Today we have Johnathan Penn over with a special treat! Where he was interviewed yesterday, today he does the interview. He interviews Eve and Tork from different stories in the anthology. Curious? I know I am! Give them a warm welcome!
Jonathan: Hello! Jonathan Penn here, again. Yesterday, I did enough blabbing about myself to last a lifetime, so today I’m turning the tables and taking over the interviewer’s chair. Not that there’s actual furniture involved, mind you…Hmm…At any rate, the bunch of us at Boughs of Evergreen thought it would be great if you could meet some of the characters from our stories. Two of them have been kind enough to join us today. We have Eve Mann from J P Walker’s A Friend for Christmas. Hello, Eve.
Eve: Hi, Jonathan.
Jonathan: And also Tork – umm, I’m sorry, Tork, they don’t seem to have given me a last name for you. I’m sure you have one.
Tork: I am afraid you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it.
Jonathan: Ah. Yes. Well, Tork is here from Al Stewart and Claire Davis’s The Invasion of Tork. Thank you for being here.
Tork: Thank you for…for inviting me. It’s…good to be here?
Jonathan: Are you alright, Tork? There’s nothing to be nervous about.
Tork: I am sure you are right. I am just keen to start.
Jonathan: Yes, of course. But let me know if there’s anything we can do to make you more comfortable. Eve, let’s start with you. Could you tell us a little about yourself, your background and interests, that sort of thing?
Eve: Well, let’s see, I’ve lived my whole life in a small town outside of Surrey. That’s a bit to the south-west of London for our friends in the US, and I grew up with just my dad. Mum died giving birth to me. I’m twenty-seven now. I went to university to get my degree in sports science and I coach the girls’ football team at my old high school.
Jonathan: Ah, very good. And what about you Tork?
Tork: I am twenty-two, and I live in the north of England, in Yorkshire. My mother died a few years ago, so I am on my own now. I have had a rough time since my mother died.
Jonathan: Oh, dear. I’m very sorry to hear about your mother. Really, both your mothers. I know how difficult that is. So, Tork, could you tell us what is it about you that got Claire and Al interested in writing about you?
Tork: I make origami models.
Tork: And I read a lot.
Tork: Classical English literature…and anything that looks difficult.
Tork: I don’t know. Maybe it was my green hair?
Jonathan: Yes. That is most striking!
Tork: Thank you.
Jonathan: I must say, though, it isn’t just the hair, you have an…an exotic look about you. Are your ancestors from England?
Tork: My father’s people were from the east, but I never knew him.
Jonathan: I see. Well, what about you, Eve? What do you think attracted J P’s attention to you and made her want to tell your story?
Eve: Ummm…I think a lot of it may be to do with my love story…how my wife and I met? It was a little unusual to say the least. I mean…falling in love with my imaginary friend is a little weird. Oh! She’s not really imaginary! Hahaha. I just thought she was for a long time. J P also had similar experiences to me in school – a bit of a tomboy who didn’t fit in.
Jonathan: It sounds like you knew at a fairly young age that you were different from your peers. Tell us a little about your experience of sorting it out for yourself, and deciding who to tell, and when.
Eve: Wow! OK. When I was around five or six years old, it was already abundantly clear that the other girls my age didn’t like me because I didn’t wear dresses or play with dolls or fall all over boys. I began to understand it when I developed my first proper crush on a friend of mine: Jamie. But it still took a while before I had a full understanding of why that was. I thought there was something wrong with me. I told my dad when Jamie and I had been together a few months and he was wonderfully supportive. I’m very lucky.
Jonathan: How did that part of your life go, Tork? Did you come out to your mother before she passed?
Tork: I did not. I was still attempting to understand it myself, and she was already sick, and I did not wish to burden her with concerns about me. After she died, I could not cope. My first relationship with a boy, Steve, concluded badly, and I ended up living rough.
Jonathan: Ah, yes, the pain of failed relationships. Any lost loves in your life, Eve?
Eve: Well, each time I had to say goodbye to Anna, I was always a little heartbroken though I didn’t admit it at the time, because…well…I was pretty sure she was imaginary. But when Jamie and I broke up, it was mutual and it had been a wonderful relationship. I was really sad, we both were. But we knew it was right. But, excuse me, if we could back up a bit, Tork, when you say you were ‘living rough’, do you mean that you were homeless?
Tork: Yes. I very much lost my way. I struggled with the meaninglessness of it all. So I invented rules and a timetable to follow. For a while, I believed that these could replace friends and family, and shelter, but of course, I was wrong. I had focus, but I was so lonely that I found self-destructive ways to ease the pain of my loneliness.
