I love discovering fresh literary talent, particularly in the genre of gay fiction, and was pleased when Seventh Window Publications introduced me to one of their new authors, Drake Braxton. His debut novel, MISSING, is a fun and sexy read, detailing what happens when a happily married man journeys to the Deep South for a 20 year high school reunion, only to find that his husband has mysteriously disappeared. Part romance, part suspense, MISSING takes readers on a fast paced ride, with twists you never see coming.
Drake Braxton took the time to engage in an interview via email, sharing more about his inspiration, gay literature, and his debut novel, MISSING.
Thanks for taking the time to "chat", Drake! Tell me about MISSING. How did the story originate?
Most stories have a strange place where they start and this one, as cliché as it sounds, was a real dream. I awoke in a panic, full of fear and sadness, as I'd dreamt that I had attended a reunion with my other half and he disappeared. My goal was to recreate that horrible feeling in the early part of this book.
Your lead character, Blain Harrington, has many issues he is dealing with, which I won't go into, as I don't want to ruin any surprises. But how did he come into being? What was your impetus for his character?
Blain is someone so different from me and yet, I'm sure there are parts of me in all of my characters. He wants desperately to be the good guy in the relationship, but he is deeply flawed and has done things in his past that haunt his current relationship. I also wanted to show a character that gets on a soapbox about how people are so judgmental towards gays and yet he has judgments of others based on their education, intelligence, background...a little Shakespearean book snob.
While MISSING isn't strictly a romance, it also isn't strictly a suspense novel, either. It straddles the two genres quite well. Were you aware, when you began the book, that it wasn't quite one or the other?
I love reading books that are not afraid to mix genres--that have sensual moments that propel the story, but also other moments of great romance or suspense. I needed to unravel the past romance of these two men and that led to twists and turns I did not expect. Interestingly enough, a few years ago, an LGBT publisher really wanted to publish the book, but only if I changed it to be a "true mystery." I couldn't do it. And in hindsight, I'm glad I waited and that Seventh Window has took the chance with the book.
Given the genre-bending, who is your reader? To what kind of person would MISSING appeal?
You know, my publisher and I talked a lot about this. He placed it in contemporary fiction on his site, but it's also listed as romance and suspense on others. An early reviewer thought it would cross-over to other audiences that are not necessarily M/M fans. While there are a few sexy scenes in the book, she believed (as I do) those are greatly needed for the plot and characterization and could still be read by people who just want to read a powerful story of love and relationships.
I've seen some of the press referring to the novel as erotica, which I didn't get at all. I mean, yes, there is sex, but unlike most erotica, the sex served the story, not the other way around. What is your take on sex within the novel?
I think that is a trap to which many M/M authors fall victim. If you are writing gay fiction, many feel the need to lump all of that fiction together. I'm not saying there isn't a place for erotica as many readers enjoy reading it. But I agree with you that MISSING isn't an erotic novel and I'd hate for someone to pick it up thinking they are going to have page after page of male vampires going at it. They are going to find some steamy scenes mixed throughout the book, but each of those are there for a specific reason.
What is the creative process like for you?
I've been writing on and off for years, but writing this story was very freeing. The way it flowed out of me was unlike anything I had experienced. Perhaps because I first thought it was one genre, which then decided to branch out. I think I love the creative process of not dictating that 'process' as I start writing.
Who are the authors that inspire you? What are your favorite books?
I love just about everything that Dean Koontz writes. I'm in awe of the playwright Terrence McNally. And I'd be a fool if I didn't mention the brilliance of what Armistead Maupin has given our community and all readers.
How do you see the state of gay lit? And where does Drake Braxton fit in?
While this is my first book out and I'm completely humbled to become a part of the gay lit scene, I've been stalking the internet for a while and watching the new crop of writers. Like yourself (whose book I loved), Arthur Wooten, Eric Arvin - so many out there that cover so many different genres. I think there will always be a need for the gay comedy, the erotic, the literary fiction. But I also think we may very well see the time when gay fiction is not set apart from other fiction: it is just fiction. My wish is to be a new voice that will offer a multi-genre take on sexuality, romance, and whatever genre I may try and tackle that will show gay characters in all sorts of different lights.
What's next for you? I need to know what else you have up your sleeve!
I have a few short pieces I'm attempting to get into anthologies, among other places, and my next novella is a romance that deals with time travel, train wrecks and trapeze artists. A gay romance hidden in a circus... Who doesn't love a circus?
Drake Braxton can be found on the web and on twitter. MISSING is available now at Amazon, BarnesAndNoble.com, and other fine booksellers.
Cross-posted on Huffington Post and Kergan Edwards-Stout.