Monday, June 6, 2016

Carrie Pack shares her thoughts and In The Present Tense

I get asked a lot why I write LGBTQ romance. And my response is always, “Why not?” Of course, it helps that we’re at a point in time where LGBTQ media are growing in popularity. I also think the marketplace is clamoring for fresh takes on the romantic tropes that we all know and love. Many readers simply enjoy the story as it unfolds, regardless of the gender or sexuality of the protagonists.

Fiction is where you can explore fantasy and imagination, worlds to get lost in, ways to find yourself. As children we read fairy tales where princesses kiss frogs; as young adults we might read about teenage girls falling in love with vampires, or Hobbits going on epic quests; we read about time travel and demonic cars, zombies and superheroes. Nothing is outside the scope of human imagination. So why would it be a stretch to read about two men falling in love? Or two women?

I think the trick to getting someone to read any genre is to write characters that people can relate to and a story they can lose themselves in. Whether we love them or love to hate them, whether it’s about vampires or soccer moms or gay men, whether it takes place in the past or on a distant planet, we just have to be able to understand them. To find something familiar in these stories. It’s that simple… and that tough.

I strive to write complex characters who face challenges before finding their happy ending. It just so happens that the events of In the Present Tense involve bisexual, gay and lesbian characters. And, quite frankly, I think that adds more dimension to the story because it allows for a new twist on the classic love triangle.  

In this story, the main character, Miles, looks forward to a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana. When he learns he is time traveling, he becomes consumed with finding a cure for the condition that causes it—and finding his first love. As he searches for answers, he uncovers more mysteries than he solves and upends his love life in the process. And I think that’s a story that could draw anyone in.

So why did I write an LGBTQ time-travel story? Well, why not?

Miles Lawson goes to sleep dreaming of a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana, an acquaintance from high school. When he learns he has been time traveling, Miles is consumed with finding a cure for his rare condition—and finding his first love. But will he be able to convince Adam he is telling the truth before it’s too late?

Miles sat there and tried to make out shapes and colors in the dark room as he searched his brain for a memory of anything.

Nothing looked familiar. His desk, his drum set, the sheets—all gone. Not one thing looked the way it had when he’d fallen asleep, and Ana certainly hadn’t been in his bed.

He tried to replay the previous day’s events, but everything seemed fuzzy, like a fogged bathroom mirror that he couldn’t wipe clean.

Why was everything so fuzzy?

Last night… What happened last night?

Adam had come over and they were watching TV together, and Adam had given him a small stuffed giraffe because Miles was scared about having surgery. He reached for his left arm, expecting to find the cast that had been there for the last two months, but it wasn’t there. His heart began to beat so loudly he glanced over at Ana to make sure she was still asleep.

Unable to determine what had happened to his cast, Miles resumed his tally of the previous evening’s chain of events. At around ten-thirty, his mom said Adam had to leave because they had to get up early to go to the hospital. He had taken his pain meds and gone to sleep with the phantom of Adam’s goodnight kiss on his cheek. He’d been happy.

He’d gotten a text from Ana earlier in the evening, but she was only wishing him luck with the surgery. She hadn’t come over. In fact, as far as Miles knew, Ana had been several hours away in her dorm room.

So how had she gotten into his bedroom? And who had changed his sheets?

He threw off the covers and stood up, noticing he was only wearing a tight-fitting pair of boxer briefs instead of his usual basketball shorts.

He looked around the room for anything familiar, but it was still dark out, and all he could see were shadows and vague shapes. On the dresser opposite the bed, he found a few framed photos. Squinting to see without turning on a light, Miles studied the images carefully.

As his eyes focused, he recognized a couple of the photos. One was from last year’s prom: Adam wearing that ridiculous corsage Miles had bought him, Ana being dipped by her date, David, as all four of them smiled widely in front of a cheesy faux tropical scene. One of the frames held a collage of photos of his and Ana’s friends. He recognized Adam, Lucky, Antonio, Dahlia and Brienne. But the last one, the largest of all the photos, was of him and Ana—her in a flowing white dress and him in a black suit, both wearing broad smiles and flanked by Miles’s parents and a woman Miles had only seen once: Julia Espinosa, Ana’s mother.
A loud clatter echoed through the bedroom as the frame hit the edge of the dresser and fell to the hardwood floor. This wasn’t his room, and he didn’t remember that photo being taken.

“Go back to sleep,” Ana mumbled, her voice muffled by the pillow.

“Ana,” he whispered, risking her full anger, but unable to stop himself, “we’re married.”

“Thanks for the update. Now go back to sleep before I divorce your dumb ass.”

He dropped to the floor on his knees, barely even noticing the sharp pain of bare skin hitting the hard surface.

Married. To Ana?

What the hell had happened?


Carrie is the author of two novels—Designs On You and In the Present Tense—and a part-time college professor. She recently left her job in marketing to actively pursue her writing career. Her early career focused on advertising, journalism, and public relations while she also did freelance writing for businesses in the nonprofit sector. Carrie lives in Florida, which she fondly calls America’s Wang, with her husband and four cats.



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