Today I have my good friend and fellow Dreamspinner author visiting with me. Please welcome Michael Rupured.
He's here to talk about his release Until Thanksgiving. Believe me when I say it's been a blast getting to know this awesome man, lol.
And after reading the excerpt, this book is on my TBR list!
The biggest and most pleasant surprise since I got my book deal has been how friendly the other writers are—especially to newbies like me. And if we were contestants in a beauty pageant rather than romance novelists, M.A. Church would get my vote for Miss Congeniality. She looks out for me so well, I’ve taken to calling her MA. Never mind that I’m older than she is. Thanks, Michelle, for taking such good care of me and for inviting me here to talk about my very first novel, Until Thanksgiving.
As recently as 2010, writing a novel was just one more thing on a rather long list of stuff I never thought I could do—along with medaling at the Olympics, fixing things, and physics. Sure, I’ve always loved to write, and have honed my ability over the last thirty years journaling, letter-writing, and publishing articles in academic journals. That kind of writing comes easy for me because it doesn’t—or shouldn’t—involve making things up.
Just the idea of trying to write a novel was enough to make my head explode. Misconceptions about the process and a lack of technical know-how kept me from even trying. After a lot of encouragement and support from my friends, I wrote a tell all memoir that was all tell. I didn’t know about showing until I joined the Athens Writers Workshop in early 2011. A few months later, I started my first novel.
I’ve heard that first novels are often autobiographical. That’s true for me in that the original idea was inspired by my life. Addicted was the working title, with the addiction being the main character’s thing for relationships, which lead him to fall in love at the drop of a hat. I still do, but that’s another story—except to say that I’m currently between relationships and my contact info is below.
My inner academic demands accuracy. Until Thanksgiving takes place in 1996. That’s the same year I moved from Lexington, Kentucky to DC after my first long-term relationship ended. Josh Freeman lives in the apartment I lived in, eats at some of my favorite restaurants, and like me, falls for the wrong guys.
The problem is that story, in and of itself, lacks tension or stakes or a reason to care whether or not Josh ever finds love. Enter Adam Gordon who Josh antagonizes, not knowing he’s already killed three men.
Another problem was that, except for Josh and Linda, all the other characters were unlikable assholes whose mothers don’t even like them. I know because I made them up, and that’s part of their backstory. The poor reader needed someone to like, and there needed to be something keeping Josh away from him. Enter Thad Parker and his uncle, Philip Potter.
Lo and behold, I was making stuff up, and having a ball doing it. I submitted 5000 words of the manuscript to the writers workshop for critique every two weeks. They ripped me to shreds, and I love them for it. Without them, I’d still be shopping that all tell, tell all memoir around and racking up rejections.
I still get together with the other writers every two weeks. They’ve already critiqued most of the prequel. But that’s another story. Today I’m here to tell you about Until Thanksgiving.
The doorbell’s steady ding, ding, ding woke Josh from a sound sleep. He stumbled out of bed and tripped over an assortment of pizza boxes, dirty clothes, old newspapers, and empty cans on his way to the front door. He saw his friend Linda Delgado through the peephole and opened the door.
“I’ve been ringing your doorbell forever. You up?”
“Does it look like I’m up?” Squinting from the bright sunlight, Josh looked at his arm and then remembered his watch still sat on his bedside table. “What the hell time is it, anyway?”
“Way past time for your sorry ass to still be in bed. You were supposed to meet me at the pool two hours ago.”
He rubbed his eyes. “You could have called.”
Linda put her hands on her hips and glared. “I did. Three times.”
Josh looked over and saw the red blinking light on his answering machine. “Oh. Sorry.” He ran his hands up over his eyes and through his hair, pulling the bangs back, then letting go and shaking his head. “Guess I was sleeping pretty heavy. I went downtown last night and was a little late getting home.”
“Late getting home? Did you get lucky? Is he still here?”
Josh decided not to mention the anonymous blowjob to his one and only friend. Women really didn’t understand about casual, anonymous sex. “No, I didn’t get lucky. Nobody even looked at me twice, much less talked to me.”
“Poor Joshy. Everyone probably thought you were too busy enjoying your little pity party to bother with anyone else.”
Josh shook his head. “Linda, sometimes you’re a real bitch.”
“As your best friend, it’s my job. If I don’t tell your hunky ass the truth, who will?” She looked past him. “Are we just going to stand here on the porch all day and talk?”
Josh yawned and stepped back, opening the door wider so Linda could come in. “Sorry. I’m still about half asleep.”
Linda pushed her way past Josh into the condo. She took three steps, then turned back to Josh. “Jesus Christ! What the hell is that smell?”
Josh sniffed the air. “What smell? I don’t smell anything.”
“It smells like a crack house in here, or maybe a dumpster.” She covered her mouth and nose with her hand and talked between her fingers. “Damn, Josh! When was the last time you took out the trash?”
“Uh. I dunno. Sometime before Ben moved out.”
“That was more than three weeks ago. Can’t you smell it?”
Josh sniffed again and shrugged. “Not really. Maybe a little when I first come in. You get used to it.”
Pinching her nose and holding her hand over her mouth as she kicked through trash and clutter, Linda made her way into the living room. On the coffee table, empty cans and glasses surrounded an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts and the tail ends of an uncountable number of joints. Linda kicked a bunch of dirty clothes and old newspapers off the sofa and onto the floor to clear a place to sit.
She looked slowly around the living room, her eyes jumping from mess to bigger mess as she took it all in. “So this is what three weeks of wallowing in self-pity looks like.”
Josh cleared himself a spot on the sofa, knocking over a half empty glass of what might have been milk as he sat down. “I guess so.” He picked a small pipe from the table. “You mind if I catch a little buzz before we hit the pool?”
Linda sighed. “Sure. Why not?” She glanced around the room again. “I may even have to join you.”
He was more than a little surprised. Since divorcing a guy with a deep affection for cocaine who everyone thought could easily have passed for Josh’s brother, Linda rarely got high. Josh retrieved the jewelry chest his mother had given him for his twelfth birthday, and after knocking a bunch of cans to the floor, cleared a spot for it on the coffee table. He opened the chest and took out a nearly empty bag of pot to replenish his pipe.
“Guess I’ve been smoking a lot since Ben left.”
Linda glanced around at the filthy, cluttered condo. “No shit. Too bad getting high doesn’t inspire you to go on a cleaning binge.”
“Ben usually did all the cleaning.” Josh filled the pipe and offered it to Linda.
Linda hesitated. “When in a frat house, do as the frat boys do.” She took the pipe, fired it up, inhaled deeply, and held her breath before returning it to Josh. “Are you going to tell me about your night downtown?”
Josh took a big hit and then exhaled. “There’s really nothing to tell. I had a couple of drinks, took in the drag show for a while, then watched a bunch of people I don’t care to know dancing to music I’d never heard before. It was a good time.”
He looked at Linda. Two years younger than Josh, she was still beautiful, with short raven hair, olive skin that quickly tanned a dark brown, and dazzling blue eyes. Their mothers had been best friends. They’d grown up together, and Josh could tell she knew there was more to his story. She looked at him and cocked her head. “Did you run into Benjie and David?”
Josh shook his head. “No. They weren’t there.” He relit the bowl and took another hit.
“That’s good.” She reached across and pulled his chin around so she could see his eyes. “You know you’re going to run into them sooner or later, don’t you?”
Josh returned his attention to the pipe. “Not if I can help it. David knows Ben has trouble keeping it zipped. The Bar is the last place they’d be.”
He loaded the bowl again and handed it to Linda. Having outgrown the youthful crowd of regulars, he and Ben had long ago quit going to the Bar Complex. In truth, the decision to avoid the place had been less about the young crowd than Ben’s wandering eye.
