Chicago’s Gayborhood Comes to Life in New Series ‘Boystown’

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Jake Biondi loves “Boystown,” the heart of Chicago's gay community. He's encountered many colorful characters in that world, many of whom found their way into “Boystown: the Series,” his fictional serial.

Written in the style of the classic magazine serials of a century ago, with more than a few nods to the grand traditions of daytime TV dramas, “Boystown” is a fun peek inside the lives of a colorful group of gay men. First presented on the web in a continuing format, “Boystown” is now available in printed book form containing all chapters of the first season.

The author's homepage offers a glimpse into what readers can expect from “Boystown.” When Jesse and Cole move to town, they find that their new group of friends are harboring enough secrets to script another eight seasons of “Dynasty.” Biondi spoke to SFGN about his love for the real “Boystown” and how that love found it's way onto the printed page.

Before we talk about ““Boystown” tell us more about yourself.

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I fell in love with “the windy city” at an early age. Upon graduating from Notre Dame University, with degrees in English and business, I returned to Chicago and have been living in the “Boystown” neighborhood ever since, for over 20 years.

I came out late in life, after college. While it was certainly a bumpy experience and process, I learned a great deal about myself and those around me, and wouldn't change a thing. Everyone's coming out process is unique and people need to do it on their own timelines, when it's best for them.

Can you describe what “Boystown” was like in its original online format?

While studying literature, I became a huge fan of Charles Dickens, whose novels were originally published in installments. Each ending was a cliffhanger to keep readers coming back for more. Because of my love of those novels as well as television dramas such as “Dynasty,” “Knots Landing,” “Dallas” and “Revenge,” I decided to create a serialized saga for contemporary audiences. Thus, “Boystown” was born.

Can you describe “Boystown” the actual place?

Chicago's “Boystown” is a great place to live and play. In fact, it was just named "best gay neighborhood" by Out Travel Magazine. It has amazing bars, clubs and restaurants, but it's not just a place to party, it's where we live as well. It has a great neighborhood feel, is located right along Lake Michigan, and everything is just a short walk away from wherever you are. Over the years, the neighborhood has grown more diverse as more straight couples and families have moved into the 'hood. In addition, it's diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and age. In fact, one of the first gay retirement homes in the country is currently under construction right here in “Boystown.”

Can you describe “Boystown” the Series/book?

Because my book takes place mostly in “Boystown” I wanted to make sure it reflected the diversity of the neighborhood and its residents. I use as many real locations in the book as possible.

I began “Boystown” in June of 2013 as an online story, and intended to release one "episode" online per month, each ending in a cliffhanger. The story became so popular, and the online reading audience grew so quickly, people from all over the country began emailing me demanding to know what happened to their favorite characters and wanting the episodes to be released faster. They also had suggestions for future storylines! I was surprised and excited by the readers’ responses and began to write and release the installments more quickly. By November I had released 10 episodes and the audience had expanded well beyond the borders of America.

Readers suggested that I publish the first 10 episodes as a book. I took their advice and “Boystown” Season One was published in November. The book is selling very well locally and nationally, and I have continued to write additional episodes. Episodes 11 to 20 will be released this spring as “Boystown” Season Two.

What inspires your stories and characters? Any of it come from your own life?

Like all authors, I draw some characters and storylines from real life. While all the characters and plots in “Boystown” are fictionalized, they are certainly inspired by people I know and events I know about.

Have any of your friends recognized themselves in “Boystown”?

I wrote the character of Cole O'Brien with my friend Aaron Savvy in mind. I didn't tell him ahead of time, but let him read the book to see which character he connected with most. In the end he picked Cole, and then I told him that Cole was written for him. Aaron is featured on the book's cover.

There's a lot going on to keep readers interested: drama, romance, adventure, revenge, lust, backstabbing, love, “Boystown” has it all!

Biondi says that he could definitely envision a “Boystown” TV series. He says that so far, there's no end in sight. As long as people keep reading, he'll keep writing.

“Boystown” is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble (bn.com) and selected bookstores.

To learn more about author Jake Biondi, please visit his website at: www.JakeBiondi.com


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