About My Life as a Myth and a couple of Tidbits from Upcoming Projects!
First, let me say I’m so happy to be here at the wonderful Novel Approach Reviews site! The reviews and discussions are superb.
I’ve been honored by the fabulous reception of My Life as a Myth. Reviews have been very generous in their praise, which is most gratifying, and to even be considered for two prestigious awards (Stonewall and Rainbow) were honors that blew me away. People have commented on the humor and realism as well as the emotionally moving passages that even made me cry when writing them. And the notes from readers who have told me how much they identify with Nick, and how he gave them strength to deal with their own struggles have been the most gratifying of all. Thanks, folks!
I think the reason people identify with Nick is because he just wants to be accepted by his peers, to have friends, and to find a love he can be intimate with. These are basic teenage concerns (and humans in general), heightened only by his homosexuality, which draws his struggles into sharper relief.
Like all teenagers, Nick has to deal with dysfunction in his family, his own loneliness and self-doubt, and expectations based on other people’s perceptions of him. He initially finds himself cast as a troublemaker through no fault of his own and dreams of being popular, but when he seems to get his wish, he quickly discovers that popularity brings its own pressures. As his reputation soars, he gains friends and admirers, but few he can really feel close to. His public image is totally at odds with who he is temperamentally and mirrors the demands placed on him by a heteronormative culture he cannot embrace. The conflict between being who the world expects him to be and accepting who he is drives him throughout the book.
But Nick’s life really begins to change when he meets Bobby Warren and a mutual attraction between them begins. Writing about their first meeting, Nick says,
The one who really made an impression on me is Bobby. He’s laid back, and he’s real nice and showed the most interest in getting to know me. There’s something about him that makes me think he could be the leader but just doesn’t want to be. I must have embarrassed him at one point, ’cause when I noticed him looking at me he blushed, which triggered that embarrassing nervousness I sometimes get. But the way he smiled at me kinda made it all right. Like I said, he’s real nice.
In Bobby, Nick has finally found someone who accepts him for who he is, someone who alone can provide him with the intimacy he deeply needs. As he accepts his feelings for Bobby, Nick also comes to accept his sexual orientation.
Since Friday, Bobby and I have been doing the kinds of things I used to think only guys and girls do together, and it all turned me on like no girl could.
The fact is I’ve been attracted to Bobby since I first laid eyes on him. He turns me on. All those times I looked at him, or he looked at me and I blushed, I felt the same thing other guys say they feel around girls.
What does it mean? In health class, they say homosexuality is harmful and dangerous, deviant; they say it’s a disease. But Bobby’s helped me like no one else ever could. And we haven’t hurt each other. What we do together feels fantastic and it seems so right.
And it’s not just physical; I love him. Does that make me dangerous? Why is it wrong to find Bobby attractive anyway?
Bobby and I share something different. We love each other. And that’s supposed to be wrong?
Everyone’s always going on about meditating and really coming to know yourself. Isn’t that what the hippies always say? What I’ve come to know about myself is that I’m falling in love with Bobby.
Can that really be bad? I don’t think so.
No. I know it’s not wrong.
I’ve just got to find out how it fits in with the rest of our lives. I know it’s gonna have to be something we keep to ourselves. But damn, now that we’ve found it, I so want to keep it.
My Life as a Myth is a romance of first love between two gay teenagers, but it is more than that. It presents a realistic and moving picture of the struggles a gay teenager endures as Nick comes to understand and accept his orientation in the midst of a deeply homophobic culture. While it doesn’t promise a happily ever after ending, it is ultimately hopeful and has plenty of humor as well as passages that will make you cry. Gay teens will find affirmation of their experience of life to remind them that they are not alone in what they feel, and straight teens will discover how similar a gay person’s basic hopes, dreams, and fears are to their own. Adults will, hopefully, become more sensitive to the needs of the gay youths around them.
My next book, Joined at the Soul, coming in February 2015, is more light-hearted and explores issues of physical attraction versus love. Set in 1979, Chadham High continues to struggle with the acceptance of gay students. But sophomore Randy Clark comes to terms with his orientation a bit differently than Nick Horton did ten years earlier.
I woke up this morning and discovered I am gay. I know I know I know; it’s not supposed to work like that, but that’s just what happened. I was brushing my teeth, spit out, and looked in the mirror. A pointy-nosed sixteen year old with mousy brown hair stared back at me. “Randy Clark,” he said. “You, young man, are gay.”
Aided and (mis)guided by his friends Anne Brock and Jeremy Smith, Randy quickly learns that being comfortable with your sexuality is only half the struggle; finding a boyfriend, a special someone, is the real difficulty.
Like Nick before him, Randy must also deal with bullies, prejudice, and the problem of distinguishing true love from mere physical attraction. Thanks to his friends, Randy just might find Mr Right, if he can only manage to not screw it up. For Randy, that just might be a problem.
Later this year, I’ll also have a novella just in time for Halloween entitled Light in Endless Darkness. Kevin Reeves is fresh out of high school and more than ready to get the hell out of Chadham — that is, after he takes a community college course so Dickerson College will accept him. Meeting Dominic Pierce, who has a dark secret, is sure to throw a monkey wrench into those plans.
Once again, my thanks to Lisa and everyone at The Novel Approach. What a great site! Everyone should bookmark it.
My Life as a Myth is available from Prizm Books
BLURB: 1969 freshman Nick Horton has problems. He suffers from bouts of depression, he’s a high school social outcast, and he doesn’t understand why he’s not attracted to girls. So when a series of misunderstandings label him a troublemaker, he’s delighted to have Jesse Gaston and Jesse’s gang befriend him. Nick wants to explore his attraction to Bobby Warren, but Jesse promises to give him a new image and soon transforms the shy loser into an anti-establishment student hero.
Thanks to his new reputation, Nick finds himself besieged by would-be girlfriends and expectations that he live up to his public image. As Jesse’s PR campaign becomes more and more outrageous, Nick’s road quickly becomes littered with ridiculous misadventures and unexpected psychedelic explorations. Meanwhile he struggles to understand his emerging romance with Bobby while dealing with the Vietnam War’s continuing impact on his family and the dangerous goings-on at school.
Nick’s freshman year is a remarkable journey of struggle with his unwanted reputation and his deepening passion for Bobby. Is a world still reeling from the sexual revolution, Acid Rock, and the illicit pleasures of underage drinking and pot smoking ready to accept two boys in love? Will Nick and Bobby’s love survive or will the world’s prejudices drive them apart?
Joined at the Soul will be published by Prizm Book in February 2015.
THE GIVEAWAY: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED