This tape was sent to The Novel Approach from an address in Foster, Texas. This is a transcript of what is on it.
Hi, my name is John Goode and I am a writer.
Now, you say, “Hi, John,” and we talk about writing addiction and how it has affected our lives and…
Wait, this isn’t Writer’s Anonymous? Wow, awkward.
Ok, so this must be the guest post I agreed to do for The Novel Approach in conjunction with 151 Days coming out. Oh well, that makes much more sense. Of course, being a writer I have absolutely no idea on what to write, but that never stopped me before. There has to be something I can write that will be mildly interesting, and I do mean mild.
Ah, I got it, I can ask the boys some questions! When in doubt, force your characters to do the work for you.
John: Hi guys, welcome to the blog.
Kyle: Say what, now?
Brad: Who is this guy?
John: I’m John, the writer. I’m the guy who came up with Foster High.
Brad: You made the high school? What are you, like the mayor or something?
Kyle: You couldn’t have made Foster High, it was made in the 50s, and you’re old but not that old.
John: Getting called old by teenagers never stops being fun. Ok, look guys, I am a guy interviewing you about your life in Foster High, and you’re just going to have to trust me that it’s ok.
Kyle: And why would we do that?
John: I’m a friend of Gayle.
Brad: Oh, then you’re cool.
Kyle: Ask away.
John: Kids. Ok, let’s start with you Kyle, tell me a little about yourself.
Kyle: I’m 18 and I’m gay.
Kyle: That about covers it, seriously.
John: There has to be more.
Kyle: Nope, I’m pretty boring.
John: Ok, let’s try it this way. Brad, tell me about Kyle.
Brad: Jeez, where do I start? Well, he is super smart, like Lex Luthor smart, but he has hair. He thinks he’s invisible to other people and that they don’t notice him, but in fact, a lot of people know him and like him a lot.
Kyle: No they don’t.
Brad: Hush, I’m talking about you. Let’s see, he wants to go to college in California, to the same place that Sam Winchester did…
Brad: Right, that place. He likes comic books, video games, and he’s a sex addict.
Brad: We just started having sex, and he is, like, crazy for it, no joke.
Kyle: I hate you.
John: Ok, and what do you think Kyle’s best trait is?
Brad: Oh hand’s down, his inability to let an injustice go unheard. Kyle doesn’t care if you’re a saint or a complete asshat, everyone deserves a fair shake to him, and if they don’t get it he is the first person to raise hell.
John: Fair enough. And Kyle, describe Brad for me.
John: Come on, he was only answering a question. Your turn.
Kyle: Fine, Brad is a Disney prince in need of a quest, a rebel without a cause, a hero in need of some faith. He has more going for him than anyone else I know, and he wastes it all on caring about what other people think about him, and sometimes it is frustrating as hell, and sometimes it’s what makes him perfect in my eyes.
Kyle: Still think this is a fun game?
Brad: That is like the nicest thing I have ever heard someone say about me.
Kyle: That says more about your old friends than me.
John: Ok, I asked for some questions online from your fans…
Kyle: We have fans?
Brad: I knew sooner or later I’d have some.
::Kyle gives him a withering stare until Brad collapses in laughter::
John: Ok, Will from Facebook asked, “What is your proudest moment of each other?”
Kyle: That’s easy, the moment when Brad stood up and threw his chance to play baseball away for bullying to stop. I had never seen anything so selfless before, because I know how much baseball means to him.
Brad: You never told me that before.
Kyle: You never asked me.
Brad: Well shut my mouth, I guess I didn’t.
John: And Brad?
Brad: There are a lot of times, but the proudest? When we went to state and our families were all having dinner, and Kyle got in my dad’s face. My mom had done that before, but it was mostly because they were in a fight. Kyle did it because he was tired of my dad ragging on me, and he was even a little scared. It was very gangster of him.
John: That’s from the new book.
John: Never mind. Trisha, also from Facebook, asked two questions. One, “What do you guys see in your future together?”
Brad: A ton of sex.
Kyle (nodding): Yeah, his answer.
Kyle: I just want to get through college, and I want us to be together.
Brad: I want him to get through college too, and being together is nice. Maybe marry him someday.
Kyle: You said what?
Brad: What was her next question?
Kyle: You do not get to change the subject after…
John: Her second question was, “What is your favorite part of the other person?” Can be anything, she said.
Brad: If I say something sexual he’s going to get mad, so I will say his eyes. When he gets mad there is this line that forms between them, and his eyes get like ice…that is the moment I know he is going to go all Pikachu on someone and kill them. I love seeing him get all Xena up.
Kyle: I’m a Pikachu?
Brad (nodding): It’s the blond hair and big eyes. Can’t deny that.
Kyle: I hate everyone.
John: And your favorite part of Brad?
Kyle: If I say nothing, he is going to get all pouty, so I will say his faith in us. He has never once blinked from us being together, even when I did lose it. It’s humbling to know there is someone out there that has that much belief in you.
Brad: You never told me that either.
Kyle: That’s ‘cause you are always too busy making Pokemon jokes.
Brad: Fair enough.
John: Sammy from Facebook…
Kyle: Sammy? Our Sammy?
John: Close enough. She asked Kyle, “Do you think you two will last?”
Brad: Yeah, I’d love to hear this answer too.
Kyle (sighing): Do I think so? No. I think Brad can find a dozen guys better looking than me or more like him or whatever. I think I am boring as hell and that he will just wander off first chance he gets. That is what I think. I know that he would never do that, I know when I look into his eyes there is something there that is so comforting, but terrifying at the same time. I don’t know what that is, but I know I want to know more of it.
John: And Brad?
John: Just yes?
Brad (nodding): Just yes, we will last. Period.
John: She also asked if you guys would ever move back to Foster.
Brad: Yes, when Kyle is mayor.
John: Ok then, Lynn asked, “Brad, when you picture your life in ten years, what does it look like?”
Brad: Can I say with jetpacks? Or a lightsaber? Cause that would be wicked cool.
Kyle: This is why I don’t ask him anything.
Brad: Ok, ok. I see myself with Kyle, serving as his media consultant as he readies himself for his senate race. He will be the brains and the power, and I will be the smile and the shine. Together, he will rule the world.
Kyle: Don’t you mean we will?
Brad (looking at Kyle): Baby, this is your world, we are just living in it.
John: Lisa said, “Guys, Edgar Allan Poe once said, ‘Never to have suffered would never to have been blessed.’ What’s your greatest blessing so far?”
Brad: Um…can you repeat the question?
Kyle: Poe said that. He also said, “Stupidity is a talent for misconception,” which to me says that all of our suffering is caused by people believing the wrong things. Things like some people are lesser than others, that your God is the only God there is, or that things that are different are wrong. I think we are blessed by the fact we have never once thought that way. I was raised with the belief that all people are the same, no matter what they are. I just wish other people understood what that meant.
Brad: I only have one blessing and it’s him. So I think Poe said it best for me by saying “We loved with a love that was more than love.”
::Kyle looks at him stunned::
Brad holds up his phone: What? I can use the internet too.
John: Ok, Debbie asked, “You guys grew up in small town Foster but do you think that things are that much different in other places? How do you think things may have played out in a city like New York? Or Boston? Or a rural community, like a farm in Ohio? In other words – how much of the struggles you went through were due to Foster, and how much are just plain universal?”
Kyle: I think it would have been easier to fade away in a place like Boston or New York, so I would have just drifted through high school and never have met Brad.
Brad: I would have noticed the ninja like hot guy and stalked him relentlessly until he went out with me. Also, if we grew up in Boston I’d have to be a Sox fan, which would have been cool but no way. I could do the Yankees, so that would have been bad.
John: Ok, Chris asked, “What is your guys’ favorite character from Game of Thrones and why?”
Kyle: I’ve never seen the show ‘cause we don’t get HBO, but when I read the books I really felt that Tyrion was like me. Underestimated, always thought of as weaker, but the one that surprised everyone. I always wanted to be like that, the one that no one was ready for.
Brad: You do know you are, right? I mean not the midget thing but everything else, right?
Brad: I haven’t read the books, but I saw it over at a friend’s house, and I thought the horse guy was completely badass. I bet he would be a beast to fight.
Kyle: When did you watch Game of Thrones?
Brad: What? I have a life too, you know.
Kyle: When in the world would you ever sit down…you watched it during a D and D game, didn’t you?
Brad: Be cool, Kyle.
Kyle: Ok, one, his name is Drogo, and two, you do know in the book he dies of an infection, right?
Brad: He had mad skills. He’s a pimp.
John: Ok, let’s move on. Dawn said. “Brad, I cheered for you when you grabbed that bat out of your car and went after that ex-Marine “reverend” who was roughing up Kyle. Well done. Did you see red? Or were you thinking it through?”
Brad: Man, these people know a lot about us. Well thanks, no one touches Kyle while I am around, and I was only thinking one thing at that moment. That if I ever needed to hit a home run, it was as I was swinging at that jackass.
Kyle: That was very cool of you.
Brad: Yeah I know.
Kyle sighs: And this is why I don’t give compliments to him.
John: Mario asks Kyle, “When was the first time Kyle laid eyes on Brad?”
Kyle: Um, around. Next question.
Brad: Oh no, I want to hear an answer to this.
Kyle: It was a small town, we saw each other a lot, what’s the big deal?
Brad: So, you do remember. Ok, come on, spill it Stilleno.
Kyle sighs: Fine it was the summer of freshman year, and I had gone to the community center to get out of the heat and use the pool, and you were there with some friends. Happy?
Brad: Oh no, I know it is more than that, come on.
Kyle: Fine, I saw you get out of the pool, and I had a Fast Times at Ridgemont High moment, except you weren’t Phoebe Cates, and I wasn’t masturbating in a bathroom. Are we done?
Brad: I don’t even remember that day.
Kyle: I do. It was the first time I saw those ridges that guys have by their hips, and I had to wrap myself up with a towel for a while because I thought you looked like a model or something.
Kyle: See? This does nothing but make his ego a million times worse.
Brad: You were in the library wearing a green hoodie concentrating on a book, and your bangs kept falling in your face, and you would blow at them to move them out of the way, and they’d just fall down again. And I wished I could walk over and move them out of the way ‘cause you were way too cute to cover up.
Brad: I didn’t know who you were, but I remember thinking that you were adorable beyond words. Now we’re done.
John: Ok. And Mario also wanted to know if Brad always knew he was gay?
Brad: No, I always knew I was attracted to guys, but I never connected that to being gay. I really thought it was just being horny. I never thought of myself as gay, as in wanting to spend my life with a guy, until I met him.
John: Anything to say to that Kyle?
Kyle: No, I am kinda speechless right now.
John: Moving along, Bev asked Brad if you missed your life as a jock?
Brad: What do you mean “miss”? I still run and lift all the time, and just ‘cause I am not playing baseball professionally doesn’t mean I am not playing. I bet you I find a gay league out there to play with.
John: And Kyle, she asked if you were ever going to find any life on Earth as intelligent as you are?
Kyle: Um, I don’t really think I am all that smart. Everyone has a something they excel at. I am just a guy who is doing the best he can.
Brad: That is what his alien species told him to say if one of us asks him about it. It’s all a front.
John: And the last question, Andrew asked what ever happened to Kyle’s dad?
Kyle: I’d rather not talk about that.
John: Not even a little hint.
Brad: Hey, buddy, back off, he said he doesn’t want to talk about it.
John: Ok, question dropped.
Kyle: We have a question.
Brad: Yeah, roundabout is fair play.
Kyle to Brad: Turnabout.
Brad (looks behind him): What?
Kyle sighs: We have a few questions for you.
Kyle: Why write Tales From Foster High?
John: Well, there is an easy answer and a hard one. The easy one is I think it is hard out there for a lot of gay teens growing up, and I wanted Tales to be not only a story they could identify with but a resource they can call on. Every lawsuit that is mentioned, every biblical passage that is debated, all of them are true. I wanted kids to take what they read and to use the knowledge to defend themselves against hatred and bigotry.
Brad: And the hard answer?
John: Growing up I was not a happy kid. I had a hard time with my sexuality and how it was going to affect my place in the world. I kept a lot of things to myself, and I read a lot and never really found myself in any books. I found the scrappy hero who fell in love with the fair maiden, and I found the super cool chick who had two completely different boys chasing her, but I never found myself. There wasn’t a gay character that was just a person and not a stereotype. So I decided to stop whining about the lack of stories I wanted to read and make a couple. These books are not just a gift to the kids out there who need them, they are a gift to sixteen year old me, who would have died to open a book and find someone who looks like them in there.
Kyle: How much of the book is made up, and how much is based on your life?
John: Well, everything that happens in the books happened to someone out there. Every single thing, each action, from Brad getting beat up in the locker room to Riley getting hit by a car, all of these things happened to someone out there. I have had people complain they think that the characters in the books that represent the adults and the school are unbelievable because they don’t do much to help you guys out, but that is honestly how it happened to someone. If you read these books and think it is not that bad for kids today, or that I made it up, then you are sorely in need of an education on the world today. It may not be like that for you, but it is like that out there for most.
Brad: And how much is your life?
John: Well…I wasn’t teased and bashed for being gay when I was in high school. In fact, my friends all assumed I was bi and didn’t care. I remember when I took my best friend aside to tell him I was gay, and he just looked at me and said, “I thought you wanted to tell me something important.” So most of the books come from what I have seen happen to other people I love, and not be able to do anything about it.
Kyle: So, now that this series is done, are we done?
Brad: Yeah man, what happens to us?
John: Well, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to go on with the series, thinking I had said all I wanted to. And I had, in some part, but something happened along the way that rarely happens to me. I got attached to you idiots. So though the books will not be Tales From Foster High, they will be about you two and your journey into college and beyond. I don’t know how many books it will be or how long, but yeah, you guys are coming back.
Brad: Sweet. Told ya he liked us.
Kyle: I guess we’ll see what happens next.
John: We sure will. Anything you guys want to say before we wrap this up?
Brad: Cowboys rule!
Kyle (sighing): The world is a mean place. I think evolution has done something to us that makes us unconsciously adversarial to other people. It is easy to just think about yourself and how you feel, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Life can be so much more if you just realize it is easier when everyone tries to care. If everybody in the world just gave a little bit then everything would change. So I say this to you, I dare you to try more. I challenge you to make the world a better place by just being a better person. Hold the door open more, smile a little longer, and try to think about how the person across from you feels just a couple of more times. Life is not a race, and it is not a game, and we all end up with the same prize at the end, so why not make this whole thing more enjoyable for everyone involved instead of trying to get just what you want?
I bet you’ll find at the end of the day you feel better about life.
Brad: You see this? And he wonders why I am in love with him. Boggles my mind.
John: Thank you, boys, this was fun. We should never do it again.
Kyle: I so agree.
Brad: So there’s no food? I was promised food.
John: Come on, burgers on me.