I would like to thank Rafe Haze for taking the time to talk to us about his latest release, The Next and well as how M/M and Christian Science fit together. Check out Beverley’s review. There is also a giveaway, so stay tuned for that.
Title: The Next
Release date: April 23, 2014
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-925031-96-6
Kindle – Amazon ASIN: B00JZ7GVO8
Nook – Barnes and Noble BN ID: 2940149377060
Wilde City Press: www.wildecity.com
Category: Gay Mainstream
Sub-Genre: Romance, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Erotic, Mystery/Suspense, Thriller/Crime
Length: 83,600 words (novel)
Main characters: Narrator (first person), Sergeant Marzoli
M/M & Christian Science
By Rafe Haze
“You must be so proud of your son.”
“The book he wrote.”
God fucking fuckity-fuck fuck.
Since I live in New York, and they in a suburb of San Francisco, I wasn’t there to witness the cat darting from the bag when Mr. Oblivious approached Mommy Baker Eddie to reveal that the family dark horse had shat a new dropping of embarrassment: my first book, “The Next.”
Eventually I had…sort of…planned to tell her. Not before the fucking release date, but eventually. My twin brother called me three weeks afterward to tell me all about Easter.
“I’m on your side,” he began.
Oh, shit on a stick. Mom must have been elated.
We’d always been on each other’s side in the dome of piety we grew up in. There was so much frozen in this igloo of Christian Science that nothing from the outside world could ever thaw the damn thing. There was no talk of ambition beyond getting closer to Gawd. (Christian Scientists tend to adopt some odd speech intonations when saddling up on that righteous horse: they don’t pray to God, they pray to Gaaawwwd.) There was no talk of medicinal healing. There was no consumption of alcohol in any of its purty-purty manifestations. There was no discussion of evil, because somehow dissecting an asshole’s assholishness makes the asshole real…
We lived with a loudspeaker on every wall continually reinforcing in hollow tones the Escheresque reasoning that Evil is a miss-reflection of Good and therefore an unreality. An Error. My brother and I eventually grew numb to our confusion.
Above all else, though, our igloo would entertain absolutely zero mention or indulgence of carnal lovin’. That was the biggest badass of all Error.
We knew from the start that we had to stick together to make it through 18 years of 24/7 Sunday School. We both had our own swirling, internal F5 motives to get out. My brother needed to devote himself to pursuing reason to its logical outcome without fear of offending Gawd mongerers. And I…
I needed dick.
“You realize when you posted on Facebook that your pen name is Rafe Haze that eventually it would get to Mom,” my brother said.
“I knew that.”
“The point of using a pen name is to remain anonymous.”
For all the love that I had for my twin, the tone he adopted when he disapproved unsheathed my Samurai sword faster and more aggressively than any other tone on earth. Shing. I suppose it’s because he’s the one person on earth who’s approval I want most.
“True,” I explained, “But I don’t have a following. My publisher isn’t a marketing company. I can’t afford a publicist. Who the hell is going to read the thing if I don’t tell my friends?”
“Mom cried and left on Easter because she felt excluded.”
“No,” I said, “She cried and left because she was ashamed of her son.”
The Next was my first novel. I knew what I was writing was raw. It punches the paunch with emotion. It was truthful to the extent of being offensive to some. It was dark. And it was sexual. Every valve in my heart, every glacially slow synapse in my cranium, every knot in my belly, and every pulse of my pecker was at red alert – waiting to be called to action by Intuition when the next crescendo, next allusion, next subtlety, next hyperbolism needed to fight its way from nothing to the page. Yet for all the readiness to attack, I also felt the most vulnerable. It was my first book, and I’d no support system – virtually or real – to toss a thumbs-up my way and counter Doubt and Insecurity. New York City may be full of writers, but I moved in a completely different circle. I knew no one to even beta read it.
The last thing my phyche needed was a storm of shame to water the war and muddy the battlefield. A deluge of Christian Science could only force my soldiers to trudge knee deep in pious, Error-free mud. In my head my Mom’s voice would call out for goddamn Anne of Green Gables while I was mapping out a rimming scene.
I could not afford to tell her.
“She doesn’t understand at all why you would write a stroke book.”
“It’s not a fucking stroke book!”
“It has sex. And that cover…”
In the straight world, outside the insulated M/M bubble of readers and writers, people don’t have the discretion to distinguish a book with some erotic passages from something like Trucker Fucker 2. Their gut reaction is to label all gay lit as porn.
“Did I ever tell you about Bill?” I asked.
Bill had lived in the apartment on the other side of my wall. I hardly knew him aside from “Howdy” and “Might rain today.” Two years ago, I’d came home from work and three of Bill’s friends were on the street outside the building entrance. They were worried because they’d not heard from Bill for two weeks. I let them in and we knocked on his door. No answer. Because we shared a balcony, we knocked on his sliding door and called his name. The lights were on in his bedroom through his white curtains, and the door was open six inches. He did not answer. We took a big breath and entered his apartment.
