Title: Given the Circumstances by Brad Vance
Narrator: Brad Vance
Release Date: July 13, 2016
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words was lucky to have Brad Vance here today to share his thoughts about his latest novel now out as an audiobook and his part as its narrator and author. Welcome, Brad. So, lets get into it.
- As an author, how does it feel to not only be your own narrator but hear your book when the audio version is released? Are you surprised? Are there any differences in the way you imagined it would sound?
It’s always weird at first to hear a recorded version of your own voice. I was originally horrified when the first audiobook, A Little Too Broken, came out, and I listened to the Audible/Amazon samples. “Oh my God that sounds terrible! I put out a terrible audiobook!” Only after I listened to the sample on iTunes, which was much higher quality, and bought the official product, did I realize that Amazon skimps on the web page sample quality, so that’s why it sounded so terrible. Definitely put a scare in me, though!
- When writing a story that covers so many subjects, a man questioning his sexuality, coming out of the closet, substance abuse, and combine that with a burgeoning romance and professional sports…well, how do you keep it from getting out of balance? Not one or the other overwhelming your main storyline?
It’s tough. I always start with an outline. I’m totally dependent on the Seven Point Story Structure format to start – I get the bones of the whole book out there first. But, as most writers learn, your story and your characters change on you as you write, so the outline has to be rewritten on the fly, to include the arc changes you find yourself making.
The pro sports part is a big balance issue. I do a lot of research for my books, and I want my readers to feel like they’re really living the lives of my characters. And I just don’t see the point of giving someone a job like quarterback or outfielder, and then not painting that part of their lives. Playing pro sports are these guys’ lifelong dreams, and you’re cheating the reader out of some part of their identity if you just say, “he’s a football player, isn’t that hot, now let’s never discuss football again.”
On the other hand, there’s the risk of turning off readers who don’t understand the sports or aren’t interested. I don’t get great international sales on Given the Circumstances because American football and baseball are mysteries to most readers outside the US. So if I have a color commentary on an entire football game, it’s necessary as a plot point, but it’s a risk because it can push readers out of the story who know nothing about I formations, roll outs, pockets etc.
- When writing such stories, are you pulled emotionally into your storyline?
Oh yeah. Pretty much everything my characters feel is something I’ve felt. If I hadn’t, then there’d be no emotional impact – it would just be schmaltz, a Lifetime movie. Even more so when I narrate them – I found myself bursting into tears more than a couple times during both books. I always knew when I was writing, for instance, the parts about Brian and his quest for a father figure, that I was expressing my own needs there, but…when you’re writing it’s a different headspace than when you’re vocalizing it. Really saying those things out loud had me in torrents sometimes. At first I would try and stop myself, Boys Don’t Cry and all that, but eventually I just gave in, got it out, let the tape roll, and fixed it later in editing and production. When Tom’s dad is crying in the big finish to A Little Too Broken? That’s not acting! That’s me crying like a baby.
- What comes first? Your characters or your plot?
I’d say concept comes first. Given the Circumstances came about when pro baseball player Ryan Braun was caught using performance enhancing drugs, and there was a bunch of stuff in the news about how it had maybe destroyed his deep friendship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s Mr. Straight Arrow and had no idea. And some Beavis and Butthead part of me said, “Heh. What if they were gay lovers. Heh.” And it’s crazy shit like that sometimes that makes the gong ring in your head, and this gate opens up, and all the rest comes rushing out. What if they were! And I was off to the races.
At first it was just going to be a thinly disguised erotica story. I had no plans to make it a novel. But then I wrote the first scene and…there they were! Real people! And all the stuff in the book starting coming to me, the father figure stuff, the search for an escape and an edge in life vs. the dogged determination and self reliance (the whole “Marshmallow Test” theme), homophobia in such homoerotic sports, etc. That’s when I set up the outline and started designing it as a novel.
- How much of yourself, if any, crops up in your characters?
A lot, depending on the book. Jamie in A Little Too Broken has a lot of me, and Dane in Apollo’s Curse basically is me (minus 20 years!). But every character has reactions and emotions that I’ve had. Dex in Have a Little Faith in Me is closeted, which I’ve never been, but I’ve had his moments of rage and frustration, the sense of being locked out of some wonderful fun that everyone else is having but you, and I work all that into my people.
- Some of Given the Circumstances occurs when the characters are in school, looking back, what advice would you give yourself at an earlier age?
I wrote about that in Would I Lie to You, where Jesse asks Marc, if you could go back in time, what would you do differently? And Marc says, it’s Catch-22. If I went back and changed something, then the person I became instead would have a different regret, and he’d be sitting here wishing he could go back and change something else. I don’t know that with my biology, my upbringing, my temperament, that there’s anything I could have said to Mini-Me that he would have listened to a word of it.
- What’s your favorite genre (s) to read? As a child, as a teenager and now as an adult?
As a kid it was science fiction. I still read it sometimes, but not as ravenously. Now it’s mostly history. I love to read about places and people I know nothing about, and a really good narrative history writer is better than most novelists these days.
- What’s next for Brad Vance?
More audiobooks! Apollo’s Curse is in production now, and I’ve listed myself on ACX as a professional narrator, so we’ll see how that goes. I plan on turning my whole backlist into audio eventually.
I’m also doing professional editing work now for other selfpub authors. Can I plug that here? https://bradvanceauthor.com/brad-vance-editorial-services/
It’s harder and harder every day for authors to make a living just writing, so I’m expanding into these directions as well. If I can’t be a full time writer, then the goal is to stay employed as a “creative” in other capacities, and never have to go back to Cubicle City!
