Welcome Alice Archer to my blog today!
Everyday History, by Alice Archer
Interview with Alice Archer
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?
A combination. When I started Everyday History, I didn’t know how to write a novel. I knew how other people wrote novels, but then it was just me and my laptop in a room with the door closed, and all that theory had to be translation into some kind of action.
I went for the smorgasbord approach. If a method appealed to me, I tried it. I experimented. A lot. If something didn’t work, I ditched it and tried something else. If something sort of worked, I teased out the bit that was working, kept it, and tossed the rest.
I used logic to decide on an experiment, then intuition to decide if it was working. False starts came and went. I finished the novel, but also learned a lot about how I write a novel. I’m building on that foundation, doing more experiments, as I write another novel.
What did you edit out of Everyday History?
A novel in progress feels like an organic, pulsing entity with a life of its own. As its devoted herder, I’m tasked with lopping off options.
At one point, there was a decent-sized section, between Everyday History’s main climax point and the epilogue, in which Henry and Ruben got to know each other again in real time. Although it was cut from what I now think of as “the real version,” writing that ill-fated section helped me deepen and align the personalities of the main characters and then infuse that knowledge into the final version of the story.
What were you like at school?
Quiet. Mousy. If I raised my hand to speak, the entire class would look at me in shock. Well, my memory has probably embellished it, but that’s how it felt.
Art and English classes were my favorites. In my senior year of high school, I decided I was bored with being such a good student and wanted to experience being a bad student. I informed my art teacher in advance, so she wouldn’t be upset, then did all my work but didn’t turn in a major assignment. I got a D, as previously arranged. The next semester I did extra work to pull my grade back up.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I’d say, “Sweetie, the only person who knows how you write a novel is you. That means the only way you’re going to discover how to do it, so you can have the utter and complete joy of doing it over and over again, is to practice. Don’t wait. Start practicing right now.”
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Buying eleventy-trillion novels to read. I’ve learn so much about writing from reading.
Why did you choose the excerpt below?
This is a scene in which Ruben takes a time-out to assess the results of his experiments.
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Novel length: 90,116 words
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.
If Ruben didn’t know better, if he viewed his own tale as an outsider, it might look like the story of him falling in love with Henry.
That thought makes him excuse himself and head to the bathroom.
Door closed, sitting on the edge of the bathtub, Ruben takes stock.
But I don’t do love. Not the kind that presumes a future. He’s never been that kind of guy. “Sorry,” he always says when someone falls for him. “Love would get in the way of sex.” No amount of pity-me eyes or I-could-be-the-exception pleas ever made him want to change his tune.
Okay, that could be because, until recently, it was always women who wanted more. Maybe love would be different for me with a man. Over the past six weeks Ruben has fended off two I-could-be-the-exception pleas from guys, and neither of them remotely tempted him to consider changing his policy… but they weren’t Henry.
All along Ruben had considered his thing with Henry to be about the thrill of sex with a man. Couldn’t it still be about sex? Henry is older and, Ruben assumes, more experienced than any of the other guys he has fooled around with so far. So maybe sex with Henry is so satisfying because of Henry’s experience. And his exceptional skills as a teacher.
The crux of the matter is the siren call of the learning curve. Because of the proper education Henry is giving him, Ruben feels a new confidence. He’s looking forward to giving the playing field of men another shot back at school. In fact he can hardly wait. He remembers a few of the hot, out gay guys he hasn’t had the confidence to approach. They’d better brace themselves.
Let’s review. I’m an eighteen-year-old male. I’m newly aware that I’m mostly gay. I recently moved away from home for the first time. I attend a large university, full of people my age who are also naturally hopped up on hormones. Is this a description of someone ready for commitment? No. I think not.
With an adjustment for gender, he renews his old policy—Sex, please, hold the love—as his new policy. Pretending anything else would be dishonest. Promising anything else would be cruel.
Ruben slaps his thighs, stands, and nods decisively to himself in the mirror. He gives himself a lecherous grin to seal the deal, remembers to flush the unused toilet, and heads back to the living room.
Alice Archer has messed about with words professionally for many years as an editor and writing coach. After living in more than eighty places and cobbling together a portable lifestyle, she has lots 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. She currently lives near Nashville. Maybe this move will stick.