The Novel Approach welcomes author Liam Livings today on the Escaping From Him blog tour. Enjoy the guest post, then be sure to leave a comment below to this question – How do you feel about camp? – for a chance to win an e-copy of this or any one of Liam’s backlist titles, reader’s choice.
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What inspired this book?
During the start of 2014 I discovered a song called I Love It by Icona Pop, which had been quite high in the charts over the previous months. It’s a sort of synth pop song with quite anthemic chanty lyrics, exactly the sort of song I usually love. And love it I did. In fact, I became slightly obsessed with it, watching the mesmerising video again and again.
The lyrics really got into my head and at the line, I threw your sh*t into a bag and pushed it down the stairs, I had a vision of a man doing exactly that to his boyfriend’s things and that was the starting point of the germ of an idea for the story.
I got this feeling on a summer’s day when you were gone. This gave me the idea for when to start the story, when Darryl would realise, from a small thing Chris had done he noticed in the hot flat, and he realised he couldn’t continue to be in that situation any longer.
One of the verses in the song gave me the contrast between Darryl and Chris: You’re on a different road, I’m in the Milky Way / you want me down on earth, but I am up in space. This was how differently they viewed their jobs. How Darryl is a dreamer, and Chris is very much into practicalities of things.
You’re so damn hard to please, we gotta kill this switch. This was about Chris’s controlling ways, and how everything in the flat had to be just so, or else.
You’re from the seventies, but I’m a nineties b**ch. Darryl is much younger than Chris, which again played into the dynamics of the relationship, and Darryl’s expectations at the start, and Chris’s behaviour.
Q: Can you tell us about different genres you like to write in, does this book fit into one, or are you branching out?
So far I’ve written gay fiction with romance, with the Best Friends Perfect series, gay romance with my other stories, including And Then That Happened and Christmas Serendipity. They have all been contemporary stories so far. I try to write what I believe is an authentic version of gay men’s lives, based on what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve seen my friends experience. I also tend to stick to the lives of ordinary gay men, with normal jobs in hospitals, offices, shops, hairdressers etc. I believe in the beauty and interest in the every day. The simple pleasures in life are just as important as the big grand events too.
I like to use humour in my stories. Is comedy and camp a genre? I hadn’t noticed I did this until I read some reviews of my stories commenting on the sense of humour. I think it’s because my general default about how to cope with anything in life is humour. I tend to make a joke of things, when others dare to go there. I’ve also noticed with a bit of humour, and a touch of camp, I can get away with pretty much anything. I think somehow gay men are a bit ashamed of camp, like it’s *too gay* like now to be a good gay man you’ve got to be all ‘straight acting’ which is one of the most homophobic phrases I’ve heard. Be gay however you want, camp or not, but don’t be ashamed of however you are gay, and don’t judge others for being gay in their way. I didn’t get a choice, camp came to me, so that’s how I am and that’s evidently how I write, so be it.
Escaping From Him is contemporary gay romance, as the romance between Darryl and the other man is key to the story, but I’ve tried to twist it a bit, and included the unhappy starting point, when he’s with Chris. I wanted to show the contrast between what he’s coming from to what he ends up with. I’m not spoiling anything here by saying it has a happy ever after. But there’s some humour there too, and a good dose of camp throughout.
I may venture into science fiction / fantasy as I dreamed about a story which is set in the near future, in a slightly different reality from the one we live in now. This may well be my first science fiction story. Obviously it has a romance at its heart, I love a romance, I really do, but the backdrop will be more unusual than some of my other stories.
Blurb: Darryl’s on the run – from controlling boyfriend Chris, an air-conditioner called Dave (deceased), an intolerable, claustrophobic situation and a person he just can’t be any more. The trouble is, he doesn’t have a plan – or any money – and all he knows is he needs to get away from everything. That’s where a lucky lift to Glasgow comes in, which turns out to be just the beginning of a whole new life …
Excerpt: Darryl goes to a cabaret club in Scotland
It was like the Eurovision Song Contest for drag queens. They came from all countries and in all colours, shapes, sizes and costumes. Some looked like a big butch builder had put on a dress, heels and wig. Others looked exactly like a woman, until I noticed the Adam’s apple, strategically covered by a neckerchief. Some came on and sang, others lip synched – there was a nice mix of modern pop music, Lily Allen, Lady Gaga, some classics, Abba of course, Donna Summer and an awful lot of Mariah Carey. An awful lot. Much more than I’d have expected. Some did stand up, acid-tongued quips about modern life, as a gay person, or just in general, about living in the UK. Others entertained us by telling their life stories, suitably tragic and dark, which left the audience with only one option: to laugh along. I kept expecting it to end, but on came the next drag queen, a little bit different from the last one.
You can connect with and find out more about Liam Livings at the following social media sites: