Today I am so pleased to welcome Derek Fairbanks to Joyfully Jay. Derek has come to talk to us about Drawn Out Love! Derek has also brought along an exclusive excerpt Please join me in giving a big welcome!
Hey, there, lovers of men and gay male romance stories, friends and allies of all descriptions! My name is Derek Fairbanks, and I’ve written up a little gay romance novella called DRAWN OUT LOVE! Yeah, yeah, I know. There’s already a bajillion gay romance books out there. Why would anything from this dude be any different, you may be asking.
We’ll get to that. First a little bit about my particular story. See, there’s this science fiction author, Brody Rohan. He’s a guy who pretty much runs off his passions. Whether it’s writing or emotions, Brody’s either all in or not at all. Not that he just falls into bed with dudes willy-nilly. Quite the opposite, actually. He’s old-fashioned by today’s standards. He’s been single a long time and he would rather wait on physical pleasures until there’s love involved. I know, novel, right?
Speaking of novels, Brody’s got a new one. But he needs a damn cover. And his usual artist done found himself a husband and moved to Australia. That’s where Keith Kirby comes in. Brody connects with Keith over Facebook and they build up a nice rapport, professionally at first. Keith does up Brody’s cover, but after the final image is sent, they discover they have a few things in common, including the fact they’re both gay. And Brody is not unmindful of Keith’s handsome face. So Brody’s a bit nervous when he and Keith decide to meet just to hang out.
Well, Brody is mega intrigued by Keith but can’t quite get a bead on the dude. Brody knows he could just walk away at the end of the night and say nothing. But he takes a chance and tells Keith he thinks he’s adorable. And then the sparks fly. Great start! But Brody has to keep himself from coming on like a Mack truck like he usually does. And Keith turns out to be good at building walls. It isn’t long before Keith friend zones Brody and Brody is left to lick his wounds. So much for that, right? But then our boys run into each other at a comic con. Is there even a chance for these two at this point? And if there is, can they just freakin’ get out of their own way and allow themselves the possibility of romance before they screw it up for all time?
Yeah, so that’s DRAWN OUT LOVE! I’m pretty proud of it. And really – who can’t relate to finding someone who really seems right only to take missteps and fumble your way through the whole thing? That was one thing I wanted to establish right away. Too often in romance stories, soaps, what-have-you, it’s a third party who comes between potential partners. No interlopers in this story. Brody and Keith don’t need any. They do perfectly well making a mess without anyone else coming along.
And before you ask, no, there aren’t pages and pages of gratuitous sex. I know that’s kind of a thing in gay love stories now. That’s fine, y’all do you. I just didn’t find it necessary to do literal blow-by-blows and detail what body part goes in what orifice. Whatever happened to slow builds, to romance, to seduction, to getting to know someone before hopping into bed? That’s my jam, or at least something I’ve aspired to. So Keith and Brody were going to be a reflection of that. Turns out, it’s just part of what makes DRAWN OUT LOVE! stand out from so many of its contemporaries. Its PG rating. Remember PG? No NC-17 or X here. Sorry. Not sorry.
So, something else you may be wondering is, is there any of me, Derek Fairbanks, in this story. Well, yeah. They do say write what you know, don’t they? I actually was sweet on this one dude who ended up ghosting me twice – once when he said he just wanted to be friends and a second time when he flaked out on said promised friendship. His loss – he coulda had all this! I wasn’t heartbroken, but heartbruised for sure; it wasn’t going anywhere and I needed to do something about it. So I made that that experience the basis of this story and then changed the ending. Kind of a visualization tool, if you will – not for that guy but as a future template for how I’d like things to go with whoever this dude is I haven’t met yet.
I guarantee, if you have a heart, you’ll fall in love with Brody and Keith as they struggle to let themselves fall in love with each other. There’s this one author James Lovejoy – he won a Lambda Literary Award for his book “Joseph Chapman: My Molly Life” (which I read, by the way; it’s awesome). He called DOL! “entertaining, witty, and sweet.” That made me happy. Sweet is what I was going for. Mark Brill, a renowned fantasy artist, also used that word and picked up on the vibe, saying “there’s a lot of love in the narrative! It makes you feel romantic and a little jealous about not being Brody or Keith.”
Damon Suede’s put out a slew of MM romance, and he defines DOL!’s as “slow-burn.” He found my guys “hot nerds stronger for their baggage…two industry pros in their prime [stumbling] toward a real relationship.” Finally, Zan Christensen, who runs Northwest Press, which publishes a bunch of LGBTQ-themed comics, deemed DOL! “a romance of a more classic variety…a story where the simple, brave act of taking someone’s hand can hold the promise of a happy future.”
These fellas get it. I hope you will, too, and that you’ll give DRAWN OUT LOVE! a try. Like looking to find love in the real world, nothing’s gonna happen until you put yourself out there. Find out if Brody and Keith can pull it off in both print and ebook at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084TH2SZD. And enjoy this exclusive excerpt of DOL!, right here at Joyfully Jay. I thank Jay and I thank you. Peace out and stay safe!
