LOL, okay, I'm gonna hush and let Haylet get on with it!
Thank you for hosting me today, MA Church!
I like to know a location (or at least vacation there once) before I attempt to write a story based in the city. I’ve also made up locations or took liberties with existing ones. When I read for pleasure, the little facts in cities don’t matter to me. A big change like having Hollywood a city in Arizona might make me tilt my head and frown, but for the sake of storytelling, I’m willing to go with the flow.
I introduced some fantasy into reality for my first novel, Undercover Sins. The story is set in Las Vegas but decided against setting it in too much of a reality since the plot itself is a little fantasy. Water Waltz and Fire Tango are both set in one fantasy world created exclusively for the series. I built the land to best suit the story. I took some inspiration from places I’ve visited, but nothing is set in an alternative version of a real city.
Paid Leave is the only novel I’ve written so far that’s set in a strict reality. (Due out May 3, 2013) Paid Leave takes place in Albuquerque, NM. As a NM native, this setting was very easy to write. The police officer’s beat is my backyard, and I had a police ride along through the command center in the story. I used my personal experience and my hometown to ensure the reality in Paid Leave stays true.
Even though the setting is Albuquerque and I used street names from the area, I kept it vague. There are no turn by turn directions to Officer Benji’s house or Neal’s café. Many of the calls Officer Benji Miller takes during the book are calls I witnessed during my ride along. I took a citizen police academy course through Albuquerque Police Department and gained a lot of useful knowledge and helpful contacts.
The location of Paid Leave was the easy part of research, and the citizen police academy was the fun part of research. All together I put more time into Paid Leave than in other books but most of it came before the plot or characters had formed. I had a great time writing this story and I believe readers will enjoy Benji and Neal’s story.
Albuquerque police officer Benji Miller made the choice to hide his sexuality and devote his life to his career. He guards his secret carefully, believing he is protecting his job and happiness. Then, during a routine traffic stop gone awry, he shoots a suspect to protect a young girl, and his life spins out of control. A department-mandated paid leave rips away the only distraction he had, and he has to deal with the unsympathetic media who criticize the police department’s every move.
One day, needing to get out of the house, Benji walks into a café, where he meets Neal McCoy—a gay man living without shame, unafraid to speak his mind or stand up against prejudice. Benji quickly falls for Neal but struggles to combine his new love interest and his career. With the media threatening the careful illusion he’s built around himself, Benji can’t stand the pressure.
Benji has to decide: sacrifice his happiness in the name of his career and an easy life, or find the courage to give up the lonely existence he knows and take a step into the unknown.
Paid Leave Excerpt:
“I’m surprised to see the uniform. Are you trying to seduce me? I’ll give you a hint—it worked.” Neal closed the door behind Benji and touched the silver badge. “You showing up is enough seduction, though.”
Benji dropped his duffle bag and gave Lucky an ear rub. He knew he wanted to see Neal but was still unsure how to act around him. Charles was easier. Those visits happened in Benji’s home, and nothing mattered with Charles. Benji never worried about how Charles would react but faced constant fear of upsetting Neal. He didn’t know how to keep him but couldn’t imagine letting him go.
“Sorry I didn’t return your call.”
“It’s okay. I figured you were busy. I was satisfied with the few text messages.” Neal’s smile softened, and his hands retreated from Benji’s uniform. Cop instinct told Benji he had lied. “I don’t want to be that fussy guy. Or smothering.” He laughed at himself and flashed his dimples. “I could so smother you. And I would if you wanted it.”
Benji smiled. Neal was perfect. He leaned down and kissed him, surprised by how right it felt. He cradled Neal’s head and took his time winding his tongue along Neal’s, enjoying every second Neal took to melt against him. He tasted like coffee and chocolate. Two things Benji had never believed could arouse him were fast becoming turn-ons.
“I’d like to change,” Benji whispered against Neal’s lips. He felt Neal’s hands resting on his belt, adding the slightest bit of weight.
Neal left a kiss beneath Benji’s ear before stepping back. “Do I get to watch?”
“If you want.” Benji started up the stairs with Neal and Lucky following.
“Do you have your baton?”
“Put it in your car.” Neal stopped at the top of the stairs. “I’ve seen enough porn to know where cops like to stick those, and that won’t be happening in my house.”
“Why are you so well-versed in porn?” Benji asked, trying his best to keep a straight face at Neal’s joke.
“I’m a gay man with an Internet connection. Why aren’t you more versed in porn?”
“There’s no coffee-shop-owner porn.”
Neal’s grin faded into a smile. “That might be the most romantic thing you’ve said to me all night, Officer Miller.”
Romance wasn’t Benji’s forte, and he’d only meant it as a tease. He felt out of his element with Neal, and the feeling only worsened when Neal took whatever he said in a way he hadn’t meant. He almost corrected Neal’s assumption to squash any belief he had a romantic bone in his body, but instead he added another tease.
“Will it get me laid?”
“The uniform is a sure bet.” Neal cocked his head. “Whoever designed your uniforms had an eye for a man’s ass. Turn around again.”
Benji rolled his eyes. The praise was not something he knew how to accept. “If you’re so turned on, help me take it off.”
Pre-order now from Dreamspinner Press (May 3, 2013 release date): http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3796
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