The Secret Life of Billy Chase Background
It actually took me a few (really BAD) tries to create the general idea of what "Billy Chase" was going to be, and how it was going to look. When I started off, I knew that I wanted to make something different, something that really wasn't like the other stories on the site. I was pushing to come up with something that could add a little variation to the whole 'boy meets boy' scenario, and could sort of gain a following of its own as a part of the website. So, with that in mind, I let those rusty wheels started turning and set out to brainstorm for an original story.
There were a few ideas that I through out the window almost instantly. They were either impossible to structure out, impossible to do with a webtv, or just plain bad. So, I decided to come up with a single character first, and then just sort of let the story build itself around him, hoping that it wouldn't be 'just another story' at the Shack. That's when "Billy Chase" came rushing at me out of nowhere. It was an old idea that I had been playing around with in my mind but never went ahead with it. The original plan was in my notes from years ago (along with the first scattered ideas for the story "Out Of Hollywood"), where a young blond boy lived in Los Angeles, and his father was an English tutor for young actors and musicans on the set of whatever they were involved in. That not only would open up opportunities for him to meet beautiful boys all the time, but it would allow me to add in the occassional teen celebrity whenever I wanted to. Taylor Hanson, The Moffats, Aaron Carter...whatever. Needless to say the story never came to be. It seemed to really be falling out of what I was trying to do with the stories at the time. I wanted to have a larger cast of characters, but I didn't want the main character to be...you know...a SLUT! Hehehe! And that's pretty much what a series like that would have led to, him sleeping with every cutie that appeared on his door step. Either that, or he would have found a steady boyfriend, and not have been able to sleep around anymore. But THAT would have defeated the purpose of having a bunch of new characters introduced every chapter or two. So it just wasn't going to work. However, when I looked back on it, it sparked an idea.
I figured that, with a little tweaking, the open opportunity to interact with a bunch of different people at once, who may come and go at random...would be a cool way to go. Not just a story where the main character has this perfect 'soulmate' right in front of him, maybe a friend or two on the side, and everyone else is 'background'. I wanted everyone to have a specific place and position in Billy's life, and I wanted to show his thoughts on everyone as he saw them. So the story had to involve a whole high school full of different personalities and interactions from people that you never really know anything about. Not in depth anyway. There would be room for some surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, and I could add new faces whenever I wanted to. It was an open view of the 'world' through the eyes of one person, not just a relationship between a few close boys and their thoughts regarding the one they love. At last, "Billy Chase" had found a home.
I tried writing it out as a regular story, told through "Billy's" eyes, but that didn't work out so well. It just wasn't focused enough to stand on its own as a 'story'. It was TOO random and always going so far off tangent that I thought it would be hard to follow. Not to mention that the dialogue didn't really work because it was coming from so many places at once. So the structure of a story defeated the freedom behind the idea. And the idea refused to fit into the structure of a story. So that wasn't going to work. The second idea was to remove all of the dialogue entirely, and just have each chapter be about half the size of the usual Shack story (about 20K max), and have it be a 'live' view of Billy as he went through his day. To have it told play-by-play as he was experiencing it. But that looked like it was going to turn out to be a bit boring and I doubted that it would last very long. Besides, I wanted to do something new and different, and all that did was take what I had already done, cut it in HALF and take out the dialogue...making it LESS than what was already there. That wasn't going to work either.
The third idea was something that I played around with a bit more than the others, and I almost chose that as the way to go with the story. I worked out an eight period class schedule for Billy, including a lunch break, and was going to have his experiences told day by day in their entirety. For example, he would go to his Science class first, and I'd do a few paragraphs telling everything that went on in that particular class. Then he'd go to gym, and I'd do ANOTHER few paragraphs about how THAT class went, with a new environment, a new set of classmates, a new teacher, and a new vibe. And so forth and so on for the rest of the school day. I tried doing a few 'days' to see how it would look, and I was happy with the potential behind it for a while. Then....Sam came along. I introduced Billy's best friend into the story, and once I developed an idea of how they related to one another as friends, the idea of Billy's class schedule seemed to become extremely 'limited' to me. I mean, there was no room for after school activities, thoughts outside of what was going on in class, people and occurrences that might happen in the hallways between classes. Not only that, but I wasn't sure how I was going to keep up this separation of the 'feel' for each class. I mean, after a few posts or so, how do you completely change Billy's actions between English and History? I wondered if I'd get stuck repeating myself, or just plain run out of ideas of where to take the story once I started. So, even though I liked it at first, I regretfully let it go and decided against it in the end.
Then came "Gone From Daylight", the biggest and most difficult story that I had ever written up until that time. It took a LONG time to finish, but I finally got to the end, and was ready to show it to the world for the first time. I was saving it for the Shack's anniversary update, so I had a week or two to sit on it...and that's when "Billy Chase" kinda entered my mind again. It was maybe a day or two before the big update, and I thought about adding a little something 'extra' to the story at the very last minute. Maybe a way for everyone to sort of see things from Taryn's point of view, and summerize the whole chapter as well as set up the next one. It was a little added bonus at the end of the story that could act like the 'cherry on top', and give some deeper level of insight that I couldn't quite reach from Justin's point of view. I think that's when it hit me. And "Billy Chase" and "Taryn's Diary" were born almost simultaneously. It was perfect! A chance to let them simply discuss whatever it was on their mind at the moment, keep that random stream of consciousness going, it could involve whatever characters I wanted it to, and even in its unstructured form...it could still tell a story all its own. So I typed up an entry for "Taryn's Diary" that night at the end of the first "Gone From Daylight" chapter, and then went back to my notes to see how I could add the same idea to the "Billy Chase" idea.
With the diary idea being so well accepted by fans of the site's first vampire story, "Billy Chase" was all ready to go. Once I wrote the first couple of entries, I KNEW that this was the way I wanted it to go! THIS was the different vibe that I was shooting for. It gave me complete and total freedom to describe Billy's life inside and outside of school. It was open to a number of different characters, it let his mind wander and go through different moods and emotions that could change drastically on a day to day basis. Not only that...but I could easily use the entries to tell a story without the usual linear approach. So it was exactly what I was looking for.
What Billy Chase really represents is the life of a boy who is just now finding out what he wants and who he is. It's about him bringing that inner voice, those secret conversations with ourselves, a little bit closer to the surface by actually putting his thoughts into words. And it DOES have a lot of boys in it that Billy drools over constantly, but they each have a completely different meaning to Billy if you look closely, and hopefully anyone reading the story can get a 3-D picture of what his world looks like. I attempted to recreate the feeling of what it was like to struggle with the ideas of love, homosexuality, friendship, and sex for the first time again. I can remember being the same way when I was about 12 or 13 years old when I first really discovered my attractions for other boys and how they worked. And yes, there were many that I looked at and wanted VERY badly! Hehehe, I think that was a huge part of the fun. Being surrounded by all that candy all the time and wanting a taste of every flavor. At any given time, there might be one boy that I was in 'love' with, and a second that I was infatuated with...and a THIRD that I had a 'crush' on. Then there was a fourth that I dreamed about, a fifth that I 'lusted' after, a sixth that had potential, and a few more that I definitely 'wouldn't kick out of bed'. So yeah...I was a little boy crazy. But I have fond memories of that craziness, and I really wanted to bring that playful piece of confusion to this story, where nothing is ever concrete, cut and dry. There's a definite story there, believe me, but the whole idea behind it is the ability to bring an unlimited amount of thoughts and ideas into one series. It doesn't have to ever be locked into one theme, one direction, or any certain mood. It gives me total freedom to go beyond that. I can be serious with it one minute, or I can switch it up by adding some humor into it the next minute. I can talk about things like heartbreak, sexuality, lonliness, friendship, young love, lust, fear, bigotry, homophobia, or anything else that I want to discuss, easily. I can create confusion, or excitement, or despair, effortlessly...without ever having to worry about how it's affecting the rest of the story. Every day is a brand new day, much like real life.
Most of the time, when you read "Billy Chase", it's just me having some of those inner conversations with myself. I just happen to be typing it out as I think it. It usually ties in with something that I dealt with that day or something that I was just mulling over during a quiet moment or two. I always loved that constant flow of random thoughts that make us human. Once you get in the habit of writing things down as they come to you, it's REALLY hard to stop. So "Billy Chase" keeps this sorta...controlled chaos feel to it, and it's fun to write whenever I get the chance.
It's a fun section of the site to work on, and as each entry gets posted, it feels like Billy becomes more real. More personal. It's the only story that truly revolves around just ONE boy entirely, and although it took a while for readers to really get into and connect with...it's become a big part of the story archive. It shines brightly on its own, and that's exactly what I was hoping for. I'm glad that it worked out in the end.
This page was last updated on February 11, 2016.