I loved your Harvest series when I first read it on Lit and am so glad to see it finally being published. You were kind enough to beta for me in my writing infancy, and I really appreciate it.
I’m so very excited to be here, promoting my Rough Boys trilogy. The final novel, Rough Boys: Revenge, will be available February 14th, and to celebrate, I’ve made the first novel, Rough Boys: Runaway, free. I’ll also be giving away free copies of either Rough Boys: Redemption or Rough Boys: Revenge to lucky commenters on this blog.
As my first published novel, Rough Boys holds a place dear to my heart. I fell in love with my characters while I was writing the story, and the editing process has been a sweet trip down memory lane.
Most people’s favorite character is Ty, and I have to agree I have a strong affinity for him. He is so naïve and innocent in the beginning, and one of the things that is bittersweet in the story is that he loses that. But that is life—we can’t all stay a sweet seventeen year old forever, nor would we want to. He loses something, but I think he gains much more.
The character who I identify most closely with is Sean (I even have the wild red hair). Sean wears his heart on his sleeve and I tend to hide mine, but many of his other traits, both good and bad, I have in common.
I think the story is a little different from most of the M/M romance novels I’ve read, but it’s really hard for me to judge my own work. Other people’s stories? —No problem. I can tell you I like this one slightly better than that one and exactly why. But my own work? No idea if it’s any good or not. It’s like looking in a mirror. Some days I think I look great, especially for my age, and some days I think I look horrible. So, instead of giving my opinion, I’ll reflect back some of the things my readers said while I was posting chapter-by-chapter on Literotica.
Firstly, a warning: there is some pretty extreme violence in the story. It’s not throughout the story, but few of my own friends couldn’t make it past the first chapter, which I think might be the worst (I just throw readers right into the thick of things). I got comments such as this one:
When I started reading the first chapter of Rough Boys, I didn't finish it...the torture was not only terrifying, but very graphic (congratulations on that). However, for the rest of the day all I could think about was Ty! I just had to keep reading and find out how things turned out for him. I can honestly say that I ended up reading [the whole novel]. Most incredible story I've ever read! I feel like I experienced every range of emotions through your characters.
I was overwhelmed with some of the comments I got about Rough Boys. There were at least three people who told me my story gave them the courage to come out, in comments like this one:
All I can say is that I have no words to express how deeply drawn in and attached to the characters in your story I have become. This is hands down the best and most influential series I have ever read. This story gave me the courage to actually come out to my best friend and his wife.
And this one:
You have made me realize some things about myself that I think I always knew, but I had never admitted them to myself. In short you are an inspiration to me and I'm sure lots of other people.
These comments absolutely floored me, because I was looking at the story as more of a soap opera—not something to be taken so seriously, but obviously some people did.
The drug use was a subject of controversy, and I certainly made plenty of readers angry because I was “making Ty use drugs.” As many complainers as I had, I had defenders, however, and in the end most readers seem to have forgiven me. I don’t think I could have realistically written it any other way. Part of me is on those pages.
Comments like this one, however, almost broke my heart:
I'm sorry, but all the drug use, is getting too much, you seem to be more focused on drugs and turning a homeless teen into a drug addict than anything else, I won't be reading anymore of this story, which I thought was brilliant up til this chapter.
But then comments like this one helped make up for it:
Have just spent last 26 hours reading [most of the novel]. I have 20 or so years hands on experience handling 2 junkies in my life, I was amazed to read the junkies side of the whole situation, all the tricks, manipulation, anguish and distrust caused is clearly stated in your story. I enjoyed the drug users side of the confronting and turmoil regarding drugs, the inner fights, self worthlessness, and love within themselves. Having never used drugs I have learned all these things by reading in this story the drug users perspective taught me much understanding…
I think I was one of your harshest critics especially when it came to Ty's initial and escalating drug use, along with his abuse. You challenged social morals and introduced us to lifestyles we weren't all together familiar/comfortable with. Sometimes, it was a tough read. However, I'm glad I stuck it out. Great job and thank you for allowing your characters and readers the HEA we were rooting for.
