The following guest post was written by BJ Sheppard in character as Liam Adams, the lovable MC in The Rainbow Connection
The Rainbow Connection Blog Tour Post — Part VI
This series has word-vomited my particularly snarky opinions about some of the contents of the books contained within our m/m genre today, chronicling in great detail why most of what we read is, in reality, nowhere near as sexy in real life as it is in our books. We read fantasy as a way of escaping the monotony of our lives; to step into a world of make-believe so epic, that for just a while, we are lost in someone else’s swashbuckling escapades; we are surrounded by someone else’s fairy tale romance; we are delivered from our own threatening normalcy.
Fantasy breeds hope, and hope is where we all retreat when the going gets a little too tough to handle. My life, most days, is more than too much to handle. My life, most days, could use a little more of the fantastic. But under all the adventures, and tears and smiles, fucking and fighting and fucking some more, each of these books, by way of a gift, offer the ultimate solace – the happy ever after. Or, at the very least, a resolute happy-for-now.
This HEA, perhaps more than anything else, is the ultimate fallacy. And again, the most necessary component of a book. The element which, if not included, will cause each and every reader to damn an author to an eternity on the clearance racks. Without it, the tale simply devolves into the everyday; the characters become normal people, the events diminished, the descriptions tarnished. If we didn’t have these endings in our books, imagine the sequels:
Rodney opened the bathroom door, flicking on the light switch quietly so as not to wake Jeremy. As his only alone time in their, large, colonial home, he closed the door firmly, locking it tight to avoid intrusion from his long term partner. Disrobing, he turned the shower on full blast, and admired himself in the rapidly steaming mirror. His waist was doughy and bloated, one too many beers and burgers forming a ring around his middle so heavy, it often felt heavier than the ring on his finger. Sitting down on top of the toilet, Rodney closed his eyes, took his cock in his hand, feeling it harden with every gentle stroke. As he rapidly pumped, punctuated by the dripping sound from the shower cubicle, he pictured vividly the eighteen year old bagboy from Wal-Mart, and the things he could have done to him if he hadn’t married Jeremy; if he hadn’t let himself go; if his hair wasn’t so thin. With the thought of the boy’s tight hole captured in his mind, Rodney spewed his load all over the back of his hand, stepped up from the toilet and climbed in the shower, ready to start another underwhelming day where nothing new happened, and the life that had once invigorated him felt like it was neutering him instead.
The Fucking Pitiful End
Wouldn’t exactly top the New York Times Bestsellers list, huh? I, like most normal people, want, at the very least, a happy-for-now ending. I want the climactic romance to pave the way for my imagination to find the boys in our books’ lives to be perfect, white-picket-fence lives; them dying of old age, still together, still in love, surrounded by their two successful sons, twin lesbian daughters and a battalion of fat grandchildren. I don’t want to hear how Rodney found himself falling out of love with Jeremy every time the guy left the bathroom door open after taking a shit, or how they argued constantly about how Rodney refused to get a real job because he fancied himself an artist and was working on a new portfolio, when in fact all he did was sit at home watching Rikki Lake and jerking off to vintage bareback porn. I most certainly don’t want to get to the part where they stop caring so much that they happily fart in front of each other, or how Jeremy’s alcoholism gets so out of hand that he dies at forty five from liver cirrhosis. Not that all relationships go that way, but if they did, I don’t want to know. Give me ignorance, give me bliss. Give me something I can believe in long after I forget the characters’ names. A good book hands you a fantasy and gives your mind poetic license to fill in the blanks; to craft a future for the characters the way your own imagination needs it to. A good book inspires hope for your own life; makes you aim higher, try harder and want the most you can achieve. And it does that with the lie of happy ever after.
The greatest gift. The biggest lie. The one thing that separates a mediocre book, from a great one. It might sound cynical, but there never was such a thing as a perfect life – just the perfect lie. And happy ever after has facilitated that.
My name is Liam Adams. I am a journalist, a man, and now, more than ever, I need to be a fighter. Because, though I may be a little unconvinced about the existence of an HEA, I vehemently believe in happy for now. The fact that I haven’t got that right now just means that my particular story is far from over. What kind of story would I be writing if I got all I wanted without the fight? So maybe, whoever is jotting down the tragic events of my misfortune has a different ending in store for me. I’m looking forward to a few more pages of this chapter of my life’s tale, hoping that, when the end comes around, I can find that perfect lie buried in the ruins of my past, ready to jump up and fight the good fight for a happy-for-now ending.
Blurb: Living a care-free party life-style, junior journalist and gay lifestyle reporter, Liam Adams thought he had it all; the money, the job, the endless supply of men in his bed. But when his work causes him to question the very foundation of the life he has built for himself, Liam finds certain areas are glaringly lacking. All it takes is one assignment to unravel the very fabric of his promiscuous antics, compounded by the arrival of a long-forgotten tryst. With the rusty screech of the mailroom guy’s trolley wheels, Liam lands head-first in the arms of something bigger; something more.
