Releasing on the 14th of February - join Avery and Christopher for some fun!
Twenty-two-year-old Avery Stewart has a crush on his neighbour. Always attracted to older men, Avery is tantalised by Mr Redding's professorial looks and obvious obsession with perfection.
When he finally gets the courage to speak to Christopher Redding, Avery manages to get invited back that evening on the pretext of bringing a cake for Christopher's birthday. But things don't work out how Avery had planned, and he finds himself sent home with the cake and without any intimacy.
Christopher is everything Avery has ever desired—older, self-assured, dominant, and intelligent. Avery needs someone in his life to take charge—in and out of the bedroom. He wants Christopher to be that man. However, Avery must first convince Christopher to take a chance on him.
Buy links coming soon.
I’ve always been a supporter of the underdog. At school if there was someone new to the school, I would go over and talk to them. It’s hard to be the outsider. I’ve never really cared about popularity contests – I was happy to be happy with the kids the “cool kids” rejected. My social group was made up of a lot of ethnic minorities, disabled and (although I didn’t realise it at the time) LGBT kids. I think I preferred it, as the “cool kids” often rejected people based on their looks and never bothered to sit down and ask people about their lives.
As an adult I find I still have the same habits. Instead of joining in the conversation of the “cool mums” about the latest episode of some TV program they watched during the day, I often find myself in conversation with the minorities. Last week I chatted to a mum about her child who has cerebral palsy and the difficulties she has. The week before that were an elderly couple who had just immigrated from overseas and were picking up their granddaughter. I make it my mission to go out of my way to speak to the mum in the full Muslim dress, or the granddad who tells me in broken English he was born in the Torres Strait islands region.
I’m an example of the adage, if you don’t like what you’re reading, go out and write the book yourself. I have blogged about my writing roots many times. It started back in 2012 when I was reading M/M Romance and not finding what I wanted. There were some great books out there – but not a complete and true reflection of what I thought the LGBT community looked like. After reading my umpteenth novel about two alpha-gay-guys who look and act straight, I decided to write my own. Not because that story was wrong, but because I felt there was an under-representation of certain people in our society. In this case – femme twinks who were out, and proud to look and act gay.
I started Loving Jay in April 2013. I hasten to add that writing the book was solely for me. I had no thoughts at all of publishing it. Before 2014, M/M Romance was growing but there were a lot less books and authors around – and I was struggling to find more than a handful that featured the types of LGBT men who were my friends. There has been an explosion in M/M Romance now, and you can find all types.
But still, a lot of my book ideas came from those dark corners of society where other authors weren’t going. I was happy to lurk and talk to these fringe dwellers and ask their stories. My stories concentrate on the minorities within the minorities – and despite what people may think, I do my research and I seek out the words and feelings of these people before I write.
The Blinding Light is about a man who is both gay and disabled – a minority within the minority. Disabled people can be gay, and gay people can be disabled. The Shearing Gun is about a farmer who is gay – something that is seldom talked about. You Are the Reason focuses on a character who cross-dresses – another minority group out there that rarely gets a voice. Safe in His Arms features a man who was sexually abused as a child. Safe in His Heart features a man who is both Christian and gay – and is happy in this world. Don’t Twunk With My Heart features domestic violence within a same-sex relationship. I don’t pick the popular, “normal” characters you often find in M/M Romance. I like to champion the under-represented. Mostly because I believe they deserve their HEA as much as the next guy.
The Straight Boyfriend features another of these minorities – those people who don’t neatly fit into the preconceived idea that all people must fit one of the labels: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex, asexual. There is another label on this spectrum – it’s a Q and many people say it stands for “questioning.” I like that. I like when people don’t just take the information someone gives them and never questions it. There are a LOT of people out there who are questioning the label they’ve assigned to themselves previously. And not JUST young people. I know of people in their 40s and 50s who are Q=questioning.
Despite the outrage some people may feel (“Of course he’s bi – why didn’t he just admit it?”) you have to maybe take a step back and ask why must he assign a label to himself? Why must a fictional character in the book be a reflection of “this”? (*draws a box with her hands to indicate the boundaries*). Aaron is actually a reflection of that person over there (*points to the shadowy figure lurking on the outskirts of what people think of as the LGBTQIA spectrum*)
Do you think that a book about a gay man means that every other sexuality on the spectrum doesn’t exist? I actively seek out the people who feel under-represented in the genre and I write about them. I make no apologies for that, no matter how loudly the “cool crowd” want to yell that my character is not a true reflection of them. I’m happy about that. I don’t want to write about the “in” thing.
Without fail, after writing every single novel I have released, I have received at least one message from a reader that says “THANK YOU for writing MY story.” There’s the email I received from a crying reader who thanked me for writing Casey who had been sexually abused as a child and was still working on the emotional issues for that. There’s the email I received from Australia guy who asked me if I was stalking him, because my character of Quackle was so much like him and followed his life story (even down to the sexy shearer boyfriend) – but the only thing I’d gotten wrong was that he was nurse, not a doctor. There’s the message I got from a reader whose parent is blind, the one from the Catholic lesbian, and the one who said that he must’ve modelled for Shawn.
