Title: One Thing Leads
Author Name: Jude Dunn
Publication Date: October 20, 2014
What makes a young man go further than he ever thought he would?
Dion Bellamy is twenty-seven and studying social work at the University of Chicago. He has lived with Kenji Okamura, a construction worker, for a year and a half. Dion loves Kenji and passionately hopes Kenji feels the same, but he has never said the three big words. Then Grayson Sinclair, Dion’s schoolmate and a vivacious, oversexed playboy, comes between them.
One step at a time, barely aware where his steps are leading, Dion descends the slippery slope into a life of depravity. First, Grayson ensures Kenji is out of the way. Then he entices Dion to go clubbing with him, gets Dion drunk and high, and then takes him to a sex club, where he films Dion giving blow jobs to multiple men. He threatens to put the video online unless Dion signs a contract to work as a prostitute. Though he hardly understands how he reached this point, Dion must now figure out how to escape his fate and save himself.
IRR: What interested you about writing in the LGBT community?
JD: I was alive when the Stonewall Inn Era began but too far removed from it in every way to take part in the movement. I was sixteen, stuck in a tiny town in the woods of North Alabama, and so far in the back of the closet I didn’t even know that phrase. When I finally came out at forty-nine, I discovered what I had missed.
Why do I write LGBT lit? Because it’s a small way to support the community. Does it seem like a big stretch to say I support gay rights by writing romance novels? Maybe. But one of the core principles of the romance genre is that people can overcome their struggles. They can find love. Yes, the writing can be good or bad, deep or shallow, but that’s true for every literary genre. I write LGBT stories to show that men in love with men are no different from het couples. Discovering such stories is what helped me come out to myself and then to the people around me.
When I exited the closet, the only gay-life experience I had access to was the trashy things I could find via this new thing called the Internet. That was back in the day when dial-up was king and Google didn’t yet exist. Somehow I discovered yaoi fanfiction and was blown away by stories—few and far between the hormonal outbursts of frustrated writers—that depicted men in loving relationships. I was hooked. I started writing fanfics and began developing the skills to write original pieces. And here I am with Dreamspinner Press and a novel out. Imagine that.
The bottom line, though, is a bit deeper than this, as important as it is to me. The title of this post is “Who Cares If You’re LGBT?” because I hope that one day sexual orientation will matter as much as eye color or fingernail length. Writing true-to-life romance that depicts LGBT people in positive, healthy relationships is my own small way of helping to make that happen.
IRR: What has your experience been, good or bad, about writing in the rainbow community?
JD: It’s been good, by and large. In real life I’m supported by an incredible, loving community of friends and family that encourage me. Online I’ve met a multitude of wonderful people, many of whom read my work, some who don’t. The few flamers and haters I’ve learned to ignore. If you don’t, you’ll go crazy with anger or depression. It took me a long time to learn that. Once I did, I was able to focus on making my stories better.
IRR: What makes your novel worth the read? Tell us why we should pick it up.
JD: One Thing Leads <use this link for the text “One Thing Leads” is three stories deep. It gives you the thrill of being a voyeur, a love story that will touch your heart, and a challenge to notice where your foot falls as you walk through your life. Let me unpack that just a bit.
On the surface is the fun stuff, the lusty, vicarious thrill ride of watching one man seduce another. Below this is a love story between two men with different personalities. Circumstance splits them apart, and they have to find their way back together. The foundation beneath both of these is a look at how events in our lives can change our attitudes just enough to make one choice more likely than it would have been otherwise. Dion makes a choice to listen to and lean on Grayson, who leads him toward a life he would never have chosen for himself.
Would Dion have gone down that road if he and Kenji hadn’t fought? I don’t know any more than my readers, but I want to believe that he would have seen Grayson’s advances for what they were: an act of seduction attempted by an oversexed playboy who wanted Dion as a toy.
“God,” Dion screamed, throwing his hands in the air in disgust. He and Kenji glared like dogs circling each other before attacking. Finally Dion broke the tension. “I need some air,” he said, then spun on a heel and strode to the bedroom. Kenji sat still as stone, listening to Dion slamming drawers as he found clothes suitable for going out.
How did this happen? I wanted to come clean. I thought if we talked about it—
After quickly dressing, Dion stormed to the front door.
“Where are you going?”
“Out,” Dion said without looking at Kenji. “Does that meet with your approval?”
“Dion, don’t be—”
The sound of the door slamming rang in Kenji’s ears. Footsteps fell hard and fast down the stairs. When they stopped, he looked away from the door. He closed his eyes at the muffled sound of another door slamming hard two floors below. When he opened his eyes a few minutes later, he looked down, surprised to see dots of blood on the seat of the recliner. He opened his hands and saw that his fingernails had broken the skin of his palms.
I’m a southern boy. Well, “boy” may be a stretch. I’m sixty-one this year, but I still feel like I’m twenty-two and act like I’m nine-and-a-half. Grew up in north Alabama, smack-dab in the middle of the Bible belt.
I discovered I was attracted to boys at age fourteen. Twenty minutes after that, I found out that being gay was the unforgivable sin, not blaspheming the Holy Spirit, as my little Baptist church had taught me. So, as so many like me have always done, I hid from everyone, including and especially myself.
At age forty-nine I came out to myself, my wife, and my three wonderful children. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the best thing that ever happened to me.
I started writing shortly after discovering anime. There’s this thing called “fandoms,” you see—well, I know you probably know about that. I grew my skills slowly, feeding on the dribbles of praise and criticism my mailing lists provided. In 2011 I decided to try my hand at original fiction and found I have a talent for telling stories that touch people’s hearts and make them laugh. For me there’s no greater high in all the world. The next year I somehow screwed up the courage to submit to a publisher and was given a thumbs up. Now I’m happily sharing my tales with those who care to read them.
My day job is editing and engraving sacred music for a mainline publisher in Chicago, where I live with an antisocial cat who refuses to be named. I enjoy fine wines, jazz, and the darkest chocolate I can get my hands on.
I write in a variety of genres, from gay romance and erotica to science fiction and mainstream thrillers, each category under a different pseudonym. Jude Dunn is the one I use for gay romance. My work is sometimes subtle, sometimes fiery, but always brimming with characters who tackle their challenges with an unwavering love of life.