Please welcome my guest Posy Roberts, whose book Spark was released by Dreamspinner Press this week!!
Take it away, Posy!
Long before I started writing the first book of my North Star Trilogy, I knew family of origin was going to play a pivotal role in Spark. The relationships my main characters had with their fathers were of great importance when they were teens and well into their adult years.
Whether we like it or not, the family or families we grew up with helped shape who we became. Some drive us so nuts that all we can do is bitch about their certain brand of crazy our entire trip home from “vacation” with them, even if the journey takes days in a car. Others make us look back with nostalgia, even if our memories aren’t telling the whole truth.
Human brains have plasticity, especially those of developing children. They can be influenced by both good and bad experiences that have the possibility of sticking for life based on which synapses grow stronger, which are pruned away, and which genes are turned on during critical periods of brain development. Think about this for a second: human brains aren’t fully developed until age twenty-five.
That’s a lot of years where family of origin impacts brain development, whether all members are present and accounted for, minimally available, or decidedly absent. Some of those experiences are going to be great, but some are horrid as well.
This has nothing to do with M/M romance though, right? I think it has a ton to do with it, especially when I look at this as a writer. When I’m writing character sketches, I take into consideration how my characters were raised. Were they raised in a family that had no rules? If so, how did they react to that? They could’ve gotten involved in any and all questionable activities presented to them, or they could’ve been the kid who created rules of their own and basically took on the role of parent in their family. What about the kid with too many rules?
As I wrote the North Star Trilogy, I looked in-depth at the father-son relationships. In book one, Spark, I looked at Hugo Thorson and Kevin Magnus as teens and then again in their mid-thirties. At sixteen, Hugo loses his father. Kevin wishes he could lose his father, but that doesn’t happen. Both boys had very different relationships with their dads.
Kevin had a tumultuous father-son experience because his father expected success and perfection at all costs. Hugo had an absent father because the man was struggling with terminal cancer for years. So many of the troubles young Hugo faced seemed trivial compared to cancer, including coming out, so he chose not to talk with his father about his worries. Kevin chose not to talk with his own father because he knew he’d never measure up. Family of origin was always in the back of my head while writing, even after they’d grown into men.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 7 of Spark. You can read Chapter 1 here.
Kevin stepped closer and bent low enough to press a tender kiss to the wrinkles between Hugo’s brows, causing the creases to melt away. Kevin continued to talk in a low voice, almost a whisper as his hands warmed Hugo’s back. “You were so much more significant in my life than I ever let you know. Probably more than I even knew at the time. I took you for granted, but you changed me. When I was with you, I was just Kevin. I wasn’t Kevin Magnus, son of the great Peder and Linda Magnus. I was just plain old Kevin, and you liked me for who I was.”
“Of course I did,” Hugo said before placing a kiss in the slight cleft of Kevin’s chin. It felt completely natural to kiss him like this, uninhibited. “You were very easy to like, most of the time.”
“That was different for me, you realize, someone liking just me.”
Hugo nodded, liking the sensation of Kevin’s freshly shaved skin smoothing over his lips. He knew that’s how Kevin felt, often discounting how likable he truly was back in high school. Kevin’s father made every good thing in Kevin’s life into Peder’s own success, and every failure was squarely placed on Kevin’s shoulders for him to feel the full weight along with Peder’s overwhelming disapproval.
“If it weren’t for you, I would’ve never known I was bisexual. Or I would’ve never been brave enough to see what those feelings I had were even about.”
“You probably would’ve experimented in college.”
Kevin shook his head and drew Hugo closer, pressing a kiss in front of his ear. “No. No, Hugo. Don’t you see? I already knew I was bisexual in college, and not once, not once was I with another guy. You were it. You were the only one who made me feel brave enough to go against my father and his plan for my life.”
In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.
By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.
When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.
Posy Roberts lives in the land of 10,000 lakes (plus a few thousand more). But even with more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, Minnesota has snow—lots of it—and the six months of winter makes us “hearty folk,” or so the locals say. The rest of the year is heat and humidity with a little bit of cool weather we call spring and autumn, which lasts about a week.
She loves a clean house, even if she can’t keep up with her daughter’s messes, and prefers foods that are enriched with meat, noodles, and cheese, or as we call it in Minnesota, hotdish. She also loves people, even though she has to spend considerable amounts of time away from them after helping to solve their interpersonal problems at her day job.
Posy is married to a wonderful man who makes sure she eats while she documents the lives of her characters. She also has a remarkable daughter who helps her come up with character names. When she’s not writing, she enjoys karaoke, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.
Read more at http://posyroberts.com