Guest Blogger: Johnny Miles
Sep 27, 2011 Filed under: guest blogger, m/m
Sure! I’d be happy to. My latest release is “Learning To Samba” and it’s about a 48-year-old romance novelist still mourning the loss of his long-term lover. Brian Oliver comes to New York to reacquaint himself with his former life, his sister, and to find a new purpose in life. What he didn’t bank on, however, is João Da Silva; a 25-year-old Brazilian bombshell Brian falls in love with.
What is your favorite genre to write? What other genres do you enjoy?
So far the only genre I’ve written has been porn, erotica and m/m romance. There are others I want to branch into but haven’t found the courage to do so yet. As for other genres I enjoy reading, there are all kinds: drama, horror, thrillers. Believe it or not romance is probably the last on my list. I know, I know. Considering what I write it’s a bit weird, huh?
Do you have a favorite character from one of your books?
I don’t know that I have a favorite. I like them all for various reasons. However, if I had to choose one I identify with the most it would have to be Brian Oliver from “Learning To Samba.”
Is there a style or genre of writing that you haven’t tired yet but you’d like to explore?
Ohhh, yes! Sci-fi. Fantasy. Horror. Thrillers. I’d love to try a psychological horror or something paranormal. Someday soon, I will!
How do you make time in your life for writing?
While I was unemployed it was easy. I had nothing else to do. However, now, since I’m working from home, I have to schedule writing time. It’s been VERY difficult but I’m hoping to get better at managing my time. I need to make it more of a priority because it’s what I want to do more than anything in the world; to make a living from putting words together. I can think of no better way to make a living! Except maybe…well, no. That’s illegal. Hmmmm. What could Johnny be thinking about?
What do you like to read? Do you have some favorite authors?
I like to read all kinds of things. Lately I haven’t been able to read much. By the time the day is over it’s either too late in the day or I’m too sleepy after nearly 12 hours in front of the computer. But I still do read! Off the top of my head, some of my faves are J.K. Rowling, Armistead Maupin, Val McDermid. Lately I’ve added Michael Jecks to that list, too.
If you decide to take a Saturday off, what are we likely to find you doing?
Choose six adjectives to describe yourself.
Sympathetic. Empathic. Sensual. Ummmm. Six? How’s about we leave it at 3 for now. After all, it’s a magical number! At least that’s what someone once told me.
Describe the perfect meal.
The perfect meal I think would be perfectly simple. Pizza, a bottle of chianti, my partner and maybe some friends, with plenty of laughs. That sounds delightful!
If you were a dessert what would you be and why?
A canoli of course! Hard and crunchy on the outside, rich and creamy on the inside. I love canolis! 🙂
Excerpt from “Learning To Samba” by Johnny Miles
No matter where I live or how far I roam, New York was, is, and probably always will be the center of my universe. Even after moving away close to twenty years ago — though I’d visit at least once a year — I considered New York to be my home, despite the gloom and grime, the sticky summer heat, and the overwhelming sensory overload that family can be.
New York is where I get grounded. It’s where I reconnect when I’m feeling lost. Is it any wonder, then, I would come back here once I chose to take control of my life again?
The last time I’d come back was after my partner, Joshua, died. Seven years was a long time to be away, and as much as I loved New York, I admit it felt odd to be back in the city after traipsing through Europe for so long, almost as if I were a stranger in my own land. Much had changed. It had been a while since my parents had passed on, I no longer had friends in the city, and my sister and I hadn’t exactly parted the best of friends after Joshua’s funeral.
But I suppose there comes a time when we all want to go back to recapture something we might have lost along the way.
In Brooklyn I didn’t feel so painfully lost and without direction. I could remember who I used to be and where I came from. It was the one place that could remind me of who I wanted to become and where I wanted to go next. It was also the one place that never failed to remind me of why I chose to leave in the first place.
