My Story Book Club discussion

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What They Always Tell Us > Live Chat with Martin Wilson NOW!

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message 1: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Hi Martin!


message 2: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Hello!


message 3: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Welcome to My Story. So glad you could make it!


message 4: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Very happy to be here. Thanks for having me! (And glad I could find it. Haha)


message 5: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Hello!"

So glad you could make it!


message 6: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Very happy to be here. Thanks for having me! (And glad I could find it. Haha)"

Great. So, I wanted to begin by asking what attracted you about this story? What spurred you to write this particular story?


message 7: by S. (new)

S. Shirley (schrisshirley) | 6 comments How exciting!


message 8: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
S. Chris wrote: "How exciting!"

Welcome, Chris!


message 9: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments The novel started as a short story I wrote, about two brothers and an odd neighbor, Henry. I wanted to explore loneliness and the odd connection that forms between Henry and Alex. I left the story for years before I went back to it, thinking it could be the beginning of a novel. What spurred the novel was that I wanted to know what James's point of view was.


message 10: by S. (new)

S. Shirley (schrisshirley) | 6 comments Thank you! I'm a big fan of Mr. Wilson!


message 11: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments The novel grew from there....


message 12: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Hi Chris! :-)


message 13: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "The novel started as a short story I wrote, about two brothers and an odd neighbor, Henry. I wanted to explore loneliness and the odd connection that forms between Henry and Alex. I left the story ..."

I love the idea of exploring loneliness because each character has their private version of it. I found Henry so intriguing. Was it difficult to flesh this out into the novel that it is?


message 14: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments I started writing from James's POV, and found it a lot of fun. And when I got sick of him, I could go back to Alex. The fleshing out was easier than I could have hoped. It really did flow. Not easily--but far more easily, say, than the second novel I attempted. I guess the trickiest thing was figuring out how to advance the story chapter by chapter, from the differing viewpoints. But that was also fun, in a way--a fun challenge.


message 15: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "I started writing from James's POV, and found it a lot of fun. And when I got sick of him, I could go back to Alex. The fleshing out was easier than I could have hoped. It really did flow. Not easi..."

I really loved the dueling viewpoints. Was it more difficult to write from either of those POV's?


message 16: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments I think at first James was the bigger challenge. The novel is not autobiographical in the factual sense, but I always say it's emotionally autobiographical. (I borrowed that from some other writer--it's not original to me!) But as I kept writing, and as I got to know James more, it became easier. There's a lot of me in Alex--but there's a lot of me in James as well. They are like my dueling personalities, split off into two people.


message 17: by Diane (new)

Diane | 1 comments Hi Martin! One of my favorite aspects was the mystery of what was going on across the street. There was something about the tone in those sections that reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird.


message 18: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "I think at first James was the bigger challenge. The novel is not autobiographical in the factual sense, but I always say it's emotionally autobiographical. (I borrowed that from some other writer-..."

I really identified with as a reader with the internal machinations of each James and Alex. James was so tight-lipped and Alex is trying to connect to someone. Were you aware of those personality characteristics as you wrote?


message 19: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments HI, Diane!! Thanks for joining. :-) Yes, the mystery was fun to write. It became a nice thread to ramp up the tension, and it also forced James and Alex to come together. It was tricky--I'm not great at plot or twists. But I am glad it somehow came together (I think).


message 20: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Yes, very much so. Alex ached and was emotional, he was hungry. James was closed off, angry. He had too many entanglements--he was "over it." Whereas Alex had few connections.


message 21: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Yes, very much so. Alex ached and was emotional, he was hungry. James was closed off, angry. He had too many entanglements--he was "over it." Whereas Alex had few connections."

