Please join me in welcoming author Brandon Shire to Friskbiskit today. His new book, Afflicted sounds like it's right up my alley. Be sure to leave a comment, because Brandon is generously giving away a free copy to one lucky commenter.
Thanks for the invite Jessica. So happy to be here to talk to you.
Writing Afflicted has been an interesting experience. I had been writing for about 15 years before friends finally convinced me to publish, and as many of my regular readers know, I go right for the gut on some fairly dark aspects of homophobia and gay life. I’ve had readers, reviewers, and my editor send me emails about how I have left them sobbing at their computer. I make no apologies for that. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand what happens when homophobia evolves into violence and I believe it is important for people to understand the emotional devastation that follows because of it. A cursory ‘that’s so sad’ simply empowers those that contemplate such actions in the future and creates disbelief at some of the harshness that growing up gay entails.
But Afflicted isn’t like that at all. In fact, readers specifically asked for a happy ending. So what I have tried to do is take that same outpouring of emotion, flip it around, and pepper it with a serious dose of sex and sensuality.
I wanted to try something unique though; a topic that isn’t covered much in LGBTQ lit. I had a small piece that I had written about a decade ago about a gay blind man and I took that and extrapolated it out into Afflicted. The difference with Afflicted (from most other M/M novels) is that because the main character (Hunter) is blind, the book has almost no visual cues. No looking deeply into another’s eyes; no knowing glances or visual appraisals of the local man candy. Almost the entirety of the book revolves around the other senses: touch, taste, smell, and sound.
Honestly, even in writing it, the book made me think about sex in a completely different way, and what I mean by that is more than just putting a mask on your partner for 30 minutes of fun. It was a complete submersion in those areas of erotic input; and I really don’t think I’ve fully touched on all of them as much as I wanted to. Not even close. (I’m working on Afflicted II.)
There was also another reason for the main character’s blindness. In researching the book almost every single page I found on the internet had inaccurate, misleading, or derogatory information about blind LGBT people. (What little there was to find.) And there are very few books that I am aware of that delve into the complexities of being blind and gay. I deal with that in the book as well.
Meet Hunter Stephens. He’s gay, tall, dark haired, and he’s hot. Very hot. But he doesn’t rely on the visual cues when appraising a man because he’s also blind. He listens to the timbre of their voice, trembles at the touch of their skin, and luxuriates in the deep richness of the aroma of man. He’s hard of the hand because he’s a black belt and takes no shit, but soft of the heart because he’s lonely and has been for a while.
Until he meets Dillon.
Dillon Chambers is straight man candy. He’s a high priced male escort that works with an exclusive agency who handles only the wealthiest of clients. But it wasn’t always like that for him. At sixteen he was thrown out of the house for being gay and struggled to survive, turning tricks on the street and finding food and a place to sleep wherever he could. He met two people that changed his life, but he has never met anyone who could change his heart.
Until he bumped into Hunter.
And now they are both Afflicted.
Thank you for visiting, Brandon, I really enjoyed hearing about Afflicted. It's going on my TBR list right away.