There was a movie quality to the way he was backlit by the setting sun when he opened the door, the way it made him more silhouette than man. But no, he was real – which he didn’t know he was proving by greeting me enthusiastically and pulling me into a hug right away. If that didn’t help tamp down my nervousness, the ultimate effortlessness of our conversation certainly did. Here I thought there would be these uncomfortable silences punctuating some strained chit-chat about our respective industries. Yet as he sat on the bed (which I admit put a few more salacious thoughts in my head), and I in the chair beside him, we quickly bypassed such formality and started getting into some real nitty-gritties.
It was one thing to find ourselves on the same side where the state of our country was concerned, but then we started talking about our past relationships. Dipping my toe in the water, I even made a joke about “the drought”. And I found out he had grown children from his nine-year marriage to a woman. The way we so easily lighted on deeper topics, it was hard to believe this was a fellow I’d only met an hour or so before. He felt like too much of a kindred spirit for that.
It got dark during our confab, making us realize dinner would not be entirely inappropriate. So we Googled some local restaurants and headed down to the one we picked out. On the way, Keith said that it seemed like most gay men simply wanted to have open relationships. And he said it as a lament, not like he was preaching the gospel of them. Look, I’ve come far enough to acknowledge that if two guys want an open sitch, and it makes them both happy, who am I to criticize. I’ve just learned the hard way that it isn’t for me. See, I had come out of a twelve- year open relationship, but I’d gone into that aspect of it kicking and screaming. My ex didn’t want to commit to me sexually and I didn’t want to lose him. So I agreed. And I rather boldly told Keith I would rather be alone than go through that again. I just got the feeling Keith himself believed in monogamy, and I couldn’t help it – I liked him even more for it.
At dinner, we skated the surface by talking about how he’d settled in Bozeman, Montana and delving into the actual existence of life on other planets, then just as easily got down into the valleys of the ultimate ish. I studied Keith’s face as he spoke, laughed, ate. At one point this wave came over me. It felt like we were on a first date. The sensation was so strong it was hard to restrain. But we were not on a date, first or fiftieth, and I forced myself to push it down. I was so mixed up! I couldn’t decide if I was just having a nice conversation with a like-minded someone…or if there was something else going on. And my hormones were fully short-circuiting.
I took him back to his hotel. I excused myself to the Mother Nature room, but it was just as much to grab a private moment and make some sort of choice as anything else. I wanted him. I wanted Keith. But our four-hour beyond-casual talk had made casual sex even more of an impossibility for me. Hell, who was I kidding – I’d rarely had casual sex, for all the reasons I told you about. Couldn’t go through with it then, and I couldn’t go through with it now. So what was there to do? I had to go out there, shake his hand, be on my way and keep following him on social media. There was no point to anything else.
I reappeared, and he looked up from his phone. Damn it. Here was this man who so far was a better match than anyone I could have found locally on a dating app, especially the ones chock full of “straight” married men who just wanted to experiment. Keith’s smile was so engaging, gentle. How was I supposed to walk away and pretend none of this had happened? How was that living authentically? I know I fumbled over the words, words I deemed the most reasonable compromise I could think of given everything swirling around inside me:
“I just want to say…I think you’re adorable.”
There! Got that out of my system. I was honest and even a little bit daring, for me, anyway. I could live with that. I tried to make myself turn around and head for the door, but suddenly it was like everything in the room slowed down. Keith didn’t say a word. But something had come over his face, something sure, something warm. He stepped forward gingerly and ran his hand through my thick, red, starting-to-gray curly hair. His lips brushed against mine. We melted into a slow, soft kiss. My heart was racing faster than my brain, and I didn’t even think that was possible.
Oh, yes, I’d forgotten what it was like to be kissed. But it wasn’t merely the moistness of his mouth and the scratch of his whiskers against mine that was exciting me. Because his wasn’t one of those I-just-want-to- fuck-you kisses, the ones where you find a tongue shoved down your throat and teeth gnashing against yours. I’ve had those. This…it was almost…loving. I never wanted it to stop.
Of course it had to, and I felt this intense rush of happiness and sadness at the same time. “I wish you could stay,” Keith smiled. I did, too, with every fiber of my being. Unfortunately he had to fly out the first thing in the morning, and I still had a three-plus-hour drive ahead of me that would get me home well after midnight. We reluctantly broke the embrace. I couldn’t believe I had finally found someone I had so much in common with. But I told myself it was just one of those soap-like romantic moments that just couldn’t be built on.
That’s why what he said next was like manna from heaven. He was scheduled to appear at this huge comic con in Baltimore in a couple of months…the same week I was going to be within decent driving distance of him doing a book event at a sci-fi convention in Philadelphia. Why not meet up and pick up where we were leaving off?
There was no way I was going to refuse that suggestion. Instead of having to say goodbye, I was able to leave that hotel room with something to look forward to. I still had to force myself out the door, but I couldn’t stop smiling.
I mean the smile was glued to my face all the way back to Reno.
Unexpected sparks fly when the collaboration between author Brody Rohan and graphic artist Keith Kirby turns romantic. Brody falls too fast while Keith slowly disappears behind a wall of professional and personal conflicts. Can they learn to truly open their hearts and allow themselves to receive the love they’ve always longed for before they lose each other forever?
DRAWN OUT LOVE! is the passionate, frustrating, endearing, cross-country story of two men who discover that love – even love that’s delayed – is not a lost art.