Welcome Lynn Townsend to the blog with her book Blues, Book Two, the Rainbow Connection novels…
On Addiction and Relationships.
There’s a fine line, or a blurred one, between a problem drinker and an alcoholic. And believe me, I’ve made all the jokes. “I drink, I get drunk, I fall down. No problem.” I’ve done it all; got passed out / blacked out drunk, woke up places that I didn’t remember going to, spent bill money on liquor, had drunken sex with both people I do know and people whose names I still don’t remember… I woke up one time with a girlfriend that I never remembered meeting and felt too embarrassed about this to protest what became a highly destructive relationship… I never drove drunk, and that’s more a matter of the fact that I hate driving and I have always hated driving, than any particular good sense on my part.
I don’t know that I ever crossed the line to become an alcoholic; not in the manner of AA’s definition, at any rate, because I still drink… sometimes I drink for good reasons. To celebrate, to be social, to enjoy myself, and sometimes I drink for bad ones… to clear a cross mood, to ease pain, to prove that I still can. Sometimes I don’t drink at all for quite a while, to prove to myself that I still can quit if I need to.
I’ve got friends who are alcoholics, both still drinking way too much and some who’ve had their last drink a few years ago (congrats, you know who you are!)
My character, Vin, is an alcoholic. He’s got a lot of reasons to be. His mother was murdered when he was 4 years old, and while he doesn’t remember the event, he was found as a child with her body… that’d be enough to give anyone nightmares. He was raised by his grandparents, who are a little less loving and warm than one could hope from family members. He’s gay. And he has absolutely no idea how to form friendships.
That’s one of the things I noticed about Vin, about the middle of book two… he doesn’t have friends. Not the same way Beau does. Beau is an outgoing, cheerful sort of guy who makes close friends, bonds easily with people, and gives trust out willingly, despite being smacked in the face for it several times…. Vin, not so much. He has his party peeps and the ones he knows from the Gay Student Alliance. And Beau, of course, his boyfriend. But even with the people he loves, he’s less than honest. He doesn’t open up all the way, doesn’t make himself vulnerable, and is more likely to try to buy his way out of a problem than he is to try to fix it.
I’ve often had a bit of an issue with alcoholism or drug addiction in novels, particularly romance. Where the addiction gets fixed just in time to not make problems for the plot. In the Rainbow Connection novels, addiction isn’t a one and done fix. It keeps fucking things up… just like in real life.
Sometimes finding yourself means losing everything else…
Rising sophomore Beau Watkins gave up everything to be with his boyfriend, Vin. Beau is disowned by his father, tormented by his brother, is rapidly running out of money, and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On top of that, his boyfriend seems to see Beau as little more than a live-in maid. Troubled by word of his missing father and fighting nightmares of his own, Vin Reyes turns to alcohol to drown his pain. What’s worse, a handsome transfer student is a little too interested in Beau. Vin throws away everything that’s made him happy with both hands, terrified of his own feelings of inadequacy.
When Vin and Beau’s happily-ever-after turns into a train wreck of drinking problems, resentment, insecurity, jealousy, and violence, they both try to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. Their mutual friends, Hector and Ann-Marie, try to help the two young men as best they can, but neither want to listen. Beau accepts a morally questionable job offer to pad his finances and Vin starts a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior that sends him right for rock bottom. Can Vin and Beau win through doubt and guilt, jealousy and recklessness, to find their place in the world?