A long time ago, in a faraway land (that’s how it feels some days), I created two characters named Benjy and Kyle. I wrote a few short stories about them that weren’t very good. Truth be told, I wasn’t surehow to make their stories good. I knew I liked them as characters, and I knew what they stood for, but I wasn’t sure exactly what their story was supposed to be.
I was smack in the middle of revising these horrible stories about Benjy and Kyle when a real-life story flashed across my computer screen: Eric Arvin and T.J. Klune’s story. And I wanted to help…only I didn’t have a lot of money.
But I did have something else. I had all of these stories, just sitting on my computer.
So when I got wind of the Grand Adventures anthology, the project to raise money for Eric, I knew what I could do: I could take one of my failing stories and un-fail it, so to speak. I could make it worthy of this anthology.
I suppose sometimes you need the right incentive to write characters the way they should be written…because “The Twinkie Ignition,” the short story I eventually submitted for publication in the Grand Adventures anthology, ended up being exactly what I knew it could be. Sure, it wasn’t perfect—nothing we write ever is. But it was Benjy and Kyle at their best, truest form: full of hope and humor and love.
So Grand Adventures was published, and I was thrilled and honored to be a part of that work. There was only one strange thing about the publication of “The Twinkie Ignition.”
It was the end of Benjy and Kyle’s story. And no one, not even me, knew the beginning.
Sure, I had a beginning sitting on my laptop, but it was short, and terrible, and it didn’t feel complete. Because I’d never been quite sure exactly what their beginning was supposed to be.
With “The Twinkie Ignition” fresh in my head, fully realized, I was finally able to finish the beginning of Benjy and Kyle’s story: the story of how they met, how they nearly missed each other, and how a whole slew of other people brought them together. The story eventually became a novella titledDepending on You.
I’m still incredibly honored to have been part of the Grand Adventures anthology. And I’m also grateful to have been a part of that anthology. It gave me the push I needed to find the right words for characters I’d been struggling with for so long…it gave me their ending. Today I get to release their beginning.
For years now, I have been deeply inspired by the words of Eric Arvin and T.J. Klune. These two authors both craft words in such beautiful ways that characters and plot can only gape as they go by.
It seems fitting that Eric and T.J. would be the reasons two of my characters finally found their voices.
Blurb: A prequel to The Twinkie Ignition
It all started with a diabetic kid who wouldn’t stop eating cookies. And a best friend who’d just announced his bisexuality and hit on everything that moved. And a kind pediatric nurse with an amazing rack, a lying ex-boyfriend, and a nasty case of the chicken pox.
But mostly, it started at table 42.
When Benjy Moreland almost collapses during his restaurant shift, Dr. Kyle Penners wants nothing more than to take care of him… but if there’s one thing former foster kid Benjy values, it’s his independence. A dying man and a sick little boy force Kyle and Benjy to work together, and both of them have to make some important choices about what it means to depend on someone.
About J.E. Birk: J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5K she won’t end up running, or trying to figure out why a good strong housecleaning never lasts longer than two days. Occasionally @jebirkwrites will say something on Twitter.
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