THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
I've been busy. American Pride. The Tendire Gate. The Byte of Betrayal. I didn't stop with those. Most of my catalog has been rereleased at this point, including all four volumes of the College Rose Romances.
Loving Aidan was the first book I ever had accepted by a publisher, so the series that sprang from that story is particularly special to me. Every one of the main characters has been able to surprise me, though never, perhaps, as much as Steven in book 2.
But none was as difficult to write as Jim Puffton in book 5.
I've been promising this for what feels forever (and really is probably since 2018, which is still a really long time. People are going to start thinking I'm George R.R. Martin with these delays!). But it's here, releasing this Wednesday, July 26.
College Rose Romances Book 5
James Puffton knew this day would come. As a fallible young man, he’d made all the wrong choices. He’d cheated on his girlfriend with a guy. More than once. And he’d used her—a shield, keeping his perfect image safe. Now that she knew, Jim’s life turned upside down. Faith has always been Jim’s guide, but when it leads him to the most flamboyantly gay freshman he’s ever seen, he wonders if God is punishing him. He can’t deny his feelings, but when people find out, will Tyler be in danger?
Tyler Montgomery was terrified to come to campus. An incident last semester made clear the school wasn’t as safe as officials liked to pretend. When he passes out drunk after making a pass at a handsome young jock, he discovers that he was taken care of by school bully Jim Puffton. Tyler freaks, but Jim doesn’t push. He walks away. Then Jim does something profound that makes Tyler want to ignore all Jim’s terrifying history and trust him, sealing that trust with a kiss in front of everyone. But all Jim’s old friends are homophobic bullies. For Tyler, campus is suddenly a dangerous place to be.
It's not hard to tell that the College Rose Romances are my baby. College stories that draw deeply from my personal experience as a gay student, gay leader, and a part of a student college gay community for over a decade. When Torquere closed, it hit me hard.
I was lucky. I got my rights back. But now I had four books with no home.
Over the past year, with the creation of Purple Horn Press, each of those books has gone back online as an ebook available for purchase. From Loving Aidan—my first accepted piece of gay romance fiction, to Becoming Rory, the last of a series of romances that I hope has stirred the hearts of readers, the books are available again at last.
Now that all four are out, Purple Horn Press has started to release paperback versions. I'm over the moon, of course. The delays in the Becoming Rory paperback were my first personal sign that Torquere was failing. I spent much of the following two years certain that it would never come out in paperback. Now, I'm pleased to say, those fears have been quashed.
Why Becoming Rory first? Part of it is exactly that... my own fears about the paperback. But there are also many readers who invested in paperbacks from Torquere for the series and were never able to get that final book. This is for them. Even though I favor cream paper and matte covers, the paperback for Becoming Rory is a glossy 5 x 8 book that matches the size of the original Torquere paperbacks.
So What's Next?
Now that Becoming Rory is out and available, Purple Horn Press will be releasing the original three books in paperback releases. Loving Aidan in July, Steven's Heart in August, Andrew's Prayer in September.
By offering the books exclusively through Amazon, we're going to keep the price down to about ten bucks for each of those three books. Obviously most books we can't do that with, but this is a special case, with books that were previously released in paperback. By making the early books available at a very low cost, I hope some folks may be willing to get paperbacks who previously had not, some may complete their collection, and others may find the story an entry point to gay romance.
If all goes well, shortly after that we'll see the release of Forgiving James, College Rose Romances Book 5. I love redemption stories, so I'm really pleased to bring you that complicated story of love, faith, and conflict.
The Tendire Gate is obviously a departure from most of my published works. Unlike the contemporaries of the Sam's Cafe Romances at Dreamspinner or my angst-ridden College Rose Romances, The Tendire Gate explores unfamiliar territory.
I spent most of my youth writing fantasy and science fiction. My first piece of writing was a one page Smurfs fan fiction typed out as a small child on my mom's portable typewriter. But years of rejection slips and frustration as I wrote novel after novel and accumulated rejection after rejection beat me down.
Eventually I rejuvenated my writing. I looked long and hard at what was missing or I'd been asked to change. Realizing what it was, I got so angry that I walked away.
