I am not Raymond Wallace

By Sam Kenyon

Heartrending-and-mending debut novel from the writer of Miss Littlewood.

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‘a magnificent evening’—The Times, on Miss Littlewood

Manhattan, 1963: weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy, fresh-faced Raymond Wallace lands in the New York Times newsroom on a three-month bursary from Cambridge University. He soon discovers his elusive boss, Bukowski, is being covertly blackmailed by an estranged wife, and that he himself is to assist the straight-laced Doty on an article about the ‘explosion of overt homosexuality’ in the city. On an undercover assignment, a secret world is revealed to Raymond: a world in which he need no longer pretend to be something or someone he cannot be; a world in which he meets Joey.

Like so many men of his time and of his kind, Raymond faces a choice between conformity, courage and compartmentalisation. The decision he makes will ricochet destructively through lives and decades until—in another time, another city; in Paris, 2003—Raymond’s son Joe finally meets Joey.

I Am not Raymond Wallace is a heartrending-and-mending queer saga spanning continents and generations, told with precision-tooled prose, sharply-imagined settings and compassionately-observed characterisation.

Publisher Justin David says, ‘When Sam Kenyon’s manuscript came to us unsolicited, I was immediately affected by the beauty of the writing and storytelling. It pulls back a curtain on the hidden queer lives of previous generations—the secrets, the shame, and the psychological damage that occurs as a result of not being permitted to be our true selves in the world. This vital story of human struggle is not just for LGBTQ+ readers, but for all.’ 

Sam says, ‘In the 90s a friend told me a true story about queer love and loss from the 60s: I found it tremendously moving, deeply shocking, and utterly relatable. In the 00s I wrote a novel based on that story, which remained hidden away until last year’s lockdown, when I plucked up the courage to send it to Inkandescent. The passion Justin and Nathan exhibit is little short of miraculous, and I am beyond excited for this work to be seeing the light of day at last!’

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  • Sam Kenyon is a writer, composer, performer and vocal coach based in London. He and his work have appeared on numerous stages, from the West End and the RSC to regional theatres. He wrote the book, music and lyrics for Miss Littlewood, a musical about the life of maverick theatre director Joan Littlewood, which premiered at the RSC in 2018 and was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award and a UK Theatre Award; the script is published by Samuel French. He read English at Cambridge University before training in Musical Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music. He is currently developing a musical about Samuel Steward. www.samuelkenyon.co.uk


     

  • Raymond Wallace sits on his freshly-made bunk at the Railroad YMCA—eyes dry with jetlag; palms firm on the rough blanket—and glances at his wristwatch. As the minute hand hits eight o’clock, he adjusts his tie, stands up and—as a matter of habit—brushes his trousers down. His suit feels oddly loose on him, as though he has somehow shed weight during the transatlantic flight. Passing a mirror in the corridor he licks a finger and dabs it on a shaving cut from a sleep-deprived hand. He smooths his hair, thinking as he does so how he prefers the colour when it is like this, still darkly damp from the shower. He tries to avoid the eyes everyone back home says remind them of his father’s, slips on his overcoat and heads out onto the street. The air is brisk, autumnal, and scented with yeast and iron: bakeries and brake dust. It is Monday October 14th, 1963, Raymond is twenty-one years old, and by the time he leaves Manhattan a mere three months later, on January 8th, 1964, he will have made the greatest mistake of his life.

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  • Sam Kenyon has written 1 private update. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    4th May 2022 Last Chance to get YOUR name in the book

    Hello! 

    I’m over the moon at how this campaign has run, and we’re getting tantalisingly close to our target—thanks so much to everyone who has pledged thus far. We will close the 'books' at midnight on Sunday 8th May—so if you want YOUR name in THIS book, you have just a few days left... 

    After that, advance copies will still be available, but the martinis will have run out! I’ll be so excited…

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About Inkandescent

Inkandescent were founded in 2016 by Justin David and Nathan Evans to champion voices underrepresented in mainstream publishing. Their first publication Threads was funded by Arts Council England and long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize—of which their second, AutoFellatio by James Maker, was inaugural winner. Other books include The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett described by The Guardian as an ‘impressive debut’. In 2021 they worked with Unbound to publish Mainstream, an anthology of stories featuring writers including Kit de Waal, Kerry Hudson and Paul McVeigh and Address Book by Neil Bartlett, an Observer Book of the Year.

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