Hi guys, we have Gene Gant visiting today with his upcoming release Borrowed Boy, we have a wonderful guest post from Gene and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
An entire life can be snatched away in an instant.
Thirteen-year-old Zavier Beckham is an average teen living in Memphis. He has great parents and a quirky best friend named Cole. He’s happy, and he thinks his life is totally normal… until an FBI agent shows up and informs Zavier he was stolen as an infant and sold to an adoption agency.
Now his biological parents want him back.
Forced to confront his distant past, Zavier faces an uncertain future. He may be taken from the only home he’s known by parents who are strangers living in Chicago. He may have to deal with a brother who hates and torments him. He meets Brendan, an older boy who offers him friendship and wakens a strong, unsettling attraction in Zavier. Brendan has secrets of his own, and he’ll either be the one ray of light in Zavier’s tense situation or the last straw that breaks Zavier under the pressure.
.•.•.**❣️ Pre-order: Harmony Ink | Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK ❣️**.•.•.
The Origin of Borrowed Boy
If the writers’ blogs I peruse regularly are any indication, one of the questions that seems to be foremost on the minds of many readers is how an author comes up with a story. “Where did you get the idea for this?” Frankly, it’s a question I often find myself asking after being dazzled by an especially exciting premise of another writer’s work.
As every story is different, so is its origin. In the case of Borrowed Boy, it began with asking myself, “What if?” Young adult novels are often explorations of identity, taking place during the stage of life when we are beginning to move away from the protective guidance of our parents and facing unnerving situations on our own for the first time. A teen character begins to look at himself vis-a-vis the people and situations around him, trying to understand exactly how he fits into the world he happens to inhabit. Or a teen character discovers something about herself that rattles her foundation and forces her to realign her expectations of herself and others. I was driving home from having lunch and talking books with a couple of friends when this question popped into my head: What if a kid was happy with his life and then found out it was a lie?
The idea seemed nightmarish at the time, and immediately I began channeling Stephen King, thrusting my as yet unformed protagonist into all manner of horrible situations. As I began to focus on just who the protagonist would be, I also started to pull away from the spooky aspect. That may have been due to the fact that I instantly thought of the protagonist as a twelve year old boy. Terrorizing a kid that young wasn’t how I saw the story going. No, this novel needed to be grounded in the ordinary, everyday world. I turned my focus toward real-life situations that would fit the premise of the story.
As I concentrated on plot details, my main character took on a name: Zavier. Friends call him Zay. He immediately took on other characteristics. He loves his skateboard and video games. He has no time or desire for pets. He has a tight bond with his parents and is a solid student, doing well in school. Straight and black, he wants dreadlocks like a friend or celebrity idol of his has, but his parents won’t let him grow them. And he has a firm, mutually supportive friendship with a best buddy. There are no issues, no drama in his life.
Sounds like a boring guy, at least for a protagonist. But then everything that makes his life so stable and happy gets ripped away when….
I was stuck dangling there for a while.
If not a supernatural cause, how do I tear this poor kid’s life apart? I ran through ideas involving hospitals and mistaken identity, but none of them had the dramatic punch I was looking for. Zay was torn out of his real life and placed in the false world he’s grown to love by…a kidnapper, maybe? Yes! Yes, that would work.
The story began to build from there. It also evolved, as stories often do. One of the first things I realized was, given a twelve year old main character, I was in the territory of middle grade books, something I’ve never written before. Zavier pulled the plot in a different direction when he started exhibiting an attraction to the teenage guy next door. Maybe he wasn’t as straight as I’d expected him to be.
This wasn’t middle grade stuff, I decided. Not that a middle grade novel can’t cover kidnapping and same sex attraction, I simply wanted to write this for an older audience. For the story to work as I envisioned, Zavier had to be on the younger end of the YA spectrum but definitely not twelve. So I aged him up a bit to thirteen going on fourteen. And the exploration of sexual identity added a new, rich layer to the story.
Sometimes an idea becomes a gift that keeps on giving. Borrowed Boy inspired a companion piece, a story that takes sort of a reverse spin on the premise of a kid being torn out of the life he’s known. It’s darker and deals in more serious themes but, like Borrowed Boy, it is an ultimately hopeful presentation, a reminder of the tenacity of the human spirit. The companion piece, Golden Like Summer, is forthcoming from Harmony Ink Press in 2019.
THE SUN was riding low on the horizon when we finished with the cars. I felt tired but happy as we put away the hose, bucket, and sponges and made our way into the house. Mom met us at the kitchen door.
“You two look as if you washed yourselves down more than you did the cars,” she said. “Take off those wet clothes and get cleaned up. Dinner will be ready in about thirty minutes.”
The place smelled of salmon croquettes and roasted corn on the cob. Not one of my favorite meals, but after that workout Dad put me through I was starving again and willing to eat just about anything. I took a quick shower and dressed in a clean pair of basketball shorts and a tank top. I grabbed my phone and walked into the living room to watch television until it was time to eat. Before turning on the television, I stopped in the middle of the room to check for messages.
