When Griffin Gago admitted to Charlie Hess that he still hadn’t learned to drive at the age of seventeen, Charlie didn’t laugh or tease him. He only placed his hand on Griffin’s shoulder – gently, warmly – and asked him if he wanted to.
That was the start of the night rides.

When I started the Big Gay Universe blog this past summer, I wanted to spend some of my spare time chronicling the queer stories that stepped across my path. Those moments in TV, film, music, video games, and beyond that were made for us, by us, or with us. Queer romance, queer life, queer fun. Those moments that capture, in whatever small way, the sublime.

I also wanted to make my own contributions to the big, beautiful tapestry of queer art that exists throughout the world. There are so, so many stories to tell. Night Rides is one of them.

A shot taken from the backseat of a car at night. Two late-teen boys sit in the front. The dashboard is illuminated in, casting blue and orange light throughout the interior. The night sky sparkles through the windshield. The title reads: Night Rides, in neon letters. Travis Brightfield is written at the bottom in the same large, neon font..
The cover of Night Rides – a gay slice-of-life romance novella by Travis Brightfield (aka TJ!)

Night Rides is my first book. Well, a novella, really – about two boys at the end of high school finding themselves and each other at just the right time.

It’s a story about learning, and sharing, and the way that queer stories can act as a lifeline and a codex. It’s about language, and how art can sometimes communicate with such urgency and meaning that it makes words feel flat in comparison.

He wondered if Charlie’s mind would race at the unspoken whispers between the lines like his had.

I didn’t set out to write Night Rides initially. I’d been working on another story with some similar elements, at least on the surface: Doom Drive – a story about two boys on a road trip at the end of the world, searching for the last few beautiful places left.

I was enjoying the writing, but I found myself getting wrapped up in bringing a post-apocalyptic world to life. I was focused on plotting and world building, and creeping away from what I’d really wanted to do: a tight, character-focused story about the closeness of cramped spaces (a vehicle) and mutual support budding into romance.

I took a break from Doom Drive to key-in on that, and Night Rides is what came out. A contemporary setting and two boys brought together by dual forces: an offer to teach late-night driving lessons (the vehicle), and a random pairing on an English project exploring literary romance (the bud).

Griffin closed his eyes and took a moment. He recalled the feeling of tenderness he’d felt as Charlie touched his chest for those brief moments. He committed it to memory.

I couldn’t be happier with the result. Night Rides is a true labor of love – I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Grab Night Rides for free (or pay what you want!) on Gumroad.

Get Night Rides

Oh, and Doom Drive? That’s still in the works! Night Rides was the perfect reset button – and I think Doom Drive is going to be better than ever. So if the Big Gay Apocalypse is your thing, feel free to subscribe and I’ll let you know when it’s released!

And if you're still reading, I'll share a little preview of what's to come after Night Rides...

A shot taken from the driver's side of a car. The door is open, showing two late-teen boys in the front again. One of them holds a DSLR camera in their lap. This time the sky is  a hazy purple approaching Dusk. The title reads: Night Rides II: The Movie, in the same neon on font as before. Travis Brightfield is written at the bottom.
The cover of Night Rides II: The Movie by Travis Brightfield, a forthcoming (very gay 🤗) sequel!

Subscribe above and I'll send it your way once it's finished 💗