Okay, so here’s the thing…
I had originally set the publication date for my newest novel, That You Are Here, for Valentine’s Day. Then last Saturday I realized it was finished, or I was finished, or something was finished; anyway, the book was ready to go. I uploaded it to Amazon figuring I would ask some of my friendly neighborhood readers if they’d be interested in reviewing the book before anyone knew it was there, hoping there would be a review or two when I was ready to announce the book. Today, I stopped by the book’s Amazon page to see if the paperback was available, and I discovered that a number of copies have already sold. There was even a 5 star review. A. A. Katz, I don’t know who or where you are, but blessings. Truly. You made my day.
An FYI: if you agree with anything anyone on Duck Dynasty has ever said, you will not like That You Are Here. If, however, you believe that all human beings are in fact human beings, and that all human beings fall in love, then That You Are Here might be right up your alley.
It’s no surprise that That You Are Here is a love story. All of my novels are love stories in one way or another. The surprise might be that That You Are Here is a completely present-day story set in one of my favorite places, Portland, Oregon. That’s why I added (Usually) to my tag line, so now it reads (Usually) Writing Historical Fiction With a Twist. Or, the surprise might be that the romantic leads are both men. Andrew Whittaker and Mark Bryce have quite a journey to travel together, and I hope they are a couple readers cheer for.
That You Are Here is my way of adding my voice alongside others who think that people who are in love should be able to get married. I’ve seen documentaries about the Freedom Riders, the brave men and women who fought for equal rights during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and I’m always amazed at the extraordinary lengths they went to—physically and emotionally—to help their cause. I often wonder if I would have that kind of physical courage to help support a cause I believe in. Let me rephrase that. I know for a fact I don’t have that kind of physical courage. What I can do to support a cause I believe in is share my words. I happened to gather those words into a 62,359-word novel entitled That You Are Here.
For readers of my Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here might seem like a huge leap in a different narrative direction, but it isn’t really. True, it’s a present-day story when I’m most known for historical fiction. But everything I write is about people who are outsiders or different from the general society. James Wentworth in the Loving Husband Trilogy struggles as a supernatural being (a vampire) in a human world. In Victory Garden, Rose Scofield struggles as a woman who wants to live on her own terms during a time (1917-1922) when women were fighting for their rights. The Woman in Woman of Stones has a similar struggle since in the Biblical era she is little more than chattel. In That You Are Here, Andrew Whittaker and Mark Bryce must make sense of what it means to be a gay man in the 21st century. Great progress has been made, certainly, but there is still prejudice to overcome. For readers who see That You Are Here as a love story between two human beings (which it is), I think you’ll find it right on target with issues I’ve dealt with in previous books.
I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m not naive enough to think that someone who disagrees with same-sex marriage will read my book or one like it and change their minds. This is the story that was in my heart to write, so this is the story I wrote. I hope the novel finds readers with an open mind, and an open heart, who can understand the story for what it is–a love story.
My offer for review copies stands, by the way. If you’re one of those readers with one of those open minds, and even one of those open hearts, contact me. I’d love to know what you think.
And also… Here in Vegas, and probably across the U.S., we’ve been seeing a new television commercial for iPad Air that features lines from Walt Whitman’s “Ode 166” from Leaves of Grass. The ad features people engaged in the activities they love (being filmed on an iPad, of course) as the poetic-sounding voiceover actor recites the following lines:
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
First, yes, this is where I found the title for the novel–That You Are Here–and the quote appears at the beginning of the book. Now, in my defense, I feel I should point out that I have had this title floating around since last summer and I saw the iPad commercial for the first time a week ago. What can I say? Great minds think alike.