* * * * *
After the plane landed at JFK, I took the Air Train to Jamaica Station. From there, I hopped on the subway and went into Manhattan, then on into Brooklyn — to Flatbush and the Borough of Kings.
The closer I got to home, the more nostalgic I became. Armed with my backpack — which contained my laptop, e-reader, and a couple of days’ worth of clothing — I allowed myself several hours to retrace some of the steps I’d once taken during my high school years: Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza, Brighton Beach and Coney Island, my high school which looked so much smaller than I remembered it.
When I got off at the train station near home, I walked down Newkirk Avenue, past my first apartment — a one-bedroom, on East Eighteenth Street. From there, I walked to the bagel shop at the corner of Foster. The owner was ancient now, his face lined and furrowed, but he was still there. It didn’t surprise me. Some people never leave Brooklyn. They never dream for more than what they have beyond their four walls. Or maybe they do and think they can’t do anything about it.
Joshua used to think they lacked courage.
I ordered a heavily buttered bialy and a chocolate drink, the way I used to when I was in high school, then sat on the bench across from the store. The melted butter ran down my fingers as I sank my teeth into the bagel. I closed my eyes and savored the taste, being in the moment and breathing in the brisk air.
I opened my eyes and took a swig of the chocolate drink. It didn’t taste anything like I remembered, and I wondered if it was the flavor that had changed or me.
After polishing off the bialy, I took a final swig to wash it all down, then tossed the rest of the drink in the trash. I wiped my fingers with a napkin from inside the now almost see-through bag.
All that butter, I thought. Definitely not good for the heart or the battle of the bulge that had become increasingly more difficult to keep at bay. Once, I could eat anything and not worry about how I looked.
I was still trim and in decent shape. Not many men could say that at my age.
With a sigh, I wondered what had happened. When had my youth slipped away? I’d been so busy planning and doing that I hadn’t noticed I no longer had the spontaneity I once possessed. Or had it possessed me?
Nothing mattered then but my impetuous desires and the passions of life. Now I longed for simpler days when I knew everything and, without thought to consequence, would say, “Fuck it! I’m outta here. You’re all a bunch of douche bags.”
Everything had been sunny then. One continuous spring and summer I took for granted.
I looked up at the sky, and the weak autumn sunshine felt good on my face. It seemed as if it tried to assure me.
Something’s coming. All you have to do is wait.
I took a deep breath, exhaled, and cautiously hoped it was so. The last seven years had been far too painful being alone. Getting older didn’t make it any easier. Especially when all the beautiful young men I admired or who struck a spark in my loins all seemed to consider me ancient.
But there was more to it than that.
I hadn’t written a single word since Joshua died. Each time I faced the blank computer screen, each time I sat down to try, characters, scenarios, and plots escaped me. I’d become unmotivated, uninterested, and lacking in focus.
The worst thing was that I had begun to think I’d dried up. That maybe after a dozen books and a couple of movie options, I had no stories left in me.
And if I couldn’t write anymore, if I couldn’t tell a story and move myself while doing it, then what was the point…of anything?
* * * * *
I turned the corner onto Westminster Road and stopped suddenly. Would my sister, Kay, even be there? I hadn’t called to let her know I was coming, I hadn’t e-mailed, and I hadn’t bothered to send her a note via snail mail. She probably didn’t even know I’d been out of the country.
And what makes you think she wants you in her house after all those hurtful things?
No. Not her house. Our house. The house we both grew up in.
I pushed my fears down to where all the others lived and looked at my wristwatch. Three in the afternoon. There was a good chance no one would be there. Then I remembered Kay had chosen to continue a practice begun by our mother. She used to leave a key beneath a flowerpot beside the wicker couch on the porch.
Old, comforting memories. Funny how they always made me feel like a child again.
I shifted my backpack and started walking. Just a few more houses, on the right.
As I slowly made my way, a strange sensation — something like a band — wrapped around my chest and back. My lungs felt as if they didn’t want to expand. I forced myself to breathe. To relax. Everything would be fine.