Tipped empty plastic bottles of Stoli lay here and there. The mattress was stained yellow. Moldy lumps of clothing. Empty styrophoam containers of browning leftover Chinese food. No paintings, posters, of any kind to indicate inspiration, aspiration, lust, reverence, or a funny bone. Gay porn rags lay in the corner of the room, crumped and yellowing. They seemed tossed to the side and buried under dirt as if Bill had even eighty-sixed orgasms from his life. This was an apartment of a gay man who had given up living entirely.
I put my eye to the tile to peer under the bathroom to see what was blocking the door from opening. There was Bill. Bloated on the toilet with inordinately puffy legs stretched out to the door, blackened from having died two weeks before.
“So that’s why I had to include the sex scenes in The Next,” I concluded. “I couldn’t accurately portray a character housebound in depression without fleshing out the entire picture. It wouldn’t be truthful. Bill had given up on sex, even with himself. The only thing left for him to give up after that was his life. My gut told me that if I was to show a man’s journey to a healthier life, having healthier sex had to be part of the journey. Get it? The roaches, the stink, the shit in the styrophoam containers, and the sex. That’s what’s real. That’s what I had to write about.”
I was choking on an emotion. What I wasn’t telling my brother was the extent to which I related to Bill’s struggle. To a lesser degree, of course, but more than I imagined I would. How far away was I from slipping into becoming a bloated blackened body on a toilet, undiscovered for two weeks?
Peter yelled to his kids that it was dinnertime in that playful, loving, authoritative way that made his boys adore him so much. I realized as he returned to the phone that, in the end, I’d never wind up like Bill, ever, because I would always have my twin brother. I was so fucking lucky.
“Alright,” he said, “then you have to tell Mom all that about Bill.”
“Do you think she’d understand?”
“She won’t like it. She won’t read it. But her big secret is that there’s more love in her than Christian Science.”
We said goodbye.
Mother’s day was the next day. All the family would cram their cars in the driveway and chow on barbeque. There would be no alcohol, but they’d laugh and try to steal center stage with stories. They would look in each other’s eyes and see the reflections of all our missing family members. Dad, who died when I was nineteen. My older brother, who died when I was twenty-six. My uncle, who died of AIDS in the 80’s. Aunt Susie. Uncle Dale. Grandma and Grandpa. And there was me missing, the only family member who had distanced himself from the clan by the space of a continent.
But in my absence I wanted to be talked about warmly. I wanted to be talked about freely. I wanted no secrets. And I wanted my Mom to be proud inside, no matter what Mary Baker Eddy’s doctrine of Christian Science told her she should feel on the outside.
I wrote a book. I put everything I had into it.
She oriented her life around Faith. She put everything she had into it.
We were probably more similar than either of us realized.
I picked up my cell and dialed her number.
“The glow was gone. My apartment consumed me again. The sadness. The endorphin-mutilating self-criticism. Fuck. The slow viscous wave of grayness washed over me, but I was aware of a new sensation of not welcoming it. I could not stop it, but I wanted to. This was like finding a mud-caked penny on a sidewalk when you need two-fifty for the subway, but it was something.
I walked back to the window. The courtyard was now blackened by the wash of night, the winking eyes across from me mocking me with their secrets. I closed the curtain, then decided to leave just a five-inch opening.”
~ from The Next
From the Publisher:
Dubbed “the gay Rear Window,” The Next is a raw, snarky, no-holds-barred romantic suspense novel of a man stuck in his Manhattan apartment who thinks he’s identified a gruesome crime across the courtyard. It’s less a whodunit and more of a suspenseful how’s-he-gonna-get-‘em plot, slathered with a large, creamy dollop of romance. Unlike Rear Window, the protagonist in The Next isn’t bound to his apartment by a broken leg in a cast, but rather by a self-induced, torturous psychological handcuffing, and the novel, of course, chronicles his journey to this freedom as much as the capturing of the bogey. The second biggest difference is that The Next doesn’t shy away from the eroticism. At all. Hawt men abound. 😉
About the Author
Rafe Haze was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives on the west side of New York City. Having worked for the legal compliance industry, fashion industry, music industry, art industry, and flesh industry (the most interesting people on earth have), his most life-changing employment was teaching Meisner Technique of Acting. He wrote himself out of one whopping funk with his debut novel The Next, and is ecstatically thankful for the entire, messy, beautiful cadence.
Rafe refuses to be handcuffed to one discipline only: he writes classical music for orchestra and small ensemble, country music songs, musical theater, plays, screenplays, and digs two-stepping, line dancing, and West Coast Swinging. Be it words, notes, or movement, the emotional origin, schlep, and endpoints are equally compelling and satisfying.
Rafe is grateful to his twin brother (the straight one) who continues to make the slicing through this rambling, thorny life worthwhile.
Rafe Haze has kindly offered 1 lucky commenter there very own ecopy of The Next.
Contest ends 20 May @ 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older to win. Void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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