I was being told to write to market. But while some people meant it innocently, so many more meant writing straight. For a long time I barely wrote anything, keeping my writing muscles exercised only during National Writing Month. Memories of an Imperfect Ghost. Zeriphas and the Bones of the World. The closest to what I write now was probably a novel titled Silent Voices. But while there were fantasy aspects to many of those stories, and even to new ones, Like The One That Feels that I've featured over the past year as a serial on this very blog, they weren't marketable.
When I sat down to write The Tendire Gate, all I had was the cover. The art for the gate struck me hard, and I started this story with frantic creative energy in the cover and the word gate.
It's still not very marketable. Stories where the couple isn't meeting and falling in love are always a harder sell. And maybe that story, where Elijah and Dylan meet, will still get told. But right now, I wanted to tell a story the felt visceral to me. A story about a world collapsing. About wanting desperately to find a way out. About a corrupt government on a witch hunt.
I was left with a story about a keeper. A lone young man whose great love waited on the other side of a gate. And he could go, right now, this instant and be with that man, that love, and be safe.
Except for his duty.
Join us now, at Station Ten—DIRE.
Becoming Rory is out! I am astounded and terrified and happy all at once.
I started writing this installment of the College Rose Romances third. Andrew wasn’t speaking to me. Instead I was getting a guy from a wealthy neighborhood who I was calling Andrew on the page and just wasn’t. I set the story aside and started writing something else, and what came out was Rory.
I was bewildered. I didn’t have a character named Rory, and while I had suspicions, I had to look up who Lawrence was—a throwaway reference in Loving Aidan to one of the lit geeks who “took care” of Aidan in the tunnels. I stopped midway to write the draft of Andrew’s Prayer. This time Drew spoke up loud and clear. My draft of Becoming Rory sat for a long time until I was finally able to wrap it up almost a year later.
Why does it terrify me? Rory falls in love with a character who stood out for me in Steven’s Heart. I’d always intended to make Smits a love interest for someone. I liked his cockiness, and that I could picture him sailing across campus on his skateboard. I knew a lot about him right away. But as the novel went on, we learned more.
I wasn’t unwilling to write Danny’s illness, but I won’t pretend it was easy either. His illness is one that has a broad spectrum. It’s also one I’ve researched a lot, because I share the diagnosis. That meant pulling a lot of personal pain into the story. It also meant reviews hitting like a ton of bricks, because the reviews were not kind to Danny.
I read one review that basically said that no one could love someone so broken.
As authors we learn never to respond to reviews, at least not directly. And I didn’t. But my heart shattered a little. As a young gay man I grew up knowing no one could love me because I was gay. It was a message society hammered in with certainty, and still does—that’s where the kill your gays trope in television comes from, an institutional message that a happy result just isn’t possible.
I grew up. The world changed. I found those people were wrong. But the messages still hurt.
No one can love someone so broken.
Yep, the messages definitely still hurt. It makes me very glad that Rory found Danny.
Becoming Rory is book 4 of the College Rose Romances
Becoming Rory (College Rose Romances 4)
Rory Graeble returns to college determined to reinvent himself. Too many years have been wasted with masks, but becoming a student leader is a step Rory isn’t sure he’s ready for. A new identity takes more than just a new nickname, and Rory knows he has to take the chances that his old self would never risk. When that chance is a party that ends with an anonymous hot skater’s tongue down his throat and a phone number in his pocket, Rory knows what he has to do.
Danny Smits never expected to see stuffy lit geek Rory Graeble trying to be out, trying to be proud, trying to be… Rory. It’s damned sexy, and too much for the entrepreneurial skater to resist. When Rory calls him back the day after the party, Danny knows Rory has changed. But will Danny’s haunted past deter Rory? Or will Rory embrace the chance to experience everything the closet had stolen away? Danny believes in keeping things real, in a brutal honesty he knows means Rory will run screaming.
But this time Rory isn’t running.
Find Becoming Rory at Purple Horn Press
Also available at Amazon.com
A lonely Aidan, a confused Steven, and against all hope, a jealous Sammy. Torn between romance and an impossible dream.
