Today I am so pleased to welcome Killian B. Brewer to Joyfully Jay. Killian has come to talk to us about his latest release, Lunch With the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Killian a big welcome!
Writing a Grown-Up Gay in the South
When I began writing Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette, I knew I wanted it to be set in the southern United States. I was following that old chestnut of “write what you know.” I have lived in Georgia for my entire life, so the settings, character types, and style of speech are all second nature to me. I knew I could create a world for my main character to live in that rang true and populate it with familiar people. But I also wanted to write something that looked at life for LGBTQ people in the South. I figured I had a pretty good background to draw on because I was gay all of my life as well.
Most of the LGBTQ Southern writing that I have read (which I must admit is limited) has dealt with what life is like growing up gay and coming out in the conservative bible belt. Very few books look at what life is like for the LGBTQ community after all that growing up and coming out is done. So I decided to explore what life might be like for a young man who is just trying to live an honest and fulfilling life as a gay southerner. I wanted his sexuality to be an important aspect of the character’s search for happiness instead of the main focus of the novel.
Also, I knew I wanted to take him out of an urban area, like Atlanta, and plop him down in the middle of small town South Georgia. While the big cities still have much work to do in acceptance of LGBTQ people, there is even more work to be done in the rural areas, where exposure to difference is confined for most to movies, television and news coverage. For my main character, Marcus Sumter, a big city life would make finding like-minded peers easier. Marcus would be much more of a fish out of water in a small town and face more of a challenge finding what he wants. I was interested in how Marcus could maneuver when he isn’t trying to fit into a gay community but rather trying to fit his gayness into a small, conservative community. Of course, I knew I wanted him to have a happy ending, because I always want to write stories of LGBTQ people finding the happiness, family and love we deserve. The challenge for Marcus would be finding these things in a small town where he least expects it to exist. I wanted to show that the part of the South that has surprised me with its openness and acceptance.
While I tried to stay as true as I could to the world I live in, I must admit I had to bend reality a little. Though I do think Southerners in general are becoming much more accepting of LGBTQ people, I am not sure it would be quite as easy as Marcus has it. I had to make the town of Marathon a bit idyllic. Though I didn’t take the fantasy as far as I did in my fairy tale novel, The Rules of Ever After, I did create fairy-godmothers in the titular Do-Nothings. These busybody older ladies take great interest, effort and delight in helping Marcus in his search for happiness. His sexuality just changes their matchmaking schemes and choice of possible love interests. There is some fantasy there, but I will only say that I was following another piece of writing advice—Write the world you know but also the world you want to see. I hope that generations of mothers, grandmothers, aunts and family friends learning to love one specific gay person can open their hearts to loving all of us.
“God, I have never been so humiliated in my life,” Marcus shouted as he flopped onto a stool at the counter and buried his face in his hands.
“Well, imagine how I feel!” Helen said as she crossed her arms and pouted. “I have a reputation in this town that you have seriously damaged. That was just rude to run everyone off.”
“Really, Helen? You want to make this about you? For god’s sake, I felt like I was being auctioned off tonight! What in the hell were you women thinking?”
“Shoe Button,” Francine said, “we just wanted to introduce you to some people you might have something in common with to make your life here a little more enjoyable.”
“How many times do I have to tell you this? I’m not going to have a life here! As soon as I get all of this settled I am moving on. Okay? There is nothing for me in this little podunk town.”
“Well, there is no need to insult our town, darling.” Inez placed her hand on her chest in offense.
“Not the point, Inez. I just don’t want you meddling in my personal life. Did those men all know why you brought them here?”
“Well, Martin knew,” Inez said and stared at her shoes. “He’s a really nice man, Marcus. Couldn’t you at least try—”
“Inez, Martin Prescott is old enough to be his grandfather.” Helen clucked her tongue and shook her head. “And that comb-over. I mean, honestly.”
“Well, he is better than Golly Dorney. That man is just a b-i-t-c-you know what.”
“Inez, you take that back. Golly is a perfectly nice—”
“Oh, Helen, give it up. She’s just mad that Marcus clearly preferred my choice of Mickey.” Francine looked over at the frowning Inez. “Inez, don’t frown. You’ll get more wrinkles. Smile! It will improve your face value.”
“Francine, shut up! It will improve your life expectancy.”
“Girls, girls!” Helen pleaded as she stepped between Inez and Francine.
“Inez,” Francine said and walked away from the other women, “there is no need to get ugly about this. If anyone should be mad it’s me. I didn’t get to introduce him to half of my choices.”
“Yes, Francine, what was the deal with that?” Inez’s eyes flashed as she spun to face the other woman. “We agreed we would each bring one suitable person for Marcus to meet. Why in the heck did you bring ten? And most of them were straight. Those Dobbins boys both run around with Paulette all the time.”
“Well, what do I know from gay? I’ve always heard that one in ten men is gay so I figured if I just brought ten single men, then by the law of averages—”
“Ladies!” Marcus yelled to silence the bickering women. “This is all beside the point! I don’t want you trying to set me up with anyone okay? I mean, what made you think you had the right to go behind my back and do that?”
“As I said,” Helen said meekly, “we were just trying to help. I didn’t expect you to pitch a fit and fall in it.”
“Help? I don’t need your help. I’m fine on my own!”
“Helen, tell him the truth.” Francine backed away from the group and sat at a table.
“Now is not the time.”
“Yes, it is. Just tell him,” Francine encouraged.
“Tell me what?”
When Marcus Sumter, a short order cook with dreams of being a chef, inherits a house in small town Marathon, Georgia, he leaves his big city life behind. Marcus intends to sell the house to finance his dreams, but a group of lovable busybodies, the Do-Nothings, a new job at the local diner, the Tammy Dinette, and a handsome mechanic named Hank cause Marcus to rethink his plans. Will he return to the life he knew, or will he finally put down roots?
Killian B. Brewer lives in his life-long home of Georgia with his partner and their dog. He has written poetry and short fiction since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Brewer earned a BA in English and does not use this degree in his job in the banking industry. He has a love of greasy diner food that borders on obsessive. Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette is his second novel. His first novel, The Rules of Ever After, is available from Duet Books, an imprint of Interlude Press.
Killian has brought five copies of Lunch wit the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette, plus a $25 Interlude Press store gift card to give away to reader on his tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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