Boystown takes its name from the gay area of Chicago, where I attended the Gay Pride parade in late June this year. This is a writing project by Jake Bondi, who has lived in Chicago most of his life except for four years of education at nearby University of Notre Dame. I also got to visit the university last month, and immediately recognised some of the sites and imagery that Bondi uses to such fine effect in his work.
Originally published online, Boystown has now developed into three books with more to follow. They trace the lives of an ensemble of characters, including three brothers. The books are not short on sex and violence, but they are crafted in such a way that these dramatic highs do not obscure the plot, which moves along briskly. Much like a soap opera, it looks at what 2 or 3 people are doing, then switches to what others are experiencing simultaneously. It sounds like a perfect idea for a TV show, a thought that Bondi in the process of making real.
“I am currently working with two great TV producers in Hollywood who are working to bring BOYSTOWN to TV,” he said in an interview for Sun News Miami. “The series has broad audience appeal because everyone can relate to the characters and all they are going through. Since the first book was published, readers have reached out to me to tell me how much they enjoy the characters and to ask what's going to happen next. This connection with characters -- as well as the fast pace of the series -- makes BOYSTOWN perfect for television. We are optimistic that BOYSTOWN will be on TV soon.”
I asked him how much of the material moving forward will be fan-driven.
“BOYSTOWN fans always have an influence on what is happening to the characters in the series, which is why I always encourage readers to reach out to me and let me know their thoughts and feedback. While I do have the large story arcs in mind for each book ahead of time, fans can influence some of the twists and turns that occur along the way.”
Asked which of the characters he most identifies, with, Bondi replied “I think all authors put a bit of themselves into each of their characters -- and I am no different. It's true that my dear friend Aaron Savvy inspired the character of Cole. Like Aaron, Cole is a solid, outgoing, handsome, athletic, compassionate guy and I really enjoy writing him. I think the character who is most like me is Emmett Mancini; we share many of the same attitudes and values.”
While the overtly sexual and violent scenes may grab the attention of the reader most, Bondi identified other aspects of the books as his personal favourites.
“I always enjoy writing the party scenes and the book-ending cliffhangers. The parties are always special because they give me a chance to feature and celebrate some "real life" artists who have supported the series and are special to me. Chicago trio Whiskey and Cherries is featured in books two and three -- they are talented performers that I met about two years ago and have enjoyed seeing perform in person over and over again. Singer Amy Armstrong appears in book three -- and the sensational Steve Grand appears in the third book as well.
“Steve has always been a role model and inspiration to me and I had the pleasure of meeting him in person this year on his birthday. We chatted and had a great time together -- he's a wonderful guy and I am so honored that he gave me permission to include him in the book. If the series comes to TV, I'd love to have Steve Grand write and perform the theme song.
“The book-ending cliffhangers are a pleasure to write because they are the finales of each book. I try to leave the reader with a lot of questions -- and several characters' lives in peril -- to keep the readers coming back for more.”
I won’t give away any plot lines to spoil the story for those who have not read it, but I especially like the line “Black Friday is always full of surprises.” This ended a chapter where a guy named Ben had just seduced the mother of a guy who had just jilted him! That’s the gay version of revenge: sick and bizarre indeed! But so delicious you will want to read more to find out what diabolical plot Ben has in store next. I highly recommend this series of books.
Readers can contact Bondi and buy the book through his website www.JakeBiondi.com. Autographed copies of the book are available at Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago (in person or through their website). Books may also be ordered through amazon.com or bn.com.