I’m gathering up info for some book club questions and reposting this blog tour post that was originally aired here on Anna Butler’s blog. Thank you Anna for hosting me!
King of Rain
“King of Rain” has been a labour of love for me in more ways than one. On one hand, it’s a hot and steamy love affair and on the other, it’s a serious exploration of human growth. I believe those two elements can light each other on fire in an inspiring inferno called Intimacy. Getting naked is one thing. Getting vulnerable is another.
Story Research Interviews
I did a series of interviews while I was writing the story. One with Lynne Jones, a counsellor and suicide expert who is planning to write a non-fiction book on the subject. Her insight was invaluable. I described Logan to her. He’s 19, in university, 6’5” and he’s grown up in a family that’s all about ambition. I told her about his grandfather, the self-made man and family bully who had taken Logan under his wing and praised Logan’s athletic ability as proof of his masculinity and strength. I told her about his father, avoiding conflict and his mother, always anxious to measure up to her in laws.
One thing that Lynne told me was that we have this mistaken idea that deep emotional wounds or churning rage come only from physical or sexual abuse. Of course they can, but they don’t have to. Emotional pain can begin early, even when no one is actively trying to oppress or abuse you. And these things can build.
Author Guy Gavriel Kay talks about “imaginative empathy,” as a quality that writers need. We can imagine how something would feel and we empathise with it. Counsellors have that skill as well. I told Lynne about Logan’s secret. Not only is he gay, but he has a deep desire to submit to another man and this goes against everything he has been taught to believe about being a tough, independent man. Very quickly, Lynne was able to describe the energy that Logan would feel inside him, relentlessly building up and how he would never be able to really dispel it, no matter how hard he exercised. She agreed that his fear of himself would create this ever tightening circle of lies that would leave him dangerously alone.
But King of Rain is not just about an emotionally trapped young man. It’s about redemption and healing.
I also interviewed Restorative Justice Advocate, Margot Van Sluytman. She told me about her own journey towards forgiveness after her father’s murder and I was so moved by her story, I ended up volunteering a little in her work. She believes in what she calls “Sawbonna,” which is a Zulu greeting meaning, “I see you.” Her idea is that when people truly see and understand each other and themselves, compassion and healing can happen. She is an active speaker and teacher, sharing her own experience with the man who killed her father and how they have become friends and collaborators in their healing work. A shocking and amazing testimony to humanity.She gave me the courage to write about the redemption that I could see for Logan. Margot agreed to have a small mention in the actual story, but her work is very real and very personal.
The point of all of this is that teen suicide is everyone’s business, especially for LGBT youth, and any inroads we can make in finding compassion for each other are important. My goal in this story was not to drag the reader through the mud of suffering, but rather to start the story when two people are at low points of their lives so that we can witness the good part – the wonderful process of their coming into the light. I learned a lot making this trip with these two brave characters. I think their story has some hope to share.
Love Conquers All?
I don’t believe that another person can “rescue” you from your own demons, but I think love has a way of challenging us. It gives us the opportunity to address our junk. We can always choose not to, but it gives us that kick in the butt to try. Logan has come to a place in his life where his old methods of coping just aren’t working anymore. He’s at a critical moment of change when he meets Jeremy, and Jer is too. They are both ready to let someone in, someone that can understand the parts they always try to hide.