What I liked in particular is that you didn't use the word suicide, until a little later, and you didn't use it often. Can you speak to that a bit?


message 22: by Michael (new)

Michael While you state that the book is emotionally true, and the novel is highly authentic, were there any aspects of the novel's events that come directly from your life? I recognize the boring nature of my question.


message 23: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Good observation. You know, I got asked that a lot--did Alex try and kill himself, or was it a mistake? I think when I wrote it, it was just a dumb, rash decision. I never viewed it as suicide. But of course suicide is often just that--a rash decision. Especially among young people. So I don't think anyone (James, the parents, etc.) wanted to acknowledge that word--it's a dirty word, right? So it never came up. But clearly if you swallow PIne Sol you are attempting to harm yourself. But was Alex thinking clearly, did he write a note, was he contemplating suicide for weeks? No. He knew it was a mistake, the minute he did it. Luckily he got pulled back from the brink.


message 24: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments (I hope that makes sense.)


message 25: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "(I hope that makes sense.)"

It makes total sense. I think suicide is such a dirty word, but a particularly loaded one for LGBT teens. Were you nervous about having that interpretation left open?


message 26: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Michael wrote: "While you state that the book is emotionally true, and the novel is highly authentic, were there any aspects of the novel's events that come directly from your life? I recognize the boring nature o..."

Not boring at all! Well, the novel was set in my hometown. Certain "true" things snuck in, certain people were actually based on real people. For the most part these are minor characters. And I honestly can I didn't do it consciously.

It's hard to describe--this process where invented things mix with real things. For example, the neighborhood where Alex and James live is the neighborhood I lived in when I was in high school (and where my parents still live). But their actual house? It's totally different in my head from the house I lived in. Central, the high school, is the high school I attended. But there was no Henry. There was, sadly, no Nathen.


message 27: by S. (new)

S. Shirley (schrisshirley) | 6 comments What?! There was no Nathan?! That's very sad.


message 28: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Monica wrote: "Martin wrote: "(I hope that makes sense.)"

It makes total sense. I think suicide is such a dirty word, but a particularly loaded one for LGBT teens. Were you nervous about having that interpreta..."


No, not really. I didn't think about it too much, to be honest. When I started out, my aim the entire time was for Alex's life to start anew. His arc was going from low to high. He starts the novel at rock bottom and goes up from there. I know his "suicide" will never leave him--he will always have that in his history, as will his parents and James. They will never forget it. But it won't hinder him or them. For me the novel was about moving past that, moving on.


message 29: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments S. Chris wrote: "What?! There was no Nathan?! That's very sad."

Tell me about it! But since the fictional Nathen moved to New York, I keep expecting him to show up one day. I may have even seen him on the subway. It's a silly fantasy! :-)


message 30: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
S. Chris wrote: "What?! There was no Nathan?! That's very sad."

Martin wrote: "Michael wrote: "While you state that the book is emotionally true, and the novel is highly authentic, were there any aspects of the novel's events that come directly from your life? I recognize the..."

Martin wrote: "Michael wrote: "While you state that the book is emotionally true, and the novel is highly authentic, were there any aspects of the novel's events that come directly from your life? I recognize the..."

Monica wrote: "Martin wrote: "(I hope that makes sense.)"

It makes total sense. I think suicide is such a dirty word, but a particularly loaded one for LGBT teens. Were you nervous about having that interpreta..."


I love that! Did you write the storyline with Nathen to perhaps rewrite your own history?


message 31: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Another writer I love, Allan Gurganus, said something like we all write our fantasies, or we write to make our wishes come true. So, yeah, sure, there's a little of that in my portrait of Nathen and of their relationship. I wish I'd had a Nathen--why not? I wish I had one now--haha!


message 32: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Another writer I love, Allan Gurganus, said something like we all write our fantasies, or we write to make our wishes come true. So, yeah, sure, there's a little of that in my portrait of Nathen an..."

Haha!


message 33: by S. (new)

S. Shirley (schrisshirley) | 6 comments Monica, that was the best question ever!


message 34: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
What did you want readers to take away from your novel?


message 35: by S. (new)

S. Shirley (schrisshirley) | 6 comments How much of the original short story remains in the final novel? Is it mostly contained in the first few chapters?


message 36: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
S. Chris wrote: "Monica, that was the best question ever!"

I try:)


message 37: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Monica, to answer your question first: I think I just want them to have a good read, mainly. To be entertained. But I also hope they connect with it somehow that gives them some kind of emotional satisfaction. I hope they are moved. I know novels can't cure anything, but I do think people who read novels are more empathetic and understanding and open-minded, b/c they see how complex the world is, how complex people are. I hope anyone who reads my novel would think, "Oh, okay, let me think about the world from ___'s point of view. Let me think about how it is to walk in ____'s shoes."


message 38: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments S. Chris wrote: "How much of the original short story remains in the final novel? Is it mostly contained in the first few chapters?"

The short story is basically Chapter 1, with mostly minor tweaks. The story was very open-ended to begin with, so it was easy to keep going.


message 39: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Monica, to answer your question first: I think I just want them to have a good read, mainly. To be entertained. But I also hope they connect with it somehow that gives them some kind of emotional s..."

So true. I was moved and I think for guy that is going through a similar experience, this novel is such a saving grace.

Was there a novel you responded to in your teens that helped your coming out process?


message 40: by S. (new)

S. Shirley (schrisshirley) | 6 comments WIll there be a sequel? (We want more!)


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Perhaps a trilogy? And it turns out Nathen is a vampire?


message 42: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Sadly, no. Not in my teens. I guess was very repressed and in denial! This was 1991 after all--the stone ages! BUT when I was 22, right after college, I read Jim Grimsley's DREAM BOY and loved it so much. That book actually helped me come out. It helped me see that love between two people of the same sex can be beautiful, and natural. It was eye-opening. I read it furtively in my room, hidden from my roommate. But soon after that I was out of the closet, and a new person.


message 43: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Perhaps a trilogy? And it turns out Nathen is a vampire?"

Hahahahaha!


message 44: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments (and thanks for your kind words! I do hope my novel can be a sort of saving grace for some kids!)


message 45: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments hahaha. OMG. Nathen the Vampire. Haha. Okay. Let me collect myself. ;-) No, no sequel. I like things where the ended. I think sequels demand drama, manufactured drama in fact, and I've already put these boys through enough. They go on, I hope, to lead eventful, normal lives, full of happiness and pain and fulfillment and disappointment, like we all do.


message 46: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "(and thanks for your kind words! I do hope my novel can be a sort of saving grace for some kids!)"

It is:) I was really interested in the Southern setting. Do you think it's more difficult in the South for LGBT youth?


message 47: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments Monica wrote: "Martin wrote: "(and thanks for your kind words! I do hope my novel can be a sort of saving grace for some kids!)"

It is:) I was really interested in the Southern setting. Do you think it's more ..."


Yes, for sure. Or, it's harder for all rural youths. Not all of us are able to grow up in New York or Austin or San Francisco. And even in thise "liberal" places, it's still probably not easy. But souther kids,m in very religious and conservative environments, have a difficult road. It's better, for sure, b/c gays are more visible and accepted in the culture. But still, prejudice and ignorance persist. I suppose they will as long as people pervert the Bible and refuse to expand their minds, as long as people cling to willful ignorance and hatred.


message 48: by Martin (new)

Martin | 26 comments (sorry for my typos!)


message 49: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Monica wrote: "Martin wrote: "(and thanks for your kind words! I do hope my novel can be a sort of saving grace for some kids!)"

It is:) I was really interested in the Southern setting. Do you t..."


Well put. Any parting words for LGBT youth and/or LGBT current and future writers?


message 50: by Monica (new)

Monica Carter (goodreadscomsalonicaworldlit) | 127 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "(sorry for my typos!)"

Forgiven if you all forgive my typos and extra/missing words:)


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