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Length: 130,000 words approx.
Dr. Christopher Allen knows how to deal with death. He’s a psychiatrist who works with hospice patients and their families, helping them cope with grief and letting go. But Chris’s job doesn’t prepare him for the sudden death of his devil-may-care brother Cal.
At Cal’s funeral, Chris is completely thrown when he meets Elliot Rawlings, an artist Cal has been dating. Chris is hurt to discover that the brother he knew as straight was actually bisexual. Elliot is angry and resentful of having been kept hidden from Cal’s family.
After the funeral, a night of drinking at the bar with Cal’s friends leads to Chris and Elliot falling into bed together. The next morning, they’re overwhelmed by guilt and grief and agree to never speak of it again.
But Cal’s apartment needs to be packed up and Elliot reluctantly agrees to help Chris, as well as answer some questions about Cal’s life and their relationship. Despite their guilt and initial dislike for one another, they sort through the pieces of Cal’s life and begin to fall for each other.
Despite his best efforts to fix things, Chris’s family seems to be crumbling around him and he begins to question who he is and what his role with them is. As his feelings for Elliot grow, Chris must decide if they’re worth further damaging his fragile relationships with his friends and family.
Elliot’s rough upbringing has left him distrustful of getting close to anyone, much less another man who isn’t willing to acknowledge him in public. The odds seem stacked against Chris and Elliot, but if they can overcome them, they may be able to lay Cal’s ghost to rest, along with their own demons.
One of the issues dealt with in “The Ghosts Between Us” is alcoholism. Chris’s father is a successful pediatrician. He’s well to do, loves his career, and has a stable family life with his wife and two kids. When Chris was a child, his grandfather died. Chris’s father dealt with it by drinking. It alienated him from his family and created problems in his career.
I wanted to write about that time in a flashback to experience it from Chris’s perspective. He was only eight so it was challenging to imagine what it must be like through a child’s eyes.
I am lucky enough to say that I don’t have any personal/family experience with addiction. I knew in order to write it, I would need to do more research. When I reached out on Facebook and asked if anyone I knew would be willing to discuss their own personal experiences with me, I was staggered by the responses.
The sheer volume of people who reached out to me and were willing to share their very personal stories and emotionally difficult upbringings blew me away. I was humbled by their willingness to be open about very painful memories.
Although I’ve always known the writing community is wonderful, this experience made me especially appreciative of the people behind the scenes who contribute to making a story.
As I wrote this novel, I delved into Chris’s memories of his father’s alcoholism when he was a child. I also explored his feelings about his father’s relapse as an adult. The experiences that my friends and readers shared with me gave the character and story a depth I never would have been able to achieve without them.
Several people even said that they were glad that their experiences could be helpful. It allowed them to find a silver lining to the struggles they went through. I try to build fully-fleshed out characters and plots that are believable and I always strive to make my stories as realistic as possible. Having these real-life experiences to draw from allowed me to do that.
One of the people who shared their experiences with me was a beta reader for this story as well. I was relieved to know that I would have someone look over it and point out any issues that I had. Having someone to be sure I hadn’t made a misstep was important to me. Although no two experiences are ever alike, it was a relief to know that I had someone who had been through somewhat similar situations growing up to offer me feedback.
I am always so appreciative of that feedback I get from friends and readers. It’s true for every story, but it was especially critical for this one. “The Ghosts Between Us” wouldn’t have been the same without these people. And, in the end, I hope I’ve written a story that is compelling to the reader and done a very difficult subject justice.
About the author:
Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.
To stay up to date on her latest releases, sign up for the Coles and Vaughn Newsletter.
Social Media Links:
Facebook Author Page
Facebook Fan Group (Brigham’s Book Nerds)
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