April 20, 2013

Sarah Madison: The Boys of Summer (Interview & Excerpt)

Today, Sarah Madison is on my blog, answering some questions. She recently released her first self-published story The Boys of Summer, have a look!

Title: The Boys of Summer

Release Date: April 14, 2013

Author: Sarah Madison

Publisher: Self

Buy Links: 

Genre: M/M contemporary romance

Blurb: David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches...and a secret crush on his hot, ex-Air Force pilot, Rick Sutton.

Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries, and a lack of food and water, make rescue imperative, but it takes an intensely vivid dream about the war to make David see that Rick is more than just a pilot to him. Will David gather his courage to confess his feelings to Rick—before it’s too late?

1-Welcome Sarah Madison! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your release.

Thank you for having me here today, Chris! I’m a full-time veterinarian and a part-time writer, which means I’m usually on the run all the time! If I overwhelm you with exclamation points here today, it’s because I have a lot to be excited about right now!

I’ve just released my first self-published novel, The Boys of Summer. I have five or six stories on my backlist already, and I love my publishers, but I wanted to try my hand at the indie publishing thing and see what the pros and cons of it are. What I discovered is that I really loved having complete creative control—over the story, the cover art, pricing, distribution... Have you seen my lovely cover by Reese Dante? I simply adore it!

What I haven’t enjoyed is all the formatting hassle (man, I owe my techie friends BIG TIME) as well as the fact that the entire burden of editing, proofing, and promotion has fallen on me. These aren’t my best skills, so I’ve had to farm them out. In the end, I’d probably do it again, but believe me, self-publishing is not for the faint of heart! I do have a fierce sense of accomplishment over getting this story out, however.

2-In what locale is your book set? Why did you choose this setting?

The Boys of Summer takes place in two main settings: the Hawaiian Islands of the South Pacific and in England during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. See, the middle third of the story is a dream sequence that takes place during WW2. Because of that, the modern setting had to either take place in the same setting, or in another wartime theater. Because I needed to isolate my main characters in a plane crash, cutting them off from all communications, I felt that the South Pacific offered me greater opportunities for the ‘deserted tropical island’ that was crucial to the set-up. Either that, or I’d been watching too much Hawaii 5-0 over the winter here.

3-How long have you been writing?

I wrote as a child and well into high school, but somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that I needed to set it aside and become a grown-up, concentrating on my ‘real’ career and putting away childish things. Rediscovering my love of writing was like finding the lost key to my secret garden. It was much overgrown, and needed some ruthless pruning, but the joy and beauty were still there. I began writing again about six years ago, when I discovered online fanfiction archives, and submitted my first story to a publisher in 2010.

4-What compelled you to write this particular story?

Would you believe, a single image? I had this mental picture of one of the main characters dressed in an RAF uniform, leaning up against the side of a Spitfire. Of course, this was a contemporary, not a historical story, so in order to use this image, I had to make it part of a dream. I began researching WW2 and the Battle of Britain in particular simply to get the background details right. What happened instead was that I was appalled by how little I knew of this time period, or the great sacrifices and small acts of daily heroism that occurred throughout the war. I spent over a month researching, and in the meantime, my ‘dream’ grew into a third of the novel, incorporating elements from both characters’ lives and spinning them into the dream world. It was just so important to me to try and capture the essence of that time—the lives lived, loved, and lost—those boys of summer. I hope I do them a fraction of the justice they deserve.

5-What gave you the courage to submit your story to a publisher?

I’d been writing fanfiction for several years, and had won a few awards. Several friends encouraged me to write professionally, but that seemed like an unobtainable dream. I finally sent a story in to a submission call on a whim, and to my utter shock, it was accepted. I’ve never looked back since.

6-When creating your characters, do you have models in mind or are they totally fictional?

That’s a good question, and I’m not sure I know the answer. I usually start with a ‘what if?’ question in my head. What if gargoyles came to life at night? What if a vampire wanted to live a normal life? What if one of my characters accidentally became telepathic? The ‘what if’ predicates the character, who then starts to make himself known to me. Somewhere along the line, I realize that he looks like a certain actor, or reminds me of a certain person, and those elements start to become incorporated as well. Someone once complained that one of my characters was too chipper all the time, and I was completely sympathetic because that’s not me at all! But Tate is his own man, and I had to write him the way he demanded to be written.

7-Why did you start writing m/m? Is there something special that draws you to this genre?

I began writing M/M fiction probably because I cut my teeth on slash fanfiction. But the reason I still write it is because I am drawn to the dynamics of a male-male relationship. The protagonists are more likely to meet on equal footing. The characters are just as likely to rescue each other as to be rescued themselves. When I read my first M/M story, I felt as though I’d discovered adult romantic fiction for the first time. It was an eye-opening experience.

8-What are you reading right now? Do you have a favorite author or genre?

I just finished John Scalzi’s Redshirts, which was a riot. I just started Aundrea Singer’s Black Hawk Tattoo, which I am loving so far! I read mostly sci-fi (particularly David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and Elizabeth Moon’s Heris Serrano stories). I am a huge fan of the Golden Age of Mystery, so you’ll find me re-reading Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, and Agatha Christie. I tend not to read a lot of straight romances, which is probably why my stories tend to contain other elements besides ‘just’ a romance. I prefer my romance with detective interruptions, so to speak.

9-What are you working on now?

I’ve got two collaborative projects going on with my good friend, Claire Russett. We’re working on stories for her Argo universe and my Fearless universe, and we’re having so much fun with them! I’m also working on a contemporary story set in the world of competitive sport horses, and playing around with expanding a sci-fi story that started as a prompt for a short story anthology and overshot its word count by a huge margin already.

