Because I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life in the rural Midwest, the “It Gets Better” campaign reverberated strongly with me. How, I wondered, did small-town kids who weren’t strictly heterosexual cope with their orientation vis-à-vis family, peers, and community? I’ve known a smattering of GLBTQ persons since taking up residence in the country but not nearly as many as I’d known in cities. Besides, the people I’d met were adults, not children or teenagers, and they’d done their coming-out and “acclimatization” elsewhere.
My most recent release, The Zero Knot, is a result of my wondering. Set in the same fictitious lakeside town as Visible Friend, this novel explores a budding relationship between two eighteen-year-old boys in the summer following graduation from high school. Their growing closeness takes place in a larger, often confusing context -- the one defined by their upbringings and aspirations, parents and siblings, former classmates and current jobs, and by the unique effects these influences and interactions have had on each of them.
You’ll get some idea of what I mean in the blurb and excerpt below.
The Zero Knot is available in print and ebook editions, from all major online book retailers. You can read the entire first chapter at the Dreamspinner Press site, http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2565, and reviews at the following:
- A Bear on Books (Tom Webb) http://tom-webb.blogspot.com/2011/11/zero-knot.html
- Joyfully Jay http://joyfullyjay.blogspot.com/2011/11/review-zero-knot-by-kz-snow.html/
- Queer Magazine Online http://www.queermagazineonline.com/component/content/article/223-book-reviews/book-reviews/37145-the-zero-knot-by-kz-snow
My author site - http://www.kzsnow.com
M blog – http://kzsnow.blogspot.com
* * *
The Domino Club—a teenage version of a secret society, formed by four small-town friends to explore their bisexuality. Two years into his membership, Jess Bonner has had enough. He isn’t bi, he’s gay, but he’s just been afraid to admit it. He’s also an 18-year-old bound for college and bent on making a break from pretense.
When Dylan “Mig” Finch admits he’s also gay and fed up with the club, he and Jess give in to a mutual attraction that’s been building for years. Mig isn’t college-bound, but he’s one of the finest people Jess has ever known.
As the young men struggle to define their relationship and determine their priorities, forces they can’t seem to control keep tripping them up: sexual appetite, personal insecurities, fear of discovery, and more.
They need clarity. They need courage. Just as they’re on the verge of finding both, an act of vindictive jealousy sends one of them to jail. All their hard-won victories are in danger of falling to dust.
The only way for them to preserve what they have is to recognize their bond for what it is…and fight for its integrity.
* * *
“So,” Jess said, veering into safer conversational territory, “what’s your fantasy vision of your future?” He looked down at Mig and spoke softly, although the other couple wasn’t close enough to eavesdrop.
Mig linked his hands over his ribcage. “To claim my life, I guess. Make something of it that I want to make of it.”
“Be Dylan Finch, a good man and good welder, not Mig Finch, Tom and Angie’s bashful, uptight kid. Get my own place, spend time with people whose company I enjoy. No more lying or hiding or playing games.”
It was rare to hear such restrained ardor in Mig’s voice. His wish, and the fervency of it, spoke to Jess’s own nebulous dreams. He wondered if they’d bother making room for each other in their futures or if their relationship had slipped into its own restrictive slot—the one for short-term sexual flings.
Heavy stuff, and it immediately began to weigh on Jess. He tried for a lighter mood. “So you don’t want to keep doing what we did at Crash Alley?”
“Oh, I want to keep doing that,” Mig said with a grin as he cast Jess a look from the shadow of his cap. Just as Jess smiled back, Mig’s grin faded. “Just not in toilet stalls and front seats and back rooms.”
Jess nodded. Mig had inadvertently weighted their conversation even further.
It hurt to hear him talk like this. The tone of his voice hurt and the truth of his words hurt. That nagging fear of being “caught,” of being found out, was always with Jess too. But his fear would soon diminish. There’d be little threat of censure in liberal Madison, and no lack of privacy.
Jess wanted that freedom here and now. He wanted to trace Mig’s profile, run a finger over his lips, lie half on top of him and give him a deep, leisurely kiss. He hated that he couldn’t do any of those things. Yet if he or Mig were female, the people who shared this little spit of land with them wouldn’t mind witnessing such displays of affection. They’d even think, Isn’t that sweet? Or Don’t they make a cute couple?
Suddenly, Jess hated that double standard with a ferocity he’d never felt before. And it was because, he realized, he’d never been in public with a guy who’d meant something to him. Until now.
A soft creaking and rustling came from behind him. Jess glanced over his shoulder. The couple had risen from the picnic table and now strolled back toward the path.
“We’re alone,” Jess said.
“But we won’t be alone for long.” Sighing, Mig linked his hands behind his head. “Shit, Jess, just to be able to make love on a bed or even on a couch or in the shower….”
Another tingle crept through Jess’s groin. “Kitchen table. Counters. Deck.”
Mig smiled. “Rooftop.”
“Naked to the world.”
“The universe!” Mig thrust a hand toward the sky, fingers outspread.
Without thinking, Jess reached up and laced his fingers through Mig’s. Together, they slowly lowered their hands to the strip of trampled grass between their bodies. Mig squeezed Jess’s hand, and Jess lifted Mig’s and kissed it.
“I like your vision,” Jess said quietly.
Voices sounded at their backs. Reflexively, they disengaged their fingers.
Jess rested his arms on his upraised knees. “Where are you going to find all the guys to populate this fantasy?”
Mig gazed at the quaking crown of leaves overhead. “One would be enough to make me happy. The right one.” He sat up, repositioned his cap, and squinted at the lake as if an array of men frolicked over the glinting surface. “I just have to find him.”
Another throwaway observation that caught Jess unaware and walloped him. Yeah, he had his own dreams, restless but repressed, and even if Mig only spoke Mandarin, he’d be speaking to those dreams.
Or maybe, just maybe, he embodied them.