Comicality: We’re back with a brand new ‘Featured Author Of The Month’ here on Imagine Magazine! This time around, I’m happy to introduce you guys to Sean E and his story, “The Bully And The Bullied”! I stumbled across this story on the Nifty Archive, and reached out to see if he’d be willing to join us here on Imagine Magazine! And here we are, with a brand new talent that you guys definitely need to look out for!
So happy to have you with us, dude! Let’s jump right into this!
I’d like to start off with this question, as I’m super curious as to your answer. You mentioned, in the intro to your very first chapter, that this was a revamped version of this story that you wrote a number of years ago. Let us know…what do you think you’ve learned as a writer since its original release, and are you happier with the version that you have now?
Sean E: My original version of this and a couple of other stories came about at a time I was in my late high school and early college years. At first I did it because something drove me inside to try and see what I could do. Most of the stories I was reading were just for the sex, and honestly, that might have been good for some or most people, it wasn’t for me. I wanted to know the characters, know how they felt about things, what their world was like they grew up in. In other words, all the little things that most of the other authors didn’t care about. I wrote a few things and put them out there, but then I hit the bottom, more or less – hunger, depression, failing grades in school, no money for even the basic things. And of course, being lonely was the worse part of it all. It hurt – so bad it stopped me from doing anything, as I felt like I was alone, and no one else would care anything about me or what I did.
Fast forward to the latter part of 2017. My life over the previous decade had plenty of ups and downs, but I made it through and survived. Other than for having a companion or any set of friends outside of my work, I was still depressed – but not massively. I started reading literature again, and finding stories this time that were a lot better quality. I finally read two of them from Cynus, called ‘Fearless’ and ‘Weightless’, and I did something I rarely ever did before: I wrote him, telling him how much I enjoyed them. We started a rapport, and it turned out he recalled one of my earlier efforts that I had started but never finished, titled ‘When Shadows Pass’. It was his encouragement that convinced me, after a time, to try and finish it, and after a lot of false starts, I actually sat down and did it.
What I’ve learned more, this time around, is the difference in English and grammar (more from experience now at being older), but also how to enunciate what I want to say more vividly. There are those who tried to tell me, ‘shorter sentences’, ‘don’t add so much imagery’, ‘don’t be so verbose’, ‘why do that, instead think about this’ – but I guess I became stubborn – because then I felt like the work wasn’t me (if that makes any sense). With the help of a friend in France, though, and his patience, he taught me a lot about the little things I overlooked. Our friendship has carried through to this day, and I feel like I’ve become a much better writer in the end. This work proves that, too – to me. I am much happier with what I did – I kept all the basic plot points, but flushed them out, straightening out a lot of the original mistakes and caveats I had succumbed to.
Comicality: That being said…I want to say that I admire you for sticking to your guns and fighting for your own ‘voice’ when writing. Do you feel that being in the presence of your writing peers helped to re-energize your efforts and inspiration to keep writing?
Sean E: Cynus did a lot for me in the beginning. I had already given up the idea of writing again, mostly because I was out of practice, I had no real experience or teachers to show me what was considered wrong, etc. He convinced me otherwise though, that it was really worth my while, personally and for the rest of the world, too. The only problem was that my chapters were too long for him to keep up with me. A few site managers and people out there tried their best to talk me into cutting them down, follow a given standard and format (i.e. number of words, etc.), and more. One even went so far as to have a fellow, well respected author edit a chapter for me, giving me his rework with a slew of significant changes. That was discouraging and disheartening for me, because when I got done looking at it – it just wasn’t me, it wasn’t my style. I felt, well, weird about it. Cynus couldn’t dedicate the time and keep up with his own efforts, but he got me started looking at things for the better, then Frank came along – a skilled, editor-in-hand in the professional world, with a mastery of language, I think. The difference was, he helped me learn, but at the same time understood why I wrote the way I did, and encouraged it. It was his help that finally got me through the efforts I was doing.
Comicality: What inspired you to write this story? Or to start writing in the first place? Did you just wake up one morning and figure, “I’ve got to get this story out there?”
