Annie Blöcher discovered gay literature on her search for equal relationships

Happy Friday peeps! I have another great reader interview for you today, and this one, where we meet Anne, or Annie as she’s also called, was fun, because she contacted me after my talk with Hanne last week and after a quick chat on Twitter, she volunteered… Annie lives in Cologne, Germany, a city which recently made the headlights for its struggle for equality in the public space.

Our friend Annie found inequality in books and that led her to gay fiction. I wish I could say that all books in gay fiction were truly showing partners on equal footing (and I’m not referring to BDSM domination), but sadly, I’ve read far too many books where one of the characters simply is a “lady with a penis”, treated just the same way as a ‘true’ woman would’ve in het romance. So even in gay literature, we still have ways to go (did I mention Annie’s perfect guys…), but I agree with her, we are a lot better off, that’s for sure, and I’m glad she found gay literature. Here’s what she had to say. Enjoy!

So this is, after the archaeological dig was done, and the weather was better (I hope) that Annie would have this conversation. I like the view! Photo: © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

So this is the Rheinboulevard, in the middle of an archaeological dig. Once done, and the weather was better (I hope), this is where Annie would have this conversation with me. I like the view! Photo: © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

If were were to do this interview in the real world, where would we sit and talk?
Probably at the “Rheinboulevard”. That’s a flight of steps on the shore of the Rhine with a view of the Cologne Cathedral/the city. I love to go there to read in the summer. It’s not even a 5 minute walk away from where I work and a perfect spot to soak up some sun during lunch break.

Who is Annie in her own words?
Hmm, I think Annie is still figuring out who she is. I mean, I’m twenty-four years old, and eighteen months ago I wouldn’t have thought of ever living in a big city, and now I live here in Cologne and I love it. But growing up I was never self-confident or outspoken. So that’s why Annie is still figuring out who she is.

This week's reader, Annie Blöcher.

This week’s reader, Annie Blöcher.

What is the one thing you would like the world to remember you for?
That’s a hard question to answer! I’ve never thought about that before, but I think I want to be remembered for being someone who was always loyal and honest.

I understand you’re an avid reader. What got you into reading in the first place?
That’s my parents’ fault. 😉 There were always books around when I was growing up. My dad used to go to the library with me and my sister. And even before I learned to read myself I’d ask my mum to read to me. And once I learned to read there was no stopping me.

I remember that we had this huge bookshelf in our living room and when I was five-ish I wanted to read ALL the books in it. I wasn’t really happy when my mum told me I had to wait a few years to read them. Now I understand why she didn’t want me to read Mary Higgins Clark as a child. LOL

You’re also a reviewer. How is reading different for you when you read for “fun” or to review, if at all?
I think the only difference is that when I read a book I want to review I take notes while reading so I don’t forget about something I want to mention in my review.

Of all the many genres out there, from crime to sci-fi to literary novels, you (also) like to read gay fiction. What’s the appeal?
I started reading gay fiction about three years ago and back then I was frustrated with the way women were portrayed in a lot of the (romance) novels I read. Of course there were good ones too! But some of those I read were so annoying and it seemed like they were all the same. There would be the “perfect” guy. [see above] Tall, muscled, beautiful hair, beautiful eyes and this perfect jaw line. (Seriously, they all seemed to have such a beautiful and strong jaw line! WTH?) But he’d also be generous, nice, the perfect gentleman. And the female protagonist would be clumsy, naïve, insecure and of course constantly in need of rescuing.

I hate those stereotypes! And then a friend introduced me to gay romance/gay fiction in general and I fell in love with the genre.

