Title: With or Without You
Sequel to ‘Go Your Own Way’
Should be read in order to appreciate the books
Author: Zane Riley
Release Date: July 21st 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult
In the much-anticipated sequel to Go Your Own Way, high school seniors Lennox McAvoy and Will Osborne pick up right where they left off—navigating the tumultuous waters of a new relationship and dealing with Will’s disapproving father.
When a violent incident forces Lennox to give up his independent ways, he must come to terms with his past just as Will is grappling with his future. As Will’s college plans become reality, will Lennox have the courage to go after the opportunities he doesn’t think he deserves?
**GUEST POST by ZANE RILEY**
Today I’m very lucky to have Zane Riley, author of With or Without You, visiting my blog
Hi Zane, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi! I’m Zane, and I’m a queer transgender writer from northern Virginia. Currently, I’m in the process of packing up to move to Washington state, so I’m pretty busy at the moment, but also very excited. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, although I didn’t get truly serious about it until college when I switched my major to Creative Writing.
With or Without You is my second novel and a sequel to my first. It continues Will and Lennox’s story as they finish up their senior year of high school. As they begin to learn how to navigate their growing relationship, Will plans for his future in college while Lennox struggles to accept that his future is more than surviving until the next day. They each begin to forge their own paths only to realize that the futures they each want may lead them away from each other.
If someone was to ask for your advice about writing, what would you tell them?
Don’t stop. That was the first piece of advice I ever got from a teacher. Even if you don’t know where it’s going or what you’re trying to say or you think it’s the dumbest thing that’s ever come out of your head: don’t stop. Learning to push through your doubts and blocks is invaluable. Sure, you’ll end up with a bunch of random scraps of paper or word documents with a few sentences of nonsense. It’s nice to look back on those and to see how you’ve improved. Sometimes those old scraps come in handy with new or current projects, sometimes they mark personal milestones, and sometimes charging through the uncertainty leads to a great new story. If you stop and give up, you’ll never find out.
Second step, is to be aware. This is a pretty multifaceted step but it’s just as important in writing as in life. Make sure you understand cultures you’re talking about. Do the research, spend the time reading and looking things up, and then forming intelligent questions to ask people you know who are part of those cultures. Don’t assume you can just blurt out a vague question and that person is going to be ready to gush out every detail you’ll ever need to know to write a realistic portrayal. Understand also, that there’s limits to this. Sometimes, even if you want to, you shouldn’t write about something or someone. This is true for religions, the experiences of different races in different parts of the world, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and so on. Be aware of the systemic structures and institutions that have and continue to shape your viewpoint and learn to step outside of them.
Another part of awareness is self-aware in terms of criticism or general advice. I know every professor I’ve ever had has said something similar, but learn to separate yourself from your story once it’s under review. The criticism or suggestions or flat out NO’s are there for a reason. It’s not because you’re a terrible person or writer, but because your narrative has weak spots. Listen to the advice of your peers and editors. Study what they’re saying and make notes of it so that you can start understanding and implementing that advice in your next works. This isn’t true for every bit of advice you’ll get, but it’s important to be objective when reading notes someone has about your work and asking yourself if what’s being said is true or not.
And the last part ties back to the first. Practice, practice, practice. Star athletes and famous musicians and concert pianists don’t get to where they are without hard work and dedication. Some days you’re going to write nothing but junk. You’ll spend the entire next week going back and either editing it or deleting it. It’s frustrating and exhausting, but you learn from those experiences and you grow as a writer. It’s worth it to continuously push yourself forward and to keep learning.
The band room was empty when he pushed the door open, but the piano was set up like it was almost every afternoon these days. Only Mr. Robinette and a music stand littered with sheet music was absent.
The silence struck Lennox as odd, but as he sat down he also realized how strange it was to announce himself. So much had changed since the first time he’d snuck in here to play on his own. Now he was auditioning for some college he still couldn’t fathom.
To make Will happy. And maybe a little bit for himself.
“Ah, I wondered if you were going to show up.”
Mr. Robinette was behind him, the door to his office now wide open. He’d taken off his tie and undone a few buttons on his shirt like he did most afternoons when they practiced.
“You just want to play it through a few times or mess around with something else?”
Lennox took a seat at the piano, but didn’t both opening his bag. He’d memorized the piece he was playing by Valentine’s Day and now, almost two weeks later, he could write it out measure for measure on blank sheet music. But playing it was becoming repetitive. For two hours, three times a week, almost nonstop with the same four pages and nothing else.
“I’d rather try something new. That piece is getting a little old.”
Mr. Robinette smiled and pulled a chair up beside him. “I had a nightmare the other night and it was the theme song while I ran around a haunted house Scooby Doo style.”
“You didn’t catch a ride in the Mystery Machine, did you? I’ve always wanted that van.”
“I’ve got a lunch box version of it. It doesn’t fit much though because it’s too narrow. Anyway, play what you want. I’ll be here until about four-thirty, so it’s all yours.”
As Mr. Robinette returned to his office, Lennox pulled what had become his music notebook out of his bag and opened it to the latest page. He’d taken to composing during class when he should have been taking notes, especially calculus where he had no reason to pay attention anyway.
The latest page was a tune he’d come up with while the other kids had been tapping their pencils and erasing answers. Every moment of his life carried a rhythm, a melody, and an emotion he could create with, and his notebook was becoming a testament to that. He played through everything he’d jotted down over the past few days, but after several rounds he kept coming back to one. It was a piano version he’d tried—and mostly failed—to create of one of the songs Will had played on a loop a few weeks ago.
“I’m getting ready to lock up!”
Mr. Robinette’s voice carried out of the office and into the band room. A few minutes and several jingles of Mr. Robinette’s keys later, the office door was shut and Lennox was closing the cover on the keys.
“That last piece you were playing, was it a cover?”
Lennox shrugged as they headed for the door.
“It was supposed to be. Didn’t sound much like the song.”
“Well, the others did. They were all really good, even the ones that weren’t covers.”
Lennox watched him at the door to the parking lot for a moment. He’d been a great help over the last month—all year if Lennox was honest. Mr. Robinette had believed in him in his own way since school had begun, and thanks to him he had a decent shot at this audition.
“Thanks for… all of this. I actually feel like—just thanks.”
Mr. Robinette gave him a genuine smile and patted him on the shoulder.
“You’re very welcome. Let me know how it goes when you get back, okay? I’m rooting for you. Got all of my fingers and limbs crossed. You deserve the chance. Don’t doubt that or yourself.”
It was funny to have so many people believing in him after so long. Happiness was a strange feeling as well. Until he’d let Will into his life he couldn’t remember how to capture such a feeling in his chest and keep it there.
About the Author
Zane Riley is a transgender writer who wrote his first work of fan fiction in the fourth grade. He is a recent transplant to Vancouver, Washington where he spends his time watching long distance baseball games, hiking, and exploring the musical depths of the internet. His first novel, Go Your Own Way, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.
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