Today That Rebel is honored to host author James Stryker. You remember James, right? He is the query-ninja who, along with Dionne Abuoelela of Penname Publishing, gave me that great feedback in the Query Workshop a few weeks ago. James's new book Boy: A Journey releases four days from now (Monday, December 19th) and is available for pre-order by clicking any one of its links.
Thank you to James who took the extra time to look at how his character might be considered a Rebel. Please open your minds and hearts to James Stryker and his new book, Boy: A Journey.
Take it James:
The deeper I’ve ventured into Internet rabbit holes of thoughts on rebellion, the more at home I feel being a guest on That Rebel with a Blog. Many of my writings showcase rebellion – Assimilation, my debut novel, actually features a first-definition-listed-in-the-dictionary rebel with the main characters rising against the authority of an organization. But my forthcoming release, Boy: AJourney, takes a different spin on the concept of rebellion.
In his book-length essay, The Rebel, philosopher Albert Camus writes “What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion.” At its core, my novel is a story of individuals who said “yes and no simultaneously.”
The resistance within Boy:A Journey begins before the main character, Luke, even exists. After his father Jay’s sudden death, Luke hears about the first step in rebellion from [an enigmatic stranger] Tom, Jay’s childhood friend:
“What if you could never leave the stage? What if you were forced to stay there? To keep performing. To keep playing a character? However much the people praised and admired you, I guarantee eventually that spotlight would burn you alive.”
Luke nodded as if he understood.
“This is the pièce de résistance. This was the night. This was the moment, if you like. He’d finally decided that it was enough. He launched himself off that stage without knowing where he’d land, or caring if anyone would catch him.”
The character Jay refused to play any longer was the role of a female. Throughout Boy: A Journey, Luke learns how the repercussions of Jay’s rebellion against his gender assignment are without the destructive connotations the word rebellion typically carries. Even as Jay said no, his actions carried no abandon but rather consistent progress toward his goal – to build a meaningful life aligning with his true male identity.
While Jay’s journey is complete almost as soon as the book opens, Luke must confront a similar internal struggle to become a productive rebel. Driven by aspirations of Broadway stardom, Luke has felt pitted against his father for years, believing that Jay never supported his dream. On returning home after a year of self-imposed exile, Luke still nurtures the dream of dramatic triumph over Jay’s perceived expectations for him:
He’d land a lead role in a huge production. Carnegie Hall. A big, classic Broadway show with his name on a marquee in huge letters. And then he’d call his father to rub the success in his face.
Luke doesn’t have a problem being a man who says no, but his rebellion fails in the latter half of Camus’s thoughts on a rebel – his refusal is accompanied by surrender and a lack of ambition to create something better for himself.
As Luke seeks answers about Jay’s hidden past as a transgender man, he is guided by another man well-acquainted with forms of rebellion, his father’s best friend, Tom. Like Jay, Tom hasn’t been hesitant to strike out on his own path; however, the argument could be made that he was never able to overcome implications of a renunciation:
It was a cliché, stereotypical scenario. Tom had moved into the neighborhood, and in the house next door lived the slender, beautiful girl with long dark hair and light-colored eyes. His parents had been thrilled—maybe this girl could knock the “gay thing” out of their otherwise exceptional son. Tom had fallen. And he’d never been able to pick himself back up.
Now in the end stages of terminal cancer, Tom is faced with the consequences of a life spent in incomplete rebellion. He’s broken the mold, but by failing to move forward. The novel opens as he considers if there is even any merit in continuing what he calls “his pathetic existence.”
A final thing Camus said of the rebel is “[it’s] those who know how to rebel, at the appropriate moment, against history, who really advance its interests.” Boy: A Journey is Luke’s moment. In re-discovering the man he thought he knew, he must navigate the examples of rebellion set before him and determine his own path.
For my friend, O.J. Barré’s audience of rebels, I hope you’ll check out Boy: A Journey when it releases from NineStar Press on December 19th!
Thank you, James. It sounds like Luke, Jay and Tom are definitely rebels. Good luck with your upcoming launch and please check back with us down the road a month or two to let us know how it's going!
Thanks to all you Rebel readers! Have a glorious day!
That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell (writing as O.J. Barré)
O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is in final edits. The first draft of Book Two, Coming To, is nearing completion and Book Three, Coming Full Circle, is swirling in the mists of creation.