Global Ebook Awards 2013, Best LGBT Fiction: “The Agony of Joy” by Red Haircrow


It’s one of those things…well, it’s one of those things I never actively think of: winning an award, but I know what The Agony of Joy meant to me. It’s fiction, but it’s also my story in that it is based on real life situations I’ve dealt with (and still do in some ways) and what others close to me have experienced. Being a child abuse survivor, devastatingly losing a beloved to suicide, parental distance and strife.

It took me almost ten years to complete, from beginning to end, because it is a very vividly realized novel, which can have “triggers” for survivors like me. Triggers refers to those phrases, suggestions, scenes or dialogue that “trigger” memories of abuse or some other traumatic episode, but my point wasn’t to force that: it was simply to present the reality we live with every single day.

The moments we have to fight through when others are oblivious, just to keep going: to keep walking, to keep working, to go about daily activities. Sometimes it is excruciating physically, mentally and emotionally, but we go on because that’s what we know to do, and because those ones who hurt us didn’t ultimately break our hope or belief in goodness or in trying to do good for others because that is what helps us keep living.

There’s an anonymous saying: “Always be kinder than necessary. You never know what someone is going through.” That is CANON. Too few people ever consider such a thing, only thinking of themselves, their own needs and wants for even the most minor thing.

Almost ten years. I had to take a hiatus from writing AofJ because my own memories were close to overwhelming me at times. Like the character Adrian Lee also, the family divide because of choices and sexuality, the disrespectful and insulting treatment hurled my way was tearing me down. But I completed the book eventually.

And then you submit your book. And you receive replies like:

“This is ordinary….”

“This didn’t grab me….”

“This is too unreal, unbelievable….”

When it was my life. It was the life of men I’ve known, loved, and some of whom are now dead because the crushing disappointment  of being dismissed, disbelieved or disrespected became too much for them. Most of the scenes/locations in the novel are based on actual places, restaurants, places I’ve lived and explored.

I believed in this work. It was a complete labor of love, hard fought and won. I didn’t let the literal couple of hundred of rejections get me down, but I also didn’t go with a couple of acceptances as the understanding of what the novel is was important for the story and for me. I knew it was a story I had to tell because it was important not only for me, but for millions of others who have lived or are living in such situations regardless of social status, religion or belief system, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, etc.

No, awards aren’t everything. There are many great books out there that don’t get the attention they deserve. This award was important for me because I know publishers, especially traditional ones, are very dismissive, often editors only go by their own whims or reading tastes, and what they THINK readers want. I’m glad the judges of this award were more objective and recognized Agony for what I tried my damndest to present just as it had been lived.

My latest interview for this novel was at the AuthorQuiz website, where you can read more details about its writing and background. The book trailer is below. It was first published at Smashwords, and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo and other online distributors.

Other of my posts about The Agony of Joy:

Description: “Former model turned actor Adrian Lee can barely list age range ’23-29′ on his resumé anymore nor stand his life of empty social events and appearances, meaningless roles and casual partners. When he meets Alexander Skizetsky by clever arrangement of his agent, the enigmatic yet infinitely attractive Russian kindles a little light of hope in his aching heart. Yet even the beginnings of a friendship and love beyond his wildest dreams cannot assuage a life spiraling out of control.

The long estrangement from his devout Irish Catholic parents and family and the dark secrets they all share combine to drive him to the brink of despair, though Alexander is determined to stay by his side. After locking away his own memories of betrayal and loss, the Russian had decided never to love again but something in Adrian spurs the noblest intentions in his formerly jaded heart. Returning in pilgrimage to his homeland, he brings Adrian along on a journey of rebirth, revelation and redemption.”


8 thoughts on “Global Ebook Awards 2013, Best LGBT Fiction: “The Agony of Joy” by Red Haircrow

  1. congrats bro, it is well deserved. Did writing this story serve as a catharsis? did it release the haunting of your soul by memories wished forgotten? I will read the book, but it will be a slow process, triggers as you say. kudos

    1. My brain hasn’t had the ability to forget or disremember anything for almost a couple of decades, so I don’t have that option. I’ve always had to face everything head-on, which can really be the exhausting part, as in its ordinary the state, the brain psychological does defend or protect itself by forgetting, i.e. repressing and so forth.

