Imagine this scenario…a nurse, on call at a busy hospital, is wondering why her husband’s flight is late. After all, it’s their anniversary, and after she got off work, they were supposed to spend it together. Halfway across the country, her husband is missing his flight because he’s having an illicit tryst with another man.
Sound like Days of our Lives or Grey’s Anatomy? It’s actually the opening storyline to a series of two new novels, with a third on the way, all written by author Jake Biondi. The series is called Boystown and it profiles the lives, loves and affairs of various couples who live in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood. Both gay and straight characters are in the foreground and they have no choice but to battle through whatever life throws their way.
I spoke with Jake Biondi and asked him about Boystown and how it has progressed since the first stories were written two years ago.
How did you get the idea to write Boystown?
I’ve always been a fan of continuing dramas on television, so I’ve always been interested in formulating a continuing story. Two summers ago, I was thinking about what it would be like to write a continuing story with a gay focus. I toyed around with that and started to write. My intention was originally to write one installment a month and release them online. In June 2013 I put the first one online, and immediately people wanted to know what was going to happen next, and they wanted me to release them more quickly. I hadn’t anticipated this but I was pleased.
After I wrote the first ten installments, people recommended that I put them together as a book. So in November 2013, the first book came out, and then I released the second one in July 2014. The third one will be out this April.
Were you inspired by other books and TV shows when you put together the characters and the story?
Sure. I used to be a fan of Dynasty and Dallas, and now I love shows like Revenge and Nashville. I’ve also been a big fan of Charles Dickens for as long as I can remember, and he used to release his stories in installments, ending in cliffhangers, and that’s where I got the idea to originally release mine in the same way. Obviously the content is different though.
Which characters are your favorites and why?
It’s hard to answer that one because I feel like my favorite ones at any given time are the ones that fans are engaging me with right then. I really like writing for the character of Emmett (the lead character’s brother), but then I hear from fans saying that they really connect with Keith (Emmett’s boyfriend), and then I start writing more for Keith. I’ve been surprised by the fan reaction to certain couples. In the first book, a lot of people were rooting for Keith and Emmett a lot more than I expected, and they didn’t like how I ended things with them at the end of the first book. Then you have fans say they really like Michael, or they really like Cole, and it is interesting and fun to interact with all of them and listen to their feedback and provide them with a great story.
What would you say to people to ensure they buy copies of Boystown?
It’s funny, because now that Fifty Shades of Grey is in theaters, I’ve noticed a lot of people are calling my books Fifty Shades of Gay. [laughs] I would say that if you want a fun read with a bumpy ride involved, in terms of all the twists and turns in the plot, then these are the books for you.
You’ve talked about wanting to turn this book series into a television production. Is it ready for that jump?
I think it is. First of all, just the way the books are written right off the bat, they’re divided into “episodes” instead of “chapters,” and I think it’s a logical setup for TV. I’ve contacted a few people in Hollywood and asked for their opinions, and I was inspired enough to turn the first “season” of Boystown into a script format, ready for TV. I know it’s a long shot, but I think it would be a great addition to HBO or Showtime, or even Netflix or Amazon. Those networks like risky programming and they also don’t have continuing stories so this may interest them.
Boystown is available in paperback and e-book formats. To purchase your copy, visit jakebiondi.com.