Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.
Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
This story is amazingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. Or beautifully, amazingly heartbreaking. Though I’m not sure the of the words actually matters, this story gripped me from the first page right until the end where I’m left feeling hope and sadness in equal measures. Hope because I know Henry and Reuben are going to be happy together forever and their family will thrive. Sadness because this wonderful story is over and I feel changed from having read it and my emotions are still racing. The story is all about the journey. How both Henry and Reuben have to work to be who the other is looking for and needs. How they have their own path to walk together, then separately so they can walk together again and have their paths stay together. Yes, the romance is there and it’s so damn sweet. But their on page time together is limited. If you’re looking for a traditional boy meets boy romance, skip this one. You’ll be disappointed. But if you’re looking for fiction, featuring gay characters that will grab hold and pull your emotions out, and eventually wind up happily ever after, this story needs to be in your hands right now.
Reuben and Henry both hurt my heart but for completely different reasons. Reuben was so lost in the beginning. He thought he wanted one thing and spent so much time looking for it. That moment he realizes he’s looking for the wrong thing and has a melt down in the middle of the diner, I broke with him. You could feel his pain and his sorrow. I was rooting for Reuben the whole time. I wanted him to figure out he was meant to be with Henry. I wanted Reuben to realize what he was missing and what filled that missing space. His journey to those revelations and then to find it and have everything wind up the way he wanted it had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. There were so many instances I worried he wasn’t going to get it, wasn’t going to make it, wasn’t going to find it. His emotions were so clear I felt them too. You’re on the roller coaster ride with him. And I didn’t want to stop even when everything was over.
Henry was on a completely different journey but no less emotional and heart pounding. He was so desolate after The Weekend. Seeing him have to pick up the pieces as if it wasn’t ehe end of the world had me in tears. His articles are crystal clear windows into his feelings for Reuben. Henry has such a way with words and stories. That oral history he treasures are the best part of a person’s life. I adore how he takes the simple concept and makes it something big. I felt bad for him being stuck in a situation he didn’t want to be in, with no way out immediately. However he learned a valuable lesson through those errors. How he got to where he wanted and needed to be was beautiful. I was emotional with Reuben and Henry as everything came together. Henry was such a gentle soul and he deserved the happy ending.
These two together were wonderful. I connected with them immediately and absolutely had to read to the end to see what happens. They have the best happily ever after. The way Reuben comes in and expresses his love and Henry just tells the world. That epilogue though! Oh my gosh so freaking beautiful. I desperately want more from these characters. But I also don’t want to change anything. I don’t want it to be ruined. I do kind of want some of the side characters to get their own happy endings though. The few we see get their heart broken in some way deserve to find love too. I would gladly read those stories too. I’m hoping Ms. Archer writes many more books because her voice is superb and I will read anything she puts out.
Molly: What music, if any do you listen to when you write?
Alice: While writing Everyday History, I listened almost exclusively to James Morrison’s album The Awakening, so much so that the story of Ruben and Henry was influenced by it in lots of subtle ways. Something about the themes Morrison explored and his voice really did it for me while journeying with Henry and Ruben.
I tend to listen to a song or album over and over, diving into its nuances until I know it by heart and have wrested lots of meaty goodness from it. Then I’ll move on. My brother does the opposite, parsing out his listenings so that the music is always fresh for him. That would drive me nuts. I need the deep dive. That’s typical of the way I work and live in general. I was built for depth, not speed.
The novel I’m currently writing, which is about two men who don’t much like each other but are constantly in each other’s space, hasn’t found a musical mascot yet. I’ve been toying with using Home Free’s Country Evolution or Crazy Life, but haven’t reached a point of exclusive listening yet. I trust that as this story develops, it will magnetize a theme album.
Molly: Are you a full-time writer, or part-time writer?
Alice: At this point, I write fiction part-time. I work full-time work as the senior managing editor at a publishing company, but have made arrangements to cut back in 2017 so I can focus more on writing fiction. I’m really looking forward to that. I love my work as an editor and writing coach, but I love writing fiction even more.
Molly: Do you hope to one day be a full-time writer?
Alice: Yes, that’s what I’m aiming for. I’ve learned so much over the past couple of years about the M/M romance genre, publishing in general, the shifting sands of publishing in current times, marketing, how I write, and what helps me write better. Hopefully, all of this ongoing learning and writing will add up to writing being my primary source of income. It’s already my primary source of joy, all aspects included, from the writing itself to the marketing, and everything in between.
A caveat about this is that I’m not convinced I want to be a full-time anything, except myself. Ideally, writing will pay the bills and then some, but won’t require me to work full-time.
Molly: Do you have a word count per day you try to hit?
Alice: I aspire to having a word count I’m trying to hit. I do track my words written per day, but it’s been all over the place because my current focus is on moving other projects off my plate to free up deep-thinking space for creating the new novel.
I’m enough of a newbie novelist that I’m still figuring out my writing process. I wrote Everyday History via a messy process of trying out lots of different ways of writing something as large and complex as a novel can be. By the time I finished with it, I’d gained a toehold on a sense of a process that works for me. That sounds vague and tentative, doesn’t it? I don’t mind. I suspect I’ll always be wondering what my writing process is. Experimenting and figuring it out give me nearly as much pleasure as putting words on a page.
Molly: When you finish writing a book, how long before you begin writing the next one?
Alice: There’s not much data available, because I’m such a newbie. Since I finished writing Everyday History, I’ve separated from my husband, moved from Germany to Tennessee, started a full-time job as a managing editor, moved twice within Tennessee, and my dad died. All of those transitions co-opted the part of my brain that writes novels. It’s only in the past month or so that I’ve cleared the decks enough to start get back into writing.
At this point, I’m an enormous fan of stability, creative domestic systems, and having an assistant who does my grocery shopping for me.
Alice has questions. Lots of them. Scheming to put fictional characters through the muck so they can get to a better place helps her find answers. Thankfully, the questions never end. She writes stories about men finding themselves and falling in love, because doing so feels like healing. She shares them with the hope that others might find some healing too.
Alice has messed about with words professionally for many years as an editor and writing coach. She’s pretty much drenched in words from dawn to dusk (and there are ink stains on the bedding).
After living in more than eighty places and cobbling together a portable lifestyle, she a lot of story material to sort through. It has reassured her to discover that even though culture and beliefs can get people into a peck of trouble when they’re falling in love, the human heart beats the same in any language.