      I wouldn’t say my soul is haunted, as I am a personal who tends to welcome spirits and tend to seek them out. It is a way I refine myself somehow. It is very thought provoking. As yes, as you said before I believe, I am a very serious minded and serious person in many ways.

  2. Just speaking to you reading your blogs has often helped me see clearer. In my world it is often as tho I am better forgotten and believe me I am.
    I still do not have the mental fortitude to take the memories head on, the darkness there I wish the head injury had taken from me, instead of the speech. Often there are dreams of the past, reliving events, even sometimes while Im walking a noise or smell may ” trigger” some memory. I cant explain . AOJ tells of how the fictional characters overcame these issues? I may read it sooner then, I want to continue my forward journey.
    haunted is perhaps wrong word, I have ” visions” dreams of things that often occur and people I do not even know. yet the events do happen. the more meds they shove in me the less it happens. I have a canine that comes in my worst moments, strengthens me, leads me from the darkest hole. I apologize if I sound bizarre I cannot find t he correct words. I enjoy thought provoking topics and often like to peruse the possibilities of [ hate to say it ] the psychology of why they perceive things as they do and try to ” see” every angle I can from a different perspective.
    You cannot be that old , lol the decades made me conceive 50’s? meh age is a number and nothing else really. There is nothing wrong with being serious, I tend to try laughing etc to forget the dismal reality.
    no matter where I go the same life follows me. But still I AM very happy for your success brother, and even being able to learn more of a culture I was denied. aishen .

    1. I don’t have a choice whether to take memories head-on or not. Because of some things that have happened to me, I no longer have the ability to “displace” things, though I wish often it might be different, but things replay in my mind all the time. Amygdala issues and analytical nature. People ask me why I do so many projects, jobs, tasks, etc. That’s why. If I am doing other things, especially demanding ones, it can force memories lower in the queue, so to speak. It can give me direction, and besides which, I like helping people, assisting them when they are the type who have this also. It’s getting more and more rare today in the self-centered encouraged or forced societies.

      Age is a number, and westerners especially seem to have a problem with it. To me that’s really absurd. They are so afraid of growing older, yet to grow older ideally suggests you have survived for a reason and keep surviving. I remember reading lyrics of a song, Fugacity, sung by John Denver, though written by another:

      “To grow old is to change
      and to change is to be new,
      to be new is to be young again…”

      Ha! but beyond the ones who have kept surviving at the expense of others. I am over forty but I think certain groups and peoples place such a negative connotation to aging. It’s called ageism, that negative almost hysterical scared view of aging or those who are older, and in this case it even means older than 30. Where they only want “young, new, less than 29 people” as if that will bring the best ideas, interaction, quality of life, etc. We are all connected and should be, because we are all each other: young to old, culture to culture, belief to belief, if somehow we allow ourselves to relax and listen to each other.

      1. Forgive me brother …when I referred to your overworking to fiver lonkiness or pain I had not trad this and I do that work until Idrop so that my mind does not have energy to think or remember.or hopefully feel emptiness or dream of memories. I don’t know you but I should like to; but understand you don’t need another friend. I must have crossed boundaries on twitter in anattempt to be friendly. I regret that. Gaming when I’m not reading is only an escape.
        I have devveloped majorinease in crowds. People bumping or pressing close to me. I will have to look up amygala? As for age I have always been more comfortable with older people than young. I always have. I have lost so much of the entertainment industry icons idols. I cant even converse on topics. Idk why I remember bad things and few of any others.
        Forgive my abrasive comments. Forgive my is trying for all. My guardian? Loses his temper regularly with m. To quote him “I only understandehdn he beats into me. Literally like this last weekend. I just serve life’spennance and wait to pass to the other side peace and forgiveness

      2. My Twitter account is a business, professional account so I do not share very personal information nor reply to such questions. Also, as I said to you before, regarding posted material on comments on this website: you make extremely personal revelations about yourself, etc. and I cannot reply to them anymore here either. It’s clearly posted here what my business email address is, and for those who are genuine, they have used that first and primarily for years now.

        Red Haircrow

      3. Your gmail account keeps returning to me unsent . I have tried bro

      4. As with many sites displaying an email address, the displayed address has to be corrected to be viable especially if you try to copy and paste. If it is typed, it has to all be typed correctly. I have several websites which feed into that email address and others that I have been using for years. There has never been a problem except when someone missed doing that.

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