Hi, friends, and welcome to the Northern Star audiobook tour with author Ethan Day and narrator Jason Frazier. We’ve got a great interview to share with you, and after you enjoy that, be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget for details on how to enter to win a free copy of the audio.
Welcome, Ethan and Jason!
Jason: What was the initial inspiration for Northern Star? Did the story simply come to you or was it something that came out of the plotting and planning process?
Ethan: Oye, trying to remember that far back is difficult, lol. I think initially, it was more of a ‘what kind of book do I want to write’ type of question that I asked myself. I remember it had been a while since I’d released anything new—a trend that has become the norm for me over the past few years—which I’m attempting to remedy moving forward.
Up until that point, when I was sitting down to write Northern Star, I’d pretty much exclusively written romantic comedies, minus A Token of Time, which was a rather large step off the rom-com path for me and of course, To Catch a Fox, which I co-wrote with Geoff Knight. I remember thinking that I wanted to tackle something a little more serious, thematically speaking. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a good amount of comedic moments within the pages of Northern Star and that was intentional, but more out of a need to either break-up or even highlight some of the more dramatic moments. There are some really serious issues at the heart of the book addressing the way in which we treat one another as human beings.
I suppose I wanted to highlight that as a theme—to remember that we never truly know what is going on inside the minds of the people we run across from day to day. Basically, remember to please be mindful of how we treat one another! And secondly, if you’ve suffered through an onslaught of slings and arrows in life, try not to allow that to determine your trajectory in the future. I realize from personal experience that it can be easier said than done, as there are times in life where it feels like this avalanche of shit comes at us in waves. It’s difficult to see past the storm when you’re in it. You just have to try and keep your heart open enough to accept love and happiness when it comes your way as opposed to completely closing yourself off from everything in an attempt to protect yourself from the bad. That was part of the love story in the book for me, not just Deacon and Steve loving one another but also Deacon and Steve learning to love themselves.
Jason: What/Who was the inspiration for Deacon?
Ethan: For me, Deacon represented the wounded ‘everyman’ that I think we all have inside of us. Sadly, it seems as if we’re unable of reaching adulthood without obtaining a multitude of emotional scars—most of which comes from other people. When we’re kids, I think we’re all walking around blindly thinking we’re awesome, the world is awesome and everyone we meet is awesome—until some miserable asshole comes along and tells us we aren’t awesome. Eventually, in most cases, I feel like many people react the same way when negativity is externally heaped upon them—they inevitably put up walls in an attempt to keep that sort of energy out. Unfortunately, I think a lot of damage occurs before we manage to construct those walls and we end up internalizing a lot of that negativity, becoming our own worst enemy. We begin to berate ourselves. I mean, if enough people call you ugly or useless or (insert any other crappy insult anyone has ever used here), you start to wonder if all those people are seeing something in you that you don’t—you start to believe the bad in spite of the fact none of it is actually true.
That was the first little nugget of inspiration for who Deacon was at his core, a kind person who had been consistently emotionally abused over a long period of time. From there, his backstory grew organically, layer upon layer, the child of a single parent, alcoholic mother, growing up in an extremely unstable home where the only constant in his life were negative ones. He became this example of what can happen to anyone who has been systematically beaten down their entire life.
This is where we find Deacon as the book begins, he is at his lowest point and the love story becomes about whether or not he is able to put the pieces of himself back together again and accept the love and security that is offered to him by Steve. Will all the negativity and hate that he’s been exposed to over such a long period of time overpower the love and respect that another individual is offering? Can we ever put ourselves back together again once we’re broken? Honestly, I think my favorite thing about Deacon, and the one message that I really wanted to get across to the reader by telling his story was that we can survive all of the negativity and eventually begin to accept and embrace the good that comes our way.
Jason: Was the May/December aspect of Deacon and Steve’s relationship intentional or did that come organically throughout the writing process?
