Today I am so pleased to welcome Robert Winter to Joyfully Jay. Robert has come to talk to us about his latest release, Asylum. He has also brought along an excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Robert a big welcome!
Pride and Joy
Asylum is the second book in my Pride and Joy series. When I released September back in 2016, I wrote a guest post for Joyfully Jay about the meanings of pride in that novel. I’d like to revisit pride and joy in the context of Asylum.
Hernán is deeply in the closet when the story begins. He grew up in El Salvador, a country that has an unfortunate history of documented mistreatment of its LGBTQI citizens. You’ll understand more about Hernán’s difficulties when you encounter his backstory. He has a long way to go to admit what he feels and what he wants. By contrast, his cousin Rudy (who you met first in September) is flamboyantly out and proud. That example of someone living in the light instead of the shadows is so important to anyone struggling with sexual identity. Colin is also firmly out, though he is much more low-key about it than Rudy. He simply never saw a reason to hide, so he doesn’t think of it as any kind of statement of pride. For Hernán, though, it’s remarkable and inspiring that Colin is out to his family and his coworkers.
Another form of pride I address in Asylum is in heritage. Although Hernán faced many challenges growing up, he loves his country and most of the member of his family. He finds himself in the United States out of necessity, but he’s homesick for El Salvador. Colin, on the other hand, has decidedly mixed feelings about the way he grew up and the expectations that go with it. Sorting out the good and bad parts of his upbringing is definitely part of Colin’s journey.
A major theme for Hernán and Colin in Asylum has to do with taking pride in the accomplishments of the other. It’s an old but true saw, that the best relationships are those in which each person thinks he’s got the better deal because the other person is so amazing. When you feel that kind of pride in your partner, it’s hopefully an easy step to understand that if the person you respect so much has feelings for you, then you must also be sort of special. Both of my characters tend to be blind to their own strengths and accomplishments. What they see in each other, though, fills them with pride. How that respect changes them both is an important part of the story I wanted to tell.
The series is called Pride and Joy. Although I’m talking here mainly about the aspects of pride, the other half is equally important. There is angst in Asylum, of course, and some difficult trials for the characters to endure. The joy they find along the way – sometimes as simple as a hug, sometimes complex and profound — is the reward for their struggles. I hope you’ll give Asylum a read and share in that joy.
You can find out more about Asylum on my website by clicking here.
Exclusive Excerpt – from Chapter 5 of Asylum
As Colin walked back into the lobby of The Brass Key with his shopping bags, Rudy jumped up from a chair. The man behind the registration desk said, “Mr. Felton, this gentleman has been waiting for you.”
“Thanks, Ken.” To Rudy, Colin said, “I’m glad you came by. Let’s go talk in my room so I can drop off these bags.” He gestured with his head for Rudy to follow him up the stairs and through the corridors.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he said when they entered his room. He tossed his bags on the bed and then came over to the sitting area. Rudy fidgeted as he looked out the French doors to the courtyard of the guesthouse. He couldn’t seem to hold his hands still, one fluttering up to touch the drapes, the other alternating between his front and back pockets.
Colin sat down in a comfortable chair and waited. Rudy gnawed on his lower lip like a piece of chewing gum. Finally, he huffed, “I hope this is right.” He sank down into a chair next to Colin’s, both seats angled to look out the French doors.
Leaning forward, Colin met Rudy’s nervous gaze. “I won’t repeat anything you tell me. I want to help if I can. I’ve heard many stories of undocumented people being pressured into something terrible. I don’t want that to happen to you or to Hernán. That’s his name, right?”
Rudy sighed and crossed his legs, hands folded on his knee as he rocked slightly. “Okay. Hernán would think I’m crazy but I feel like I can trust you. This…it’s hard to talk about.”
<> Colin asked in that language, and smiled when Rudy’s mouth opened in an O of surprise. <<I’m pretty fluent. Maybe you’d be more comfortable.>>
Rudy gave a small grin but shook his head. “Thank you, but I try hard to stick to English. Other than a little bit of sexy talk, most of the men I meet don’t want to be reminded I’m not from the States.”
“Where are you from?” Colin asked to break the ice.
“We—both Nán and me—we’re originally from San Marcos, in El Salvador. My father got his green card a long time ago. He was able to bring my mother and me in about nine years ago. I’m here legally. But Nán’s father… He got in trouble, was deported, came back. He couldn’t get any kind of immigration permit. Something bad happened to Hernán last year, though, and he couldn’t wait anymore. He, you know…” Rudy swallowed hard. “He came across the border.”
Colin nodded. From his conversations with clients at the Immigration Initiative center, he knew a little about the journey people undertook when they were desperate to come to the United States. No one made that expensive and hazardous trek lightly.
“Can you tell me what happened to Hernán?” he asked.
Rudy shook his head. “He wouldn’t like that. He’s very private.”
“Okay. Tell me what I can do to help.”
Rudy collapsed back into his chair and waved his arms wide. He sounded close to tears. “I don’t know. Hernán shouldn’t have to do this. Go with Gerald, I mean. But Gerald can make things very bad for both of us.”
He fell silent and then brushed away a tear from his cheek. “I used to think I loved Gerald. Isn’t that pathetic? I was with him for more than two years and I really believed for a long time that it meant something to him. That I was more than his kept boy. Then he made me leave and he got lawyers involved and I was so embarrassed. I thought that was as low as he could go. But now… Now he’s trying to make my cousin go to bed with him. Hernán can’t do that.”
Can’t? To Colin, that seemed a curious word to use, but it was beside the immediate point. “Have you or Hernán talked to a lawyer about whether any immigration options are open to him?”
Rudy wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and shook his head. He mumbled, “We can’t afford it.”
“That’s where we need to start then. I know good lawyers who handle some matters like this pro bono, so you might be able to get help without paying. We need to get Hernán to tell someone his story. Since you’ve got a green card, maybe we can use that to have you sponsor him. Or another relative, if he has one in the States legally.” Colin sat back with a whoosh as he ran through options in his head. “What else could work? Maybe asylum.”
“What’s that?” Rudy asked.
“Asylum is a special path to get permission to stay in the U.S. for someone who’s likely to be persecuted in his or her home country because of religion or membership in a political group. Or certain social groups, for that matter, like being gay or transgendered.”
Rudy sat up straight. “You can stay here just for being gay?”
Colin shook his head. “It’s not quite that simple. You have to prove that you have a well-founded belief you’ve been targeted for harm specifically for your sexual orientation or identity, and that the circumstances in your home country are such that you couldn’t get protection anywhere.”
Rudy muttered, “El Salvador is terrible that way. My friend Linda was transgender. She was murdered in San Marcos and the police wouldn’t do anything even though they knew who did it. The man who killed her was in church the next week. Everyone knew and no one said anything.”
“That’s so sad. I’m sorry about your friend,” Colin said, leaning forward to meet Rudy’s eyes. After a respectful pause, he continued, “We’d have to study that avenue more. Is Hernán part of some group where he was being persecuted? Maybe a political group?”
Rudy turned red and rocked back and forth. “I can’t… He’ll be so mad at me.”
Colin tapped his fingers on the arm of his chair. “Can you get him to talk to me? Maybe if he trusts me, he’ll tell me. Or let you talk about it.”
Rudy jumped to his feet as he all but wailed, “He won’t come. I begged him.” He paced around the sitting room, stopping to look out at the courtyard. Finally he asked, “What if you come to the restaurant? At closing time. He’s usually done and ready to head home about eleven. That’s late, I know, but if you’re there and I get you two talking…”
Colin stood and put a hand on Rudy’s shoulder to calm him. “I’ll be in front of Veranda at eleven.”
Death threats drove him from his country. Can he ever find asylum from his past?
Hernán had family, college, and a future in El Salvador. Until a vicious gang targeted him as gay. Threatened with murder, he braved a nightmare journey toward a new life. Now, haunted by his trek, he hides from immigration trouble as well as his enemies. He prays to pass in Provincetown unnoticed.
But a handsome man with a secret like Hernán’s is vulnerable to predators.
Colin is in town for a wedding when he falls into the harbor. The man who rescues him is dark-haired, dark eyed and gorgeous. He’s also a target because of his immigration status. Colin owes a debt, and wants to repay it by helping his savior escape the monsters who would exploit him.
Hernán yearns to trust the kind man who offers him sanctuary. Will his demons destroy his chance at a future with Colin?
Robert Winter lives and writes in Provincetown. He is a recovering lawyer who prefers writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.
Social Media Links:
- Website: www.robertwinterauthor.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/robert.winter.921230
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/16068736.Robert_Winter
- Twitter: twitter.com/@RWinterAuthor
- Email: RobertWinterAuthor@comcast.net
Robert has brought a $25 Amazon gift card to give away along his tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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