The Day Before You Came is the debut novel from longtime gay press contributor and former gay-ebooks.com.au writer Alistair Sutton, who describes it as, “A celebration of Sydney and gay life in the 1980s.”
Setting the scene, Sutton told Star Observer, “The 80s was such a pivotal time for the LGBTQI community, and I was interested in capturing the sense of fun of that era, which still influences us today in fashion, music and style.
“Although overshadowed by the spectre of AIDS, those of us who lived through the 80s view it with nostalgia. If anything, AIDS increased the desire for people to live for the moment before the party ended.
“I reference the plague, given the novel is set in 1987 – but it’s not about AIDS. Excellent writers like Gary Dunne have already done that with sensitivity and style.”
The protagonist, Stuart, is flawed but Sutton hopes readers will relate to him.
“Stuart can be lazy and self-centred, but he is also thoughtful and kind. Basically, he’s well-meaning.”
The novel starts with Stuart, who at 30 is at a crossroads in life. He is seeking to re-evaluate his priorities, without quite knowing what he wants. He blunders into sexual encounters, when what he says he wants is a relationship. He finds someone he connects to but discovers that problematic too.
The book’s Sydney setting is also pivotal.
“I love reading books about gay life overseas from wonderful authors like Edmund White and Patrick Gale,” said Sutton. “But I also love reading about how we live in Australia and I’ve been influenced by fabulous local authors such as Graeme Aitken, Neal Drinnan and Phil Scott. They write with a wit and keen eye for detail I really admire.”
The Day Before You Came is not autobiographical, asserts Sutton, although it covers topics that interest him such as interior design, theatre, books… and men.
“Who doesn’t like a bit of rough trade now and again?” he said, laughing.
“I started writing erotic fiction for BNews in Melbourne when the lovely Bill Calder was editor. I quickly realised how challenging it is to present sex in an engaging way. I hope I succeeded in the novel.”
“One thing’s for sure – with writing, you’re always learning!”