Tim Bairstow on:
WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
I loved writing this novel. It combines so much that is dear to me: the 1980’s when I grew up, the Northern setting taking me back to my West Riding roots and, of course, Christmas which is the best time of the year to be in love yet, of course, the worst time to find that love isn’t real.
On the one level it’s a simple, sexy story of two young men who fall in love and I hope that you enjoy their blossoming romance as much as I enjoyed writing it.
However, the reverse side of the novel is the games that people play when trying to come to terms with being gay. There is the ruthless suppression of the truth and the way in which others are roped in to buttress the pretence, either deliberately, as in the case of Jonathan or haplessly, as in the case of Mark. The book tries to explore the idea that truth hurts only when it has been coated first in lies. As in my first novel, ‘The Shadow of Your Wings’, I have explored the question of what happens when the suppression of the truth goes on and on, well in to someone’s life. In ‘Shadow’ the motivation was religious; it is not so here, of course. However, it was interesting to work through this idea from a different perspective and find that it leads to a subtly different outcome.
It would be tempting to think that, with a very welcome, greater degree of openness about sexuality these days, these ‘games’ would be less prevalent. Unfortunately, experience shows that this is not so. It still takes guts for a young man or woman to be open about themselves and, at the risk of sounding patronising, a lot depends upon the environment in which someone has grown up. It’s still hard for young people to grow in to their sexuality, nurtured by a society and a media that provides them with automatic acceptance and plenty of excellent role models. Until homosexuality is seen as an equal to its more prevalent counterpart of heterosexuality, these games will still be played and people will still be hurt, not by the truth so much as the lies that gay men and women still feel forced to tell about themselves for, at least, some of their lives.
I suppose that this is a ‘Christmas book’, in some ways, but I hope that you will agree that it can just as well be read in July as December.