Literary Nymphs Interview
Title: Finding Shelter
Author: M.J. O'Shea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M contemporary
Release Date: April 29th
Do you write in more than one genre?
I do! I'm still working on getting published, but I also write Young Adult. I'd love to keep doing both.
What if any, is the hardest part of writing for you?
It always has to be the time thing. I do have a day job still and a house to keep up, so it's a challenge to find enough time to get all the stories out that I have in my head. Someday I will! I have a ton of stories in there still waiting to come out:)
What inspired the story?
This story was inspired by previous characters. I'd always planned for the final of the three books to be about Justin, but it wasn't until I made
up to be Mason's best friend that I
realized he'd be the perfect one to bring Justin out of his shell. The story
just unfolded from there! Logan
“GET your ass back out here, boy! I’m not done talkin’ to you.”
Justin locked the door to his small bedroom and hoped it was strong enough to hold for just one more night. His father pounded at the door, hard—hard enough that it shook in its frame. Justin fought back hated tears. Crying made him feel weak. Being scared made him feel like a failure. He couldn’t do it anymore.
I need to get out of here before he kills me.
Justin threw clothes into the backpack he’d just dragged out from under his bed. Shirts and pants flew in randomly, haphazardly—he just went for anything he could grab quickly and shove into a bag nowhere near large enough to fit his entire life. He didn’t have room to take much, just enough to get him to where he needed to go. Away. Far away.
I’m leaving. Tonight.
He and his mom’d had a plan for Justin to get out from under his father’s thumb. He was supposed to wait. Wait for the next time his father was out of town, too far away to come after him. Wait until it was safe for him to disappear to his aunt and uncle’s house out on the coast. But it wasn’t safe to stay anymore. Not for one more second. The plan wasn’t going to work. Justin’s eye was puffed up so bad he could barely see, his hand mangled and scraped from where it got caught up against the doorjamb when his father shoved him. His father was on another one of his raging benders, too drunk to be coherent but nowhere near drunk enough for Justin to slip out of his meaty hands. He lifted his hand to his sore eye but jumped when another loud slam shook the door.
“Worthless faggot. You’re no son of mine, hiding in that room like the pussy you are. That’s what the men call you. Faggot pussy.”
Justin had been a source of embarrassment to his father ever since he was old enough to walk and talk and look like a “fucking fairy,” according to his father. He was small and pretty, and he wore his hair shoulder length. He’d never told anyone he was gay. Apparently, he didn’t have to. He’d still been beaten for it so many times, spent so much time out of school and in the hospital, that he’d barely graduated from high school in the spring. At nineteen. Who wants to be the oldest kid in the school and still get bullied and beat up? He’d almost quit more times than he could count. But Justin knew he needed that damn diploma. So he’d kept going until the bitter fucking end, putting up with his father’s hatred and the jocks at school, even his mother’s damaged indifference. No more.
Tonight. I’m gone.
HIS father ran out of steam eventually and stumbled off to pass out. Nearly safe. Justin waited until the house was silent. His father snored away drunkenly on the recliner. His mother cowered in her room like she always did, Sarah McLachlan playing low to cover the sound of her sobbing. Justin didn’t understand her, didn’t get why she never left, never took him and got as far away from his bastard of a father as she could, away from their small town, away from the people who talked and pointed when they walked down the street. It wasn’t like Justin couldn’t hear the whispers about “that trashy Foster family who lives out on the edge of town.” He heard them talk about his abusive, alcoholic father, about his cowering mother... about him. That was when the whispers got so quiet they were nearly a hiss. Justin heard the word “faggot” when he walked by, felt the hostility in the fists of the jocks at school when they beat the hell out of him behind the dumpster.
Maybe where he was going wouldn’t be any better. But it would be different. And his father would be out of his life. Hopefully for good. Justin felt a little bad not saying good-bye to his mother, but he knew she’d be able to find him. It just felt like he was abandoning her, leaving her without a plan for her own escape. His father didn’t like to lose. He’d go after Justin’s mom. They both needed to disappear, but Justin had to go first.
It took a long time to walk to the bus station. They really did live out in the fields. It was good that it was summer, the night still hot from the sunbaked pavement and filled with a cacophony of crickets and frogs and what he hoped were merely owls. Justin wore only a T-shirt and jeans; his sole hoodie was slung through the straps of his backpack. He had only one other pair of jeans with him, a few T-shirts, some socks and underwear, and his life. His life most of all. He supposed that was the only important thing. It explained why he kept looking back down the road, expecting to hear the rumble of his dad’s beast of a truck at any moment, why he sped up his gait even when it appeared the coast was clear. He still didn’t know exactly what his father was capable of. Justin was afraid, if he stuck around any longer, he’d learn. And that might be the last thing he did on this earth.
“I’M NINETEEN. You can’t make me stay any longer.”
“And where the fuck you gonna go, worthless boy?”
His father had laughed like a rabid hyena and thrown back another shot of Jack. He had a point. Justin had nothing. No real money. Nowhere to go. He’d hidden in his room as long as possible that night, but his father had eventually broken the lock.
THAT had only been a week or so after graduation. Things had gotten progressively worse until the night his mother whispered that she’d talked to her sister and they were planning to get him out of there. He’d wanted to go right away, but his father was home on vacation for a few weeks. They had to wait. If nobody was watching, it would be safer for him to go.
