Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wrestling with Doug Starr

Today I'm please and proud to welcome author Doug Starr. He is going to talk about a very touching email he received about a book he wrote, and about his latest release.  Welcome him please, and make yourselves at home while I put on a pot of coffee.

D. H. Starr is a clean-cut guy with a wickedly naughty mind.  He grew up in Boston and loves the city for its history and beauty.  Also, having lived in NYC, he enjoys the fast pace and the availability of anything and everything.  He first became interested in reading from his mother who always had a stack of books piled next to her bed.  Family is important to D. H. and his stories center around the intricate and complex dynamics of relationships and working through problems while maintaining respect and love.  His favorite books tend to fall in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and coming of age.

To learn more about D. H. Starr and his books, please visit his website at www.dhstarr.com if you are 18+.

To view his young adult work and resources, visit www.dhstarrYAbooks.com.

Derek and Scott’s Story

The other day I received an amazing email from someone who read my latest release, Wrestling With Love. I don’t know an author who doesn’t LOVE receiving emails out of the blue from readers who enjoyed a book  they wrote. We work so hard to write stories that are meaningful and fun. To know there are people out there who enjoyed the work makes the effort rewarding.

For me, two of the books I have written are very personal for many reasons. Wrestling With Desire is the first book I ever wrote. I wrote it because I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and went to school in Cambridge. I was on the wrestling team and the sport gave me confidence and a sense of accomplishment and belonging. But above and beyond where I lived and the things I did, I knew I was different; that I was gay. Back in the mid to late eighties, there were no high school LGBT support groups. Maybe there were in other places, but not anywhere I knew of. It took me five years to struggle with being gay and wondering why I was and if I could change.

It wasn’t until I was 18, home during a break freshman year of college, that I finally looked myself in the mirror and broke down. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Doug, you’re gay. You’re a good person and God wouldn’t have made you gay if it wasn’t a good thing. So, good for you. You’re gay and I love you.” Honestly, that is pretty much exactly what I said to myself and then I burst into tears and have never cried or felt any qualms about my sexuality ever since.

Then, in the late nineties, Dawson’s Creek came on air along with a slew of other angsty teen shows and I found myself wondering about the next generation of kids. Sure, there was a lot more gay presence in high schools and in the media, but these teens were so serious and cerebral. I was like, “Shit, I was an immature SOB and so were all of my friends. We never thought that deeply about everything.” Now I’m looking at this current generation which has become even more serious. I read some of the poetry my middle school students write. They call it emo, which, for those of you who don’t know, is short for emote and is very dark. I simply can’t believe that 13 and 14 year old kids, even younger, can write such deep and heart-rending things; things I had no conception of until I was an adult.

All of this leads to my point. I know I’m long winded and took a while to get to my message, but it’s a problem I can live with. Hopefully you can too. So here it is. I wrote Wrestling With Desire because I wanted to paint a positive image of two healthy and happy young individuals who find each other and struggle like everyone else. They have their difficult patches and struggles, but those don’t derive from being gay as much as they are about being teenagers. The coming out process was important to me and the scene where Derek comes out to his mother is exactly how it happened with me and my mom. The whole journey of writing the book was a reflection on what it had been like for me coming out as a teenager back in the eighties and I tried to bring in what it seems to be like for kids today. Even with all of the acceptance and prevalence of homosexuality and bisexuality today, kids are still being tormented and bullied and the rate of suicide for gay teens remains higher than that of their non-gay counterparts.

So I wrote Wrestling With Desire to send a message to my younger gay brothers and sisters to convey that love is love no matter who falls into it. But then I got wrapped up in my characters and they had a new story to tell. That’s where Wrestling With Love comes into the picture.

Coming out to yourself and accepting who you are is the first step toward finding happiness. You can’t be happy without giving yourself a big hug and saying, you’re good…just like I did when I faced myself in the mirror. But the journey only begins there. Then you have to deal with how, when, and if to come out to others. For me, I was in a small college and had lots of friends so I came flying out of the closet. I told everyone and hid nothing. It was an exciting experience. Being in college in the early nineties, I was the first openly gay person my friends had met. Sure, they probably knew plenty of gay people, but they didn’t know they knew them. I think I just confused myself with that last sentence.

I got several comments from saying things like, “You’ve made me realize that being gay isn’t really that different from being straight” or “Seeing how people react to you being gay really opens my eyes to the fact that being gay isn’t a big deal”. I saw myself as a role model and someone who helped my straight friends to better understand who I am and, hopefully, to make them more open to befriending other gay people.

But there were other gay people who were closeted and miserable and I couldn’t understand why they would live like that. Of course, as an adult I now understand that there are a million reasons why someone would choose to or not to come out. Each person’s reasons for making the choices they do are valid and no one should push them to do something simply because it’s what they would do.

In Wrestling With Love, Derek and Scott represent these two polar sides to coming out and it creates a rift between them. Both boys see things from their own perspective and, although they love one another, they wish the other would be more like them. Derek comes flying out of the closet and Scott lingers inside, wanting to test the waters slowly. They love fiercely in private and they enjoy exploring each other’s bodies, but Derek wants the world to know and see what Scott is to him and Scott isn’t ready for that and wishes Derek would be more cautious for both of their sakes.

As I wrote Wrestling With Love, once again, I got so wrapped up in the story and in the characters, that I forgot that I was writing the book, in part, to send a message: that extreme choices rarely are the right choices. Finding balance is usually the healthiest way to live.

