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Robyn Nyx

Words for Women who Love Women

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Relationship, writing, editor

Pint in a half pint glass

It's half past midnight, and I've just finished packing the car ready for the journey down to Brighton Pride tomorrow. Brey Willows and I spent the past three hours lugging all manner of wonderful LGBTQ Bold Strokes Books, goodies, and giveaways from the loft ready for the lovely people who'll be in Brighton on Saturday. We're really excited to be there for the second year running.

But earlier today I saw a disturbing video on a friend's Facebook feed about a lovely young gay couple who'd been attacked in Brighton. It's clear that the vicious homophobic assault has left more than physical scars. Every year I hear questions about the validity and relevance of our Pride events. Every year there are moments like that which show they are still an absolute necessity. A safe place. Somewhere to call our own, even if only for one day. Somewhere to be among people who won't attack us for our difference.

Bold Strokes Books publish an amazing array of authors who write about LGBTQ characters who have their trials and tribulations, but the boy gets the boy, and the girl gets the girl, and they get the theys all between and along our wonderful spectrum of gender. So when you're out, really OUT, this weekend at Brighton Pride, come and say hello. We'd love to meet you, whoever you is 🤗

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Nyx-Willows… Wyx… Nyllows…

We’re getting married. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you’ll know I proposed on Miami Beach at the sunrise of Brey‘s 40th birthday. We were supposed to be waiting until February 2019 to do the deed for a multitude of reasons including saving for a mad honeymoon in Hawaii and to allow Brey’s mom to save up to come back to England.

We lay in bed on Sunday and began to browse venues, because everyone knows the best places book up early. It was then we started to actually think about what we wanted, rather than what might be expected of us.

Moments later, a new plan was hatched: “Let’s get married on my birthday…in seven weeks!” Brey’s mom is visiting, and my mum is certain she won’t see many days after she reaches seventy-three this year (medical history blah) so it made perfect sense. Family is important to us both, so this will be an intimate gathering of our closest family and friends. We also decided to still have a celebration/evening party for a wider circle of friends and family in 2019 to send us off to our dream honeymoon. We’re starting a new way of weddings!

So now we’re madly running around looking at suits, dresses, flowers, restaurants, and all the other stuff. And we’re both crazy happy. And my wonderful best buddy and Best Woman for the wedding has just let me know that she’ll be driving me to the Castle in this little beauty:

Sooner than I ever hoped for, I’ll get to call Brey my wife! For anyone that actually knows me, that’s a massive thing. I never really saw a forever, and I was determined never to get married (because my mum and dad epitomise all that’s perfect about an intimate relationship, and I never felt I had that until now–my own stuff, not anyone else’s).

I’m telling you this so you’ll forgive me over the next six weeks as I instagram the shit out of everything romance and wedding-related. But that’s okay, huh, because if it’s not for love, what’s the point?

Behind the Lens

I love taking photos. Particularly of wildlife and things in motion. Romanticising water is one of my favourites. I always aim to capture the reality and beauty of my subject, even if the beauty isn’t always immediately obvious. I use Photoshop sparingly – mostly to make composite images, rather than touching up originals. I like to make my camera do the work, so don’t get me started on the use of Photoshop on “celebrities” in magazines.

But I’d begun to wonder if I was missing something by looking through the 1cm square viewfinder. The bigger picture. Was my obsession to memorise the moment, to capture it in pristine pixels overriding the sheer joy of the moment?

I think it was.

So I’m finding a balance. I always have a camera with me, but I aim to reside in the present and enjoy it for what it is. And hope that my memory might do those fine, beautiful snapshots justice in my later years. If it doesn’t, at least I know I fully enjoyed that time.

Then I got to thinking about the importance of sharing photos. It’s amazing that someone in Russia who might never leave their country can experience the Grand Canyon via someone else’s images. Vicarious vision. It’s important.

But is it showing off too? On our Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, do we only tend to share the really good stuff to make people think our life is amazing? Not deliberately deceiving people, but maybe convincing ourselves too. Who wants to see pictures of our bed hair, or smell-o-vision of our morning breath? Who wants to look back on a year of posts to find all we did was moan and panic and stress?

I was just thinking, so I shared 😉

What’s your motivation when you take your photos?

A Chosen Family

Wow. It was another fabulous weekend. And when a reader comes to you in tears, saying “It’s just like being with family” when it’s their first ever visit to our event, you know you must be doing something right.

Eleven authors and over eighty people in two days came to the Bold Strokes Books UK Festival at Waterstones, Nottingham. There was lively discussion, a few fluffed lines, and lots of laughter. We were relaxed, amongst friends old and new, and we were safe. We had all blogged beforehand about the importance of safe spaces, and it was really rammed home on the Sunday after the events at London Bridge. And yes, it affected attendance. The City of Nottingham was like a ghost town that day. But we will, like Manchester before it, and as London always does, survive and emerge from our homes to wander into town in defiance.

And whilst the attacks weren’t focused on LGBTQ people, we felt it just as keenly as if it were, because we’re all potential victims to this madness. What’s probably worse, is how easy it is to perpetrate. A hire van. A busy city centre. A highly pedestrianised area. It’s like a sick real-life version of Pac-Man.

I won’t hide. I never have. From those who attacked me for being gay. From those who attack me for being a woman. From those who attack, period. And in the close down of our wonderful event, we’ve received some fantastic feedback from readers who said things like “I have just spent one of the nicest, friendliest weekends that I have had for ages. Thank you sooo much everyone. I have been fan girling. Thank you, Brey and Robyn. Omg! The authors were amazing. Not saying who my favourite was. But omg!!!!” and “Absolutely fantastic weekend in Nottingham with lovely and talented authors and their readers. Many heartfelt thanks to all the organisers and the authors.” It makes what we do, matter. It shows us, as authors, why we should continue to write lesbian fiction for all ages, because our audience ranged from eighteen to over seventy. How amazing is that? That so many generations can gather in one space and still feel like “family”?

It makes me proud.

Proud to be involved with a company like Bold Strokes Books, who spend huge amounts of money to put this event on, despite knowing that book sales will never cover their expenses. A company who know the value of what they’re producing goes far beyond the sale of a book. Our fiction spreads its tendrils into the lives of our readers, and it’s a privilege to be part of that.

Proud to be out there all weekend amongst LGBTQ people of all ages, celebrating our similarities and our differences.

To quote Heather Small, what have you done today to make you feel proud? Come and tell me and Brey at any of the following events:

July 13th: Gay’s the Word bookstore, London 7-9pm

August 5th: Brighton Pride all day

August 7th: Hebden Bridge Pride 7-9pm (venue to be announced)

August 26-29th: Manchester Pride

September 30th – October 6th: Women’s Writing Retreat, Bambu Lesbian Resort, Spain

October 10-15th: Women’s Week, Province Town, USA

November 3rd-5th: DIVA Literary Festival

Never Enough…of this feeling

I was in Brighton delivering a paper called “On the Covers and Between the Sheets” when I got an email saying my second novel (Escape In Time) was at a store close to my home ready for pick up. 250 miles, five hours, and several detours later, I had them in my clammy hands!

I was so excited to receive my first box of books in October last year, and then be part of my love, Brey Willows, getting her first box of books, that I half expected the feeling to be more muted this time around.

Boy, was I wrong!

What an amazing feeling it is to hold that first copy of your next baby in your hands. 280 pages of just your own words. The dedications to the people who’ve made the journey with you. The little author photo smiling back at you.

To celebrate, I’m going to give a copy of Escape in Time to the author of the best comment on my previous book, Never Enough. Lady-fellow Bold Strokes Books author, Brey Willows, will be the judge, and she’s hard to please, so go wild and be creative! So…complete the sentence: 

“Therese made me …”

The lady judge will make her decision on March 10th, and I’ll ship worldwide so don’t let geography stop you! Good luck!

The Unbearable Darkness of Being…human

We visited a very dear friend today. We cooked Mexican food and took it to her home; drove her out to a country open mic night; and then delivered her home safely. It was a really great day. Our friend is in her early sixties and is barely mobile due to severe arthritis and other medical factors. She lives in an out of town bungalow that has a ridiculously steep drive so, without the help of others, she’s effectively housebound. She’s also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and as a result, spent thirty years of her life without stepping foot out of her house. 

Trapped.

A prisoner in her own home because of the actions of other human beings.

But she’s more than those circumstances. She’s so much greater than her past experiences. She’s full of life, humour, joy, and laughter. After her thirty years of solitary confinement, she emerged like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of her childhood, and she qualified as a counsellor. Over the past fourteen years, she’s helped countless other women deal with their own abuse and come out the other side, healthy and determined.

But the hits keep on coming…

She had a rough month on top of the usual, because a young member of her family had been attacked in a restroom. He was out celebrating news of a baby on the way (his first), and it was fair to say, he’d had a few too many. He went to the restroom, and it was there that six “men” set on him. Two of them did most of the beating – they smashed his head against the tiled floor, they kicked him until and after he was unconscious, and one of them bit the kid’s lower lip off – completely. In the UK, some clubs have an “aftershave man” in the restroom, whose job it is to tidy the place and spritz the patrons. He did clear up – including throwing away the kid’s lip, so it couldn’t be saved. 

Human beings.

My writing isn’t fluffy easy reading. My beautiful wife-to-be has a pertinent saying that’s applicable here: “It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, baby.” Neither is life. Why do I write about the darker side of human nature? Because I want to believe our capacity for good is stronger, and by reminding us all of the inhuman things we’re capable of, I want to encourage people to seek that light (not in a religious way) and seize it with both hands. 

Then spread it.

I want you to be disgusted by the evil things my bad gals do. I want you to be challenged to “know better” and be better human beings. This world can be a dark and dangerous place, but it’s also full of love and compassion, empathy and friendship, strength and spirit (just like that of the friend I talked about earlier). As my favourite Christmas movie propounds – “Love is all around us.” 

I believe it’s stronger than hate. I have to, or what would be the point to any of this?

Sharing the Joy

I got my first box of books back in November last year (Never Enough). I thought there could be no better feeling than the moment you hold a book chock full of your own words in your hands…

I was wrong.

Today, my fiancé, Brey Willows, received the fantastical box of her debut novel, Fury’s Bridge (available from Bold Strokes Books from April 1; and all other stores from April 17). There were tears (yes, just hers), and there was unbridled joy. She wasn’t expecting to be so affected, and despite me having to badger her to put fingertips to keyboard, I think she’s secretly quite proud of herself. As she should be – actually finishing a book at all is amazing,  but to have it published in the traditional sense is a great achievement.

But being there to share her overwhelming sense of surreal achievement was a privilege. And it felt damned good. Fury’s Bridge is a helluva book – full of imagination, humour, romance, and some yummy sex. You can wait to get it in April, or you can get in touch with her direct and get a signed copy right now! I’ve already got mine!

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