Per angustia, non est redemptio
I was breathless and often in tears. Emotionally wrung-me-out. It warmed me, broke me, comforted and soothed me.
Comments from some of the readers of The Boy Who Fell to Earth.
Sorry about that… for taking you on the emotionally raw journey I’ve travelled and making you suffer. Jay and Sasha lived in my head for a long time. At the end, they’ve become these complex characters who eat me up, turn me inside out. They take me back to the alleys and the canal of the Gay Village in Manchester. It was a playground for me when I was a new adult; no amount of cleaning up of the red light district was going to get rid of its darkness. But it was a time of innocence and true love, too.
Other snippets of memory. I’d drifted through the Dutch cities—Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam—sleeping in shelters and hostels. Before some of these places opened for the night, we’d waited in the train stations and sometimes on the streets. Heeft u geld? Drugs? It was foolhardy, but my eighteen-year-old self was fearless, and I live to tell the tale.
I wrote the story from those memories, of the people I’d lost. They’ve inspired me with their deep flaws, and their hope for love and acceptance. Through adversity, there’s redemption.
– A. Zukowski
A gang leaves a badly injured teenager on Jay’s doorstep. Sasha is homeless, addicted to drugs and sells himself on the streets to fund his habit. Jay’s attraction to Sasha confirms his sexuality. Now he has to come out to his macho mates. Sasha needs to stay clean when his past threatens to throw him back into the abyss. Are the two boys strong enough to stay together against all odds? A YA story about hope, courage, and compassion on the mean streets of London.
“It has a force that keeps you on the edge of the seat and a grittiness that opens your eyes and makes you think.” ~ Sinfully Gay Romance Book Review
“I know this is one of those stories that will play on my mind long after I’ve stopped reading.” ~ Alpha Book Club
The first time Jay kisses a boy
We ended up sharing a joint again that afternoon. I carried on my one-sided conversation while he patiently listened to me, his newly cleaned hair shining in the sun. He had his back to the door frame, his eyes closed to catch the rays like he was on holidays enjoying himself, trying to get a tan. For the first time since we picked him off the front lawn, he was relaxed. I was absolutely mesmerised by the shape of his face, the lines of his nose, the vulnerability of that bruised body. I leaned forward and touched his lips with mine.
His eyes snapped open, but he didn’t seem shocked or upset.
Still. I moved away, awkwardly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” I muttered.
He gazed at me, his eyes quietly assessing me. His facial expression was calm and receptive. “It’s okay.”
My eyes went wide. “Okay? Hmm.” I busied myself with a little loose thread on my top. I hadn’t even kissed a boy before and now I had done this to a stranger, someone who didn’t yet have a name. What the fuck was I doing?
He lit the joint and drew on it deeply. He breathed out, cocked his head, and looked at my face, as if he was trying to work me out. “Does your mum know you’re gay?”
I stared at him. I hadn’t considered coming out seriously. Hell, I hadn’t even come out to myself, so why would I have spoken to Ma about it? “Uh, no,” I answered.
He took another toke and passed the joint back to me. He didn’t comment further.
All my doubts evaporated. He’d acted like it was nothing special and, like he said, it was okay. Kissing a boy you found attractive was fine. I couldn’t believe I’d come out for the first time to a total stranger after kissing him.
To win one of two copies of the book, tell me what I should write next. Have fun! ~AZ
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Zukowski is a London-based British writer who grew up in the gay village and red light district of Manchester. AZ was trained in screenwriting at the University of the Arts London; National Film & Television School and Script Factory, UK, followed by various misadventures as a film journalist, and writer and producer of short films.
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