The worried wife, the cheating bisexual husband, the partying gay friends and the college student wearing the cheating husband's wedding band: A longtime fan of serials, like daytime dramas, Jake Biondi created this cast of characters for Boystown.
"I've been a writer for most of my lifeas in professional writing and creative writing and things like that," said Biondi. "I just sat down one day and thought it would be interesting to, using some of my friends as a basis for some of the characters, put some words down and see what I can do."
Biondi first created a Facebook page for the series to gauge potential public interest, and upon garnering "likes" based on the description alone, he began publishing chapters of Boystown.
"At first I was going to try to do one episode per month, but people have been writing back to me saying, 'I want to know what's going to happen, so speed it up,'" said Biondi, releasing five chapters in two months.
Set in Chicago's gay neighborhood of Boystown in Lakeview, the characters span multiple decades. The entire series is relationship based, chronicling the intermingling of multiple gay male couples, a straight couple and a few single people.
Taking after Charles Dickenswhose novels were originally published serially in magazinesBiondi releases Boystown chapter by chapter, so as to titillate readers and allow for augmentations to the story.
"It's a continuing story, modeled after a TV show or Dickens novel, so I try to end each chapter with some sort of cliffhanger," said Biondi.
The series is available free online, allowing people to not only read Boystown, but respond in real time and communicate with the author.
"Based off some of the comments I've gotten from people who have read [Boystown], they've ended up dictating some of the twists and turns of the story," said Biondi. "I have a general story arc for each couple sort of in mind about where I want them to go, but based off feedback I've been getting from people who are reading it, I've changed things a bit."
"People will say things like, 'This couple needs to stay together. Don't mess with them anymore,'" said Biondi. "There's a few regulars who are always commenting, so that's been fun … that there's people waiting to see what's going to happen next."
The outpour of response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"Wow! The twists and turns are great. I am completely intrigued with this story," wrote a Boystown fan named Cameron. "I have ideas as to where it may be going, but will wait and see how psychic I really am."
"I have been reading the story since the first chapter was posted online," wrote Boystown fan Lisa. "The first chapter left me with some anxiety regarding one of the characters and this anxiety has carried me through all four chapters, with my trepidation focusing on a different character throughout each chapter."
Biondi attributed the readership to a lack of gay characters in media and the power of a compelling narrative.
"I think gay readers in general are sort of hungry for gay characters and stories where they can recognize themselves or their friends in it. Most of us have been raised on stories that are heterosexually based, in terms of characters," said Biondi.
Read Boystown at GayAuthors.org , bookworld.editme.com and JustUsBoys.com .