Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Sean Kennedy for stopping by today.
Title: The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson
Author: Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Young Adult
There is no Plan B.
After being outed in an especially brutal way and briefly running away from home, Micah Johnson has sworn to get his life back on the straight and narrow. Well, not so much straight, but you know what he means.
Unfortunately the path to redemption is not an easy one. With fights at school and on the football field and an all-round snarky attitude as his number one defense mechanism, will Micah survive the school year and the training camps to achieve his dream of making the national draft and becoming a professional AFL player?
His mentor, Declan Tyler, believes in him, but Micah wishes he had the same confidence in himself. Only time will tell if the ongoing reformation of Micah Johnson will be successful.
THE LIMITS OF A UNIVERSE
When I first wrote Tigers and Devils I didn’t know it would get published. I didn’t know it would be read by people outside of Australia (sometimes I don’t think the rest of the world has a clue what Australian Rules Football is) and I certainly couldn’t picture that there would be two sequels (so far) and a spin-off series. Even when the first book was published, I had only imagined it as a self-contained story. That final football game, when Simon and Dec are back together, and Simon and his friends are watching Dec play his first game with his new team… well, that was meant to be a full-stop.
But I had given birth to a monster. And that monster was Mr. Simon Murray. He never let go of me. I would just be minding my own business and suddenly he would be there, saying, “Hey, you! Let me tell you what’s been happening lately.”
And I resisted. But he wouldn’t shut up.
But there has to be a point where it stops. As much as I would probably love writing a twelve part series of the adventures of Dec and Simon I think it would outstay its welcome. And how would you try to keep it fresh? Tigers in Space? The No.1 Ex-Afl Player’s Detective Agency? (Hang on, that could be good…)
From what I have planned with possibly five Tigers books, that’s a pretty good run I think. It’s not to say that there would never be short stories or ‘catch-ups’ with the guys throughout the years but I don’t want it to get to the stage where the only person left anticipating Tigers and Devils 14 is me.
But I know Simon will always be talking to me.
MY NAME is Micah Johnson, and I guess you could say I’m a former arsehole.
If they had meetings for former arseholes, this is how I would introduce myself. I would have to stand in front of the group—I assume it would be a fair size, as there are many former arseholes, and even more who refuse to admit they are one—and freely admit my shame.
But I think I’ve overcome this shame now, or at least, I’m improving myself. I was once described as having “a chip on his shoulder the size of Uluru.” This cannot be understated. I was angry at the world, and truth be told, I sometimes still am. There is a lot to be angry about in the world. But there is also a lot to like.
You just have to find those things.
I felt I had a lot of reasons to be angry. The main one was that I was outed under what some might say were less than ideal circumstances, but the less said about that the better. I felt ashamed, and exposed, and rather than try to deal with that and move forward, I turned it inward. I thought it was better to act like a total shit and make people dislike me straightaway than have people come to dislike me of their own accord. Because I didn’t feel like I was likable. It was normal self-esteem issues, which I’m sure all of you sitting here understand. No teenager ever feels completely good about themselves.
It can be harder when you also happen to be gay. Peer pressure at high school is the worst, and you can find yourself doing or saying things to protect yourself rather than draw attention to yourself. The spotlight was already on me, so I was always on the attack.
I’m probably going off track here, and I know your teachers are probably shitting themselves at the amount of times I’ve sworn during this speech already, and I guess, like Britney, I just did it again. Oops. But I am here to use my powers for good instead of evil, and that’s why I’m doing this talk at your fine school today.
Maybe if I’d had a GSA at my school, like your principal is proposing, I would have found other ways to deal with it. Maybe not. But knowing it was there, that would have made a hell of a lot of difference.
I’m also a jock, as shocking as that may be to some of you who believe in the stereotypes associated with gay people. I’m sure you’ve heard of Declan Tyler, the ex-Bombers player. He runs a charity called GetOut, which has agreed to sponsor your GSA when it begins. GetOut have helped me a lot, especially when it comes to dealing with bullying in school.
Gay students, or even those who are suspected of being gay, are amongst the worst bullied in schools. GetOut wants to help those kids, gay or straight, and combat bullying both on the sports field and within the school environment.
I’m here because I know it works. If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said it didn’t. But that was because I wasn’t really giving it a proper go. Chip the size of Uluru, remember? The thing is, we all need help in our lives. And we have to know when to ask for it, instead of just thinking that we can deal with it by ourselves. Some issues are too big.
So if a GSA sounds like a thing that could help you, I encourage you to join it. If you are a member of the Friends of Dorothy gang like I am, GetOut also holds meetings and get-togethers where you’ll get to meet students from other schools across Melbourne. It may have started out to help gay kids who play sport, but it has become much more than that. And you’ll also get to meet Declan Tyler, and I know from experience that’s a pretty big drawcard.
I also know from experience that he really cares about the kids he mentors at GetOut. I would not be standing here talking to you today if he didn’t. But before I start singing “Kumbaya” and asking you all to hold hands, any questions?
“I HAVE one” came a voice from the back of the auditorium.
Micah inwardly groaned and shielded his eyes from the light shining directly into them, so he could at least see her better.
Emma Goldsworthy, her long auburn hair tucked into a no-nonsense ponytail, stared at him without remorse. A veritable spider leading the fly into her web. Lucky she was actually his friend.
“Do you even go to this school?” Micah asked.
She waved that concern away. “As a former arsehole, what have you done to redeem yourself?”
At this line of questioning, the principal jumped up and pushed Micah aside from the lectern. “I think we’ve had enough of the foul language. From both the speaker and the questioners.”
“There’s only been one question,” Micah pointed out.
“Regardless,” said the harried-looking woman, who Micah had only been introduced to an hour before. “Maybe you can rephrase your question, Miss?”
“It’s Ms., actually,” Emma said with a wide smile that broached no prisoners.
The principal shook her head and allowed Micah to come back to the microphone.
“I said I was still trying to improve, not that I had magically turned into a better person overnight.”
“Oh, okay. So you think you are better than you were six months ago?”
By now the students were watching with more interest than they had when Micah was speaking before. Of course, they had perked up when Declan Tyler was mentioned, but they soon lost focus again. “I like to think I am,” Micah replied.
“And you think this has been due to GetOut?”
“Yes. I know it has.”
“Maybe we should let another student ask a question?” the principal yelled out, her voice carrying amazingly far throughout the auditorium even without a microphone.
“I didn’t know there was a limit?” Emma asked before she was silenced by a young-looking year eight boy standing up in front of her.
“You have a question?” Micah asked. “Hopefully not about me being an arsehole?”
He heard a strangled protest from the principal.
The boy grinned without guile. “What’s Declan Tyler really like?”
About the Author
Sean Kennedy lives in Perth, Western Australia, but his heart still belongs to his hometown Melbourne—which is also the home of Simon Murray and Declan Tyler from his series Tigers and Devils. A disciple of cult leader David Lynch, Sean is breathlessly awaiting the revival of Twin Peaks in 2017.
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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