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