Monday, August 11, 2014

Guest Post: Peter Monn, Author of The Before Now and After Then (YA)

We at Smoocher's Voice, would like to welcome Mr. Peter Monn to the blog! 

Peter Monn is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana where he lives with his dashing husband Alex and their brood of dogs named after their favorite literary muses. He is known for being one half of the infamous celebrity interview team,, as well as being a Huffington Post Gay Voices guest blogger. Besides being a life coach, a dreamer, a romantic, a moon-child and a lover of carnivals, night swimming and driving around late at night, he is also a writer. To find out more, visit the About Me section on his website.

One of the consistent questions I have received since the release of my book The Before Now and After Then is “How did you decide to handle the sexy scenes in your book?” It’s interesting that this is such a hot topic for many of my readers and if the majority of them weren’t heterosexual, I’m not even sure it would be an issue. 
When I decided to write a book about a gay teenager, it was important to me that I stayed true to the nature of all teenagers, not just LGBT teenagers, who are in fact, very sexual beings.  I believe the spectrum of sexual activity during teenage years branches from the extremely inexperienced to the highly experienced.  I knew I could write an honest telling about a seventeen year old boy who was hooking up with older men on Grindr, but quite frankly, that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell, especially because that wasn’t my experience.  I wanted to tell a somewhat sweet love story which had elements of sexual exploration which I thought would be true to the characters.  

All of my adult life I have worked with teenagers with drug and alcohol problems.  Through my work, I have learned that teenagers aren’t much different than most adults.  It has always been my strategy to work with teenagers where they’re at, instead of telling them things like, “you need to grow up” or “when you’re older you’ll understand”.  Their life experience at the moment is all they know and many of them have a much more highly sexual understanding than we give them credit.  My next book is ripe, full of strong sexual behavior and drug and alcohol use, but for The Before Now and After Then, I wanted to write a true example of gay love in the suburbs.
After my first draft, I read through some of the love scenes and realized I had used words like “hard on” and “happy trail”.  While I don’t take any offense to these words and I knew they were true to the nature of the characters to use, I didn’t want them to stand in the way of the reader being able to get into the story and be part of the scene, without being uncomfortable.  For these reasons, I did change some of the wording, but I think it only made the love scenes better.

After reading the book, my aunt commented that she had a difficult time reading the love scenes.  She told me that she doesn’t necessarily like the love and sex scenes in books with heterosexual characters.  She felt the difference was that in The Before Now and After Then, the scenes served a purpose and showed the true nature of the characters.  They developed sexually together. 
Most importantly, I wanted to write a book that I wished had been available when I was a closeted gay teenager.  I would have loved to have read a book that showed characters my same age, kissing and exploring, normalized in a way that didn’t make me feel any different than I already did.  When I was in high school, although I had sexual fantasies the same as any hormonal teenage boy, I really wanted to fall in love.  I wanted to be able to hold hands in public, kiss and cuddle on the couch while watching a horror movie and sneak into each other’s rooms late at night.  Most of the time, the sex was an afterthought. 

That was the story I wanted to read so that was the story I wrote. 

Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical, twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself. With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living

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