As he answers the Skype call, Spencer’s face appears in the window. Grainy, but not freezing, his slow easy smile is shy and tentative, like he’s not sure what’s going to happen. The rapid tapping on the desktop betrays his nerves, but when JP’s corresponding picture comes up on his screen, he grins, ready for the interview.
Hi Spencer, how are you?
Hey, JP! I am good. My internet connection hates me, though. I did not think it would let me on!
Well, I’m glad it did! It’s been four years since we got to sit down and work on a book together. How’s school?
Almost over, thank God. I graduate in June. And seriously, I cannot tell you how excited I am. I want to start my life.
Have you decided what you’re going to do with your degree?
We have gotten a lot of interest on Spaaron. Companies are either looking to buy the software out right, or hire us to work for them. I keep trying to get Aaron to consider what he will do after college, but well…
How is he?
He is better than he was when we first met. Not as freaked out by things like cloudy days or train whistles. He can hold a conversation when he needs to and even joined an online therapy group. But, he still doesn’t like to be touched – doesn’t like to go out, or let people really see him. He is coping, but not really living.
And he’s still in school?
So far, though it is taking a toll on him. He likes the programming classes, but the other classes frustrate him.
Did he ever to go work for Dr. Mayer?
(A moment passes – long and pregnant.)
Okay, let’s move to something else. Has the critical or popular success of Aaron changed anything for you?
(Spencer’s smile brightens the screen, then dims to a lopsided grin.)
Well, aside from people teasing me about dating Jake Bass. (He grins again). Spencer isn’t a very common name, and being deaf makes me more recognizable. There was a bit of fanfare at school when it first came out, but Aaron and I ignored it and went on about our business.
And how do you feel that the next novel will focus more on you?
Unnerved. But there’s another one in between, right? About Juliette’s brother?
Yes, Painting Fire on the Air is finished and will be released in September.
Painting Fire, that sounds ominous.
Let’s take some questions from readers.
I think I can do that.
Our first question comes from Rosie – What adaptation for the deaf do you wish was more widely available in society?
What an interesting question. I think if I had to pick one, it would be more closed captioning for movies in the theater. I would love to be able to take Aaron to the movies and actually know what was going on.
That’s something I’m sure most people take for granted. Her follow up question is – What one thing would you want people to know about you and how you see the world?
Most people may assume because of the deafness, that I see the world in black and white with no richness or depth. That is not true. I like so many of the same things everyone else likes, just from a different perspective.
For example – I love concerts – the excitement, the vibration of the music on my skin. Because I do not hear it, my focus is more on the band and the frenzy of the crowd, but it is just as much fun for me as anyone.
It would surprise most people that you’d go to a concert at all.
A lot of things about me surprise people.
I’ll bet. Our next question comes from Karin – If you could have one wish fulfilled, what would it be?
(Spencer takes a long time to think about this one – but finally starts to type.)
I have two and since it is my interview. I am going to use them both. First, I would want to go back in time and prevent the attack on Aaron.
But then you two would probably have never met.
And the other?
I would love to meet my mom.
You wouldn’t wish for your hearing?
Why miss something I have never had when there are more important things? Sure, it would be on the list somewhere, but not at the top.
That is a great attitude to have Spencer.
Okay, Karin would also like to know – What are you looking forward to most for your future?
Right now, I cannot wait to get a job and get out on my own. I love my dad, but watching him and his new girlfriend make googly eyes at each other makes me insane. I want Aaron and me to get our lives started together. Well, it is a dream anyway.
Chris has a different question – he would like to know about your coming to terms with being gay and about your internal and external conflicts.
Well, my dad and I were close, so coming out was not really a big deal. I am sure he already knew anyway by the time I got around to telling him. At school I got the shit kicked out of me anyway for being deaf, the topic of being gay never came up. My very few friends knew. A couple of the guys in the deaf program knew. We fucked around and experimented. But really, at least for me, it was not a big deal.
That’s great, because for a lot of guys, it is.
Out last reader question comes from Lynn. She asks – Are you secretly worried Aaron won’t ever be able to have a sexual relationship?
I would love to say that I am not, but that is a lie. I love sex. I miss sex. I love the intimate moments that Aaron and I have together, but I will not cheat on him—ever. I love him more than I thought I could love anyone. But to never have sex again, I do not know what will happen with that.
Let’s stop there because that concerns Aaron’s privacy too. Are you excited about the new book?
Yeah, it’s going to be great. I cannot wait to get started on it!
Me either! In fact, why don’t we conclude the interview here and do just that?
Thank you for sitting down with me and my readers today, Spencer.
After what you’ve done for us, JP—I am happy to.
I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.
Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.
With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?
Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Forbidden Room series, the Little Boy Lost series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com