There was a long series of texts from Kerry, a guy I knew from school. He lived about two miles away, but we still hung out from time to time. His texts started out trying to get me to meet him at the Cineplex to catch the new Avengers movie. When he got no response, he texted that he was going to the movie without me. After the movie he texted again and again, and of course he still got no response. His last text, sent just six minutes ago, really showed his frustration: R U DEAD OR WHAT?
I sent a message to let Kerry know I’d just gotten my phone back. As if on cue, Mom spoke up behind me. “Zavier, I’m starting to think that cell phone is a part of your hand.”
“Come on, Mom. I haven’t had it for hours. I’m just trying to get caught up on my text messages.”
She walked into the room and stood in front of me. Gently, she reached out, took me by the chin, and lifted my face away from the phone screen. “What about your reading and vocabulary lists? Are you trying to get caught up on those?”
“I’m halfway through the vocabulary words.”
“That’s good. Where are you on the reading list?”
“So you haven’t read even one of the books yet, is that it?”
“I’m gonna get to them, Mom.”
“When, Zavier? You always put things off. This is almost the end of June. In three weeks, we’re going to be on vacation in Orlando. Do you really want to spend that time sitting in a hotel room catching up on your summer reading while your dad and I are out having all the fun?”
“Wow. You didn’t have to go all nuclear on me. Okay, Mom. I’ll start reading a book after dinner. I promise.”
She smiled, leaned down, and kissed my forehead. “That’s what I wanted to hear. Come on and set the table. Dinner’s ready.”
“Just let me text my friend back and I’ll be right there.”
Mom returned to the kitchen, and I checked out the text Kerry had just sent demanding to know how I’d gotten deprived of my phone. For a couple of minutes, we texted on that subject. Finally I let him know that I had to go and that I’d have to catch up with him later. Just as I sent that message, someone knocked at the front door.
I raised my head. Through the glass in the door, I could see a woman with short pale-blonde hair peering in at me. She waved, smiling. “Hi there,” she said, her voice muffled by the glass and wood.
I went to the door and opened it. The woman was slender, not as tall as my mom but just as pretty. She wore dark blue pants and a white blouse and a blue cotton blazer. Her smile brightened a little now that we stood face-to-face. She seemed friendly enough until she pulled out a badge and held it up in front of me. “Hello. Is this the Beckham residence?”
“Yes, ma’am.” A shiver went through my chest into my stomach.
“Are your parents at home?”
Before I could answer her, Dad called out, “Is someone at the door?”
“Yeah,” I called back. “It’s the police.”
There was sort of a giant pause, as if the whole house held its breath for a second. The lady cop and I stood looking at each other, which got major awkward really fast. Then Mom and Dad came into the living room at the same time. I glanced back at them. They both looked puzzled at first, but they quickly broke out with smiles.
“Zavier, don’t keep her standing out there,” Mom chided. “Let her in.”
I stepped aside, and the lady cop walked in. She extended her hand, shaking first with Mom and then with Dad. “Hello,” she said. “You’re Charles and Rudi Beckham?”
“That’s us,” Dad replied. “How can we help you, Officer?”
“I’m not a police officer,” the woman said, holding out her badge to them. “My name is Audra Henley. I’m an agent with the FBI.”
There was just a glimmer of worry in Mom’s eyes. “Well, my goodness. Why’re you here, Agent Henley?”
“I’d like to talk with you and your husband, Mrs. Beckham.” The woman started to say something else but stopped and flicked a look at me.
Mom and Dad looked at me too.
“Hey, kid,” Dad said. “Why don’t you go on out to the kitchen and get the table set? Then I want you to wait there for your mom and me. We’ll be in as soon as we finish talking with Agent Henley.”
“Okay, Dad.” I usually did what I was told. Something about this whole situation had me nervous, however. I walked out of the living room but didn’t go to the kitchen. I let the louvered door swing shut after I stepped into the hall and then quietly pressed my back against the wall. That kept me close enough to the living room to hear everything going on in there.
“Please have a seat, Agent Henley,” Mom said. Rustling sounds followed as the three of them sat down. “Now, tell us what brings you around.”
Agent Henley cleared her throat. “I’m here about your son.”
Gene Gant on Gene Gant: “If you ask me, a good book is the best form of entertainment in the world. A book can touch the human imagination at levels movies, TV, and video games will never be able to reach. It was love of reading that lead me to become a writer. I’m Tennessean by birth, a resident of Memphis for most of my life. I tried living in a few northern cities after graduating from college, but I couldn’t take the brutal winters, and I missed good ol’ southern barbecue. Now I make my home on a country lane outside of Memphis. When I’m not reading, working out, watching movies or spending time with family and friends, you can find me tapping away at my computer.”