What is For Hire: Operator about (and why should I buy it NOW)?

Jun 19, 2019


Hi, everyone! This is Dr. Liz and I am back with you again. I am excited today to talk about a book that I just finished reading and it is by a friend and all-around fabulous human, a dear to my heart, Kevin Patterson and his co-author, Alana Phelan and it is called For Hire: Operator.

Now, this book is not an educational book. It’s not about self-help. It’s not going to tell you how to do your non-monogamy or your relationships. It is instead a wonderful exciting book of fiction about queer, polyamorous superheroes of color. This book, I wish I had had a book like this when I was younger because I think seeing examples of folks who are like me, who are super queer, who are into sex, who are into sex with lots of folks would have been so, so helpful for me.

One of my biggest issues with a lot of mainstream media is the trope of love triangle where our hero or our heroin is really into one person or in a relationship with one person and they meet another person and, “Oh no! What would they do? How will they choose?” And it’s just so disgusting because like what if they just choose polyamory instead. It’s always a theme of like they can only actually love one of those people or only one of those people is actually worthy of their love. And I’m so tired of that trope.

What I love about this book is that it has variance on that relationship triangle that don’t end with the solution being only one of them is the real love. This book has a lot of fascinating relationship problems, relationship conflicts, issues with the ways that different people understand and receive how someone is showing up for them in a relationship, both friendship, lovers, long-term relationships, work relationships. And it doesn’t paint any of those as wrong or bad. The conflicts that come up are the kinds of conflicts that I see in my real life relationships about the ways that we do things differently that we end up then seeing or reading into in ways that we didn’t intend.

This is also a really fascinating book because it’s told from the perspective of the operator. So spoilers ahead, if you want to read this and not be spoiled, pause the video now. Go to somewhere else. We are going to give you a second in case you’re like watching this from across the room and you need to ditch on over and pause the video.

All right. So spoilers. Our story is about – primarily, this one right here, JC, who is an operator, in the world that they have created, they are super powered humans. So they are people who have developed super powers from a variety of different routes. One is genetic variants syndrome which is called GVS. Another is through science and technology which is how both JC and MM have developed their powers. And then the third is through magic.

So as folks with super powers were coming to be known that they existed in the world, they kind of developed them into two different camps. One is heroes. Heroes are big in public like MM right here. They do work for governments. They take contracts. They train up each other. It’s very much in the public view.

The other group is the operators. The operators are the ones who do dark work, who do things behind the scenes, who take care of things in a far less public way.

When they started out, both JC and MM wanted to be heroes. But eventually, JC found that she much better suited to doing kind of the more operator type work. As you can imagine, I’m sure having one hero and one operator in a relationship causes some conflict. JC can’t really talk to MM about what her job is or what she has been doing and MM feels like she is not going to connect with JC in some ways because of that necessary secrecy.

JC in general as a character was really lovely to read because she is someone who struggles with how to connect with others in a way that feels authentic to her but also someone who has worked kind of by nature. She is someone who is quieter, more inward, and she is in a partnership with someone who is much more external, who is much more public, who is much more vocal about things and talks about things more easily, who gets along with people more easily.

And getting to see from inside of JC’s perspective about the challenges she is facing trying to manage this relationship and trying to manage the new conflicts that come up that she takes a very specific contract showing all the troubles we see in polyamorous relationships between folks who are more introverted and who are more extroverted that the kind of things MM is looking for from JC, JC just can’t provide. And the way that JC wishes that MM would just like trust in them and accept them, MM struggles with because they are not getting that information.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the descriptions of the different characters are rich but they don’t rely on typical tropes. So there’s no like typical slender, beautiful woman, love interest figure. There was in fact a fantastic non-binary character who I was hella curious about and I want to see illustrations of. There are powerful folks of all different kinds of body shapes and sizes. There are people who look at different ways of presenting themselves as operators and as heroes. There is just a beautiful diversity to the way that the characters show up in this book.

I’m not going to give away the plot of the book because I think that you need to read it but I will say that I really understood the ways in which the decisions that we make about what to involve our friends and what not to involve our friends in, about what to tell people about versus what not to tell them about is a lot of what undergirds the conflicts and the drama of this book.

When we are brought into this world, we all have to balance our privacy with our intimacy, the ways that we keep some things private for ourselves for any variety of reasons or private with one or two select others versus the ways that we share openly with either the folks that we are closed to or that around us or with the larger world or community. And that balance can be so challenging sometimes.

As a semi-public figure in the field of non-monogamy, I talk a lot about my life. There is a lot of sharing that I do about who I am and how I do things and I’m really happy that I do that. I think that sharing my stories is something that’s important to me and something that I hope helps all of you connect with the experiences that I talk about and that I’m trying to help people improve themselves with.

But it can feel a lot of times like there is not a lot left for me like the elements of my life that are not shared with a huge audience are relatively few and far between. And when I have them, I worry, is this me being dishonest or not being genuine with my audience or is this me like making a good decision about what to keep private for myself? And it’s a daily struggle of what do I share? What do I keep private? What do I put on Twitter versus what do I only tell my close friends?

And I saw through this book the ways that both JC and MM and all of the characters struggle with that kind of exposure. When you are in the public eye, how do you decide what is yours? When you’re in relationships, how do you decide what things to tell your partner and what things you need to keep for yourself? And how do those decisions affect the ways that we see each other and interact with each other?

I love Kevin. I love everything that he does. And I was excited for this book. And no small part because selfishly or I guess to feed my ego, Kevin decided to name one the characters with my middle name. And so, it was really exciting to see like that little piece of me in this book. He also include the names of some of the folks who help back, the Patreon and other people in our communities’ names in the book as either psych characters or people being quoted in the fictional magazine for hire.

But also, seeing so much of that struggle of what it is to be in the public eye. Feeling seen in that way is so rare and I appreciated it. And I appreciated that this was a book about polyamorous folks who weren’t struggling with being polyamorous. They had other struggles but it wasn’t like dealing with internalized shame or slut shaming. It wasn’t about there is something with dating multiple people or can’t even actually love multiple people. It was much more about again, those real world issues some people run into in relationships.

I’m so happy that this book exists and that they are working on another book and they are going to keep releasing ones in the series because I’m so just stunned and feeling the beauty of our presentation and seeing people like me represented in work like this. I am here for all of the future polyamorous fiction that happens and I’m here for these characters and for anyone else that gets introduced. I totally want to see more of me magisterial. Kevin if you’re watching, Alana if you’re watching, more magisterial please. They are like perfect.

But if you have not read this book yet, you should get yourself a copy. I’m going to put a link in the show notes to where you can buy it. If you happen to run into Kevin and Alana at one of the events they are attending this year, I’m sure they will sign it for you as they signed mine. And I hope that you all get to feel seen in this kind of book as well. We all need more representation. We all need media that helps us see ourselves and other people. And I am so thankful for this book.

Other pro tip. There is actually like a secret chapter, a bonus chapter that’s available through Amazon that they released shortly after the book came out that covers one of the very minor time gaps in the book. So if you want to find out about that chapter, I’ll also link it here.

If you have questions, let me know. If you have thoughts on this book, please share them here. Go and review it on Amazon. If you’ve read it, you should always review books on Amazon because that helps boost their ratings so that come in searches for folks who are looking for these kinds of books for themselves.

And I’ll see more of you all later. As I’ve mentioned in all of my videos now, I have a Patreon. And I would love for you to come and support me on my Patreon. I’ll put the link in the show notes as well.

I love you all. I hope you’re having a fantastic day and a fantastic week. And I’ll talk to you soon. Bye!

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