And yes, I’m a firm believer in HEA. I’m not sure how often it happens in real life, but as real and gritty as things might get sometimes in my stories, I am writing fiction. And because it’s fiction, I can make the ending however I want. And I want an HEA.
A runaway, a dreamer, a gorgeous femme … are they rough enough to survive the brutal city?
Ty is only seventeen when he flees in terror from his homophobic father, but surviving on the streets is more difficult than he could possibly have imagined. When bad choices send Ty spiraling toward ruin, can he be saved by love?
Dani leaves home with stars in his eyes but his feet on the ground, fully expecting his road to success to be long and difficult. What he doesn't expect is to fall head-over-heels in love with a gorgeous, self-centered rock star. Can Dani find happiness with the arrogant Englishman or will his heart be broken?
Kaeden is banished by his conservative Asian parents when he comes home with extreme hair, false eyelashes, and glittering fingernails. He naively accepts a position with a male escort service, dreaming of fancy parties and wealthy men. Instead he finds himself playing Russian roulette with his heart.
This gritty urban romance follows the lives of these three young men as they forge strong bonds of friendship in spite of, or maybe because of, the challenges they face.
Publisher’s Notes: This story contains content which may be offensive to some readers: extreme violence, substance abuse, offensive language, and detailed descriptions of M/M sex. No underage sex.
Excerpt from Rough Boys: Runaway
“Fuck you!” Ty hissed through gritted teeth as his rage got the better of his judgment.
“What did you say?” His father was in his face, blue eyes blazing.
A cold wave of fear crashed over Ty, washing away his anger. He tried desperately to pull his father’s attention away from what he’d just said. “I’m almost eighteen, Dad. I’m old enough to make decisions about my own hair, for God’s sake!”
“That discussion is over.” His father’s voice was tight with barely controlled anger. “What I want to know is what you just said to me.”
“I think you know what I said. I’d rather not say it again.” Ty knew he sounded like a snot. Why do I always bait him? he wondered.
His father’s jaw clenched. “Boy, you need to learn some respect!” He loomed over his son, his paunch almost touching Ty’s taut stomach.
“You can’t beat respect into me,” Ty said, tilting his chin up defiantly. “You have to earn it!” Why the hell can’t I keep my fool mouth shut and pretend to respect him?
“You little shit!” His father grabbed him by the collar with both hands and shook him.
Ty clenched his jaw to keep his teeth from rattling. He has no right to shake me like this! Fury exploded within him. “Fuck you!” This time he yelled the words in his father’s face. Twisting suddenly, he managed to pull out of the older man’s grip. He tried to duck under his arm, but his dad grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him back into the kitchen counter.
His father drew back his fist and let it fly toward Ty’s face. It seemed like the fist came at him in slow motion, but he still couldn’t avoid it. The punch slammed into his eye, cracking his head into the cupboard behind him.
As Ty’s vision clouded, he gripped the counter to keep from going down. His injured eye immediately started to stream tears. Pain fueled his anger, causing another blinding flare-up. He swung at his father, clipping him in the jaw with a hard knuckle. Ty felt a jolt travel from his fist up his arm and he registered shock. This was the first time he’d ever struck his father.
Ty’s dad had three inches and at least seventy pounds on him. With a roar, he grabbed him by his hair, dragged him forward several feet, and smashed his face into the doorjamb. Ty’s cheek and nose met the pine with a sickening crunch. He fought to keep his feet under him, blinking rapidly, trying to see through the red haze of pain. Blood gushed from his nose, splattering onto the hardwood floor.
“Richard!” He heard his mother’s cry of shocked protest. She would not save him. She never did.
His father had a death grip on his hair and was on a mission. He dragged him out of the kitchen, down the hall, and up two flights of stairs in their rambling, hundred-year-old house.
Ty stumbled, trying to keep up, wishing he had cut his hair now that his father seemed to be pulling it out by the roots. He didn’t try to fight his father; he knew he couldn’t win.
Rage consumed Richard Iverson. The voice in his head screamed at him in fury. (The fuckin’ little shit hit you! That’s what comes from being too soft on him. He needs to know his place. You need to teach him some respect. You need to show him how to be a man.)
