about himself along the way. Even then he’s confused and I deliberately wanted him to feel that way. It takes some people years to accept who they are. Dean is no different. I wanted to illustrate that for some people ‘labels’ don’t always fit. I left Dean slightly uncomfortable with who he is, suffering a lack of understanding that only time and love can help him find his way through. I left Jay there with him, happy to be his guide.
Not everyone likes Dean (although many adore him), but to a large extent, I’m fine with that. Readers’ reaction to Dean reflects human interaction. After all, many people are not as they seem on the surface and not everyone picks up on that. People often don’t understand the actions of another, or they understand by varying degrees, or ‘get’ someone’s motivations completely, as the reaction to this particular story illustrates. In that way the book reflects life.
Will I ever revisit them? I really don’t know. I would like to. Just once. But for now they remain irritatingly silent, refusing to tell me more of their story.