Today I am so pleased to welcome Ralph Josiah Bardsley to Joyfully Jay. He has come to share some questions and answers about his release, Brothers and brought along a giveaway as well! Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
The Role of Family in Gay Fiction, and Why I Wrote Brothers
Hi Jay – Thanks for having me on Joyfully Jay. My name is Ralph Josiah Bardsley and I am the author of Brothers, reviewed here on Joyfully Jay in December.
Why did you write Brothers?
I wrote Brothers because I wanted to tell a slightly different kind of love story – a holistic one that encompasses family, friends and straight allies.
The book follows the story of two sets of Irish-American brothers – the Corks and the Malloys. Family is central to the plot, and while there is a romance that develops between Jamus Cork and Sean Malloy, the story is more about how the family dynamics of the Corks and the Malloys shape that romance.
Why was it important to you to focus so much on family in this story?
Relationships never happen in a vacuum. In real life, they are always shaped by the forces around us – and those forces are primarily work and family… and mostly family. I wanted to tell a positive story about the power of having your family on your side. One of the things I love most about contemporary gay literature is the evolution of family. If you read gay lit from the mid-late 20th century on back, family (if it’s portrayed at all) is often a devastating element of the book. In everything from Mary Renault’s Charioteer to James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, to Gore Vidal’s City and the Pillar, family is overbearing, negative and a source of extreme anxiety for the gay characters and even the reader. With newer gay lit – from Rainbow Boys to Something Like Summer, you start to see positive, accepting portrayals of parents, siblings and other family. It’s one of the most exciting ways the genre has evolved.
Does this story reflect your own life?
Yes and no. It is not autobiographical. The characters are all fictitious, as is the plot. But it does reflect the feeling of acceptance I had from my family and the deep bond my brother and I have.
I was very lucky; my family – my entire, very large, half-Irish family – has always been extremely accepting, loving and supporting of me. I think it makes a big difference when you have that.
The book reflects an Irish-Catholic perspective on family, but not in the way many people might expect. There are a lot of books about Irish Catholics that focus on the restrictive nature of the religion or the rejection of gay people because of Catholic values, but my experience was very different from that and I wanted to show that in Brothers. In Irish-American families, the most important thing in life is the family. You’re raised to understand that taking care of your brothers or sisters is the most important thing you’ll do until you’re married… or whatever alternative you choose to that.
What about the heat? Where is the romance in the book?
Heat is important – that’s for sure. The romance in Brothers happens between Jamus Cork and Sean Malloy. It takes time for those two characters to meet and for the relationship to blossom – both characters are busy dealing with challenges in their own lives. As they resolve those issues and grow as characters themselves, they begin to fall in love. I would describe the intimate scenes between those two characters as tender.
Who should read this book?
Anyone looking for a good story, a family saga or a different sort of coming out tale. It is a combination of all three and hopefully just an entertaining book overall.
At twenty-three, Jamus Cork’s plans are simplegraduate college, stay in New York City, and write. But those plans change when his parents are suddenly killed and he finds himself the guardian of his little brother, Nick. Jamus ends up back in the Boston neighborhood where he grew up, with a crying toddler on his knee and the challenge of building a new life for himself and the boy. Jamus somehow finds a way to navigate the ups and downs of single parenting, but over a decade of raising Nick, Jamus never truly overcomes his struggles with loneliness and the guilt he feels as the sole survivor of the crash that killed his parents. That changes when he meets bookishly handsome Sean Malloy. There’s a spark between the two men, but both must face down their own private demons to find love in the Irish enclave of South Boston.
Photo credit: Sam Bardsley
Born into an Irish American family in a small town outside of Boston, Ralph Josiah grew up as a Coast Guard brat, wandering around helicopter hangers in New Orleans, Cape Cod, coastal North Carolina, and Sitka, Alaska. He currently resides in San Francisco and Boston with his husband and partner of more than fourteen years, Dana Short.
Ralph Josiah holds a bachelor’s degree from Greensboro College and a master’s in communication from Emerson College. He has a passion for good books, exciting travel, and long runs—where he happens to do most of his thinking. He is inspired by things that are different and believes that grace happens when and where we least expect it. His first novel,Brothers, is due out in the fall of 2015.
Ralph Josiah has brought a signed copy of Brothers to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, March 8th at 11:59 pm EST.
- 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.
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- 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.
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Thank you for sharing some background on your book Brothers. I have had this book on my TBR list for awhile, I’d love to win a copy. Thanks for the chance at your giveaway.
Brothers sounds like a great story. Thanks so much for sharing more about the book and about family in general. And thank you for the giveaway.
The book sounds great!
I have read good things about the book, and it is on my TBR list. Thanks for the chance.
I have read this book and it is spectacular – I still carry the characters with me and have recommended this book to many people, it is so much more that I expected and was simply a joy to read, I couldn’t put it down. I really hope that there is a sequel, I would love to follow these characters more, I miss them.
Thank you for the interview. It sounds like a great read.
Wonderful reviews. Josh’s comment makes me want to read it more than ever. 🙂
Family is very important in everyone’s lives. Should make for good reading.
The slow-burning romance sounds lovely!
Please count me in. Thx
I haven’t read any book by Josiah yet. Thank you for the chance.
This book sounds great! Thank you for the giveaway.
Thanks for all the great comments everyone! I had a lot of fun with this interview and feel strongly about creating stories/characters with a positive take on family.
I treasure my relationship with my sister and parents, and I love reading stories that have a big focus on family. Brothers sounds like it’s a great story.
Brothers is a great read! If you haven’t read it yet, do so, it wont disappoint. The reader is sure to find a common thread in the lives of the Boston families and their own. The universal bonds of family make for interesting story and the characters lives and loves feel real and easy to get lost in. When is the authors next book coming out?
Ralph’s webpage says his next book The Photographers Truth is coming out this summer – I can’t wait to read it, but it doesn’t appear to be a sequel to Brother’s.
Just a quick note of congratulations – I see that Brothers has just been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award! That is wonderfully exciting!
WOW, congratulations Ralph, I can certainly understand why, amazing writing. Best of luck to you!
Absolutely loved Brothers! And absolutely love my very first nephew!
Ralph Josiah Bardsley’s debut novel Brothers is a finalist for the following awards:
Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance
Saints and Sinners Literary Festival for Best Emerging Author
IndieFab for Best Book of the Year!!!
Way to go…