Gracious, where are my manners? Kate Sherwood is my guest today and I am terribly late getting this post up! Be sure to read the post all the way through to find out how you can win one of Kate’s stories here today! Contest is open from now until midnight Dec 22, 2013.
The Fall by Kate Sherwood is now available on Dreamspinner Press!
Every relationship leaves something behind. Dumped by his sugar daddy, part-time model Scott Mackenzie somehow ends up owning an abandoned church in rural Ontario. He dreams of using it for gay weddings, even if he’ll never have one of his own.
Joe Sutton is trying to keep his family together after his parents’ deaths. Between the family ranch, his brother’s construction company, and commitments around town, he doesn’t have time for a relationship. But Mackenzie is hard to ignore.
As both men fight their growing attraction, challenges to Mackenzie’s business threaten their relationship. If he can’t make it work, he’ll have to crawl back to the city in defeat. But the only solution involves risking the ranch Joe loves, and each man has to decide how much he’ll sacrifice for the other.
Kate, my apologies for the delay in getting this posted–it’s been one of those days. 🙂 Before we go to an excerpt, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your writing? Would you say there is an underlying theme to your stories?
I think my stories tend to be at least loosely about things that I’m thinking about in my own life, and since I tend to think about the same stuff a lot… yeah, I guess that comes through as themes! But it can get translated pretty fiercely before it makes it onto the page. I think a lot of my stories have an underlying issue of intellect or rationality vs emotion or impulsiveness. Sense and Sensibility, but usually with both features blended together in the same character. Almost all of the main conflicts in my stories are internal – there might be a Bad Guy in some books, but they’re generally a subplot at best. The main conflict is within the characters, having a fight between their brains that tell them love is too much of a gamble, and their hearts that tell them it’s the only bet worth making.
I see you write M/M fiction. Would you characterize your stories as M/M romance, erotica, or something in between?
I think they’re romance. I keep trying to nudge them in the erotica direction, but they don’t want to go!
City Girl or Country Mouse—and why?
Country Mouse, absolutely. I grew up in a city, went away to school in a couple different cities, and I enjoyed living there. But then I moved to the country, and I really don’t see myself going back. When I visit a city now, I just want to kill everybody! Traffic is insane – they should all just get out of my way! And crowds bug me, and everything is so expensive! And after living on a good chunk of land with a generous house, and then comparing prices and realizing that I’d have to work to afford a condo in the city? No way. I’m a country girl, and I want to stay that way!
Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? Why does this character resonate with you?
I think I write different versions of the same character in a lot of my books. Dan from Dark Horse, Remy from the Against the Odds series, Quinn in Shying Away¸ Lucas Cain in Mark of Cain (coming this spring from Samhain), and Cade in In Over His Head (a short story that I’m currently turning into a novel, probably going to be called In Too Deep)… they’re all men who were raised without strong parental guidance, who went through serious traumas, and who came out tough but fragile. I guess that’s another one of the internal contradictions I like writing about… characters whose armor is so strong they’re practically impermeable, but who know they’re delicate as soon as the armor comes off. Each of these characters has had different experiences so they come across differently, but at their core, I think they have a lot in common.
Why do I love writing this character (over and over again)? I think it’s the contradiction that appeals. A strong man who’s strong all the way through is boring. A weak man who’s weak all the way through is hard to respect. But the mix of the two? Intriguing!
That’s fascinating, Kate! I feel the same way about my main characters–each of them contain elements of myself that tend to balance each other out.
The Zombie Apocalypse has begun. You have a van with enough gas to get you to a defensible location. In addition to your immediate family, you can take three of your own characters with you. Who would you chose and why?
I love this question! I think I’d take Jeff from Dark Horse, because we’d need someone who could keep his head in a crisis.
For the sake of fairness, I’ll exclude Toby from The Shift – he’s supernaturally strong and invulnerable. As appealing as those qualities would be, it seems to be a bit of a cheat to take a literal superhero with us. I’d definitely snag his boyfriend Cash, though. Cash has been raised as a monster hunter ( a little Dean Winchester inspiration, if you must know), and he’d definitely have the skills and toughness to help keep us alive.
For the third… maybe Joe Sutton, a character from The Fall (coming December 16th from Dreamspinner Press). He’s a rancher, so he could help us live off the land, and he’s raising his nephew and sister, so he’s good with kids, and he’s a volunteer firefighter, so he’s… hot. Does hot count as a reason to bring someone on post-apocalyptic road trip? I think it should.
*grins* Me too! I like your reasoning here!
Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?
I really never have. I think I have thick skin because I’m quite prolific, so by the time a book hits the ‘review’ stage I’ve probably written at least four other novels and I can barely remember the book that’s being reviewed! So I can read reviews dispassionately and try to get some constructive criticism out of them, but they aren’t emotionally upsetting.
I also try to remind myself that my books are products. I’m asking people to spend money on my writing. This isn’t fandom; it’s not some big club where authors are paid via appreciation. We’re paid via cash. If someone pays cash for one of my books and doesn’t enjoy it, they have a right to complain.
All that said, I haven’t ever really been raked over the coals by a reviewer. A few one-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, but I haven’t been hit hard like some authors have. So maybe I’d be a little less philosophical about it all if I was getting a lot of negative reviews.
I envy you your ability to be so prolific. I used to be more productive than I am, but life seems to be getting in the way of my writing at the moment. You’ve given me a terrific list of books to add to the reading list, however!
Self-publishing: thumbs up or down?
I’ve played with self-publishing. I have a bunch of shorts from the Dark Horse ’verse self-published, and one novel, Poor Little Rich Boy. For me? I’m unsure. I’m thinking about writing a sort of series based around an apartment building in Vancouver’s Davie Village (the gay neighbourhood), and I’m tempted to self-publish it just for the flexibility. If a story should be a novel, it’ll be a novel. If something else should be a short story, there it is. If I’m inspired on Christmas day and write a few hundred words about some character’s holidays, I can post it on my website without worrying about “right of first refusal” or any other legal details. So that appeals.
Other than that, though? I like working with publishers. It’s nice to feel that there’s a team on my side. And Dreamspinner especially has been great in terms of getting my books into new markets – Audiobooks, translations, libraries – they really work it. I don’t have the time or energy to do all that myself, so I’m happy to keep working with them so they can take care of those details for me!
I know what you mean! I was checking your backlist on Dreamspinner and saw several of your stories translated into other languages–that’s fantastic!
Have you ever read a story in which the death of a character felt like something that you would never forget?
Uh, Johnny and Dallas in The Outsiders? Boxer in Animal Farm? The stupid wolf in the first book of Game of Thrones? Damn, I may tear up right now, just thinking about them…
What are your writing goals for 2014? Your personal goals?
For m/m, I’m trying to get back into a regular publication schedule. Four books a year, spaced out properly, steady production. But that shouldn’t be too tricky.
Most of my goals are outside of the m/m arena. I’ve got an agent for a YA novel I wrote, and I’m really hoping she can find a home for it. I’ve also sent her an NA novel and an m/f romance, and I’d love to see any of them sold to a Big 6 publisher. So I guess that’s my goal – to get something published via Big 6 instead of e-published.
But my most favourite, most ambitious goal? I’ve consulted with my agent and I’m also going to send a couple m/m romances her way. She’s warned me that the NY publishers probably aren’t ready for m/m (yet), and I know she’s right, but someday I’m pretty sure some m/m author is going to break through and start selling to the big guys. Might as well be me, right?
Wow! I love how ambitious and yet practical your goals are! Good luck to you on that–you will come back and keep us posted, yes? 🙂
Excerpt from The Fall:
Lorraine snorted. “He didn’t seem too friendly? I’m not surprised.” She shrugged philosophically. “It’s probably the gay thing.”
It hit Mackenzie almost like a slap. He’d thought he was prepared for small-town attitudes toward his sexuality and had absolutely considered homophobia as a possible barrier to setting up his wedding chapel somewhere like Falls Creek. But he couldn’t believe it was being treated so casually. “You’re saying he was rude to me because I’m gay?”
Lorraine looked startled. “No. I’m not sure I’d call it rude, but the way he acts? Distant, kind of? I always figured it was because he’s gay. You know, he’s always been a bit different, so he’s never really tried too hard to fit in. He just hangs out on his ranch, being a lonely cowboy….” She trailed off and fixed her gaze on Mackenzie. “But you say you’re gay as well? I mean, I can’t say it didn’t cross my mind. But it seemed rude to ask….”
“Joe Sutton is gay.” Mackenzie had always prided himself on being able to read people and certainly on being able to pick up on that little spark from a man who was noticing Mackenzie’s undeniable charms. But he’d gotten none of that from the cowboy brother. “That’s confirmed? Or you’re just guessing?”
“Well, I haven’t been there in the room with him and another fella,” Lorraine said with an arched brow, “but it’s general knowledge. He’s never tried to hide it, not that I ever heard of.”
“Maybe he just couldn’t be bothered to speak in order to deny it. He doesn’t seem like someone who cares a whole lot what other people think about him.” Mackenzie was trying to figure it all out. He wanted to find a mirror and make sure he still looked like himself. First Nathan had dumped him for that twenty-year-old, and now a man living in what must surely be a gay desert had crawled right past Mackenzie’s bountiful oasis?
“You could ask Nancy Yeats’s nephew, if you wanted. Trevor something or other. He lives over in Darton, and I guess the two of them were seeing each other for quite a while.” Lorraine’s grin was a mix of curiosity and mischief. “If you’re interested, I can find out if he’s seeing anyone right now. I haven’t heard of it, and usually that’d be a good sign that it isn’t happening, but like I said, Joe’s a bit different. A bit more private than most folks.”
Private was not a good enough excuse for failing to pay attention to his surroundings or, more importantly, failing to pay attention to Mackenzie. But none of that needed to be shared with a woman who clearly gossiped as a way of life. He smiled brightly. “Oh, no, I’m not interested. You know, not like that. I was just curious. I wanted to know what kind of people I’d be doing business with if I had the Suttons do the work on the church.”
“The best kind,” Lorraine said firmly. “You couldn’t do better.”
Lorraine started telling a story about the Suttons helping out some poor family that had lost everything in a house fire—well, of course the whole community had chipped in, but the Suttons had done the biggest part—and some people might say that’s because they’re blood, but really, they’d be third cousins at best—because it was Susan Sutton’s grandmother? Yes, grandmother, Maggie Johnson—she was from out in Newfoundland, back before it was even part of Canada, and she’d carried that accent with her for her whole life…. Mackenzie tuned out. Joe Sutton was openly gay. And Mackenzie was a model, for Christ’s sake. Maybe his career hadn’t quite taken off, but that was because Nathan hadn’t really liked it. He hadn’t been rude enough to try to forbid it, but he’d be grumpy for days before and after Mackenzie went out of town for even a couple days, and there just weren’t enough shoots in Toronto to propel someone into the modeling elite. The first time Mackenzie turned down a New York job, Nathan had leased him a silver Mini convertible as a reward. Mackenzie had been thrilled by the symbol of Nathan’s affection and by the adorable new wheels. But being a good boyfriend had made it a bit difficult to be a good model. So, no, it wasn’t as if Mackenzie had set the world on fire as a model. Still, he must be a tastier piece of ass than Nancy Whoever’s nephew!
Mackenzie forced himself to pay a bit more attention to Lorraine’s chatter, but the biggest part of his brain was still focused elsewhere. He was not going to be ignored by some desperate hick pretending to be a damn cowboy. No. Joe Sutton was about to get his world rocked. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” he muttered to himself, and then he smiled when Lorraine shot him a quizzical glance. “I’ve got to go,” he said without trying to explain. “But thanks so much for catching me up on all this. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
He beat a hasty retreat inside and went to sit in the sanctuary of the church. A lot to think about. And a lot of things to do, things actually based around the important points of building a successful business and keeping himself out of the poorhouse. But his mind kept drifting back to the tall cowboy who’d told him he had bats in his belfry. And then ignored him. What the hell was Joe Sutton’s problem?
Bio: Kate started writing at about the same time she got back on a horse after a twenty-year break. She’d like to think she’s far too young for it to be a mid-life crisis, but apparently she was ready for a few changes!
Kate’s writing focuses on characters and relationships, people trying to find out how much of themselves they need to keep, and how much they can afford to give away. She tries to find a careful balance between drama and humor—she wants readers to have an intense experience and feel drawn into the book, but she also wants them to enjoy the time they spend reading.
You can find Kate on the internet in these various places:
Website is www.katesherwoodbooks.com
Just a quick plug for my book tour before we get to Kate Sherwood’s contest details–The Boys of Summer Book Tour is going on right now! Today I’m at Joyfully Jay’s website discussing Research: The Backbone of Your Story. Do drop in over there and leave a comment to be entered to win a $50 gift card from Amazon. Commenting on other posts increases your odds of winning, so check it out!
And speaking of contests, Kate is offering reader’s choice of anything off her backlist to a randomly selected comment here today. Be sure to leave your email contact information in your comment if you want to be considered for the giveaway!