Linda snorted. “If David was that smart, you and Ben would still be together.”
“Yeah, and if I was smart, we would never have hooked up.” In hindsight, Josh should have seen it coming. Ben had left his previous lover to be with Josh. If they’d do it for you, it was only a matter of time before they’d do it to you.
“Do you miss him?”
Josh looked at her. “I don’t know, maybe. Part of me is glad he’s gone. It’s like a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders.” He shrugged and looked at the floor. “Maybe I should become a monk. Then I could put all this celibacy to good use.”
Linda laughed. “You’re not really the celibate type.” When he didn’t laugh, she slid closer to him and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Thought any more about that job offer?”
Josh draped his arm across her shoulder and rested his chin on her head. “Not really.”
Walker, Cochran, and Lowe, the law firm where he worked, had offered him a promotion to national director of communications. The catch was he’d have to transfer to the Washington, DC, branch of the firm. Ben had been opposed to the move, but what he thought didn’t matter anymore.
Linda leaned her head into his neck. “Why not go? It’s a great opportunity for you, and there’s no better time than now to get the hell out of Dodge.” She sat up, pushing him away. “You should go.”
Josh looked into her eyes. He couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been part of his life, and he loved her like the sister he never had. More than her words, the concern for his well-being he saw on her face told him she was serious.
But he couldn’t imagine life without her, especially now that his love life was over. If he couldn’t have a lover, at least he had Linda. Being single without her to keep him company was just unimaginable. He set the pipe in the ashtray and stood up.
“Come on. It’s a beautiful day outside. Let’s not waste it in here chitchatting about work.”
Linda laughed and shook her head. “If you insist.”
“I do. Let me jump into some trunks.”
Josh returned a few minutes later in navy-blue swim trunks, a white T-shirt, and flip-flops. “Ready?”
“I was ready two hours ago,” Linda smirked.
Josh Freeman knows his best days are behind him. After his partner of seventeen years has an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself in takeout boxes, half-smoked joints, and self-pity until his best friend gently kicks him in the ass and encourages him to try out a new job in Washington DC—at least until Thanksgiving.
Though DC has its share of troubles, specifically in the form of a murderer targeting gay men, Josh soon discovers its charms as well. Unlike his old home, DC is crawling with men who want to date him—apparently he's not as overweight, out of shape, or over the hill as the man he once loved made him believe. In particular, Josh would love a chance with relocation expert Thad Parker, but Josh is sure Thad is seeing someone, so he looks for love elsewhere. He tells himself he and Thad don't have anything in common anyway.
Then Josh learns Thad really is available. Maybe they can work it out after all. Suddenly the future seems bright again. Of course, Josh doesn't know he's the murderer's next target....
For as long as he can remember, Michael Rupured has loved to write. Before he learned the alphabet, he filled page after page with rows of tiny little circles he now believes were his first novels and has been writing ever since. He grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, where he came out as a gay man at the age of 21 in the late 1970s. He considers it a miracle that he survived his wild and reckless twenties.
By day, Michael is an academic. He develops and evaluates financial literacy programs for youth and adult audiences at the University of Georgia and is Assistant to the Dean for Family and Consumer Sciences Education. He’s received numerous awards and honors over the years and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. Michael is also an avid gardener, a runner, and because he loves it and rarely misses a class, is known locally as the Zumba King.
In 2010, he joined the Athens Writers Workshop, which he credits for helping him transition from writing nonfiction to writing fiction. Michael writes gay romance thrillers that, in addition to entertaining the reader, highlight how far the gay rights movement has come in the last fifty years. A serial monogamist who is currently between relationships, Michael writes with his longhaired Chihuahua, Toodles, in his lap from his home in Athens, Georgia.
To find out what Michael’s up to now, visit his blog (http://rupured.com), follow him on Twitter (@crotchetyman) or send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org