Interview with Guest Author
Under The Same Cover
Thank you for stopping over to visit, Keelan. In case my lovely readers don’t know who are—though I’m certain they all do… right guys?—I thought I’d do a little sit-down visit with you and help us all get to know you a little better.
I strive to write stories that feel true, with real human emotion and a sense of humor. Also, with cute boys making out with each other.
What makes your stories different from other authors out there?
There are a lot of terrific authors in this genre. I’m new to it as a writer, and I guess I’m still working on distinguishing myself, but it’s always been important to me that my characters talk to each other like real people who have real relationships, that they joke with each other and get mad at each other in ways that ring true. I’ve been in my share of relationships, and I draw on all of them when I write.
When did you first consider yourself an author?
I’ve considered myself a writer since I was a child, but I didn’t consider myself an author until I’d finished writing my first book. That book is currently unpublished and undergoing a rewrite, but I was still very proud of myself for finishing it.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do to get past it?
I suffered terrible writer’s block after finishing I’ll Still Be There. I felt paralyzed as to what I should work on. I had a million ideas that all seemed great, but when I tried to start any of them, they seemed to dissolve like dust. I tried a bunch of things, including asking friends for prompts for short stories, writing fan fiction, taking time off. None of these things worked. The only thing that made a real difference was setting aside a scheduled time and forcing myself to write. There’s nothing to it but to do it, apparently. I also had to let go of a lot of perfectionism and insecurity about what I was writing, and move forward even when I wasn’t sure it was good enough. Sometimes you just have to push past that, and you can always go back over it later.
I was asked a great question recently and thought I’d ask it of my visitors as well… If your writing was translated, which would be your preference: TV, movie, play, or Broadway?
I think this particular book would work best as a movie, but most of what I write would make great television, in my opinion. I am a huge fan of TV at the moment, and I appreciate how the medium allows the writers to explore a story so much more deeply. They’re able to include characters and details that a film would never have time for.
Does your family know what you write, and if so, how did they react when you first told them what and how explicit your writing would be?
My husband knows what I write, and to be honest I think he was a little weirded out at first. I still haven’t let him read this book, but now that it’s all finalized I’m going to. My kids are way too young to read my writing!
Most of mine are too (though my eldest has read a little, I think reading sex a parent wrote, even if the child is well over the age of majority, is icky (or so I was told, lol)).
Have you ever met someone in real life, or a stranger, that you turned into a MC?
Yes, more than once.
Who is your favorite author and why?
It’s so difficult to choose a favorite, but I will tell you that I always look forward to new Tana French books. She writes the loveliest mysteries with twists that I have never once been able to figure out ahead of time. Her characters all feel very solid, and the plots are beautifully crafted.
Boxers, briefs, commando? What’s your favorite way to “dress” your man?
I usually go with boxer briefs. Commando has been known to happen, though.
Do you as an author concentrate on one genre? Or do you feel as though you should try to find your voice amongst the many and various genres?
I have plans for books in a few different genres. This book is part historical fiction, part paranormal, and part contemporary romance. Paranormal isn’t my usual thing–in fact, this was the first time I’d ever tried it–but I found I really enjoyed it. It’s a very freeing genre.
And just because I love to tease 😉 what are you working on now, and what is coming up from you next?
I’m working on a follow-up to I’ll Still Be There. Eli and Jess have some stuff still to work out, and the ghosts have more wisdom to impart. There’s also going to be some romance for their friend Cassie, which she so sorely deserves.
As I mentioned before, I’m also working on a rewrite of another book. It’s detective fiction, and the plotting is rather exhausting. It has some romance in it, of course, but I don’t want the plot to be an afterthought. The main character is a very serious, somewhat grumpy detective whose relationship with his long time boyfriend has just ended. I won’t say any more than that just yet, but I will say that I really, really love this character. He’s not based on a real person, but he feels like someone I’ve known for a long time.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to blog with you! Anyone who wants to get in touch with me is more than welcome!
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I’ll Still Be There
M/M Paranormal Romance
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Length: Novel / 200 pages
The summer after high school, Eli Dunn and Jess Early explore an abandoned brothel in the rural Florida Panhandle. They’ve always kept their mutual attraction unspoken, but in an upstairs room at the end of the hall, everything changes. Suddenly, all the longing Eli and Jess have tried so hard to conceal bursts free, and passion like they’ve never experienced comes to light, along with the ghosts of Clay Bailey and Silas Denton, murdered owners of the brothel. And Clay and Silas have no problem possessing Eli and Jess in order to express their love for each other, without thought for the living.
Deeply disturbed by the experience, Eli and Jess part and try to get on with life as best they can. But after several years, Eli returns to Florida, only to find that Jess has made some questionable choices. These eventually lead him back to the abandoned house and a confrontation with Eli. Old scores are settled and Eli and Jess reunite. But Clay and Silas’s ghosts aren’t finished yet, for they’ve always believed in the power of open and honest love.