As the romance burgeons between Liam and the Mail-Manny of his dreams, each article he writes proves to uncover something new and never realized about himself, namely that all the one-night-stands in the world could never give him what he truly wants; love. In a slapstick commentary through the eyes of the world’s most hypersensitive journalist, watch as Liam’s story unfolds in the most ridiculous of fashions, leading him straight into the arms of love, via The Rainbow Connection.
Exclusive Excerpt: I stood in the bathroom, taking in my reflection in the mirror as I white-knuckle gripped the basin for support, save my hangover tip me into the sink and wash me down the plughole where I belonged. The bags under my eyes, usually Prada, were now Pay-Less, and they had mini sacks of their own. My hair was a pastiche of eighties New Romantics and there were visible bite marks down one side of my neck (I suspected Michelle Obama-man to be the cause of those little souvenirs). As I looked myself up and down, my underwear was protruding out the top of my pants in a comedy muffin top and I didn’t recognize the boxers at all. I had clearly put on someone else’s in my panic-ridden urge to leave the night behind. I stripped myself bare, turned the shower from warm to molten lava, and forced myself under the hot jet as it scolded my skin.
It was like baptism. Not in the religious way, you understand. More in the ‘free of the dried semen from the strange men I banged last night’ kind of way. I ran soap down my ass crack, which was a watery slick of ID Glide and tender aches, until the antibacterial goodness had refreshed my battered pucker to a semblance of its normal state. I spent more than half an hour scrubbing the night away until my skin was raw and felt like it had been flayed from my bones. As I dried myself down, it ached with intense heat and pressure, but that only served to rejuvenate me more.
Dressing in sweat pants and an ill-fitting t-shirt, I plunged down onto the couch, kicked my feet up and flicked the TV on, muting the volume as I allowed myself to relax, my hangover doing summersaults inside me and manifesting in a cold sweat on my skin. Now, in my long career as a drunken mess, I have learned one and only one lesson. Hangovers cannot get you down if you never stop drinking long enough to get one. As a functioning alcoholic, I had the aforementioned whisky bottle wedged down the side of the couch cushions, without even needing to look to find it, fished it out and popped the lid, taking a large gulp straight from the plain, unremarkable bottle. It burned going down, mingling with the taste of toothpaste, making me cringe and cough at the bittersweet taste of the amber fluid. I took a second pull, a third until my insides felt warm and sedate.
Sundays in the city were always spent nursing a hangover. I though back to Burger Girl; how she was probably home, showered, and drinking away her sorrows much as I was, sat alone in an empty apartment with nothing for company but her poor life choice and burger relish seeping from between her toes. I thought about Brad Dourif and Michelle Obama, waking up beside each other in their sex-scented bed, happy in their union after a night of spice-up-your-sex-life sex with a random guy they picked up in the club. Whereas before I might have thought it sad that they needed such aid to keep their sex life fresh, sitting on the couch that morning, I was envious of what came afterwards. They would be lying in each other’s arms in their bed, or trading tender kisses in a shared shower. They would be exchanging segments of the Sunday papers and eating a greasy breakfast to stave off the hangovers, sparing no thought to the guy who had rocked their world the night before (yeah, I’m that good).
That Sunday, my couch was my date, and the whisky was our third. We made a pitiful threesome and the thought didn’t leave me as I spent the day watching bad cable shows, jerking off several times and then going to bed as soon as the sun went down, determined to leave the lost weekend and the depression it invoked behind me.
It seemed, my life was a sham, a comedy of errors in which I was the unwitting star. I had become a caricature of myself; a living gay joke and a cliché, all rolled into 142 pounds of glitter and regret. My life was … well… you couldn’t even write this stuff …
BJ Sheppard Bio: It’s always difficult to write about yourself, especially when, like me, you have no idea what you’re doing most of the time. I have always loved to write, from a very early age with some rather extravagant dinosaur fairytales to more recently when I found my writers voice and finally put it to good use. It has been a dream of mine for a long time to write a book, and since finding a genre I am comfortable in, the ideas have been pouring out of me. I hope it never stops.
In my spare time I like to hang out with my friends, write and record music and read all the books I can lay my hands on. I currently live in the south of England, but from here on out, who knows what will happen. Each day is its own.
These books are hopefully the first of many, and while there are readers enjoying my work, then there will always be new things for me to say. If you want to know any more, please feel free to contact me at any of the links below. Thank you for reading.
My name is BJ Sheppard and all at once I found myself an author. Such a strange sensation to actually feel you deserve the thing you had aspired to for many years. After all, all it took was computer access and an inner world that reads like a Sheryl Crow song to pound the keys and translate my crazy ideas onto the page. I feel like I could have business cards printed. Maybe wear a black roll neck and perch my glasses on the tip of my nose. I could drink whisky and smoke a cigar and do all those really stereotypical things I imagine all writers do. Perhaps I could get laid a little more? This is not the end. Nor the beginning. Hell, it isn’t even about me. My boys write themselves; I really don’t have that much say in the matter. As long as my characters need a voice, I have two chubby typing fingers and a need to please— watch this space: there is more to come.