He was puffing by the time he reached the top of the stairs, dragging his son behind him. The boy had a way of making the voice in his head go crazy.
(He’s far too pretty for a boy. Boys should not be pretty.) With his beautiful eyes, impossibly long lashes, and pale, smooth skin, his son looked just like his wife. To make matters worse, he was too small. He was never going to make it to six feet. He would be lucky if he made it to five-eleven.
Richard dragged his son into his bedroom and pushed him onto his narrow bed.
“You really asked for it today, Tiberius. Take off your pants,” he ordered.
Ty hated to be called by his full name and his dad knew it, but he was not about to argue about that now. It was time for damage control.
“I’m sorry, Dad! I didn’t mean to hit you.”
(He doesn’t mean that apology), the voice said. (He’s just trying to get out of a beating. He is weak, and you’re weak too for letting him get like this.)
“You heard what I said.” Richard’s tone was calm, almost normal. From the speed at which his son flipped onto his stomach and pulled his pants down, the boy was obviously not fooled. A satisfied smile curled the corners of the older man’s mouth.
Ty’s nose was bleeding all over his dark blue comforter. He panted around gritted teeth as he waited for the lashes. This was getting to be a much too familiar scene. Why does he hate me so much? Ty wondered for the thousandth time. The first strike landed with a clink, accompanied by much more pain than he expected.
“Fuck!” he yelled, twisting around and catching the belt in his hands as it came down for the second lash. He hit me with the buckle end of the belt! “What the hell?” he screamed, clutching the belt in self-defense. He hung on for dear life.
His father’s face contorted. His mouth twisted. His eyes burned. With a cry of demented rage, he slammed his fist into Ty’s mouth, splitting his lip.
Ty’s head snapped back. His grip on the belt loosened, and his father snatched it out of his hands. Ty cringed, waiting for the next barrage. Instead his father stormed out of the room, locking the door behind him.
Thank God! He must have realized he was out of control.
Ty heard his mother’s voice, high-pitched—almost hysterical—asking questions. He didn’t hear his father’s reply.
As soon as he started to calm down, he was flooded with sensation: his face throbbed, his head pounded, and his stomach churned.
Why is he so controlling? Why can’t I keep my hair three inches long? Why the hell does he care? It had been such a stupid argument. “That’s two-and-a-half inches too long!” his father had decreed. “You’re getting a haircut on Monday!”
“No, Dad,” he’d replied calmly. “I think I…”
“This is not a topic for discussion!” His father had cut him off. “I want it high and tight by the time I get home on Monday.” He had turned to leave the room—conversation over.
That’s when Ty’s temper had gotten the best of him and he’d let out the “Fuck you!” In retrospect, with his swollen nose making it hard to breathe, he should have just gone along with the haircut again. He wondered if he’d be able to talk his sister into sneaking into the kitchen and getting him some ice for the swelling.
Suddenly his father charged back into the room. Ty took one look at his expression and began to silently pray, Please, God, don’t let him kill me!
Jay Vaughn lives in sunny Seattle, a clean, progressive city that is way too expensive for a writer’s income. Therefore, Jay holds down a full-time, computer-industry day job, but writing is her passion. It’s a hobby-gone-wild, so much so that her teenage kids accuse her of being an addict.
Jay carries her laptop everywhere and can often be seen combining other favorite activities with writing. For example, you can find Jay sitting at a small table in the back of the gay bar around the corner from her house, drinking wine and writing. Or waking up early while camping, dragging out the laptop, and writing. Or writing in the truck on the way to and from concerts, ski-trips, visits to relatives ... wherever.
Jay’s favorite genres are sci-fi, fantasy, and M/M erotic romance. She discovered M/M quite by accident when she was writing a traditional fantasy novel, and one of her characters ended up in an all-male prison for a bit too long. Whoops!
Find out what Jay is working on next at http://www.authorjvaughn.com or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’d love to hear from you.
Buy Links (for the first book in the series)
Divergent Publishing: http://www.divergentpublishing.com/
Apple iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/rough-boys-runaway/id741055212?mt=11