Now he must overcome feelings of worthlessness in order to rebuild his battered self-esteem.
Tommy’s lack of self-confidence prevents him from going out... at first, but then has him ricocheting from one man to another, desperately trying to please them in his search for love and acceptance.
After being rejected on New Year’s Eve, and then beaten after leaving the gay bar, he agrees to accompany his best friend, Sarah, to a martial arts club. There Tommy meets Marcus, a strong older man, who at first becomes his friend, introducing Tommy to new interests, and later, tentatively asks him on a date.
Will Marcus be the man to help Tommy put his past behind him and fall in love for real?
Tommy finally manages to escape from the abuse, but what is clear is that he thinks he is worthless and not very loveable at all. This really shows in his actions, when looks online and finds a gay bar nearby, and over the next few months seems to be picking up a new man every couple of months…. This changed on New Year’s Eve, when someone told him how he was acting, and then while trying to get back home, he was attacked.
This made Tommy take a good long look at himself, and he realised he didn’t like who he was. At work, luckily for him, someone had recognised the signs of him being previously abused, and had offered to go for coffee with him when he wanted to talk, and finally he decided to do so, and it was the best thing he could have done – he finally admitted to someone exactly what had happened to him, and made him realise that he wasn’t the only one it had happened to, but he only he could stop his destructive behaviour.
When he finally agrees to go with Sarah, his best friend, to a martial arts class, he is surprised with how much he enjoys it – even more so as it gave him some way of defending himself. He was trained while there by Marcus, and began to feel attracted to Marcus, but for obvious reasons did nothing about it. One evening it was just Tommy and Marcus at the class, and while training Marcus held Tommy around the neck and this totally freaked Tommy out…. And Tommy eventually admitted to Marcus what had happened, and there tommy found a kindred spirit as Marcus had been in exactly the same position.
Over time, Marcus and Tommy grew closer and began dating, and Marcus was conscious of the fact that Tommy was apprehensive, and it was like he was treating him with kid gloves. Tommy was so convinced that he would do something to spoil things – and he very nearly did when he jumped to all the wrong conclusions when Marcus hadn’t contacted him for a couple of days. All the insecurities he thought he had overcome hit him again, and he very nearly threw away the best thing that had happened to him – but when he found out the Marcus had been hurt, he felt comfortable enough to tell Marcus what he had been thinking. This only seemed to strengthen their relationship, and Tommy was able to bask in the glow of being in love and knowing he was loved back for who he was. This story does have a HEA, and I am glad it did, but to me this book showed how even though you escape the abusive relationship, the after effects can take a long while to be put behind you, and sometimes they rear their ugly head when you least expect it.
Please also read the Guest Post below….. as it will also give you a real insight into this story. Thank you Louise for being so open and honest.
“Hi, Shane,” I said brightly.
“Hi.” He cleared his throat. “About Saturday....”
“Yes?” I wondered if the arrangement for the weekend was to change.
“It’s not gonna happen. I’m sorry.”
“Oh!” I felt the smile slip from my face, and I waited for him to elaborate.
“I’ve got a girlfriend. She’s been working in Spain for a few weeks, and I didn’t think she was coming back until next month, but she turned up this morning. Sorry.”
“Girlfriend?” I echoed, stunned.
“Yeah, I’m bi.”
“I thought you said you broke up with someone recently.”
“Well, she’s been away a long time, and we’d had a row when I said that.” I could picture him shrugging as he spoke.
“Oh. Okay. No problem.” I did my best to sound as if I didn’t care, while my heart plummeted into my shoes and tears prickled at the back of my eyes. When I ended the call, I reminded myself about everything that had been wrong in the very brief relationship. He didn’t talk, we had nothing in common, and he was inconsiderate in bed. But I’d liked him, far too much, and it fucking hurt that he had a girlfriend I didn’t know about. It hurt that he’d probably only been using me to fill in the time until she came back.
I curled up on my bed and wrapped my arms around myself. I wouldn’t let myself cry—I’d done far too much of that over Colin—but my throat hurt with the effort of not giving in to it, and my jaw ached from grinding my teeth. I lost track of time as I lay there feeling sorry for myself and wondering if I should have stayed with Gary after all.
“Tommy?” Sarah called softly from the doorway and waited.
“Yeah.” I rolled onto my back and forced a smile onto my face.
“What’s wrong, hun?” She closed the door and came to sit on the edge of my bed. My smile apparently hadn’t been very convincing, and I let it slip away.
“Nothing, I’m okay.”
“You were all excited when your phone rang, and now you look like a puppy that’s been kicked.”
“Thanks.” I grimaced and tried to laugh it off.
“Is it that bloke you’ve been seeing?”
“Shane. I’m not seeing him anymore. He’s got a girlfriend,” I blurted out. My eyes smarted again, and I blinked.
“I’m sorry.” Sarah rested her hand on my shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “But you’d only seen him a couple of times, hadn’t you?”
“Yeah, well, I’m a prick. We didn’t even have much in common. Less than me and Gary. But somehow I suppose I....” I sniffed miserably and sat up. “I really liked him.”