I’m seriously considering making at least one of these projects a traditional male/female romance. Mostly to see if I can create a relationship that contains the same elements that appeal to me in M/M romances. And a heroine that I don’t want to slap in the first thirty pages of the book.

10-When you're not writing, how do you like to spend your time?

I try to take my dog hiking several times a week. I ride my horse several days a week, though I made the decision to stop competing a few years back. From May 23-26th, I’m off to Galacticon3 in Houston, which is the 35th anniversary of Battlestar Galactica. It’s being held together with ComicPalooza, and the guest list is just amazing! I’m going to be one of the guest panelists in a discussion of fanfic, along with my friend and fellow author, Anna Butler, and we’re also co-hosting a fanfic writer’s workshop. If you’re coming to the convention, you should look us up!

11-What are your writing goals for 2013?

I had overly ambitious writing goals for 2012. I wanted to have a story ready for submission every quarter, and with my schedule that simply wasn’t realistic. It put undue strain on my creativity as well. This year, I just want to write stories that I am proud of and that make me happy. If someone else likes them as well, that’s just icing on the cake.

12-Do you have personal goals for 2013?

Work less. Or perhaps I should say, work smarter. Enjoy the things I have while I have them: my health, my pets, my loved ones. No one is ever going to sit in their rocking chair at 80 years of age and say, “Darn, I wish I’d worked more.” No, I already regret how much time of my life is spent surviving—and how little is actually lived. It’s a common theme in my stories too.

Would you like to share an excerpt from “boys of Summer”?

Would I? *grins* (Excerpt is rated R for language)

I don’t think we’ve got much choice.” Sutton’s voice was grim. “We’re lucky to have that much. Hold on, these trees are coming up faster than I’d like.”

Still fighting to keep the nose of the plane up, Sutton guided the recalcitrant aircraft toward the so-called clearing, the ground rising up to meet them far faster than was comfortable. David found himself leaning back in his seat, bracing his hands on the console as the tops of trees scraped the underside of the plane. Branches swiped at the windshield, and David had the sudden impression of being in a car wash scene as written by Stephen King.

“Duck your head!” Sutton barked. “Wrap your arms around your legs!”

“And kiss my ass goodbye?” David shouted, raising his voice over the increasing noise as he obeyed Sutton’s orders.

Incredibly, Sutton laughed. It was an oddly comforting sound. Like everything was somehow going to be all right because Sutton was at the controls.

The moment of humor was gone in a flash. The plane screamed with the sound of tearing metal and the sharp, explosive crack of tree limbs and breaking glass. David kept his head down and his eyes closed, praying to a God he was pretty sure had more important things to do than to keep up with the well-being of one David McIntyre. Despite being strapped in his seat, his head and shoulder thumped painfully against the passenger side door as the plane thrashed wildly. There was a moment of eerie, blessed silence, and for an instant, the assault on the plane seemed as though it had lifted. Eye of the storm, David thought, just before the plane hit the ground.

Someone had left the window open and it was raining on him. How incredibly annoying. He shifted, intent on reaching for the offending window, when a jolt of pain ran through his shoulder and he gasped. When he opened his eyes, nothing made any sense at first. Then he remembered the crash, and realized that his side of the plane was pointing up at the sky. The rain was coming down in a steady stream through the broken windshield. The sound of the rain on the metal hull of the plane was nearly deafening.

He winced at the pain in his neck when he turned to look over at the pilot’s seat. Sutton was slumped to one side in his chair, unmoving. His sunglasses were hanging off one ear.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” David murmured, hastily undoing his seatbelt so he could reach across to Sutton. His skin was cold and damp where David touched it, and adrenaline pounded through David’s veins as though he could jumpstart Sutton’s heart by sending his own pulse beating through his fingertips. “Sutton! Rick!”

David fought to free himself of his seat, twisting for greater access to the other side of the cockpit. When the seatbelt came open, he fell half across Sutton. Sprawled practically in his lap, David could now see the nasty cut on the left side of Sutton’s temple. The pilot’s side of the plane had taken a lot of damage, and David yelped as he encountered a sliver of glass. Bits of the windshield and console were scattered like confetti over Sutton’s jacket. “Sutton!” The lack of response was unnerving. He tossed aside the sunglasses and worked a hand down into Sutton’s collar, feeling frantically for a pulse.

He could have kissed the man when Sutton suddenly groaned.

“Rick, are you all right? Can you understand me?” David began feeling around for additional injuries.

“I could never understand you, McIntyre,” Sutton said in a fair approximation of his slow drawl. Even the half-smile was a good imitation of his usual expression. “Who tours the toughest jungles in the South Pacific dressed to play golf?”

“Hah-hah, very funny, keep your day job. Oh, no, wait. Forget that. You’re not so good at the day job either.” Relief made him almost giddy. They were going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay.

Until Sutton tried to move and caught his breath painfully.

“What, what is it?” David tried to reach down around the other side of him, to see what the problem was. He felt something wet, warmer than the rain coming in the windshield, and he pulled back his hand to stare at it in shock.

His hand was covered in blood. The metallic odor of it caught him unaware and almost made him gag.

“Shit,” Sutton said mildly. “I seem to be stuck on something.”

Stuck?” David knew he was practically shrieking, but what the fuck was he supposed to do, miles from nowhere, with an injured man impaled on God knows what, who might die and leave him here all alone.


Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a busy practice, a large dog, an even larger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. When she’s not busy wrestling shots into a cat or deworming a snake, she’s at the keyboard writing another story. In fact, when writing she’s usually so oblivious to her surroundings that she relies on the smoke detector to tell her when dinner is ready.

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