Lisa: We’re so pleased to have author Michael Bailey stopping by today on the tour for his latest release, Looking Forward. Welcome, Michael!
Let’s start with a book question: what’s your favorite scene in the book, and what makes it a fave?
Michael: There’s a scene toward the end of Looking Forward that I absolutely love. Owen finally has a breakthrough and confronts Jack about…everything (don’t want to give away spoilers.) Andy is standing directly behind him, hand pressed against the small of Owen’s back as a show of support and strength. And Owen steps forward, finding his own strength to say to Jack everything he’s buried for years. Honestly, when I was writing that scene, the theme from “Rocky” was playing because it was a real turning point for Owen.
Lisa: Was there a particular part of the process—from writing to editing to cover design to publishing—that was easier or harder than you thought it would be? What was it?
Michael: Editing is the hardest. Clearly, comma’s and hyphens are not my friends. The easiest is the writing as long as #1 the characters are cooperating and talking, and #2 I can get into the right headspace.
Lisa: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?
Michael: Probably Owen. He and I have a lot in common.
Lisa: On the flipside, which character would you probably least get along with? Why?
Michael: Initially, I was going to say Jack, simply because of what’s he’s done. The problem that I have with that answer is that I know Jack, I know his reasons. He may not be able to articulate them as well, but he’s not the guy that people may initially think.
Lisa: Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, and do you have a favorite genre/sub-genre?
Michael: To be honest, I look for something that is going to make me feel. I want to be able to relate to characters, to feel their pain and joy, and to understand the why of it.
Lisa: What are your least and most favorite things about being an author?
Michael: Least favorite would have to be getting blocked in. Sometimes a character will do something that I hadn’t originally intended (yes, I try to let the characters control the story.) Trying to figure out what their next step can be a real pain.
Most favorite would have to be getting messages from the readers. It’s easy to feel as if you’re the only one that will understand what you’re trying to accomplish, especially when you spend hours on end by yourself doing nothing but writing. When I get those messages, particularly those that say they can relate to a characters experience or that they felt a particular way about a character or event, it kind of validates what I was trying to do.
Lisa: Have you ever written a line, paragraph, or passage, and thought, “Darn, that’s pretty amazing, even if I do say so myself”? What was it?
Michael: “When my brain went dark, he brought the light.” To me, it speaks volumes about the relationship between Owen and Andy
Lisa: What’s the one genre/sub-genre you haven’t written yet, but would love to? What’s kept you from it so far?
Michael: Fantasy fiction. I grew up reading it, from the Dragonlance series of books to the Shannara series. Magic and elves and everything involved fascinates me.
Lisa: Let’s talk tropes: do you have a few favorites that you enjoy both writing and reading? If so, what are they and what makes them your faves?
Michael: I have two. Gay-For-You gets a lot of flack, but for me, it speaks to the idea that emotions like love transcend gender. We get so wrapped up in the physical aspects of a person that we forget that people actually feel. I think the term “bromance” was coined in order to make it okay for heterosexual men to have an excuse to feel something for their friends, and to be able to express it. If we stopped concentrating on the physical aspects of gender and focused on how another person makes us feel, I think we’d all be better off.
My other is Friends-To-Lovers, simply because it takes a relationship that’s already there and strengthens it, deepens it, turns it into something significantly more meaningful.
Lisa: What books and authors would you say influenced you to become a writer yourself?
Michael: Felice Stevens was my entry point into M-M Romance. Her first book, Rescued, was also the first book I ever read in the genre. It was the first time, for me at least, in which gay men were actually portrayed as real, feeling people, and finally given their Happily Ever After.
I grew up in an era in which not only was it not okay to be gay, but gay men were also portrayed as stereotypes or extremes. We weren’t shown as being everyday people. And, more often than not, our stories ended tragically. While there are other positive portrayals of gay men out there, some that predate Rescued, for me, that book, for me, was the first one I read in which not only were we not portrayed as a stereotype, but we also not only deserved our Happily Ever After, but the MCs got it.
Lisa: What would you say was the most intimidating thing about publishing your first novel?
Michael: The fear of rejection. I self-publish, and the has always been that the book wouldn’t catch on, or that people would hate either my writing or my characters.
Lisa: How long did it take to write your first book, and what was the most difficult part of the writing process (i.e., dialogue, plot or character development, pacing, etc.)?
Michael: I started my first book on November 1st, 2016 for the NaNoWriMo contest. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the deadline, Real Life being what it is. I finally finished it in January of the following year, so, seven months.
Lisa: What’s the best piece of writing/author advice you’ve received that you’d pass on to someone else just getting started in the business?
Michael: Right after I started my first book, I was having confidence issues. I was talking to another author about it, and his words were, “Push Forward.” Everyone has those kinds of issues, it’s whether we control them or let them control us that truly matters.
Lisa: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Michael, it’s been a pleasure.
And readers, don’t forget to check out the details of Michael’s giveaway below!
