If you’re curious about my second novel, Instant Adult, but you’re not sure what it’s about or whether you would enjoy it, perhaps my answers to these ten questions will fill in the blanks.
You can download and read a sample chapter of the book here.
What kind of book is Instant Adult?
Well, it’s not a romance novel, nor is it erotica. It could be described as historical fiction, although that history took place only 15 years ago. The best label I’ve come up with is ‘contemporary gay fiction,’ although I realize that’s pretty general.
This book tells the story of Bryan, a young man who must quickly adapt to the responsibilities of being an adult after he suddenly finds himself in Los Angeles, far away from home. It’s culture shock on multiple levels.
My goal is to tell a compelling story that centers around gay characters and gay issues – especially issues the LGBT+ community was facing in 2007-2008. The book deals with being out at high school and the occasional homophobia and intolerance the characters encounter along the way.
Who is the intended audience for this book?
The target audience for my books is gay male adults, although I have women readers too. My first novel, Maybe Next Year, could qualify as a Young Adult (YA) novel. But the characters grow older in subsequent novels and sometimes the situations are more ‘adult’ than you’d expect in a YA novel.
I’ve seen estimates that 55-70% of the readers of Young Adult novels are between the ages of 18 and 64, so YA books are not just being read by teenagers. I’m writing primarily for those adults. I think my books will appeal to adults because they remind them of their teenage years. Coming out and coming-of-age stories are timeless. Plus, when people who are now older adults were younger, there were very few books being written by and for LGBT people. It’s rewarding to finally see your people and their stories represented in books.
Is there sex in the book, and is it explicit?
If this book was a movie, it would be rated R. It’s not erotica, although there’s plenty of talk about sexual activities. These characters are in their late teens and early 20s, so you can easily guess what they think about frequently. Sex is part of their world. There are a couple of instances of foreplay, but there are no explicit descriptions of full sexual encounters.
Bryan has to decide what his boundaries regarding sex are, what he is and isn’t willing to do, and under what circumstances. If you prefer novels that don’t deal with sex, this book may not be for you.
Why did you write this book?
After writing three books on retirement lifestyle and planning advice, I was ready to move on to something new. While writing those books and hundreds of articles for my website RetireFabulously.com, I discovered I enjoy writing, and I gradually got better at it. But the main reason I switched to gay fiction is that I had stories I wanted to tell.
Why does the story take place in 2007 and 2008?
There are two main reasons this story takes place in 2007 and 2008. I wrote more about this in this blog post, but here’s the short answer:
This novel is the second in a series of six books. The next book covers Ryan (who changes his name from Bryan to Ryan when he turns 18) during his college years, 2008-2012. Subsequent books cover Ryan as he embarks upon his career, meets new people, attempts a relationship, and deals with his past. In order for Ryan and the other characters to age accurately, I had to begin his story in 2007.
In each book, I want to capture some of the events of the time as they pertained to the LGBT+ community. In the mid-2000s, homophobia was rampant. Red states were passing constitutional amendments that banned same-sex marriage, and the ex-gay movement was in full swing. The mid-2000s was the height of these movements. Ryan experiences first-hand exposure to them. Fortunately, some schools were attempting to make their schools safer places for LGBT+ youth, and Gay-Straight Alliance clubs began forming. This is part of the storyline.
I believe it’s important that we, as a society, do not lose sight of what went on in this country just 15 to 20 years ago. Sadly, it looks like the pendulum is swinging back in this direction. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Future books will reflect what is going on in society at the times the stories take place.
Do the characters from Maybe Next Year appear in Instant Adult?
Bryan/Ryan is the only character who appears in both Maybe Next Year and Instant Adult. Since he had to run away from home, one of his highest priorities is to avoid being found by his parents and other authorities. He meets an entirely new set of colorful characters in the house he lives in and the school he attends during his senior year. They become his family of choice.
Characters from Maybe Next Year are mentioned when Ryan talks about his past, but they don’t have active roles in this story.
That said, in later books, nearly all of the characters from Maybe Next Year make their way back into Ryan’s life at one point or another, proving that you can’t escape the past.
Are characters in the book based on real people?
However, my husband Jeff claims he sees elements of my personality in Ryan and other characters, such as Ryan’s interest in jazz and Ted’s interest in wine and mixology.
Is this book based on your experiences or on the experiences of people you know?
Only to the extent that I lived through those times.
How much research did you do for this book?
I learned as much as I could about the high school Ryan attends during his senior year. It’s based on an actual high school, but I changed the name and all the characters are fictional. In order for the story to be authentic, I tried to be accurate about factors such as the school’s ethnic make-up, the programs they offer, what the building and grounds look like, etc.
The Los Angeles LGBT Youth Project is modeled after an actual organization.
Early in the book, I describe Bryan’s arrival in Los Angeles. I spent hours using Google street view to get a feel for the journey he took and the highways, streets, and neighborhoods he traveled, especially the neighborhood where he lives. The house where Ryan lives is a composite of some of the actual houses on his street.
At one point in early 2008, the high school characters attend a Super Bowl party. I researched the actual game, which teams were playing, key plays, the halftime entertainment, etc.
Part of the story deals with the adult entertainment industry. I researched a lot of information about the industry, what it’s like for people who work in it, how much they make, etc. (It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.) A friend of mine is an attorney in the adult entertainment industry, and he provided me with some information.
What authors and/or books influenced your writing?
There are two in particular.
One is Armistead Maupin, who wrote the Tales of the City series – nine books in all. These books follow a set of characters as they move through various stages of their lives. Situations changes, other people come and go, and all sorts of wild and crazy things happen to these people. Each book is a reflection of the times in which the stories take place. I have modeled the format of my books after this type of long-range, life-stages storytelling. During the pandemic, I re-read the entire series to study how he wrote these books and to simply enjoy them again. I had forgotten a lot over the years.
The other is Bill Konigsberg. Bill has written seven Young Adult novels. Through his books, he inspired me to write about teenagers. Our writing styles and the nature of our stories are different, but I have enjoyed his books immensely and learned a lot from them. He’s a master at this craft.
Instant Adult is available now on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited. You can order autographed copies here.
It’s not necessary to read Maybe Next Year before you read Instant Adult, but doing so will enhance your experience.
My third novel, Open Books & Closed Sets, will be released on March 24, 2023.