Sean E: I started writing fiction when I was a teenager, trying my hand at anything, including science fiction, but it just never took off. I would get a few pages in, or a chapter or two, then feel confused and lost, so I would abandon it. Over time I simply quit trying. I got into other things, like the internet, chat rooms and more. It was a long time before I found gay erotic stories, and for me at that time, it was a biggie. While others found porn to be exciting escapes for them, I didn’t have those kind of web sites to get into, nor could I afford to buy and keep any kind of a library of movies or anything. To be honest though, that didn’t bother me really. The erotic stories I found were enough to help me be okay – at least for a while. The chatrooms, and gay friends I made there, helped me keep my sanity, too.
Nothing really happened per se, other than I got bored with the escapisms I read mostly. I thought, maybe somewhere, there really was someone out there like me, who would want to read the kind of story I write – with all the little details I could muster together. That’s what made me try, and that’s what I put together. I look back and think, when I read some of them, how crude I was, but then I remember I was just – more or less – a ‘kid’. I’m proud of what I tried to do, and I’m proud, like now, to get the chance to make them not so much ‘right’, but better.
Comicality: There seems to be this really intriguing and complex relationship between Michael, Thomas, and Jeremy Riddle, in the beginning of this story about bullying and conflict. Did you create this just for the story, or are you drawing from any personal experience here?
Sean E: Most of the time you think of the bully being the aggressor, and the bullied being the little people always being ganged up on. The thing was though, at the time I came up with this, I knew of a bully I went to school with, who ended up being a really different person than what everyone perceived him to be. It wasn’t until some years later I found out why: he was being bullied himself, at home. I’m sure it had no sadistic or gay-like reasoning, but I remember, as I thought back about him, how my perceptions would have changed if I had known it.
So, yes, a little personal perspective went into this story. Fortunately, or unfortunately as some might look at it, it has a very dark thread coming through the middle of it, with some deep-end abuse. But I don’t capitalize on it any more than I have to, I think, in making someone understand what (or how bad) the bad can be, from a teen boy’s perspective. And to do that, I needed characters that would be empathetic – more mature in mind and spirit than just those transitioning from childhood to their tween years. Characters who would learn to understand, and be willing to help someone in trouble.
Comicality: Do you feel that teenage characters are limited or misrepresented in fiction (Primarily gay fiction)? I agree that teen characters can sometimes be underrated, personally. But what are your thoughts on this?
Sean E: Ah, that’s a hard one. I do believe in general life, teenagers get shafted a lot. I’ve watched many adults chastise and knock them down, because they consider them green-behind-the-ears (as my gramps used to say). Teens, in general, want to do well, and do there tasks decently – as long as they understand what they’re doing. That’s the failure I see in a lot of adults – they set expectations way too high sometimes, without following through to teach them to begin with.
I’ve seen it happen on both sides, though. There are teens who are, true to form, ‘airheads’ – who believe the world owes them everything, right out of the starting gate. And I’ve seen others willing to be humbled, and patiently find their way. In literature, I think teens get a lot more of a break – because we, as authors – get to dive inside, and explain how they think, why they believe something is happening. We get to reveal their insecurities a lot more, too – something in real life no one wants to admit to another’s face. If we as authors do our job right, then the teens are so misrepresented as one might think. If we don’t, then…
Comicality: When reading your stories and the themes that you talk about…is there anything special that you want your readers to take away from what you write? Any particular lessons learned, or a certain emotion that you want to connect to that they can keep with them, long after finishing the story?
Sean E: In any relationship – and I mean from friends, family, best friends and more – you have to build a level of trust that both people share. If you don’t trust someone, you’ll never learn the true value of intimacy. It’s easy to go out (I think) and with the right people, get “hooked up” for a few days, have the one-night stands and more. But for it to be satisfying, inside your soul, for what you feel? Trust is the key. It doesn’t have to be sex, either. Just having the trust for a good, long hug, or a night of peacefulness, for not being alone. Those are the themes I strive for. Some might say I overdo it, but meh. That’s just me and the way I write. :o)
Comicality: How would you say that you go about approaching the erotic scenes in your series? Setting them up, putting them together, and giving them the emotion that you feel is needed? What do you want to stand out during these intimate encounters?
Sean E: Love, and trust, has to be built on something, and it’s not easy pointing that out unless you take some time to see why and how it happens. I want the reader to know my characters. I don’t want them to read and just think, ‘ah, here’s the juicy one-fisted stuff.’ There is plenty of that out there as-is, already. Seriously, I want the sex to be fun, but I want it to be consensual and free. If the reader takes the time to get to know the characters, and what leads them to their moments, I just kind of feel its that much more rewarding, and satisfying in the end. It’s why my stories are actually stories, too – not just one-and-done flings.
