Before we get started, I want to thank you, Dawn, for agreeing to be a stop on my blog tour. I’m excited to be here. I also really love what you’ve done with the décor. You have so many truly sinspirational photos of men throughout this place. If a few of them are missing when I leave, it certainly won’t be because I have taken them. J
To get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
I would love to! My current release is a dystopian novel titled Moral Authority. It’s a little something I worked on when I asked myself what would happen if the moral majority got everything they wanted.
What if in the future morality became defined for all?
I know. Pretty scary stuff, right? But the idea made for an interesting plot bunny.
So I basically started defining morality as the moral majority might have seen it. If they saw something as wrong, then it was immoral and in this new America I had created, it then became illegal.
For example, the moral majority doesn’t care much for homosexuals. They are often seen as a perversion. Therefore, being gay was not only immoral but also illegal in my futuristic America.
I didn’t stop there. Promiscuity is often looked down upon, so any sexual activity outside of marriage became immoral and illegal. In fact, anything that didn’t preserve the traditional family unit was outlawed, such as divorce.
So as you can see, the government literally takes over our lives. It tells us what we can and can’t do. When that happens, when freedoms are restricted instead of broadened and when subjective terms become defined for all, the America we know disappears.
And in this America, my three characters—Mark, Isaac, and Samuel—take three very different journeys. One is a victim, one is a rebel, and the other is the tyrant intent on maintaining control.
How would you describe yourself using only five words?
Ooh. Only five? I’m usually pretty wordy, as you can tell. This will be a challenge.
Okay, I got it!
I’m silly, stubborn, smart, and sinfully charming. I also apparently like alliteration! J
How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
I dance naked outside in my backyard to “It’s Raining Men.” There’s something about those lyrics that inspires me. Who doesn’t love to think about men who are “tall, dark, blonde, and lean, rough and tough and strong and mean”? It really gets my creative, um, juices flowing. Don’t worry though. I have a privacy fence, so the neighbors are safe. If they peek over the fence though, they better not complain and just enjoy the show. It’s my backyard after all.
If someone hasn't read any of your work, what book would you recommend that they start with and why?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve never thought of that before. I’d have to recommend that they start with The Gifted One first. Why? Even though it is a paranormal romance, it follows more of the traditional rules of romance that readers love. Matt is in danger from the demons that want to kill him, and his guardian angel, Gabriel, protects him from that evil. But Matt and Gabriel have fallen in love with each other. Their love breaks divine law, and they are also in danger from the angels that want to keep them from being together. It’s a touching story about the power of love, and how it can definitely realign the heavens.
Where do you find the inspirations for your stories?
I don’t have a pat answer for this one. Inspiration truly strikes on a whim. I got the idea for Moral Authority during a final exam. While my students were writing their essays, I pondered the idea of prescribed morality. The Gifted One actually was inspired by a nightmare I had about a door. There was something evil on the other side that wanted to get in. I tried to keep it out, but I was failing. Then this light appeared from nowhere, and the door and whatever waited on the other side disappeared. When I woke up, I asked myself: what was on the other side? Why was it trying to kill me, and just who brought the light? Those answers turned into The Gifted One. For 3, which is an m/m/m novel, the plot bunny actually hopped into my life on one of our visits to Provincetown, Massachusetts. My husband and I ran into a trio, and I asked myself: how did these three men decide to be in a relationship together?
So as you can see, I’m truly at the mercy of my plot bunnies. Once they present themselves, I go with the flow and let my muse take it from there.
Are your characters able to love or do they need to be taught?
I’d say that most of my characters are able to love. They just need to be taught how to work past their fears of being in love. I think a lot of people are that way. Love, though great, can be terrifying. It makes you quite vulnerable, and vulnerability is a tricky concept. Most of us grow accustomed to taking care of ourselves and being independent. When you fall in love though, you have to actually think about the other person. It’s not that you or your needs become less important, but that the other person in your life means so much to you that their needs become just as important as your own. Trying to balance that can be difficult for some people and some characters.
Then, there are those characters that are afraid to love again because they have been hurt in the past. How many of us have been gun shy after a bad experience? That’s also a place where some of my characters come from. They’ve been hurt before, and they don’t trust that this new person won’t do the same thing.
Learning to be vulnerable is typically the issue my characters struggle with, and I think it’s something that many of us try to cope with in our everyday lives.
What is coming up from you in 2013? Anything you want to tease us with?
I’m pretty excited about my Provincetown Series. The first book, When Love Takes Over, is slated for release in August/September, and the novella spin off from that book Chasing the Sun is coming out in October/November. The other two books in the series will be out in 2014.
