Look who I found! Tristram La Roche! (Okay, so he’s been tied up in the basement since January…ahem…)
Now you’re back in the daylight, Tris, tell me what’s afoot (wotchit…)
Tris: About twelve inches where I come from ;-) You knew I would say that, didn’t you? Well, something you may not know, I’ve re-released my first gay novella, On My Knees. New cover, slightly extended story, and – in my view – a bit spunkier.
Kiran: How would YOU categorise On My Knees?
Tris: You’re trying to drag me in to the old M/M row, aren’t you? You know already that the classification M/M annoys me. Too many readers of it expect a slushy romance with two guys – usually stereotypical – having a fling, falling out and finally, erm, coming together. Happy ever afters, happy for nows. This isn’t really what my writing is about. Just because the characters are gay doesn’t mean a story can’t be mainstream literature. I mean, who classifies Alan Hollinghurst as a writer of M/M? No one, of course. I’m not, by the way, claiming to be Alan Hollinghurst or that I write great literature, I’m far too modest for that. On My Knees is a fairly quick read – a novella rather than a novel – which I always wanted to be easily accessible to those men who are trapped in the wrong lifestyle, and those men and women who are not but want to understand something about that situation. So, in short, On My Knees is gay story about coming out. It is a romance in the sense that two people fall in love and try to make a go of it, against all odds. But don’t expect hearts, flowers and chocolates.
Kiran: What inspired you to write the story?
Tris: I needed the money. No, well, yes, I did, but really I wanted to give hope to all those gay men who are still too afraid to step outside their straight lifestyles. In this day and age there should be few of them, it is sad that there are any at all, but the recent debate on gay marriage shows how bigotry and prejudice still lurk in some of the halls of power. I had a difficult start to life, being brought up by narrow-minded and hate-filled parents. I didn’t fit in and never understood why until quite late in life. Coming out was a bit like stepping off a cliff without a parachute or rope, but I didn’t die – I found a better life. That’s what I want people to get out of On My Knees.
Kiran: When you get some feeling back in your fingers (sorry, might have tied the rope a bit tight…) will you be writing something new? If so will you continue to write romances?
Tris: The truthful answer is, I don’t know. I haven’t much time for writers who just keep churning out stories to make money when they have run out of things to say. The same old meaningless tripe with a few name and place changes. That is not for me. If I have nothing to say, I keep schtum. But I am sure that I will have something to say at some point and then I will write again. Whether or not it will be romance is beyond me at the moment. For sure, the main characters will be gay and have something to offer the reader. You see, why open a book if you know what – more or less – is in it? I wouldn’t, don’t, and I don’t expect my readers to pay good money (although very small money!) for that either. When my next book comes out I want them to say, “I can’t wait to see what this one is about”.
Kiran: You are possibly as sunny as I am dark – but you briefly wandered into the spooky side when you wrote the short story Love Lies Deep (Halloween Heat M/M anthology), and your eyes should have become accustomed to the gloom by now – are you tempted to write something touching on the more shadowy side of human nature?
Tris: Human nature is shadowy. I enjoyed writing Love Lies Deep and have toyed with a few ideas, yes. It might be that I come up with something for Halloween 2014, we’ll see. I really enjoy horror myself, film or book, and through my work so far discovered new and talented writers like Julia Kavan and Steve Emmett – and you of course!
On My Knees:
Mark’s life is in turmoil. Held together by alcohol and antidepressants, he ducks and dives through the war zone his marriage has become, and watches helplessly as his business spirals down the plug hole. After yet another blazing row with his wife he escapes to the gym, intending to work off steam – and the effects of too much wine – but a tall and very handsome stranger catches Mark’s eye. Feeling uncomfortable and weird, and in no hurry to return home, Mark agrees to a pint in the nearby pub. Before the night is out, Mark finally understands that he isn’t weird – he’s gay – and a new world opens up for him.
Novella circa 25,500 words.
Contains explicit gay sex scenes /group scenes.
London, May 9
“For Christ’s sake, Diana, will you stop your fucking nagging for once?”