And the numerous messages I’ve received about The Straight Boyfriend from readers who said, “Thank you – I don’t like labels either.”
Story from Reader “A” as sent to me:
First I want to applaud your courage is allowing Aaron to stay true to his own identity. I know that there are those who won't agree with me (and that's fine), it's likely because I have a different view point than they do. To understand where I'm coming from I need to tell you a story that starts 22 years ago.
My first year of college I met Ryan who would quickly become my best friend. He is the opposite of every gay stereotype, but very much gay and very out about it. He became a part of my college group of friends (we were all studying criminal justice), and another person in that group was a guy named Tyler. Ryan and Tyler soon became very good friends, and while Tyler was straight, he had no issues with Ryan's orientation, and we quickly became the three musketeers spending almost all of our time on campus together.
Over the course of our first year together, Ryan and Tyler became even closer, and being as close as I was to both of them, I noticed the change in their relationship. Because I was Tyler's closest friend (aside from Ryan) I'm the one he came to when he was confused and honestly scared of the feelings he was developing for Ryan. I see a lot of Tyler's struggles with his identity in Aaron's story. I will admit that I personally am not a fan of labels, especially when other people apply them to someone else. Even as much as Tyler shared with me of his feelings and what he was going through, I wasn't him, I didn't live in his mind or body so I could feel what he was feeling or live the struggle he was he dealing with between his heart and his mind. What it came down to is Tyler still felt straight, was still sexually attracted to only women, with the exception that he was in love with Ryan, and in being in love with Ryan allowed him to express those feelings in a sexually intimate way.
To this day 21 years later Tyler identifies as straight and openly says "I'm straight, I just happened to fall in love with a man". Ryan and Tyler have been together for 21 years and we're finally able to marry 18 months ago.
It takes great courage in my mind to stick up for what you believe and for your own identity. I am sure that there are those who will read your story and scream about it erasing bisexuality, however what they fail to take into account is that by doing so they are also erasing someone else's identity. NO ONE gets to decide what label applies to someone else, and attempting to force a label onto someone who doesn't identify that way is much more of an eraser than someone believing that someone else's identity affects theirs.
Really all I wanted to say was thank you for your story (which yes I will be buying a copy of for my friend Ryan and Tyler) because while the setting, time frame and family reactions were different, you essentially told my friends’ love story to the world, and honestly it's a beautiful gift that I can give them.
Who spotted the cameo appearance in my new release?
The first four M/M novels I ever wrote – Loving Jay, The Blinding Light, The Shearing Gun and Safe in His Arms – were all written before my first book was ever published. They were written as stand-alone books because when I’d finished their HEAs, I was ready to move on to another story.
Then came Shawn’s Law and people started asking me “When is the next book coming out in this series?” or “When do we get Such-and-such’s story?”
I was surprised, because none of the secondary characters in my books were ever meant to have stories of their own. None of my books were meant to be series. It was only when the readers began asking (and not just once or twice) about secondary characters that I thought to pick up my pen and write about them.
All of my subsequent novels have been because readers asked for them – You Are the Reason, Safe in His Heart, Don’t Twunk With My Heart and The Straight Boyfriend. All written because of reader request.
When writing Shawn’s Law I was writing a scene where Shawn’s in the hospital (again) and Harley runs into trouble with a male nurse. I’d just finished writing a story with a secondary character who was (in my mind although not on the page) a male nurse. So I just slipped in the physical description of Paul. In Shawn’s Law Harley calls him “Steroidal Man” because he’s so pumped. But it’s definitely Paul who appears as Lon’s best friend in Safe #1 and then gets his own HEA in Safe #2. It was fun to slip him in there.
Perth is a small and isolated city. With a population of two million people, there are jokes that everyone knows everyone else… and it happens too often for me to discount. You meet someone and if you search long enough you’ll have a link. (Just to prove it? My husband’s best friend married the sister of my mum’s first husband’s aunt’s grandson’s wife. Figure that.) So it is more than possible that my characters, who mostly live in Perth, would bump into each other.
So I wrote a few more “cameo characters” in when writing Don’t Twunk With My Heart. Obviously, being the second book in the series you see a lot of people from the first book, but I also wrote in two other characters from other series. Did you spot them?
Paul pops up again as a nurse that helps Kee out after his assault. And did anyone notice that Kee and Davo work for the same company? Kee refers to Davo – not by name, but that there’s other LGBT guys that work for the company, even a salesman up in the office.
That brings me to my new release: The Straight Boyfriend.
So, which of my eagle-eyed readers picked up on another character in The Straight Boyfriend?
Hint: He’s mentioned in the epilogue and sells an apple tree to Aaron and Vinnie.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may know that I have chooks (chickens/hens to non-Australians). I enjoy my veggie gardening and have 5 backyard chooks who provide me with eggs, fertilise the plants, and eat snails.
I love my chookies, which is why I wanted to share my excitement with you. But first a little background for those who don’t know anything about keeping chooks.
