Friday Feature: Sometimes Love Lasts by Jake Wells

Interviewer:  So our guest today at Book Reviews & More by Kathy is Rone Forrester.  Welcome Rone.  It’s a pleasure to have an opportunity to speak with you.  In the interest of giving our readers a brief background, let me bring them a little bit up to speed.  You’ve recently begun to enjoy at least modest notoriety as a result of Jake Wells having written a book that chronicles some of the early years of your life.   Can you tell us about yourself?  Why do you think our readers will want to read Jake’s book?

Rone:  (laughing self-consciously) Your guess is as good as mine.  I really don’t think I’m all that interesting.

Interviewer: It sounds like you’re being modest.  There must be something about your life that Jake felt would make an interesting story.  What do you think inspired him to write this book?

Rone:  (taking on a more serious tone) I think Jake feels that my life is an example of how someone defied the odds.  I think he hopes that people will hear my story and be encouraged by it.  That, after reading it, readers will be more likely to believe they’re capable of overcoming any adversity they’re facing in their own lives.

Interviewer: Explain what you mean.  How did you defy the odds?

Rone: I survived homelessness.  (tugs on his sleeve nervously before taking a more determined posture)  I was kind of kicked out of my house before I had even graduated from high school.  I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.  In more an act of desperation than the result of following a well thought out plan, I ended up in Los Angeles.   I barely had any money, had no marketable skills, no transportation and no place to stay.  My situation was really pretty horrible for a while.

Interviewer: Why were you kicked out of your home?

Rone: (again shifting uncomfortably in his chair) Because my dad found out I was gay.

Interviewer: (shakes head sympathetically)

Rone: It happens more frequently than you may realize.  In fact, it’s still happening now.  Even as we’re sitting here, our country is witnessing what I call the “one step forward, two steps backwards” phenomenon.   In one respect, we’re living in an incredible time.  Marriage equality was approved by the Supreme Court of the United States and now loving, committed gay families are being afforded some of the same civil rights that have been available to straight couples for centuries.  On the flip side of things however, we are also witnessing a troubling backlash.  Embolden by the likes of people in the Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee camp, there is a segment of our population who believe that their religion is under attack and they have become passionate about seeking retribution.  They believe that being Gay is an abomination against God and they feel justified in kicking their children out of their home if they suspect them of embracing a contemptible lifestyle.   Therefore, the number of gay youth finding themselves homeless is increasing at an alarming rate.

Interviewer: Is that why your dad kicked you out?

Rone: My dad is not so religious as he is homophobic but the end result was the same.  I ended up on the streets.

Interviewer:  I can’t imagine how traumatic that must have been for you.  Los Angeles can be a pretty unforgiving city.  Surviving in Los Angeles can be a challenge for an adult much less for a homeless minor.    How did you get by?

Rone:  (Laughing) I would like to tell you that my getting by could be attributed to my keen intellect and superior street smarts but truthfully, I was lucky.  In one of my darkest moments, a friend of mine had the good sense to take me to the Los Angeles LGBT center.  I’m not sure I’d be alive today had the center not taken me in.  Not only did they provide me with temporary housing, but they created an opportunity to for me to reclaim my life.  I owe them everything.

Interviewer:  I understand that Jake intends to donate all the royalties from his book to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Homeless Youth Project.  Can you tell me a little bit about their project?

Rone: It would be my pleasure.  In fact, just to ensure accuracy, let me read from some of my prepared notes.

Far too often, school and home are two of the most dangerous places for our LGBT youth. They are twice as likely to be physically attacked, kicked, or shoved at school; 28 percent of LGBT youth drop out of school because of harassment. After coming out or being discovered, many of our LGBT youth are mistreated or thrown out of their homes. Tragically, fleeing the trauma suffered at the hands of classmates and parents means choosing an even more dangerous option for survival: life on the streets. A staggering 40 percent of the 6,000 homeless youth (ages 24 and younger) on the streets of Los Angeles every night identify as LGBT.

No other organization offers a wider range of programs and services to help LGBT youth build lives that are healthy, equal, and complete. The Los Angeles LGBT Center is an entry point for youth making the transition from the streets to independent living. Its school and community outreach programs help create safe and affirming spaces for young people to thrive.

The Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center on Highland—open seven days a week—offers a place to stay for a night or up to 30 nights, three meals/day, clothing and support groups. Youth can also access a charter high school; GED and college prep program; and an employment preparation, training and placement program. The Center exists to provide whatever support youth need to get off the streets.

In addition, the Center offers medical care, counseling, a 24-bed Transitional Living Program (TLP) where youth can stay for up to 18 months, and affordable apartments for the youth who graduate from TLP. More than 90% of youth exiting the TLP have secured stable housing, and employment and/or scholarships to post-secondary institutions that enable them to live independently. It also offers all LGBT youth (ages 24 and younger) the help they need to achieve their full potential through the Center’s LifeWorks program, which provides one-on-one mentoring; a charter high school for LGBT youth who don’t feel safe or comfortable in traditional schools; college and trade school scholarships, workshops, social activities; and the world’s largest free conference for LGBT young people (Models of Pride).

