I have always considered myself part British, though technically I am part Barbadian. My father came to the US from Barbados when he was fourteen. For some reason, he and his mother settled in a tiny speck of a town in central New York with frigid, snowy, miserable winters though accustomed to living on a Caribbean island. Go figure. The reason for that move is still a bit of a family mystery. Maybe someday I will turn my imagination loose on the topic and see what comes out of it. The point is whenever I asked my dad “What are we?”, as kids are wont and sometimes required to do, his answer was always “We’re British.”
I lost my father too young. There are so many questions I would love to ask him that never entered my adolescent mind when I had the chance, including the reason for the relocation from paradise to a rural, landlocked farm town. As a young lad, I didn’t even make the connection to the colonial rule or the British West Indies, though I did hear that phrase bandied about. “Barbados, British West Indies” was just a label, one I didn’t fully understand. For the longest time, I pictured my father growing up next door to Buckingham palace, wearing one of those furry beefeater soldier hats, and eating bangers and mash. That’s what being British meant to me. Okay, honestly, I had never heard of bangers and mash, but even though Barbados was somewhere in the back of my mind, British to me meant he grew up in the UK. I remember telling my friends that in grade school and being quite proud of it. “My dad’s from England.” In later years, I would not be so proud of my lack of geographical understanding. The confusion is somewhat understandable. I recall knowing from very early on that my sister, Elizabeth, was named after the queen. It doesn’t get much more British than that. So though he didn’t have the accent I love to fake on a regular basis—one I did quite well playing Mr. Bumble in “Oliver” in high school—I assumed I was as much a Brit as Margaret Thatcher, Freddie Mercury, and the actors on those Britcoms he always tuned into on PBS—some of which I still watch in reruns.
In the age of Ancestry.com and the Internet in general, I should probably dig deeper into my Barbadian roots. Growing up hearing lift instead of elevator, and pram instead of baby carriage, stubbornly adding a “U” to neighbour, colour, and catalogue in junior high, I refuse to give up my “UK” roots, though, and I still like to audition for plays requiring an accent, throw around the words “bloody” and “mate”, and I still like to fancy myself half-Brit.
My first Novella for Dreamspinner, “Double Flip”, introduced British ice dancer Milo Fisher and his “pops” Kale Omlet. “Double Flip” is set in the UK against the backdrop of the London Games of 2012. It’s a silly, sexy romp quite different from “Quadruple Flip”, its spin-off. “Quad” has a lot of humor, but it also has more depth. Milo Fisher, though not the main focus of “Double Flip”, played a rather important role as the story unfolded. He was definitely someone I wanted to spend some more time with.
One of my first crushes was a British figure skater named Robin Cousins—the 1980 Olympic champ. I can’t explain it, but something about his grace, elegance, and manly athleticism touched my not-fully-realized gay sensibilities, and his image sticks with me to this day. Part Cousins, part Christopher Dean, part Robert Pattinson with a dash of Dudley Moore, cheeky Milo Fisher is a charming bloke who could make a certain man (or woman) swoon with his British accent and charms. I must also admit, as I wrote about him skating, I flashed on John Kerr as well. Another ice dancer for Great Britain, the Scot performed his 2009 program in a kilt. Let’s take a moment to imagine that—or better yet, look it up on Youtube.
Anyway, Milo was a character I wanted to see fall in love. He played the field quite a bit in “Double Flip”, and his backstory indicated that was something he wasn’t looking to change. Upon meeting Tom Alan, he sort of couldn’t help it, first feeling sexually attracted to the Yank and then….
There is more to Milo than his sexy, silly ways. I felt the need to make a statement on the controversy surrounding anti-gay laws in Russia through Milo’s well-traveled, intelligent mind. Boycotting the 2014 Winter Games seems an easy answer—a must—for some, but for these athletes that spend their entire lives focused on one thing, the issue is not so black and white. Milo is torn. How the issue will all play out in real life remains to be seen, but I’m pleased I had a chance to speak to it in my little fictional world through one of my characters.
So, from my “British” dad to my early figure skating fan crush, I have an affinity for all things UK and I’m happy I use that in “Double Flip” and Quadruple Flip” to create Milo Fisher and his dad.
Since childhood, Tom Alan Baranowski has concentrated on one goal: the Sochi Olympics. His figure skating partner, Erika Tsukino, is as talented and dedicated as he is, and their coach, Erika’s father and Tom Alan’s surrogate father—who moved the family back to Japan to live and train—sees bright things in their future.
But when practicing a rarely performed throw—the quadruple flip—leaves Erika seriously injured, Tom Alan is sent off to train separately. His new training partner is Milo Fisher, and meeting the openly gay British ice dancing champion brings back feelings Tom Alan buried when he promised Erika’s father he’d make her his bride after the Olympics.
As Tom Alan falls head over toe pick for Milo, he realizes that if he follows his heart, he could lose the only true family he has ever known. He fears breaking his vow will hurt Erika, and that her parents, whom he holds dear, will never forgive him—and neither will the legion of Japanese fans who claim him as their own. Now going for the gold might not be his greatest desire or the skate to true happiness.
David Connor lives in a small town in New York with his dog, Max and a cat named Mrs. Fat Pants. His grade school English teacher, after reading one of David’s stories, suggested David write for As the World Turns someday. Books, magazine articles (including the soap mags), the stage, and even radio, he has done just about everything except write for daytime TV. He is still hopeful –as long as there are still some left.
David’s vivid imagination refuses to shut down even when he sleeps. His dream life is far more interesting than his real life, and is often the genesis of plot lines for his stories. If you’d like to contact him, look him up on Facebook. He will update his status after his nap.