Louise Lyons is here today talking about her new release, Conflicted, from Dreamspinner Press! Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a $10 Amazon Gift Card!
Hello Louise! Welcome to my blog and thank you for answering my
nosy discerning, questions! First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?
Well, I’m over 40, single, and I have a day job in the insurance industry. I have a lot of hobbies, including long distance running, cycling, cross stitch needlework, hiking and camping, and maintaining my own car and motorcycle. I’m a bit of a tomboy and I’m not afraid of hard work, or getting my hands dirty. I like my own company and I often find it difficult to make friends, mainly because I like being on my own a little too much! But I’ve met some lovely people through my writing and am developing some great friendships.
I often have an angsty theme running through my stories. I do like to torment my poor characters and give them struggles to cope with, but there’s always a happy ending eventually! I don’t stick to just one genre within M/M romance though. Although there’s often angst, I write contemporary, coming of age and supernatural themes. I would quite like to include an historical theme in a future story as well – although I’m sure there would be plenty of pain and suffering in that as well!
I do think that many writers prefer solitary pursuits. You sound like me in terms of story-telling–one genre simply isn’t enough! What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?
I grew up close to the fishing port of Grimsby, on the east coast of the UK. It’s not the nicest town in the world, ha-ha! I lived in a village though, so it wasn’t all bad. I left in 2006, spent 4 years in a similar industrial town and then in 2010 I moved to a small market town just outside the city of Peterborough, which is about an hour north of London. I love where I live now – it’s practically in the country, so there are quiet lanes and fields right on my doorstep. Just what I need, as I enjoy running so much.
I had the opportunity to travel to the UK for the first time a few years ago, but I’ve been an Anglophile most of my reading life. I spent most of my time in Sussex, but I did get as far north as Oxford. Lovely country. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?
I spent a few years writing Fan Fiction, and when I posted my very first M/M romance, I was surprised and delighted by the number of positive comments I received. I think I posted about 25 – 30 stories over the space of 3 or 4 years and I built up a significant following during that time. Some of my readers suggested I tried to get published and at first I just thought “maybe one day”, but in the end I thought about it properly. I was already writing and people from all over the world were reading and giving me their opinion, so I decided, I already had a great launching pad and just needed to push myself to see if a publisher thought my writing was any good, the way my “fans” seemed to think it was.
I took the plunge and actually submitted another story before Conflicted, but it had a theme in it which was thought to be a possible turn-off to some readers (infidelity). The story was put on the backburner and Dreamspinner Press suggested I submit something else to them and they would consider the other story at a later date. So a month later I sent in Conflicted and they said “yes”. I was over the moon that taking the plunge paid off.
Congratulations on your first release! It’s said “Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?
I’ve heard that a number of times through the years and at times I’ve thought I should do that, but really, I don’t think it matters. If I only wrote what I knew, I’d be writing het romances and being very bored! I think all it takes is research, empathy, talking to people and you can learn anything well enough to write about it. One of my favorite themes is vampires and a lot of authors write about them, including myself, but none of us can say we’re doing it from experience!
I think it’s important to write about what interests you. If you have the passion for something, you’ll put everything into making a good job of it, regardless of whether you’ve experienced what your character has, or visited the place where your story is set, or whether you’re male or female and writing about any one of M/M, M/F, or F/F.
Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full time writer at some point in the future?
I used to see it as a hobby, but when I got my contract for Conflicted, it gave me a new dream. If I can have one book published, there’s no reason why more shouldn’t follow. I would love to become a full time writer. I don’t expect to become a millionaire, ha-ha – far from it! But if I can pay the bills without needing to work 9 – 5, I would be delighted. And I’m already working on it!
I’m currently waiting for the “yay or nay” on a novel in the supernatural genre, which is based around vampires, a witch and a modern-day “beauty and the beast” theme. It’s called The Eye of the Beholder so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it. Meanwhile, I’m working on a variety of short stories for anthologies, I have a coming of age romance novel that is ready for submission and I have the outline for an angsty drama based on a young guy who has been a victim of domestic abuse. That’s something I’ve been through myself, so I can write a lot of what he feels from personal experience. The story will start after he escapes from it, but anyone who has been through this type of situation, will know that getting away from the abuser is very often not the end of the pain. I’m also in the planning stages of a novel set in the early 1990s when it was all guitars and big hair and makeup. That was my era, so I have experience to draw on there.
That certainly falls into the ‘write what you know’ category! Good for you to not only survive such an experience but be able to transform it into something that could help someone else, too. I frequently say I write because it is cheaper than therapy, and I’m only partially joking there.
Have you ever been tempted to give up writing? If so, why?
