Charley: Hi everyone! Thank you so much for having me, Renae. Haha, sorry about that! If I’d really thought my Romances would be published I would’ve chosen a pen name that was easier to spell. It’s pronounced Des-ka-Toe. I have my love of old-school Romances and my French Canadian heritage to blame. ;)
Renae: Right. Thank you. And sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better, I can tell you I used to work for a company called Yamaatji Marlpa Barna Baba Maaja Aboriginal Corporation. I can pronounce it easily **winks** but it was a bit of a mouthful when you were answering the phone.
Charley: Now THAT is a mouthful! When I first moved to Oregon it was so hard to remember how to say Willamette (the second syllable is stressed wil-Lam-et) and that was embarrassing.
Renae: So congratulations! Happy release day **throws confetti** Today has been the release of your new story, Buchanan House.
Eric Allen, thirty-three-year-old line cook, moved in with his grandmother, Jewell, after a disastrous coming-out when he was in middle school. She raised him, and he cared for her when she fell ill. When Jewell died, she left everything to Eric—angering his parents and older brother. The inheritance isn’t much, but Eric and his bestie, Nathan, pool their money and buy an abandoned hotel on an isolated stretch of the Central Oregon Coast. The hotel isn't far from Lincoln City—a town with its own Pride Festival and named for a president—so they christen it Buchanan House after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” president with the close male friend.
Eric and Nathan need a handyman to help them turn Buchanan House into the gay resort of their dreams. Eric finds Tim Tate in the local listings, and over the months leading to opening weekend, Tim reveals himself as a skilled carpenter with many hidden talents. Eric falls hard for Tim, but before he can see a future with the gorgeous handyman, he has to get over twenty years of being bullied and shamed by his birth family. It would be much easier if Eric’s brother Zach wasn't trying to grab part of the inheritance or ruin opening weekend.
Charley: I’d like to think he was bi, but I’m a little biased that way. As far as I know he never formally came out, so until someone invents a time machine we can only speculate. He was an interesting president, it’s too bad he had to serve right before Lincoln and the Civil War. Timing is important—good ideas ahead of their time don’t always win a lot of friends.
Renae: Do you ever think about your international audience when you write a book? As an Australian author I’m conscious of every single word I write in a book and try to work out if it will translate.
Charley: Interesting question! I live in Northwest Oregon, way up in the Northwest corner of the US. It’s a beautiful area which, for better or worse, a lot of people haven’t seen and know little or nothing about. Because of this, I try to be as descriptive as possible—especially with the “local flavour” bits—so everyone can enjoy the story without being confused. I hope this helps my foreign readers. I love reading books set in places I’ve never been and it would be wonderful if someone read Buchanan House and felt almost like they’d taken a vacation on the Oregon Coast!
Renae: So in this book, Buchanan House, Eric is scorned by his parents when he comes out, but accepted by his grandmother. Was there a reason that his grandmother was so accepting whereas his parents weren’t?
Charley: The details about his grandmother are spoilery—you’ll have to read the book to learn those. But the reaction of his “liberal” parents is taken from my own life. Most of my family always seemed liberal, maybe even open-minded, so when my daughter came out as trans their hostile reaction was a shock to me. They didn’t bully her, that would’ve been going too far, but within a few months they had all disowned me. I’ve heard many authors say they put certain parts of themselves into their characters. I gave poor Eric some of my reactions to being bullied and it was cathartic. Hopefully it makes a good story too.
Renae: And Nathan, Eric’s best friend, is he gay too? Is this why they have decided to open a gay resort?
Charley: Yes, Nathan is flamboyantly, colorfully gay. Eric and Nathan met in middle school because they were both targets for bullies. Their dream back then was to open a B&B. It took them a while but they made that dream come true, even if it’s not exactly as they’d pictured it.
Charley: The camp is old, but it’s not in bad shape. They did have a lot of work to do, but I tried not to make readers slog through it all with them. **grin**
I have a tiny bit of experience with B&Bs. A friend of mine ran one on her property and I helped her with it a few times. Just enough to know that I’m not cut out to make a career of it!
Renae: Do you think there is a need of gay resorts? Is it something that is a viable business? Is it discrimination against the non-gay people?
Charley: I don’t see anything wrong with specialized or themed resorts of any kind, as long as people aren’t turned away if they don’t “measure up.” In an area like the Pacific Northwest, with a high LGBTQ+ population and a thriving tourist industry, I think it could go over well if done right. In the case of Buchanan House the camp isn’t visible from the highway so they wouldn’t get many (if any) drop-ins. That would virtually eliminate any need to turn anyone away. I saw Eric and Nathan advertising at Pride and in gay travel guides, growing their business mostly by word of mouth.
Renae: How much different do you think Eric’s life would’ve been if his parents had not rejected him, but had begrudgingly allowed him to continue to live with them?
Charley: Probably it would have been a lot worse for Eric. As it was, his family was vocal about his “lifestyle choice” but he had his grandmother’s unconditional love to rely on. Without that, he would’ve had a much harder time getting comfortable with his sexuality.
Renae: Tell me about your writing? You write across a variety of genres, different lengths, and also in YA. Is there a niche that you’re most comfortable with?
Charley: Most of my stories are contemporary, and that’s the sub-genre I’m most comfortable with. But I also love reading all kinds of speculative fiction so sometimes those stories come knocking at my door too.
Length is a tricky one. I started many years ago with short stories and still love writing them. I understand that they’re not always emotionally satisfying for readers, though. I love sinking into a world and really getting to know a group of characters and that’s not possible with shorter works. Some stories seem to want to be novellas but I’m taking extra time now to decide whether a story is truly finished or if I can tell a little bit more and give readers a more satisfying experience without that feeling of padding.
Charley: *fingers crossed* I sure hope so, because I wrote his story!
Renae: As an Australian, I have little knowledge of American states, but I had to look up if Oregon had a coast! I didn’t realise **yeah, please don’t laugh too hard at the Aussie** To me Oregon is wagons and snow (I loved the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers which was set in 1850 Oregon **wink**). How do you pick your settings for your book? Do you need to have visited the place?
Charley: Not laughing at all! We Americans have a reputation for not being aces at geography and I have to admit that I wouldn’t get an A+ on a quiz about Australia. Most of what I know about your part of the world is from movies and reading Romances. *grin*
I set my stories in places I love, places that seem almost like characters to me. The greater Portland area is perfect for a writer—we have everything here. If you drive two hours west you’re at the coast, two hours east to the mountains, and in between there are wetlands, forests, small towns, and five-star hotels. I love the whole Pacific Northwest, from Oregon and Washington to British Columbia, there are so many stories here!
Renae: Is there a place you long to set a book in?
Charley: I’d love to set a book somewhere in South America—Brazil or Colombia. Probably because I’ve always wanted to go there. My wish list would also include Japan, Australia, France and the UK—heck, I want to travel everywhere and then write a book set there! **grin**
Renae: What are you writing now?
Charley: I’m busy with edits for two stories so I haven’t been writing as much as usual. This year I’ll have a standalone Christmas story with Dreamspinner, Cascades. Right now I’m beginning edits and waiting for cover art. I love stories of second chances and guys who don’t usually appear in M/M Romances (like silver foxes!) and JB and Doug qualify on both counts!
Renae: Where can people contact you?
Charley: I hang out in all the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and the prettiest timesink on the internet--Pinterest. Rattle my cages anytime! **grin**
Renae: Thanks for coming along and meeting with me today. It’s been wonderful having you visit. Congrats once again on the release, and I hope it does fabulously for you.
Charley: Thanks so much for having me, Renae!