Title: Please Understand
Author Name & Publisher: Fai Marie Dawson (MLR Press)
Publication Date & Length: July 20, 2015 – 239 pgs
Fox claims to be straight as an arrow, but will his life turn upside down when he meets his girlfriend’s twin brother, Tommie?
To keep his mother off his back, Fox struggles to live life as a straight man. Following his failed marriage, he thinks he’s found a piece of heaven when he meets Audrey, a sexy dark-haired beauty. When he’s introduced to her twin brother, his life turns upside down. Mrs. Jones, a regular shopper at Fox’s quaint neighborhood bookstore, steps in to referee the fall-out. Can Fox maintain relationships with both Audrey and her brother? Can a late night train chase bring Fox closer to the one he loves? How far will Fox’s mother go to keep her son tight in her clutches?
First off, this book was both frustrating and amazing all wrapped into one. While it was not hard to figure out the story, I enjoyed it all the same.
Fox is a shy book store owner who wants to find someone to share his life with. I hated his mother with such a passion that whenever she was mentioned I found myself clenching my teeth and fingers around my poor kindle. She was wicked and unethical, mean and uncaring. It was a wonder that Fox came out as awesome as he did.
Then you have Audrey. A shy, fun, beautiful woman who catches Fox’s eye. I loved how their relationship went. They were such an adorable couple. When she went to watch over her family and left her brother to watch her apartment, I loved her even more. She was able to show Fox things about himself that he might not have ever learned. The same can be said for her brother Tommie.
Tommie was a character that I just wanted to hug. While he is trying to figure out himself, the friendship that he develops with Fox is one for the story books. I loved that they were friends for so long. Tommie’s struggle is one that I am sure lots of children share – While his family was one of hard morals and unforgiving blame, I was awed by how Tommie wanted to mend those broken parts of himself.
Ultimately, Fox and Tommie both share in the miscommunications and mishaps of this story, but eventually, I was happy with how the story resolved.
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
Our house is a Folk Victorian, built in 1905. Previous owners had the foresight to open it up inside, so now it is cheery, light and airy. Up the stairs and down the hall to the back of the house is a small attic room over the kitchen. The windows overlook the patio and gardens. The ceilings slope from the steep roofline, and my glass table that I use for a desk fits neatly along one ‘ceiling-wall.’ The Pacific Northwest is very atmospheric and I hear the drumming of the rain as I work. Most of my stories take place in the Seattle area, so rain and fog appear regularly in my work. Pictures of family and pets line the walls, along with favorite quotes from books I love. A brightly colored dragon kite hangs from the ceiling, protecting my space. My wife and pets are always welcome here. The wall opposite my desk is filled with books, paper and stuffed animals. Files holding works in progress, ideas and research fill another wall. It’s a creative space that I love to call mine!
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
I relate to most of my characters in one way or another. I especially felt connected to Tommie in Please Understand. He went from one bad situation to the next with little or no resources. He fumbled through misunderstandings and people who simply didn’t want to understand him. We all deal with these frustrations and pain. But I cheered with him as he learned self-respect and developed boundaries. An issue I have struggled with for years.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I’ve always worked as support staff. I’ve been Administrative Assistant for an Emergency Department, Medical Secretary in Quality Management for a Hospital, receptionist at a mental health clinic; I’ve been a church secretary. It was when I worked in payroll that my supervisor tired of my wordy Emails, and told me that I should quit my job and write a novel. A few years later, I did! But if I had to return to the workforce, I would return to support staff for the clinic. It was hard work, but very rewarding.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
I usually edit while writing, but partway through this manuscript I began just concentrating on writing, waiting until I reached the end before beginning the editing and rewriting process. I felt this honored my creativity, and kept me focused on going forward. I really enjoyed working on the manuscript, and wish I had started it this way.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
My editor made some fantastic suggestions and I was able to add some details to the story that I believe enhanced the novel. The only thing I would change is I wish I had added more back-story for Mrs. Jones. I’ve been asked so many questions about her! But then, she may deserve a book of her own: Our Mrs. Jones.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
I grew up worrying about ‘what if?’ My obsession replayed various scenarios of things that might happen. Instead, other things happened, never the events I’d prepared for. So I was still left slogging my way through, with no working plan.
So I decided to take this finely developed skill and use it for my better good. I began creating characters that had to deal with my ‘what if’ scenarios. Their back-story determined who they were, what responses they’d make when further troubles enveloped them, whether they would grow or despair. These ‘what if’ ideas then created the foundation and plot for my story to bring them to if not a happily ever after ending, at least a happy for now ending.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I am currently working on two projects:
Seeking the Code of Being, is about a man who struggles with paranoid schizophrenia. His desire for relief takes him on a quest that may open the gates of heaven, or reveal the door to hell.
I have begun a re-write of my manuscript, LeMarais. Jaime, a child psychiatrist, is haunted by memories of his abusive childhood. In a desire to heal his brokenness, he decides to return to LeMarais, a district in Paris, to confront his demons and find love.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in a sleepy little bedroom town about thirty miles northeast of Seattle. As you know, we get a lot of rain and fog here between the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound. This provides me with a lot of time to write, and beautiful places to walk and contemplate my plot and characters. The Pacific Northwest encourages writers and artists, it is a marvelous creative environment. I’ve been involved in five different writing groups in my area that have provided a wealth of support and encouragement.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
My favorite genre outside LGBT Romance is Literary Fiction. I love to read character-driven fiction that takes the character on a journey toward redemption of some kind. The action in this genre that I enjoy is usually the struggle within the character.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
You would have to ask this…Sigh. Carrot cake! I can’t pass it up. I can’t say no. I have to eat gluten free, and I hate to admit that occasionally I have made the choice to be sick just so I can have that slice of carrot cake. Those pretty little frosting carrots on the top? Oh my! I just simply can’t stop…
Fai Dawson lives in a small town thirty miles northeast of Seattle Washington in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains with her beloved wife, Becky. Together, they work on restoring their 110-year-old Victorian home. She spends her days writing, blogging and walking Moxie, their Newfie-Chow through the rainy streets of town. Pepe, a brave and proud tuxedo cat is her muse, ever mindful of providing inspiration for her next project. Although she has filled countless journals in her life, she began writing seriously in 2009 as a way to deal with anxiety. She is currently working on her next manuscript.