Before I started writing M/M Fan Fiction, I wrote M/F in a variety of genres. I received some quite nasty comments from a small number of people who didn’t like what I’d done with a particular character. Rather than be constructive, the couple of people in question attacked me personally and it hurt. I did stop writing, for maybe a year – or at least I stopped posting what I wrote. I still put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), but I kept it to myself.
When I look back on that, I tell myself that I’ll never stop writing again, no matter what happens. There are always going to people who don’t like what you write, for whatever reason. We’re all different and we all have different tastes. If I get bad reviews now, I’ll remind myself that there are good ones too, and that just because someone doesn’t like my story, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no good. As long as someone likes it, then I haven’t wasted my time. I love writing, it’s a big part of my life and I won’t let anything spoil it for me.
There’s a lot to be said for cutting our teeth in fanfiction. We learn not just the mechanics of story-telling but also how to deal with unfavorable reviews and forms of bullying I read a quote recently that said something to the effect that authors had be hard enough to take criticism yet soft enough to share our emotions and feelings. It’s never easy putting yourself on the line like that, but a true writer writes no matter what.
Thank you so much for dropping by to answer a few questions and share an excerpt of Conflicted with us!
Two competing gangs of car and drag racing enthusiasts with a shared history of pain and rivalry leading to outright hatred. Two men from opposite sides of the tracks, yet more in common than they’d like to admit.
Paul Appleton is a troubled man who has never been in a relationship, having lost everyone he cared for in his life. His mother died when he was very young and subsequently, he lost his brother and his best friend. Now Paul is convinced love will always end in tears.
Greg was living on the streets after his parents died and was stabbed by a junkie, ending up in hospital. The Buchanans took Greg under their wing while doing charity work, and Greg joined their loving family when he was adopted. He and his siblings are also car enthusiasts with much more money and therefore better cars than Paul Appleton’s gang.
When they eventually find a connection, Paul fights his feelings and tries to convince himself his lover is only a temporary bit of fun, but Greg has other ideas.
Greg went to the bar to get a beer and was just handing over the money when he noticed the very man he had been hoping to avoid was right next to him, nursing his own bottle of Budweiser.
“I thought you went to a bar in Stevenage,” Paul commented without looking at Greg.
“I couldn’t be bothered driving over there tonight,” Greg said and gulped some of his beer. He leaned against the bar and glanced at Paul. His gray T-shirt looked about three sizes too small and only emphasized the size of his shoulders and broad back. Intentional, no doubt. His faded jeans were even tighter, and clung to his muscular thighs and firm ass as if they were painted on. Damn, he was hot, and Greg wanted to kick himself for thinking that.
“Not even in the new car?” Paul turned to look at him and raised an eyebrow. His eyes were deep brown and piercing, as if he were looking into Greg rather than at him.
“Nice, by the way. Shame we don’t all have rich parents to shower us with toys like that.”
It was just what Greg expected – a brief compliment quickly crushed by an insult. He was immediately pissed.
“You know nothing about it,” he growled.
Paul shrugged. “I can’t blame you. I wouldn’t have said no either.”
“Listen, Appleton, I won’t pretend I’m not smug as hell driving around in an R34, but I didn’t ask for it and to be honest, I would rather have bought a car I can afford with my own money, which I do earn, by the way. I don’t just live off of them like a fucking leech!”
“Alright, chill, I’m sorry,” Paul said.
“Yeah, well, it gets up my nose that people think I’m rich and spoiled when I work hard like anybody else. I can’t help the fact that I got adopted by the Buchanans. I came from an ordinary family, same as most people, even you.”
“My family was anything but ordinary,” Paul grumbled. “So how come you were adopted anyway?”
“You actually want to know?” Greg asked in surprise.
“Yeah, why not?”
“Okay, we might as well get a seat, then.” Greg turned away from the bar and headed for a corner away from the main bustle, leaving Paul to follow if he felt like it. Greg wasn’t particularly delighted by the prospect of spending more time with him, but since he was here, there wasn’t much else Greg could do. Annoyingly, his pulse sped up as he made his way to an unoccupied corner bench and sat down. He chewed his lip. Paul was still at the bar, speaking to someone he apparently knew, but a moment later, he moved away and walked toward Greg. Fuck, those jeans were tight, and Greg would have bet Paul had no underwear on either.
Jesus, don’t stare. He shifted his eyes up – to bulging pecs. Heat rushed to his groin, and he tried to think about something else. The last thing he wanted was a hard-on, but too long with no fun except for his own hands, and now the company of the hottest guy in the pub, had him stiffening regardless. Greg wondered what the chances were. Would Paul be up for it? Greg knew nothing about him, but he couldn’t imagine him being shy. Greg would bet Paul would shag anything that looked twice at him – or certainly play around with them.
