Today I am so pleased to welcome Bryan T. Clark to Joyfully Jay. Bryan has come to talk to us about his latest release, Come to the Oaks. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Bryan a big welcome!
One day I was having lunch with a long-time colleague of mine when the question of my story inspiration came up. My colleague had just finished reading Come to the Oaks, and was full of questions about the book. It was funny, because in that moment, I didn’t have a clue where the idea of the story came from.
I thought about it for several days. It kind of rattled me that I couldn’t recall where the idea came from. I think, in some way, I buried it. I had actually written the initial story in 2012, and it took all of about thirty days to write. At that time, it was just over one hundred pages. I shelved it after that because I wasn’t sure what people would think of it. I should also say that at the time that I wrote it, I had no dreams of ever publishing it as a book for the entire world to see. It was just a story.
When I wrote the initial story, I was in a dark place in my own life. I was questioning humanity’s ability to be compassionate to others. I use to think that, as humans we were inherently bad, able to screw someone over for our own self-gratification.
I think I had lost my way, the person who I was, the person who I wanted to be. I was in panic mode, in my head I was crazy. Come to the Oaks is a story about just that, a lost soul. It takes place in 1845 in Antebellum America. The main character, Benjamin Nathaniel Lee, heir to Oak Grove Plantation, has just purchased his first slave. He bids on Mamadou Masamba not because he wishes to perpetuate his father’s plantation legacy, but because the African, soon to be known as the slave “Tobias,” is the most beautiful man he has ever seen. It is a time of racial conflict, and a time where forbidden love has to remain a secret, but Ben is determined to win Tobias’s heart and in turn liberate himself from the moral bondage imposed upon him by plantation life.
I spent countless hours researching slavery and American culture in the late 1800’s. As a country, we were in bad shape, a nation deeply divided and on the brink of a civil war. In 2015, for the development of the book, my family and I took a trip to Louisiana. As part of the trip we made arrangements to stay on a plantation. One night, my husband and I left our room with a bottle of wine and walked down to the slave quarters. We sat on the stoop of one of the cabins and in silence, and we just listened and felt the spirits come alive. It was surreal for me, a moment I will never forget. It’s sad if you look at the current affairs today, and how divisive we are as a nation. One can see how history repeats itself when you’re foolish about the very history of this country.
In the book, Ben is a quiet soul, a person on the right side of humanity, but weak in his conviction. It took something as extraordinary as love to push him to do the right thing. I think there is a little bit of Ben in all of us. I believe both Ben and Tobias are pieces of me, who I am, and who I’ve been in the past as a person. Even though the book is fiction, there is a tiny bit of truth in it.
I remember clearly, when I was writing the initial story how fast and natural the characters were developed. I couldn’t write the story as fast as Ben and Tobias were revealing who they were. It was illusory. I remember once thinking that they were real, two souls that were communicating to me so their story could be told. I don’t know if this is my best work out of the three novels that I’ve published, but I can say that it changed me. As Ben developed a sense of who he was, and what he was capable of, I did as well.
Today, I believe our life is a journey; a story that is unfolding right before our own eyes. I now know that things in life don’t always have to make sense, because that part of our story has not come to pass. Patience, and one day it will all make sense.
When you read Come to the Oaks, remember it’s a story about love, not just of finding love, but understanding to accept and love who you are, and the value of who you are as a person. Only through a book, can someone be carried to another place and time, and experience something as illustrious as the imagination.
In 1845, as America is drowning in its own racial conflict, in a time when forbidden love has to remain a secret, can two young men find love when one has everything to lose, and the other has nothing?
For Tobias, a young African man, life has ended before it began. Snatched abruptly from his homeland and enslaved into the Antebellum South, grand homes and majestic oak trees meant little to him. Now he is considered the property of other men, but his spirit would not be broken.
The awkward Benjamin Nathanael Lee lives a privileged life. His father owns the largest tobacco plantation south of the Mason Dixon line. Ben wants little to do with the harsh realities of running a plantation—that is, until he meets Tobias, the one person that changes everything for him.
Wealth, greed, and power brought them together. The same now threatens to separate them forever. The two men are on the verge of losing the one thing that matters: their love for one another. Against the odds, they steal off and embark on a journey to find freedom: the freedom to love one another and to live a life without the chains of slavery.
Come to the Oaks is the tale of a forbidden romance—a love forged by two young men as they journey through a land that is tearing itself apart.
Bryan Thomas Clark is a boisterous extrovert who is a proud member of the GLBT community. After twenty-seven years in law enforcement, he retired in 2015. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bryan now lives in the Central Valley of California with his husband of thirty-one years. Behind his keyboard working on his next novel, Bryan writes gay fiction with an emphasis on a moral dilemmas and M/M romance. On the rare occasions he isn’t writing, Bryan enjoys traveling, following his husband around the state of California to various equestrian competitions, laying by a body of water soaking up the sun, and watching a good movie while snuggled up with his husband on the couch.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- By entering you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out by Rafflecopter for entries.
- 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.
- Void where prohibited by law.