About the Book
Title: Looking Forward
Author: Michael Bailey
Category: Gay Fiction
Length: 258 Pages
Release Date: 08.22.18
Cover Design: Jay Aheer
Blurb: Owen Hannity was nineteen when he lost almost everyone he thought he could trust. Each loss more painful than the last.
With the unwavering support of his best friend, Andy, Owen put the pieces of his life back together. Now, more than two decades later, Owen owns and operates a successful comic shop. Despite his modicum of success, he still feels like a shell of a man, carrying the emotional scars from his past.
Without warning, Owen’s past returns. Secrets come to light. Secrets that could either destroy Owen or finally give him the strength to re-evaluate everything he thought he knew about Andy, himself, and the way in which he views the world.
To see that he is truly worthy of loving himself and finally begin…
Buy the Book: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
I shook even more as I picked up the handset and dialed the ten digits for his area code and phone number. The call wouldn’t connect. I feared for a moment that he had purposely given me the wrong number. Maybe he didn’t want me calling him after all. Then I remembered, since this was long distance, I had to dial the number one first.
I laid the receiver back into the cradle and scrubbed my hand through my hair, willing myself to calm down. Jack wouldn’t be able to see my fear from over the phone, but there was every likelihood that he would be able to hear it.
I took the receiver out of the cradle and dialed the eleven digits. My heart beat faster as the phone rang, and I almost chickened out and hung up.
The other end was picked up on the fourth ring. A woman answered, clearly out of breath. “Hello.”
I was momentarily confused. In my head, he would answer, and we would spend my break catching up. I had not expected someone else to answer, especially not a woman.
What if she was his girlfriend? How would I explain myself?
“Hello?” she repeated.
He wouldn’t have given me his number if he didn’t think it would be safe for me to call. Or at least, that’s what I reasoned.
“Is Jack in?”
“Yeah. Hold on a sec.”
Then I heard her muffle the mouthpiece, but I was still able to hear her call his name.
Soon enough, I heard a voice that I recognized coming from the other end. “Hello?”
“Jack?” I said, still slightly confused, and hoping that I hadn’t just caused some problem for him by calling.
“Jack, it’s Owen.”
I heard his breath catch on the other end of the phone line, and there was a second or two of delay. Panic started to bloom. This was a mistake. He wouldn’t remember me. Why would he? I was just some kid from Toledo that he’d met in a bar weeks ago. I’d allowed too much time to pass and had lost any chance I had, if I’d had any at all. “Owen?”
I twisted the phone cord around my finger, an old habit I’d developed when I was nervous on the phone. That panic came full force at his question. He didn’t remember me. This call was pointless. “From Toledo,” I reminded him.
Jack chuckled. “I remember. I don’t meet too many Owens.”
Some of that panic eased off but didn’t dissipate entirely. This could still go horribly wrong very quickly. I still didn’t know what I was doing calling him. What if that connection I had felt the night before Thanksgiving was all in my head? I’d be the fool that had placed the call. He’d talk about me to all his friends, tell them about this little homo that was stalking him from the other side of the state. They’d all laugh at my expense, and I’d never know. Or he could tell Andy, and he’d never let me forget how I’d basically come on to his straight cousin.
Yet, he had given me his number. And those words. I reread the napkin. Can you feel it?
I paused, pulling in a deep breath and slowly exhaling. I could do this. This wasn’t a big deal if I didn’t make it one. “No, I can’t imagine you do. It’s not a very common name.”
“No, it’s not. It’s very memorable.”
“I was actually named after my grandfather, if you can believe that.”
“Yeah. Sort of a family tradition. My father is named after his grandfather, and my grandfather after his. It’s weird.”
“No, not really. It’s actually kind of cool. Like, legacy. You have a connection to your family that will never go away.”
“I never thought of it like that. I’ve honestly always hated the name.” And wasn’t that a total bitch. If my father ever found out that his only son was gay, he would totally disown me, and I’d still have this name.
“You shouldn’t. It’s unique. It sets you apart. How many people have you known named Jack?”
I laughed. “That’s true. A lot.”
“Exactly my point. In a world full of Jacks, be an Owen.”
Why did that warm my heart so much?
About the Author
I’m the oldest of three, from the Glass Capital of the world, Toledo Ohio.
Don’t laugh too hard.
I’ve dreamed of writing since I was eleven years old when I wrote a truly awful Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. It sold exactly zero copies. I think my mother may have a copy lying around somewhere. Mothers keep that kind of thing.
Through junior high and high school, I wrote a number of short stories, one actually published in the first (and only) issue of his high school’s literary magazine.
Life took control shortly thereafter, as it often does, and the dream of writing was put on hold. Then, in November of 2016, I took a leap of faith, and began writing my first novel as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) competition. The goal of the competition is to write a 50,000-word novel in a thirty-day period.
However, on the advice of a friend, I “pushed through”. And so, in September of 2017, my first novel was published.