Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley
Publisher: Self-pub (S.A. McAuley, LLC)
Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 21, 2019
Length (Print & Ebook): 332 pages (print), 103k words
Warnings: alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting
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Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan who drinks more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.
Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.
When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.
Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.
“Not all of the boys are like Ryan.”
Chuck nodded, looking away. “Matt and Kam were cool.”
“I don’t know, Jesse.” Chuck leaned against the building, gaze focusing on Jesse again. “What about you?”
Jesse’s stomach swooped, and his heartbeat kicked against his breastbone as he heard Ryan’s voice in his head. An all-too-familiar lick of fear coursed through his veins. Fear that was grounded, rational, and a necessary protection mechanism.
But his body also thrummed with adrenaline from the almost bar fight, and the alcohol had worked its way through his bloodstream, loosening his inhibitions and short-circuiting the part of his brain that reminded him he didn’t hook up with guys within the borders of Kensington.
Chuck’s heated gaze bored through Jesse, and his question lingering in the air between them left that option open. Up to Jesse to make a move—or not.
“The night doesn’t have to end like this,” Jesse said. “My house is just around the corner.”
Chuck pushed off the wall, brushing up against Jesse as he passed by.
That simple touch sobered Jesse and made his head spin.
He slid his hood down and caught up to Chuck.
Exclusive Q&A with S.A. McAuley:
Q: Can you share with us something about Out of the Shade that isn’t in the blurb?SA: The problems that Jesse and Chuck face are hinted at in the blurb, but this book deals with several serious/heavy issues like alcoholism, abuse, abandonment, and violence. The depth and breadth of those challenges take them both by surprise and lead to a complete upheaval of their lives.
Q: Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
SA: Jesse and Chuck are two flawed men who are struggling for something worthwhile in their lives—not just around them either, within themselves too. Their journey isn’t easy, especially for Jesse, but their individual personal strengths underpin the entire book. There’s a lot of darkness in Out of the Shade, but, ultimately, this book is about growth and hope.
Q: What was the inspiration for the story?
SA: Me coming to terms with my own bisexuality in the world I’d grown up in. In the first rough draft of Out of the Shade, Jesse and I had a lot in common. In subsequent drafts—as he began to show me who he really was—he evolved into his own character. There are still pieces of my own coming out experience woven throughout this book, but it’s divided between so many characters and settings at this point that it’s barely recognizable from my initial draft.
Q: What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
SA: We each have our own paths to walk and no one else can tell us what the “right” way is to do that. We all evolve, change, and adapt at different speeds and for different reasons. As Jesse says at one point, “We all make mistakes. I’ve made some huge ones I’ve had to make amends for. And not just to other people, but to myself as well.” Sometimes forgiveness of ourselves is the hardest endeavor we can ever take on.
Q: Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied Out of the Shade?
SA: Music is vital in my writing process. I can’t write without it. Since I started writing this book almost seven years ago, the songs on my playlist are nearly ancient at this point, but they all hold special meaning or got me through really tough sections of writing. In particular, The Perishers, The Bravery and Switchfoot dominate a good portion of the playlist. I just opened iTunes to look through the list and was immediately transported back to 2012 and putting those first few painful words on the page. The playlist overall begins playful, becoming melancholy, then angry, before morphing into regret, a drive to succeed, and finally happiness and hope. It’s a pretty accurate summation of the book as a whole.
About the Author
S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.
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