Hi guys! Today I am very excited to welcome author H.B. Pattskyn to the blog. H.B. is here to talk to us more about her new release Hanging by the Moment. She has also brought a great excerpt and a giveaway. So please join me in giving H.B. a big welcome!
My third novel, Hanging by the Moment, came out on September 6, from Dreamspinner Press. It’s a really special project to my heart, for a number of reasons. One of my MC’s, Pasha Batalov, is the child of Russian immigrants (Pasha was actually born in Russia). My family is also of Russian descent (my great grandparents came over to escape Soviet rule). Pasha is 24 and feels like his life is over before it’s really begun; when I was 24, I had a serious panic attack that “oh my god, I’m going to be a quarter of a century old next year!” Looking back, I laugh. I’m 44 now. Okay, yeah, yikes in 6 years I’m going to be 50 and that is definitely a little scary, but not half as scary as 25 seemed 20 years ago.
But the thing that makes Hanging by the Moment the most special to me is something that’s a part of Daniel’s life—Daniel of course is the other MC. He wanders into Pasha’s life entirely by accident and is completely smitten with Pasha right off the bat. Pasha can’t believe it. Daniel is sweet, sexy, drop-dead gorgeous. There has to be a catch.
And in a way, there is: Daniel is HIV positive.
Pasha isn’t sure he’s a strong enough man to be there when things get tough—and he’s sure they will. I know it’s probably my own perspective bleeding through. Way too many “kids”—and no few adults—these days treat HIV like it’s nothing. But it’s not nothing. It’s something, and that something means a lot of complications to the way a person lives their life. HIV might not be the death sentence it was 20 years ago, but it’s no walk in the park, either. Besides medication, there’s fear and prejudice and illness—and Pasha isn’t really a very strong person, at least not in his own estimation. He’s not sure it’s fair to either him or Daniel for him to pursue the relationship—but how do you walk away from something that feels so right, that would be so perfect if it weren’t for one big, ugly fact?
Pasha also realizes that the only way to make it work is to finally come out of the closet with his family. As screwed up as they can be, he’s terrified of losing his nieces and nephew once his sister finds out he’s gay. And if she finds out his boyfriend has HIV? That could be the end of it. Is taking a chance on what could be really worth risking everything he already has?
I had a reader over at GoodReads ask me a very good question, prior to release day. Is Hanging by the Moment HEA—do Daniel and Pasha get their happily ever after? I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying “yes,” because in most cases that’s how romance novels end. Dreamspinner does have a bittersweet line, but I could never write for it. Torchwood fans will understand it when I say that Moffet killed any love I ever had for bittersweet when he killed of Ianto. If you’re not a Torchwood fan, you probably still get the gist of it.
Romance for me isn’t about the end of the book, it’s about the journey, it’s how my boys get from point A to point B and all the pitfalls and heartache and obstacles in between.
In the following scene, Daniel and Pasha are out to dinner. Earlier in the week, Daniel had asked Pasha to stay the night at his place on Saturday night; Pasha agreed, but only if he got to sleep with Daniel (the only other time Pasha stayed over, he slept on the sofa). Unfortunately, there’s a snag in the plans…
Daniel shifted in his seat. “So…um… I was thinking about tomorrow night.”
“Me too.” Pasha smiled. He’d been thinking about it so much that there were several pairs of soiled sweatpants hidden under his bed. But it wasn’t just the sex he was looking forward to. He wanted to touch Daniel, to kiss him, to go down on him and prove to them both that it was going to be okay, that they could have a perfectly normal relationship despite some stupid virus.
“I um, I was wondering if maybe I could just pick you up on Sunday morning instead.”
“Why?” Saturday night had been Daniel’s idea.
“I just… I don’t want to jump the gun.”
“Why not? I mean look, I know there’s some more stuff we need to talk about, and I know I totally freaked out in the doc’s office, but Daniel, I want this to work.”
“Which is why I think we should wait.”
“Fine, I’ll sleep on the couch again.” Even to his own ears, he sounded pissy.
“I… let’s just do Sunday morning, okay? I can pick you up early and we can go out for breakfast and maybe… I know it’s not the most romantic thing in the world, but I’ve gotta get some shopping done, so maybe we could hit the mall? Then maybe hit a movie and grab some dinner before I take you home.”
All of which sounded perfectly fine, but it wasn’t what Pasha wanted. “What happened to having dinner at your place and watching TV?” he asked, because being nervous about sleeping together was one thing, but it sounded like Daniel was going out of his way to keep Pasha out of his apartment.
“I thought something different might be more fun.”
“Daniel, what’s really going on here? On Tuesday, you asked me to spend the night at your place. I know I pushed you sleep together, and if… look, I’ll take the sofa if that’s what you want, but I only get one day off a week. I don’t want to spend it at the mall. If something’s changed… if maybe you want to get back together with that guy from college…?” Maybe it was like Ronny had said: it would be easier for Daniel to be with someone who understood what it was like to live with HIV. It would just totally break my heart.
“Aiden and me are over. We’ve been over for years. Pasha, I swear, you are the only person I want to be with.”
“Then talk to me. What’s changed? Is this because I freaked out today? If it is, I’m sorry. I had a moment. I got over it.”
Daniel heaved a heavy sigh and shook his head. He looked so completely defeated that Pasha reached across the table and took his hand. Daniel held it tight. “Remember I had that doctor’s appointment last week?” he asked.
“You said it was just a routine checkup.” A hard knot started to form in Pasha’s gut; all he could think about was that guy in Doc Neumann’s waiting room.
“Sugar, routine for me is getting my viral load and CD4 count checked.”
“You’re numbers are good—aren’t they?”
He hung his head and the rock in Pasha’s stomach suddenly felt like it was the size of Mt. Everest. “They were when we had that conversation. Or at least I thought they were. Doc called me today to tell me that my CD4 count has dropped to four-fifty. My viral load’s spiked too. That’s why I think we should slow down, at least until I get another test done.”
“What will another test prove?” Pasha wanted to know. He’d been reading, and four-fifty wasn’t a good number. It wasn’t catastrophic, but it wasn’t good.
“Numbers can fluctuate. It might not be as bad as it seems.”
“What does Doc Neumann say?”
Daniel hesitated before admitting, “She wrote me a prescription for Stribild. It’s an ARV. An antiretroviral drug. She wants me to start taking it.”
“Okay.” What was the big deal?
“No, Pasha, it’s not okay. Once I start taking drugs, that’s it. It’s over. I’m on them for the rest of my life.” He was trembling.
“It beats the alternative, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Jesus… Daniel.” He struggled to keep his voice down.
“I just want one more blood test. Numbers fluctuate,” Daniel repeated. “My CD4 might go up on its own.”
“What if it doesn’t?”
“I don’t know. We’ll keep tabs on it, see how low it gets. Maybe I’ll get lucky. If it stays stable, I can put off the drugs for a while longer.”
What the…? “Why are we having this conversation?” Why was Daniel playing fucking games with his health? His life?
“I don’t want you thinking the wrong thing about me not wanting to sleep with you.”
“So how about you just take the damned drugs like your doctor says?”
“Because I met this really amazing guy, and I’d like us to have a little more time together before I have to start telling him we can’t go out to dinner because I’m afraid that no matter what I eat, it’ll make me sick, before I have to start cancelling dates because I’m too tired or sore to even get out of bed.”
Pasha frowned, confused.
“The side effects of ARVs are a bitch. Nausea. Diarrhea. Fatigue.”
“It still beats the alternative.” AIDS.
“I just want a little more time to spend with you, Sugar. Doc Neumann’s running another blood test. I should have the results in a week. In the meantime, four-fifty isn’t that bad.”
Pasha swallowed past the lump in his throat. “You’re not going to kill yourself over me.” His voice was so calm it scared him. He stood up and fished a twenty-dollar bill out of his wallet to cover his half of the dinner that hadn’t arrived yet. “If you change your mind about taking care of yourself, call me. Otherwise… I… I’m sorry. I’m already watching one person I….” Love. “I’m watching my mother die of something we could have done more about if we’d caught it sooner. The drugs wouldn’t have cured her, but we could have had more time—real time, not this fucking limbo I feel like I’m stuck in. I refuse to watch you die too. Not like this. Not when there’s something you can do about it.”
He turned and walked away as quickly as he could without causing a scene. There was moisture trickling down his cheeks before he even got to the door.
You can read more about Hanging by the Moment on my website (http://www.helenpattskyn.com/p/hanging-by-moment.html) or at the Dreamspinner Press site (http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4161)
I’m donating twenty percent of my earnings from Hanging by the Moment HIV/AIDS awareness charities, and it was directly because of the research that I did for the book that I decided to start volunteering with AIDS Partnership Michigan (http://www.aidspartnership.org/). Giving money to something I believe in is relatively easy, giving my time takes more effort and that means something to me.
And of course since this is a part of a virtual book launch party, there’s a prize at the end. If you leave a comment here (and include your contact info) you’ll be entered to win a signed paperback copy of Hanging by the Moment and a bag of cool swag.
H.B. has brought a signed paperback of Hanging by the Moment for one lucky winner on her tour, plus a bag of swag. Just leave a comment for your chance to enter. The contest closes October 14th.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.