Guest Author Brandon Shire – Homeless LGBT Youth and Cold

First, I want to thank Charlie for hosting this post and allowing me to be here to talk to you. This post is meant to be a part of the week-long blog tour for my new book Cold, which is a gay romance novel based in prison. But even in the midst of all the work that goes into creating a and promoting a book, I believe it is important to keep in mind the reason I began publishing – to raise money and awareness for homeless LGBT youth.

As a writer, I’m typically granted space around the web to spread my own message, often about the latest book. But lately I’ve begun asking why we continue to whisper about the problem of homeless gay kids and then scream on issues like marriage equality, as if 500,000 homeless gay kids aren’t important enough for the LGBTQ community to be loud about.

Did you know that LGBT youth make up 13-15 percent of the juvenile justice system, even though they are only 5–7 percent of the population? It seems like there’s a pipeline that runs directly from school to prison built especially for them, don’t you think? And it may very well be, because in today’s U.S. schools the police are roaming the halls and administrators are sending kids to jail for such heinous infractions as dress code violations, being late to class, and talking back. We’re not talking fighting and violence in school, we’re talking normal adolescent behavior, and for a LGBT kid that doesn’t fit in, or is forced to endure harassment by his peers and school employees, it becomes almost too easy to become a part of the juvenile justice system.

There’s a lot about the issue of incarcerating kids that I purposefully didn’t cover in Cold, because the book is an erotic romance novel based in an adult prison.  What happens inside a juvenile prison is often more terrifying, more unrelenting, and typically un-reported. I only touched on that briefly with my character, Anderson, in the adult prison system.  Anderson is a small man, a twink, who doesn’t have a fight game and is one that would be easily targeted by predators if he were a real person in a real prison. Anderson meets up with a predator as he comes to the end of his time, but is saved by an unlikely hero. That is often not the case as you can see here from a real life example of what happens to the weakest inside a juvenile prison.

Did the reality of that linked post ruin your taste for a fictional account of romance in prison? I hope not, but I hope even more that we don’t take the fiction we see around us and use it as a block against the vast reality that encompasses LGBT homelessness. Unfortunately, there is no one answer to youth homelessness. There isn’t a singular law we can pass that will help gay homeless kids become equal in the eyes of the law, or in the eyes of the people who step over them on a daily basis. It takes me and you making it a priority; just as we have made marriage equality a priority. It takes resources, and commitment, and yes, sometimes it even takes personal sacrifice.

I understand that this isn’t a typical book tour post, but the issue of homeless LGBTQ kids is important to me, and I hope it becomes important to you too. Because behind each of the stories you read within this genre, there’s a reality that is much, much worse and has no happy-ever-after to make us feel better when we curl up at night.

*****

Cold_600Cold by Brandon Shire

Published by TPG Books

Prison is a brutal, heartless, and demeaning environment. No one knows this better than a man sentenced to life in prison for murder. Lem Porter is a high-profile prisoner who had a solid career ahead of him in a field he loved until he killed his brother. He has spent almost eighteen years behind bars and doesn’t have much hope left.

Anderson Passero had it all.  He built a career, a name, and a relationship with a man he thought he loved. Only after he very publicly landed in prison did he realize how ignorant he’d been. He has eight months left on his sentence and he is eager to go home and put prison life behind him. He doesn’t know it yet, but he will always carry these eight months with him, and they may just help him to understand what love really means.

Visit Brandon’s website to learn more about his books and the LGBT youth charities he supports.

10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon Shire’s books are donated to LGBT youth charities combatting homelessness.

 

Guest Author Kim Fielding – Night Shift

Most people probably think of prisons as being pretty terrifying places. And, well, they can be. But they’re not necessarily the scariest things we can imagine.

I have a friend who, because of the nature of her job, spends a fair amount of time visiting prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, probation offices, police stations, and the like. Sometimes she even has to go to the coroner’s office. She doesn’t mind. I’ve been with her on a couple of these visits and she’s completely calm. But tell her there’s a snake in the room and she’ll run away screaming.

A lot of my students work in various correctional facilities. I remember one student several years ago, a really big guy who spent his free time at the gym. He was a deputy sheriff who worked at the county jail. But on the day he had to give a presentation in front of the class, he spent a good half-hour beforehand in the bathroom, throwing up. Speaking in front of forty fellow students scared him more than facing cells full of inmates.

And I’ve spent some time in prisons, too. No, not like that. I got to go home at the end of the day. I’ve had lunch in a federal maximum security prison (turkey burgers) and in a Croatian prison (chocolate crepes for dessert). I’ve sat down across the table from a guy who’d spent the past ten years locked up and who, if he was very fortunate, would be released before AIDS debilitated him. But when I tried to go snorkeling in the bathtub-warm waters of the Florida Keys, I was too claustrophobic to keep my mask on, and I ended up staying in the boat instead.

In my new novella, Night Shift, Aiden Quinn has spent over half his life behind bars. He’s built up a lot of muscle and he knows how to stare down a threat. You know what makes his knees wobbly? Joining a book club.

Kim Fielding Night Shift

Night Shift at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3683

Kim Fielding:

http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
https://twitter.com/KFieldingWrites

Blurb: 

Aside from a sympathetic parole officer, Aiden Finn is alone in the world. He knows this is his last chance—after a lifetime in and out of prison, one more mistake will land him there to stay. Unfortunately, his job as a night custodian at a motel is neither satisfying nor good for building his confidence, and booze and burglary are always just a step behind him.

Enter beautiful, exotic, and secretive Luka Gabor, the motel’s new security guard. He seems to know a great deal about literature, history, and travel but otherwise remains a mystery. Aiden has to admit, the sex has never been better, and he might even be feeling the beginnings of friendship. He dares to hope that this time, he won’t mess things up—if lurking monsters don’t ruin his plans.