I love that in gay fiction there are equal relationships between both protagonist. There’s not one which just because of her gender has to be the “weak one”. Of course there are exceptions, but in most cases the relationship between two men is equal in such a way that it can never be between a man and a woman. [I hope you’re wrong, and that men and women can indeed form truly equal relationships, but from what I see out there, it certainly doesn’t look good…]

If a genie came and granted you a special wish, to be the main character of a book, which would you choose and why?
I’d like to choose one of Garrett Leigh’s characters, because I LOVE her books, but she’s known to let her characters go through hell before they come to the happy bit so I think I’ll go with Magnus from Blowing It/Balls Up by Kate Aaron. He’s loyal, kind and compassionate and always by Owens side when he needs him in Balls Up. Who wouldn’t want to be all that

Thinking about it I maybe should choose to be Owen so I could have Magnus as my partner. 😉

For some odd reason – we all have our preferences – the genie didn’t appreciate your choice and  sends you off to live the rest of your life with only three books as company. Choose wisely!
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, Only Love by Garrett Leigh and The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien. (I’m cheating there a bit because technically LotR is a trilogy but I have this all-in-one book edition and I’d take that with me.) [I’ll let it slide, this time… ;-)]

Let’s get personal… 🙂 What is your earliest childhood memory?

I think my earliest childhood memory is probably the day my brother was born. I was 4 years old and we (my sister and I) were with my sister’s godmother. I don’t even remember the whole day, I guess we probably played games, but I don’t know what exactly, and then I remember the phone call from my dad where he told us that we had a little brother. I wish I’d remember more than just those little snippets. But I know that I was really excited to meet him. My dad came shortly after that phone call to bring us home and meet our “new” brother. 🙂

What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up?
“Ugh, 5am is way too early.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Let go of things you can’t change anymore. I think it was my mum that told me that, but I’m not sure. I don’t always manage to do that but I try. It doesn’t help to constantly ask yourself what would have happened if you had/hadn’t done x or y. Some things just are.

And the worst?
There probably was bad advice, but I really can’t remember any right now.

I think we can agree with Annie. Amsterdam is beautiful. Photo: Bert Kaufmann / Flickr

I think we can agree with Annie. Amsterdam is beautiful. Photo: Bert Kaufmann / Flickr

What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been to?
Amsterdam. I was there on a weekend-trip in 2013 because of the Game of Thrones exhibition. Well, the exhibition was a bit of a bust because of reasons, but me and my friend who I travelled with, had a lot of time to explore the city and it’s gorgeous! I definitely want to go back there one day, and this time for a bit more than just 2 ½ days. ☺

Do you have any regrets in life?
Yes, who doesn’t?
Quick fire five: Answer only with one word/name OR a number.
• On average, how many books do you read per week? 3-4
• Who’s your favorite author? Garrett Leigh
• Your favorite drink? Bitter Lemon
• Which film would you have loved to star in? Hook
• Who’s your favorite musical artist? Mighty Oaks

Thanks a lot Annie for doing this, and naturally, as always, you get to ask me a question, and this is what she wanted to know from me: “If you had to pick one meal you had to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? :)”

Dates, dates, dates, growing on a date palm in Tozeur, Tunisia. Photo: private

Dates, dates, dates, growing on a date palm in Tozeur, Tunisia. Photo: private

So, this really is a difficult question to answer. Fact is, I have been known to use this very question to argue that monogamy is futile and unnatural for humans. I’d say something along the lines of “imagine if you were required to eat your favorite meal for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you get bored sooner rather than later?” So no matter what meal I were to choose, I would have to say that I’d be living a pretty miserable life! So instead of picking one of my favorite meals, e.g. my mom’s kidney omelets (haven’t had those in decades…) or an amazing Chateaubriand or a Filet Mignon, let me tell you a short story. Back in 2007 I got to spend a lot of time in Tunisia, as I was preparing for a large customer event for the company I was working for. In the fall that year, my husband and I flew to Tozeur, in the south of that beautiful country for a week’s vacation, organized by the company who’d helped us organize the event in Tunis (yes, we paid for it ourselves, no bribes!) Tozeur is magnificent, and as it is originally an oasis, people are used to survive with very little. It is in Tozeur that I learned that the locals believe that the date is the perfect fruit, as it apparently includes all we need to survive, Allah’s gift to humanity in the desert. So why don’t I pick dates? First of all, if you’ve ever (which you probably haven’t) eaten fresh dates directly from the tree, you’ll know how heavenly they taste, and with water, supposedly they give you all you need to survive. And since I intend to live healthy for a long time, that’s my answer: Dates and water! 🙂

Thanks for a challenging question, Annie! I’ll be in touch with you for a little thank you gift…

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Have a  wonderful day.

Hans

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