AUDIO & VIDEO PREVIEW: The Official Cypher Avenue Serial Fiction Series
Beginning in 2015, Cypher Avenue will officially launch its first ever Fiction Serial Series featuring on-going stories written by gay/bisexual men of color. The series will feature both written and audio readings/dramatizations posted on a regular basis on Cypher Avenue, YouTube and iTunes.
There’s already tons of gay fiction out there for consumption, however not much of it features any thing more than characters “closet cases struggling with their sexuality,” “naive submissive men looking for love” and/or “drama filled shadiness, messiness and finger-snapping.”
The goal of this series is to demonstrate that gay men of color can tell more diverse stories from the point of view of all kinds of characters: Gays, Bisexuals, Tops, Versatiles, Bottoms, Masculine, Inbetween, etc. Also, the stories will span many genres from drama to horror to action to comedy and mystery thrillers. We hope this series will be an addictive breath of fresh air for reader and listeners alike.
Each season of the series will feature a single story told from week to week until its conclusion. The accompanying Radio Play will be read by a narrator much like an audiobook, with different people reading the dialogue for various characters to immerse the listeners even more into the experience.
Cypher Avenue’s own Nick Delmacy will launch the series with a 25 chapter novel called “The Season: Awakening” I wrote as a young man back in 2001 for a black gay website featuring amateur-author-submitted stories.
Frustrated by the lack of outside-the-box creativity by the writers, I decided to pen my own story to break the mold, one told from the point of view of a fictional confident, cocky masculine gay man.
The first thing that came to my mind while brainstorming was, “What if a bisexual college athlete discovered that not only were his attractive basketball teammates gay, but they were also part of a secret vampire cult going back generations? And they wanted him to join them…”
As ridiculous as sounds on the surface, once I began writing and fleshing out the characters, I realized that there was actually something great there. A whole world emerged, one in which the sexuality of the characters was secondary to the overall story, yet it also served as the backbone to it all.
What emerged was a sexy, funny, thrilling, action-packed murder mystery that readers back in 2001 seemed to really respond to, based on their feedback. It seemed fitting to begin the series with this story to set the tone for the type of stories we’d look for in the future.
What makes this novel perfect for Cypher Avenue is it encapsulates much of the tone and attitude we’ve been exhibited since our launch 3 years ago: Cockiness, Masculinity and Non-Stereotypical Depictions of Gay and Bisexual Men.
The official launch will be (sometime) in January 2015, however we wanted to give you a year-end preview of what this series will be. Fans of narrative fiction and audiobooks should find this story interesting at the least.
Recently I recorded a couple solo episodes for our Cypher Avenue Podcast, to make those episode more interesting I spent extra time on them by adding sound effects and playing around with acting. After much deliberation with Octavius Williams, these podcasts helped me build up the courage to record myself reading the first few pages of Chapter One of The Season: Awakening to give everyone a sense of what the goal will be for next year. I learned two things in the process:
1. This will be a lot of work. What narrators and voice-over artists do is very hard work, even more so when you get to editing and adding sound effects/music.
2. This experiment will be better if we had other people reading for other characters.
LOOKING FOR READERS
If there is anyone out there who is interested in volunteering their voices to play the roles of any of the 30 characters in this story, please shoot an email to Casting@CypherAvenue.com. Whether you’re an aspiring actor or just someone with a great voice, send us a shout. No matter where you’re located in the country (or the world) we can find a way to make it happen electronically.
Below you’ll find a Soundcloud and YouTube version of the Cypher Avenue Serial Fiction Series preview, as well as the text version for people who prefer reading.
THE SEASON: AWAKENING
Hello. My name is Lennox DeMarcus. Or at least it was…before my life changed…
It had only been two years ago…I’d just transferred from a low expectation community college in Chicago to a large secluded university in Georgia.
It wasn’t my decision. My Aunt felt that being so close to old friends back home was the reason I kept sub-par grades. She was wrong, but then again she didn’t know everything about me at the time. I had bad grades because I really only had two things on my mind: Basketball and sex…in that order.
Let’s face it. I was a handsome 19-year-old college freshman, who could ball like the best of them, with my own apartment in the city I grew up in. I lived it up, just as any young man would. I went to class during the day, hooped in the afternoon and had sex in the evenings. With only so many hours in the day, that made study time non-existent…equaling sub-par grades.
The average person would dismiss me as some young, dumb over-sexed athlete deserving what became of me, but I’m different…I almost died when I was 16. That’s right. The details of that I’ll get to later but, needless to say, it was a defining moment in my young life. I made the decision then to not to let anything get in the way of my happiness. I was going to live life to the fullest, experience new things just to say that I tried them.
That brings me to my loves, the first being basketball. I wasn’t Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, but I definitely stood out in my Chicago neighborhood as exceptional. I loved the fact that on that court, at any given time, I was the best at something. Even if I sucked the whole game but made a dope-ass pass to my swingman for the winning shot, I felt like I was the illest nigga in the world.
