Today I am so pleased to welcome the awesome Wade Kelly to Joyfully Jay. Wade has come to talk to us about her latest release, Names Can Never Hurt Me. She has also brought along a great excerpt, as well as a fabulous giveaway! Please join me in giving Wade a big welcome!
Why this title, why this book?
I was originally inspired to write this book by a video I watched on YouTube for Ryan Amador’s song, “Define Me.” The beginning lines say, “Define me, with all your words…” and the opening of the video shows Ryan and Jo Lampert fully clothed with words on their palms. As it progresses, they remove their clothes and each of their bodies is covered in derogatory slurs. If you haven’t seen the video it is on my website. It is very powerful.
From watching the video, besides the crying I did, I thought about how words hurt. So, I started Names Can Never Hurt Me as a way of talking about that aspect of bullying and the impact it can have on another human being. As we have heard the saying before, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” The irony is that the reverse is sometimes truer than being smacked across the face, and the wounds go deeper without being seen.
One of my goals as a writer is to make people think. So, Names Can Never Hurt Me is an attempt to get readers to consider their words and the impact they can have.
Now of course, this is a Wade Kelly Novel. My brain doesn’t work like most people and I am not trying to jump up on a soapbox and deliver a speech. The theme is woven into a romance. So I hope you will sit back and enjoy the story and perhaps consider those in your life who have been verbally abused.
My characters undergo this to some degree. RC describes his life to Nick as they get to know each other and Nick realizes his own failures to rise above bullying. He confesses at one point, “But back in high school, I was the guy who laughed as someone else [bullied someone]. I’m sorry. Not only for you, but also for all those I didn’t step in to defend. I’m just as guilty for letting it happen.” Bullying can be an active thing, but it can also result from others’ passivity. Just food for thought.
The excerpt I chose for this first stop in my “BLOG TOUR” is a short one where RC is talking to Nick about being called “names.” The two are at a Reptile Show.
RC purchased his snake, and we walked away.
I grumbled to RC, “He seemed rude.”
“Charlie? He’s cool. I met him years ago. He liked my flag tattoo and told me he was surprised to find a queer guy who liked snakes. I told him I’m just a guy. We got talking, and he said I’m the first homosexual he’d ever met at a show. Now it’s like a joke between us. He calls me queer, and sometimes I call him a redneck.”
“Doesn’t it bother you, being called queer?” I certainly didn’t like the sound of it.
“Personally, I don’t think so. I like the term queer, but I know others who disagree. I think it’s a personal thing. I’ve never liked to be lumped in with all the rest. I prefer to be left alone.
“Shakespeare said, ‘What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ The paradox is that although names or labels shouldn’t matter one way or another, they do because our emotions attach stigmas to the labels. I may be the same person on the inside no matter what you call me, but being called a faggot while I’m curled in a fetal position trying to protect my vital organs because some asshole thinks it’s funny to kick the queer kid has a habit of changing a person. Me and every other kid who has gone through it. Names hurt because they yank away the threads of self-esteem that hold each person together. When someone is out of self-esteem, pride, or dignity, that person is bound to do anything just to get to the next day. Some sell themselves into prostitution or get lost in drugs. I knew someone who answered a personal ad and moved to California to live with a guy he’d never met. I haven’t heard from him since. He could be happy, or he could be dead. I don’t know. It might sound preposterous, but shit like that happens. People are just so caught up in their world of pain versus addiction that anything can and does happen.”
RC had a point.
I had never thought about it so deeply before. I’d been avoiding the terminology because being called gay bothered me, but I wasn’t sure why. I wanted to avoid the difficulties associated with being in that specific minority because I saw it as a detriment or a stigma. I hadn’t wanted to get marginalized for it. I was a white male born into some level of comfort. I had a job, but I lived at home with my parents. I came and went as I pleased, and dated whomever I wanted. I feared how much that would change. If I was gay or queer, would my life on Easy Street disappear? I liked Easy Street.
What if sexuality wasn’t a definable thing and labels merely got in the way?
Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led to much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care.
When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. Overweight, always sweaty, gay, and hairy like a bear; RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “scruffy dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head.
Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself. If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything.
Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it is not easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. She writes passionately about the controversial issues witnessed in real life and strives to make a difference by making people think. Wade does not have a background in writing or philosophy, but still draws from personal experience to ponder contentious subjects on paper. When not writing, she is thinking about writing, and more than likely scribbling ideas on sticky notes in the car while playing “taxi driver” for her three children. She likes snakes, and has a tegu (lizard) living in her bathroom.
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Wade has brought along a signed copy of Names Can Never Hurt Me or one of her backlist books to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, August 8th at 11:59 pm EST.
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