Once upon a time, there was fat (FAT) redheaded (recently permed) boy who had coke bottle glasses. Don’t worry, things were about to change. He soon got braces. That made things better. He was a student in a Midwestern Christian elementary school, in which his father was the principal. To keep from getting bored, God also saw fit to make him gay, and while he didn’t provide the boy with the definition of that particular word, he instilled the ‘symptoms’ from the time he was three or four. He wasn’t made fun of (the boy, not God) too much. A little, for being fat, but not a ton (yeah, ton, I went there). The making fun would happen in 9th grade, when he wasn’t fat anymore, had straight teeth, and wore contacts. In 9th grade, when he transitioned to the public school and learned what the word Faggot meant and what it felt like when it was screamed down the halls. When it was combined with being slammed into lockers. Even, once, when it sidled up next to a knife that was slammed into a woodshop table in front of the boy’s face.
Opps, got carried away.
Once upon a time, there was the little boy. You’ve met him. He would sit on the floor in the bathroom while his beautiful, sweet, kind, and strong mother would get ready. He’d sit on the floor and tears would roll down his cheeks. He’d sit on the floor and use the closed toilet as a table to hold up his book. Not a novel. Not yet. It was a book that taught phonics. Reading was hard and confusing. Reading was torture. Reading showed him how stupid he was, the fat redhead, four-eyed little fag.
Then one summer, around fourth or fifth grade, that same beautiful mother, who would soon set her foot down about the amount of food her son ate (thank God!) somehow forced that little boy to read Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Secret Garden.
No, really. It changed.
"The dogs are Dunkyn and Dolan, my dogs who inspired the book that is coming out this fall, Then the Stars Fell."
"The other two photos are what inspired the short story: Prologue for the Grand Adventures Anthology that comes out March 31st for Eric and TJ."
From that moment on, the boy never put down a book. It was the Little House series, then Narnia, scads of contemporary Christian fiction for kids, the entire Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew library. Don’t forget Garfield and Archie. It was the Secret of the Unicorn Queen books, all seven of them. It was every version of The Little Mermaid he could get his hands on.
Later, the skinny, newly two-eyed, Christian boy who was a fag that ran into lockers, was reading every historical fiction he could get his hands on in reference to World War II and the concentration camps. He didn’t see the connection to where he was. He would later.
Pretty soon, as a fifteen-year-old sophomore, another beautiful and smart woman entered his life. Ms. Hungerford. She asked him to write stories. He did. Many of them. Each time, that teacher spoke words that changed his life, words that wouldn’t give him the courage to fight for another decade, but words that formed and changed, and sowed seeds that would sprout into wings one day. She told him his words were beautiful. That his writing was good. That she loved reading what he wrote. To be honest, if you were to look back at those stories, you would think she was lying. Maybe she was, but she sowed anyway. She sowed hope and love into that little farm town fag.
Words change. Words comfort and rip apart your heart. Words show you worlds you feel around you, but could never see. Words told a little boy he wasn’t alone and that there was more to life. Even if only in pages.
Words give the courage to search for change beyond pages.
When I’m not entirely sure why I have to write (No. I HAVE to write. It’s no longer a choice. It’s air.), I come back to that. Books changed my life. Books are still changing my life. Through deaths, heartbreaks and break-ups, failures, struggles, and confusion, books have been there. Through successes, love, new lives, and hope, books have been there.
Now, there are books in the world with my name on them. They may not change many lives. They may not help shape someone’s life, or offer them comfort, or clarity. They may not transport them to somewhere beyond where they are. They may not. But, they might. They just might.
That’s what life is. Books and words. That’s what books and words are. Life. From the beautiful to the grotesque. From the elevating to the vile. Books show us the world and life. We capture life and worlds in books.
Once upon a time, there was a fat, red-headed, coke-bottled faggoty little boy who would soon have braces. He read and dreamed. Writers of stories who didn’t know the boy existed continued to throw him lifelines and hope.
Currently, there is a continuously weight-fluctuating, auburn haired, Lasik seeing faggoty man who’s straight teeth are kinda crooked because he forgets to wear his retainer. He writes stories and throws lifelines and hope (and sometimes tears and terror, and an overabundance of parenthetical phrases, as long as his editor doesn’t see them) to people he doesn’t know.
About Brandon: Brandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he can be found tucked away in his favorite coffee shop, nose inches away from the computer screen, fingers pounding the keys. When he manages to tear himself away from the coffee shop addiction, he passionately takes on the role as a special education teacher during the daylight hours.
Brandon Witt is offering a copy of Submerging Inferno AND The Shattered Door to one commenter on this blog. You can comment on LJ or DW if you have an account (I will send a PM to the winner), if you don't have an account, please leave a comment on DW with a contact email.
Submerging Inferno (Men of Myth) by Brandon Witt
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (August 19, 2013)
Amazon: Submerging Inferno (Men of Myth)
Amazon Kindle: Submerging Inferno (Men of Myth)
A Men of Myth Story
Brett Wright and Finn de Morisco come from vastly different worlds. Disowned by his family for being gay, Brett builds both a life on his own terms and walls around his heart. But nothing can prepare him for the evil that stalks him in the night or from discovering the dark secrets of his heritage.
The youngest of a doting family, Finn lives a sheltered life that allows him to trust easily and makes him quick to jump to the rescue. While using his knowledge of the supernatural world to help Brett uncover the truth of his ancestry, Finn learns neither his magical life nor falling in love is as simple and risk-free as he believed.
New knowledge comes with a price—one that may prove too high for them to pay.
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It's an unfortunate truth: love doesn't always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
The Shattered Door by Brandon Witt
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Itineris Press (August 13, 2012)
Amazon: The Shattered Door
Amazon Kindle: The Shattered Door
Itineris Press, the best in quality GLBT faith-based fiction, is proud to offer The Shattered Door by Brandon Witt.
After a tortured childhood and years of soul-searching, Brooke Morrison has finally settled into a comfortable life. While his sexuality prohibits him from practicing his degree in youth ministry in a church setting, he’s found a fulfilling job as a youth counselor at a residential treatment facility in Colorado. He falls in love, marries the man of his dreams, and makes peace with God. He’s happy.
Then his buried past drags him back to the Ozarks.
The life Brooke has worked so hard to build is crumbling in his hands in the face of painful memories and past abuse, and his confidence is withering. In El Dorado Springs, where his nightmares come to life, Brooke desperately seeks closure life doesn’t offer. Brooke must find value in himself, in his marriage, and in the world around him—and create the hope and perseverance to keep his past from swallowing him whole.
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