Author, G.L. Roberts’ new contemporary M/M romance, A Bell for Andy, is available NOW from Seventh Window Publications. G.L. graciously took the time to answer questions about the characters, inspiration and research behind A Bell for Andy.
Buy A Bell for Andy on Amazon and at Seventh Window Publications website. Be sure and read more about A Bell for Andy at the end of G.L.’s interview.
What is the first line from A Bell for Andy?
Living near a church for much of his youth had left Brian immune to the tolling of the bells. Well, that was the line that made it into the manuscript I turned over to the publisher. I remember scribbling down many first lines all having to do with bells. I wanted the bells to be important, but I also wanted them to be expected normal daily occurrences.
Where did the inspiration for A Bell for Andy, come from?
I was in Henley-On-Thames visiting my sister and while out walking I watched a priest react to a young man handing out pamphlets. The young man was animated with a big grin, and he had flaming red hair. The priest was quiet with his head down. The priest didn’t look at the young man directly. It was when the young man moved on, away from the priest, that the priest turned back to look at the young man. I started with that picture of the two of them in my head. I started making notes and let the story move forward. It evolved from a story about a priest and a parishioner to three monks and an eternity of lifetimes.
Three words to describe your writing?
What type of research did you do while preparing to write A Bell for Andy?
I’ve always been fascinated with the dogma of the Catholic church. I grew up with Catholic neighbors and attended many summer school programs tailored for Catholic children. For this book, I spoke with several Catholic friends to get their take on what they learned as children. I asked questions of websites hosted by Catholics. I also needed an abbey. On a lark I searched the web for ‘Catholic Irish Abbey Ruins’ and found Clare Abbey. I already had the names of the characters, Brian and Andy, and when I read that Clare Abbey was built by Donal Ua Briain (Donald O’Brian), I knew that was the abbey for the story.
Then there was the Civil War. I thought a battle toward the end of the war would be best. I also needed a battle that took place near a river and a bridge to tie in the bridge in Ireland from the first life. The ‘last’ battle fought in Georgia was the battle I chose for the civil war dreams. It was billed as the last battle of the Civil War. I thought the idea of the men meeting at the end of something to be appropriate to their story.
They keep meeting at the end of something, the end of life as monks, the end of a war, the end of an epidemic. Always meeting when one thing leads them to a point of no return.
Which part of the book challenged you the most?
Keeping Andy’s ghost vague was my biggest challenge. There were times when Andy wanted to tell Brian the whole story but he had to keep quiet. That was hard on Andy.
A Bell for Andy takes place in various time settings and locations including a part of Boston called Southie, what inspired this decision?
I wanted my characters to be second or third generation Irish American. Boston seemed a good place to find the right formula. Irish American, Catholic, Well-to-do, and Working Class. Another coincidence, when I was reading up on Southie, was the name O’Brien. While doing the research I kept running into Brian or O’Brien. It was eerie, but fun!
The story involves two friends, one of whom is working class and the other privileged; can you talk about the relationship between the two men? Which do you most identify with and why?
Brian liked being with Andy and Andy’s privileged family for the reasons all young boys like ‘fancy’ families, that is, in Andy’s presence, Brian was transformed, and for a little while was privileged himself. Brian, the oldest in his family, found Andy, the youngest in his family, in need of looking after. Brian took on the role of protector from the very beginning of their relationship even though he was the less privileged of the two. It was his nature to nurture. His love for Andy took on many forms from schoolboy crush to desperate unrequited love, and finally to a love he could live with–deep abiding love of friend. In all their previous lives together Brian felt obligated to take care of Andy.
Andy on the other hand thought of Brian as a pet, a plaything that you could easily grow tired of if it no longer entertained you. Andy wanted Brian’s undivided attention, even though Andy found Brian’s life away from him to be mundane and uneventful. Andy feared the mundane. He craved attention. He was a slave to his own need to be noticed. In each lifetime they shared, Andy struggled to be larger in life than Brian.
By the time they reached 1995, Brian was ready to let Andy go his own way–and Andy was ready to finally let go of Brian.
I guess I identify with Brian. I’m the oldest of four. I took some of the role of care giver over after my father died when I was fifteen. I am also an overachiever. I can’t stop myself! I can’t let others do for me if I can do it myself.
What did you learn about yourself as a writer while working on A Bell for Andy?
That my mind wanders around the concentric circles of description. I forget to allow my characters a voice of their own. But, I am learning.
What are your thoughts on genre blending in works of fiction?
I love the idea of surprising and delighting my audience by doing something unexpected. If the blending works, say with Romance and Thriller, or Romance and Adventure, the broader an audience you will reach. If your characters are strong enough to stand on their own then genre blending should heighten the readers experience with the characters, adding another dimension to the story. A great sleuth can also be a swash buckling space cowboy.
Where can my readers find out more about you and your work?
My blog site, email@example.com contains excerpts from my other books as well as poetry, recipes, and other ramblings. Feel free to find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glroberts.books.
I am also on Goodreads.com where I contribute to the M/M Romance Group, the F/F Fantasy Group, and the Poets Group.
My first three books, Scar Tissue, Light and Shadow, and A Bell for Andy are available at Seventh Window Publications at http://www.seventhwindow.com as well as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble at http://www.barnesandnoble.com.
1. Werewolves or vampires? Werewolves!
2. Favorite erotica writer? Anaïs Nin
3. Favorite movie? To Kill A Mockingbird
4. What scares you? Callous Anger
5. What’s one word you overuse? AND
6. Favorite place to write? The corner of my sofa in my living room.
7. Title of your first published work? Scar Tissue
8. What book do you wish you wrote? Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
9. Favorite color? Storm Gray
10. What are you currently reading? Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.
11. Coffee or tea? Coffee
12. Beer or wine? Wine
A Bell for Andy
Brian Gallagher and Andy McGrath grew up in the south end of Boston in the 1950s. They went to the same catholic school, had the same interest in Ireland, had both been hospitalized for Scarlet Fever–they even shared a room–and grew up having the same dreams that took place during a time they did not live and involved people they did not know.
Some of us are meant to relive history…
One night during a party, Brian and Andy share a kiss that changes their lives and their friendship forever.
to remember a past that is not our own…
It isn’t until high school that Brian realizes that he loves Andy, but his love isn’t returned in kind and the two boys go their separate ways… but the dreams continue.
discover a curse that rules our lives…
When Brian learns that Andy is in the hospital after being hit by a car, his life becomes torn apart. For the only way to save Andy is to discover the truth behind their shared dreams and uncover a history he’s not sure is real.
and will be relived again if it’s not broken.
For Brian and Andy share a secret that spans time and have a connection that runs deeper than friendship.