When Jess stopped talking, Eli just looked at him for a while. His face was so familiar, and so unique. Eli had never seen anyone who looked like him before. He had a sort of black Irish look, with curly dark hair and pale, lightly freckled skin, but his eyes weren’t blue. They were so dark they were almost black.
“What?” Jess said, finally.
Eli shrugged. “Why’d you drive us here, anyway?”
“I’ve always wanted to see this place. It’s supposed to be haunted. Did you know that?”
Eli looked over at him, and thought he looked deadly serious. He scoffed and said, “You don’t believe in that shit, do you?”
“There’s plenty in this world that’s beyond our experience, Elijah.” Something about Jess’s tone made Eli stop laughing. Something about the way he’d said Elijah, though that was nothing so unusual. He always used the whole name, never the nickname. He never had, even when they were kids. Eli had always liked it coming from him, though he wouldn’t take it from anyone else. From anyone else it sounded like a taunt.
“Ghosts?” Eli asked. His voice was rough from the whiskey.
Jess shrugged, and looked right at Eli. “I don’t know everything, and neither do you. There’s all kinds of weird shit in the world, you know?”
“I guess,” Eli allowed.
“Anyhow, the story goes, there were these two old boys, Clay and Silas, running pussy out of this place, back in the fifties and sixties. You can see how big it is. They were living here, the two of them, and all the whores. It was a popular joint, people came from all around over to drink and fuck. Thing is, they catered to some specialized tastes.”
“Oh yeah?” Eli yawned and then asked, “Like what?”
“Well,” Jess continued, “one of the girls was black. She came from New Orleans, I think.”
Eli laughed again and asked, “You’re just making this shit up, aren’t you?”
Jess looked offended at the very idea, and he said, “I’m only telling you what I heard, Elijah.”
“All right, all right. Go on, then. Let’s hear it. So they had a black whore in their place. That’s not such a big fucking deal.”
“Well no, not now, but this was like sixty years ago,” he said. “But no, that wasn’t the really exotic thing. Word was, they had a boy working there too.”
“Really.” Eli couldn’t look at him. He busied himself taking another drink, and wondered why the hell Jess was telling him about this.
“Yep,” Jess replied. “People would come from pretty far, because there just weren’t a lot of places around here to find that sort of thing.”
Eli snorted a laugh and said, “I’d imagine there still aren’t, not around here.”
“True enough. And if you liked boys, it wasn’t like you could just get yourself a boyfriend or something, not in those days. Paying for it would’ve been your only option.”
“I guess you’d want to travel a little for something like that. It’s not exactly the kind of thing you’d want getting around, is it?” As uncomfortable as he was, he was starting to warm to the story. He’d never heard anything about this place, and it was sort of fascinating.
“Nope. This is why these guys were so successful, because they knew how to keep secrets. They had plenty of their own.”
Jess was looking at him pointedly, like he’d just revealed something big, but the booze was making Eli’s mind work a little slower. He didn’t understand what Jess was trying to say.
Eli frowned in confusion, and Jess smiled. He said, “They were together, see? Screwing each other. They’d been running that brothel and living there for fifteen years.”
“Oh.” Eli felt sort of dumb not to have put that together, and again he wondered if Jess was trying to say something to him, maybe trying to get him to admit what Cassie had been able to see so clearly. He wasn’t going to be goaded into telling Jess anything.
“Well,” he asked, “if they were so goddamn good at keeping secrets, how is it that you know about it now?”
“Same reason the place is haunted. Some bad shit went down here. Everything came out after that.”
Jess stood up and stretched, then walked to the back of the truck. Eli looked up at him and said, “You going to take a piss?”
“I am. And then I’m going into that house and looking around. Are you coming?”
Eli looked doubtfully at the house. He really didn’t want to—it was probably moldy as hell and would smell disgusting in there. He knew Jess would just think he was scared, though, so he said, “Yeah, sure. Why the hell not?”
He decided to empty his bladder first too, and when they’d both finished, they walked up to the front of the old place, up the battered steps onto the sagging porch, and stepped in through the open doorway.
As expected, it did stink in there, of mold and rot, animal and possibly human waste. Jess had brought a flashlight from the truck, and he shone it around the room. There was a smashed jukebox in a corner and the remains of a bar along one wall. All the booze was long gone, of course. They walked through a sitting room and into the kitchen. The house had been empty for over forty years, so anything of any value or interest had long since been removed.
Jess approached a precarious-looking staircase, and at that point Eli stopped caring if Jess thought he was chicken. He grabbed Jess’s arm and said, “Are you nuts? You are gonna break your fucking neck. There’s nothing up there but more mold and shit.”
