My latest book, Stand in Need of Comfort, comes out this Friday, November 25, 2016. It was quite an emotionally draining experience to write, and I thought I'd share part of it here.
What if the one you desired most was dedicated to controlling that desire?
Nathan, a lifelong and committed Mormon, is the only unmarried member of his same-sex attraction support group. As his feelings for one of the married men grows stronger, it gets harder to keep his commitment to live in an opposite-sex relationship.
I already know what you're thinking. Another one of those? The gay Mormon thing has been done quite a few times from Latter Days to The Falls. But these stories tend to be of a certain type that I wanted to avoid (I love those, by the way, so I'm definitely not knocking them). I didn't want to do the missionary who doesn't know he's gay, gets seduced, and kicked out; or he falls in love with his companion and has a sexual awakening; or the highly secretive Mormon ceremonies involving strange sex acts nonsense.
I have a very long and complicated history with the LDS church. I won't go into it, but let's just say I really understand the inner workings of their culture and thought process and their art (yes, Mormons have a slew of books and movies everyone has read and seen). As someone familiar with all this, I wanted to produce a truer take on how a gay Mormon story would unfold.
My starting point wasn't the iconic naive missionary. I start with a man of around 30 who has fully embraced the fact that he has same-sex attraction. In order to reconcile this with his faith, he is a part of a same-sex attraction support group. This makes the book pretty controversial (recall all those angry letters calling to cancel the TLC program My Husband's Not Gay).
As Nathan embraces his true self more and more, everything about his world starts collapsing around him. This is a story that should be universally recognizable to anyone who has tried to reconcile their faith and their sexuality in a faith tradition that sees homosexuality as an abomination.
The fact that this experience happens to so many people, some of whom I know, made the book hard to write at times. I often found myself emotionally drained as I put myself in the place of someone losing everything and desperately trying to hold on. I was inspired by Paul Russel, and I strove to create a poetic and internal character study.
A lot of the details of the book will probably go over the heads of most people unfamiliar with certain aspects of Mormon culture. This is fine, because I hoped to use these to subconsciously build the realism and not necessarily to be understood. If an actual Mormon were to read this (I doubt it will happen), they'd probably be surprised by how easily they identified with the characters.
I hope people get to read this and aren't turned off by the subject matter. In a sense it is a novel that had to come out of me one way or another. It had been building inside me for many, many years.
I won't be writing something so draining anytime soon. I often say my next novel is Gilmore Girls with gay main characters. It's light and fun and a much needed break.