My second love, sex, needs not to be explained. What young man my age didn’t like having sex…and a lot of it? Plus, I was tall, had a tight muscular body… I didn’t have to beg anybody for it. On top of that, my choices of partners were doubled due to the fact that I was attracted to both women and men. That’s right, I said it. It doesn’t matter that much to say it anymore considering what eventually happened to me…
I know…I was contradicting myself. I just told said that I wasn’t gonna let anything get in the way of my life, but at one point I had a problem telling people I liked dudes. There were a couple reasons behind it…one of which was my Aunt. I wasn’t gonna cause her grief by telling her that I was bisexual. She was all about Church and the Bible so I already knew what her reaction would be. But then again, if she had ever asked me I wouldn’t have lied to her. Also, I didn’t want anything getting in the way of me playing ball whenever or wherever I wanted. People in the testosterone-based world of sports tend to be judgmental of individuals who mess around.
For those reasons, I kept my shit on the low. Looking back, that was just as pivotal a decision as any I could ever have made.
So at 20 years old, I packed my shit and drove to an isolated suburb of Atlanta, Georgia to attend college. It was gonna be difficult doing what I do considering that I was gonna have a roommate. The basketball scholarship I was on demanded that I remain on campus for at least my first year.
Odds were against the person being cool with the whole bisexual thing, so I would have to be careful if I wanted to keep him from finding out about me. I really didn’t care but I just didn’t want any problems during my freshman year. My aunt really wanted me to do well at this school.
By the time I pulled into the campus of Groves University, around ten in the morning, I was dead tired. I left my luggage in the trunk and threw my duffel bag over my shoulder. About four stories high, the dorm, Carter Hall, was a pretty good size.
I dragged myself over to a guy working the front desk. He was a fairly good-looking, sported a GU cap on his head.
“Hey buddy, you need some help?”
“Yeah, uh, I’m moving in. I need a key I guess.”
He turned away to get a Sign-in book and the pack of keys. “I just need to see your Groves I.D.”
“I got my license, but they didn’t send me no I.D. for the school, yet.”
He hesitated, and then closed the book. “No…they don’t just send it to you, you have to get enrolled first. You haven’t enrolled yet?”
“I’m on scholarship, it’s taken care of,” I said, already falling asleep from the long drive.
“That may very well be the case, but you still have to enroll before you can move into the dorms.”
“…Look, dog, what’s your name?”
He smiled, “Jason Young.”
“Jason, dog, I just drove from Chicago, non-stop. I need some sleep. I can handle all that stuff after about four or five hours of sleep.”
He shook his head slowly and stared up at me. “You must be an athlete…”
He flipped to the back of the Sign-in book. “What’s your name?”
He looked up from the book, then back down, finding my name and key. “I heard about you…”
My half closed eyelids snapped open, “Oh, you follow Chicago basketball?”
He laughed a little, “No…your, uh, roommate is a friend of mine. He thought he was gonna have a single until he found out he was getting a roommate. We got your name from the book…”
I rubbed my eyes to hide the slight embarrassment I had. I took the room key and Key-card to the building’s main doors from Jason as he pointed me in the direction of the elevators.
“Torrance Mohammed,” Jason said as I turned to walk away.
“That’s his name, your roommate. He’s cool, but he’s kinda…introspective.”
I nodded, gave Jason a quick one-handed dap for helping me out and walked away. Minutes later I was inside my new home for the next 9 months. It was more like an apartment suite than a typical dorm. The suite had a tiny kitchen and living room area in the center with the two bedrooms on opposite sides of the whole apartment. Not bad. I’d have some level of privacy at least.
But which room was mine?
I was left handed, so I picked the left side first. When I opened the door, I saw that I’d made the wrong choice. The room was already filled with someone else’s belongings. I looked around quickly. It was neat and tidy. His bed was made as if no one had ever slept in it before. He had a huge poster of Bob Marley smoking weed above the desk. Cool, that meant that this “Torrance Mohammed” guy probably smoked, too.
There were books everywhere…filling an entire mini-bookcase, the top of the dresser and about a dozen stacked on the floor. I picked one up: Nineteenth Century Epidemics by Herman Klausgough, M.D.
He must have either been a biology or history student from the looks of things. Then I saw the framed picture on the desk. It was of a girl around my age. She was looking fine as hell, even by my high standards. She had to be his girlfriend…
Tired of snooping, I closed the door and dragged myself into my bedroom. It was completely barren of decoration. Not even a pair of sheets on the bed. I tore my beat-up duffel bag open and pulled out my favorite old pillow and sheets. As soon as I was done making the bed, I fell on it and closed my eyes.
I don’t know how long he’d been watching me but I was surprised to wake up and see a dark figure standing in the doorway to my room…
This was just the beginning, the first act setting up of the characters and situation. More to come from this serial series and others beginning in 2015!
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