Comicality: Everything that you just described sounds EXACTLY like how I felt when I started writing stories myself! So I can totally identify with every last word! 🙂 Going on your personal growth experience, what advice would you give to potential writers out there who might be aligned with the ‘love over lust’ idea, and want to write stories of their own as you have?
Sean E: You have to start somewhere, and I would suggest they write the basics of the entire story first, without the lust or sex. That might sound strange, but putting placeholders down allows you to keep focus. Not just the lust, either – you can do that for other things as well. That way the story becomes the heart of the effort. Every author does it differently, but you do get experience at how to change your thoughts and feelings into words this way. I grant, it isn’t easy. If you go back and find some of my early efforts on Nifty from 10-12 years ago, and compare them to what I write now, you’ll see my own faults and missteps. Still, take the time to write first, then re-read, tweaking as you go, and then wait a couple of days and re-read it again. You’ll be amazed at the transition your mind will make from originating the text, to tweaking and cleaning up the text afterwards.
The only other thing I would suggest is, at the beginning I’ve always made an outline of every story I’ve written. It’s just a bunch of bullets descrbing what I want to tell and when at each stage. For example, my current tale I’m working on has 16 entries, which usually translates into 16 chapters by the time I’m done. You don’t have to be strict, though – I have a summer camp outing right now, that I had to stretch over three chapters alone instead of one. Another has two items that got combined into the same chapter. The idea is to just treat it as an outline so you don’t lose focus. Write the story parts first, one chapter at a time, then go back and do the tweaking, filling in, etc. before moving on. That way you come back and flush out the details you want.
Comicality: Now that you’ve finished this series off…are you looking to maybe start another one? What’s next for you in terms of your writing?
Sean E: I have two major efforts done and on the web now, hosted at a variety of sites. They include this one, ‘The Bully and the Bullied’, and another one which is about twice as long, called ‘When Shadows Pass’. I have another short story I co-authored with Ruwen, called ‘Terry and Sam’, written again roughly a decade ago.
There are some other efforts, some which I will probably revamp and bring forward again some day, but right now I am concentrating on a whole new effort, with the tentative title, ‘The Scars Above My Heart’. I’m into chapter 9 of it right now, of what will turn out to be about a 16-17 chapter tale I think. Its about some older teens this time, one sheltered in his upbringing, and the other outgoing, but not as a ‘wild’ one. They have very good heads on their shoulders, and I think it’s important. Many writers expose teens to be thoughtless, hormone-driven, sadistically driven, beasts who get into drugs, drinking, smoking, or whatever. I don’t. I grew up quietly, and I knew others around me that were that way, too.
I haven’t released it to anyone yet (except my editor, chapter-by-chapter), but I may start postings for it weekly before long. The thing is, I tried this in my early years, but ended up leaving the Shadows tale unfulfilled. I don’t want to do that to my ‘audience’ again. I want the story finished before I start posting – or at least very close to finished. That way, no one is ever left hanging in the end like we’ve all seen so many stories do, because the author lost interest, or something. I hated that, and have vowed that, unless I perish from the foils of the Earth, I will not repeat it.
Comicality: Alright then! Thank you so much for the interview, Sean! I’m sure that Imagine’s readers will stop in and check out your new story and will hopefully give you some good feedback on it! Are there any websites, projects, or social media links, that you want to mention here so folks know where to find you?
Sean E: I don’t have a lot of work out there, so not really. Once I finished ‘When Shadows Pass’, I started posting it on several sites, including Nifty, StoryLover, IOMFATS, DaBeagle, and CastleRoland, among others. They have all been kind to me. ‘Bully’ is another one of those efforts, and I am cleaning up to repost another, kind of autobiography type thingy, based on my early life experiences. It will appear before long. And of course, I have the new effort I hope to start posting sometime in April. Thanks also, to Imagine, for the opportunity to get to explain some of my thinking and how I’m wired up. Maybe it’ll help someone see the better side of me over the long haul. :o)
Comicality: I’m sure it will! And you’ve got a home here with us at Imagine any tie you want one. K?
Sean E, ladies and gentlemen! Read through his stories and be sure to drop hi a line to give him your thoughts whenever you get a chance! Take are, and enjoy!