Thank you for having me today at Decadent Delights.
Button Down is my third novel, and it’s been a long time coming. My first novel, Broken and its sequel Home, were published in 2009 and 2010, respectively. After that I focused on short stories and novellas, submitting work to collections and anthologies. But I just couldn’t find another story that spoke to me long enough to become a full-blown novel.
And then Ford and Gus came to me, and I saw their love blossom in front of me like magic. I immediately knew who they were, where they were going, and why. And I just had to be the one who told their story.
For the longest time, it was exciting, but now it’s a bit sad because they're out in the world now, where they’ll be either embraced or pulled apart by the public. It has been a journey of extremes. In solitude I nursed Gus and Ford along, playing with the words, trying to paint a vivid picture of them and tell a solid tale, but on Dec. 23 my fellas were suddenly swamped by light, noise, expectations, and judgment.
I asked for it, didn’t I?
I remember Oprah discussing her project Beloved once. It wasn’t well received critically, and she said it was like someone had told her that her baby was ugly. I thought that was funny at the time, but not now, oh, not now.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Listen….” Gus ushered him toward Loretta’s porch and encouraged him to take a seat on the steps. They sat side by side, and Gus continued. “That night with you was amazing. I woke up the next morning feeling better than I had in months, feeling… hopeful.”
“No ‘but.’ I fully intended to see you for lunch. Hell, I even called Lin and bowed out of the meeting with Reilly’s… well, with you, I guess, because I just wanted to keep feeling good. I didn’t want any fighting over this contract to spoil my buzz.”
“Are you saying you were high on me?” Ford smiled, putting a hand on Gus’s knee, but the look on the architect’s face prompted him to remove it with a sigh. “Now here comes the ‘but.’”
“Sorry, Ford. My ex left to find a cure for ‘the gay,’ and he thinks he found it with Family Strong.” Gus clutched the cylinder tightly. “And believe me… it twists my gut to turn these designs over knowing that organization has a hand in this community center,” he growled. Then his expression and voice softened as he looked at Ford. “But, about us… I just… I can’t go there again. I won’t get involved again with someone who hates himself.”
What? “I don’t hate myself!” Ford said, standing up. “Just because I’m not marching in a parade or don’t have a rainbow stuck to my bumper, doesn’t mean I hate myself, Gus!”
“It’s not about parades and bumper stickers, Ford. I don’t have one on my car, either.” Gus got to his feet. “It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, knowing that you’re okay just as you are. And even though few people ever accomplish it”—Gus reached out and placed his hand over Ford’s heart—“it’s about knowing it strongly enough in here that no one can ever make you feel not okay.”
Looking into each other’s eyes, Ford could feel the heat from Gus’s hand as if it were seeping through the cotton of his shirt and beneath his skin, reaching his heart. Ford could feel his heart beating stronger, faster, and he was sure Gus felt it too. They leaned in, coming so close they could sense the other’s breath through slightly parted lips. Their eyes closed, but at the last second Ford stiffened and pushed Gus’s hand away.
“It’s not that easy,” he said, looking nervously around the darkened street and up at the curtained windows of the neighboring homes. “My family….”
Gus stared at him for several moments, nodded, and leaned over to pick up his things. “Thanks for walking me over.”
Ford watched him walk up the steps, fish a set of keys out of the blue planter by the door, and, tucking the cylinder under one arm, unlock Loretta’s front door. He didn’t look at Ford again before closing and locking it behind him.
Thanks for having me, M.A.
Blurb: When he finds himself captivated by a movie-star handsome stranger he meets in a bar, lawyer Ford Reilly watches a simple one-night stand develop into a taste of what living honestly might bring him.
Out and proud Gus Hansen has built a small architectural firm from nothing, but could lose it all as he tries to break a contract he signed before knowing about the project’s antigay ties.
After Ford discovers he spent a passionate night with the man on the other side of the dispute he’s handling, he finds himself in more than one quandary. He can either maintain the status quo, enforcing the contract to the letter, or he can defy his overbearing father and break free of the closeted life he's built for himself in order to be with Gus.
Gus has his own choices to make. He knows the sting of loving a man who hides himself, but the longer he lingers in Ford's presence, the more difficult it becomes to deny their attraction.
Buy Links: Button Down is currently available at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=button+down&osCsid=0t0580okvttf50ifu8lq643v84&x=-1047&y=-329
Bio: A native of West Virginia, Dawn Kimberly Johnson earned a BA from the Marshall University W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications and worked as a copy editor at The Charleston Daily Mail for eight years.
Blog link: http://kimswritingagain.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @Dawn_KJ | https://twitter.com/Dawn_KJ