“So? You were going to tell me where you came from,” Paul prompted, dropping onto the seat a little distance away, facing Greg.
“Uh…um…yeah, well, my parents were just ordinary – my dad was a builder and my mum was a waitress. They died in a car crash when I was sixteen.”
“Sorry to hear that,” Paul said with a frown. “Did they treat you okay?”
“My parents? Of course, why wouldn’t they?” That comment puzzled Greg, but he carried on talking. Anything to stop himself imagining Paul’s hand, which was gripping his beer bottle, wrapped around Greg’s cock instead. “They had a huge mortgage, the house got repossessed after they died, and the system didn’t want to know. I lived on the streets for a year, then ended up in hospital, and Agnes Buchanan, who was there doing charity work, took pity on me. And the rest is history.”
“That was lucky.” Paul nodded. “What put you in hospital?”
“A bloke with a knife.
“So, how did you end up living with…Stewart Sanders, is it?” Greg asked.
“It’s a long story,” Paul grunted. “I left home when I was sixteen, and he and Abby took me in.”
“Why did you leave?”
Paul scowled and drained the rest of his beer before answering. “It’s not important.
“Humor me,” Greg said, genuinely interested.
“I’m not here to entertain you!” Paul snapped and got to his feet.
“Hey…” Greg protested. Hell, the guy had a chip on his shoulder. A huge chip. And he was about to walk away from Greg just when he was beginning to convince himself that they were getting along, and that he might possibly get his hand inside those tight jeans later. But Paul was already walking to the bar.
“Shit!” Greg growled under his breath. He was annoyed that Paul walked away and more annoyed still that he was disappointed. It had seemed like they might be starting to move past what happened at Octane, and Greg hoped the stupid feud might have been forgotten too.
Paul hadn’t gone far. He had wedged himself between two men at the bar and was waiting to be served another drink. Greg stared at his ass until he turned around again and then quickly dropped his eyes and pretended interest in the last mouthful of beer in his bottle.
“Sorry.” Paul appeared at the other side of the table, placed a fresh bottle of Bud in front of Greg, and then stepped over his legs and took up his original seat, maybe a foot closer to Greg than before.
“No, I’m sorry. I suppose I come across as if I’m prying, but really, I’m just interested.”
The corner of Paul’s mouth twitched up slightly into a hint of a smile. “Just don’t ask me about family.”
“Okay. So can I ask about your job at the club? Don’t they need you on a Friday night?”
“They rotate the weekend days off. It’s my first in the month I’ve been there. It’s a good job – decent pay too, better than the shitty warehouse I was in before.”
“Yeah, I imagine bouncers get paid pretty well.” Greg nodded. “Do you have to use your fists much?” Damn, Greg, what the hell did you say that for? He cursed himself.
Paul grinned. “Not really. You get more trouble with drunken girls trying to slobber all over you.” He pulled a face. “If there’s real trouble, you diffuse it rather than add to it. I do kickboxing and jujitsu to help with that.”
“Cool,” Greg said. It was something they had in common. “I did kickboxing for a few years. I’ve been thinking about taking up something else too.”
Paul nodded and took another drink. Greg watched the movement of his throat as he swallowed and imagined his lips were wrapped around his cock instead of the bottle. He shifted awkwardly and rested his arm across his lap, hoping not to draw attention to the fact that he was getting uncomfortably hard. Paul lowered the bottle, and his eyes slid from Greg’s face, down his chest, and fixed on exactly what he was hoping Paul wouldn’t look at. He grinned and trapped the tip of his tongue between his teeth. Oh fuck. He was checking Greg out and way more obviously than Greg was checking him
Should Greg ignore it, or go with it? Did he seriously want to get off with Paul? How difficult would that make things if they ran into each other at shows or something in the future? What the hell would the family say if they found out? What on earth was Greg thinking when he considered taking a chance with a person who went out of his way to make trouble for himself and others?
Greg thought for another minute and realized that it was going to be the only chance he had, at least for that evening. Besides, who was going to know? Paul didn’t want anyone finding out about him anymore than Greg did.
“What are you looking at?” Greg grunted as a way of starting a sort of flirting interaction.
“Isn’t it obvious? Like my company, do you?” Paul responded.
“It seems like it, doesn’t it?”
Paul arched an eyebrow and leaned back. He shifted his ass forward on the seat and drew attention to the fact that the ridiculously tight jeans were virtually crushing him. Greg could make out the head of his cock pushing against the fabric. He wondered if it was his imagination or if he was more turned on than he’d ever been in his life.
Conflicted is available from Dreamspinner Press as an e-book and paperback. Thank you, Louise, for joining us here today and sharing with us a bit about your life and your story! I hope you’ll come back in the future and tell us more about your upcoming works.
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