Wait, who’s Arthur? Forget him! I’m the one that was interviewed!
Danielle, who was already kind enough to review my book on her site ALPHA reader, recently asked me if I’d like to answer a few questions. Any time you ask an author if they’d like to talk about their books or themselves, you can bet the answer will a resounding “YES!” This interview can currently be found on The Book Addict. Here’s a small sample.
Q: ‘Something Like Summer’ looks at the many aspects of being young and homosexual – Ben is ‘out’ and proud, but still struggling with loneliness and bullying. Tim, meanwhile, is in denial and firmly closeted. What do you hope your readers take away from both Tim and Ben’s approaches to their sexuality?
So many stories put readers in the driver’s seat of a closeted character, reminding them of the fear and anxiety that accompanies that state. Instead of doing this, I hoped that closeted readers would enjoy being Ben for a while, to experience being free of that burden while also seeing themselves from the outside. I wanted them to become frustrated with Tim, to realize how good his life could be if he would just take that leap of faith.
I’ve been in a love a few times in my life and was always happy to lose myself in the experience. The thrill of discovery, the emotions that threaten to overwhelm, and the heartbreak when it all falls apart. Yes, even the most difficult aspects of love are somehow alluring. As much as we might wish otherwise, reason cannot be applied to the curious emotion. There is no diagnosis or cure, and for those that enjoy its side effects, few reliable guidelines to ensure it will last. I have a niggling fear sometimes, when Andreas looks at me and I see that spark in his eyes, that one day it will fade. Or I worry that my feelings for him won’t stand the test of time, that the flame will be extinguished if I somehow fail to nurture it. Then I think of those that came before him, and I am comforted.
There was one person I loved, and for a while he loved me, and we kept trying. We came together in countless ways, always starting with the same dance steps before trying out a different rhythm, but it never worked. We hurt each other, we had little in common, and ultimately we were better off apart; but there was still love. All I can say in my defense is that I liked the way he made me feel. I hope he would say the same. I continue to love him, even after all these years, and this is what I take comfort in when I worry about Andreas. Love never truly ends. I can think back on that long ago lover and still find that spark, those long dormant feelings that were created but have never gone away. Not completely. I think if I saw this person years from now, old and hunched over in the grocery store line, my heart would still skip a beat.
Ben and Tim have that kind of love. Whether it is right or wrong, one of them good or bad, is beside the point. To judge their relationship as being reasonable or not is to ignore the chaotic force that binds them together. And really, isn’t the world full of couples like Ben and Tim? Those that argue, make each other cry, and yet cling to each other as if their lives depended on it? We may shake our heads in puzzlement, but if we could see them in their most private and intimate of moments, I believe we would witness something miraculous. It might be hidden in a laugh, or tucked away in a spontaneous kiss, but somewhere in there would be that sly, mysterious trickster called love.
Or should I say “rewolfed” since this story is about a werewolf. [*crickets chirping*] Uh, anyway, back in October of last year, I released this free companion to The Cat in the Cradle, and never heard much back. I believe the most positive review came from my best friend, who described Flesh and Blood as being too short, disjointed and totally confusing. Yeah, well, somebody had to tell me. My friend was right, so it was back to the drawing board. Now Flesh and Blood is over three times its previous length, and explores Nikolai’s story in much greater detail. Not only do we discover his origins, but we learn how he became the prisoner of the Purple Oligarch, and what happens to him after the events of The Cat in the Cradle. Flesh and Blood always felt like the black sheep of the family, but now, thanks to some honest feedback, I’m can proudly pat it on the back and say, “Yup! That’s my boy!”
Flesh and Blood is part of the Loka Legends series, and fits best between The Cat in the Cradle, and From Darkness to Darkness as an intermission between books. It’s bundled together with Finding Fire, plus a collection of sketches and concept art related to the series. All of these can be downloaded from the following retailers: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, iTunes/iBooks, and all other formats.
Thomas Edison once said “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” That ratio may work for an inventor, but I feel that artists are much more dependant on inspiration than that. Personally, I take inspiration from books I enjoyed while growing up, as well as relying heavily on the experiences of my past. I’ve also found that one art form will frequently fuel another.
Songs are a tremendous source of inspiration. Lyrics are a form of storytelling so compressed that they often leave much to the imagination. This, accompanied by the way music intensifies emotion, makes it easy to dream up a story while I listen. Some of my books have anthems, songs I listen to over and over again to get me in the right mood. On rare occasions I’ll even tweak scenes to better match the lyrics. Without a doubt, the anthem for Something Like Summer was a song called Faster Still by The Fold.
I had a small tracklist of various songs that correlated to scenes in Something Like Summer, and their rhythm beat like the heart of the story for me, bringing life to the relationship between Ben and Tim.
Sometimes even a simple photo can be inspiring. I was halfway through the first draft when I stumbled upon a photo of professional model Bruno Santos and felt like I had found a photo of Tim Wyman instead. Bruno has had a number of looks over the years, and only some of them truly remind me of Tim, but being able to flip through those when I needed to get closer to the character was a great help. The two photos featured here made me especially glad, since one could easily be Tim in his teen years, the other how he appears at the end of the book.
These are just a few examples out of many. To paraphrase the opening quote, I’d say art is 40% inspiration, 30% imagination, 18% desperation, and 12% delusion. Hmmm. Maybe we better leave the famous quotes to Edison.
Watch out! Print and eBook copies of Something Like Summer have been unleashed and are rampaging the internet! If there’s only one book of mine you try, I would totally give you my first born child if you make it this one. Never before or since have I written something quite so personal, so near to my heart. Not that this is the story of my past, because it isn’t, but I did draw heavily from my experiences of being an openly gay teenager in high school. Feeling alienated and alone, even after coming out? Check. Falling in love with the wrong person, realizing it, and loving them anyway? Oh, yeah. Been there. Being brave enough to seduce the hottest guy in school? Uh, I only wish! Something Like Summer travels beyond high school too, into that strange wilderness of adulthood that we’re promised is less complicated, even though it really isn’t.
I should warn you that there is scalding hot sex in this novel as well. Oh, okay, that’s less of a warning and more of a calculated sales pitch. However, this book is about the nature of relationships and one aspect of that is physical intimacy. There are some graphic sex scenes, but tastefully done and tempered with heart. That’s all that matters to me in a story, is being able to relate to the heart of a character no matter how similar or different they are to me.
For those with a trigger finger, there are some buying options to the right. The eBooks are dirt cheap, but if you prefer paperback, you can get 10% off the price when buying directly from CreateSpace. Just use the code X6VKP2K4 during checkout. Not only is this cheaper for you, but my royalties almost double, so it works well for both of us. Don’t let the shipping dates scare you off either, since CreateSpace delivers much faster than they claim. For those still uncertain or tight on cash, there is more information and free chapters here.
I hope you enjoy reading Something Like Summer. Be sure to drop me a line once you’ve done so. The second greatest thrill of being an author (after writing of course) is hearing the thoughts and feedback of the readers.
Were the World Mine is a difficult movie to define. It’s often touted as a musical, but there aren’t quite enough songs to match the expectations this conjures up. Instead the film is more of a strange fantasy that occasionally feels inspired to break into song. Based on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Director Tom Gustafson does a fine job of creating a dream-like aura, but does the film live up to the hype?
The story centers around Timothy (played by openly gay Tanner Cohen) who suffers the usual amount of teasing and bullying from his peers because of his sexuality. With the encouragement of puckish drama teacher Ms. Tebbit, Timothy discovers his love for singing and acting, and more importantly, a magical flower that can turn anyone gay. Not only does he use it to convert Jonathan, the athletic object of his desires, but the majority of the town as well. Occasionally the barriers of reality become even more blurred by musical numbers performed on beautiful and elaborately arranged stage sets.
All of this sounds like a recipe for success, and it comes so very close, but there’s something missing. The songs are passable and the visuals are stunning, but there is a lack of depth to the characters. The town is generically homophobic and too much time is given to Timothy’s mother and her own struggles with her boss; a rich, superficial, martini sipping diva who would undoubtedly be a fag hag but is oddly portrayed as a religious conservative. The tone of the film tends to meander as well. It’s not quite funny enough to be called a comedy, and doesn’t delve deep enough into its own concept to be thought provoking. Luckily there is plenty of eye candy to detract from these flaws, as the students of an entire boys school pair up and start making out.
Had more time been given to Timothy and Jonathan, and some of the extraneous characters trimmed, Were the World Mine could have been a masterpiece. As it stands, it is still worthy of seeing, if only for the set designs and the Pierre and Gilles inspired imagery. Average though it might be, I plan on watching it again someday in the hopes that my appreciation for it grows.
*update* This film was unique enough that I decided to buy it, even though the first viewing left me somewhat cold. I’m glad I gave it another chance because I enjoyed it much more the second time around. I understand now why the main gay couple is more in the background, since the point of the plot is for the straight townsfolk to experience the ups and downs of being gay, including unreciprocated feelings.
The songs are also much better than I remembered, namely because I discovered that the 5.1 soundtrack is ineptly mixed. The songs sound flat and muddled, even on a sound system that can handle six channels. I’ve had this problem with both the German and UK release, and assume the same is true for the US release as well. If you watch this film, make sure to choose the 2.0 stereo soundtrack. This isn’t the default setting but it sounds much better, at least where the music is concerned. Hopefully this film will receive better treatment if a blu-ray release comes out, since the picture quality could be improved too. Despite all the technical problems, I found this film absolutely charming when giving it a second chance. Check it out!
Hi there! I’m Jay, the guy who writes the Something Like... series and a lot of other wonderfully gay stories. Not familiar with my work? Check out Like and Subscribe, which you can get free in both eBook and audiobook formats. If you’re already part of the cool kids club, please have fun exploring this site, or you can shoot me an email, or keep in touch via one of the options below:
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