Please join us in welcoming author Alexander Clifford today, on the tour for his new novel, Man Soup. Enjoy Alexander’s guest post, and then be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below where you can enter for the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
Man Soup – A Gritty, Realistic Gay Coming of Age Story
Man Soup is a story about a young gay man who’s coming of age and trying to find his place in the world. Everyone goes through this stage, but I think for a young gay man it’s different and more difficult. For a start it’s lonlier – there’s less potential partners. Then there’s the ‘gay scene’ – which has it’s amazing upsides and very depressing dark sides. Then other there’s other gay men who have various levels of empathy, shame, wounds and light.
Young gay guys gravitate towards the centre of cities because there are more amenities, other gay guys and more possibilities. But that brings it’s own set of challenges. It’s like you collide with the world and you are left figuring it all out for yourself. Some people thrive in it but when you see all the messiness of the gay world – it can be sad and depressing. There’s this tendency to chase things among gay men. Looking perfect. The perfect partner – “the one”, “Mr Right”. Maybe things in careers. But I often feel that masks the struggle.
Even now, as we live in the most liberated gay-friendly eras of modern history – gay guys encounter a lot more challenges than their straight counterparts. There’s the whole rigmarole of coming out. The risk of rejection by parents, friends and society as a whole. There’s the judgements around sex and promiscuity – especially if you grow up in a conservative background. It’s like there’s a message in society like as a gay man, you are a kind of subspecies to a straight men. And it’s all there in the language. When I was at school “gay” was thrown around as an insult word – I mean this was 2011, 2012 still. There’s “faggot”, “pussy”, “poofe” – all these derogatary terms for something which is something you can’t choose or control.
Therefore young gay men arrive in cities in their late teens or twenties, often (non-always) very emotionally shaken, there’s potentially internalised homophobia. Well I know that in myself at least. There’s a certain amount of shame of being gay and a certain urge for self-destruction.
And how do we resolve that? Through intimacy, rampant sex, alcohol, drugs, whatever. It’s judged. It’s criticised. Which makes the problem worse.
Now in the book, Ed finds himself thrust into the heart of London and San Francisco. He goes to all the gay bars, saunas, orgies, private parties – everything that he can find. Suddenly he discovers these parts of himself that he’s had to repress. He becomes a bit of a predator. He breaks hearts. He’s rough with guys. He loves them and drops them. He discovers all kinds of dark sadistic desires even though he has a very light and charming side.
From the little research I’ve done, most books in the LGBT category are not written by gay men. And I think the majority have a very idealistic, romantic, perfectionistic, one-dimensional views of gay relationships. It’s similar to those 1950’s “Honey I’m Home” perfect TV Dads. Or the superheroes who never do anything wrong.
What I wanted to do with this book was capture the real essence of what its like to grow up and into these environments. The melancholy, the darkness, the hope, the joy, the misery, the feeling of annihilation and wanting to implode. Everybody likes to focus on and share their light side. Whereas, I think exploring the dark, the shadows and the taboo has much more value. It’s the only way we can bring understanding and healing to a segment of society that has been bruised a lot.
The main character, Ed, is based on myself somewhat. I’ve exaggerated certain features. And inevitably I’ve omitted some things because everyone has their own blind spots. Many of the other main characters are based on people I knew or dated. I don’t have a very good imagination and I also think real-life has much more depth and wierdness and interestingness than anything you can invent.
Anyway, I know this is all very heavy – but I must say the book does have a happy ending. There is hope and possibility. And talking from personal experience things do get better. I think our souls are put on this planet to experience certain things. Then once we understand them, the next situation arises. Woah! That sounds very “woo-woo” but please forgive me.
So buy the book. If you’re a gay guy, or are friends with one or some, there will be many parts that resonate with you and that I think you’ll find relevant and interesting. (But then again, I am biased – I am the author 😉 )
About the Book
Title: Man Soup – A Tale of Sink or Swim
Author: Alexander Clifford
Release Date: May 12th 2016
Length: 91 Pages (Kindle)
Genre: Dark erotica, gay fiction
Buy Link: Amazon
Add the Book to: Goodreads
BLURB: 21-year-old Ed leaves his English village for London on a quest for fame, fortune and sex. But as he starts to conquer the city he discovers his own demons and the darkness of others. As he travels and pursues lovers he burns out. Will Ed ever find satisfaction or will he drown in the depths of man soup?
This is a gay coming of age story with some heavy topics and dark erotica themes. It’ll make you hard and break your heart. You have been warned.
Ed tippytoed awkwardly down the red steps. He was excited but confused. He came to the changing rooms and the lockers and was overawed by the energy he felt and saw. All these men, half naked putting on socks, taking off towels, pulling off shirts – like it was the most natural thing in the world.
It only made him aware of how self-conscious he’d always been, especially around his body and nakedness. Here were all these fully grown men, some older, some more nubile – just changing. Being men. It was like in that moment his mind, his barriers, his awkwardness were all coming down, he felt suddenly so liberated and excited that he could be proud of his body here. He could be naked without weird looks or judgment. He could be admired for his body. It all felt so dirty and wrong and exciting.
He eagerly took his clothes off, but didn’t look around much. That must have been a habit from the PE changing rooms at school. Get dressed quickly. Don’t look around. Don’t get accused of being gay. Take a sneaky glance here or there but don’t do anything that will make them think you fancy them. He exhaled loudly. He was almost shivering at the anticipation and excitement he was feeling. It was like a new fantasy world that he was discovering, well beyond his imagination.”
About the Author
Alexander Clifford is a young British author. He is very perceptive and curious and has always been fascinated by practical psychology and what makes people tick. His biggest influences are Stefan Zweig and Colin Wilson – whose writing asks the big questions. Who am I? How can I fit into the world despite being an outsider? What is it like to really be human? His curiosity led him to working various jobs in marketing, as a copywriter, journalist, salesperson, estate agent and masseur. He’s also traveled the world to the Caribbean, America and many European countries. All of this observation and curiosity has given Alexander a wealth of material to write books that he hopes resonates with you.