As we get closer to the release of Due Diligence on June 21st, I’ve been thinking about themes in my writing. I don’t set out to have any, but I end up circling back to the same motifs.
What the theme is depends on genre. In fantasy, it’s divided loyalties and being true to yourself. In romance, it’s overcoming the past and discovering your whole self.
There’s quite a bit about overcoming the past in Due Diligence.
In some ways, there’s more overcoming than in Just Business, perhaps because it happens within the pages of the novel. In Just Business, Eli overcomes a great deal of his trauma before the story even starts. Yes, he has more to sort through, but he’s been dealing with it for ages and has the tools to manage and thrive. Justin’s a little touch and go, but he has Eli.
In Due Diligence, Fazil hasn’t dealt with his past. Or rather, his past has yet to deal with him, since he noped his way out of the conversation back when he was eighteen. It slaps him in the ass fifteen years later. Somewhat literally. The person he has to lean on is the very person he had all those issues with.
Now, part of the inspiration for the book comes out of my own dating experiences in college.
I dated a guy on and off for about a year. We broke up and got back together and broke up and got back together. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I could tell you he was a jerk, an asshole, unfaithful. Certainly, I had that mythology in my mind for some time. Truth is, he was young. I was young. We were SO YOUNG. Also, I wasn’t blameless in our dance of angst. Not at all. I dated and broke up with a lot of guys, without much thought to communication or, you know, being an adult about it.
I was a bundle of angst and ennui until I was about twenty-eight. I’m grateful to the friends who stuck with me until I finally grew up. (Guys, I owe you.) I’m so not innocent.
We’re still friends, me and my ex. I don’t see him often, even though we live in the same city. He’s been through life’s wringer, but is in a fantastic place now. My life has more been an air-dry in a moderate breeze and I too am in a great place. When we see each other, we laugh about our mutual past. And drink. ‘Cause man, we were YOUNG.
It’s been more than twenty years. Half our lives have passed since college. You get over things. You forgive things.
But I got to thinking—which is the curse of every writer—what happens if you built up this mythology of hurt that is so tied in to who you are that you can’t see beyond it? What if you thought your past was bedrock and you discover it’s sand? How do you overcome that? How do you forgive yourself and put yourself back together?
So I wrote about Fazil and Todd, who had that tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship in high school—a time of churning hormones, rumors, emotions, poor communication, and stupid decisions.
Those emotions hurt bad enough for Fazil to run away. He thought he had all the answers and reasons. Fifteen years later, he discovers two things: he didn’t and the boy—now man—he ran from is every bit as interesting as he was in the past. More so. He’s also rapidly becoming his only ally in a crappy situation.
Todd and Fazil are both geeks. Their sexual desires complement each other. They both feel the sting of being outcast. They have a connection that stretches back to those high school days
But how do two people get over their own mutual past and learn to be who they are now with each other? How do they avoid the traps of their own past?
You can’t change the past, but you can look at it from a different vantage point and overcome and break the hold it has on you to be a better, fuller person.
That’s the soul of Due Diligence. It takes some time, some forgiveness, a dragon dildo, and a red D20. But yes, there is a happy ever after.