Everyone has a story.
Dealing with HIV, high school bullies, and new found feelings.
That is Jeremy’s Story.
Jeremy is a teenager with a terrible past.
He has to live with its consequences for the rest of his life.
There is hope.
He’s found a new family, a new life, and a new school.
Will he be able to find friends? Love?
Or will he let those who would judge him prevail?
He sat in the middle of a row of chairs and looked around while he waited. Secretaries and teachers were all running around trying to get the last minute details sorted. Students were busy getting their schedules. Then the most beautiful boy that Jeremy had ever seen in his life walked in.
His blond, wavy hair was cut short, and he wore flattering trousers and a fitted blue dress shirt, with rolled-up sleeves showing off his nicely developed arms. He went to the counter and addressed the head secretary—the woman who had been so nice to Jeremy.
“Hey, Aunt Susan. Do you have my revised class schedule for me?” The boy turned his head towards Jeremy and leaned forward.
Oh my God! I shouldn’t be attracted to that behind. Why am I? Is he moving it that way on purpose?
The boy whispered something into Susan’s ear. She responded by squinting and wagging her finger at him, one corner of her mouth turning upward. The boy leaned closer and whispered something else. Susan’s response was to shake her head and dismiss him with a gesture.
What did he say?
The boy laughed aloud, took his papers from Susan, and turned around. He walked towards Jeremy and plumped down onto the seat next to him. Their legs actually touched.
Oh my God! Jeremy tried very hard not to let his blushing show. Why am I feeling like this?
Guest Post + Interview with Ned Ericsson
I was bullied when I was a kid. I felt alone and sometimes desperate for people to stop telling me who I was. They obviously saw something that I couldn’t, not at five years old, but that was when the homophobic name calling started.
I had the type of personality making it possible for me to not take things lying down, although for the first seven years I didn’t quite fight back, not physically anyway. I did learn to defend myself against a gang of ten boys trying desperately to prove themselves while simultaneously punishing me for being different.
I know what it’s like to question oneself because of the bullies. I had a hard time accepting myself because I didn’t want them all to be proven right.
In Jeremy’s Story, the main character is strong willed… stronger than I ever was. He also has plenty of back-ups. I had that too, although I didn’t quite recognize it.
Jeremy had two main enemies, a teenage girl and a person in authority over him.
I’ve been criticized by some because I punished the girl severely in the story, but the adult looks like he got away with it. He doesn’t really because his social standing is diminished, his job prospects are fewer, but unlike the girl, he doesn’t go to jail.
I wanted to show that there are different kinds of bullies and different sorts of punishments, and sometimes, adults especially, get away with bullying kids.
It may not be what people want, but it is a reality I chose to portray.
Jeremy gets his happy-for-now and that was something I wanted for him and for me. I can only hope readers are satisfied with that.
>>A.O. Chika’s Interview with Ned Ericsson
Q: Tell us about yourself and your writing?
I’m a gay male married to a great guy. We have a cat named Oscar Wild.
I enjoy writing, always have, and have found that I need to write what I know and embellish details and situations, but the kernel is still centered on my experiences.
Q: I love cats, any chance I can get a pic of Oscar Wilde ?
Q: I seem to ask this to most of the authors I interview but, what was the weirdest thing you Googled while writing Jeremy’s story?
I heard there was finally a word for someone with a large vocabulary. My brother asked me to incorporate it into my story. It will take five published works for Webster and Oxford dictionaries to accept it as a word, apparently. I believe Jeremy’s Story is the first.
Q: How long have you been writing for, and what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing stories since I was eight, but never had the courage to publish or let anyone read anything until I came across a Facebook site which featured fiction on my favorite gay soap opera couple.
I got inspired to write fanfiction and pressed publish in order for my friends to read it. Several stories later, two of my friends approached me with originals they wrote and asked me to beta. I was inspired again and wrote my own. In fact, I started with three stories, two of which are now published. Love Cubed is under my pseudonym of Eddy LeFey and Ned Ericsson wrote Jeremy’s Story.
Q: You mentioned writing fanfiction, I love fanfic, what fandom did you write for and can I read some of your works?
I wrote in the Wilson fandom (Days of our Lives) on fanfiction.net My most popular story is Canadian Connection.
Q: Why two pen names?
That’s an easy question. Jeremy’s Story is meant for young adults whereas Love Cubed is very adult. I wanted to separate the two because I don’t want younger readers to accidentally stumble on stories that are too mature for them.
I’m not trying to hide, just trying to be careful.
Q: What inspired you to write Jeremy’s Story
Jeremy’s Story is about a teenage boy with HIV who has already surmounted quite a few problems. The story begins with his going back to school and having to deal with meeting new people, some of whom aren’t nice. He also has to finally accept his feelings for other boys.
As a young boy, I had to deal a lot with bullies and people trying to dictate who I was and how I should present myself. I wanted to show a strong willed individual who could facE these issues, but I also wanted to deal with it lightly. Not everyone’s story turns out as nice as Jeremy’s, but I wanted to show that it can be a happy ending.
