Thank you, TNA, for having me here. I had to think about what I wanted to talk about as I make my way around my blog tour. I’ve been releasing little snippets and excerpts on different blogs and in the interest of keeping them all different, I chose the following one for TNA. It is an argument. Why? Because I like to explore ideas, and sometimes they make people angry.
I remember a reader telling me that they didn’t know how to rate When Love Is Not Enough because they were so angry they wanted to throw the book across the room. Then, six months later, that same person told me that even though WLINE made them angry, they could still remember every detail about the book. She also said she had read countless other books in that six months and could not tell me the detail with clarity like she could with mine. So for me, that was a win.
Sometimes anger is a good emotion. Anger stirs up the mind and can make you think about things differently. Even if it is because you completely disagree with the author (ME) or because you agree and are outraged at society for the same things. Anger can be good. I think that’s why all of my books are different. I am a highly emotional person and therefore, I try to hit all the types of emotion I feel, from happiness and joy to hatred and anger. I want my readers to FEEL when they read my books.
In Names Can Never Hurt Me I explore the concept of labeling people. Why do we do that? How might that make a person feel if they suddenly needed to categorize themselves, but at the same time didn’t understand why they felt the way they do? Nick is that guy. He is confused. He is sifting through feelings and desires for someone he is not ready to be attracted to, or admit he is attracted to. I wrote Nick this way because I don’t think coming out is that easy for people, even with culture changing as it is. So, I explore his confusion through an argument with one of his best friends, Mary-Louise.
M-L (short for Mary-Louise) is a lesbian who is in a monogamous relationship with a girl who had previously messed around with Nick. They are college friends who have remained friends past college and into adult life, but Nick, he hasn’t quite grown up yet. Nick is slow-witted and in denial, so this argument is one that needs to come at him from someone he trusts.
If you get mad at Nick, good! But I also hope you will read the book and stick with him until the end to see his journey unfold, and watch him grow up. Enjoy.
Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care.
When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. Overweight, always sweaty, gay, and hairy like a bear, RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “Scruffy Dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head.
Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself. If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything.
“That guy, the one I told you about, RC—he’s gay.”
“Oh.” Her voice went up a little. Was she surprised that I’d brought RC up again or was she surprised that I was talking about homosexuality?
“Yeah. He’s got a pride flag tattooed on his forearm. That’s why he flipped over me wanting to see his tattoos. He said “people are shit” and he doesn’t like everyone staring at him. I don’t know exactly what his deal is yet, but I bet he’s been harassed.”
“Poor guy,” Shawna said.
“Yeah, and then I had to be a dick and say something inappropriate about it.”
“You hassled him for his tats? Nick! You already said he’s very self-conscious, and the way you described his looks didn’t give me any reason to think he’s confident at all about himself. Why would you harangue the guy about his tattoos?” M-L turned all accusatory on me. I didn’t need her shit, but I had set myself up for it.
“I didn’t! It wasn’t about the tattoos. I’m fine with them. It was about being gay.”
In unison they screeched, “What?”
M-L leveled her stern eyes my way and said, “Of all people, I never thought you’d be the one judging people over sexuality. What about Corey? Are you going to judge him next?” Her tone grew hotter as she spoke. “Are you going to spout off religious propaganda and tell him he’s going to hell?”
“What? No.” This conversation was getting ridiculous, and they were completely missing my point.
“Well, tell me, Nick, what about this guy made you switch sides and rail against his sexuality?”
“Nothing! I’m not attacking his sexuality. I just don’t get why he’s not attracted to me.”
M-L opened her mouth, and then promptly closed it. She sat back and scrunched her eyes at me. “I thought you said you aren’t gay?”
“Then why do you care?”
“I don’t know,” I whined. “It just felt weird when we went out on Friday night, and I can’t get it out of my head.”
“What felt weird?” Shawna asked. She was at least asking without skepticism in her tone. She had always been a levelheaded, even-keeled person. No wild mood swings as I had witnessed in other women of our crowd.
In a nervous rush, I turned to her and explained, “Our date to the movies. He said it wasn’t a date, but then he bought the ticket and held the door and offered to get me popcorn. I didn’t know what to do. I got all jittery inside and kept thinking he was gonna go down on me in the theater like Dawn or Elaine. I didn’t even watch the movie because I kept glancing at him, waiting for it to happen.”
“Did it?” Shawna asked.
“Was it a date or not? I’m confused,” M-L said.
“He said it wasn’t.”
“But he asked you to go to the movies?” Shawna asked.