Jonathan: Oh, my! Well, actually, I had planned to ask each of you for any experiences you could share about the added stress and strain of being gay or lesbian on top of all the ordinary difficulties of growing up – the mental health issues that can result. It seems you’ve led us right to it. How did you cope, Tork?
Tork: Although I did not have an imaginary friend like Eve, I invented a whole set of rules, and convinced myself that they would protect me from the many dangers of living rough. When that approach failed, I was very lucky. Someone helped me, and that help led to me meeting Adam, and finding a way back into the light.
Eve: I totally understand where Tork is coming from. I thought I had invented an imaginary friend to help me deal with the stress of being so ‘different’. But I know of so many people who truly believe that they’re sick in some way because of who they are. The sad fact is, a lot of people are still made to feel that way, which is just wrong. Some try to ignore that part of themselves, hoping it will go away, but I think this is detrimental to one’s mental health and general well-being. If you love someone…you should be free to love them without fear of being called sick or crazy, and if you need help, you should ask for it.
Tork: Yes, I agree with Eve. It was very difficult for me to admit to myself, but sometimes, people cannot find what they need in the real world, unless there is someone else there to help them.
Jonathan: Well, this seems an apt moment to mention that your stories are part of an anthology that is raising funds to support The Trevor Project, were you two aware of that?
Eve: Yes, J P told me they do crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ young people.
Tork: I felt very pleased when Claire and Al told me about it. I wish there had been something like that available when I was in difficulty, and if there is a chance my story can help someone else, I am glad for the opportunity.
Jonathan: In case our readers want more information, we should say that it’s available at: www.thetrevorproject.org. Now, to help everyone get to know you a little better, perhaps you could each tell us about a living person you admire?
Eve: May sound really boring but…my dad. I’ve never known anyone to work as hard as he does, and he’s just the most awesome guy ever! He was so supportive and accepting of me and any decisions I made, and I hope to be that kind of parent for my daughter.
Jonathan: And you, Tork?
Tork: There is a worker at the food bank called Mike. He listened to me when I was very frightened and alone, and he did not judge me. Accepting people without judgement is a very admirable quality. I believe he also gave Adam many chances when Adam was…less accepting of others.
Jonathan: What about a fictional character you wish you could be like?
Tork: I would like to be Katniss in The Hunger Games. She is always strong and in control, but she never loses her humanity and compassion.
Eve: I’m a bit of a horror buff and I love anything by Stephen King or Dean Koontz. But of all the amazing characters, I wish I could be like Thomas Odd from Koontz’ Odd Thomas. He’s just an ordinary guy, madly in love with his high school sweetheart. But he can see ghosts and spends his time avenging their deaths and preventing terrible things from happening. A hero among the ‘ordinary’. I believe in that kind of magic.
Jonathan: Ah yes, his devotion to Stormy Llewellyn is quite inspiring, isn’t it? And speaking of inspiring females, what qualities do you look for in a woman, Eve?
Eve: Hehehehe. I’ll try keep it clean! Only kidding. Ummm… Honesty, loyalty, compassion, a good sense of humour and someone who isn’t afraid to grab me and kiss me – just ‘cos they want to.
Jonathan: What about you, Tork? What qualities do you look for in a man?
Tork: My attraction to Adam really took me by surprise. It goes to show that I do not have a ‘type’. What attracted me to Adam was his fiery spirit, and his intelligence. Also, he has a great butt.
Jonathan: Would either of you be willing to tell us about your biggest fear?
Eve: Wow… I guess that would be that my Anna actually is imaginary, and I’ll wake up tomorrow to find she’s gone and I dreamt the whole thing. That would kill me!
Tork: For me, it’s loneliness. When I lived in an abandoned garage, I lost touch with the world and myself. People are not meant to be alone.
Jonathan: Perhaps we could end on a lighter note? Eve, tell us, what is your favourite holiday?
Eve: Christmas! Hahaha! My girl Anna and I are expecting our first child soon, she’s due on Christmas Eve. We’re going to name her Isabelle…after my mother.
Jonathan: And, Tork, will you tell us what your favourite song is, and why?
Tork: I have chosen a song that my boyfriend loves. It is by Florence and the Machine, and it is called “Dog Days are Over”. It is my favourite because I believe there is always hope, and everyone can find happiness even when it seems impossible.
Jonathan: That’s a lovely thought. Thank you, Tork. And I’d like to thank both of you for taking the time to be here today, and for giving our readers a chance to get to know a little about you. And, of course, they can find out more by reading your stories in Boughs of Evergreen.
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