FRENZY! is currently available at all online retailers in digital or paperback.
By: Nicole Lashomb/Editor-in-Chief—
He is as it again—this time in a FRENZY! Award-winning and acclaimed author Wyatt O’Brian Evans intimately exposes the complexities experienced by two gay men of color as they navigate their relationship through turbulent waters in part two of his Nothing Can Tear Us Apart Series—FRENZY!
A gay man of color, Evans poignantly calls attention to racial and ethnic issues encountered by Antonio and Wes as they navigate through riveting circumstances tied to their monogamous relationship while depicting the reality of Intimate Partner Violence/Abuse (IPV/A), mental illness, childhood abuse and bullying. Based on real-life events, this provocative, dramatic novel does more than provide for a good read. FRENZY! is more than an enthralling book—it is a call to action.
The Rainbow Times recently caught up with Evans to discuss the novel with a particular focus on gay men of color, racial and ethnic disparities and representation, monogamy, passion and survivorship amidst one universal ideal … love.
TRT: Why is it important for you to address the issues of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse in your novels, specifically pertaining to the LGBTQ community?
WOE: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), is such a critical—and potentially life-threatening—issue facing the LGBTQ community. And, stigma is a driving force that keeps it ‘swept under the rug.’ Therefore, it tends to be grossly under-reported. As a journalist, I’ve extensively researched and reported on this behavior; I’ve interviewed scores of victims and survivors. And I, myself, am a survivor.
Q: Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY! is a page-turner for sure. How did you balance the heat of sexual intimacy with addressing issues so critical like IPV/A, mental illness, childhood abuse and bullying?
A: As an author, it’s always my mission to present three dimensional characters and real-life situations. In _FRENZY!_, you have Wes and ‘Tonio, who are deeply, profoundly and fervently in love with one another—and are struggling to nurture and preserve their romantic relationship against the odds. A universal story. In order for their saga to resonate with readers, I had to believably demonstrate their burning sexual desire and passion for one another. I also had to present their obstacles, which are the IPV/A, mental illness, childhood abuse and bullying aspects.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the LGBTQ community relating to the serious issues you present in FRENZY!?
A: I believe the biggest misconception is that the LGBTQ community doesn’t have the same problems, issues and challenges as the heterosexual community. Regarding IPV/A between two gay/same-gender-loving (SGL) men, too many individuals don’t consider the abuse to be actual abuse. They think, “Oh, well! It’s just ‘boys being boys.’”
Q: Does love always win? Why or why not?
A: Unfortunately, love doesn’t always win. Love can only win when it’s accompanied by understanding, compromise, and a willingness to change oneself for the better.
Q: What was the biggest challenge writing this book?
A: To a very large degree, I’m a perfectionist. I always want to ensure that my characters and what they experience are true to life, so that they all strongly resonate with the reader.
Q: How long did it take you to write FRENZY!? Did you research the topics before writing it?
A: It took about 13 months. I didn’t want to rush it. As a journalist who’s extensively researched and written about IPV/A and depression, I had a wealth of material at my disposal. And, I sought the counsel of a psychologist.
Q: Are the characters derived from real people that you’ve known?
A: Most assuredly! That way, the reader can feel that they are authentic … and real.
Q: Your novel delves into issues of child abuse and bullying. Why are these topics important ones to include? What message would you send to an LGBTQ youth who may be a victim of bullying at home or at school?
A: Any author worth his salt must present slices of real life to the reader. Over my lifetime, I’ve known child abuse victims. And, I was bullied through junior high school. The message I send to bullied LGBTQ youth is that you are not alone. Also, and this is crucial: you must tell individuals you trust, because they can help you. Silence is a bully’s most effective weapon.
Q: Mental health is often an issue overlooked in the LGBTQ community. Your book hits it on target, particularly with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) or multiple personality disorder. What more do we have to do to better address this as a community?
A: We must continue to shine a bright light on mental/emotional illness, and not let stigma prevent us from doing so. The first major step in addressing it is having more open and honest conversations.
Q: Are the issues that you present in FRENZY! more prevalent in the LGBTQ People of Color (POC) community? Is the LGBTQ “mainstream” community doing enough to support the LGBTQ POC community given the vast differences that exist between the two? If not, what more could be done?
A: Anecdotally, I tend to believe that is true. POC have to deal with racism and discrimination in their everyday existence. Certainly, this can fuel the issues I present in FRENZY! Just like in the heterosexual community, there is structural racism within the LGBTQ community. This structural racism perpetuates barriers to opportunities and racial disparities. We have to eradicate these barriers. One of the major reasons I write the Nothing Can Tear Us Apart series of novels is to present LGBTQ POC in a vibrant, nuanced, “real-life” light, if you will.
Q: Do you think there is an underrepresentation of LGBTQ POC authors? If so, why is that the case?
A: That’s certainly the case. Unfortunately, far too many publishing houses—for whatever the reasons—continue to refuse to “greenlight” the projects of LGBTQ POC authors. Because of this, I created my own publishing company, Nair’BoUniversal, which releases my Nothing Can Tear Us Apart series of novels. I wanted to portray two accomplished, upwardly mobile MOC (Men of Color) who are deeply, profoundly and passionately in love with one another. You rarely see that coming from the established publishing houses.
Q: What is your wish that readers take away from FRENZY!?
A: My wish is that FRENZY! provides a window into the critical issues (IPV/A, mental illness) confronting the LGBTQ community, thereby creating opportunities to further open an honest dialogue. That is what fosters positive change.
FRENZY! is currently available at all online retailers in digital and paperback. Receive a special 20 percent discount by placing your order through Evans’ official website at https://goo.gl/fXhTR0. To learn more about the author, Wyatt O’Brian Evans, check out http://wyattevans.com.
[This Q&A, a TRT exclusive, was originally run on the Nov. 3 issue of The Rainbow Times.]