Mourning Heaven

Hee hee— okay, so, yeah, Mourning Heaven is out tomorrow, and Dreamspinner has come up with the inspired idea of giving us a sort of multi-pack of .jpg images to help us promote our work.  I’m going with the big Facebook Banner today, and if you’ve been to my FB page (as I haven’t cause I suck!) you’ll see that I’ve actually put this up there, and I look all frickin’ professional and everything.  I’m sort of excited about this trend–I REALLY can’t wait for the .jpg pack for Dex now, and I’m hoping I’ll get my Jeremy Bunny cover soon, so you can see that too!  (Okay… the official name of the story is How to Raise an Honest Rabbit, but once you read it, you’ll be all goo-goo eyed over my Jeremy Bunny too!)

So Mourning Heaven is out TOMORROW! and there’s a contest running HERE for it, and most of you all know that this is my Bruce Springsteen story, and that, like most of Bruce’s characters in his songs, it will cut your heart out of your body with rusty razor wire and then serve it back to you on a circular saw.  One of my biggest revelations as someone who writes books is that those are SELLING POINTS!  It’s like, people are lining up the block and saying, “I hear you start weeping tears of blood as soon as it hits your Kindle!  I’m DYING for a full out cathartic meltdown!”  “Oh God, me too– did you stock up on Kleenex?  The aloe kind?”  “Oh yeah!  And Xanax– can’t forget that!”  It’s actually pretty awesome to discover that people besides me get off on crying their way through a book or a movie.  I’m like, “MY PEOPLE!”

This is a good thing, because that means that when my people get to the middle of this book and they’re crying their eyes out, they won’t stage a hunting party with an Amy picture in their sights.  This one is…

Well.  Merciless.  Mary Calmes, who, besides being my friend and an AMAZING writer in her own right, is also one of THE BEST critical readers I have ever met.  She’s got this sense for the way a story moves and the resonances and hidden lines that connect characters and themes and the give and take of the human condition as it’s evidenced in literature that I tried, with every fiber of my being, to instill in my students.  With her, it’s something she was born with, and she can read a book, any book, and get to the heart, soul, pith, and marrow of it with a few precise words.  Anyway, THAT Mary was beta reading this, and she said, “It’s hideous.  In the best way, but it’s hideous.  These guys have no way out except each other.”

Bruce is always singing about “breaking on through” and “breaking out”– one of his major themes in his early work is breaking out of the things people have expected from us before we were even born.  In his middle work, he talks about people who don’t break out, and how living in these expectations even makes them greater or breaks them.  In the later work, we see the survivors.

Bodi and Peter are the survivors–and because this is a romance and not literary fiction, they do manage to “break out”.  But that time in between–the time when they were living with other people’s expectations, waiting for something, anything, to change their lives–that time almost broke them both.  It’s a painful book, but hopefully, at the end, a redemptive one.  People ask me all the time, how can a straight woman write gay romance.  My response is that I’m a human being writing about other human beings.  When a writer says that there is a little bit of herself in her characters, that is the literal truth.  It may be an atom or an electron, but I haven’t written a character yet whom I haven’t been able to identify with.

Speculators made their money on the blood you shed…
Mama’s pulled the sheets up off your bed…
We pulled your cycle out of the garage
And polished up the chrome
The Gypsy Biker’s coming home.  

I’ll leave it to you to speculate which part of me lies in this painful story, but I think, maybe, given all the people lining up for Xanax and Kleenex, I may not be the only one with an atom or an electron buried deep in Bodi and Peter’s soul.

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