If asked which of my novels is my favourite one, I always say the same thing: I have no favourite — each and every one of my novels tell a different story, a story that was important to me at the time, and, as such, they each have their own special spot on the bookshelf of my soul. Be it the premise of “we can’t choose whom we fall in love with,” or the struggle of obstacles seemingly far too high to scale, or the darker concept of having to make choices that tend towards the lose-lose scenario, I have a hard time writing lover-meets-lover/lover-wins-lover simplicity. Fucked up characters, putting themselves in bad situations, seems to have become the script-du-jour for me.
That’s not a bad thing — not for me, anyway. I’ve read other authors who get quite righteous in their indignation that the characters they write have nothing to do with them or their life. I, however, will resolutely, albeit somewhat ashamedly, admit that is not the case for me. I do, without doubt, expose the dirty little secrets of my heart on the pages of my stories, regardless of whether the concept is placed within plain sight to the reader or not. That kind of story tends towards the dark because, let’s face it, life is hard.
“Choose (a) book to bump,” the Novel Approach asked me, “then … tell a little bit about why that book is special,” and for all the pontification that I do about how I have no favourites, my reply came without hesitation. Înflori.
I could have just spilled a couple of paragraphs about how Înflori was the first M/M novel that I wrote with serious consideration to publication. I could have rambled about how your first love is always the one that burns brightest in your memory. But that would have been white-washing the truth behind Înflori‘s existence. (And truth, no matter how hard you try to bury it, or how long you wear a mask over top of it, will never let you forget how you have let it down.)
Înflori was conceived with a simple question about a short story that I posted entitled Proteja. I paraphrase, but the question was something along the line of, “How in the hell did these two ever meet?” Good question, considering the differences between the two main characters. And I had no answer for it. So I started fumbling along the path of “how” to backtrack these two men’s steps and find a proper reply. You see, Nicolæ is no mere figment of my imagination. And when Nicolæ asks one a question, one best be prepared to offer him up an answer. Lest he visit you in the night and remind you by means of beheaded, yet somehow-still-hopping toads, that he’s patiently waiting to hear from you.
That’s why Înflori is special to me. It was a reply from my subconscious mind to a question posed from somebody valuable, and it became a journey of self-discovery that reminded me why I started writing in the first place — to prove the existence of love in the screwed up heart, mind, and soul of the every-man. The story sorted out the structure of how things don’t have to be perfect for them to work; that the effort and dedication a person gives to a relationship is the true definer of how much love exists underneath the sex and the fluff. You can offer a million rewards, but until you offer up your whole heart, you haven’t made an offer worthy of acceptance.
Thanks for reading,
AF Henley <3
by AF Henley
Published by Less Than Three Press
M/M Contemporary Romance
Dustin gave up on being worthy of anyone’s affections a long time ago, drowning his problems in substance abuse and meaningless encounters. He has learned it’s better to avoid love altogether than risk the inevitable moment when it all comes crashing down.
Nicolæ has neither eyesight nor excess, but he does have a wealth of family and intuition. He is nothing that Dustin would have anticipated in a potential lover, but the more Dustin discovers, the more he finds himself willing to accept the risk – even if his conscience and the people in his life keep warning him away.
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