Hi guys! We have Huston Piner stopping by today with his new re-release My Life As A Myth, we have guest post from Huston where he answers a couple of questions, a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway so check out the post and click that giveaway link! <3 ~Pixie~
My Life As A Myth
Can a cool reputation really deliver on promises of happiness?
Nick’s got problems. He’s a social outcast who dreams of being popular, he’s an easy target for bullies, and he doesn’t understand why he’s just not attracted to girls. So, after a series of misunderstandings label him a troublemaker on his first day of high school, he’s really stoked to have Jesse Gaston and his gang take him in.
Jesse starts a PR campaign around campus to give Nick a new image, and the shy loser soon finds himself transformed into an antiestablishment hero. While Nick would rather explore his growing attraction to Bobby Warren, he’s forced to fend off would-be girlfriends and struggles with the demands of acting cool. And things at home are spinning out of control as the Vietnam War’s destructive impact threatens to change his life forever.
Nick’s story is both humorous and haunting–a journey of ridiculous misadventures, unexpected psychedelic explorations, and tragic turns of fate. Can a world still reeling from the sexual revolution and the illicit pleasures of marijuana and underage drinking accept two boys in love? Can Nick and Bobby’s relationship survive a hostile time when acid rock rules, status is everything, and being gay is the last taboo?
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How did you come up with the plot and/or world you’ve built.
The title and basic plot of My Life as a Myth came together almost simultaneously. One day, I had to run an errand and as I was getting ready to leave, the phrase ‘My life is a myth’ came to me. At the same time, in my mind, I saw a kid standing outside an elementary school waiting for the bus to take him to his first day of high school. The kid is watching a group of other teenagers from a distance because he senses that one of them is about to cause trouble. Trouble does indeed happen, but our kid gets blamed for it.
By the time I got back from running my errand, I went straight to the computer and wrote a rough draft of the first scene.
After reading it to my partner, he said, “What’s the title again?”
I said, “My Life is a Myth,” but he heard “My Life as a Myth.”
With that one-letter difference, the whole plot fell into place. Nick would be a shy teenager coming to terms with the fact that he’s gay who has a penchant for getting into trouble. A new friend would start a little PR campaign, and Nick would become popular, but be seen as an outgoing, authority-flouting, lady’s man. In short, the book would recount Nick’s life as the mythical Napalm Nick. After that, much of the book wrote itself.
Share fun facts about geographic locations where your romance novels or other fiction takes place.
The mythical town of Chadham is central to My Life as a Myth, almost a character itself. Of course, the setting is important for any story. If the reader doesn’t see a place as real, the story suffers. Consequently, the author has to make the setting and location vivid and realistic.
This doesn’t require massive amounts of detailed descriptions, but it does mean that what is described must have a certain geographical integrity. A simple way to achieve this is by basing the locale on a place or places you know. This way you’re less likely to goof up and have a character living in a two-story townhouse at one point of the story only to have him complain at another point that the rocking of his houseboat keeps him from getting a good night’s sleep.
For Myth, I used the town I grew up in combined with a couple of other places I’ve lived. Thus, for example, while Nick attended elementary and middle schools more or less within walking distance of his home, he now takes the bus to Chadham High, located outside the town limits. Bobby also lives outside the town limits near a wooded area with a pond. And Chadham has a park with a boardwalk fronting a river; The District has three movie theaters, etc. All these little details have a geographical consistency because of the real places used to ground the story.
Another benefit of this approach, at least for me, was that because Myth is set in 1969, when I decided to write a follow up set at a different point in time, all that needed to be changed were the kinds of things that would change in a real place over the passage of time.
Incidentally, while Nick and Bobby both live in fairly well-to-do neighborhoods, Jesse’s family live much more modestly, a fact Jesse is careful to avoid Nick discovering.
My Life as a Myth, Huston Piner © 2017, All Rights Reserved
Chapter One: Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Wednesday, August 27, 1969. 4:45 p.m.
My first day of high school. Boy, do I wish I could start over. I mean, I need to start over. I bet if you were me, you’d feel the exact same way.
What a day. It’s bad enough that I’m already the casebook example of a loser. A social life? I don’t have one. My few acquaintances don’t really count. If I vanished out of their lives, they’d never even notice. My only real friend is Bruce Philemon. He says I just need to try harder. So to help me try harder, I’m starting this journal.
