A former Oxford academic has become one of the oldest first time authors ever with a dashing gay romance called The Heart Entrapped.
Mike Soper, 93, is feeling the liberation of life outside the closet after decades of pretending, and his new book draws on his experiences of love outside the law.
He told the Oxford Mail:
“I had to keep quiet about my sexuality when I was lecturing at Oxford, as undergraduates would not have been very kind if they had known I was gay.
“I took some risks when I was young – I could have appeared in court because of my job and the attitude at the time – so I had to be discreet.
“Society has changed so much now. People can express their sexuality. But during the 1960s, 70s and even the 80s, I had to be very quiet about my personal life. I lived my life in the shadows and of course it was difficult coming to terms with it.
“As an undergraduate, I thought I was the only gay in the world.”
The other residents of his nursing home were pestering him about his novel, and two years ago he decided to come out to them so that they would not be shocked by its content.
“When all the old ladies heard about the book, they asked if they could read it. So I had to tell them I was gay and that it was a gay-themed novel,” he told the Mail.
His family of nephews and nieces were supportive, and now The Heart Entrapped has found a publisher and is on sale via Amazon.
The novel’s main protagonist is Mark Harper,
“a young man doing well in his first year at college, with the option of taking over the family farm ahead of him.
“He is good at sports, popular with his friends, and heady with the joy of being in love for the first time.
“But all is not as idyllically straightforward as it seems. His love is for another man – in an age when same-sex relationships are not generally accepted – and life is about to deliver the cruellest of blows.”
Mr Soper hopes his novel will change perceptions of gay life.
“There is this image of gay people that you see time and time again on the television, as a community that only thinks about sex,” he told the Mail.
“I’m seriously worried the younger generation have forgotten about AIDS.
“My novel looks at a different aspect, at gay men who are in loving, long term relationships.”
To order a copy of The Heart Entrapped click here.