Inside the Book:
Title: You Are Here
Author: Chris Delyani
An aspiring painter, Peter scratches out a pauper’s living in San Francisco, wanting nothing more than to be left alone. Instead, he finds himself getting involved with not one but two very different men.
Like Peter, getting involved with another man is the last thing on Nick Katsaris’s mind. Smart, handsome, and good-humored, Nick’s done more than just survive—he’s positively thriving in San Francisco. But when he meets Peter, what begins as fun and games quickly turns into a game he can’t control.
Miles Bettencourt’s days are filled with longing. For him, San Francisco is haunted by Stuart, his missing ex-lover. Desperate to win him back, Miles wanders the streets in the hope of running into Stuart again. Instead, he runs into Peter—the one man who might hold the key to what Miles is looking for.
These three gay men soon form one very unlikely love triangle. Sometimes, when people break apart and then come together, they learn that discovering that where you are is the key to knowing who you are.
It’s about a young painter named Peter Bankston who moves to San Francisco to escape a family tragedy. He knows nobody in San Francisco, and that’s exactly how he wants it: the tragedy has left him so scarred that he aims for nothing more ambitious than a food, shelter, and a little money left over to pursue his passion for art. But, inevitably, he starts to be drawn into the lives of others:
specifically, that of Nick Katsaris, a dashing professional with a flair for fun, and Miles Bettencourt, a moody dentist’s assistant with dark secrets of his own. Meanwhile, Miles and Nick find themselves drawn to Peter, almost without their realizing it. Peter’s relationship to Miles and Nick, and to other characters in the book, leads him to realize that he can’t create art by walling himself off from the world. Instead, to make art about the world, he needs to take part in it.
Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?
This was the first book I attempted after moving to San Francisco to devote my life to writing fiction. There was much to see and appreciate in my new city, a scary but beautiful face, that I knew I wanted to write something to do it justice.
At the same time I’d been enthralled by Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”—specifically the part of the novel where the charming rake Henry Crawford, who seems to have the ability to make any young woman fall in love with him, falls in love instead with the novel’s heroine Fanny Price, who wants nothing to do with him. His determination to win her over—and her equal determination to refuse him at all costs—is what kicks that novel into high gear. I’d originally begun “You Are Here” thinking that I’d give the hero Peter Bankston the same virtuous resolve as Fanny Price. Instead, he chooses a different path—a path that took me by surprise—and that’s when I knew I’d hit on something all my own.
What cause are you most passionate about and why?
The cause I was most passionate about when I wrote the book was marriage equality for gays and lesbians. The book opens right after California’s passage of Proposition 8, the odious amendment to the state constitution that barred gays and lesbians from marrying. My partner and I were among the couples who had gotten married right before Proposition 8’s passage; even though our own marriage remained valid, it made my blood boil to think the same choice had been denied to other gay people.
Now that we have our rights back, I can now focus on more universal causes—alleviating poverty, preserving the environment, and curbing global warming. Indeed, the threat of global warming and the idea of what the rising seas might do to San Francisco is what inspires Peter Bankston to create his first true masterwork at the end of “You Are Here.”
Do you have any rituals you follow when you finish a piece of work?
I have no rituals that I follow when I finish a piece of work, for the simple reason that my work is never done. I began my third novel, “Best Man,” several months before I finished “You Are Here.” I then began a new, as-yet untitled novel before I finished with “Best Man.” If I didn’t have a project always in the works, I honestly don’t know what I would do with myself.
Who has influenced you throughout your writing career?
I’ve had many different influences over the course of my career—too many to count, really. For the sake of a simple answer, let me focus on three books: Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove,” Edith Wharton’s “The Custom of the Country,” and Alison Lurie’s “Foreign Affairs.” I discovered all three of my books very early on in my writing career, and in all three of them I found myself immersed in worlds I never thought I’d ever take an interest in: a cattle drive from Texas to Montana (McMurtry), New York’s haut monde at the beginning of the 20th century (Wharton), and the love affairs of two American professors in London during the 1980s (Lurie). I continue to be struck by how all three authors successfully managed to link the very specific situations of their characters to the universal. That has always been my primary aim in my own fiction.
What are some of your long term goals?
My ultimate long-term goal is to become a published mainstream writer. I’m looking forward to shopping around my third novel “Best Man” to agents (and hopefully publishers) while I work on the first draft of my latest work. I’ve made a public bet to have that first draft written by September 15 of this year, or else I’ll pay $100 to the National Rifle Association, an organization I loathe. There is nothing like placing a bet on a goal to make me determined to achieve it.
Meet the Author: