Much of the focus behind my rentboy story, Where You Hurt The Most, concerns the prospect of change and how to respond to it. Both men in the book, high-class escort Adrian and accident victim Dan, have to cope with a significant degree of change or the possibility of change in their lives, and work out the best strategies in dealing with it. Here’s Adrian learning about Dan and the negative effects change has had on him from his boss Max:
Max shut his eyes and swallowed. “Dan was lucky to be alive. The lorry driver died on impact. Apparently his brakes failed, and Dan just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, but I didn’t think he was listening. When I touched his hand, he was trembling.
“It changed everything,” Max said, turning his fingers round to hold mine. “Before the accident, Dan was like any young man, looking forward to life, with great plans to be a house and garden designer. Maybe even a relationship in the offing, I couldn’t quite tell. But after he was hurt, the bloke in question didn’t stay around long. Not that Dan was pleasant to him. On the contrary, he seemed to want to drive him away and it worked. Still, I . . .”
He gazed out into the distance. I didn’t know what to say that could help, but I kept on holding his hand. He squeezed my palm and half-smiled.
It’s funny really, as in my own life I’m hugely reluctant to face the concept of change, so it’s a mystery as to why I so often write books about people who are right there in the middle of it all or about to face it, big-time. I just love my familiar life so much – I like knowing that on certain days I’ll be working in my office job, and other days I’ll be writing. I like knowing when my husband and I will be going out and when we’ll be staying in, when we’ll be going on holiday and when we’ll be staying at home doing the garden or just pottering. I find there’s a vast amount of comfort in knowing what’s going to happen, and when. Heck, I even get angsty when my office job days are changed around for whatever reason, and I have to prepare myself for going in on a Friday instead of a Wednesday – it’s a real shock to the system! Which probably only goes to show just how weird a control freak I actually am …
In fact, I’m so very happy with the familiar that my boss a few years back kindly directed me to the whole Who Moved My Cheese? phenomenon, as a subtle attempt to get me used to the idea that things wouldn’t necessarily stay the same for ever. I quite enjoyed it and definitely empathised with the most reluctant mouse of all, a mouse called Hem. Oh, how I empathised!
Still, I could see the boss’s point. Things do change and it isn’t always for the bad. And even if it is, then with the right help and support, we can make our way through it and discover the good things for ourselves. I’m better with change now than I used to be (honest!) but I do accept that sometimes I need to chat things over with my husband or friends in order to get a good, or at least a better, perspective on it.
And this is what Adrian and Dan have to learn to do, finding in each other an unexpected but valuable source of support and wisdom. Dan is trying to cope with his new facial disfigurement and what that means for his plans for the future, whilst Adrian has to decide whether to stay in the familiar and very lucrative life he knows or to step away from all that for the fragility of a possible new relationship.
The choice they make either for or against change must in the end be their own but the path they take to get there doesn’t have to be travelled individually. So the two men come to understand that change might very well be exciting or frightening, or perhaps a combination of both, but it never has to be experienced alone. And that’s how they, and we, can survive it.
Giveaway competition details:
The giveaway competition: the prize is THREE ebooks from my backlist if these questions about Where You Hurt The Most are answered correctly:
1. What was Dan's hoped-for career before the accident?
2. Where does Adrian take Dan on their second meeting?
3. What month is it when Max visits Adrian for the last time?
Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after 18 May, when the tour ends. Good luck!
Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.
She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring gay scribe Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: www.gathandria.com and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her gay and literary short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads. Her most recent gay short story is Where You Hurt The Most, a tale of unexpected connections and possibilities, published by Riptide. All her gay fiction can be found at: www.gayreads.co.uk.
Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a gay fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at www.annebrooke.com and she regularly blogs at: http://annebrooke.blogspot.com.
Where You Hurt The Most blurb:
Adrian is more than happy as high-class escort for a number of regular clients. When his boss and dear friend asks him to entertain his nephew, Adrian readily agrees, but meeting Dan challenges him in ways he'd never imagined. Dan is scarred inside and out from an accident that destroyed a promising future. Despite Adrian's loveless lifestyle and Dan's withdrawal and anger, the two men forge a deep - if unnerving - connection. Soon they find themselves questioning the choices they've made and the futures they've mapped out for themselves.
Yet even bright young men like Adrian and Dan fear the unknown and take comfort in the familiar. Neither may be strong enough to step away from the life they know and toward the one they dare not hope for. But while it's true that love can't heal all wounds, it is the surest balm for where you hurt the most.
You can read an excerpt and purchase Where You Hurt The Most here.