Today I’m celebrating the rerelease of Loving Aidan. For an author to have their first novel go out of print is a really hard thing, and I’m so pleased that I’m able to bring back not just story, but also the ones that follow it.
As the little snippet suggests, the story places an out an proud Aidan in a conundrum between Steven, a blue-eyed Adonis who is figuring his life out, and Sammy, the roommate he’s been pining for since they met.
When the story was first released, I shared a short extra with readers—the first meeting between Aidan and Sammy. I think that scene is an important one, but it didn’t fit into the story until over halfway in, and by then it gets resolved with a sentence or two. I’d like to share that with readers again, and hope that it can frame the story, from the abuse that Aidan has received for all his years at school to his attachment to Sammy from the start.
Roommates—a Loving Aidan short
Aidan turned onto the narrow service road that led to the dorm. He pulled up near the building and onto the grass. This early there weren’t many students about yet. Aidan stepped out of the car, wincing a little at the sudden heat. He was dressed as he always did in a long sleeve shirt and a buttoned waistcoat. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and lightly dabbed at the sweat that had immediately broken out on his forehead.
“Oooh. Hey, guys, here he is. Our resident piss-ant fag.”
Aidan turned and gave the line of lounging young men a glance. He conceded only a single raised eyebrow as he passed them by, ignoring the ongoing catcalls. He should report them. But nothing was ever done about it. Instead, he entered the small residential office at the side of the building. A student asked his room number, and more numbly than really warranted at this early hour offered him his key. He took it and looked at the label. Samuel Riley.
“This isn’t mine,” he said to one of the students handing out keys.
The perky young woman glanced at it quickly. “Oh, sorry. That’s your roommate’s key.” She ruffled through the box. “Ah, here it is. Sorry about that,” she said, taking the key back from him and handing him another.
“Thanks,” he muttered, and turned to leave, barreling into a very tall young man. He looked up and all he could think of was dark. The man’s skin was charcoal black, and slick from the heat. Aidan stammered a quick apology automatically.
“Ain’t no skin off my teeth,” said the man with a smile, his cheeks showing deep dimples.
Aidan was sure his heart was going to stop, and he quickly looked at the ground to hide the red in his even as he hastened his way to the door. He was hit immediately with another catcall. A row of young men stood idly by cars still stuffed with boxes. The staff would help people later on as more keys were picked up, and they were waiting, as they always did. Most of them wouldn’t carry a single box of their own.
Aidan did not glare, though he wanted to. Instead he went to his car and pulled out the first box.
“Showing off that ass? You maybe want som—” the young man yelped suddenly.
Aidan turned to see the man he’d run into in the office staring down the row of young men.
“Have a problem with him?” asked the man.
“Come on, Sammy, kid’s a fag. Look at him!”
And Sammy looked. Aidan was being given a thorough once over. Sammy chuckled, showing his dimples again and slapped the other man on the shoulder. “Don’t know what you’re worried about. His eyes are on me.” Sammy stripped off his shirt, stuffing it into a back pocket where it hung loosely against his leg. “See?”
“Sammy, he’s looking at you!”
And Aidan was. His eyes were locked on Sammy, on perfectly chiseled abs, gazing across the broad, smooth chest.
“Has taste,” said Sammy with a grin, showing dimples again. “Clearly you lot of cowards got nothin’ to worry about.”
Sammy walked away from the row of young men and stepped up to Aidan. “Need some help?” he asked.
Numbly, Aidan nodded.
Sammy smiled, clapped him on the shoulder, and took the box from his hands. “Let’s get these boxes upstairs.”
Aidan gulped and softly murmured a thank you.
“Ain’t no problem, roommie.”
Aidan’s eyes widened. Sammy. Samuel Riley. Dear God, this was his roommate.
Aidan lives in his books and his writing. I think that’s something that a lot of us can relate to. Just for a moment, join him, step away from the books. Live with him. Love with him. Maybe you’ll fall in love yourself, just a little. It's not everyday you have two men worth fighting for. (Steven’s a bit of a heartbreaker, everyone loves him).
Loving Aidan is published by Purple Horn Press. It was originally released in 2013 by Torquere Press. You can find it here:
Purple Horn Press
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.