“Pitch” by Will Parkinson
Teenage love, so sweet and so not easy
High school is so rough. And it’s especially tough on some kids. Young guys like Taylor. He’s the average guy—nervous about grades, feeling like he doesn’t fit in. A little on the chubby side, he thinks. Average looks, average student, average grades. The only thing that sets him apart, he thinks, is his skill in drawing. Oh, and the fact he’s gay and in the closet. His best friend, Benny, is the only person who knows. Benny the straight jock with a brain. They hold each other’s secrets.
When Jackson walks into Taylor’s sophomore classroom, it’s like lightening for Taylor. Only…Jackson is straight, a baseball jock and immediately starts dating a cheerleader. Still, Taylor can’t let it go. He goes to every baseball game, and secretly crushes on Jackson. Until the summer after their sophomore year, when Taylor and Benny act as counselors at a camp for abused kids. There both his and Benny’s lives are changed forever. He decides to give up on his helpless crush and maybe date someone else.
But will that decision backfire on him, especially when the boy he chooses to date turns out to be something less than a knight in shining armor? Will being out make things easier for Taylor, or totally destroy his life?
You will have to bear with me here. I am a little strange sometimes. But as I read Will Parkinson’s beautifully written and heartfelt book, I had a song that kept running through my head. Words from Dan Fogelberg’s “The Netherlands”.
I want a lover
I want some friends
And I want to live in the sun
And I want to do all the things
That I never have done
Taylor is the kid in all of us. And he’s the gay kid that was in me all those years ago. He wants so much to fit in, to have a boyfriend, to have the boy of his dreams. All the things that seems so impossible and out of his reach. Sometimes, he learns, the hardest thing is to have what you want in front of you every day, right within your reach, and you aren’t able to just reach out and grab them.
I’ve seen the bottom
And I’ve been on top
But mostly I’ve lived in between
And where do you go
When you get to the end
Of your dreams?
What I really loved about this book was how it captured the essence of how hard and easy it is to be a teen. How the joy you can feel one moment can change to despair at the drop of a hat. And how cruel other kids—because, yes, teenagers are still kids—can be, especially when you already feel different. It’s such a thin line between normal and outcast, and we see in graphic detail how it affects Taylor, then Jackson, then Benny and so on. Some might think it goes over the top. I am here to say, no it doesn’t. I’ve seen it. Worked with abused kids for ten years. Not only does it—bullying—happen, it happens more than we as adults like to think. And while some say suck it up, it will get better, to a child, all there is, is today.
There’s a quiet desperation, a taste of pain in this book which is so familiar. I think most of us have felt it. But then, there’s a hint of joy that comes and takes up to a happier place. And sometimes that’s what’s needed, in real life and in fiction. Someone to come in, hold us, tell us it’s okay and make it better.
Even if it’s fiction.
Well done, Will. I am very proud of you.
Ten Questions for Will Parkinson…
1. So tell me, boxers or briefs?? Um….neither.
2. Who in “Pitch” are you most like? I’m most like Taylor. I suffered through a lot of the same things he did. I find that there is a little of me in most of my characters, but for the most part, yeah, I’m Taylor.
3. Do you put people you know into your writings? Sometimes. I’d like to think not so much that people would be able to recognize themselves, but I do get an idea in my head, ‘Wow, this character seems so much like that person!’ and my portrayal of them makes me see them as the other person in my head.
4. Why YA? Eden Winters said I had a ‘voice’ for it. I’m not sure how true that is, but I enjoy writing the stories. Especially working with Harmony. They were great and helped me not feel ‘too’ nervous about my writing.
5. I loved the book. Talk to me about what it was like submitting a book for publication. It was terribly nerve-wracking. I freaked out about it for days. It got progressively worse as I headed toward the two words everyone seems to enjoy ‘the end’. My friends encouraged me, though. They were amazing when it came time to do the deed, as it were.
6. What do you want people to know about Will Parkinson I’m not the person I play on Facebook. I’m actually pretty shy (okay, fine, very shy) and don’t do a lot of public things. But I love talking with people on Facebook. I have made some amazing friends here, including KC Wells who I co-wrote a book with that just got picked up by Dreamspinner.
7. Who do you most want to read “Pitch”? Who are you most afraid of reading it? I want people who enjoy seeing people succeed read the story. I like to think I did a decent job with it, and Benny steals the show. The people who take things way too seriously are the ones I’m afraid of reading the story.
8. We both seem to agree SJD Peterson is a princess with pink crinoline and a girly tiara. Tell me, who’s scarier—her or me? She’s wearing pink. I really don’t think there’s much scary in that picture. (And you better damn well protect me when she reads this!)
9. Who is your hero? I have a couple. You. Laura Harner. Mardee Burnett, and KC Wells. Each of you have spent way too much time bolstering me and comforting me when my brain goes a little (fine, a lot) haywire. I’m more grateful to the group of you than you can know.
10. What’s next for Will? And are you still gonna write a BDSM story with me? Wild horses with whips couldn’t keep me away. I did a post where I asked about dream teams for writing. You and Parker were mentioned. And besides, I have learned a lot from you and look forward to learning more.
Thanks for having me, Sir. It’s been a real pleasure.
The pleasure was all mine, boy!