Today is the release of my third novel—my first full length work since Unbroken which was released in 2013. This is my fifth release in six years—still it feels like the first time I’ve ever released a book. It’s accompanied by the same worry, the same doubt: did I write the best book I could? Will readers like it? Will anyone read it?
On Saturday, we saw Diana Ross in concert at the Mann Center in Philly. The outing was part of our new effort to get out more, to do things together. Our therapist says that’s important—yes, we have a therapist; after twenty years together, the waters of matrimony are still sometimes difficult to navigate. Anyway, back to Miss Ross. I watched her closely, as I watch all artists—and let’s face it we writers are artists, too. I was impressed by her energy, her humanity: from the stage, she came off not so much as a diva as a person, doing her best and hoping to please a crowd. Her daughter opened for her and she brought her grandchildren on stage—yes Miss Ross is a grandmother. Not surprising at 73 but still I always saw her as the legend, the diva, Miss Ross.
I watched her closely. Her brand is remarkable, familiar, and flawlessly executed: the hair, the glamorous form fitting—but not vulgarly so—floor-length sequined gowns with modest trains and miles of organza wraps.
Recently an opportunity unexpectedly presented itself which allowed me to escape the work-a-day world—at least for a while. I wasn’t necessarily looking to exit the job market, but I’ve been around the block enough times, and seen enough horror movies, to know that when a door slams shut behind you, you jump through the nearest window. So, I’ve had the wherewithal and time to focus on the release of this new book. Which meant thinking about marketing and understanding my brand. If Miss Ross’ brand is elegant old school glamour, mine is a kind of unflinching, almost brutal, honesty. Love isn’t everything and it isn’t always easily won. And romance isn’t all sex and flowers and candlelight. It requires compromise and patience and commitment, and room for others and the demands of a life lived. All of this is reflected in In His Eyes. I like to think I wrote a grown-up love story, less a coming out or coming of age story, and more of a coming to terms story. For most of us, gay men, gay men of color, in particular, (though I think this is true also of women and people of color and pretty much anyone outside the ruling majority) it’s all a life lesson, a negotiation, a schooling in the art of creating a place at the table when none has been reserved for us from birth.
In His Eyes tells the story of four young men, friends, and lovers, who meet in college, and spans more than two decades. But, unlike my other books, this story is told from multiple points of view. So, we get to know each character intimately. We get to watch Micah, Skye, Reid, and Calvin grow into manhood and learn to navigate the world and their relationships.
From this writer’s stage, I did my best and I’m hoping to please my readers. And I’m hoping they will be moved by the honesty, the humanity, of my characters.
Happy Release Day to me! And a big thank you to Debbie McGowan and the entire Beaten Track family for helping me bring another book into the world.
Buy In His Eyes now: