Today I am so pleased to welcome Sara Dobie Bauer to Joyfully Jay. Sara has come to talk to us about her latest release, We Still Live. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Isaac Twain and the Art of Observation by Sara Dobie Bauer
As a writer, I observe a lot. I’m particularly fond of hiding in corners at parties. Not, like, in a creepy serial killer way. I just like sitting back and watching people converse. I like studying their quirks, hearing the variations of laughter. I like guessing who wants to go home and who wants to party all night.
I observe everywhere, though, not just at parties: at coffee shops, the grocery store, the airport (prime pickings), and people just walking past my house.
When I write, I’m observing, too. The only difference is I’m observing a world in my imagination, but that doesn’t mean it lacks detail. To write a scene successfully, I first have to picture it. I visualize a scene as though I’m watching a film but go a step further.
I see what the room looks like: messy/clean, dark/light.
I see the characters. What are they wearing? What are their expressions?
I see them walking around or maybe sitting or maybe having a drink.
When I say I go a step further, I wonder what the room smells like. What’s the temperature? How does this place feel?
I observe a fictional world in my head. I am always outside, never in. The characters don’t know I’m there. I’m a ghost floating on the ceiling.
In We Still Live, Professor Isaac Twain is a new hire at Hambden University. He arrives in the wake of a tragic shooting on College Green the spring before. Around him, he sees the altar remembering those dead. He sees the mournful expressions. He even feels the melancholy that floats like fog over the morning grass.
Like me, Isaac is an observer. He wasn’t present for the shooting; he was not personally affected, and that makes him other.
I’ve received some guff from people who want to read We Still Live from John’s perspective. Professor John Conlon was there for the shooting. In fact, he stepped in front of the gun to stop additional bloodshed. I love John, I do, but I didn’t want to tell this story through his eyes. I intentionally chose an outsider as my observer.
You see, Isaac is all of us.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been emotionally affected by the mass shootings that are becoming so commonplace. I have not been personally involved in any of them, but I’ve watched the news and know how shootings make me feel: sad, scared, broken, and angry.
In order to tell this story, to make it totally relatable, Isaac’s voice guides us through. He can’t understand what it was like to experience that horrible day on College Green, but he watches the aftermath unfold, feeling helpless, especially as he watches the man he loves fall to pieces. We can all understand this frustration, often feeling powerless to stop the terrors of our world.
Isaac is the observer.
We are the observers.
We study the world around us and try to make sense of what we see. We watch people and try to learn who they are—and what they really want. We view the world through our own filters of belief, and many of us digest that information and then express it on the page.
Are you more Isaac or John—the observer or the observed? If you are moving too quickly to notice the world around you, I suggest you slow down. There’s just so much to see.
Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.
When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.
Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.
***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.***
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series and Escape Trilogy.