“Oh, Tommy.” Sarah slid her arms around me to give me a cuddle, and I sagged against her. I felt pathetic. I couldn’t say I was heartbroken over someone I’d had sex with twice, but I felt the sharp pain of rejection all over again, and the fragile confidence I’d built up since I left Colin began to crumble. Shane slipped from my mind, and I thought of a situation I’d been in with Colin more times than I could count.
“Get your shit packed and get out of here, Tommy.” Colin sneered at me from the couch. “You’re a pathetic waste of space and I’m sick of the sight of you.”
“You seriously want me to leave? Who’s going to pay the bills, then?” I asked.
“I’ll have no trouble getting a new flat mate. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. There are plenty of cute boys out there. I don’t know why I stuck with the ugly little slut you are for so long.”
“Fine. I’ll go.” I turned away from him as hot tears spilled down my cheeks. He didn’t want me, didn’t care about me. I felt lost and crushed and relieved all at the same time. Maybe this time he’d really let me go.
I went into the bedroom and found my rucksack. I began packing my clothes first, while I sobbed and snuffled, and repeatedly wiped my eyes and nose on my sleeves. It was just after our first anniversary. He’d given me the ring and told me how much he loved me, how special I was to him, and how things would be perfect between us from now on. I’d almost forgotten all the times he’d hurt me, and even though I didn’t like the ring, I’d been delighted to receive it. It made me believe he really did love me. The next couple of days had been perfect—until now. I could barely remember what had started it—something to do with him not liking my suggestion we go out somewhere. We spent our whole lives cooped up in the flat except for me going to work and him going fishing with Gary. I’d thought we could do something nice together, but he could only see that I wanted to get out so I could look at other men or get attention from them.
I crammed the last few items into my rucksack and set it aside. I looked up to find Colin standing in the doorway, watching me.
“I’m sorry, babe,” he said. “I didn’t mean any of it. You know how jealous I get. I love you so much, and I want to keep you all to myself.”
“So why did you tell me to leave?” I said in a small voice.
“I wasn’t thinking straight. I don’t want you to leave. I never want you to leave.” He came to me and took my hands. He stroked his thumb over the ring I wore. “This means we’re together forever. I’m never gonna let you go, Tommy. I promise.” He began kissing my face all over, tasting my tears. “Forgive me. Come on. You know I love you.”
The day had ended with him fucking me on the floor from behind, so hard he’d almost smashed my head into the wall. I’d been so sore afterward, I could barely sit down without yelping.
“Tommy, are you sure this is just about Shane?” Sarah was stroking my hair, and I realized I’d wept all over her blouse and left a wet patch on her shoulder. I pulled away and rubbed my hands over my face.
“Sorry. Uh... yeah, I’m just being stupid. I thought things were going well. Clearly I was wrong.”
“Are you sure that’s all? You seem so upset.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You know, I don’t get why you broke up with Gary. He seemed really nice.” Sarah frowned in puzzlement. “He treated you well, didn’t he?”
“Yes, but we had nothing in common. We never did anything except... never mind.” I laughed and felt my face heat up. “I’m fine, really.”
I was fine. I moped for two days and then went out to La Rues again. I met Paul, whom I dated for two weeks. He was ginger and freckled, and I wasn’t really attracted to him, but he was keen on me and he made me feel better. My confidence rose again, and I forgot about Shane. I felt good and I began to feel I could get anyone I wanted.
My Inspiration for Beyond The Scars by Louise Lyons
One day in April 1994, I escaped from 2 years 10 months of physical and mental abuse, with only some clothes and my much-loved car, which had somehow survived along with me. It was the only thing my abuser didn’t succeed in taking away from me. My character Tommy Chadwick escapes with a couple of bagfuls of belongings and his little red Mini.
The basics of the story are very close to my own experiences and feelings—for example, the day Tommy escapes and the events of that day. Later he discovers that walking out the door and leaving an abusive relationship behind is not the end of it. He craves love and attention, and tries to find this by having sex with a lot of random people, and of course he finds nothing but hurt and sadness. Eventually he takes the advice of a close friend and also a work colleague, and changes the way he goes about things. He finds someone special in an unlikely place, just as I did. Tommy finds Marcus, who’s completely different from any of his past lovers.
There are plenty of events and details in the book which are only Tommy’s life that I’ve created for him, but the outline of the story came from my own experience. In a way that made it easier to write, because the basics were in my memories rather than me having to create them first and note them down. The process of writing the story was also cathartic for me. Even though more than 20 years have passed, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
When I was about 16 years old, a friend showed me a video of the movie, My Beautiful Laundrette, starring Daniel Day Lewis and I loved it. I bought a copy and watched it over and over and it gave me the idea to write gay romances. Back then I wrote stories to entertain myself featuring my favourite rock stars, which eventually developed into MM Fanfiction some 20 years later.
When did you first realize that you were a writer?
