Please join me in welcoming Will Freshwater whose debut novel, FAVORITE SON, is a fascinating character study of one man’s journey in re-inventing himself when his world goes sideways under the weight of political expediency.
This Book Blog Tour is brought to you by GGR-PromoGroup.
We’ll have a guest post from Will Freshwater, a review and a chance to win an eBook copy of Favorite Son. All you need to do is comment below. Please include an email address and which format you prefer (epub, mobi or PDF).
**********ABOUT FAVORITE SON**********
Book Title: Favorite Son
Author: Will Freshwater
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Book Length: 204 pages
Genre: Gay, Romance
Born into a blue-collar family, John Wells beat the odds and came out a winner. As chief of staff to Patrick Donovan, a US senator and aspiring presidential candidate, he enjoys all the power and privilege of a DC insider. But while riding high on a wave of success, he’s blindsided by a series of betrayals from the people he trusts the most. In the space of a single day, John’s perfect life unexpectedly unravels when his career falters and his marriage implodes. Following a final, devastating blow, John assumes a new identity as “Peter” and flees to Provincetown, where a tight-knit community of eclectic characters slowly transforms him.
Peter finds himself drawn to Danny Cavanaugh, an enigmatic carpenter who is struggling to come to terms with his own troubled past. As they work together to renovate a local landmark, the two men forge an unlikely friendship that blossoms into love and becomes the foundation for a new life they hope to build together. But when a reversal of fortune pulls John back to DC, the treacherous world of politics he thought he’d left behind threatens to destroy his chance at true happiness.
BUY LINKS FOR FAVORITE SON
WILL FRESHWATER talks about how…
Time Keeps on Slipping — Into the Future
In 2011, I read Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob Smith. From the first page, I was hooked. As a science fiction nut and a lawyer, I couldn’t help but admire a story where a gay guy uses technology to break the laws of physics and nature. After traveling back to 1986, the protagonist teams up with his younger self to plot a course around their future relationship troubles, prevent a family member from making a tragic decision, and stop George W. Bush from becoming president. As expected, the story was well constructed and the humor entertaining, but there was something haunting and raw about the underlying message of the book. If given the chance, what would you change about your past?
Honestly, I have trouble with this question. Far too often, I find myself reliving the past and reviewing the ever-growing list of mistakes I’ve made along the way.
As a kid, I spent most of my waking hours worrying about fitting in. Although I desperately wanted to be part of the team, my total indifference toward sports and an almost comical lack of muscle coordination meant I was usually left standing on the sidelines while the other boys played. I managed to do a fairly good job of hiding my love of school by staying out of the academic spotlight and intentionally keeping my grades low. But adolescence brought with it a surge of hormones and a keen awareness of my undeniable attraction to my own gender. My deepest fears confirmed, I eventually accepted the fact that I’d always feel different.
When I can’t sleep at night, I often imagine I’m back in my childhood bedroom, reading books and writing stories instead of watching episodes of The Love Boat or struggling to master a spiral pass. Armistead Maupin and Edmund White would have made better friends than the classmates I wasted time trying to impress. Over the years, there a few guys I wish I’d spent more time getting to know, and a couple I wish I’d never met. Books and words were the answer to every question I struggled with during those awkward times. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t come to understand that truth until later in my life.
Writing fiction is like a low-tech time machine. Creating characters and telling stories gives me a chance to reflect on my past and rewrite history. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was tempted to edit out some of the more unpleasant scenes from my novel, Favorite Son, but I think the deepest appreciation of love often comes from painful memories of loss. John Wells, the protagonist of my story, suffers through infidelity, betrayal, and a tragic death. Basically, I put the poor guy through every twisted machination I could devise. Does his perfect world shatter? Yes. Does all that pain and suffering finally break him? Absolutely. Still, the more I wrote, the more I wondered: what kind of life would my beloved character build from the ashes?
At one time or another, we’ve all longed for the chance to press the metaphorical “reset button” and start over again. Still, I’ve watched enough episodes of Star Trek to know that messing around with time travel is never a good idea. Changes to the past have a ripple effect on the present and the future. Although I still cringe when I think about some of the more unfortunate experiences I’ve had to endure — especially when it comes to love — I’ve come to understand that it’s the failures and mistakes, not just the wins and successes, that have made me the person I am today.
