Hello all! Please give a warm welcome to my guest Michael Rupured who’s here to chat about becoming a published author, his upcoming novel, and the amazing research behind it. ~ Charlie
It’s an honor and a privilege to appear on Charlie’s blog. I love the era she writes about and am in awe of her ability to put me there. Thank you, Charlie, for this opportunity to meet your readers.
Writing a novel is a complicated endeavor—so much so that I didn’t have the first clue how to go about it. I had accepted that writing a book was another one of those things I’d never be able to do.
The stories inside of me were never happy with my decision. Driven by their need to be heard, I started blogging, which eventually gave me the courage to try writing a book. Believing I lacked the imagination to make up a good story, I wrote a memoir, and when I couldn’t get it published, joined the Athens Writers Group to find out how to make it better.
After working with the other writers for several months, I set the memoir aside to attempt my first novel. With no imagination but a near photographic memory, the original idea was to fictionalize a part of my life that I believed would make for an interesting story. So I set my first novel in 1997 and the world of my protagonist looks a whole lot like the world I inhabited at the time.
At least it started out that way. The Robot Unicorn Cult (more formerly known as the Athens Writers Group) critiqued my first novel 5000 words at a time. They ripped me to shreds and schooled me on stakes, tension, pacing, and showing vs. telling. With no real idea of what the hell I was doing, I was grateful for the feedback and soaked it up like a sponge.
I am truly a fascinating person with a wild and crazy past and a lot of stories to tell. That doesn’t, however, make me the hero of a novel. Somewhere between figuring that out and finishing the book, I found my voice and discovered that I could tell a good story.
The biggest surprise was having the characters take over. I didn’t need to make anything up. They told me what they did and said, revealing intricate connections with each other that I never imagined. No, I didn’t go off my meds and I’m not hearing voices in my head. The stories are inside just waiting for me to write them down. I have no idea where they come from.
As I was finishing up Until Thanksgiving, scheduled for release by Dreamspinner Press in December or January, one of the supporting characters insisted on his own book. Rather than a sequel, Philip’s story takes place thirty years earlier. In 1966. When I was eight years old.
We argued about it. I told him there was no way I could tell a story that took place in an unfamiliar time and place. Philip said to trust him. He was there. He’d tell me what I needed to know. Which at long last, brings me to the reason Charlie asked me to be a guest on her blog.
Writing Philip’s story has taken me way out of my comfort zone. I’ve had to do a ton of research. What I’ve learned has inspired me to write a collection of novels spanning the last fifty years to highlight the amazing progress gay people have made.
In 1966 homosexuality was a mental illness. There was a ban on hiring homosexuals for federal jobs, homosexual acts were illegal across the nation, and in New York City, serving alcohol to homosexuals was illegal. Law enforcement routinely harassed homosexuals. Calling the cops was asking for trouble. Blackmailing homosexuals—most of whom were married because that’s what society expected—was a growth industry.
So I found myself having to write a story with gay characters in a world where gay people were scorned, stigmatized, and persecuted. A friend who was out in the DC area in 1966 told me that the fear of raids was a constant at any known hang-outs or haunts. When he was in public, the goal was to blend in as much as possible to avoid getting beat up or worse.
Wow. I came out in 1979, ten years after the Stonewall Riots that launched the Gay Liberation movement. By then, the local gay bar was a refuge for LGBQT people from every race and all walks of life. Outside of our bar friends, most of us were only out to a select group. I was one of the few in my circle of friends who was out to my family, and that was only because word got back to Mom that I’d been seen at the queer bar. We’ll save all the drama that followed for my memoir.
In the early 1980s, the one and only gay bar in my hometown was packed six nights a week. Drinkers and non-drinkers alike popped in several times a week if not every night. The gay bar was the only place away from home—and many couldn’t be out at home—where being out was not just okay, it was the norm.
AIDS changed everything. Except for Friday and Saturday nights, once crowded bars were empty. If you could find a way to compare revenue in gay bars before and after the advent of HIV, I’m sure the difference would be staggering.
Through my research for the prequel to Until Thanksgiving, my eyes have been opened to just how far we’ve come in less than fifty years. That same-sex marriage is now legal in some states simply boggles my mind. The characters inside my head lived through it, and they want to tell you about it.
After Christmas Eveis the working title for the prequel that I hope to submit before the end of the year. One of the supporting characters has grabbed me by the balls, demanding that I focus my next book on her story. She’s one of the drag queens that stood up to police in the Stonewall Riots and is not the kind of person who accepts no for an answer. I’m thinking the title will be something about Independence Day.
I want to use the same characters as much as possible. You’ll see how they change over time, but won’t have to read the books in any particular order. Based on what the characters have shared with me so far, the stories will probably all be thrillers with varying levels of romance scattered throughout and a holiday in the title.
Here’s the blurb for the first one, Until Thanksgiving.
Gay and pushing forty, Josh Freeman knows his best years are behind him. After his partner of seventeen years has an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself in a pile of take-out boxes, empty bottles, half-smoked joints, and self-pity. His best friend, Linda does what friends do—gently kicks his ass and encourages him to give the job he’s been offered in Washington D.C. a try—at least until Thanksgiving.
Thad Parker, a DC-based relocation expert, rarely dates and has never fallen for anyone. But when he meets Josh Freeman and shakes his hand, a spark hits him like a lightning bolt. When Josh takes an active interest in someone else, Thad decides to wait.
While he waits, misunderstandings about Thad’s relationship with his older roommate, a reckless encounter with a serial killer, and a brush with death conspire against Josh and Thad’s chance at happiness.