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Title: Everyday History
Author: Alice Archer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Release Date: 06/29/2016
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.
Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
Following a Trail of Breadcrumbs
I wonder if I’m alone in having the experience of reading gay male romance and, in the process, rethinking my marriage. I read het romance for long time before I started reading M/M romance, so why didn’t that produce the same result? I’m still following that question’s trail of breadcrumbs, because it keeps leading me to places I want to be.
Everyday History was conceived during a time when I was trying to come to grips with my reactions to M/M love stories. I’d occasionally read and enjoyed novels or seen movies that included a gay male storyline, but suddenly I couldn’t get enough of those stories. Big parts of my life felt scary, and I relished the distraction of stories that seemed to be giving me something I needed. I just wasn’t sure what that was.
I watched a ridiculous number of soap opera snippets online, following the gay storylines. I bought a bunch of M/M romance novels and stayed up until dawn reading them. Why did I care about the characters so much? And why had I started writing a romance novel about two men named Henry and Ruben, during a time when I didn’t have enough income to support myself? I enjoyed all of those activities in an off-the-charts way – so much so that it freaked me out. I belatedly decided to do a Google search to see how truly weird I might be.
In the Google search field, I entered something like “straight woman who likes gay male romance” and up popped Kris Jacen and Geoffrey Knight’s book Why Straight Women Love Gay Romance. I gawked at the screen, burst into tears, quickly downloaded the book, read it in one sitting, and spent the next two days crying with relief as I opened myself up to what might be true for me. It helped not to feel alone. What I soon realized was that, although I appreciate the eroticism of two men together, I am – most importantly – drawn to stories of courage about being truthful, and M/M stories affect me more than M/F stories.
Once courage and truth came onstage, they wouldn’t go away. I looked around at my life, and admitted that it wasn’t going well. My husband and I had been in Germany by then for two years and, even though I loved where we lived, my life had been falling apart for a while. I couldn’t find enough work to support myself, my savings were tapped out, and my marriage, when I dared myself to take an honest look at it, was a non-entity.
I dried my tears, made three signs on big index cards, stuck them above my desk at eye level, and stared at them for hours: Truth. Courage. Boldness. I put them in that order, because I knew truth came first. One day, I wrote in my journal, “You can’t shove aside the truth and have any chance of being actually happy.” I began trying to tell myself the truth, as a place to start, and, slowly, things started to shift.
That autumn, I spent my mornings doing everything I could think of to bring in more money. I tried hundreds of things (I know because I made a spreadsheet). I’d been self-employed for years, working online and by phone, and my business had been successful in North America, but it tanked for some reason when I tried to do it from Germany. By lunchtime every day I was exhausted. I spent the afternoons relieving the pressure of my lack of income and my doomed marriage by telling myself the story of Henry and Ruben. I told the story I needed to hear, and I clutched it like a life preserver.
I’d written stories before, had even finished a messy first draft of a het romance, but I’d always been daunted by the task of organizing an entire novel. This time it was different. Because I needed to read the story so badly, in order to give myself the courage to do what needed to be done in my real life, the words flew onto the page. I could breathe when I was writing about Henry and Ruben.
“The scariest thing, now that I’m looking and seeing,” I wrote in my journal, “is the extreme gap between what I have and what I want. I can’t un-know that. I’m going to have to do something about it.”
Less than a year later, I’d left my husband (in the gentlest, most caring way I could think of), bid Germany a bittersweet farewell, and moved back to the States, where I hadn’t lived in many years. My income picked up again. I finished Everyday History, and I kept on writing.
Like many authors, I write the stories I need to read. I write to remind myself to be true. For courage. In boldness.
About the Author
Alice Archer has messed about with words professionally for many years as an editor and writing coach. After living in more than eighty places and cobbling together a portable lifestyle, she has a lot of story material to sort through. It has reassured her to discover that even though culture and beliefs can get people into a peck of trouble when they’re falling in love, the human heart beats the same in any language. She currently lives near Nashville. Maybe this move will stick.
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