I’m very happy to be hosting my first ever guest blogger today. The lovely Posy Roberts is here as part of her Spark blog tour to talk about friendship.
Last summer as I wrote Spark, I lived and breathed the story. I couldn’t wait to get back home to write more, even if I was out enjoying my time with my friends. It was all-encompassing, and I was happy about that. I was also happy that I had people in my life who supported me and who were willing to listen to me talk out plot points over a glass of wine or as we walked around the lake with our kids.
Writing is a very solitary activity most of the time, but to get a book all the way from conception to publication requires a ton of help and good friends. That’s why you read so many names in the acknowledgement pages in books. I never gave acknowledgments a glance until I truly understood how much those thanks meant from the writer’s side. Some of those people are very close friends, some are helpful people who helped make our books better even if they are strangers, and some we have only met online.
I’m very lucky to have a group of writer friends that is not only supportive, but fun to hang out with in our little online group. We live all over the world, but that doesn’t stop us from giving a helping hand when searching for the right word, pre-reading for each other, or trying to fix a scene that isn’t working no matter what we try. Jay is in my group of friends and recently helped me finally get a scene fixed just by asking me the right questions. That was a great moment!
In my everyday life, I’m a quality over quantity person when it comes to friends. Friendships are important to me. Yet, I’ve written a book where friendships elude my main characters at times.
In Spark, Hugo Thorson is misunderstood by his high school classmates because he’s different and often too serious. His dad has terminal cancer, so he’s been forced to grow up. Kevin Magnus has basically had socially connected friends forced on him by his father. When these boys meet in high school, they both finally find a friend who gets them. That friendship turns into more, but it doesn’t last when they both leave for college.
As an adult, Hugo changes his world, in part because he comes out and is no longer willing to hide who he is. He is surrounded by friends at his work as a theater director and at the club where he performs as his alter ego Miss Cherrie Pop!. His best friend, who understands him better than himself, is Summer, and she is a huge player in this trilogy.
Kevin has a different experience altogether. He’s been such a workaholic in his adult life that he’s never made friendships a priority. Any friends he did have were “couple” friends from when he and his wife, Erin were together, but when couples split, friends often follow one person or the other. Erin just so happened to end up with all the friends.
When Hugo and Kevin find each other again, their romantic relationship is not only rekindled, but that deep friendship they shared as teens has a chance to grow too. This makes Kevin even more aware of his friendlessness, which he works to amend. Spark is book one of my North Star trilogy, and friendships are explored throughout.
Here’s a little excerpt from Chapter 7 between friends, Hugo and Summer. You can also read Chapter 1 here.
When Hugo arrived back at Summer’s cabin, he walked in with a hangdog expression. Summer was nowhere to be found inside though, so he headed out toward the water. She lay on the dock atop an oversized, striped towel, sunning her back and reading a paperback novel. The smell of coconut sunscreen was strong as Hugo got closer, his steps making the dock wobble slightly, alerting Summer to his approach.
“So he arrives,” she said with a smile as she rolled to her side, sliding her overly large sunglasses down her nose.
“So I arrive.” Hugo gave her a guilty look and sat cross-legged beside her. “I’m sorry I totally abandoned you last night. That was really shitty of me.”
“Yeah. It kinda was, but at least you sent me a text so I knew what was happening. Besides, I hung with my friends and Aunt Karla. She helped me home because I got a little bit trashed while we watched the fireworks out on the boat.”
Summer put a bookmark in her book and closed it, revealing a cover with two naked male torsos. When she sat up, she took a long, slow drink from her water bottle before pulling her knees toward her chest and resting her arms over her long golden legs.
“Who is he?” she asked with a look on her face that told Hugo she demanded to know everything, even if it took weeks to tell.
“Let’s not talk about that,” he attempted. “We’re here this week for you to deal with your stuff, and here I’ve brought my own drama into this.”
“Shut it,” she teased. “I’m fine. Last night was really good for me because I was reminded about who I used to be. How strong I was. And I still am. I’m feeling quite good right now, so don’t worry about me. So, who is he?”
“My first boyfriend. Kevin Magnus.”
“I’m not sure you’ve ever mentioned a Kevin before. How come?”
Hugo sighed, weary and a bit mournful.
“Probably because in my flawed hindsight I thought the relationship was a bit one-sided because when we left for college, we lost track of each other. But I guess it wasn’t. He said I changed his life. Right before I left this morning, he told me he couldn’t believe he ever walked away from me.”
Summer tilted her head and rested a cheek on her knee, all the while looking at Hugo, studying his face.
“You slept together,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone. Hugo could only shrug a shoulder. Summer was silent for many minutes, looking at the shore where the waves broke against the sandy beach. “Okay, you fucked him, so now you have to tell me about him.”
There were many ways the people in their lives tried to describe Summer and Hugo’s relationship. They called Summer Hugo’s fag hag, which they both hated. All that did was stick a quick label onto their complex relationship and turned it into something so much less than it was. She was more than a simplistic label to Hugo. She was like a best friend and a sister wrapped up in one, but that didn’t even describe their relationship adequately enough. So, when Summer said simple things like “Tell me about him,” she didn’t just want to know where they met. She really wanted to know everything.
In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.
By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.
When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.
Posy Roberts lives in the land of 10,000 lakes (plus a few thousand more). But even with more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, Minnesota has snow—lots of it—and the six months of winter makes us “hearty folk,” or so the locals say. The rest of the year is heat and humidity with a little bit of cool weather we call spring and autumn, which lasts about a week.
She loves a clean house, even if she can’t keep up with her daughter’s messes, and prefers foods that are enriched with meat, noodles, and cheese, or as we call it in Minnesota, hotdish. She also loves people, even though she has to spend considerable amounts of time away from them after helping to solve their interpersonal problems at her day job.
Posy is married to a wonderful man who makes sure she eats while she documents the lives of her characters. She also has a remarkable daughter who helps her come up with character names. When she’s not writing, she enjoys karaoke, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.
Read more at http://posyroberts.com