The Novel Approach is happy to be a stop on Christopher Koehler’s Poz Blog Tour. Enjoy this exclusive excerpt, then enter for a chance to win a $25 Gift Card by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.
Series: The Lives of Remy and Michael: Book One
Author: Christopher Koehler
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publication Date: 8 Jan 2015
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Young Adult
Blurb: Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pa-cific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they’re both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia.
Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most.
Excerpt: In this excerpt, Remy and the rest of the Capital City Junior Crew are in San Diego for the Crew Classic. The Crew Classic (crewclassic.org), a real regatta, takes place every April on Mission Bay and is a lot fun…assuming the weather cooperates. I’ve seen it go both ways, and rumor has it one year the rain and chop were so bad the Coast Guard had to pull a racing shell out of the water because it had been swamped and was unrowable. The cox’n allegedly bowed to the referees’ stand before diving into the water…
(Edited for context)
I didn’t sleep during all of my down time. I watched races I wasn’t in, like those of colleges I wanted to attend. Coach Lodestone told me he had been in contact with coaches at those schools all year. My performance at the Youth Nationals later this summer would clinch any deals and possibly secure an early admission or two, but I knew there had been eyes on me during the heats. Since I had not known who, when, or where, I had managed not to freak out, but it had been added pressure. If any of those coaches had joined Lodestone to watch my races, they had disappeared by the time those races ended, saving me from mortification, but only temporarily. Lodestone took me around to meet all of them.
I also watched Mikey’s races. I had my eye on him, and not just because I was trying to figure out what we were to each other. I stood next to Lodestone while Mikey raced. I liked him as a person, but more important, I respected him as a coach. Then there was the undeniable hotness factor. Okay, I came into my height early, but Lodestone? He rowed at the University of Washington, and the Huskies grow them big up there or something. Lodestone was not only way over six feet tall, but my brother once told me Lodestone looked more like he was built for certain positions in football that took bulk and muscles than for crew, which needed lean strength. I mean, his shoulders were out to there. Also, he was hairy in all the right places, like beard shadow right after shaving hairy. It was awesome. He was also straight as a plank. The only thing that kept me from hating his girlfriend was that she was not only brilliant, but she was sweet as she was smart. I mean, she was deaf, and I’d started learning some basic sign language—she was that beautiful a person. Or I had that big a case of hero worship for my coach. It could’ve gone either way.
Lodestone watched the races and didn’t acknowledge my presence. I didn’t take it personally. This was his job, after all. “Do your prerace walk while you were waiting for the trailer?” he said eventually.
At least he knew I was there. I lived for these moments with my coach. It felt like he treated me as an equal, even if only for a little while. “Coach. Please.”
He laughed. “What was I thinking? Of course you did.”
“And dragged most of my boat along for the ride. Something new this year, though.”
“Oh?” He finally glanced down at me.
“Cisco dragged Mikey and some of the other junior varsity with us.”
Lodestone didn’t say anything for a moment. “Interesting. What do you think they got out of it?”
I glanced at my watch and then checked the schedule. I looked out at the water, squinting through the glare of the afternoon sun. There they were. There he was. “He’s varsity next year.”
“Oh, you think so, do you, Coach Babcock?” Lodestone said, laughing.
I flushed. “No, seriously. If you haven’t watched him on the ergs, you’re falling down on the job—”
“Strong words, oarsman.”
I stood my ground. “They’re true, sir. His numbers have dropped steadily this season. At the same time, his erg technique has improved. He’s a match for anyone on our squad.”
“Ergs don’t float.” Lodestone’s voice was quiet, almost too quiet, like he was getting angry or I’d just overstepped my bounds, but dammit, he was the one who’d encouraged me to watch and analyze other rowers. If he didn’t like the results, he had only himself to blame.
“No, they don’t, but boats do, and you’re watching his right now, same as me. Tell me you don’t see someone who’s better than most of his boat,” I said, “and he’s in the A boat.”
Lodestone stayed silent, watching the rest of the race through binoculars. I didn’t have any, so I could only follow Mikey until they passed beyond my ability to make out any useful detail.
“Perhaps I was too hasty in my dismissal,” Lodestone said, dropping his binoculars at last. “You’ve given this a lot of thought, and more importantly, you’ve been watching his form.” He eyed me appraisingly. “And here I thought you’d just been watching his body.”
I turned red, and not just red, scalded lobster red. Even as a kid, I had blushed hard. “Guess you heard?”
“You could say that.” Lodestone put his arm across my shoulder, laughing. He had a ready laugh, at least with me. “Remy, if you don’t want anyone to know, you shouldn’t cuddle on the team bus, to say nothing of the fact that one of the chaperones found you two asleep in each other’s arms this morning. If it’s any consolation, the entire girls’ team thinks it’s adorable. The boys’ team is a bit more divided. Varsity backs you, like it always has. Junior varsity? That’s another issue, but word on the street is there’s more than one rower who’s simply jealous.”
“Aww, jeez.” I had only thought I couldn’t be any more embarrassed. “Wait… of who, me or Mikey?”
Lodestone snickered. “Like I’d tell you. Just enjoy it, okay? That’s part of the fun of being young. Now, about your outspoken advocacy….”
“Hey, you taught me to watch other rowers and made me ride in launches to observe,” I said.
“Yes, but I never thought it’d come back to bite me in the ass this soon.”
About Christopher: Christopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out of putting pen to paper.
Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged both that tendency and the writing. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting.
When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction.
Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be dis-cussed publicly, are laid bare.
Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he’s an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly.
Visit him at http://christopherkoehler.net/blog or follow him on Twitter @christopherink.
7 Jan – Prism Book Alliance
9 Jan – Cody Kennedy
10 Jan – The Novel Approach
14 Jan – JP Barnaby
15 Jan – Love Bytes
19 Jan – GGR Reviews
21 Jan – Hearts on Fire Reviews
22 Jan – MM Good Book Reviews
26 Jan – James Erich
28 Jan – Joyfully Jay
2 Feb – Rainbow Gold Reviews