I am happy to host BJ Sheppard here today on my blog! Everyone say hey to BJ and take a look at his novella, Always Have, Always Will. There’s also a giveaway so be sure to enter! And now, a few words from BJ!
The Giveaway: An e-copy of Always Have, Always Will to one winner at each tour stop!
A Romance by Any Other Name…
You’ll hear writers say it time and again, but the story usually writes itself. When it came time to sit down and write something, in the wake of my first ever book that I only just got brave enough to submit, I wanted to write something a little different. The male-male fiction genre is ever increasing, and there are a plethora of different stories for different tastes – but there seems to be the ultimate faux pas when writing m/m fiction: not including a happy ending. I wanted to buck that tradition, turn the whole idea on its head and do something very rarely seen in gay fiction these days.
I was stood in my kitchen, half hanging out the back door having one of my many breakfast cigarettes when the idea came to me. I had been reading a lot of sad romance fiction by John Goode and Jay Bell, stuff that really made me cry ugly, and I wanted to make other people weep too. So, it was born, a story that would shatter people entirely on reading it.
If you ask anyone what the greatest love story ever told is, they will undoubtedly chuck Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet into the mix. By modern standards, this story is not a romance story. By modern standards, the story is fucking insane. But there is something about the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers that speaks to us, that evokes our inner melodrama and plays on the old adage that love should be enough to die for. So I took my cue from the Bard and wrote what I wanted to. I didn’t pander to publishing rules, and I gave no foresight to the fact that no one would want to publish a story without a happy ending (as such) – something I would later struggle with. Then came time to write it.
What happened after that was an accident. I wrote everything disjointed, chose pivotal moments from a relationship and wrote them out of sync and then wove in a present tense narrative to hold the story together. I had intended to put it into some kind of order, but when I read it back, the out of time flow just seemed to work for what I had written, and I left it in the original disjointed format and got people to read it.
By the time the second draft was complete, I had achieved what I wanted: a small group of betas who I had made cry – go me! All the while I had high hopes of submitting this as my first piece to be published. Only then did I realize that my story didn’t really fit into anyone’s publishing standards. First it was rejected, then it was signed to a dark and shady publishing house that went down in flames shortly afterwards. Finally, as I received the rights back, Wilde City Press took pity on my woes and signed it to their awesome house of amazing authors. But still, it couldn’t be published as a romance, because of the lack of HEA.
What had started as me writing from the gut, turned out to have a very different outcome than I expected. I had intended to write the greatest, most visceral love story ever told, and succeeded in writing only something obscure that people might not like, might not trust and would most certainly alienate half the readers I was aiming to impress. I never intended any of that. I wrote a love story. It just turned out that it wasn’t allowed to be a love story because it was “off type”.
But the word ‘romance’, with all its hearts and rainbows and smiles, has multiple faces, all in varying states of arousal and emotion, and somewhere, deep in the heart of it, my story fits. Given a second stab at writing this story, I would do nothing differently. AHAW ended up exactly where it was meant to be – mainstream fiction, because even though everyone might not consider it romance, it’s still a really good story, and one I am most proud of.
There is still the whole debate over what constitutes romance vs fiction – but that’s a story for another day.
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Length: 64 Pages
Genre: Gay Fiction, Contemporary
Blurb: Imagine losing everything you ever loved in the blink of an eye. For Clayton Palmer, that terrible fate has just become a reality as he buries his lover, Gregg, after a brief and futile battle with cancer. Now, in the house in which they shared their love for all those years, Clay’s own life is slowly fading. In a war with his ailing body, Clay reminisces over the life they shared. Knowing time is running out, memories of their joy and sadness come to him; vignettes forming a road map back to the man he always loved; always has and always will.
Author Bio: My name is BJ Sheppard and all at once I found myself an author. Such a strange sensation to actually feel you deserve the thing you had aspired to for many years. After all, all it took was computer access and an inner world that reads like a Sheryl Crow song to pound the keys and translate my crazy ideas onto the page. I feel like I could have business cards printed. Maybe wear a black roll neck and perch my glasses on the tip of my nose. I could drink whisky and smoke a cigar and do all those really stereotypical things I imagine all writers do. Perhaps I could get laid a little more? This is not the end. Nor the beginning. Hell, it isn’t even about me. My boys write themselves; I really don’t have that much say in the matter. As long as my characters need a voice, I have two chubby typing fingers and a need to please— watch this space: there is more to come.
January 5 – The Novel Approach
January 6 – Rhys Ford
January 7 – GGR-Review
January 8 – Joyfully Jay
January 9 – Love Bytes