I know lately interviews have been few and far between, but I am delighted today to welcome author David Collins and with his debut novel, Gaybash. Today is the first day of tour stops, so make sure you check out the rest of the tour stops.
Thank you for your interview. Can you tell readers a little about yourself?
I live in the building where my novel takes place so the story feels very close to me. (In fact, my own home served as a nagging reminder when I wasn’t writing!) I’m in my early 40s, a great time to think about the dreams I haven’t yet fulfilled, and why. In addition to writing I also make artwork (handmade structures of paper) and there is a gallery on the book’s website. Creativity is a big part of my life, and where I feel the most free and inspired. This is the year I stopped being afraid of what people would think of my work.
In your own words, can you tell us a little bit about your book?
I wrote this book to take readers on a journey of a shy and reserved man who realizes the potential of his own life. I see a lot of people just getting through their lives instead of living their lives, and I see a lot of myself in Matt and his fears. I wanted to tell a story that was alternately funny and sad, and that would encourage people to be proud of who they are, whoever they are. And also, Tell the people you love that you love them, often and without hesitation.
Which came first, the title or the book?
The title and synopsis came first, in dialogue from another novel I was writing. Two characters were discussing an indie film called Gaybash, about a gay man who fought back against his attackers. I found the idea so intriguing that I put that novel on hold and began writing Gaybash instead.
Can you tell us about the characters in your book?
The main character, Matt, is shy and reserved and holds back a lot. He hasn’t nearly tapped into his potential. His best friend, Greg, is the complete opposite—the Big Man on Campus of their gay neighborhood. Their unlikely friendship works because they support and understand each other in ways that nobody else does. There are also several strong female characters, including Mara, one of Matt’s co-workers, Pat Jensen, a police detective, and Mallory, Matt’s mom. Each supporting character loves and cares for Matt, but shows it in different ways. For example, Ed, Matt’s father, has difficulty accepting that his son is gay but obviously loves Matt and works through his struggle pretty openly and thoughtfully.
What makes your book different from other books within the same genre?
Anyone can read Gaybash and identify with the challenges these characters face. Some themes in the book are truly universal: unrequited love, jealousy, accepting people for who they are, and standing up to aggression. In separate incidents, Matt and Greg both stand up for themselves and deal with the consequences, both good and bad. The easiest thing would have been for these characters to walk away from their confrontations, but Greg isn’t one to walk away and Matt can’t walk away any more. It’s also a commentary on the abusive way that aggressors attack people they consider “less than”. But in these cases, the aggressors—one verbal, one physical—don’t get away so easily.
What would you tell your 15 year old self?
The same thing I would tell my 43 year old self right now: Stop being so concerned about what other people think. You’re doing fine the way you are.
Who are a few of your favorite authors? What are a few of your favorite books?
My favorite book is The Moonstone by William Wilkie Collins. It’s widely regarded as the first mystery novel and I chose it for my senior comp paper in high school. Other favorites include The Magnificent Ambersons, The Man With The Golden Arm, and The Phantom Tollbooth—a childhood favorite. They all have bold, memorable characters and strong narratives.
What is the one book that everyone should read?
I think The Great Gatsby is a great example of what a novel can be. The motivations of people, both bad and good, are laid out very well. There is a certain timelessness to Fitzgerald’s writing that makes the story a great read at different stages of your life. Even if you read it in high school, read it again now.
Since starting out, what has been the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer?
I’ve learned most to trust my instinct, my voice. That’s something I’ve had to learn on my own, and it feels good to “go with your gut” and connect with readers in unexpected ways by taking chances. It’s surprised me what parts of the story speak to certain readers. Very reassuring.
What do you want readers to take away from your book?
I want readers to finish the book inspired, as Matt is, to be alive in his life. I want readers to think about the ways that they can be their own worst enemies and stop it! Sometimes we hold ourselves back more than anyone or anything else. Matt realizes that and I want the reader to realize that as well.
Do you have any other books in the works? Will any of your novels to date develop into a series?
Gaybash is my first novel and I intended it to be one-and-done, but I’ve had a number of readers ask about a sequel. That’s a wonderful thing—to know that readers want to hang out with these characters a little longer. In my mind there is a logical point to pick up the story as a sequel but as of right now, I think I leave Matt in a great place. The reader can imagine many exciting possibilities for his future. And in addition to my artwork, I am going back to that first novel I left behind.
*****About the Author*****
*****About the Book*****
Author: David Collins
Release Date: May 2014
Length: 287 pages
Genre: LGBT Fiction
Matt Tompkins, a reserved gay man, has always played by the rules and has created a comfortable but unfulfilling life for himself. When his bold best friend Greg reaps unexpected rewards for standing up for himself in a very public display, Matt’s jealousy leads him to risk everything when he’s confronted by two attackers. Determined to be more like Greg, a split-second reaction brings astonishing changes to Matt’s life–for better and for worse.
Set in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Gaybash explores the boundaries of love and friendship and the unintended consequences of wanting to be somebody else.
There is a $15 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree up for grabs in this giveaway. Open Internationally. Ends 8/1. Void where prohibited.