Okay, about today: There I was, in front of the elementary school, waiting for the bus for my first day at Chadham High. Three or four girls were standing on the sidewalk talking with four or five guys. The girls had clearly spent a lot of time deciding what to wear, and given the way the guys were looking at them, they were all smiles.
Now, these guys were all bigger than me. And while we might have gone to the same middle school, they were two or three years older and looked kind of dangerous. So I decided to keep a safe distance.
High school—the great unknown. All I knew was we’re expected to be “adolescents,” which apparently means “emerging adults,” and act mature, and be interested in girls. And see, for me that’s a problem. How am I going to get a girlfriend when they gross me out? I mean, guys talk about how girls make them feel, but just looking at the Playboy Bruce swiped from his dad kinda made me feel sick.
So anyway, I’d been standing there a couple of minutes when Andy Framingham showed up. Now I’ve known Andy since first grade and he’s one of the most profoundly stupid people I’ve ever met. He had a can of Coke (his mother doesn’t trust him with bottles), and he foolishly tried to chat up one of the girls (a bad idea). One of the guys was obviously her boyfriend.
I moved a little farther away from what I knew would soon become “the scene of the crime.” A couple of the guys—who were all cracking their knuckles—started talking to Andy. Now, I was too far away from the scene of the crime to hear the exact conversation, but I got the idea one of the big guys challenged Andy to put his soda can somewhere that would probably be real painful.
At that point, Andy actually got down on one knee like he was saying his prayers—which I thought was a pretty good idea. Then he held up the Coke can like he was trying out for the Statue of Liberty and swung it down onto the sidewalk with the speed and force of a jackhammer.
It erupted like Mt. Vesuvius and sprayed the side of Andy’s head. The fizz also hit two of the big guys all over their shirts and chins. And as the can spun around, it ruined the girls’ first-day-back dressed-to-impress fashions.
Just as they all prepared to kill Andy and hide the corpse, Mr. Wiggins, the elementary school principal, came running from the building. He yanked Andy out of harm’s way and announced he was reporting everyone to the high school principal. Then he pulled out his notepad and started taking names.
At first, I thought I’d been far enough away from the scene of the crime to avoid guilt by association, but no. Mr. Wiggins finished writing down the name of the last soda-splattered girl and marched over to me.
“Name,” he said.
“Nick, uh, Nicholas—Nicholas Horton, sir.”
“Horton? I remember you. Still making trouble, eh? Well, this time Mr. Fuddle will see you pay for it.”
“No, sir. I’m Nicholas Horton. Not Raymond.”
The whole six years I went to Chadham Elementary, Mr. Wiggins treated me like a punk because he kept confusing me with my older trouble-making brother. But I’d hoped to put all that behind me at Chadham High. My plan was simple: keep doing what I’d done in middle school and lay low for four years. It should have been easy. After all, Raymond had been long gone by the time Mr. Fuddle took over as principal. But now, identified as an accessory to the crime, I would be squarely on Fuddle’s radar screen. Not good!
Mr. Wiggins warned everyone not to move and went inside to type up our death sentence. Then he came back out, slapping an envelope against his thigh. He stood there glaring at us until the bus came, gave the envelope to the driver, and watched to make sure we all got onboard.
Needless to say, the trip to Chadham High wasn’t very festive.
When we turned into the parking lot, I caught sight of a tall bald man in a cheap suit. His white shirt looked dingy, and the skinny tie could have come straight from a game-show host’s wardrobe. It was none other than Mr. Fuddle himself, arms crossed and scowling. Mr. Allen, the assistant principal, stood next to him. A couple of inches shorter than Mr. Fuddle but beefier, he was dressed just as square. He wasn’t smiling either.
Mr. Fuddle boarded the bus and gave each of us the stink eye before speaking. The driver handed him the envelope, and he read off the names of the condemned. Somehow, my name had gone from last on Mr. Wiggin’s list to first on Mr. Fuddle’s. Andy Framingham’s name concluded the roll call. With that, Mr. Fuddle told us to “stop by” his office during our lunch breaks, and emphasized we’d better see him before eating.
Huston Piner always wanted to be a writer but realized from an early age that learning to read would have to take precedence. A voracious reader, he loves nothing more than a well-told story, a glass of red, and music playing in the background. His writings focus on ordinary gay teenagers and young adults struggling with their orientation in the face of cultural prejudice and the evolving influence of LGBTQA+ rights on society. He and his partner live in a house ruled by three domineering cats in the mid-Atlantic region.