I’d barely got through the door before the usual evening bust-up flared. All because I’d stopped by the wine bar on the way to the tube station for a few drinks. Just a foursome: Alex, the guy I shared an office with, and a couple of his mates who’d come up to town for a night in the West End. And me, of course. In any case, I’d long ago lost any eagerness to get home early. I used to count the minutes to home time then rush off to catch the train and get back to my wife. Things change. If we didn’t argue about one thing it was another, and since the row came guaranteed whatever I did, I’d started taking the view that I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Jesus! That’s something I picked up from her – talking in clichés.
“You’re drinking too much.” Diana funnelled the words through pursed lips and frowned. “How much have you spent? Eh? Show me the bill.” She hurtled towards me and tried to dig my wallet from my jacket pocket.
“Get off,” I said, wrapping my arms around my body. Four grown men after work could drink a lot more than she would ever forgive. “You treat me like a child.”
“You behave like a child.” The neighbours would be able to hear her raised voice and I told her so. She craned forwards into a posture that would have been threatening if only she’d been nine inches taller. “You’re just…just…”
And I hated that, too. She did it all the time, start a sentence and leave it dangling in the air. “Just what?”
“You know very well. I didn’t marry an alcoholic,” she said, clenching and unclenching her fists by her side.
Alcoholic? I was not and never have been an alcoholic. A drunk, yes, but that’s different. “And I didn’t marry a nagging bitch.” Oh, I regretted it instantly. I threw my hands up in a gesture of peace. “Sorry, sorry. Please can we try to have a normal conversation?” She grabbed a knife off the kitchen work top and lashed out. I leaped back just in time. “You’re mad. Like your mother. You’re unhinged.” I struggled to hide the fear. For a little person she packed a punch when she wanted.
She lunged at me again, her unruly hair falling across her face. “Well, if I am, it’s you that’s driven me to it.” She missed. The knife flashed by my side and I brought my hand down on her arm, knocking the blade to the floor. She squeezed her wrist with her left hand and cursed.
“I’m sorry,” I said, reaching out to her. The love had gone but I had no wish to hurt her. “Here, let me look.” I took her hand but she snatched it away.
“Don’t you dare touch me.” She stamped on the floor and turned her back on me.
I couldn’t win. I knew it from previous experience. The best thing I could do was put space between us. I took my chance and bolted out of the kitchen door. We lived on the top two floors of a Victorian house in a duplex we’d bought together. From the central landing a dog leg stair led to the ground floor. As I rounded the turn in the stairs I heard her coming from the kitchen. I should have left it at that and just scarpered – but I didn’t. By then my blood boiled with anger so I shouted over my shoulder. “Well, if I am an alcoholic, you’ve driven me to it.”
“Oh, really? And where do you think you are going?”
“That’s just typical of you. Come back here and deal with it.”
But I had no intention of going back. Not then. I turned the key in the lock and pushed open the door into the shared hallway.
A stabbing pain shot through my shoulder. I toppled but managed to stay upright as a heavy dictionary fell to the floor with a thud. From above she hurled books down the stairwell, swiping them off the shelves to judge from the avalanche. I nipped across the hall and ran into the street, slamming the outer door behind me.
Even in the street I heard the thunder of her hooves coming down the stairs. I got into the car as fast as I could and locked the doors. I started the engine but didn’t manage to make my getaway before she appeared in the street, fists thrashing the air. She grabbed the driver’s door handle just as I accelerated. I didn’t look at her. I eased the car out of the space, hoping she would let go. Half-hoping that the wheel would crush her foot.
“Come back! Come back now!” She beat her fists on the window and I feared it might smash.
Clearly, she had no intention of letting up so I hit the accelerator. She leaped back out of the way as the engine purred and the car turned. As I went down the hill, I could see her in the mirror, standing in the middle of the road with her hands on her hips, shaking her head. Well, at least she was unhurt.
But then I faced another problem. Where to go? All of our friends lived on the other side of town and, considering I’d been drinking, I didn’t dare drive far. All I needed was to lose my licence and I’d be well and truly fucked. Then I remembered that my gym bag was in the boot. The gym was no more than a mile away, and the exercise would help my system break down the alcohol.
And work off the misery of another day in hell.
You can find Tris here:
My basement…what do you mean you won’t go back down there? *sighs* Okay, you can find him here:
Tristram has teamed up with Daniel deLoite to bring you On MyKnees along with a collection of Dan’s short fiction!