Today I am so pleased to welcome J.R. Gray to Joyfully Jay. Gray has come to talk to us about his latest release, Forsaken. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Gray a big welcome!
When I started writing Forsaken I knew I was going to have to come from deep inside my past to get the story right, and this book has been in my mind for two years. I delayed writing it for a long time, because it isn’t an easy place to go back to or an easy story to tell. I don’t often talk about my childhood and when I do I get a lot of wide eyed stares and looks of disbelief. Like I must be exaggerating. Once I realized how non typical my upbringing was I stopped talking about it. The friends I was allowed to have mostly understood as they were from the same group, and it was just this thing. Once I branched out into sports outside of the tight knit group I was raised in I was the homeschooled kid, but since I was fairly good at sports other kids didn’t ask too many questions. And no one knew I was living this double life.
By the time I realized gay and butch were more than insults (I had no idea they had a context and a meaning past their insult form) I’d seen a kid from our group disowned and kicked out of his family for having a relationship with a man. He was gay, and suddenly I knew what the word meant, and I had to keep what I was a secret. Because not only was I attracted to more than one gender, I knew I wasn’t my gender, and if attraction was this hated what would they think of me?
I spent many years thinking I was the only person like me, and I internalized a lot of feelings of wrongness, which made me try and hide what I was even more. I thought if I pretended long enough maybe it would go away.
This is one of the reasons writing own voice stories is so important to me. Own voice is such a particular thing. It’s important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also purely based on human experience and perspective. There are three versions to every story, sometimes more, and there are no two life experiences that are the same. Even growing up in the same household my sister and I could not be more different. She sees our upbringing as the ‘right’ way to do things, and is living her life very much in the same aspects whereas I found it more like a cage. And for a straight cis, white person I’m sure it was a picturesque middle class America upbringing. We had food on the table, and married parents, which is a lot more than a lot of people get in America. But beneath the white picket fence there was ingrained racism, and sexism, and worse for me a toxic hatred of queer people. Men had to be men, and women had to be subservient in dresses with their heads down.
This is the reason I am so passionate about own voice. I don’t expect to reach everyone, and my stories are for escape and pleasure, this is why we read and write but I want kids like me and Titus to see themselves in books, and see happily ever afters as well as successful and happy out people. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and the world is getting more out and more tolerant.
Titus has lived and breathed religion his entire life, tucked away from the rest of the world in a compound in northern Wyoming. He’s destined to be the next leader of the church, deemed so by the Prophet.
God spoke and with His word He created. But God made a mistake. Titus isn’t worthy. He was born sick and it’s solidified when he rescues the most beautiful man he’s ever seen.
Torn between fidelity to his faith or his soul, Titus must reconcile the two parts of himself before he’s discovered hiding among the chosen.
When not staying up all night writing, J.R. Gray can be found at the gym where it’s half assumed he is a permanent resident to fulfill his self-inflicted masochism. A dominant and a pilot, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. He frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns and conversations, to jot down notes or plot bunnies. Commas are the bane of his existence even though it’s been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder. If Gray wasn’t writing…well, that’s not possible. The buildup of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave, insanity or both. The idea of haunting has always appealed to him. J.R. Gray is genderqueer and prefers he/him pronouns.
Gray has brought two copies of Forsaken to give away along his tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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