Guest Post & Book Feature: What Binds Us by Larry Benjamin
This post is part of the Orangeberry Summer Splash. Find more information about this tour and other tours on the Orangeberry Book Tours site.
Writing to Me is …
by Larry Benjamin
Writing is a privilege because I am allowed to make things up, to tell stories. A voice whispers words in the open shell of my ear, words which fall like tears or snow, piling up, forming sentences which rise up and tell a story.
As a writer I have a responsibility to make my characters engaging and tell their truths. I also have a responsibility to readers. Buying a book is a leap of faith. Readers, on the strength of your brand or book blurb, trust you, plunk down their hard-earned cash because they think you will entertain them, will pull them out of themselves, their lives and into another alternate reality—at least for a little while. That makes me want to write the best story I can.
Writing is my salvation, giving me an outlet to express anger, disappointment, grief, joy. My first book, What Binds Us, captures the headiness of youth and first love and sums up the sense of loss and grief that colored so much of the 80s. My next book, Damaged Angels (being released by Bold Strokes Books in October 2012) is my Adele 21. Adele may have set fire to the rain around her faithless, feckless boyfriends, but I had to content myself with setting fire to mine on the page, burning each in an effigy of words. In truth, writing Damaged Angels was more like capturing each one in amber, preserving a moment in time, an experience, capturing a personality, a way of being, so I did not forget.
And finally writing for me is work. There’s more to writing a novel or even a short story than simply creating characters and a story line and dialogue. There’s research that needs to be done to make sure your story is plausible, your characters realistic. Then there’s the business of writing: querying publishers, working with an editor, reviewing a cover to see if it captures the essence of your book, connecting with readers, biting your tongue and holding back tears when you get a bad review.
Yet, writing is something I won’t stop doing. I write because if I don’t, I’m miserable. The words, they come, whether I write them down or not, piling up in my head, making it hard to think of other things, making it impossible to sleep, until I can do nothing but write. I’ve always imagined that the way I feel when I don’t write is the way an asthmatic feels during an attack: gasping for air, unable to think beyond the next elusive breath, waiting for this agony, this impossible feeling of not being able to breathe, to pass.
I would still write, even if no one read a single word I wrote. In What Binds Us Thomas tells the love of his life, Matthew, “I would love you in the dark if I had to.” I would write in the dark if I had to.
I scratch on the wall of my prison, daily, nightly, for I am a writer. Nothing less, nothing more am I. These scratchings, they tell a story if only you will listen, and like all prisoners, words set me, set us, free.
Thomas-Edward is only a teenager when he escapes his working-class neighborhood. He’s ready for anything—except the arrival of Donovan Whyte in his life. Sophisticated and dazzlingly handsome, Dondi quickly becomes the center of Thomas-Edward’s universe, introducing him to a world full of drama, passion and feuding families.
When their relationship fizzles, they remain uneasy friends until Dondi invites Thomas-Edward to his family’s summer house. Thomas-Edward is immediately attracted to Dondi’s mysterious brother, Matthew—and finds himself hopelessly drawn to both men.
As time passes, Thomas-Edward develops a unique bond with both brothers as they orbit around each other, although he knows only one of them can be his lifelong love. Will the three of them be able to find a way to hold on to each other? Or will love, its loss and the threat of death destroy their connection once and for all?