Tagged: character development

Waiting for Forever: A guest post by Jamie Mayfield

Jul 24, 2013 by

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The Waiting for Forever series is a character-driven story. Its appeal stems from how Brian, Jamie, and the other characters interact with each other and their environment along their journey. From Brian’s sexual evolution to Jamie’s rediscovery of himself, each volume pushes the boys, sometimes painfully, to adulthood. One of the most defining aspects of the characters in the Waiting for Forever series is that they are real, or as real as fictional characters can be. I’ve received dozens of emails from gay men all over the country, and even some internationally who identify so closely with the characters that they wonder if I’m writing about them. One sweet gay man in Texas told me about his own tree house, and how he was sent to a “pray the gay away” camp in his youth. I never meant to get it quite that right, and it’s so horrible that I did. Places like the Sunshine Center, beatings like Brian endured, parents like Patsy Mayfield—none of these things should ever happen to our kids, and yet they do.

Specific Character Inspiration

The Waiting for Forever series is a character-driven story. Its appeal stems from how Brian, Jamie, and the other characters interact with each other and their environment along their journey. From Brian’s sexual evolution to Jamie’s rediscovery of himself, each volume pushes the boys, sometimes painfully, to adulthood. One of the most defining aspects of the characters in the Waiting for Forever series is that they are real, or as real as fictional characters can be. I’ve received dozens of emails from gay men all over the country, and even some internationally who identify so closely with the characters that they wonder if I’m writing about them. One sweet gay man in Texas told me about his own tree house, and how he was sent to a “pray the gay away” camp in his youth. I never meant to get it quite that right, and it’s so horrible that I did. Places like the Sunshine Center, beatings like Brian endured, parents like Patsy Mayfield—none of these things should ever happen to our kids, and yet they do.

 

Brian McAllister Schreiber

In a lot of respects, Brian is me. I write a lot of myself into my characters, but Brian McAllister carries more of me than any other. Writing is therapy for me; it allows me to pour all of my joy, pain, confusion, and existential questions onto paper to dissect. It’s my version of a journal. Brian is without a doubt my high school self. While I didn’t grow up in foster care, I grew up with relatively no friends in the shadow what few friends I did have. Bullied to point that I nearly didn’t graduate, I was so desperate to be loved that I threw everything of myself into the few relationships I had. While some find Brian’s obsession for Jamie to be romantic, if he were a real boy, others would find his decision to leave Alabama frightening. Brian should have gone to college—but because of his desperate need to be loved, he made a different choice.

Once Brian reached San Diego and found friends of his own, he gave every bit of himself to those friends. He would have done anything for Mike and Em, just because he was so thankful to finally be included. I know exactly how that feels. People who have met Jamie Mayfield either at an author event have been surprised by me. They’re expecting the brash, foul-mouthed author who talks to everyone about anything on twitter and when they see this quiet little geek, they’re amazed. People don’t understand that I am Brian—just so thankful to finally be included.

Jamie Mayfield

My sweet Jamie—I love this kid. I put him through hell and back through the course of the series, and he blossomed beautifully in the end. Originally, the idea for the Waiting for Forever series came from an essay that I read by Brent Corrigan on his entry into the porn industry coupled with research on homeless youth in San Diego. It honestly shocked me to find out the statistics on homeless GLBT youth in our country, but with the hatred and bigotry running rampant, I guess it shouldn’t have. I grew up with parents who were pretty accepting. Of course, they didn’t like my black friend in high school until they spent time with him. They were shocked when my best friend came out, but loved him anyway. But they brought me up to judge someone by their actions, not by their skin color or sexual orientation.

Jamie’s drug addiction put him on a level playing field with Brian who always thought of himself as broken, as someone who just wasn’t good enough for Jamie. I had to show Brian that Jamie was human too. Jamie had taken care of Brian, emotionally and socially, for so long that he needed to be the one to step up to the plate so that he could grow and see that he was a worthwhile person—something it took me a very long time to realize about myself.

Adam Jennings

Adam came about because Brian needed a reason to stay in Alabama. He needed a catalyst to make the decision, because his parents, even after the adoption, wouldn’t be enough to make him stay. I made him Ray Andrews’s best friend so that he would have some kind of common ground on which he and Brian could form a friendship. Even though Adam never really had a shot at Brian’s heart, he did have a friend for life. It took Adam a while to come to terms with Brian’s decision to leave for California, even longer than it took Brian to find Jamie. Just like Micah finding Alex, it took Adam finding Sam to understand Brian’s need for Jamie. Once that happened, he found that he could be Brian’s friend again which is how he showed up in Jamie’s hospital room in the third book.

Kyle Barnes

In Alabama, completely lost without Jamie and outed in his small community, Brian needed a gay role model. Without that influence in his life, he might not have made it. Brian’s troubled childhood coupled with his isolation at the hands of his peers could have pushed him past his breaking point if he hadn’t found Kyle, Sensei, and Adam in the second book. That sentiment was demonstrated by Brian’s question of why they couldn’t have just killed him instead of beating him within an inch of his life.

Micah Burrows

Micah was the biggest surprise of the series, to be honest. I never expected his character to fill out like he did. Originally, he was just a sex buddy for Brian in San Diego because I didn’t think a healthy red-blooded eighteen year old gay kid would just choose not to have sex if the guy he searched for wasn’t even on the radar—especially one newly free to explore his sexuality without fear of parents or homophobia. I’ve seen books where the main character waited YEARS for his long lost boyfriend to come back. While I don’t doubt that it could happen, I don’t find that scenario terribly plausible. Micah was the perfect person to teach Brian about the pleasures of casual sex. Open and completely honest with himself about sex and what he wants, Mike believes in sex as part of a relationship, but had never really experienced that for himself. Until he met Alex, it was more of a theoretical concept for him. He got Brian in touch with his own pleasure.

Micah is modeled somewhat from my friend Devon Hunter. Both models in the adult industry, Mike and Devon have quite a bit in common when it comes to their attitudes on sex, love, porn, friendship, and loyalty. One of the best things I got out of writing the Waiting for Forever series was my friendship with Devon Hunter—he’s a an amazing, thoughtful, and loyal friend, just what Brian and I both needed at that point in our lives.

Alex Hunter

Alex is another character who surprised me with his depth. I’d never intended for Alex to teach Micah about love, or for him to have more than a superficial role within the studio as an outsider than Brian felt bad for. As I started Jamie’s story, however, he desperately needed a friend. He needed someone good and sweet and kind to balance out the horror of Steven O’Dell and someone to talk to about the heartache caused by Brian showing back up in his life. So, on the surface, Alex was introduced as kind of a whiner and a loner, but you don’t see the complexity of his character and his relationship with Jamie until we switch to Jamie’s POV.

Sweet, blond, and a little emo, he needed to be everything Micah wanted in a boy and more. He’s the definition of a pocket gay and I loved him from the moment he started talking to me. I’m so glad that he and Micah got together, because Micah taught Alex that he was someone worth standing up for.

Em

Poor, sweet Em. In the series, we don’t know much about his background except that he grew up in foster care. He’s actually a Venezuelan-born immigrant who migrated to the states with his mother. She died of cancer when he was just six. Em didn’t have loving foster parents like the Schreibers. He was shifted from home to home with too many kids and too little affection. Sexually abused by one of his foster “brothers,” he uses sex to get the affection that he needs so badly. If men are taking him to bed, even for a few hours, he can feel loved and needed. Micah, though a casual relationship, became his best friend and lover. When he left Em for Alex, it messed up Em’s world.

Depressed and scared, Em tried to latch on to Jamie, someone just as broken and needy as he was. Brian had left Jamie just as Mike had left Em. They had so much in common. It nearly worked, and Jamie would have been good for Em, had it not been for Brian. After Jamie, Em went through a string of older guys, practically begging for the kind of love that Mike had with Alex or Brian had with Jamie. He never realized that love was there all along until Leo got fed up with watching the revolving door of men in Em’s life. Em was Leo’s definition of a lost boy and he’d loved him almost since he’d moved in as a teenager.

Leo

Leo is the father figure in the band of lost boys at the boarding house. An activist, a papa, and a friend, he dedicates his life to taking care of boys that end up on their own in San Diego without friends or family because he knows exactly what it’s like to be thrown away and left with nothing. The character is loosely modeled after Michael Macina who graciously allowed me to use his image on Leo’s bookmark for the series. Michael (@MichaelsThought) puts up some of the most amazing tweets and blog posts letting those in our community know that they are loved and cherished. His beautiful messages are an inspiration to me and many others who need a little love in their lives.

Brandon

When I close my eyes and think of Brandon, I see a beautiful blond, funny with a little overinflated sense of self; he represents the straight guys in gay porn because they certainly exist. Whether you fall on the side of their inclusion or exclusion, the reality is that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Straight porn is all about the women, and the guys are there to serve a function. In gay porn, a guy can make a name for himself, garner more work, and in Brandon’s case, feed his family and put money back for his kids’ college education. He would do anything for his girls, including his wife. Well, except maybe be faithful. As an adult model, however, he is pretty desensitized to sex – it serves a series of functions: pleasure, profit, release, etc. Since he’s not emotionally attached to any of the girls that he picks up, or the boys that he picks up with his wife, he doesn’t consider it cheating. He loves his wife and his daughters with everything that he has, everything else is just noise.

Steven O’Dell

Steven O’Dell is a pretty sad creature. Yes, everyone hates him because he beat Jamie, got him hooked on drugs, and forced him to do porn. I’m not saying that he’s not a jerk. What you don’t see in the books is how he would do anything for his brother and how much he loves his brother’s kids. Most guys wouldn’t give up a Saturday to help their brother put up a tree house for the kids if they didn’t. His addiction and his choice of drugs made him the person that he became. In high school, he played football and even got a scholarship to play college ball before his parents were killed in a car accident and he had to give it up to care for his younger brother who was just two years younger. No way would he let his kid brother end up in foster care.

As a result, he missed his chance at the good life, went to trade school, and became an engineer. Working his way up through the ranks from maintenance man to engineer took a long time, but once he was finally on top, he was as meticulous as he was irresponsible. It took a huge effort to hide his drug use from management, and an even bigger effort to hide his dealing. But throughout it all, he was terribly alone. When he found a boy crying in the restaurant bathroom on his lunch break, he fell in love—just as if he’d found a stray puppy. He wanted to take Jamie home and feed him and take care of him, but like a lot of little kids, he didn’t know how much work it would be and that frustrated him. He took that frustration out on Jamie.

From Jamie to Em to Steven O’Dell, the main characters of Waiting for Forever each have their good and bad points. There are no devils and no angels in the series, though some might view them in that way. I’m sure those who read the series cheered at the death of Steven O’Dell, but listening to his voice in my head, I could hear just how lost he was. All of my boys were lost at some point in their lives—the key to Waiting for Forever was helping some them to find themselves and realize what kind of amazing people they are. They may be fictional characters, but I promise you there are boys out there who look at Brian or Jamie and say “that’s me”. If the books can help them feel less alone, help them feel like there are others out there like them and that if they hold on just a little longer, their lives will get better—then I’ve done what I set out to do because no kid should ever feel like suicide is their only option.

 

Waiting for Forever: Choices

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Published June 3rd, 2013

Part One: The Throwaway Boy

As the country’s religious and secular leaders battle over equality in the abstract, Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield live in the crossfire. In their little town of Crayford, Alabama, loving another boy is the worst kind of sin. Best friends since childhood, they explore their love and each other in Jamie’s backyard tree house as they hide from the world. They happily plan for the future together—until their lives are rocked when their secret is exposed and Jamie’s family intervenes.

When hatred turns to violence in their sleepy little town, Brian tries to cope with the loss of his best friend, who is stolen in the night. In desperation, he turns to Adam, a new friend with a shared pain. Can Adam fill the hole left by Jamie’s absence? The answer will change everything.

Adapted from the award-winning Little Boy Lost series by J. P. Barnaby.

 100% of the author’s royalties are being donated to help homeless LGBT kids find safe shelter.

From Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3878&cPath=864

Part 2: Destiny is also now available through Harmony Ink/Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3955

Part 3: Determination will be published on August 1st.

 

About Jamie Mayfield:

A survivor of the ex-gay residential institution The Sunshine Center, fictional author Jamie Mayfield went on to find his voice in novels. Always a great lover of books, Jamie found his passion as he began to pursue a liberal arts degree in creative writing. An avid reader, he’s a fan of gay romance, suspense, and horror—though not all in the same novel.

Jamie lives in San Diego with his fictional husband, Brian. He writes YA fiction as a way to let kids know that they have an entire LGBT family all around them. Above all, he wants them to know that they are not alone. It does get better.

Jamie Mayfield is a fictional character from the acclaimed Little Boy Lost series by female author J. P. Barnaby.

Website: http://www.JamieMayfield.com

Tumblr: http://JamieMayfieldYA.tumblr.com

Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/JamieMayfieldYA

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/JamieMayfieldYA

 

*Originally published as part of the Little Boy Lost blog tour on Leontine’s Book Realm — http://www.leontinesbookrealm.com/2012/06/little-boy-lost-feature-jpbarnaby-talks.html

 

Tomorrow: a guest post by Jamie Mayfield

Jul 23, 2013 by

 

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Jamie_CartoonOkay, so tomorrow is a very special day. I’ve got a guest post from the one and only Jamie Mayfield, not the first fictional character I’ve hosted on this blog, but certainly the first fictional author I have!

Jamie Mayfield is the alter ego of very real author J.P. Barnaby, who created the character as one of the two protagonists in her ground-breaking, award-winning series Little Boy Lost. LBL tells the story of Brian and Jamie, who meet as kids in Alabama, fall in love as teenagers, and are separated by homophobia. Their quest to reunite is a beautiful thing, of tears, trauma, horror and despair. (Yes, horror and despair can be beautiful in the hands of a talented writer, which J.P. surely is.)

In that series, Jamie wants to become a writer. So when the time came to revise the series for a young adult audience, J.P. became Jamie, to fulfill his dream.

The 3-book YA version of the LBL series is called “Waiting for Forever.” The first book, Choices, was published by Harmony Ink Press on June 6th.

I’m a huge fan of J.P.’s work. I love well-written, believable characters, and J.P. excels at crafting real imaginary people. In tomorrow’s post, she’ll give us some insights on developing characters that you will fall in love with.

WaitingForForever1Choices     WaitingForForever2Destiny     WaitingForForever3Determination