Today I am so pleased to welcome Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn to Joyfully Jay. Leta and Indra have come to talk to us about their new release, Vespertine. She has also brought along…. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
But Wait! An Out Gay Priest? That Can’t Happen In Real Life! (Spoiler Alert: It Can and It Has!)
Vespertine, my newest book, co-written with Indra Vaughn, and out today at Amazon.com, is the story of Nicholas Blumfeld, known to the world as Nico Blue, rock star, and his former best friend, Jasper Hendricks, an out, gay, Catholic priest. The book examines the broken and strong places in these men, and how they deal with their call to love each other despite their commitments to their careers (and beliefs).
When we started working on this book, Indra and I both had a lot of research to do. I read up on rock stars and she read up on Catholic priests. What she found surprised us both: out, gay priests do exist (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/12/irish-priest-gay_n_6457808.html) and the Catholic Church isn’t turning their back on them (http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/04/17/3648333/catholic-priest-comes-gay-says-church-welcoming/).
The party line of the Church is that a priest must be celibate, and therefore, their sexuality isn’t an issue. Even the Pope has said, “Who am I to judge?”
This isn’t to say that discrimination doesn’t exist and that pressure to remain closeted isn’t high, but this information left plenty of room to freely imagine a character like Jasper: out, gay, and digging deep in the ministry of vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He’s a devout man, but with the mindset of a warrior priest, and I think he makes for an interesting twist on the typical priest-trope in a romance book.
Meanwhile, my research into the rock-n-roll lifestyle revealed that drugs seem to be part and parcel of the experience, and the character of Nicky wasn’t one to fight the current on that front. When we meet Nicky, he’s just off a tour that nearly killed him and his bandmates, and he’s desperate for a connection to something besides heroin. He decides to return to his hometown where he seeks out Jasper and confronts him about their past.
In the short excerpt below, we see where Nicky and Jasper begin again. With a start like this, how will they ever find their way together?
Jasper closed his eyes to breathe through it and let it go. Carefully, he brought himself back to the present moment before he stepped into the confessional. He settled and let the peace of the Lord fill him before he opened the sliding screen.
“Good morning,” he said softly, and brought his hand to his forehead. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.”
Beside him the stranger shifted and Jasper waited. He caught a woody, resinous scent that brought back memories of dark, long-forgotten nights on the island. His mind hadn’t played these kinds of cruel tricks on him in a long time, and his skin prickled with sweat. He tried to clear his head again.
The silence stretched on and Jasper’s heart fluttered in his chest as if this was his first confession and not one of thousands. He closed his eyes, unsettled, and grasped for peace of mind so he could grant this reticent stranger absolution in God’s name.
“Is this your first confession?”
There was no answer.
“I promise you don’t need to be ashamed or to feel shy. Through me God hears all penance.”
Mainly for sins that were mundane and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. He’d learned over the years that while he could offer God’s forgiveness, what people looked for was permission to forgive themselves.
“But we can pray silently if you’d like. God is here with us and He is patient.”
Jasper’s words went unanswered and so he sought the Lord’s help, praying as he waited, seeking the serenity he’d felt before he saw the man enter the confessional. He’d almost found what he was looking for when the man spoke, and Jasper’s eyes flew open.
“Bless me, Father,” Nicky said. “For I have sinned so much.”
Read advance reviews and find out more at Goodreads.
Can a priest and a rock star obey love’s call?
Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld’s childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper’s calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back.
Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He’s determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness.
As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started.
Jasper and Nicky’s careers have ruled their lives since they parted as teens. When they come face to face again, they must choose between the past’s lingering ghosts or the promise of a new future.
Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
You can find out more about her by following her online:
- On the web: http://letablake.wordpress.com/
- On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/letablake
- On Twitter: https://twitter.com/LetaBlake
In 2008 Indra Vaughn packed up everything but the kitchen sink… no, that’s a lie. She left everything behind apart from her books and moved from Belgium to Michigan. Then in 2015 she packed up nothing but a toddler and left far too many of her books behind to move from Michigan back to Belgium. Indra’s professional background is in Nursing and Chinese Medicine, but in the midst of the madness, she prefers to spend time making up stories about mysterious men and their unrequited love.
You can find out more about her by following her online:
- On the web: http://www.indravaughn.com
- On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/indra.vaughn.7
- On Twitter: https://twitter.com/VaughnIndra
Leta and Indra are offering a choice of backlist book from either author to give away to TWO lucky readers Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Monday, September 14th at 11:59 pm EST.
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