SERIES: Torey Hope – The Later Years
AUTHOR: A.D. Ellis
PUBLISHER: A.D. Ellis Publishing
COVER ARTIST: Andrea Michelle with Artistry in Design
LENGTH: 372 Pages
RELEASE DATE: August 06, 2015
BLURB: Sawyer Morgan has a secret. Revealing his true feelings to his family could bring devastation and destruction, so he keeps the burden firmly on his own shoulders. When he moves back to Torey Hope to help with the family business, Sawyer’s hidden truth becomes too much to bear.
Luke Hamilton has a past overflowing with emotional and physical scars. A promise to his dying mother prevents him from seeking the love and acceptance he longs for. Taking a job in Torey Hope brings Luke face-to-face with taboo desires he thought long extinguished.
Secrets, lies, hatred, and fear threaten to destroy their lives. But, love has the power to overcome and lay claim to victory.
Will Sawyer succeed in proving to Luke some connections are worth fighting for?
A poignant tale of two hearts valiantly fighting to stay true and find love.
**This is a male/male romance. It has adult themes, language, and situations. Readers sensitive to homosexual relationships, abuse, hate crimes, and derogatory terms should take note. This story is meant only for readers aged 18+**
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing a MM story with abuse themes?
by A.D. Ellis
I started writing my first book in October of 2013. I never had any plans of writing another, it was just a challenge to myself to see if I could publish my own book. About halfway through writing that first book, I realized one of the other characters had a story which was begging to be told. So I wrote book 2. By then, I was hooked on self-publishing, and my readers wanted more Torey Hope. So I rounded out the Torey Hope series with 4 books total.
In my second book, I included four-year-old twins, Decker and Sawyer Morgan, along with their cousins, Kendrick Jordan, and Zach Morgan. The moment Sawyer’s name was written in that book, I knew without a doubt that he was gay. I wondered and worried about how he would grow up, but it ended there.
Until it didn’t end. I was very sad to leave Torey Hope. One morning in the shower, where many great ideas are born, I decided those four male cousins could be finishing college and moving back to Torey Hope to take over the family business. Great idea! Let’s do this.
But, wait. Sawyer is gay. How will I write that story?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t against telling his story. In fact a few people told me I could just write Sawyer as a straight man because I’d never mentioned in the other books that he was gay. Yes, I could have done that. Written all four men’s stories, male/female relationships, and called it a day.
But, I just couldn’t. Sawyer is gay. I couldn’t rewrite him just because it would have been easier considering my scope of experience. I had to be true to him.
So, I sat down and started planning out the story (I’m a plotter in the beginning, but once I have a loose plot, I let the characters take over the story). I had a decent plan. I had down what I, a heterosexual woman, thought Sawyer would do, think, feel. But I worried it wasn’t realistic (if you’ve read any of my other books, you know my stories are very realistic, with real life situations)…so I put out an SOS for help from a willing gay man.
Obviously, I know quite a few gay individuals. However, most of them I don’t know in the capacity where I’d feel comfortable asking them if they were top, bottom, or vers (or many of the other questions I needed answered to make Sawyer’s story realistic).
Luckily, one of my dear readers put me in contact with her very open, very brilliant son who is gay. Thanks to him, I was able to pinpoint many actions, reactions, thoughts, feelings, etc.
So, that’s a very long introduction to my answer to the question presented.
Writing a MM story with abuse themes was very hard. Not coming up with the abuse scene itself, because those sadly take place all too often, so it was easy to imagine the words, the actions, the feelings of the abusers. But, it took a lot out of me when I was writing certain points of this story.
I’d say there are two main scenes which I dreaded writing. I’d talked it over with my friend/contact. I knew how Sawyer was going to respond (based on contact’s personal experience, his friends’ experiences, and who I knew Sawyer to be deep inside), but I was terrified of writing the scenes. Why? Because I knew Sawyer was going to be hurt. Physically, emotionally, it didn’t matter, I just didn’t want to see him hurt.
But, remember, I’m a realist. I knew it had to be written. I wasn’t writing these scenes for shock and awe, I was writing them because they are scenes that take place in homes, schools, parks, workplaces, every single day.
I cried as I wrote the scenes, not only because I felt Sawyer’s hurt, but because I felt the fear, hurt, anger of all the people who have been in his shoes. I felt guilty in a way, because I knew I couldn’t empathize with him, but I did sympathize.
I was grateful for my contact/friend and his stability, along with his sensibility and resiliency. He calmed me down and got me through writing those really rough parts, and he helped me to write Sawyer’s thoughts, feelings, reactions just the way I knew Sawyer would have wanted them.
Does that mean that every person who deals with coming out, unaccepting family, or violent abuse because of sexuality is going to respond the way Sawyer did? No. Everyone is an individual and will respond in their own individual ways.
But, making sure the scenes were accurate, descriptive enough without being too offensive yet still being realistic, and the emotional toll it took on me while writing the hard scenes were the most difficult part of writing a MM romance with abuse themes for me.
His brother, Decker, had taken the news fairly well. He’d needed a solo walk through the woods to gather his thoughts; Sawyer suspected his always-in-control, serious, black and white brother also needed to come to grips with the fact that he’d never suspected his brother’s sexual preference was different than his own. How ironic that the one person Sawyer was the closest to in the whole world was the one person who was the most clueless.
Sawyer had held his breath practically the whole time Decker had been walking through the woods. A deluge of rain poured down as the dark sky broke open, yet Sawyer still sat alone at the campfire. His head had started playing tricks on him. You disgust him…he can’t stand the thought of having a gay brother…you’ve lost him…he’s not coming back. But Sawyer held out hope that Decker was just doing his usual thinking things through.
He had breathed a sigh of relief when Decker emerged, soaking wet, from the woods. Walking towards him with purpose, his twin had stopped in front of him and spoke the most heartwarming, sincere words Sawyer had ever heard from him.
“You’re my brother, always have been, always will be. I wish you could have told me sooner, but nothing has changed between us. I’ll be there in any and every way that I can.” Decker grabbed Sawyer and pulled him into a deep embrace, communicating his love and acceptance through his touch.
Telling his cousins, Zach and Kendrick, had been less emotional, and a lot more entertaining. Sawyer had to laugh at the questions his admission had stirred up.
Two words that held such power. Would they laugh? Would they walk away in disgust? Would they be angry?
Zach smiled and nodded. “I think I’ve known that for a long time, man, but thanks for telling me.”
“Wait, you knew? Why didn’t you ever say something? Why did you joke with me about girls?”
“I don’t know, I guess I figured you’d tell me when you were ready. I didn’t want to bring it up if I was wrong and it offended you. I think I joked about girls thinking it would give you the opportunity to bring it up if you wanted to.” Zach stood and walked to his cousin, reaching a hand down, he pulled the other man up into a hug. “Nothing changes, I’ve got your back, man.”
Kendrick sat with his hand rubbing his chin. Would he be the one who couldn’t accept it?
Eyes twinkling and a shit-eatin’ grin on his face, he finally spoke. “What’s it like to suck cock?”
The other three burst out laughing.
A.D. Ellis is the award-winning author of two related collections of stories, A Torey Hope Novel Series and Torey Hope: The Later Years. Her debut novel, For Nicky, was voted #3 of the Top 50 Indie Books of 2014 by ReadFree.ly readers/voters. A.D.’s fourth novel, Loving Josie, was awarded the bronze medal in the contemporary romance category in the prestigious Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Awards.
Born and raised in a small farming town in southern Indiana, A.D. was an avid reader from the time she learned to read. She could often be found curled up somewhere with her nose in a book. Most of her friends and family were not such book enthusiasts, so A.D. got used to dealing with snickers and joking comments about her constant reading habits. Truth be told, Ms. Ellis has always been the definition of a book nerd.
A.D. always dreamed of being a teacher. Graduating from Indiana State University in 1999 and earning a Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan in 2003, she met her goal of entering the world of education. A.D. has been teaching in the inner city of Indianapolis, Indiana for 17 years. She spent the majority of her 17 years in fourth grade, but has now taken on the challenges of teaching 3rd and 4th grade alternative education students. A.D. loves teaching fractions, variables, probability, and graphing in Math. She loves almost all aspects of English Language Arts. Figurative language, theme, making predictions, drawing conclusions, inference, context clues, making writing come to life, A.D. loves it all! Her students don’t always share in that enthusiasm.
She met her husband in college in 1996 and they married in June of 2000. She lives in a south side suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and two school-aged children. When she’s not reading or writing with music blaring, she can be found shopping at thrift stores, reading to her children, and sweating at the gym in the very early mornings.
A.D. began her writing journey in October 2013, and she is grateful for the friends and support she’s found along the way.
Winner’s Prize: Signed copy of Sawyer (US only) or Winner’s choice of any of my eBooks (box set titles included)
Second Winner’s Prize: Winner’s choice of any of my single titles
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