Welcome to author J.R. Gray and the blog tour for his new novel, Forsaken, the story of a man raised in a religious community who must reconcile the relationship between his sexuality and his faith before he can build a relationship with the man he’s fallen in love with. Titus is a great character, and I’m so pleased to share Gray’s insights into his story. There’s also a giveaway for a chance to win an eCopy of the book, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget for entry details.
Titus came easy to me…
He was like a dream I could slip back into. Like he’d always been there in the back of my mind. I think I’ve carried Titus for a long while, waiting for the right story to put him into. About two years ago, I was listening to the radio and the song Take Me To Church came on and an entire story formed in my head, and I knew where Titus would fit in. But I wasn’t ready to write the story yet. I wrote down the first chapter that I saw so vividly in my mind and let it sit in my documents (I do this a lot. I have probably fifty plus first scenes and plot bunnies just sitting). I moved on to other projects I was working on, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this story. Every time I heard the song I thought about it, and every time I went back to my hometown for a visit I’d think about it.
Finally, when I was deciding what to write for NaNo after a terrible writing year (I’d barely written anything because of depression and the political climate. I couldn’t focus or finish anything. Getting even a hundred words down was like pulling teeth), I knew this had to be the story I worked on. I needed to tell Titus’ story.
My author note in the beginning of Forsaken gives some detail about the origins of this story, and it’s a quite personal one. Titus has a complicated relationship with religion, and I drew a lot of his experience from my own growing up in a similar environment. Titus has this connection to God he feels strongly about, but he’s also been taught since a very young age what he is, is wrong. Because of the way he was raised, this wrong feeling is etched on his personality and it’s impossible to just get over. He also can’t deny the way he feels. He’s attracted to men.
So, Titus internalizes this pain and hides himself. He’s doing pretty well with it until he trips over Angel. A beautiful, beat up man lying in the middle of nowhere. He tells himself he’s doing the right thing taking Angel in and helping him, but it’s entirely selfish. He can’t walk away and do nothing.
Clearly I write romance, so a relationship blossoms between Angel and Titus, and Titus is stuck between his faith and his feelings. He has to reconcile these two parts of himself, but he doesn’t know how to make his faith and his queerness meld, because he does need God. Titus’ journey is about finding love and realizing it can fit into religion.
About the Book
Author: J.R. Gray
Release Date (Print & Ebook): February 26, 2018
Links: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited || J.R. Gray Books
Length (Print & Ebook): 72,000 words
Subgenre: Contemporary m/m romance
Blurb: 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.
Titus’ head was pounding but so was his heart. He was cursed to replay the kiss in his head, possibly for the rest of his life. The fall had jarred his brain and lodged it in his mind. And therein was the problem with sin. Once you had a taste, it was hard to stop. Men were addicted to sin.
Angel looked up at him. Those big dark eyes. He didn’t want to keep staring but he did.
“How are you feeling?” Angel looked back at his book, but his eyes weren’t moving, so he wasn’t really reading.
“The Advil is starting to work.” Titus closed his eyes, fighting back every emotion in his body. He didn’t know what he felt. A little of everything, and it was overwhelming his ability to function.
How could God have made him this wrong?
“You don’t look so good.”
“There is way too much in my head.” He was really tired of all his emotions showing on his face. He needed to learn how to lie better. More so now that he knew what he was. What if he was asked outright? Another wave of anguish crossed his face, and his eyes sprang open when another hand grabbed his.
Angel tugged on him. “Come down here with me.”
He relented to the tug and slid onto the floor. Angel was dangerously close, again. Bad things happened when he was this close. But Titus didn’t move to put space between them. Maybe he wanted bad things to happen.
About the Author
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.
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