Thank you, Brad. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this interview. Now more about Brad’s latest audiobook, Given the Circumstances.…
Two promising college athletes meet, each needing something only the other can give him…
When Roger and Brian lock eyes on the first day of school, a friendship is born. Both men are hungry for connection – Brian needs the acceptance, encouragement and support he never had growing up, and when he finds out his new best friend is gay, it brings his own sexual identity into question. Roger needs a big brother, a best friend, but that will never be enough, especially not when he’s this close to big, strong, handsome Brian.
And both men want something more – careers as professional athletes. For Roger, the demands of the closet, the need to reject the love of a man to fulfill his love of the game, will be a crushing burden. For Brian, his downfall will be the substances he uses to get an edge over the competition, and to suppress his gnawing self-doubt and guilt.
One set of desires will bring them together, the other will force them apart…
Sub-Genre: Sports Romance, New Adult
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Just give me another minute, Brian appealed. But his feet didn’t listen, they kept propelling him forward, and his hand went to the door handle. I’m not ready.
It didn’t matter, he knew. He was here, the die was cast, as Caesar had said. He opened the door and walked in.
Look at them, he told himself. Brainiacs. What are you doing here? It was Cal State Berkeley, man. Not Party Hearty State College, where he maybe, probably, should have gone. It wasn’t Lessing College, where he’d at least been able to keep his scholastic head above water.
He had a year of sitting out ahead of him, a year in academia alone for the first time in his life. Fucking insane stupid NCAA transfer rules that deny an athlete a whole year in his prime, for what? To keep you chained to the wheel, for the benefit of the schools and the coaches and the boosters, never the student, no matter what claptrap they spouted about academic excellence, stay the course, blah blah blah.
There was nobody with a hand on his shoulder, nobody to whisper, “You belong here.” He was on a baseball scholarship, or would be next year. This year he was here on a boatload of student loans. And like anyone else in his situation, who’d made a huge change and realized it couldn’t be unchanged, his blood had gone ice cold and he’d thought, What have I done?
Everyone in the classroom was in their own little world, not even looking up at the new guy. Nobody looks at anybody, he thought, anywhere ever. Trying to make eye contact with people on campus was like a contact sport where the goal was to avoid contact. Some people were oblivious, in their own world. Some people were shy, some people were assholes. But almost nobody wanted to look at you, just nod, and smile, and say “Hey.” To just be…civilized. They acted like you were going to ask them for spare change, or beg them to join your cult. It was the first time in his life he’d been somewhere he didn’t know anyone. And it sucked.
But one guy in the classroom looked at him right away. A fellow jock, no doubt – another guy always watching patterns, movements, making sure no detail of the action escaped his attention.
The guy nodded, Brian nodded back. The desk on his left was empty, and Brian took it. Something tense unknotted inside him, now that he’d finally had his first friendly moment of the day, of his new life. It was something he’d needed like a glass of water.
“Hey, I’m Roger,” the dude said, offering his hand. He looked familiar to Brian, with his dark hair and big blue eyes, the ultra-white sclera of a clean-living man, and the pale skin of someone who either spent this last summer indoors or had sensitive skin. He looked to be just short of Brian’s own height of six foot four, but not as beefy as Brian. He had a firm grip, and a big hand. A really big hand. Meaty and work-toughened, like his own. Football, Brian thought. Was he a wide receiver? I feel like I should know who he is…
“I’m Brian.” Roger looked at Brian, at his serious handsome face, tanned from the summer he’d spent outdoors without any of the sunscreen Roger applied rigorously. He took in Brian’s dark hair and dark eyes, and felt his grip match Roger’s own.
Put it back, Roger told himself. But “it” was out – he was young and horny and this guy was…hot. He’s a big bastard, he’s got to be 240 at least. All muscle, heroic shoulders and chest. Rolling on top of you, wrestling with you, pinning you down, one of the one tenth of one percent of guys in the world who are bigger than you, who can do that, who can win that fight, the fight you’d put up to make him prove his worth, all the while wanting to lose, refusing to lose, thrilled to lose…
And then what? he said, discipline kicking in like it did every time now, every time he met a hot guy. Walk it forward. Let’s say he’s gay, and you fall in love, and then you’re a couple, and then everyone knows you’re gay, and that’s it for your NFL dreams, buddy.
No. He’d put too much into it for too long, to lose it in exchange for a couple quick spurts. Nobody knows who you’re thinking about when you jerk off, he thought. That’s all you get for the next ten years. Just…remember him. And use this tonight.
Dude is intense, Brian thought, feeling the force of Roger’s gaze.
Then there was no more time for conversation, as the professor dashed in the door, hair and papers flying behind him. “Good morning. As they say on the plane, our destination today is the Italian Renaissance. If that is not your destination, you’re on the wrong flight.”
That broke the first class tension, the tension when you didn’t know if the professor was going to be a flake, or an asshole, or an idiot, or a bore.
Meet the Author
Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.”
Aug 1 – Erotica For All
Aug 2 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Minds
Aug 3 – Diverse Reader
Aug 4 – Blog of Andrew Grey
Aug 5 – BFD Book Blog
Aug 8 – Cryselle’s Bookshelf
Aug 9 – Dean Frech
Aug 9 – Gay Book Reviews
Aug 10 – Dog-eared Daydreams
Aug 10 – Alpha Book Club
Aug 11 – Bayou Book Junkie
Aug 12 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents