Missing by Drake Braxton is very much like its author, bold with unexpected surprises. The first time I read it, I thought that it was original and compelling. The romance elements were clear to me, but not so hard drawn that it couldn’t be appreciated by readers outside of the romance genre. It’s the type of book I’ve been longing to find and publish, so I could not give up the opportunity to work with Drake.
Throughout the editing process, Drake and I had a few lengthy chats and I got to know him on a more personal level. We talked about the book, but we also talked our loves and how came to be where we are today. I took some time to have a brief chat with Drake Braxton for Top 2 Bottom Reviews as Missing was getting ready for release.
So now here is a chance for you to get to know Drake Braxton.
Drake, your new book, Missing, is about to hit bookstores. You must be excited and nervous. For most authors, it’s a nerve wracking time that’s often likened to waiting for your baby to be delivered. What are you feeling now and, even more, how much of yourself is in Missing?
Thanks so much! The anticipation prior to the release can absolutely be compared to that baby delivery. (Though any woman would yell at me for that comparison as I don’t have the pains she has.) But now, I’m just excited and eager for people to read the story. There is always that feeling of “will people like what I’ve done” no matter what field you are in. Deep down, we all want to be loved. My hope is people will find something they can connect to in the story.
I see pieces of me in different characters. I can be obsessive like Blain. I can be the caretaker like the friend, Michael. But I really felt I created people very different from me. However, the story was born from a dream I had of losing my husband at a reunion we attended. He vanished and I woke in a huge panic and fear from that dream. I hoped to be able to capture that feeling early on in the book as Blain discovers Manny missing.
Missing is part mystery, part romance and reminds me of the crime novels of the 1940/50s. To me, it was the type of romance Jim Thompson would write if he’d ever decided to write one. What was your vision for Missing when you were writing it?
Wow…that is a wonderful compliment and I’ll take it! The mystery part was rolling out of me in an odd way when I was writing this book and I definitely wanted to keep the romance of the marriage of the two men at the forefront. Even though Manny isn’t there when the reader starts the book, I wanted them to get a sense of the life these men have shared. As I continued to write, the story took on a life of its own and other themes came pouring out of me that made the story take a twist I had not anticipated. But in the end, I couldn’t be more pleased with that as it opened the story up in a completely different way.
As in your novel, most gay novels talk about an extended family. Can you tell me a little about Blain’s extended family and how they interact with him.
I think the extended family is so important in the gay community when many lose what family they have. Blain and Manny have very different backgrounds when they meet and eventually married (with Manny being from Brazil and Blain from a wealthy Southern family) and created a family of friends. Some were in couples and others like Michael and Grayson are both single. Michael is the mother hen of the entire group and Grayson is on the fringe; doing his own thing and sometimes thought of as the ‘bad boy’ of the family. But they are all there for Blain to help him through the tough time when Manny disappears. Michael hovers while Grayson enables some bad behaviors that Blain has attempted to leave behind.
There’s a lot of dispirit characters in your novel, so how all encompassing is your portrayal of gay life?
I think that people would assume a depressing story if someone is dealing with loss, but I believe people are multifaceted and are allowed to laugh and enjoy things now and then; even during pain. It was important that I showed all kinds of gay life in this book. Professionals. Married. Single. Educated. Addicts. Overweight. Gym-rats. Homophobic. Gay parents. Our community is not only one type of person so I wanted the book to reflect that entire life. I’m aware many read to escape and want books full of the pretty, perfect people – but some also read to see themselves hidden somewhere in those pages.
There’s a lot of traveling in Missing. What are your favorite vacation spots?
I love to travel and I enjoy putting that in my writing. Even a short story I’m working on now deals with travel. I speak of Amsterdam in the book and I loved my trip there when I also went to other countries in that area. I wanted to share it in the book in a way that Blain would see it: as educational. Granted, what I saw and what the guys ultimately experience in the book are not the same thing…let me just go on the record to get that straight!
What would you like people to come away with after reading Missing?
I wanted to make people feel love and question some choices in their lives. I also want people to think about how people are judge and jury of others. And this can be from any group. Readers will see that even my main character has more judgment in him than he is willing to admit. I won’t mention names, but a friend of mine read an early draft of the book and actually said it made him really take a look at his own marriage. So the feeling of love and longing from the book spoke to him and I hope others will have that same experience.
Missing is a difficult book to discuss because of the twists and turns. Giving any of it away to someone who hasn’t yet read it would destroy the pleasure of reading it (IMHO). It’s a real emotional rollercoaster ride with a major payout. Most authors feel the emotions they’re writing about (it’s how you know you’re doing it right) as they’re working on the manuscript, how did you handle your emotions while writing Missing?
Thank you for saying that as I find it to be really difficult as well. And I’m so lucky that Seventh Window Publications took it on when it can’t easily be dropped into a certain genre. It was definitely emotional to write, especially since I mentioned the premise at the very beginning came from a dream about me and my spouse. So I couldn’t help but place those emotions into Blain and Manny when writing certain chapters. (My other half would look over and see me in tears as I was writing and thought something was wrong with me.) But in the end, I’m really glad I allowed myself to hit that vulnerable place so that the emotions could be more “raw” in the story.
Do you have a set writing schedule? If so, how do you keep to it?
I wish that I could say that I did, but I don’t. While I have a few short stories I want to submit and I’m working on my next work, I’m still not great at setting that schedule. I usually wait until I’m inspired and then I MUST write. So whatever is going on at that time has to wait while I stop and write what is in my head.
Can we expect more of this type of romance from Drake Braxton?
My next work has a different feel than Missing. Where this book deals with a romance and love that has endured a long time, the next is at the onset of love and deals with time travel, train wrecks and trapeze artists. People who love Water For Elephants, Somewhere in Time, and The Time Travelers Wife will hopefully be drawn to that story…if of course the main characters in those stories were gay men.
People often ask me to compare you to other writers, to which I tell them, If Jim Thompson and Nora Roberts were to have an illegitimate child, that child would be Drake Braxton. Which authors would you liken yourself to…if you had to?
You are so nice with the compliments! And wouldn’t I love to have those careers?! It’s so hard to compare yourself to other writers as you never want to come across as if you think highly of yourself. But if you put a gun to my head, I’d have to say I’m influenced by the storytelling of Dean Koontz and the flawed characterization that Armistead Maupin is known to give us. Put those two together and scramble them up and a Drake Braxton novel might ooze out somewhere.