Support can take many forms. It can be as simple as someone accepting you for who you are. It can be as meaningful as that special person having your back. Or it can be as profound as having a team stand by you as you try to save the world.
I came up with the idea for Salvation’s Song after seeing two young men on the train on my way to work one morning. I had the suspicion, given the way they were standing just a little too close together, that they were, at the very least, extremely good friend. But when I saw one of them lightly touch the other one’s long, curly hair (yes, he had Jeremy’s hair!), my brain shot into overdrive.
I’d initially intended to write a simple and sweet high school romance, but after some thought, I realized I needed to sprinkle a little supernatural fairy dust on the story to make it my own. But the memory of those two boys on the train never left me. It was apparent that their relationship was special, and that their friendship (or whatever it might be) was based on mutual respect as well as affection.
As I tried to piece together the plot, I had several major milestones I wanted to achieve. Of course, there would be the overarching tale of unlikely heroes tasked to save the world from evil. No point in messing with the classics. But beyond that, I wanted Tyrell and Jeremy to have to work for their love. It turns out that the way they managed to finally achieve their status as a couple ready to stand together and face the ultimate threat was by offering each other support in ways both big and small.
Jeremy has known he was gay for a long time, and the struggle to be open with his sexuality lead him to grief. When he meets Tyrell, he’s unwilling to hide, but at the same time, he’s desperately afraid to reveal himself. When Jeremy finds himself the target of bullies, at first he feels alone. Tyrell, terrified to be labeled gay by association, initially refuses Jeremy the help he needs. But when Tyrell comes to terms with his feelings for Jeremy, he shows up in a very big way, offering Jeremy all the support he could have ever hoped for. Jeremy’s challenge is learning how to trust and accept the friendship Tyrell eventually offers.
Tyrell, at the same time, discovers that he needs Jeremy just as much in return. On one hand, he needs help dealing with the mystery surrounding them as they confront a mystical threat. But even more importantly, Tyrell is challenged with the burden—and gift—of truly discovering who he is. Learning about one’s self, especially when the truth is contrary to the view you’ve always held of how your life will be, is a frightening prospect. Fortunately for Tyrell, Jeremy is there for him when he realizes his world is far different than he’d imagined.
No man is an island, and no couple, no matter how deep their bond, can survive in isolation. Tyrell and Jeremy are no different. The support they offer each other can only takes them so far. Without friends and family, their lives would be lonely indeed. It was important to me to give Tyrell and Jeremy close friends who would be as accepting of them as they were of each other. Thus Cynthia and Ryan were born.
Cynthia is, in my mind, the kind of person we should all strive to be. Someone who is completely accepting of our friends’ and loved ones’ peculiarities and faults. Someone who won’t hesitate to tell those we care about when they need to improve, but who will defend them to the ends of the earth. Cynthia works hard to befriend Jeremy because she can sense that he needs close friends. As for Tyrell, who she’s known nearly her entire life, she takes it upon herself to guide him to be the type of person she knows he can be. Even after he realizes the truth about himself and shares it with her, her loyalty and support never falters.
Ryan, Tyrell’s best friend since childhood, is the type we might not appreciate fully in everyday life. He’s the kind of friend who hangs out with you playing video games into the wee hours, and who’s always beside you as you cheer your favorite teams. But these can be the types of friends we underestimate. When the chips are down, friends like Ryan can offer us the greatest support because it is so unexpected. When Tyrell and Jeremy face their greatest challenge as a new couple, it’s Ryan who comes through in a surprising way.
And then, of course, there is family. Some of us may have family like Jeremy, who are completely accepting of us in every way and are always there for us. Some of us may have family like Tyrell, people who love us, but who may not encourage us to share our deepest selves with them. But even so, regardless of their prejudices, family is always there for us when it really matters. One of the most important things we discover as we get older is that family is not limited to those who share our genes. Family means those people who, no matter the disagreements or differences of opinion we may have, are there for us when it really counts.
In the end, the threats Tyrell and Jeremy must face are big and world-shattering. It was, however, equally important to me that they also overcome the small difficulties facing anyone who discovers they are different… and that they didn’t have to face their many challenges alone.
Support can come from many places, both the obvious and the unexpected, but all are crucial. And in the end, we must never forget that more precious support of all. Love.