“But Elijah, that’s where the ghosts are.” Jess gave him a big grin, obviously enjoying himself immensely, and started up the steps.
“Shit.” Eli followed him, mentally cursing himself for not being able to mind his own business. “You never told me the rest of the story. Just that bad shit happened. Is that all you know?”
“Nope. So this boy they had working for them, he worked only by appointment, unlike the girls. He had mostly regular customers, not walk-ins. One of them, this married lawyer from somewhere in Alabama, was real regular. Started getting a little too attached, sent gifts, shit like that.”
They had reached the top of the stairs and stood at the end of a long hallway. They started poking into each room they passed, and there were quite a few of them, all just big enough to hold a bed, a chair, and a dresser.
Jess continued with the story as they went. “So one time, this guy comes in on a night when he wasn’t expected, half in the bag and pissed, acting like he had some kind of claim. He tried to go into the boy’s room when he was entertaining another client.”
They had gotten pretty far along the hallway, and had found nothing in any of the rooms but some rotting old clothing and some mildewed, waterlogged books and boxes of sanitary napkins.
“So what’d they do?”
“Beat the shit out of him, of course. Told him to mind his fucking manners or he’d lose his privileges.”
“Of course,” Eli replied. Again, he had to wonder how much of this was what he’d actually been told, and how much was embellishment. Jess wasn’t bad with a story when he had a few drinks in him and was in the right mood. This could be all or at least mostly bullshit, for all he knew.
“The dude left, drank some more, and came back later with a gun. He caught those men in bed, either fucking or about to, shot one in the head and the other in the heart.”
They had reached the door at the very end of the hallway, and unlike all of the other ones, this one was closed.
Eli’s gut twisted, and it was on the tip of his tongue to tell Jess he wanted to leave. He almost begged him not to open the door, but he knew there was no point. The way Jess had been lately, he would probably just laugh at him and go in anyway.
Jess pushed the door open, and it went without a creak of any kind. The room they entered was much bigger than any of the other bedrooms. There was a suite of heavy, masculine furniture in maple, with a dark cherry stain—a four-poster double bed, highboy, long dresser, and wardrobe. It was in poor condition now, but had obviously once been expensive. The mattress was still on the bed, stained black with old blood.
Eli had started feeling strange the second he’d stepped over the threshold. There was a weird crawling in his lower belly, and he was feeling slightly short of breath. He looked over at Jess, who looked a bit uncomfortable himself.
Jess pulled open one of the shallow top drawers of the dresser and aimed the flashlight into it. “Hey, check this out,” he said, looking over his shoulder at Eli.He walked over and looked. There were some neatly folded linen handkerchiefs, a small dish with cuff links, and some loose change.
“Weird,” Jess said. “You’d think this stuff would’ve been long gone.” He reached in to pick up one of the cuff links, then gasped and dropped it as his whole body jerked suddenly.
Eli stepped back quickly, and then realized Jess was trying to fuck with him. “What, did you see a ghost?” he asked, smirking.
Jess turned to look at him, and his wide-eyed stare made Eli think twice. He shook his head and moved away from the dresser. Eli started to reach in, but Jess said, “I wouldn’t.”
“Oh really. And why not?”
“Because….” Jess hesitated. “This room, it’s not right. Can’t you feel it? We should get the fuck out of here.”
He reached past Eli to close the drawer, and their arms brushed against each other.
There was maybe a second of complete stillness. They were staring at each other, and then Jess whispered, “Oh, shit,” and reached down to rub at his crotch, as if he wasn’t even aware of doing it. Eli blinked, and realized how hard his own dick was. He wanted… he suddenly needed Jess to touch him. He was panting, staring at Jess’s hand, with its long fingers, as it slid up and down, over his fly.
Keelan Ellis is a true crime enthusiast, a political junkie, and a comedy fan. Despite a compulsion to sometimes wallow in the depths of humanity’s corruption and sadness, she considers herself a romantic at heart. The stories she really connects with are about love that’s been twisted into hatred, and she believes that with honesty and forgiveness, love can overcome. Keelan loves good bourbon and classic country music, great television and well-prepared food, especially shared with like-minded people. She’s not a fan of parties and large groups of people, but there’s nothing she loves more than a long conversation with friends. Her favorite part of the writing process is the collaborative stage, hashing out plot and characters with smart and talented friends. It’s where she truly comes to understand the people she’s writing about, and often falls in love with them. With the support and encouragement–as well as some serious editing help–Keelan has found the writing niche she’s always searched for. Sometimes she gets blocked, and when that happens, there’s only one thing she knows to do. Just like Inigo Montoya, she goes back to the beginning, writing about the characters who inspired her so much in the past.
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