Interviewer: I’m impressed.  It sounds like their organization is doing great work.  Were some of our readers to be interested in doing more than buying Jake’s book, is there a way for them to directly support the work the Center is doing?

Rone: Absolutely.  Thousands of LGBT youth in Los Angeles are in desperate need of our help.  These kids are young, disenfranchised, frightened and without resources.  The amazing work the Los Angeles LGBT Center does on their behalf depends on the generosity of donors to exist.  If some of your readers would like to join Jake an me in supporting Youth Services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, they can consider making a tax deductible donation directly to them.  This can be easily accomplished by going to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s website.  The Center has created a link associated with Jake’s name to ensure reader’s donations are specifically directed to Youth Services.

https://lalgbtcenter.nationbuilder.com/jakewells

Interviewer:  Excellent Rone.  I’m sure a number of our readers will want to make note of that website.  Now, getting back to Jake’s book about you.   It sounds like you’re very opinionated about the problem of homeless gay youth.  Is this book political?

Rone: (laughing) Not at all.  The book is about the early years of my life.  Back then, I wasn’t political, I was surviving.  The story is more about my quest to find myself.  It’s about the friends I made, the challenges I faced, and my foray into love.

Interviewer: Can you share a brief synopsis with us?

Rone:  I feel a little self-conscious talking about myself.  Somewhere around here I have a copy of the blurb, let me just read from that.  (reaches into pocket)  It’s less embarrassing to read something that was written by Jake’s publisher than it is for me to talk about my life story.

For Rone Forrester, life as a high school student is a roller coaster ride. Though he’s intelligent, good-looking, and athletic, true happiness eludes him. He’s lost his mother to cancer, his hypercritical father is a tyrant, and he spends most of his free time taking care of his little brother, Eli. And to make matters worse, Rone begins to have romantic feelings for his best friend, Carson Harrington.

When Rone is inadvertently outed, his life swirls into turmoil. His father’s homophobia and Rone’s embarrassment at the thought of facing Carson force him to flee to Los Angeles, where he hopes to find a safe haven. Instead, he quickly learns that every moment is dangerous for a homeless teenager. As time passes, Rone navigates through multiple challenges, makes friends who love him for who he is, works hard to achieve his goal of becoming a pediatric surgeon—with all its inherent triumphs and tragedies—and overcomes a failed relationship. Ultimately, his journey teaches him that in order to fulfill his dreams, he has to come to terms with his past.

Interviewer: Sounds intriguing Rone.  From homeless street kid to pediatric surgeon.  I assume your success was the result of more than just a leap of faith.  How did you manage it?

Rone: Now, if I told you that, you’d have no reason to read the book would you?

Interviewer: Point well taken Rone.  I guess it’s better to leave us hanging.  So on that note, we’ll conclude this interview.  Rone, thank you so much for stopping by and best of luck to you.

Rone: Thank you and to all the people at Book Reviews & More by Kathy. In addition to hoping that people enjoy Jake’s book, I’m hoping that this world will be made a better place because of it.  Thanks again!  If you have any more questions, you can reach me through Jake.

Look for him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jake.wells.16568, or contact him via Email


sometimes love lastsTitle: Sometimes Love Lasts by Jake Wells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 246 pages

Summary:

For Rone Forrester, life as a high school student is a roller coaster ride. Though he’s intelligent, good-looking, and athletic, true happiness eludes him. He’s lost his mother to cancer, his hypercritical father is a tyrant, and he spends most of his free time taking care of his little brother, Eli. And to make matters worse, Rone begins to have romantic feelings for his best friend, Carson Harrington.

When Rone is inadvertently outed, his life swirls into turmoil. His father’s homophobia and Rone’s embarrassment at the thought of facing Carson force him to flee to Los Angeles, where he hopes to find a safe haven. Instead, he quickly learns that every moment is dangerous for a homeless teenager. As time passes, Rone navigates through multiple challenges, makes friends who love him for who he is, works hard to achieve his goal of becoming a pediatric surgeon—with all its inherent triumphs and tragedies—and overcomes a failed relationship. Ultimately, his journey teaches him that in order to fulfill his dreams, he has to come to terms with his past.

Purchase Links: Dreamspinner Press * Amazon * B&N


Author Bio

Jake Wells was born a dreamer. He dreamed of distant lands, of trying to make a difference in people’s lives, of falling in love, of writing a book, and of all things chocolate. Imagine how fortunate he feels to have seen most of his dreams come true. He’s adventured through the far corners of the world, has a successful career practicing medicine, and shares his life with an amazing partner. Though eating chocolate continues to play a prominent role in his dreams, the icing on the cake has been writing about falling in love in a world where equality is only beginning to be embraced.

When he’s not playing doctor, Jake can usually be found traipsing local hiking trails with his dogs near his West Coast home, in the kitchen trying to replicate some sumptuous dish he saw on one of the cooking channels, or sipping a glass of fine red wine with his friends.

Author Links: Facebook * Email * Goodreads

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4 Comments

Filed under Character Interview, Friday Feature

4 Responses to Friday Feature: Sometimes Love Lasts by Jake Wells

  1. H.B.

    Congrats on the new book! Thank you for the great interview =)

  2. Timitra

    Great interview!