So, now for the whole purpose of this blog post. I received an email from a reader the other day that blew my socks off. It reminded me of the whole reason I began this journey as an author and, specifically, why I allowed Derek and Scott to use me as their medium to tell their story. A young man who read Wrestling With Desire and then Wrestling With Love, wrote to me and, in part said this:

I especially enjoyed Derek’s struggle with what precisely coming out in college meant to him.  Like Derek, I didn’t truly begin dealing with my motivations for coming out until after the fact.  Before, there was simply the urge to say those words and then to gasp in that breathe those words allow.  I thought that the act itself would complete the thing that I had not yet identified as missing… I loaded into coming out, a hope that it would perform some purpose which I did not understand yet and thus could not specify.  I think that you have got it right that for my generation, coming out has become so necessary in our minds that it is now a ritual concealing the ritual’s meaning.  I felt freed by the act itself, and without having sown my own meaning into that act, demand that it give to me the meaning I lack.  I ask “what now”? …It is comforting to know that I can be gay and yet share and achieve the dreams of any man.  In a sense I feel validated in knowing that I can be as anyone else.  And yet irrationally, a thought will suddenly flit into my head that I want my difference to mark me outside of the normal life, that perhaps I want this difference to be so significant that I cannot participate in normalcy.  As being gay becomes more accepted, I feel like many of my gay friends and I face this tension, dragged from cherishing this acceptance as just another human being to wondering if I am just like a normal straight male, what does that say about the significance of my being gay.   Does or should gay have a meaning and purpose beyond sexuality?  I’d really love to hear about how Scott and Derek would handle this question.  They’ve come out in college and become active in the Alliance, but “what now”

I was simply blown away by this. I had no idea that someone would connect with what I was trying to achieve so deeply. Some of the questions asked are really big questions and one’s I wonder about myself. And in responding to this brave and honest young man, I realized that as authors we have the immense privilege of touching people this way; of providing the characters and stories that help them to connect with themselves.

I love writing emotional, character-driven stories. I think that before I embark on the story I imagined writing next for Derek and Scott, I may respond to this young man’s question: Does or should “gay” have a meaning and purpose beyond sexuality? I don’t really know the answer, but I think it has something to do with the whole “why are we here?” question. Our purpose is to find and to give happiness where we can, as often as we can, and with as much enthusiasm as possible. Does being gay distinguish how we do that? Maybe for some. Maybe not for others. The point is that each person has to live their life honestly and with optimism.

Thank you, dear readers, for reminding me why I do this and for helping me to remember that there are deeper reasons beyond hot sex and fun stories that I let these characters live out their lives on the page.

Sometimes your first love is the one that was meant to be.

Craig Harper and Jeremy Finn were best friends growing up. They attended the same school, spent all of their time together, and hung out with the same group of people. It wasn’t until the day before Jeremy and his family moved across the country that they discovered their attraction to one another.

Fifteen years later, they reunite by chance in New York City. Both are in relationships and have established a routine in their lives. But routines and relationships are shaken as they begin to spend time together once again. Old feelings and connections are still strong and the passion that pulls them together is a powerful, soul-searing call neither man can deny.

As each deals with the issues in their own relationships, they begin to question whether the comfort of what they know is more powerful than the pull of what they could have been…and what they might become. Struggling to find the answer, only their hearts can reveal if they are meant for each other.

Title: Meant For Each other
Author Name: D. H. Starr
Publisher Name: Ai press
ISBN (If Available): 978-1456346003
Genre: Contemporary erotic romance
Number of pages: 190
Buy link: http://www.ai-press.net

Derek Thompson is a senior, a wrestler, and has a secret. He’s gay. Scott Thayer is a new student who has just moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts from Iowa. On the first day of school Derek and Scott meet and their lives change in an instant.

As Derek and Scott discover the things they have in common, they enter into one of the closest and most loving relationships either of them has ever experienced. When unexpected circumstances threaten their relationship, they both have to make a decision. Do they protect their secret and separate? Or fight for what they want…each other?

Title: Wrestling With Desire
Author Name: D. H. Starr
Publisher Name: Featherweight Press
ISBN (If Available): 978-1-60820-221-8
Genre: m/m young adult coming of age
Number of pages: 300
Buy link: http://featherweightpublishing.com/ShowBook.php?YA=DS_WRDESIRE


Derek Thompson and Scott Thayer met in high school. Facing challenges and overcoming obstacles that would make lesser young men fold, they now have the chance to forge a life together. As they enter college, they finally have the time and space to discover each other sexually and give their virginity to each other. However, in spite of the erotic thrill of exploration, there are still challenges ahead, challenges that will test their love and devotion…

While Derek wants to live as an openly gay man, Scott wishes to maintain a degree of privacy. Not only that, but another freshman, Tyrell Jackson, becomes infatuated with Derek and wants Derek for his own. In the face of these threats to their burgeoning relationship, Derek and Scott are forced to look within themselves and make difficult decisions which will change both of their lives forever.

Is their relationship strong enough to bear the strain of balancing their needs as individuals and as a couple? The only way Derek and Scott will attain their ultimate reward is by finding the courage to face their fears. Will they rise to the challenge?

Title: Wrestling With Love
Author Name: D. H. Starr
Publisher Name: Ai Press
ISBN (If Available): 978-0-9833747-0-1
Genre: M/M contemporary erotic romance
Number of pages: 224
Buy link: http://ai-press.net/manlove-titles/


  1. I love emotional, character driven stories and I will looking for these. Thanks for sharing with us Doug.

  2. You are so welcome. I love writing emotional, character driven stories. There are so many plot driven stories out there that to follow the angst of inter-relationships is really fun.