Also, HIV is still an issue. There is still a stigma and misunderstandings still exist around the disease. I wished to showcase that as well.
Q: How did you deal with being bullied while growing up and what do you wish you should have done?
In order to stem the bullying tide, I had to get violent. In those days, one could answer violence with violence and not get into trouble. These days, it wouldn’t work that way. If I stood up to the bullies by finally knowing a tormentor into a locker, today, I would have been the one sent home and suspended, and my bullies would probably just continued to bully me.
In high school I didn’t have to get violent, just threaten it. The bullies scattered quickly and I got a reputation for being one not to mess with. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: It must have been tough to write a book that hits so close to home, where there times when you thought I can’t do this?
Yes, there were. I sometimes spent days mauling over things, second guessing myself. There was a fear that I’d reveal too much about myself, or not enough. I also wanted to get the facts right and inform people without it being too preachy or too boring. I did get through it, though.
Q: When did you stop doubting yourself and started accepting who you really are?
I doubt myself constantly. It’s an ongoing process. There are always aspects of myself that I keep private, and slowly reveal to the world. I’m cautious and I don’t think I’ll ever change that part of me that doesn’t like to be noticed.
Q: How did you get the idea of incorporating the HIV stigma to bullying and homophobia?
I started off with the idea of having a young character with HIV. It seemed a natural progression to have Jeremy be subjected to some form of abuse. HIV phobia and homophobia go hand in hand in many societies, so that was a natural progression too.
Q: What chapter took an emotional toll on you while writing?
There were many, especially the chapters where I talk about or describe the abuses Jeremy endured. I guess the most emotional toll was in Chapter Twenty-Four when Jeremy has to deal with the consequences of the trauma he recently endured and confront his feelings about his disease.
Q: What did you learn from writing your book?
I learned a bit about different scientific studies concerning bullying. I wrote a post on my Tumblr with a link to a great resource. My Tumblr is authornedericsson
I also learned a little about myself and the reasons why I’m generally a very private person. Writing what I know can sometimes be difficult because I have to stare at some of my faults and experiences square in the face and that can be difficult to handle.
Q: Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?
Every single main character has something of me or someone I know in it. I can’t help it.
Q: Do you have a favorite character and/or book you’ve written?
This is a tough one. I’m proud of Jeremy’s Story. As for a favorite character, other than Jeremy, who has a lot of me in him, my favorite character is Arnold. He’s a nerd, but he’s proud of it and he’s not afraid to show his intellect or his emotional intelligence.
Q: Excluding Jeremy, your favorite character was Arnold, what inspired him and how did he grow from your original idea of him to how he is right now?
I had a friend in high school who was much like Arnold. Nerdy, and kind and very sure of himself when it comes to defending his friends. Originally Arnold was only going to be in the first chapters, being only Jeffrey’s friend, but I thought Jeremy could use a friend with whom he wasn’t falling in love.
Q: What’s your writing schedule like?
I try to write every day. Sometimes ideas get stuck in my head, so I read.
Q: What are your writing and personal goals for the future?
I’m planning to write a few short stories under Eddy LeFey, as well as another novel in the same line as Love Cubed. For Ned, well he’s started a fantasy romance novel which will eventually Have magic and elves and all that good stuff.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a fantasy romance which hasn’t a title yet. It’s about a boy who discovers things about himself. He’s gay, a mage and possibly half-elf. Here’s a snippet:
The principal dismisses me, and I half-run out of the office. I figure Greg has probably left by now. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about it. I turn the corner leading to the main lobby and I spot Greg. He’s talking to one of the many mean girls of the school.
This one happens to be President of the student council. Melissa is currently fighting with the principal and the teachers for not allowing the student’s choice for valedictorian. Her. She can’t be. She isn’t graduating this year because she was caught smoking weed in the washroom and was suspended to a month, although somehow she remained as president.
As I reach the glass doors, I suddenly get nervous. I’m sure Greg wouldn’t want to be seen with me, and I can’t stand the thought of him making fun of me again. I turn and walk the other way.
“Hey, Zeke. Where are you going now, dude? I’ve been waiting. Let’s go.”
Damn it. Why can’t things go my way, or at least be simple? I continue on my chosen trajectory only to be stopped by a strong force that turned me do a one-eighty. I’m again nose to shoulder with Greg. I drink him in. He smells so nice, all sweat and musk and hormones.
Q: What inspired your upcoming book? I know it’s a different genre from Jeremy’s story, but are there any similarities between both, Character wise or plot wise.
The story is going to tackle different types of discrimination and how they’ll all related to the same thing: fear of the unknown.
Prize: $5 WIP Gift Card
About the Author
After publishing several adult stories under a different name, NED ERICSSON decided to reach deep down inside himself and write a story for which a younger generation, as well as the older ones, might relate. He hopes he succeeded in making people think.
Ned looks forward to writing many more stories to entertain and he hopes provoke some minds into thinking about today’s issues through their telling.
Ned lives in Canada with his husband Ken and their cat, Oscar Wild.
NED ERICSSON can be found at: