Welcome, Ian! Your new novel, Missionary, is about two wounded men who are brought together by happenstance and decide to take a chance on each other. This storyline really tugs at my heartstrings.
What would you like readers to know about your book?
Missionary has gone through several incarnations. I was inspired to write it a year and a half ago when I moved to my parents home to take care of them. We are in the rural south, and neighbors are few. The only house I could see was the next door neighbor’s, who keep cows in the field between our houses. The predominant religious denomination in this area is Baptist, and our neighbors are Latter Day Saints. I thought it unusual, so I did a little research, wondering what it would be like growing up gay in a LDS household. That was the beginning of the journey.
I’m a city boy. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and I love my hometown. I miss it, and it has been the setting for all of my books. It is a beautiful, historic city filled with eccentric people who colored my life, and now inspire me to write. Though the books center around the two main characters, RVA as a setting is almost equally important to me as a writer. Most of the locations I write about are real places. My favorite character is Fernando, and his beautiful home is real. In fact, a celebrity hair dresser who wrote for a famous fashion magazine lived there. Elegant and regal, this home is breathtaking.
Missionary is about taking chances. Many of us get stuck, repeating the same old patterns until a turn of events forces us to strike out on a new path. Brig and Fernando are two wounded men stuck on repeat until circumstances bring them together. While the romance is central to the book, this is also about breaking negative patterns and learning to be a better person.
What was it like to write the story?
This story was challenging to write, mostly because of outside events. I moved to my parents because my father was dying. Because of his medical situation, the writing would come in spurts. One week I’d write thousands of words, the next a dozen tops due to family obligations. The good thing about it is the lack of pressure I felt. Once you’ve dealt with an emotional event like the death of a parent, everything else feels minor in comparison. This allowed me to have fun writing it, and put my imagination to use. Writing Missionary was enjoyable, a wonderful escape from reality.
What do you love about the story?
I really love the characters. I took some extra steps to get to know them better. In the beginning, I decided to write a biography of the two main characters. This project grew into two short stories, one for Brig and one for Fernando. The short story Saint Brig gives his backstory, and shows how he came to be stuck in his current life. Escape From Velvet City is Fernando’s backstory. He might be Mr. Moneybags now, but he wasn’t always a financial success. He worked hard, and suffered quite a bit to become the man he is today.
I am releasing the two backstories in the same volume as Missionary, as well as separately. I really am grateful for taking the time to get to know both of them better. I know as a reader I often wonder how the MC’s came to be the men they are now, so I decided to do that as a writer. I hope readers enjoy this!
Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m inspired by everyday things, almost every single day. I keep a notebook next to my bed which I fill with ideas generated throughout the day. My main source of inspiration is exercise and music. I jog every day, and always have music playing. Often song lyrics serve as story prompts. In fact, I have the rough draft of another novel completed called The Loving Kind. This was inspired by a song of the same name by the British girl group Girls Aloud. That book will be available in the next few weeks.
What are my interests outside of writing?
I come from a very artsy family, so we all focus on each our work. While most kids are told to drop artistic ambitions, in my family you were an oddball if you didn’t pursue a career in the arts! Both of my parents were in publishing, and books have been a huge factor since the day I was born. Music is a large influence. I studied to be a concert pianist, and learned to play several instruments. My best friend is a filmmaker/photographer, my niece is a burlesque performer, and my nephew is in a punk band. My older brothers are into sculpture and crafts, and my sister was a ballet dancer and pianist. I was a professional makeup artist for 20 years, and I love fashion. Growing up in a bohemian, southern household encouraged me to be the wackadoo I am today. I’m glad I’m not solely focused on writing, because these outside artistic interests feed my creativity, making me a better writer.
What is my next literary project?
The Loving Kind will be released around the first of September. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s about a famous athlete who stays in the closet due to the financial rewards of being “straight.” It is also about letting go and living the life you want, not the life other people tell you to live because it makes them feel more comfortable. It’s a sports romance, but the emphasis is not on the sport itself, but on the emotional journey the MC takes as he falls in love with his soul mate, and learns to love himself.
Dreams can come true, even when all hope for happiness has vanished. Fernando and Brig faced harsh realities as they grew into men. One was a street thug, sent into exile by his mother, while the other was disowned for daring to be honest. Many would falter under these circumstances, but they chose to thrive.
Fernando- This handsome, older businessman grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, but through an iron will and determination to succeed, his chain of restaurants become the envy of his peers. When agonizing loneliness and tragedy strike, he’s forced to decide between following the same isolated path, or taking a chance on love.
Brig- An insecure loner tossed out by his conservative, religious family for his sexuality. Introspective, unable to see what he has to offer another man, his love of books almost fills the void in his heart. Content to live alone, afraid of opening himself up to be hurt, his attraction for his older boss becomes unbearable. Forced to make a decision about his future, will he make the right choice and find the happiness his heart desires?
Making hard choices is second nature to these survivors, but now they must make the hardest choice of all- to overcome their fears, and open their hearts to one another.
This is a spicy, stand alone May/December romance with a HEA, no cliffhangers, and lots of feels.
The alarm is off. Next to the back door is an umbrella stand. Fernando doesn’t use flimsy, drug store umbrellas. These are heavy and expensive, so I grab one in case I run into a burglar. I’m sure it won’t do much damage, but there’s nothing else available.
Heart pounding, I creep through the kitchen. Every step I take causes the floor to creak. Damn it, why does he live in such an old house? I toe off my sneakers and scoot them under the kitchen table, hoping to minimize noise. I tip-toe through the downstairs. A couple of lamps are on, and the front door is locked. The downstairs is clear. If someone is here, they have to be upstairs. Shit, if it’s an intruder, it’ll be harder to escape from upstairs, but I’ve got to check it out.
The hardwood steps groaned with every step I took. I stop half-way up the steps, attempt to steady my breathing. My flight or fight response is on high alert. I know I locked the doors and secured the alarm, and Fernando was going to call me to pick him up. This can’t be happening. Then I hear footsteps.
Without thinking I creep up the last few steps. Surprise was my only weapon, well, besides the umbrella. When I reach the top, I pull the umbrella in to my body, then lift it over my head. It’s now or never. I close my eyes, place my foot on the last step, pull the rest of me with it, and turn the corner on to the landing.
“What the fuck!” I hear, my eyes snapping open. It’s Fernando. Oh shit, he’s in a bathrobe, staring at me with a hand over his mouth.
“Oh God, Fernando, I’m so sorry, I thought you were going to call me to pick you up. I didn’t mean to…”
Fernando leaned against the wall, shoulders shaking with laughter.
Damn it, it wasn’t that funny.
“You, you standing there with the umbrella over your head, it’s so…Bahahah!” He slid down the wall to a seated position on the floor, unable to finish his sentence.
What the hell, I had to see who was up here, plus I had to protect myself. I glanced down at the umbrella, closed my eyes and tried to imagine how I looked as I turned the corner on the stairs. My stomach muscles loosened, and I felt a giggle of my own coming on. I opened my eyes and smiled, then saw something strange; Fernando had his hand out. He was still laughing, but had his hand out, wanting me to grasp it, I guess to help him off the floor. I placed my hand in his and to my surprise, he pulled me down next to him. I nearly fell in his lap. I tried to scoot further away, but his hand held me firmly next to him.
“I’m sorry, I shou, should have ca, called you when I got to the airport.” He said between guffaws, but his eyes stared deep into mine. His chuckles slowed, but his eyes never strayed. I couldn’t stop staring, his golden brown eyes had such thick lashes, and the closer his face came, the thicker they appeared.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.” His lips were inches away as he spoke. My heart stopped, or at least it seemed that way. I closed my eyes, and felt his lips on mine. Softly at first, then his tongue slipped inside my mouth. His hand found the back of my head, pulling me into him. All thought flew away, just this, experiencing him and me, nothing else mattered.
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