Favorite Son started out with a compelling look at the behind the scenes maneuvering and precise attention to the detail of what’s not said, of who knows who, and what can be gained from the most innocuous of interactions—all those things that grease the wheels of political discourse. It’s how things are done. It’s a job that’s soul-sucking and never for the faint of heart. And it requires a certain moral flexibility when it comes to choices of all ilk.
As Chief of Staff, John Peter Wells is the behind-the-scenes master at seeing to Senator Donovan’s schedule, to arranging and overseeing that his powers never diminish, but when the political winds shift, Wells falls prey to expediency. Clever to a fault, Wells plans his potential egress with care and with an eye to changing the Senator’s mind when they are in Boston. It takes but a single moment in time for it all to go sideways, leaving Wells floundering amidst devastating losses—his marriage, the good graces of his former mentor, and the loss of perhaps his only friend in the world.
Wells does what is necessary to survive—he runs, seeking a safe haven in which to recoup and to explore his options. Using a partial alias, John and Peter split to become two halves of a whole: John the power-monger and Peter the unset clay of a man unsure of who or what he wants to be.
Favorite Son is a cautionary, but flawed tale of a man with preternatural abilities to suss out the chinks in political armor to his own advantage and a man who has no idea how just to be, how to feel, how to live normal in a world that’s so far from it he no longer possesses a frame of reference.
As they say, it takes a village, and Provincetown might be the perfect example of the insular, quirky and undemanding home for characters who come into Peter’s life … or rather, he into theirs … and slowly, but surely, make a indent into the closed-off man’s psyche. Along the way he meets a carpenter, Danny Cavanaugh. As they work together on a project, their daily interaction leads to friendship and eventually more, yet it’s a stuttering kind of relationship with Danny reluctant to take the obvious next steps.
Eventually it seems that the man who would be Peter would win out and forge a new life with Danny, but the people and events that insinuated themselves into John’s very existence rear their ugly heads and threaten to destroy everything. To deal with it, John leaves Peter behind, with questionable outcomes for all involved.
I call Favorite Son flawed because there are serious deficiencies in the portrayal of the man who is Wells. The point of view oscillates unnervingly between the two personas, as if the inner John emerges to take over a scene, then vanishes into Peter’s perspective—a type of dual personality complex that produces whiplash and disorientation for the reader. And when a man by the name of Paul is thrown into the mix? Well, needless to say, that kind of head-hopping doth not make for clear and present narrative structure.
In addition, one of the tipping points is the death of a close friend, yet it’s treated almost as an afterthought, without any indications as to what happened until nearly the end of the book. It should have been a center piece to the conundrum that was Wells, but at no point did the character actually engage in the rituals of mourning, nor did he ask questions about how and why it happened. If he cared, his actions spoke otherwise.
Wells is always distant, calculating (even in his Peter persona) and without much emotional depth. I questioned why he even professes to care about Danny or any of the other denizens of Provincetown for whom he owes much for their friendship and understanding. And at the end, his re-acceptance into the close-knit community seems a bit convenient, a bit too easy. Peter is still John, still the recipient of an emotional largesse that has yet to be acknowledged, or earned.
What I appreciated about Favorite Son was the insider look at the political charade that constitutes business as usual in D.C. But the head-hopping, the emotional distance (almost sociopathic in its scope) of the main character, the ill-defined characterization of Danny, and some of the overly tourist-guide descriptions of locales mired the plot and removed much of the suspense and need-to-know-what-happens-next.
Favorite Son struggled to find the balance between a plot-driven tale and a character study. Though it failed on a few metrics, it also succeeded on many others. In balance, Favorite Son is a very good read, with enough going for it to merit a solid Four Stars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Freshwater was born and raised in a small steel town outside Pittsburgh. He graduated, cum laude, from Boston College and was awarded a Juris Doctorate from the
University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Will has lived and worked in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Tampa. Although he has spent the better part of the
last twenty years working as a successful corporate attorney, Will can happily confirm that his true vocation is writing. He currently resides in Morristown, New Jersey with his
husband, Stephen, and their golden retriever, Rory. Favorite Son is Will’s debut novel, and he is hard at work on his second novel.
**********Author Contact Links**********
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