Today I am so pleased to welcome Brigham Vaughn to Joyfully Jay. Brigham has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Ghosts Between Us. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Five years ago, I had an image flash into my head. In it, a man stood next to a casket. In that casket was his brother. On the other side of it stood a handful of women, crying about his brother’s death. And then he realizes there’s a man there as well. A man who is equally upset about his brother’s death. After the funeral, he learns that this man and his supposedly straight brother were lovers.
It was a small kernel of an idea, but I had to get it on paper. I knew I wanted to tell that story. And that it would be good. But I also knew I wasn’t ready for it. So, I jotted down a few ideas and set it aside. I’d pull it out every so often and tweak it a little. Add another little section. Flesh out the characters a little more. Words—good words—appeared, but the story still felt too big for me.
It was beyond the scope of what I was ready for. It was too raw, to angsty, to challenging for my current skills. So, I worked on other stories. Learned to dig deep. Every so often I’d pull it out again and work a little more on it. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and I wanted to tell it so badly. But I knew the time wasn’t right.
I tentatively titled it “In Mourning” and put it away again. I went through this cycle for years. I sent pieces to several beta readers and had them offer suggestions. That helped. I almost always write in 3rd person past tense, but that didn’t feel right for this story. I tweaked it more. Tried several different combinations of tenses and perspectives and finally settled on 1st person past. It felt right. So, I wrote a little more.
I danced with this story. Several steps forward, several more back, and then pause. I wrote other stories, got my heart broken a few times. Grieved the loss of people I cared about. I grew. And this story unfolded a little further. This summer, I changed the name to “The Ghosts Between Us” and made a vow I’d release in the next year.
It wasn’t until this winter that I was ready for this story. I made a playlist that I listened to on repeat. I holed myself up in my room and sobbed as I poured my heart out onto the pages. In eleven days, I wrote the last forty thousand words and they were good. Really good. By the time I finished, I knew it was the best book I’d ever written.
I sent it off to a team of wonderful betas who picked it apart. It was uneven, of course. Rough in places. There were plot holes and inconsistencies, because that’s what happens when you write a book over the span of five years. It took time to stitch it together and smooth out the rough spots and polish it until it shone.
There’s nothing more terrifying than releasing a book into the wild. And a book like this? One that I tore my own heart out to write? It’s a whole new level of fear. But I’m proud of this book. I love these characters and I love this story and I know that this is a novel that will linger for a very long time in my head. And I’m excited to see what comes next for me.
Because while I know it’s the best book I’ve written to date, I have so many other stories waiting for me. Ones I’ll need to grow into as well. And I can’t wait to meet them.
“How did you meet Cal?” I asked quietly, the words slipping from my lips before I could stop them.
Elliot’s glance was wary and he chewed at his lip for a moment before he answered. “He modeled for me.”
I frowned. “You’re a photographer?”
“Artist. Ink and charcoal mostly. Some pastels.” I stared at him expectantly, wanting to know more and he sighed, finally sitting back in the booth, staring blankly across the table like he couldn’t bear to look me in the face. He played with the tips of his hair, wrapping it around the index finger. “Put up an ad for male, nude models. Cal showed up. Turns out he was a natural at it.”
“Hmm.” I drained the rest of my water, and shook my head when Cooper mimed re-filling my beer. My head was already swimming and I needed to lay off for a while or I was going to get sick. Dave was still touching me. His arm was draped along the top of the bench, his fingers accidentally brushing my back every so often as either of us shifted. I wanted him so bad I ached for it.
Having Elliot on my other side wasn’t helping either. My muddled head kept mixing up the signals, turning my attraction to Dave into an interest in Elliot. There was nothing about him that was my type. Too young, too slender, too … surly. Not to mention too much my brother’s lover. But his cheekbones were stunning and the eyes underneath the dark lashes were a stormy shade of gray. I didn’t want to notice those things, but I did. I couldn’t stop.
The press of his slim thigh against mine, the way his fingers toyed with the strands of his hair, they both drove me crazy. They made me want. I wanted to feel someone else’s skin against mine. To lose myself in the heated press of another man’s body and for one fucking night not be alone.
Dr. Christopher Allen knows how to deal with death. He’s a psychiatrist who works with hospice patients and their families, helping them cope with grief and letting go. But Chris’s job doesn’t prepare him for the sudden death of his devil-may-care brother Cal.
At Cal’s funeral, Chris is completely thrown when he meets Elliot Rawlings, an artist Cal has been dating. Chris is hurt to discover that the brother he knew as straight was actually bisexual. Elliot is angry and resentful of having been kept hidden from Cal’s family.
After the funeral, a night of drinking at the bar with Cal’s friends leads to Chris and Elliot falling into bed together. The next morning, they’re overwhelmed by guilt and grief and agree to never speak of it again.
But Cal’s apartment needs to be packed up and Elliot reluctantly agrees to help Chris, as well as answer some questions about Cal’s life and their relationship. Despite their guilt and initial dislike for one another, they sort through the pieces of Cal’s life and begin to fall for each other.
Despite his best efforts to fix things, Chris’s family seems to be crumbling around him and he begins to question who he is and what his role with them is. As his feelings for Elliot grow, Chris must decide if they’re worth further damaging his fragile relationships with his friends and family.
Elliot’s rough upbringing has left him distrustful of getting close to anyone, much less another man who isn’t willing to acknowledge him in public. The odds seem stacked against Chris and Elliot, but if they can overcome them, they may be able to lay Cal’s ghost to rest, along with their own demons.
Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.
Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.
Brigham has brought a $20 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky reader on her tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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