Most hens sold for backyard keeping purposes are specially bred species that are robust and strong layers. They are not always “meat birds” so can be quite thin and not suitable for a large Sunday roast (if that’s your thing.) They are bred to give a high volume of eggs.
Most breeds start laying somewhere around the 24-26 week mark – so they’re about 6 months old when they start producing eggs. They will go on to produce close to one egg a day for the next 2 years. I find that my chooks lay around 340 eggs a year – each!
As a hen grows older, this rate of production drops off. By how much and when depends on the breed and on individual animals. Diet and living conditions can help boost production, but once a hen is about three or four, she will probably be laying between 2-5 eggs a week. If she lives in a commercial operation, this is unacceptable and usually these hens are destroyed to make way for newer hens that will produce. Backyard chooks are sometimes kept long beyond their egg-laying years as they are pets. A hen may live up to 10 years old, but she probably won’t lay for the last 3-5 years.
Other things that affect egg production is if a chook is going through a moult (where they lose their feathers and new ones grow – the body’s energy goes to growing feathers instead of eggs), and egg production also drops off during winter. Commercial egg industries have a downturn in production over winter. Some hens lay fewer eggs, while some hens can take a break from laying completely, which will pick back up in the spring.
So now you know all about chooks, I’ll tell you my story.
In January 2014 I was given three chooks. They were third-hand. The woman who gave them to me had kept them for 18-months. When I asked her how old they were, she said she didn’t know as she’d got them from her brother who had to give them away when he and his wife split and sold their house. He’d had them at least a year, she said. She didn’t know where they’d come from.
My chooks happily laid about 16-18 eggs a week for me for a year until one died. As we are a family of four, we decided to purchase some new hens because we weren’t getting enough eggs from two, and in June 2015 we brought 3 new hens who were about 15 weeks old. Since my three new chooks started laying, they’ve basically given me an egg a day each and have been going great. These past four months I’ve noticed the eggs have progressed from a small size, to a now large egg.
But suddenly at the beginning of winter (June 2016), my two older hens stopped laying completely. The previous winter they’d had a drop in egg production but had laid throughout the cold months. I checked them for illnesses, wormed them, fed them high quality food… but they didn’t lay. Figuring they are about 6 years old, I’ve wondered if they’ve come to the end of their cycle. Throughout this winter I’ve consistently received 3 eggs a day from the younger chooks, but not a single egg from the older ones.
Three weeks ago, I had a surprise! FOUR eggs in the nest when I went to collect them. Checking back on the eggs laid in the preceding days, I could pick she had laid at least one other egg (as it is a slightly darker colour and softer shelled). I hadn’t seen it as the kids had collected the eggs. Over the next week she then laid about every 2-3 days.
For the past 8 days I’ve received four eggs daily – making me wonder if she was laying daily, or whether her sister had begun production too. Then today:
Forgive the poo visible in the nest. It’s a fact that they sometimes poo there. But WOW – I’m so excited! So now all five of my chooks are laying. I’m assuming I will now be receiving close to 30 eggs a week from them for the next 8 months.
So I’m giddy with happiness today that my chookies are all well and content to be laying.
Okay. I'm going to stop gushing about my chooks now and go back to writing.
Well, the release of Don't Twunk With My Heart is just around the corner. I'm excited and nervous and wish it was all over. But we have two more days to get through for Kee & Tate. Their story will be out on Friday.
29. The night of your 21st birthday
Kee: Actually, I don’t think I remember. It’s pretty indistinguishable from basically every other party night I had. I probably went to the clubs with my friends. I probably picked up a cute guy. I probably got pretty drunk.
I do, however, remember the night of Vinnie’s 25th birthday. Vinnie wore some red shorts, and not much else. Jamie had a choc cock cake. And me? Well, I went home with the cutest guy in the joint. Not my usual style of guy, but hey – things worked out pretty well.
Tate: *laughs* I remember the night of Vinnie’s 25th too. This guy I’d never seen before came out of nowhere and challenged me to a dance-off. I still don’t know who won that round.
Kee: Me, of course.
I've been trying not to think about it - but release day is on my doorstep. I hope you guys can't wait for Friday!
27. What you wore today
Tate: Oh, my God. I’m so glad you asked. Stop groaning over there, Kee. Renae noticed my shirt. It’s new in. It’s from Paul and Shark, only $299, and I adore the striping. It’s got the pointed collar that is buttoned down. It’s important to keep this done up, or it destroys the line. But the striping on the shirt is going to be so good for summer. Most choose to wear this shirt with dark pants or jeans, but look! It’s got orange, pink, green, purple, yellow, and light blue on the stripes. If you pick up a pair of Gant light blue chinos, it’s going to go superb. But with white pants, it’s going to rock the house.
We have some great other choices too. I’m eyeing off the Hackett London shorts in pink, and I’m hoping Gant bring in some bold oranges this coming season. It would be--
Kee: I wore jeans. And a grey T-shirt.
Sometimes things just need to be said.