A big thank you to Posy Roberts for stopping by 3 Chicks After Dark to discuss the emotional impact of writing abusive/controlling and also co-dependent characters. Welcome, Posy!
I’ve never been one to shy away from difficult subjects in my writing. I think some of that comes from my line of work and being aware of human plasticity and healing. There’s a huge range in how people manage similar experiences: grief, for example. Some manage to go about life with little consequence, while others go off the rails.
There are some days I delight in making my characters suffer. At other times I can barely face the words I need put down on the page and do anything to avoid writing. But there’s a reason I’m going there: I enjoy digging deep into the psyche. I find it fascinating to see how past experiences or trauma play out in behavior and the way characters think.
When I started to write Tangled Mind, I knew it would go a place that would be difficult for me to visit: death. Beck Lund has lived in a codependent relationship with his boyfriend Brady for years, one where he’s felt compelled to keep things on an even keel, despite self-sacrifice. Brady suffered from severe depression that no traditional therapies helped ease, so he turned to illegal drugs. That drug use leads to the opening scene in the book, which was a challenge to write, but I was compelled to write it.
Tangled Mind is a story that deals with death, grief, self-discovery, eventual healing from co-dependency, and finally the possibility of new love. It was draining to write. I’m not going to even try to sugarcoat that. It brought up personal fears of losing my own loved ones and made me examine my own relationships, even though I’ve never been in one like Beck and Brady. However, I’ve seen codependent relationships from the outside, and they are very hard to watch.
When the story idea came to me, it was in the form of the opening scene. I was nowhere near a computer at the time, and the scene was so vivid in my mind that I ended up crying in public: lots and lots of silent tears that didn’t let up until after I’d gotten home and put the scene down on paper. I had to let it sit for at least a week before I was able to go back to even read it, and up until the last time I read the scene during my final round of edits, I ended up crying. I obviously pulled out some pretty intense fears of mine, but I still had to keep writing despite the emotions this brought to the surface.
Beck feels lost behind a scrim of grief for part of the story, so when I wrote this, I had to put myself into that headspace. Let me just say, I’m thankful this was a novella and not a novel, because it never would’ve been completed with all the mental breaks I needed. But when Beck starts to recover and heal, it’s great to watch him feel hope again and to see that he can have a future without Brady in his life. When I started writing a hopeful Beck, I found it so much easier to write, and I no longer needed the mental breaks.
So while difficult, I find great satisfaction in being able to share the stories of flawed characters. I keep saying I’m going to write a fluffy story next, pure fluff. Well, my WIP is about a man suffering from PTSD, so that didn’t happen after Tangled Mind despite all my best efforts. Maybe the next one.
Meet the author:
Posy Roberts writes about romantic male love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.
Posy is married to a man who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep; her daughter, a budding author and dedicated Whovian, helps her come up with character names. When Posy’s not writing, she enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.
Connect with the author:
Released 24 December 2014
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art by Maria Fanning
For years Beck Lund has taken care of his volatile boyfriend Brady, always putting Brady’s needs above his own and walking on eggshells to keep the peace. After Brady overdoses on heroin, his death devastates Beck. Thankfully his best friend, Timothy Kallis, finds him the help he needs. Beck slowly starts to recover and moves in with Timothy to get back on his feet, but he’s oblivious that Timothy is secretly nursing romantic affection for him.
Beck focuses on his own healing for the first time in his life. After months of challenging his codependent tendencies and learning how to stand up for himself, Beck finally starts to trust his gut and hopes to one day love again. Timothy is patient throughout, taking care of Beck in ways no one ever has. But if Beck can’t recognize Timothy’s affection for him, it might be too late for them to move beyond friendship.
Before I had a chance to shut the front door, the sound of Brady choking on his own vomit pierced my eardrums. I was in our bedroom within seconds to witness him take what ended up being his last breath. Immediately I rolled him to his side to help him clear his airway. He flopped onto his back.
Abdominal thrusts. I slapped his face and shouted his name.
I followed the directions the dispatcher gave me on speakerphone, putting my effort into every motion as tears ran down my face.
“The paramedics are on their way. Do you hear the sirens yet?”
“Yes,” I said as I used my full weight to come down on Brady’s torso, trying to dislodge whatever particle had stopped all air from moving in and out of his lungs.
Nothing helped. He just stared up at me with glazed-over eyes and refused to breathe.
“Goddammit. Don’t you dare leave me like this!”
I blankly watched as the paramedics swarmed into the bedroom, shooing me away so they could assess Brady’s condition, and I saw the grim looks on their faces when they realized what had really happened. The frenzied activity ceased, and their demeanor changed the second they found the syringe, spoon, and lighter.
Tangled Mind is a story of hope and triumph over sadness and hurt.
The story begins with a devastating situation. Beck opens the door of his home to hear his partner of 10 years choking on his own vomit. Beck rushes to his side, calls 9-1-1 and takes lifesaving measures until the paramedics come. Unfortunately, his partner Brady, doesn’t make it. Beck is devastated. For years he has given all of himself to Brady’s care and devotion. Loving a depressed man who cannot find medications to help his condition is hard enough. Loving a man who turns to drugs is even harder.
We get the feeling that Beck loved Brady but towards the end it was more guilt keeping him in the relationship. He fears leaving will send Brady into a depressive spiral. The guilt he’d carry if something happened to Brady after he left would be too much burden. Even though being with Brady wasn’t the easiest thing, he did love him at one time. Brady has his problems but Beck was loyal.
Grieving for a man like Brady is not something Beck’s friends understand. How can they when all they saw was the hurt, pain and hardship Brady caused Beck? They never saw the earlier years, the happy times and the fact that Brady cared about Beck and helped him nurture his inner artist.
We get the privilege of working through the steps of grief with Beck and experiencing his journey. His grief, fears, sadness, hope, loss, strength and courage. We’re there when he realises the level of co-dependency his relationship had taken on. Through it all, his friend Timothy is there to help him grieve and is just there to listen and comfort. He’s non-judgmental and caring. Timothy is a rock.
As Beck is mending, he grows closer to Timothy and their relationship starts to take on a bigger role. They both want more but in order for that to happen, Beck need to break the old habits and ways of dealing within a relationship. He doesn’t have to be the sole provider. Timothy wants to take care of him just as much as Beck needs to take care of Timothy. Can he open himself up to that, or has Brady broken him. Keeping him from ever seeking a healthy, normal relationship?
Bring tissues for this story because when someone is dealing with a loss like this, it is difficult to not be pulled into the storm of emotions and sadness. The triumphant ending to Beck’s journey makes the struggles toward happiness that much sweeter.
RATING: BAD ASS (WARM, TALL SOCKS WITH) BOOTS!
Giveaway: E-copy of Tangled Mind by Posy Roberts!