What if I didn’t find what I was looking for? What if the direction I needed, what I had lost, remained in the distance and out of reach? Or worse yet. What if I never found it again? I tried to tell myself it wouldn’t be like that. New York never failed me. Nor did it cease to amaze me. I might not get exactly what I wanted, but New York always gave me what I needed — new experiences and a recharge, even if it sometimes came at a cost. There was always a give and take.
The thought made me think of Joshua, as the city always did, and a refrain from his favorite song — Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” — popped into mind.
It was so easy living day by day, out of touch with the rhythm and blues…
I started to cry, secretly ashamed that after all this time I wasn’t over Joshua completely. Unable to stop the tears that escaped me, I was at least grateful there were no witnesses.
Damn you, Joshua! Why did you have to leave me alone? Why didn’t you listen? Why didn’t you quit smoking?
But what was the point of asking such questions? He’d died seven years ago now. And no matter how many people said it got easier, that I’d get over him, I never had. You never get over someone being gone. You just get used to it.
I still missed Joshua. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day. On my birthday. On his birthday. On our anniversary. When the day dawned blue with promise and when it was gray and dreary.
Holidays were the worst. Kay would call months in advance, even after the fight we’d had. She always left a message in a tone that sounded almost apologetic. She’d invite me to come and stay with her and the kids, but I never did. Not just because of our fight. I just couldn’t be around people. Loneliness was sharp enough, alone during holidays. While in the company of others, however, it was so sharp it sometimes took my breath away.
Strange how one person can invade every single cell of your body with his essence, his scent, his spirit.
Something fluttered in my heart as I stood at the curb, and I could have sworn Joshua was near. Goose bumps broke out on my flesh, the way they did when Joshua so much as smiled at me. A tender breeze, like a soft kiss, caressed my skin.
Let me go, the breeze seemed to whisper. I leaned into it with longing, as if it could possibly stroke my cheek the way he once did.
I still felt lost without him, possessed by his memory. I knew it was time to move on, but how do you put behind more than twenty years of knowing and loving someone? Sharing your dreams, thoughts, and ideas. The good times and bad. The waxing and waning cycles of sex — sometimes even the occasional third partner to help spice things up.
It was time to put myself back out there, but I was frightened and nervous. Except for the sometimes-necessary hookup, I hadn’t dated anyone since Joshua died. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to date again. My single days hadn’t exactly been fun-filled.
But I wanted someone to hold me at night and tell me everything would be all right. Someone who would keep the monsters from crawling out from under the bed. Only I didn’t look forward to sitting in a bar, glancing into my drink or off in the distance with a detached stare, avoiding another’s gaze for fear of seeing my own desperation reflected in his eyes.
There was also the gnawing realization that of the three men I’d met in seven years, none of them had been able to satisfy my sexual cravings.
“Excuse me. Can I help you?” someone called in an accent I couldn’t place. Surprised, I sucked air sharply into my lungs and quickly wiped my tears away.
A young man in his midtwenties stood before me. He was shirtless, his hands on narrow hips, groin thrust toward me. His skin, the color of brown sugar, was naturally smooth. It looked like it would feel soft under my touch. He was toned and defined with round sculpted shoulders, perfectly shaped limbs, and washboard abs. Two veins, one on either side of his belly button, ran down on a slight angle and hid somewhere beneath worn and faded, low-riding jeans that left much to my imagination, several inches below a flat navel.
“Are you…looking for someone?” The young man’s question forced me to glance away from his groin and up into his face. He had full and luscious red lips, slightly parted. They appeared as if he had been sucking on a cherry ice pop.
He had thick, incredibly dark hair, somewhat tousled, and an almost Roman nose.
But it was his eyes that caught my breath and refused to let go. They glittered and sparkled with much life, curiosity, and wonder. Yet something dark and tumultuous, almost broody and intense, lurked near the surface.
I knew on the spot he was trouble, or perhaps just what I needed.