Release Date: 08.22.18
Cover Design: Jay Aheer
Owen Hannity was nineteen when he lost almost everyone he thought he could trust. Each loss more painful than the last.
With the unwavering support of his best friend, Andy, Owen put the pieces of his life back together. Now, more than two decades later, Owen owns and operates a successful comic shop. Despite his modicum of success, he still feels like a shell of a man, carrying the emotional scars from his past.
Without warning, Owen’s past returns. Secrets come to light. Secrets that could either destroy Owen or finally give him the strength to re-evaluate everything he thought he knew about Andy, himself, and the way in which he views the world.
To see that he is truly worthy of loving himself and finally begin…
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I shook even more as I picked up the handset and dialed the ten digits for his area code and phone number. The call wouldn’t connect. I feared for a moment that he had purposely given me the wrong number. Maybe he didn’t want me calling him after all. Then I remembered, since this was long distance, I had to dial the number one first.
I laid the receiver back into the cradle and scrubbed my hand through my hair, willing myself to calm down. Jack wouldn’t be able to see my fear from over the phone, but there was every likelihood that he would be able to hear it.
I took the receiver out of the cradle and dialed the eleven digits. My heart beat faster as the phone rang, and I almost chickened out and hung up.
The other end was picked up on the fourth ring. A woman answered, clearly out of breath. “Hello.”
I was momentarily confused. In my head, he would answer, and we would spend my break catching up. I had not expected someone else to answer, especially not a woman.
What if she was his girlfriend? How would I explain myself?
“Hello?” she repeated.
He wouldn’t have given me his number if he didn’t think it would be safe for me to call. Or at least, that’s what I reasoned.
“Is Jack in?”
“Yeah. Hold on a sec.”
Then I heard her muffle the mouthpiece, but I was still able to hear her call his name.
Soon enough, I heard a voice that I recognized coming from the other end. “Hello?”
“Jack?” I said, still slightly confused, and hoping that I hadn’t just caused some problem for him by calling.
“Jack, it’s Owen.”
I heard his breath catch on the other end of the phone line, and there was a second or two of delay. Panic started to bloom. This was a mistake. He wouldn’t remember me. Why would he? I was just some kid from Toledo that he’d met in a bar weeks ago. I’d allowed too much time to pass and had lost any chance I had, if I’d had any at all. “Owen?”
I twisted the phone cord around my finger, an old habit I’d developed when I was nervous on the phone. That panic came full force at his question. He didn’t remember me. This call was pointless. “From Toledo,” I reminded him.
Jack chuckled. “I remember. I don’t meet too many Owens.”
Some of that panic eased off but didn’t dissipate entirely. This could still go horribly wrong very quickly. I still didn’t know what I was doing calling him. What if that connection I had felt the night before Thanksgiving was all in my head? I’d be the fool that had placed the call. He’d talk about me to all his friends, tell them about this little homo that was stalking him from the other side of the state. They’d all laugh at my expense, and I’d never know. Or he could tell Andy, and he’d never let me forget how I’d basically come on to his straight cousin.
Yet, he had given me his number. And those words. I reread the napkin. Can you feel it?
I paused, pulling in a deep breath and slowly exhaling. I could do this. This wasn’t a big deal if I didn’t make it one. “No, I can’t imagine you do. It’s not a very common name.”
“No, it’s not. It’s very memorable.”
“I was actually named after my grandfather, if you can believe that.”
“Yeah. Sort of a family tradition. My father is named after his grandfather, and my grandfather after his. It’s weird.”
“No, not really. It’s actually kind of cool. Like, legacy. You have a connection to your family that will never go away.”
“I never thought of it like that. I’ve honestly always hated the name.” And wasn’t that a total bitch. If my father ever found out that his only son was gay, he would totally disown me, and I’d still have this name.
“You shouldn’t. It’s unique. It sets you apart. How many people have you known named Jack?”
I laughed. “That’s true. A lot.”
“Exactly my point. In a world full of Jacks, be an Owen.”
Why did that warm my heart so much?
Who are your writing influences?
This is a hard one, actually. I tend to gravitate toward authors that make me feel when I’m reading their books. I’m not talking just about angst, although that feeling is certainly in there. A good author will make you forget, if only for a moment, that you aren’t you and make you believe that perhaps you are someone else. They will make feel the joy and the anger and, above anything else, the love between two characters. They will make you want to be able to experience what the characters are experiencing. But I also want to. I want to be able to see myself in them in some small way.
I have certain authors that I follow and are total auto-buys. People like Felice Steven, TJ Klune, Devon McCormack, Riley Hart, Christina Lee, and Lane Hayes. Each one of them has a strong, unique voice. The all bring something strong to the genre.
There are times that I’ll read something, however, and lament that I’ll never be as good as they are.
Felice Steven’s “Rescued” was my first ever M/M. I absolutely adored Ryder and fell in love with Jason, simply because he was brave enough to sacrifice whatever he needed to in order to be with the man he loved.
Through Felice I discovered Riley Hart. I read her “Crossroads” series within a matter of a week and a half. Remember, I have a full, 9-5 job, so it may take me a little longer to get through a book. I remember feeling a connection Rod from “Shifting Gears” that stayed with me for the rest of the series. She imbues her characters with an enormous amount of humanity and works hard to make them relatable. That series led me to her first collaboration with Devon McCormack, “Weight of the World.” Never, ever, had I experienced a book hangover. Until that one.
From there, I started following Devon as well. He has this ability to take virtually any subject matter, no matter how …out there, and make it now only entertaining but also emotional. “Between These Sheets,” which is one of my favorites by him, is a perfect example of this. PTSD is a very hard subject to tackle. If you get it wrong, you run the risk of not only incurring an enormous amount of backlash, but you could also lose readers. The amount of time and care he put into that one is extraordinary.
Lane Hayes and Christina Lee have the same ability to imbue their characters with emotion and humanity that Riley does. There’s a scene in Christina’s “Regret” where Nick reveals to Brin the one dark secret that ended their relationship years before. That secret, and its delivery, literally took my breath away.
My boyfriend hounded me for months to give TJ Klune a try. I remember I was looking for a perfect entry point into his work, and along came “Olive Juice.” While it might be a novella, that story packs such an emotional punch. Shortly thereafter, my boyfriend bought me TJ’s entire catalog in paperback for my birthday. I started with the “Bear, Otter, and The Kid Chronicles” and thought I had met myself in novel form. TJ is a master of emotion, able to make you laugh out loud one moment, then, with a snap of a finger, he’s ripping your heart out. He’s another one that can write in virtually any sub-genre, whether it be contemporary, fantasy, or shifter, and draw you in.
So, back to the question. Who are my writing influences? All of them. Every last one. I want to be able to bring the same level of humanity, of emotion, to my writing as these fantastic writers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm the oldest of three, from the Glass Capital of the world, Toledo Ohio.
Don't laugh too hard.
I've dreamed of writing since I was eleven years old when I wrote a truly awful Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. It sold exactly zero copies. I think my mother may have a copy lying around somewhere. Mothers keep that kind of thing.
Through junior high and high school, I wrote a number of short stories, one actually published in the first (and only) issue of his high school's literary magazine.
Life took control shortly thereafter, as it often does, and the dream of writing was put on hold. Then, in November of 2016, I took a leap of faith, and began writing my first novel as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) competition. The goal of the competition is to write a 50,000-word novel in a thirty-day period.
However, on the advice of a friend, I "pushed through". And so, in September of 2017, my first novel was published.
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