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How do you introduce a story like A MADRIGAL? Well, honestly. I think you'll love it, which is why 'The Nut Hatch' decided to take the plunge and do it as a zine. It languished in the back of one of Jane's old notebooks for so long that she had forgotten about it. Later, when Barb Jones was going through the book in search of the epilogue to the third Kin/Bran/B/D story (Dark Dreaming), she found it. And screamed.
Only a writer as distracted as Jane could manage to forget that she had even written a B/D historical set in the world of Francis Drake (or write Dark Dreaming and then wait six months to ask for typing help). What Barbie found was an original short story that ran the odd thirty pages or so. The novel woven around it while Barb was still screaming is in your hands now. Editing this novel was a source of great pleasure; reading it should be an even greater pleasure. Graphics and art (by JJ) have added to the text to make a thing of beauty of A MADRIGAL, if indeed any such help was needed. Thanks go to Barb for helping with the typing; to JJ for art, graphics and use of the computer (whose name is Saavik, and who can be a bitch when she wants to be); to Angie for help copying and collating; and to the good people who invested in the previous Nut Hatch zines. Financial returns from them went to print this.Finally, a message from Jane: please, nobody try to use this novel as a reference work. The research is pretty accurate, but I've taken liberties everywhere with — um, gay abandon. It's about as accurate as your average Errol Flynn movie, which is to say, fine up to a point and a fantasy thereafter! Just enjoy.
Republished as Original Fiction
In May 2001, "A Madrigal" was reproduced as an original fiction novel by Filing Off The Serial Numbers. This was with some revision, an expanded ending, and the names changed, published by the Gay Men's Press as "Fortunes of War" by Mel Keegan.
Summary of Original Fiction Version: Fortunes of War
From Goodreads: "In 1588 a young mercenary and the son of an English earl meet by a quirk of fate. Dermot Channon is a soldier, while Robin Armagh has been sheltered on his father's estate. Love blossoms fast while war looms on the horizon. Under the thundercloud of armed conflict, Channon leaves England and the Spanish Armada sails soon after. Robin despairs of seeing him again, for their countries are locked in an endless struggle. Years fly by, and in 1595, when Robin's brother is taken for ransom in Panama, the dangerous duty of delivering the price of his life and liberty falls to Robin. He sails with the historical '1595 Fleet,' commanded by Francis Drake, hoping to bring home his brother. But Fortune has other plans for Robin and Channon. Ahead of them is a an epic adventure in hazardous waters where old enmities, Spanish and English, shape their future together -- and try to drive them apart."
One Comparison of "A Madrigal" and "Fortunes of War"
A close comparison of a text published both professionally and fannishly reveals that at least one of these differences is in the amount of gender blending that is permissible. Although, Fortunes of War, the professional version of the fan novel A Madrigal madrigal, name for two different forms of Italian music, one related to the poetic madrigal in the 14th cent., the other the most common form of secular vocal music in the 16th cent. , is a longer but virtually identical story, the editorial changes are telling. Fortunes of War certainly does offer the reader gender blended heroes, for Channon is "gentle" and "tender" even though he is a "soldier" (196) who loves his partner Robin as much for "his courage as for his gentleness and affectionate ways" (271). In contrast, the fannish version is considerably less masculine particularly in intimate moments. In both stories, after their first meeting Doyle/Robin dreams of the kiss of Bodie/Channon; in A Madrigal Keegan writes of "one unforgettable point at which he had literally felt a hot, wet mouth bruising his own with a kiss" (18). In Fortunes of War a further masculine image is added and the description becomes of "one unforgettable moment when he felt a man's strength crushing him, and a hot wet mouth bruised his own with kisses" (50). A similar difference occurs when they make love. In A Madrigal: "Bodie slid two fingers inside him. It was difficult to breath and he froze, gasping with the strangeness, the terrible intimacy" (40). The same sex scene in Fortunes of War reads, "He cursed softly as one finger became two and he felt a sting of pain. Strange sensations as Channon had promised" (89). In the fannish version intimacy is highlighted while the professionally published version masculinizes the scenario with the addition of terms such as "curses" and "pain." Indeed, the question of masculinity is directly raised in the professionally published text when Robin asks of penetrative sex, "Is it seemingly for a man?" (88). In the fan fiction version Doyle asks simply, "if you will permit me?" (39). Quite possibly within the community of slash fiction writers and readers, the possibility of feminine associations attaching themselves to a passive sexual role need not be addressed; they are either unimportant or accepted as part of the overall acceptance of gender blended images. Within the more masculine community envisaged by the Gay Men's Press, however, such associations do need to be addressed, perhaps denied, and dealt with. It is possible that in the professionally published text the addition of masculine images may occur because the projected reader is not considered likely to accept such feminine heroes, but it is also important to recall that the professional version of A Madrigal is unable to import, via appropriation, the existing masculinity of Bodie and Doyle.
- summary of "Fortunes of War" via Amazon: "In 1588, two young men fall in love; Dermot, an Irish mercenary serving the Spanish Ambassador in London and Robin, son of an English Earl. Seperated by seven years of war, the two meet up again in the Caribbean, where Dermot now commands a privateer. The couple's adventures on the Spanish Main make a swashbuckling romance in the best pirate tradition."
- Fortunes of War by Mel Keegan; from a post at Seeking Pros list makers and readers of Mel Keegan's books, Archived version
- From slash to the mainstream: female writers and gender blending men, by Elizabeth Woledge, March 2005