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Return Ticket

From the author who brought you the critically acclaimed Boy on a Wire and To the Highlands, comes the third and final novel in his Boy to Man Trilogy. In this interview, Jon talks about all three books and our book of the month Return Ticket.

Why was it important to you to write this trilogy, One Boy’s Journey to Man?
All those stories in my head, they had to be released. I got tired of telling them, repeating them, at parties, over coffee, to casual acquaintances. Yet over the repetition, I did learn there were threads, and it was the threads that caused me to thrust some of them together and create the first book. The journey of a boy to a man is certainly the major thread running through all three novels.

Why is it that each book in this trilogy feels quite different in its delivery and perspective?
Each book plots the growth of Jack Muir, from boy, through callow youth, troubled young man, to a wiser, kinder, older man. Jack is a seeker and as he seeks, experiences, falls, gets up, learns, loves, hates, so both his inner and outer voices change, their tone and his understanding of the world outside of his own headspace. Along the way he gets closer and closer to who he is.

Was there something in particular you wished to share with readers about your understanding of masculinity and of the importance of friendship between men?
Jack and I were both brought up in the culture of men. Our fathers dominated our families and their local communities. Both of us tried so hard to be strong, tough and hard men. Both of us failed. Both of us scoured history for examples and both of us found Rome. In Rome, there was a period between 96AD and 180AD dominated by what historians call the Five Good Emperors. Most of the five were fine warrior leaders, but also either homosexual or bisexual and most had artistic interests or pursuits. It is not enough to be tough and hard and we all know men who have spent most of their life playing the tough guy and when, in their latter years, they begin to soften and cry at random, they get frightened and imagine they are losing their minds, when all they are doing is getting to the other side, the soft side, maybe the feminine side. Living all sides of a personality, a psychological package, is what makes a person complete. It’s a much easier transition if you explore the other sides earlier in life. In my life, I missed the older man, a mentor, someone I could go to and spill my guts without being judged.

This is an extract from the book club notes. For the full interview, click on the button below.

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