Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Freddy MacKay for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from Mischief Corner Books Beginning Again. Prism Book Alliance® recently reviewed Beginning Again and Incubation. You can find the reviews here and here.
We are here today to talk about Finding Peace. What was the purpose of these stories? What were you hoping your readers got out of David’s journey?
Finding Peace came to fruition when I was sitting in a class, because I’m one of those people who will never stop taking classes. It’s ingrained somehow. I had been reading yaoi for a few years and the different themes finally bubbled over into a character in my head that wouldn’t shut up. I had something I wanted to say.
After reading yaoi for years and then stumbling onto MM, I felt the portrayal of certain topics were… less than stellar. Having dealt with those topics on a personal level I needed to say something about them, so I did. I also wanted a better representation of the real world than the bubbles I’d seen developing. Good stories have good ideas. Great stories lie in the truth of the world around us.
It is set in the fictional college town of Capstone Ridge and is a story about acceptance, tolerance and friendship—about growing up and making choices that aren’t always popular but are the ones rooted in compassion. Coming from a Buddhist belief system all of those things, and finding ways to lessen the pain in the world, are important to me.
David is a gentle soul who has been worn down by life. The friends that he makes are young men who have been sheltered and are naive to the world. In this story all of those things come to a head. It’s about picking up the pieces one more time when maybe you feel you don’t have the strength. On learning what’s really important, and growing up when maybe you weren’t quite ready for the harsh realities of the world.
Luckily, they have each other.
What was your inspiration for David (the main character?)
David is near and dear to me, though some may not think so. But he is my first conceptualized character. One who is worn down by life and looking to move on. He wants a new start at Capstone Ridge University. One where no one knows he wounds, where he can grieve in peace, and just move forward. The thing is, even when we think we are, we are not always facing the problems lingering over us head on. We aren’t moving on, we aren’t finding peace, and they become a festering, rotting wound.
David is smart but shy. He has lost two very important fixtures in his life who helped define him. And he came from an awful home growing up. Sometimes it’s easy to think that the hurt will just keep coming, that there are no breaks, and that’s where he is.
Bobby, Chris and Austin (David’s roommates), however, are just off to college, out of their parents’ homes for the first time. They have never experienced the hardships David has. They can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to go out and party. To socialize. They see him as a stick in the mud. Only through an accident do they really start to reach him.
David is a culmination of life and its experiences.
What about Finding Peace makes you the proudest?
That’s a hard one. I think of how I’m handling David’s journey and the world I have built surrounding him. There are moments I can go, “Yes, college was like this. Or, this is only slightly less weird than what was happening in my lab.” It’s the connection to the college and the friends. I wanted that to reach people. Hopefully it has.
If you could change one thing in Finding Peace what would it be and why?
I’m not sure. It was my first work, so like any new author, there are things I have learned since then. My first 5 books or so I was still learning the ropes and trying to figure out expectations. If I didn’t do what I did in that book, I wouldn’t have made the growth that I have.
Maybe the biggest thing I would change would be not letting the Silver Publishing kerfuffle deflate my sails so much. That hurt a lot of authors, but because it had been my home first, I had to decide how to handle how to move forward. Unfortunately that also meant putting this series down for a while to get my feet back on the ground. I miss David and the others. And their stories, scenes, and voices are popping into my head, telling me they’re ready to come back. The biggest hurdle I have is how to merge the voice I have now as an author and the one I had when I first wrote their story.
Can you talk a little about the inspiration for Finding Peace?
College. College and what happened in college for me was a big inspiration. But the story itself was inspired by reads that I felt overlooked certain truths in how sensitive subject matter was handled.
The whole David playing volleyball on Fridays? That came from college. My lab actually did that. The tiny dorm rooms? Check. Difficult situations that make you realize you’re not a kid anymore? Double fucking check.
Please, Please, Please, tell me this is not the end of David’s story? That no matter how things turn out, you will give him his peace?
You’ll be hearing more… Soonish. I have about 80% of the third book written. It has been picked up and put down several times because of professional commitments and I want to make sure it is smooth and have the voice it should when it comes out.
I would never leave David or the others hanging. The Silver collapse just left me drained, then life took over, and now that most of my professional obligations are out of the way, and I have been able to make peace with what happened, I am able to go back to the characters I love with an open heart. And they, as my characters, needed me in that space to give them their proper stories.
Anything else you want to tell us about Finding Peace?
The mystery surrounding David and Abby come to a head in the next book. We get to see how David’s life was set on the path is was and wrap up some of the outstanding issues from book 2.
Tell us about some of your other titles.
I have two urban fantasies, Internment and Snow on Spirit Bridge. Internment (3rd Place – Gay Fantasy, Rainbow Awards 2013) features a kitsune and his struggles post WWII in an America. Tadashi lost a lover to the internment camps and isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms in his community because of his ethnicity. He has isolated himself in response to the harshness he faced and dealt out himself. Berg, a veterinarian, helps him. Snow on Spirit Bridge features a nekomata and a young man with some unusual talents who come together during Christmas. It address family, xenophobia, and death. Fun, right?
I have a series called Finding Home (Moving Mountains and Snowed In), which features Geeves and his boyfriend from Finding Peace. Geeves holds a special place in my heart because he has Asperger’s. He tries so hard and it takes him a while to process things, to understand them, and he can only move at one pace. His.
Then I have Sock Poacher & the Shower Thief. This is the start of a series rooted in the tradition of folklore. A funky little town that needs a doctor and a horse rancher who has closed himself off to his community. Namid is a bit of an ass, but I love him anyway, and Dusty needs to learn to communicate. I’m sure they’ll get there.
Rapid Fire Time
- Sweet or Savory? Yes, please.
- Shave or wax? Whom, and do I get to hold the wax/razor?
- Jocks or Nerds? Yes, please. A combo punch is even better.
- Red Heads or Blondes? They’re good too.
- Hamburger or Hotdog? Neither.
- TV or movies? Movies. I hate commercials. Netflix eases that pain, only slightly.
- Cat in the Hat or Horton Hears a Who? The Places You’ll Go.
- Pasta or potatoes? Yes? You mean I have to choose?
- Favorite Color? Dark blue, like when the sun has set and the sky is about to light up with stars.
- Cook or bake? I am not supposed to be in the kitchen unsupervised. Ask Toni, Angel or Silvia.
What are you working on? What is next?
I am working on another urban fantasy for the MCB fall anthology. It will be a nice novella about a different kind of mermaid. 😉 After that is back to sculpting the third Finding Peace story.
Title: Beginning Again
Author: Freddy MacKay
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Cover Artist: Freddy MacKay
Genre: Bisexual, Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, New Adult, Romance
Months after waking from a car accident that took everything David held dear, he’s trying to settle into a new life at CRU. There’s only one problem. Well, three, his roommates: Bobby, Chris and Austin. They want to experience life now that they’re out from under their parents’ watchful eyes, and for David to partake in the fun with them. David feels he’s experienced enough life already and just wants to be left alone.
Bobby sees how David watches him, Chris and Austin. He’s convinced their hard-ass roommate just needs a little nudge and David would open up. When Bobby comes back to the dorm unannounced, looking for an English paper for class, Bobby finds out why David’s been holding them at arms length and becomes determined to help his roommate rejoin the world of the here and now.
The only problem is: David has more secrets he doesn’t want anyone to know about.
NOTE: There are references to rape, and some graphic violence, in the story.
Junnosuke Ito stared at one David McCourt. The young man sitting in front of him had asked to work in his Biochemistry lab at the university. Dumbfounded and confused—though Jun could never admit to such a thing—he’d swear up and down David looked exactly like Absalom Feld. Jun’s driver’s license stated his age as fifty-two and Abby would be the same, but the uncanny resemblance his interviewee had to his friend shook Jun. The bright blue eyes, David’s thick and wavy dirty blond hair, the lithe build, his average height—all of it, a perfect carbon copy of the friend Jun had lost so many years before. They were so similar Jun almost caught himself calling the young student by Abby’s name.
Jun’s heart ached and his fingers twitched. He wanted to call Henry Wilson and tell him about the young man in front of him. Henry, Jun’s best friend and confidante since Abby’s disappearance, was the only other person who had gone through the same loss and pain he had. Henry carried the same gnarled wound that dug into Jun’s chest, the one flaring incessantly as a reminder of his mistakes as he looked at David sitting across from him. Only Henry would understand, but Jun couldn’t call, not before David left.
The professor listened to David talk about his research and why the young man wanted to be in his lab. Jun nodded at all the right intervals, but he struggled underneath his cool façade. Flashes of Abby slammed into him, making Jun think about how he hadn’t done as much as he could have when his best friend’s relationship status had been repeatedly rejected and denied by Neil Cook, the fourth member of their close knit group. Jun watched his blond friend go from smiling, loving, and slightly clumsy when they were undergraduates, to quiet and reserved in graduate school. All of it, the whole transformation, just so Abby could hang onto Neil.
But Neil, now the university’s president, never acknowledged Abby as the love of his life. Henry and Jun blindly believed things would change. They did. Abby and Neil’s lack of a real relationship got to the point where Abby just up and disappeared one day, not long after an incident at a nightclub, an event that left Abby with broken ribs and a black eye. Henry and Jun’s friendship with Neil splintered after Abby disappeared. They went their separate ways, promising to never speak with the man again, only to be thrust back together when Neil took the head position at Capstone Ridge University, better known as CRU. A hiring choice Jun fought against, but lost. He did not want his one time friend coming back to his beloved campus. Reconciling with Neil would never happen. When Abby left, the friendship between Jun, Henry, and Neil fragmented, permanently and irrevocably.
Now with David talking enthusiastically to Jun about his research, the past came up and hit him in the stomach, kicking him in the ass when he went down, laughing and taunting him as a world of renewed regret piled back onto him. Jun lost himself in his thoughts until the young man cleared his throat and looked meaningfully at him. Concern and resignation marred the young man’s clear blue eyes. Jun returned his steady gaze to David, attempting to clear his thoughts of a friend lost but never forgotten.
“I’m sorry; you said you’re a transfer?”
“Yes, I’m starting here as a sophomore after getting accepted from a community college in Flagstead.”
Jun looked down at the resume and transcripts David brought with him and nodded, hearing the young man but still struggling with containing his emotions. “So why did you pick CRU?”
A weak smile crossed David’s face, one Jun had seen on Abby many times, and Jun’s breathing nearly stopped. The slight curve on David’s lips didn’t show happiness, but loss and misery. Even though the young man grinned, it never managed to reach his eyes—blue eyes desperately trying to keep up appearances and not let any emotion through. But Jun noticed. He had firsthand experience with those kinds of feelings and the fact they came from someone so similar to his missing best friend did a number on Jun.
“I’m not trying to pry, I was just wondering why our science program stood out to you over the other universities,” he said softly and pointed at the transcripts. “Your grades are excellent.”
David shrugged, wariness filling his face. “I like the Biology program here and the research the university is doing. The college in Flagstead is more of a liberal arts school, easy going and open-minded, but I’m a science major, not an art major. Besides that, it was an economical decision. Paying in-state is a lot cheaper than going out of state.”
Jun had to agree. “Yes it is, but CRU isn’t exactly an open-minded school.”
“No. No, it’s not,” replied David, a look of irritation crossing his face. “But this one was close to home and it has the specific program I wanted.”
“Yes, I’m sorry, you mentioned that,” said Jun as he racked his brain, the shock of seeing an Abby-clone affecting him to his very core. Did he even make any sense at all at this point? “CRU is a wonderful school and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time here.”
“I hope so.” A pained expression flittered across David’s face. “My family was really excited when I got the acceptance letter.”
“Then you’ll have to make them proud, won’t you?”
David visibly paled and pulled a tight grimace that was probably supposed to be a smile. “Yeah, I guess I do.”
“So, would you like to see the lab?” Jun pushed back from his desk, knowing he should think the offer through a little more, but he couldn’t stop himself. He needed David close by, to be able to keep an eye on the kid, to make sure nothing bad happened to him.
Maybe he could atone for the mistakes he made with Abby.
Shock filled David’s eyes before he stammered out an answer. “You mean I have the job?”
“Oh! Uh, thanks!”
A grin tugged at the corner of Jun’s lips. He knew his reputation, what the kids said, about how hard it was to get accepted into his lab. Obviously David had heard the rumors, too. The look of disbelief spoke volumes. David had not been expecting to get the lab assistant job offered to him on the spot or at all.
“No problem, I think I’ve seen enough to know a good thing when I’ve found it.” Jun opened his office door and waved for David to follow him.
A faint tint of red appeared on the young man’s cheeks, reminding Jun even more of Abby. A sharp tug pulled in Jun’s chest. He very much missed his old friend, and with David around, a constant reminder would be walking around the lab daily. Jun shook his head. The minute the boy walked through his door Jun knew he wouldn’t be able to let go. Abby was gone and this boy was so very much like his long lost friend.
Jun took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart, knowing he needed to call Henry once he showed David the lab. How would he explain Abby’s ghost showing up on his doorstep?
About the Author
Freddy grew up in the Midwest, playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since Freddy was small and throwing worms at other kids, expect worm throwing has been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction. Freddy enjoys traveling and holds the view a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.
Freddy’s contemporary LGBTQ book, Incubation: Finding Peace 2, won 3rd Place – Best Gay Erotic Fiction in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. In 2013, Freddy’s story, Internment, tied for 3rd Place – Best Gay Fantasy in the Rainbow Awards. Freddy’s steampunk/SF story, Feel Me, was a finalist and honorable mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards for SF.
Tell me about your best college experience for a change at 2 backlisted books (excluding anthologies) and a $10 gift certificate from Amazon.
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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