Blog Tour: In the Desert by Elliot Joyce

Welcome Elliot Joyce! He's making his clubhouse debut in support of his new novella "In the Desert". Find out more about this romance that's part of the States of Love house line at Dreamspinner Press!

Hello, I’m Elliot Joyce and I’m the author of In The Desert, a novella about two young men who find themselves struggling with all the hard parts of life: who are they? Where do they fit into the world? And what’s in their future? And is their crush mutual or are they just fooling themselves? (Spoiler: The crush is most definitely mutual.)

But I could tell you about how Wren is worried that Felipe won’t like him back because Felipe is, as far as anyone knows, a good straight Catholic boy. Or I could tell you about how Felipe is pretty sure he’s as straight as an arrow. I could tell you about how their friends think these two need to get their heads checked, or how arrows actually bend when you fire them from a bow.

Except it’s far more fun to show you a little bit of what’s going on. Enjoy this excerpt from In The Desert and be sure to check it out.

“Are you two a thing?” Travis asked, gesturing to where Felipe was gathering marshmallows.
If Wren had been drinking water, he would have done a spit take. “God, no. Do you—he’s straight! And he’s Catholic! And I’m very much not interested in him,” Wren lied. Well, the last part was a lie. He knew the other parts were true, unfortunately.
“Right.” Travis glanced over to where Felipe was putting the marshmallows on wooden skewers. He put two on each before going to grab the chocolate and the graham crackers. They still had a few minutes before he’d be coming back. “You know, none of us would care if you were.”
“I know, but we aren’t,” Wren insisted, hoping he wasn’t blushing as much as he felt like he was. Thank God for brown skin. “We’re friends. Just because we don’t call each other dicks every five seconds or try to throw each other out of trees doesn’t mean we aren’t just two dudes who like each other. As friends. That’s it.” Wren didn’t know who he was fooling, but it definitely wasn’t Travis, if the look he was giving had anything to say about it.
Travis shrugged, shoving the rest of his granola bar into his mouth. He looked like he wanted to say more, but then Felipe was back, handing Wren a skewer with two marshmallows and holding a small stack of chocolate and graham crackers in his other hand.
“Hey, are you gonna get one?” Felipe asked Travis, who shook his head. “Oh, right, football season. Well, I guess Kyle ate your share anyway.”
“Oh, fuck off,” Travis said. “Everyone knows to pack an extra bag just for him.”
“Eh, well, at least I don’t have to sleep by him,” Felipe mused.
Wren groaned. They had decided he would be between Kyle and Felipe in the hope that the two of them were relatively heavy sleepers and, worst case scenario, weren’t afraid to kick Wren out if they absolutely couldn’t sleep. Wren and Chris could always share a tent, but they had to live with each other already, and actually spending time together outside of car drives to and from school was pushing it.
Felipe glanced down at Wren and then at Travis. Between the two of them, there wasn’t really space for Felipe to sit. “Let’s move closer to the fire,” Felipe suggested. “There’s more space, and it’s not like we can make s’mores from here.”
“I’ll stay back and watch you all catch shit on fire,” Travis said. “If Kyle slinks out of our goddamn tent, I’ll keep him distracted.”
“Your sacrifice is noted,” Wren replied. “We will toast in your honor.”
“Yeah, yeah, go get a spot before all the good ones are taken. And you can thank me by taking a fucking shower before we go to sleep,” Travis grumbled, a teasing glint in his eyes.
Wren flipped him off even as he stood.
Felipe grabbed ahold of his arm and pulled him closer to the fire. There were others there, of course, and besides the good-natured verbal and physical jabs, there wasn’t really conversation. Everyone was too intent on getting their marshmallow to cook… or burn into a crisp, if you were Chris.
Wren rolled his eyes as he carefully turned his skewer, trying to keep his marshmallows from burning, instead wanting a nice, even brown all the way around. He didn’t really blame the others for not being patient enough to wait, but in his experience, it was worth the extra time to sit there and get it done properly. It was a bit ironic, of course, because generally Wren hated waiting and wanted things done as quickly as possible.
But cooking marshmallows specifically was an art form that Wren was determined not to mess up.
“Oh shit,” Felipe swore as his skewer caught fire. Wren laughed as Felipe waved it around, trying to put it out, only to end with the marshmallows falling off and leaving him with a shorter skewer and no sugary treats. “Fucking hell.” He threw his skewer in the fire and locked eyes with Wren. The blue reflected the flames and burned into Wren, who felt like the air had just been punched out of him.
A moment passed.
“I’m, uh, gonna go grab another.” Felipe stumbled away, his ears red. Wren shook his head and pulled his marshmallows out of the fire. They were still not brown enough, so he pushed them back in, scowling.
Stupid, stupid. He probably knows you like him. He thought back to the look on Travis’s face, the way he had reassured Wren that it would be fine with the troop. As if that was all Wren was worried about. Fuck, what if the whole troop knows? Wren hurriedly thought back to how the rest of the Boy Scouts interacted with him, but he couldn’t think of anything that would tell him.
Okay, calm down. It was just a moment. Nobody said anything, so they probably didn’t see it. You’re fine. Nobody knows. Except maybe Felipe. Who’s straight. And Catholic. And, like, your only new friend.
Wren wondered if it would be too long of a walk to go to the lake and drown himself before he died of embarrassment.
“Hey, Wren, your marshmallows are on fire,” someone called out.

About In The Desert

Can a Navajo trans teen and a nerdy Catholic find the place they belong... and maybe themselves? In the desert, anything is possible….

When Wren came out as transgender before his senior year, it cost him most of his friends. His father hopes joining a Boy Scout troop might help Wren meet other young men his age and be accepted for who he is.

Felipe Nieves wants the new guy in the troop to feel comfortable, and he reaches out to Wren. They become fast friends… with something more beneath the surface. Those feelings confuse Felipe, since his religion considers this a sin—and he’s always assumed he was straight—but he can’t help pining for Wren. Asking him out will take courage, and getting together won’t be easy… but through their friendship, both young men might find their identities… and learn to embrace them in a unique coming-of-age story set against the beauty of the American Southwest.  

About the Author

Elliot Joyce is a social-media obsessed, selfie-taking millennial and he’s proud of it. He can usually be found in his room playing D&D or in a theater lurking on the catwalks. Sometimes he even writes.

Other notable facts include the fact that he’s bisexual, he cannot juggle, and he regularly trips over thin air. Catch him on tumblr or really any social media, he spends enough time on it.

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