One of the reasons I’m so excited about this series is that I absolutely love Provincetown. My husband and I vacation there every summer, and I wanted to write a series that captures the essence of Provincetown. It’s a beautiful locale with an eclectic cast of characters that truly make it a unique setting. It is a wonderfully romantic place to fall in love, but the carefree lifestyle upon the Cape can also lead to stumbling blocks on the path to happily ever after. The town is an important character in the books, just as much as the people who visit and live there.
In the first book, struggling author Zach flees to Provincetown to escape a painful break up. He’s searching to understand why his relationship ended and why he can’t seem to find his writing voice. The last thing he’s looking for is love. What he finds, however, is Van, a gay porn star who enjoys his carefree life. The two of them have no desire to give into what they feel, but once Provincetown casts its spell, love takes over.
Thanks again for having me here, Dawn, I truly appreciate it. I have included a blurb and an excerpt below. Additionally, as part of my blog tour I’m holding a contest. All you have to do is leave a comment to this post, and your name is entered to win a free copy of Moral Authority. If a reader happens to follow all my blog stops, then she or he can leave a comment at the other sites a well. This means that someone could enter 7 times for a chance to win the book. At the end of the tour, a winner will be chosen and announced.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are prescribed ideals in America of 2050. The Moral Authority, the nation’s newest branch of government, has virtually eliminated crime, poverty, and most social ills, but it also rules the land with a tyrannical fist, championing ignorance and brandishing fear.
Mark Bryan is a gay man whose existence brands him an outlaw; Isaac Montoya is a charming stranger, who entices Mark to defy moral law; and Samuel Pleasant runs the Moral Authority and plans to punish moral offenders and a rebellious uprising—no matter the cost.
Will liberty and justice return for all?
Contemporary Gay Fiction
As Mark drew closer to the Starbucks on 14th and Lavaca, dread once again crept along his spine like an army of spiders.
Moral code posters were everywhere. On every building wall or storefront display. All lampposts, trash cans, street signs, and mailboxes supported the same gruesome image of Uncle Sam.
Saggy, aged flesh framed a smile that radiated no warmth. His cold blue eyes looked more akin to sharks’ than humans’. Uncle Sam’s gaze pierced through flesh and peered into the soul, looking for the immorality hidden within as easily as a shark detected a drop of blood within the ocean. His demeanor was that of a top-tier predator, and his pointing finger was not only accusatory but also a sign that you might be his next prey.
As a child, he’d never understood why all the adults, his mother included, praised Uncle Sam so much or even why they referred to him as an uncle. No sense of family attachment connected him to the man with a crooked smile, who commanded moral obedience in the advertisements all around him. In fact, Uncle Sam was the subject of many of Mark’s childhood nightmares. In them, Uncle Sam entered his room, his finger pointing at him like a loaded gun and his smile hitched up at the right corner of his face. He hovered over Mark’s bed like a specter. And then it would happen.
In his dreams, Uncle Sam unhinged his lower jaw and turned into a human vacuum, sucking up everything that was distasteful inside his bloating body. Hamburgers, hotdogs, and candy flew from under Mark’s bed and disappeared within the gaping void of Uncle Sam’s mouth. Eventually, no matter how tightly he gripped onto his headboard, Mark soared through the air, straight for Uncle Sam’s yawning maw.
The memory of those dreams caused Mark to shiver even though the oppressive Texas sun beat down upon him. Walking past all these posters unnerved him as if he had been transported inside a nightmarish dreamscape where escaping Uncle Sam was impossible.
Uncle Sam’s eyes and smile lined the street in almost every direction, berating all who looked upon him into submission.
“Wonderful day today,” another government employee said to Mark as Mark walked by. He nodded in agreement, even though he disagreed. His day was wonderful until Uncle Sam ruined it.
REMEMBER THE MORAL CODE OF CARE. EAT RESPONSIBLY was now posted on the wall of what used to be Dan’s Liquor Store. It was now one of many health food shops where citizens purchased the food needed for their daily allowance.
Uncle Sam was obviously expressing his displeasure at Mark’s desire for a Frappuccino. That didn’t stop a sense of vindication from washing over him as he drew closer to the Starbucks.
MORAL CITIZENS ARE GOOD CITIZENS.
THE ROAD TO MORALITY IS PAVED WITH MODERATION.
THE MORAL LAW OF RESPECT KEEPS CITIZENS HAPPY.
MORALITY IS NOT AN OPTION.
BEING MORAL IS BEING AMERICAN.
Finally, Mark reached the front door of Starbucks. Once inside, he would be out of Uncle Sam’s line of sight. Before going in, however, he took one look back at the posters. Dozens of pairs of Uncle Sam eyeballs stared back, boring into his being and condemning him simply for existing.
Yeah, well, fuck you too, Mark said within the safety of his own thoughts. He then entered Starbucks and slammed the door shut behind him.
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