Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blog Tour! (+Giveaway!) That You Are Here by Meredith Allard

Title: That You Are Here
Author: Meredith Allard
Series: N/A
Pages: 254
Publisher: Copperfield Press
Date Published: January 23rd 2014
Format: Paperback
Genre: M/M Romance
Source:Goddess Fish Blog Tours

On the outside, handsome, successful attorney Andrew Whittaker has everything in life. On the inside, he has everything too, only he doesn't know it. He hides the love of his life, Mark Bryce, from his family and everyone else where he lives in Portland, Oregon. Soon the weight of the secret becomes too much for Andrew. After wrestling with himself and his place in the world, he must decide how he’s going to live—with or without Mark.

~~~Guest Post~~~
There were two main surprises for me when I came up with the idea for my novel That You Are Here. The first surprise was that the story is set in present-day Portland, Oregon when I’m most known for writing historical fiction. The second surprise was that the romantic leads were both men when everything else I’ve written has been about straight couples. I spent some time wondering if I should even write the book since I’m not a gay man. I’m not a gay woman, either. I’m a straight woman who thinks that people who are in love should be able to get married. The idea for That You Are Here came to me shortly after the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, which helped solidify the legality of same-sex marriages in America. I saw the two romantic leads, Andrew Whittaker and Mark Bryce, so clearly. I saw their deep love for each other, and I saw the obstacles they had to overcome. I decided to write the novel because I felt it was my way of contributing my voice to the pro same-sex marriage movement.

I think LGBT literature is becoming more accepted across the country because of the courage of many in the LGBT community to be honest about who they are. When you know your neighbor, your friend, your favorite actor or musician is gay, suddenly gay people aren’t so different—you realize they’re regular people who do their jobs and fall in love and live their lives like everyone else. As a teacher for 20 years, I’ve seen students come out younger and younger because there’s more acceptance. I say more acceptance, but we’re a long way from being completely accepting as a society. It’s also thanks to people like you, Andra, and your LGBT Tuesdays that help bring attention and understanding to topics like this. What you do is really important and should be commended.

My other novels have been love stories about straight couples, so as I began writing That You Are Here I wondered what the difference would be writing a love story between a man and a woman and a love story between two men. Here’s what I learned: there’s no difference. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I didn’t set out to write a gay story exactly, but more of a story of a young man, Andrew Whittaker, coming to terms with himself and learning to feel comfortable in his own skin. The fact that he was gay became less important to me as the story progressed. Writing the actual love story part of it wasn’t any different than it was in any of my other stories. Whenever I’m writing fiction, I’m always trying to find the universal in the characters; in other words, what is it about this character and his story that anyone anywhere can relate to? Everyone can relate to needing to find their own path in the world and everyone needs to learn how to be true to their own hearts, so that’s what I focused on with Andrew. As for his deep love for Mark Bryce, writing that was easy once I realized that love, too, is universal, so again, that’s what I focused on.

The more we learn about people with different sexual orientations than ourselves, the more tolerant we can become. As the late and very great Maya Angelou used to say, we are more alike than we are different, and I agree with her. I believe the more we focus on the similarities, the easier it is to understand and accept those who are different than ourselves. My favorite comments about That You Are Here are from readers who say, “This isn’t a gay story. It’s a human story.” That makes me feel good because that’s exactly what I was after when I was writing it. I don’t see That You Are Here as a love story between two men. It’s a love story between two people. That’s all it needs to be. 
~~~Try an Excerpt!~~~
Andrew’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket. He put his lunch bag on the counter, nodding at the message from Lisa Bloom, his secretary. He scanned his e-mails and grimaced at the phone. “I have to go.” He left at a sprint through the kitchen door to his silver Mercedes in the attached one-car garage. He didn’t even like the car, but that’s what the senior partners at his firm drove, so that’s what he drove too. Andrew opened the garage door, got into the driver’s seat, slid the key into the ignition, started the car, and jumped at the knock on his window. He shrugged sheepishly, opened the window, and took his lunch bag.

“Sorry,” he said. “I’m a little distracted today.”

“Today?” A sigh. “That car is such a gas guzzler. You need a hybrid. This is Portland. You’re supposed to be green.”

“Kermit the Frog green?”

“Any kind of green you want to be.”

Andrew looked at the person watching him with such open-hearted love in those soft gold-brown eyes. 

“Mark?” Andrew said.

“Yes, Andrew.”

“Thank you.”

Mark Bryce leaned his head through the open window and kissed Andrew’s cheek. “Anything for you, beautiful boy.”

When Andrew stopped at the red light on Bancroft Street he felt his phone vibrate. He pulled his phone from his pocket, saw the screen and cringed, peering at the nearby drivers as though they were reporting his every move to some great eye in the sky. The text was from Mark.

Stop looking at your phone!
~~~Meet Meredith!~~~
Meredith Allard is the author of The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle (Copperfield Press). She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge. Her short fiction and articles have appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, The Maxwell Digest, Wild Mind, Muse Apprentice Guild, Writer’s Weekly, Moondance, CarbLite, and ViewsHound. She has taught writing to students aged ten to sixty, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction seminars at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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  1. I love when excerpts are included. It gives you an idea of the style of writing. I've been looking for new lgtb literature to read and share. I have a friend that runs a group in canada and I send her recommendations. Thanks!

    1. Jeanete, thanks so much for thinking of That You Are Here. I really appreciate it.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Andra. Again, your LGBT Tuesdays are a great thing!

  3. Hi Meredith I enjoyed reading the reasons for your writing this book :) and to be honest I read many books in many different genres, not just MM, and most of them are just about love, acceptance and finding happiness, regardless of gender or preferences. If a book is well written and I fall in love with the characters and the story then that's all that matters in the end.

    You mentioned more literature for YA LGBT and not that long ago, when I thought about becoming a librarian, I used to volunteer in public and college libraries and quite a number of young people came in asking for LGBT books. This did not surprise me, but what did surprise me was the difficulties young people had to get hold of the books, either their libraries refused to hold them, or the books that were available were not on the general library shelves and had to specially requested or hidden in a back room (so not on display).

    Thank you for the giveaway and I am just wishing that I win an ecopy of the book x

    1. Thank you so much, Sula. Part of the reasons young LGBT people feel like they don't fit in is because they have such a hard time finding representations of themselves anywhere. It's sad to me that some libraries won't stock LGBT literature or make it so hard to find. Hopefully, that will start to change. Good luck with the giveaway!

  4. I enjoyed how you came up with the story, really nice.

  5. This sounds interesting

  6. A great guest post to read through.