Ethan: I actually think it was something I had on a checklist—explore the dynamics of a relationship where one character is considerably older than the other. But it wasn’t like I woke up one day and said, this book is going to be a May/December romance. I think Steve is like 15-20 years older than Deacon? Can’t recall exactly, but as I was going through the process of figuring out who my characters were, this age gap between them fell nicely into place. It just fit and felt right. And even though Steve is older and thus would appear to be the solid, more put together one of the two, Steve is also wrestling with his own demons. He’s spent his entire adult life trying to deny the fact he is attracted to men. Steve has been his own worst enemy and he carries around a lot of guilt over that fact. The man has blown up more than one life because he couldn’t simply be honest and accept himself. And that is the underlying problem we run into as a society that tries to repress or deny homosexuality. It isn’t a choice, so when you try to shame people into becoming something they can’t truly ever be, eventually, it ends up destroying entire families.
I think Deacon becomes a mirror for Steve in this sense, as Deacon has never once questioned his sexuality, in spite of the fact his mother hates this side of who he is. It’s one thing about Steve that Deacon has trouble empathizing with because he simply can’t imagine trying to ignore or avoid this aspect of who he is. In this way, I think they sort of rescue one another, which always feels more realistic to me. We all like a hero, but I think there’s a reason many of us end up being able to connect a little bit more with a hero who needs a little rescuing as well. : )
Thanks again to everyone for stopping by the post today! Jason and I hope you enjoy the Northern Star Audiobook, available now at Audible, Amazon & iTunes! You can find an exclusive audio-excerpt below.
About Northern Star
Deacon Miller never had it all – he never really believed he could. Growing up in a broken home with an alcoholic mother and a revolving door of truly pathetic father figures taught him to keep his expectations low. Now at 27, on the night before Christmas Eve, his life is turned upside down yet again; his boyfriend has dumped him, he just fled the holiday family reunion from hell, and now to top it all off, a blizzard has left him stranded in an airport hotel.
Steve Steele has spent the better part of his 44 years living a lie, ignoring his attraction to other men in an attempt to fit into the mold of the man he thought he should be, instead of living life as the man he knew himself to be. Recently divorced after coming home from work one day and coming out to his wife, Steve has floundered over the past year, desperately attempting to wade through the guilt and find the courage to start again. That’s when a chance meeting in a hotel bar brings two lonely men together…and what should’ve been a one night stand turns into something much more than either one ever expected.
The Audio Excerpt
About Ethan Day
I am a gay man living in Missouri…I can hear the gasps already!! How very un-chic of me, yes I know. It was here I was born and here I have stayed. The youngest of four children and the only boy, I’ve always suffered from an extravagant fantasy life. When I played with my Star Wars action figures as a child, I liked to make up my own stories. Naturally, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were totally meant for each other, and Princess Leia made a bitchin’ wise cracking Fag Hag.
I managed to survive high school living in a small, racist town in Southeast Missouri and emerged unscathed, realizing life was too short to pretend to be anything other than who I was. It was very Lifetime Movie Network meets After School Special, I assure you.
After several stints in college, I signed up for a Creative Writing course, choosing the class because there were no tests. For once my scholastic laziness paid off, and I found an outlet for all the fantasies running amuck inside my head. It was love at first write, and I’ve been doing it off and on ever since. For more about me please visit my website: www.ethanday.com. Facebook || Twitter || Google+ || Goodreads
About Jason Frazier
Jason Frazier is an award-winning voice actor and performer working in animation, interactive, audiobooks, theatre, commercials, new media, film and television. Series and feature voiceover credits include Walt Disney Television Animation, Disney Junior, Lionsgate, BBC Worldwide, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, RGH Entertainment, Connecticut Public Television (Emmy® Award), Discovery Cube LA, CBS Films and CalArts, among others. Los Angeles stage credits include performances and readings at Sacred Fools Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, Celebration Theatre and more. Recordings include several audiobook titles available for download at Audible, Amazon and iTunes, from publishers including Dreamspinner, Wilde City and Lethe. Acting and Improvisation training includes the world-famous Groundlings. He is also a casting director and graphic designer. Member of SAG-AFTRA, AEA, ASIFA, and the Television Academy. For more info, visit www.jasonfrazier.net. Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Vimeo || IMDB