Yes – THE Mr. Sean Kennedy.
If you haven’t read a Sean Kennedy book, WHY THE HELL NOT? LOL. No – seriously. If you like the writings of Renae Kaye, then you need to be grateful for the writings of Sean Kennedy.
Why? you ask?
<sigh> I’m embarrassing myself here in front of my hero (because Sean is going to read this) but once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I started reading MM. I picked up stories from here and there, and then stumbled across Tigers and Devils. I remember the picture jumping out at me first, as I thought to myself, “That’s like an Australian footy ground.” Then I read the blurb.
Imagine if you were in the middle of Cambodia and no one is speaking English to you. Then suddenly you hear, “Hello – can I help you?”
This was a book set in MY country and you can bet your arse I one-clicked that baby. And I loved the story. Not because it was set in Australia (which was great by the way), but because it was a fantastic story.
Fast forward about 12 months, and I had this crazy idea of writing my own MM story. The devil on my shoulder told me I couldn’t do it – who wants to read Australian? But the knowledge that Sean Kennedy had not only written an MM novel set in Australia, but had been published and had been bloody successful with it, gave me the courage to try.
Therefore I will have to say, that without Sean, there would be no Renae Kaye.
Now, so that you can actually read what Sean has to say, (not just the mumblings of a fan-girl), I will start the interview.
Everyone – welcome SEAN KENNEDY.... **applause**
Sean: That was quite an intro. And it astounded me. When you write, you don’t really think of how it could affect other people. I mean, I have writing heroes and I laugh myself silly at the thought I could have inspired anybody in any way. People are going to think I’ve made you up to make me look good.
Renae: LOL. Nah – you’ve made yourself great by writing great stories. So thank you for coming and talking with me today. For anyone who’s been living under a rock, I’ll quickly explain that Sean has just released the third book in his series of Tigers and Devils. The series follows the highs and lows of Declan (a professional Aussie Rules football player) and Simon (an arty wanker). Here is the blurb for this latest instalment, Tigers on the Run.
Young Australian Micah Johnson is the first AFL player to be out at the beginning of his career. Retired professional football player Declan Tyler mentors Micah, but he finds it difficult, as Micah is prone to making poor life choices that land him in trouble. Nothing Dec can’t handle. He’s been there, done that, more times than he’d like to admit. Being Simon Murray’s partner all these years has Dec quite experienced in long-suffering and mishaps.
As usual, Simon thinks everything is going along just fine until his assistant, Coby, tells him a secret involving an old nemesis. Simon and Dec’s problems mash together, and to solve them, they must undertake a thousand-kilometer round trip in which issues will have to be sorted out, apologies are finally given, and a runaway kid is retrieved and returned to his worried parents.
Sean: I was down in the dumps about reading gay fiction that always seemed to have a depressing ending. It seemed like happy endings were only in YA books. And, of course, Australian gay fiction? Well, most of it was depressing as well. Brilliant, but depressing. I wanted a happy ending. I wanted something set somewhere I knew. I didn’t know if there were any others out there so I really quite egotistically thought I’d have to write it myself. And they say write what you know. So, Melbourne. And football. My two latest loves, and having been recently transplanted from Melbourne back to Perth I was missing them both terribly. So Simon and Dec were born.
Renae: Did you have any idea when you first started writing the book, that it would become so successful? Did you write it and go, “Yep – this one has it!”
Sean: Hahahahahahaha, no. Completely written in a bubble. Didn’t even think it would see the light of day.
Renae: And we are so humbly glad that it did see the light of day. So are you an avid football fan yourself? Being born in Melbourne, I’m guessing that you can’t be anything else.
Sean: I made the cardinal sin of making my character like the same football team I do. I guess it was funny to me because the Tigers haven’t won a grand final in decades and have gotten a reputation of being adorably woeful. It kind of suited Simon, who thinks he’s the perpetual underdog as well.
Renae: **I won’t tell Sean that I’m a Dockers fan and I can sympathise** **Oh, shit – he gets to read these comments doesn’t he?** **Stop thinking, Renae**
Moving on, I know there is a lot of love around the place for Declan and Simon. When you wrote the first story, did you have the idea for the second story? Or did that come later?
Sean: Nope. I thought Tigers would be completely stand alone, and that I would never return to them. And they could have been left there. But Simon never left me. And it wasn’t until bits and pieces he was telling me could form together to make a new story.
Renae: I know exactly how you feel. And now you’ve written #3. Congratulations. Now, I haven’t read it yet - don’t spoil it for me! – but I read a review on it that seems to suggest that there will be a #4? Yes???
Sean: Having written #3, some events have been suggested that show it continuing. I already have ideas for #4 and #5. And then that might be it, except for short stories. As much as I could write them forever, sometimes it’s better to stop it before they’re amateur sleuths solving murders in their retirement village.
The story of Tigers on the Run mentions Micah – a footballer out at the BEGINNING of his AFL career. That must be hard for Declan. Does he wish that he had started his career out?
Sean: I think Dec has a very zen approach to things sometimes. It was what it was. If he’d been out from the beginning of his career, he might never have met Simon. Or had Abe as a best friend. His life might be very different to what it is now. And as he is so happy with the life that he has, he thinks everything happened the way it did to get him there. But that’s why he wants to help Micah so much. He wants it to be easier for Micah than it was for him, and for Micah to then make it easier for the next gay player to come after him.
Renae: What about in real life – do you think the AFL does enough to welcome players that are gay? Do you think it would be hard for an AFL player today to start his career out?
Sean: I think they could do a lot more. Just like they could do a lot more with combatting racism. After the whole Nicky Winmar “black and proud” incident they kind of let themselves believe that racism amongst fans and on the field was a thing of the past. Then the whole Adam Goodes thing happened. Some people believe sledging is just a part of the game, and that you can use whatever weapon you can against the player. Of course, these are the same people who are part of the majority and don’t know what it’s like to be slurred. But that being said, I don’t really think it is the players who are the problem. It’s the fans. However, there still might be some of the old guard who show discomfort. You only have to look at dinosaurs like Jason Akermanis who said he’d be uncomfortable showering with gay team mates. That would give any closeted gay player sober pause.
Renae: **sighs loudly** Amen. You really just want to bang some heads together sometimes. When I read the blurb to this story, my first thought was, “Road trip!” Tell us, have you taken this trip yourself?
Sean: Not this specific one, no. But I love road trips, which can often be gruelling for my passengers as I have no sense of direction and can often end up taking the most circuitous route possible.
Sean: No, I think they come pretty naturally. And I haven’t ever removed any. That might make international readers a bit confused, but hey, I’m used to googling things when reading books for context. Especially those Norwegian thrillers.
Renae: Is there anything particularly Aussie that happens in this story?
Sean: Some lighthearted ribbing of New Zealanders and sheep? Oh, and an implication that Declan had a run in with Kochie in the past but thinks highly of Andrew O’Keefe.
Renae: **encourages non-Australians to google those things because they make perfect sense to me**
If gay marriage is ever legalised in Australia (God, I hope so!) do you think you will be writing a wedding story for these two?
Sean: I have no idea. They would be married, but I’m not sure if I’d actually write the wedding itself. After three books and no sign of it, I think if you did finally write something it might seem anti-climactic.
Renae: **Thinks Sean is fooling himself** **Shit! Must stop thinking, because he DOES get to read these comments**
There are a lot of relationships that are brought up in the stories (I won’t make any spoiler comments as to who), so do you think you would ever write a spin-off type book, picking up on one of these relationships?
Sean: Well, there will be a Micah book coming out next year. But that is more of an offshoot based around some of the GetOut kids, being released through Harmony Ink, Dreamspinner’s YA imprint.
Renae: **Gasp** YESSSSS!! One of things I love the most about your books, are the snark and witty remarks. Are you like that in real life? (Should this fellow-Perthian be scared?)
Sean: I’m afraid so. I often get told off for my snark. My sister once said I was Simon except he was more optimistic. Which was saying something.
Renae: LMAO! Oh, dear. So what are you working on now?
Sean: Micah’s second book. Because it picks up straight after the first ends, I’m dying to find out what happens to him. After that, I’m not sure yet.
Sean: I can be summoned directly if people speak my secret name three times… oh, wait. You mean Facebook and such?
Twitter is the best bet. It’s where I hang the most. I’m not that great a journaller or Facebooker-er.
Renae: Thank you ever so much for chatting with me. (Phew I made it!) Congratulations on the release and I hope it does fantastically.
Sean: Thank you so much, fellow Perthian! See you down at the Swan River and we’ll have a spearmint thickshake!
Renae: Deal! **Must tweet Sean and arrange a time** **Shit! He’s STILL reading these comments**