When in Rome...
I'm very flattered that my new book, The Fifth Gospel, has been labelled as lesbian fiction's answer to The Da Vinci Code. Whether you love or hate The Da Vinci Code, it was one of the highest selling books of all time-I'm definitely taking the label as a compliment. However, just to clarify, I'm no Dan Brown, but then again, he's no Michelle Grubb either! I'm yet to read a lesbian sex scene he's written, although (and I'm not trying to sway him either way with his next main character) if Robert Langdon had have been a woman, I think it would have spiced things up a little and certainly made for some interesting scenes with the French heroine.
I really enjoyed the book, although I have spoken to people who say they hated it. I'm slightly bewildered by this because when I hear someone tout how much they hate the book, I politely ask if they finished it. Without fail, everyone has. Honestly, who reads over 500 pages (depending on the print version you have) before you decide you hate something? Having said that, I have many friends who simply must finish every book they start. Perhaps if you've put yourself through hundreds of pages of hell, you might deserve to say you dislike it after all?
Love it or hate it, The Da Vinci Code entertained millions of people and while The Fifth Gospel won't hit the New York Times best seller list, I hope it has the opportunity to be widely read. One reviewer said, "Gay or straight, spiritual or not, you should read this book." I don't know that reviewer, but I like her.
And now for a sneak preview. Check out the prologue and then scoot over to your local retailer for a swift and painless delivery to your device, snuggle down in bed, and enjoy.
Felicity Bastone heard it, but she didn’t believe it. Well, not immediately anyway.
“I am telling you,” the stylish young Swiss man whispered in frustration, “he is a sodomite.”
Felicity glanced up and down the bustling alleyway through grimy windows. Rome was teeming with tourists—it was August after all—and she possessed enough smarts to at least take a deep breath and assess the situation. And this situation required some serious assessment.
Two men, one Italian, the other Swiss, stood staring out the same window of a run-down coffee bar on the crowded narrow thoroughfare called Via Daniele Manin, only two streets behind the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. It seemed odd to be discussing such issues in proximity to a basilica, but then, in Rome, you were never too far from a holy place. Felicity stood a comfortable distance from the men. Her eyes felt heavy from drinking the previous night and she knew she looked less than appealing. To the casual observer, she’d appear sluggish and thoroughly disinterested. She rested her iPod in full view on the bench in front of them before sliding her earphones into place. Nodding her head and tapping her feet, she listened to absolutely nothing but their heated conversation.
In this neighborhood and in a coffee shop barely attractive to locals, let alone tourists, Felicity was convinced the men spoke English, soft and fast, so the locals had little chance of comprehending their conversation. Desperate for coffee, she hadn’t bothered to consider the decor; she’d simply followed her nose to the closest scent of caffeine. It seemed that Felicity’s olive toned skin and dark features left many Italians believing she was one of their own. With a mixture of Spanish and Australian heritage, she blended in perfectly. Not that her aim was to blend in; she was on holiday after all. Being a tourist had its advantages, but so it seemed did impersonating a local, albeit unintentionally.
The last time Felicity heard a conversation anywhere near the caliber of this one, she had been the instigator. The article she wrote that followed proved to be an award-winning exposé in the small, but highly regarded, Sunday Experience Magazine. It had been the one and only time her investigative journalistic skills had paid off and the story went global. Of course, she’d had many successful articles, bits and pieces scattered throughout her seven years, but there had only been that one big break so far. At thirty-two, she was doing okay for herself, and freelance work was providing much of her bread and butter. She preferred it that way. Landing a full-time job as a journalist was great in the early days—job stability, food on the table and the ability to regularly pay the rent—but now freelance work provided her with exactly what the name suggested: freedom.
As she systematically considered the impact of what she was hearing, she knew this story, even if remotely true, would, for some, be far more devastating than the corruption, fraud, and downright filthy criminals involved in the international pedophile ring she’d helped uncover. The impact of this current revelation, either partly or completely true, had the potential to devastate the followers of one of the planet’s most powerful religious institutions. Over one billion people could potentially wake to find their world had shifted axis.
Felicity sipped her coffee and contemplated what she should do
Holy Father, Holy Secret
As a child, I remember being intrigued by religion, mostly because it made little sense to me. I remember watching a TV drama in the eighties called Brides of Christ, set in a Sydney Catholic girl’s boarding school in the 1960’s. A very young Naomi Watts was one of the stars. To be honest, the show, as great as it was, left me wondering why so many people followed the church. I was a child in the eighties watching life in the sixties and it simply didn’t make sense. I remember asking my parents if the church had changed. Surely because things were so different in the eighties, the church had to have moved with the times? I was wrong. When I looked into it and as I read more, my opinion of religion sunk to an all-time low. From that time on, I was an Atheist.
Except I wasn’t. I discovered Shirley MacLaine autobiographies (there’s so many of them, I think I gave up after the first half dozen) and then reincarnation began to make sense. Suddenly, the thought of having a higher sense of self-consciousness wasn’t such a daft idea. Why did I have an inkling not to cross the road against the lights just before a car sped through? Why was it that the very first wave that crashed over the rocks after I stepped to the safety of higher ground, was gigantic and would have killed me? Coincidence? Probably, but even now, I like the idea that something bigger than me, and something inside me, is perhaps guiding me. God? A higher self, or just sheer, damn luck?
So, why are we talking about religion? Well mostly it’s because my third book will be released mid-January. The Fifth Gospel has nothing, yet everything, to do with religion. Is it a love story? Of course. But I hope it also delivers the simple message that love is love. I know it’s a well touted mantra, and I know I’m preaching to the converted (pun intended) but sometimes it is just as simple as it sounds.
Recently, I attempted to explain to a friend about gender, sexuality, and how for some people, their brain identifies as the opposite to the body they were born into. She understood, sort of, but in the end I just shrugged and asked her if it really mattered who people loved, as long as they loved and felt love in return. Ironically, that was the bit she understood perfectly. And while my book touches on another matter that some might find shocking or offensive, please read with an open mind. The message remains the same and always will: Love is love, love for many is fluid, and our sexuality doesn’t define us, inhibit us, or make us any less valuable as a person.
Love does none of those things. Humans do. Some devalue less conventional love in an attempt to add value to more conventional love. But why? We spend our entire lives seeking fulfilment in love. Why devalue it? Let’s celebrate it in all its forms.