The topic of Embarrassing Parents by Josephine Myles
Who here hasn’t ever been embarrassed by their parent or guardian?
*Peers around and can’t spot a single raised hand*
I thought as much. I’m pleased to report that I’m no longer embarrassed by my parents in any way—largely down to me growing up rather than any change in their behaviour—but I remember those teenage years when they couldn’t seem to open their mouths without me cringing inside. They were just too Christian, too naive, too old-fashioned and too... loving. Yes, I’ll admit it, at the time I’d much rather they’d been stricter so I had something decent to rebel against. It’s really difficult to rebel against permissive parents, who keep calm when you get your eyebrow pierced and announce you’re off to London for a gig on a school night.
However, these days the things that would once have had me rush to disown them (cracking awful puns in front of my friends, for instance) are now charming quirks. My mum’s insistence on wearing Victorian-style purple clothing is wonderfully eccentric, and I love my dad’s long hair and beard, along with his old-fashioned gentlemanly ways and devotion to classical music. So when I set out to give a thirty-year-old man loving yet embarrassing parents, I knew I couldn’t really use my own as models. I knew Lewis Miller in Junk was a fairly strait-laced character, and it occurred to me that perhaps that was his own form of rebellion against rather more hip and liberal parents. I cast my mind back to my school friends’ parents. In particular, I remember one friend whose parents only grudgingly wore clothing around the house. Perfect! That was totally different to my parents’ body modesty. Naturism was thrown into the mix for his parents.
Then I thought more about names. I’d picked the name Lewis from my cheat sheet of potential character names, and when I went to give him a twin sister the name Carroll instantly sprang into my head, from the author of Alice in Wonderland. I was about to ditch the idea as being too cheesy, but then decided to go with it as not only did it go with the bookish theme of the story, but it would be mortifying to be given a pair of matched names like that by your parents—it was on a par with dressing them both in identical clothing as children!
When deciding on Cassie’s and Alan’s hobbies and interests I remembered the school friend with the hippy mother who read palms, practised Wicca magic and created bizarre clay sculptures she filled the house with. The New Agey stuff could go, but I liked the idea of a potter. In particular, I liked the idea of a staunchly feminist potter, filling the house with explicit sculptures that would make her adult son want to cover his eyes.
The feminist angle led me to Lewis’s parents’ professions. If they were intelligent and outspoken left-wing liberals, then academia would be the perfect place to find them. I recalled some of the lecturers I had at university—especially those in the gender studies modules. I even took the name of an academic text from my bookshelves that I thought Lewis’s mother might enjoy: Rum, Sodomy and the Lash: Piracy, Sexuality and Masculine Identity. (I really must get around to reading it myself one of these days!)
When you add in a father with an obsession with horrendously spicy food, I felt I had the perfect ingredients for a pair of parents who were quirky, decent, loving people, but who nevertheless somehow managed to raise a son who was so embarrassed by their behaviour he rebelled into conservative geekdom.
Creating plausible backgrounds for my characters is one of the most fun things about the early stages of planning a novel. I think our families play an incredibly important role in the people we grow up to be, whether we end up like carbon copies of them or deliberately (or subconsciously) choosing a different path. I always have a strong picture in my mind of what a character’s parents and siblings are like, even if they never appear as characters in the story.
I’m glad Lewis’s family got to play a part in Junk, though. Cassie Wilde and Alan Miller were two of the most fun and scene-stealing side characters I’ve ever written. Yay for embarrassing parents!
Have you ever been embarrassed by your family? And are you still?
Prize giveaway: In addition to the grand prize of a sexy book tote (entry details on Jo's website) there will be a $5 ebook gift voucher awarded to one commenter from every post during the tour, up to Monday 9th September, 9am GMT (full details also on Jo's website, including the blog tour itinerary)
Letting go is the first step to healing…or bringing it all crashing down.
When an avalanche of books cuts off access to his living room, university librarian Jasper Richardson can no longer ignore the truth. His ever-growing piles of books, magazines and newspapers can no longer be classified as a “collection”. It’s a hoard, and he needs professional help.
Professional clutter clearer and counselor Lewis Miller thinks he’s seen it all, but even he has to admit he’s shocked. Not so much by the state of Jasper’s house, but by the level of attraction he still feels for the sexy bookworm he remembers from school.
What a shame that Lewis’s ethical code forbids relationships with clients. As Jasper makes slow but steady progress, though, the magnetic pull between them is so strong even Lewis is having trouble convincing himself it’s a temporary emotional attachment arising from the therapeutic process.
Jasper longs to prove to Lewis that this is the real deal. But first he’ll have to lay bare the root of his hoarding problem…and reveal the dark secret hidden behind his walls of books.
Warning: Contains a level-headed counselor with a secret addiction, a bespectacled geek with a sweet tooth, a killer “to-be-read” pile, embarrassing parents, a van called Alice, and deliciously British slang.
Junk is out now, available from the following retailers: Kindle US | Kindle UK | Nook | Samhain
About the author: English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
For more information about Jo’s published stories, regular blog posts and saucy free reads, visit JosephineMyles.com
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Photo credits: Amish couple by Robb, vintage couples by click, erotic sculpture by natepowers , all from morguefile.com