THE wait felt like a thousand years. Every time his father came after him, it seemed like it might be the last. Justin figured if he’d waited out his father’s vacation, the only place he’d end up was the hospital again. Or the morgue.
IT TOOK nearly an hour to get there, but the dim yellow lights of the bus depot were welcoming, kind of like a dull sort of hope. He dug a rumpled wad of cash from his pocket and bought his ticket before he found the most remote corner to slump in. Again, Justin waited, but this time for the late-night westbound toward
a city bigger than any he’d ever been to. He’d been saving cash, quarters and
dollars swiped off the counter after a trip to the liquor store, money from
working at the neighboring farm last summer. Justin had never been so glad that
he’d had the idea. The money was his escape. He’d needed it after all. Seattle
The idea of being in
alone was scary. He’d heard rumors of city violence, drugs, homeless people and
prostitutes, but he’d change buses quickly, head south and west until he hit
the coast. Even though he was still on the east side of the mountains, where
the air was dry and hot, Justin almost felt the breeze from the ocean, the cool
salt mist from crashing waves. His aunt and uncle lived in another small town,
maybe no better than the one he was about to leave. But, again, it would be
different. Different was good. And hopefully safe. Seattle
He got out his phone, one of the few things he’d dared to bring that might connect him to home, and texted his cousin Travis, saying he was on his way and that nobody knew he’d gone. Travis was cool. He wouldn’t tell. Justin breathed a huge sigh of relief when the bus finally pulled up. He’d been holding his breath the whole time, waiting for the rumble of his father’s truck. There were only a few stragglers at the station, and he jumped onto the bus and went all the way to the very back, where he sat and willed the driver to release the brakes and put some distance between him and the miserable cow town he’d called home for nineteen long years.
JUSTIN didn’t know much about
. He’d never been
there— his family didn’t have the time or money for travel. It didn’t matter.
Anywhere was better than living with his dad. He’d met his mom’s sister and his
cousin Travis the couple of times they’d visited the east side. He liked his
aunt, and he liked Travis even more. They weren’t close, but they’d stayed in
touch through Facebook and, lately, texting. It was nice to know there would be
a friendly face waiting for him on the other side, even if it wasn’t all that
familiar. The miles melted away, but they couldn’t go fast enough. Justin kept
looking out the window, sure that his dad’s rusty old red pickup would pull up
next to his bus on the highway, that his dad would cut the bus off, make it
pull over, drag him out and beat him the whole way home like he had that day
when Justin had dared to go to school with a black eye. His dad was all about control
and image. It would kill him that Justin had taken charge of things. He’d hate
it when people in town talked about Justin being gone. And word would get
around town... at least whispers would. They always did. Rock
Transferring buses wasn’t nearly as big a deal as Justin had thought it would be. He was glad to stand after hours hunched in his seat, waiting for disaster to strike. He got a few searching looks from the drifters who hung around the city terminal, but not enough to worry him. Justin mostly looked for his father, who had to know by then that he was gone. It had been daylight for at least three hours, and his dad was an early riser. Justin checked his phone. Other than a few texts from Travis, there was nothing.
In an odd way, it was disappointing. Maybe not disappointing, but anticlimactic. He almost wanted the opportunity to fight, to bite back—at least from a safe distance. Justin told himself not to be an idiot. Standing up to his father was stupid and caused nothing but trouble. It was best to simply disappear.
The scenery was better on the west side of the mountains. No more seas of dry grass and rock. Instead there were trees and cities and water, and everything was so, so green. Justin had seen pictures before, lots of them, but it still didn’t prepare him for the strangeness. It was probably him who was strange, anyway. Who gets to nineteen and hasn’t ever left their pathetic hometown even once? Justin shook it off and stared out the window some more. The bus had passed through the city of
Seattle and then the smaller city of , headed south for
the place where it would turn toward the coast and Justin’s new home—at least
for the time being. He’d memorized the route, traced it with his finger on a
map so many times. Tacoma Seattle, Tacoma,
second turn to the right and straight on till morning. Olympia
isn’t some sort of fantasyland. You’ll be lucky if you don’t get your ass beat
on a daily basis there too. Rock Bay
Sometimes it helped to not expect much. That way it was harder to be disappointed.
I’m Mj O’Shea, author of erotic romance–well all sorts of romance actually, and that’s just what’s been published so far!
I grew up, and still live, in sunny
and while I love to visit other places, I can’t imagine calling anywhere else
home. Washington State
I spent my childhood writing stories. Sometime in my early teens, the stories turned to romance. Most of those were about me, my friends, and our favorite TV stars. Hopefully, I’ve come a long way since then…
Right now, I have four books published through Republica Press but I’m constantly working on new projects.
When I’m not writing, I love to play the piano and cook and paint pictures…and of course read. It’s nearly impossible to work on my own writing when I’ve gotten myself hooked into a great new book:) I like sparkly girly girl things, own at least twenty different colored headbands, and I have a little white dog with a ginger eye spot who sits with me when I write. Sometimes she comes up with ideas for me too…when she’s not napping.
Where can we find your website?
Website and blog: http://mjoshea.com/
Finding Shelter at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3791