An Emotional Read, For Sure
I think by now, readers realize that if they pick up a novel by me, Wade Kelly, they are going to have an emotional response. On occasion, readers laugh, but most of the time they cry. I don’t know why all my stories seem to yank on twenty different emotions while you read, but they do. Maybe because I try to capture real life and most of the time real life is a roller coaster. Nothing is ever static. Circumstances change and people react. I try to capture those real reactions.
This book is no different. I have tackled hard subjects in the past including suicide, rape, bullying, labeling, hate crimes, religious persecution, etc. In Misplaced Affection I do it again. Since the story includes three main characters, and their subsequent families, I had a larger character pool to draw from. So I talk about grief, child abuse, guilt, bullying, anger, jealousy, religion, and starting over. I think that the mix is a good one and logically handled, but that is for you to tell me. Even though there are three main characters, it is not ménage. These three young men show three perspectives on many of the same life circumstances, and how they can differ.
I said it was emotional, and it is. The tears might even start to flow as early as chapter 2. My goal is to write characters that you might know, might identify with, or might come across. I want them to feel so real you want to cry with them, or hug them until it’s over. Please let me know if I did good. If not, I promise to try harder next time!
My excerpt is from the beginning of the book in Chapter 2, when Flynn, at sixteen, decides he is finally ready to face his mother’s grave, six years after her death.
Some time later, a shadow fell across my mom’s headstone and I knew it was Zach’s. “You found me,” I said quietly.
“When you weren’t at the house I knew you’d be here, loser.” His sarcasm didn’t bother me. It never bothered me. “You could have waited. I told you I’d be here for you.”
I remained seated where I was, cross-legged, in the grass, and I didn’t look up. I felt hollow inside and I couldn’t be bothered to humor Zach. Besides, there was no need. Zach would understand. He was only trying to lighten the mood, but I knew he was aware it wouldn’t work. I picked a couple blades of grass and rubbed them between my fingers as Zach sat on the ground next to me.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “There was road construction and then my phone died and I couldn’t find my charger. I should have been here.” He spoke to me as if we were in a library. I guess a cemetery deserved the same reverence. Hushed tones showing respect to the deceased.
I accepted his apology without adding to the distraction of excuses. Feeling his presence next to me was enough. I needed the security of our friendship to relax and open up. Normally it was on his bed as we studied the cracked paint on his ceiling, but for the first time I was okay with semi-public vulnerability. I’m not saying I’d be fine sitting there if a funeral had been going on ten feet away, but the exposure to possible onlookers didn’t scare me. We were there, and this was about my mom and brother, and it felt different.
My eyes remained on the headstone in front of us, but I spoke to Zach as the memories of my mother came flooding in like water on a leaking ship. “I remember this one time, when I was eight years old, two years before she died, we were at my grandmother’s house and I was supposed to be taking a nap. I had gotten up and walked through the living room, but no one noticed. Nate was watching cartoons or something and my grandmother was knitting in her rocking chair. I walked out the back door and saw my mom lying in the grass.” As I spoke, I knew Zach would understand even if my thoughts seemed random. I knew he’d remain silent and listen as I said everything I needed to.
I continued, my voice hushed, as I lifted my hand allowing the blades of grass to blow away. “I didn’t know why she was lying on the ground so I walked down the back steps. Silent. Tiptoeing. Down the wooden stairs, across cement stepping stones, between pink peonies, over a sleeping cat, I approached my mom. Knees shaking, gut clenching, fists tightening, I stepped closer, scared something had happened because I wouldn’t know how to tell my dad. I rounded the side of a forsythia bush and that’s when I noticed the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. Like an angel’s voice, sweet and harmonious, my mom’s voice caressed me from the inside the way hot chocolate warms your belly in the winter. Deep down, somewhere that doesn’t have a definition, her singing touched my soul. I closed my eyes. No music. No audience. No expectations. No pressure. No holding back. My mom, an angel sent from heaven, sang a song to God.”
I picked a few more blades of grass and tossed them. Looking across the graveyard, picturing my grandmother’s back yard, inhaling deeply. “I remember my mom and the day I found her lying in the grass. It was as if God filled the air as it swirled around her. Sunlight streaming, butterflies flitting, birds chirping as she sang, ‘Just from Jesus simply taking, life and rest and joy and peace.’ I think it was the closest I’ve ever felt to God. My mom’s voice saturated the space around me, yet inside I felt something warm and strong and comforting holding me like a hug. I knew I was safe.”
“I don’t think God’s ever felt like that to me,” Zach replied.
“She was so beautiful,” I whispered, my voice cracking. “I miss her so much.”
I snatched my hand back and hastily wiped away my tears before Zach noticed. Except he had noticed and proceeded to side-hug me. The idiot’s compassion caused me to cry harder, and I’d rarely cried over my mom’s death before today. “I’m sorry.”
Zach squeezed my shoulder and said, “Why?”
“For crying like a girl.”
“You’re not, so shut up. I miss your mom too.”
I leaned my head against him and allowed my emotions to run their course. Zach remained silent and supportive as he had so many times throughout the years. He was as he always had been—my refuge.
Knowing he’s gay and acting on it were two separate notions to Flynn Brewer until he’d met Keith, his first boyfriend, in high school. Before then, being gay wasn’t as real as the pain of living day-to-day. Flynn’s fear of coming out to his religious best friend Zach in their conservative community destroyed his relationship with Keith, but Flynn rationalized his avoidance and bottled up the truth until it was regrettably too late.
Zachary Mitchell was the perfect son and role model as far as the outside world could tell. Active in his church while attending college, Zach had a personality that could sell anything, do anything, or be anything. Except, he couldn’t sell the truth to himself. Just when he was ready to reveal his internal conflict to Flynn and expose the darkness lurking in his heart, and in his “perfect” family, Zach met a girl and got sucked deeper into his chasm of deception.
Caught in a living Newton’s Cradle of his own design, Flynn must choose between idealistic childhood fantasy, or a tempestuous passion that could ignite the very air he breathes.
Bio: Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it’s not easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. Wade writes passionately about controversial issues and strives to make a difference by making people think. Wade does not have a background in writing or philosophy, but still draws from personal experience to ponder contentious subjects on paper. There is a lot of pain in the world and people need hope. When not writing, she is thinking about writing, and more than likely scribbling ideas on sticky notes in the car while playing “taxi driver” for her three children. She likes snakes, can’t spell, and has a tendency to make people cry.
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