“No. I invited myself along when he mentioned going to see Iron Man 3.”
“If you invited yourself, then why would you think it was a date?”
“Because of the ticket and all,” I explained, complete with agitated gesticulations. “And he’s gay!”
“So?” said M-L.
Why couldn’t she follow simple logic? “He’s gay. Gaaaay. He’s into guys. And I’m… well… a guy. He took me on a date to the movies.”
“So?” Shawna was still waiting for an explanation, but I’d just given her one.
“So?” My voice was shrill, but I didn’t care how ridiculous I sounded. “I want to know why RC didn’t try anything. I’m hot!” I gestured to my body. “At least I thought I was. Most people want me. Most girls, plus Corey. I thought everybody’d be into me. But not him. We shared popcorn, and then he gets in his truck and leaves without trying to kiss me. I don’t get it.”
M-L gave me another confused look, perhaps beyond confusion, and shook her head. “Let me get this straight…. You went on a date that wasn’t a date, with a man who’s gay, and you assumed he’d make a pass at you, even though you tell everyone you’re straight. You’re frustrated because he didn’t come on to you, and now you’re doubting your sex-appeal to the entire human race because you didn’t end up having sex on your non-date with a gay guy whom you said was ‘rugged like a mountain man’ and ‘wasn’t the least bit cute’?”
I paused, considering her summary. “Exactly.”
Shawna slapped her forehead, and M-L replied, “You are such an idiot, Nick.”
“Not having sex when you go out with a friend, doesn’t automatically make you ugly. It makes your friend normal.”
“But… but…,” I stammered. “You weren’t into me because you’re a lesbian. He’s not straight. He’s into guys. So why wasn’t he into me?”
“Nick, not everyone is attracted to the same physical traits. Just because I like girls, that doesn’t mean I’m into every woman I walk by. I love Shawna. I told you, even if I was into guys I wouldn’t date you, because I’m a monogamous person. You said RC ragged on you for being a slut. Maybe that’s why? Maybe your friend RC has morals.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Shawna touched my knee and said, “Nick, I mean this in the nicest possible way, Mary-Louise is right. You’re an idiot.”
“Why?” I questioned shrilly. “You haven’t met him. He’s single and overweight. His skin might have cleared up really well and he has great hair, but that doesn’t mean he has room to be choosy. If I’m so hot, then he should have been all over me in that theater. He’s gay. It’s what they do!” I slumped back, crossed my arms, and grumbled, “Corey would have.”
M-L rubbed her face and leaned on her elbow. “Oh good Lord, I’m getting a headache. You need to go home, Nick.”
“What? Why? I drove all this way for your advice.”
“My advice on what? How not to be a complete asshole? Nick! You’ve got to be the biggest dumbass I’ve ever met.” M-L started yelling at me, and I felt trapped in a quagmire of indecision. I could bolt, but then I’d miss the possibility she’d say something smart. Or I could listen and risk my pride getting hacked to pieces by a feminist lesbian who was used to standing up for gay rights on a daily basis. I chose to take my lashes.
I sat and listened to her shout.
“I’m sorry I suggested that you’re changing because it sounds to me like you’re just as vain as you ever were. You’re as stuck-up as Terrell and a nymphomaniac like Dawn. I’ve never met RC, but he sounds like a great guy to me if he thinks you’re a slut and doesn’t have sex on the first date just because you’re hot. And don’t roll your eyes, Nick. I might be a lesbian, but I still have eyes. I know a good-looking guy when I see one. I just don’t normally want to have sex with them. Just like I know a good-looking woman when I see one, but I don’t go around having sex with all of them either.
“And you know what? I’m glad you’re not gay because you’d be an embarrassment to our entire culture if you were. I’m done.” She stood up and headed to a hallway to the left of the living room. “Let yourself out, Nick.”
I jumped up and followed her. “But…. Please don’t go.” I grabbed her arm and was relieved when she didn’t turn and slap me. She did glare though. “I just don’t get why I have to define myself. Gay, not gay. I don’t understand labels. Why can’t I simply work out how I feel without a specific classification?”
M-L sighed sympathetically. “Labels and names are what we get, baby. Straight people are the only ones who get to walk around unfettered.”
About the Author: Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it is not easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. She writes passionately about the controversial issues witnessed in real life 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. 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, and has a tegu (lizard) living in her bathroom.
The Giveaway: In honor of her visit, Wade Kelly would like to offer the chance for one lucky reader to win an E-copy of any one of her Backlist Titles found HERE (**exludes Names Can Never Hurt Me**).
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