I’ve always written stories, going back to being 8 years old and making up stories about little girls and ponies. But I didn’t really see myself as a writer until I’d written some successful Fanfictons resulting in some of my readers suggesting I publish something. I didn’t think it would be that simple, but after taking the advice of a couple of friends who’d gone the same route and were a little ahead of me, I received my first acceptance in February 2014. Then it became real, rather than just for fun.
What genre of writing would you classify yourself with?
I’ve written in a number of sub-genres under the MM heading, including contemporary, supernatural and sci-fi, but I would say primarily I write contemporary.
What's the most difficult element of being an author today?
For me personally, it’s promotion. Social media is a big part of that nowadays, and I’m still learning and developing myself with regard to Facebook and Twitter. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, so putting myself out there and making a connection with people I don’t know is often difficult. In general, I would say one of the most difficult things is the endless sites which post authors’ work available for free, basically stealing the pennies out of their pockets. That’s both difficult to stop, and difficult to stomach.
What advice would you give an author, just starting out, who wants to write gay fiction?
One piece of advice I was given, which I’ve repeatedly taken, is read, read, and read some more. When you’re done reading, read again. I’ve learned so much by reading a wide variety of gay romance authors’ work and my writing has improved greatly by doing that.
If a reader hasn't read any of your books yet, which one would you recommend?
I would suggest they read my brand new novel, Beyond The Scars, being my newest work. It’s contemporary which seems to be one of the most popular genres, it has angst, real life dramas, and a happy ending, so something for everyone. And my writing has developed and improved over the year I’ve been published, so I would also say it’s my best work to date, but that’s just me.
What is it that you believe draws a large amount of female readers to MM novels?
I’ve always found it difficult to identify with the female characters in “bodice-ripper” romances. I like to explore the discovery of a male character realising he likes other men, and the more equal relationship between two men than what you would have in a MF romance. Not only that, but I’ve always thought two men together is incredibly hot, and from what I’ve heard from other women, they feel the same way.
Where would you like to see your career in 10 years from now?
I would love to be able to write full time and earn enough to make a living. If I could get my wish, in 10 years’ time I’d be spending my mornings writing, and my afternoons reading, editing, promoting and so on. And I’d have enough to pay the bills each month without having to worry.
What is something that you would like your readers to know about you?
I have a tattoo on my back with the words Carpe Diem in it. I try to live by the motto “seize the day” and cram as much into life as I can. We’re only here once, and the time we have may be cut short unexpectedly. You never know what’s around the corner, so live it while you can, as well as you can.
What do your readers mean to you and how interactive are you with them?
Without my readers, I’d still be writing little fics to entertain myself, so I’m very grateful to each and every one of them. I love my old Fanfic readers, who encouraged me to take the next step, and I love everyone who’s bought one of my books, or joined in one of my promo events, or taken the time to talk with me on Facebook or Twitter. Every comment encourages me to keep writing and putting out more stories for them to (hopefully) enjoy.
What was the last book you read and your thoughts on it?
I read Layla Dorine’s debut novel with Wayward Ink Publishing - Guitars and Cages. I love an angsty story, and damn, there is angst. Main character Asher is full of pain and self-loathing over things that happened in his past, and at times the reader despairs of him ever pulling himself out of the hole he’s digging deeper and deeper for himself. The story really moved me (to tears several times) and I found myself rooting for him and praying for him to move forward and find love and a happy ending. I won’t tell you whether he gets it or not - just read the book for yourself. It’s amazing.
If you could come back as any animal or mammal, what would it be and why?
When I was a kid I always wanted to be a horse, but I’m not so sure I’d enjoy literally getting a bit between my teeth and carrying somebody about! I’d quite like to come back as a dog. My own dog (a Doberman named Trojan), lives the life of Riley, only having to think about sleeping, eating, going for long walks, and barking at the Postman!
Do you have a philosophy by which you live?
I mentioned this before and it’s Carpe Diem. Live each day like it’s your last, because you never know when it will be your last.
What is your favourite curse word?
Haha, I say “fuck” a lot, but I’m sure most people do. If I’m really really angry, I say the “C” word, otherwise used for women’s bits, which I can’t bring myself to write because I find it very vulgur. I like it for the reason it makes me cringe and laugh at the same time, so whatever I was mad about seems less important.
Lastly, any hints on your next book that you might be working on??
I can tell you I have another release at the end of August, called Beautiful Thunder. It’s set in the early 1990s around the era of the second wave of glam rock. That was my era growing up and I spent many a night in a (UK) famous club called Rock City in the city of Nottingham. This club features in the story, which is about a young guy, Alex, trying to make it as a singer. He joins a local band and falls for the guitarist, but their budding relationship and the band’s future are fraught with problems.
What I’m working on right now is a novella set in the same time period as Beautiful Thunder. It’s unnamed as yet, but is about a guy named Martin who’s always hung out, gone out etc with his best friend, dating girls together and so on. But it never felt right to him. Then one night in a gloomy nightclub, he meets one androgynous person who he tries to convince himself is a girl, but inside knows it’s a boy, and he falls hook, line and sinker.