September 20, 2013

Layla M. Wier: Homespun

Please help me welcome new Dreamspinner author Layla M. Wier, who is here to answer some of my nosy questions and talk about her new release "Homespun". At the end of this post you'll also find the link to a great giveaway. :)



Title: Homespun
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2013
Author: Layla M. Wier
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Blurb: For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.



1-Welcome Layla M. Wier! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your release.

Hi! Thank you for having me! I'm a writer and artist in Fairbanks, Alaska who recently quit my day job (LIKE A FOOL) to focus on writing full-time. Homespun is my first stand-alone novella. I've also had short stories in a couple of anthologies so far, including a story in Dreamspinner Press's steampunk anthology Steamed Up, which will be out in October.


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

Homespun is set in upstate New York in the autumn. The plot hinges upon the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, which severely limited the settings that were possible at the time I wrote it (summer and fall of 2012). Also, my sister lives in New York fairly close to where the book is set, which made it easy to get firsthand information! And it's an absolutely beautiful area, especially in the fall -- really a delight to research and describe. As the book took shape, the rural setting became very important to the plot, which hinges on the personality conflict between small-town Owen and big-city Kerry.


3-How long have you been writing?

I have literally been writing ever since I could hold a pencil -- I wrote my first story when I was four years old, and my first "novel" when I was seven, though I didn't finish it. This was an ongoing problem throughout the last couple of decades -- I had a million ideas but never finished anything! I credit fanfic with teaching me how to take an idea and see it through from genesis to completion, and I've been applying that concept to original fiction over the last few years.


4-What compelled you to write this particular story?

I know it's a bit cliché to talk about a story that "wanted to be written" but this was one of those times. Once I'd started thinking about the general idea of two men in a long-term relationship who are forced into a discussion of their future by New York's new same-sex marriage law -- it's like the story and the characters just fell out of my head. I wrote most of it in a couple of weeks. It simply had to be told.


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

I remember thinking when I was writing the book, "Don't think about getting it published, don't think about anyone else ever reading it; just write it how it wants to be written." But once I was done and had polished it into shape ... I don't know, it didn't feel like a difficult act or one that took courage. Actually, my biggest concern with the book was (and is) not about publishers seeing it, or a fear of rejection from that end. I'm more concerned about what readers will take away from it. I hope very deeply that my portrayal of gay men won't seem terribly inauthentic -- and in particular, a gay man (Kerry) who lived through the AIDS years and was deeply affected by it. I don't want to do a great injustice to that history by trivializing it, and I hope that I've done a decent job with the difficult subject matter.


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

I know a lot of writers have actors or other models in mind, but I've never done that. I think for me, most actors are very indelibly associated with a particular character, and I can't easily decouple them from the other roles I've seen them in. My characters are very much themselves; I can't ever play the "casting" game because it just doesn't work for me.


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

It's not a specific desire to write m/m so much as the desire to tell the story of these two particular people in this place and time. I write m/m because I have a lot of ideas for it, but I also have a lot of ideas for f/f and f/m and stories with no pairing in them at all. I'll admit that I've been focusing on the m/m lately because Dreamspinner has been an absolute delight to work with, and I'd love to have more to submit to them. But I can't write exclusively m/m because I start to miss working with female characters and "hearing" female voices in my head. (Even in most of my longer m/m, there tend to be major female characters along with the main pairing -- Owen's daughter Laura is a viewpoint character in Homespun, and the novel I'm working on right now includes the protagonist's sister and female cousin as characters.)


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

I'm currently reading Nightwings by Robert Silverberg, which is a far-future sci-fi novella that won the Hugo in 1967, and A History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver. I am a voracious bibliovore, and I frequently divide my attention between fiction and non-fiction like I'm doing right now -- I love learning stuff, but sometimes a girl (well, this girl) just wants to curl up with an escapist tale of the far distant future. Most of my fiction reading tends to be in the general category of speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy) but I'll basically read anything; I've also been reading quite a bit of romance, mystery, and historical fiction lately.


9-What are you working on now?

I'm writing an m/m novel set in a small Midwest town around Christmas, in which a mysterious drifter with a heart of gold comes to town and starts turning people's lives upside down.


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

I suffer from a terminal case of "too many hobbies". Reading is one of my favorite things, and I want to read ALL the books. But I also enjoy art -- that's actually what my degree is in, and I've worked for the past decade and a half as a graphic designer and illustrator. And I love fiber crafts, like knitting and crochet. (Homespun incorporates both the fiber crafting and the art, by the way. One of the main characters is a painter and the other owns a sheep farm!) I live in a beautiful place -- semi-rural Alaska -- and I spend a lot of time outside in the summer; I keep a garden and I enjoy hiking. I also socialize on the Internet quite a bit, and I'm active in online fandom. The question is how I find time to write in the first place!


11-What are your writing goals for 2013/2014?

For the rest of this year, my main goals are finishing the m/m novel I'm currently working on, and shopping around a mainstream urban fantasy novel I'm looking to get agented. Next year I have a "to be written" lineup which includes submissions for several romance anthologies (including a couple from Dreamspinner Press), an m/m murder mystery which is intended to possibly be the first book in a series, and a sequel to the as-yet-unsold urban fantasy novel I mentioned above. I don't know if I'll manage to accomplish all of that, but I like to set my goals high!


12-Do you have personal goals for 2013?

I'm actually going back to school! In fact, by the time this interview goes live, I will have started my classes. I'm not going to be a full-time student, but I have two very specific goals. I have always wanted to learn a foreign language, and I've always wanted to work on archaeological digs -- probably not as a career, but I'm fascinated by the past and I think that working on a dig would be amazing. (Well, actually it would probably be messy, boring and awful, but it's on my bucket list for sure!) The timing worked out this year to take the introductory archaeology course and a first-year semester of French at the local university, so I'm going for it.


Would you like to share an excerpt from “Homespun”?

How about something just a little steamy? :)

---

As they climbed the stairs, hip to hip, Kerry’s hand worked its way under Owen’s shirt to caress the strip of skin above the waistband of his jeans, and he knew, then, that it really was going to be okay. They’d begun to fall toward each other once again, as they always did after one of Kerry’s absences, jostling around each other until they found the way to line up and click.

At the top of the stairs he stopped, bringing Kerry to a halt with him. The only light came up the stairs from the kitchen, muting the world into soft shades of gold and gray. Kerry’s eyes gleamed in the dim light, and the slant of his body held a questioning note.

Owen had been raised in a generation and a culture that didn’t express affection in public. He could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he’d seen his parents hold hands, let alone kiss. But here, it was dark, there was no one to see. No one to judge. Distant clinks of dishes indicated Laura’s presence below them in the kitchen. The possibility still existed that she might interrupt them by stepping out to ask a question or to retrieve something she’d forgotten, but as long as he could hear her washing dishes, he knew where she was. They were exposed yet private, and heat rose in Owen’s chest, spiraling outward to tingle down to his fingertips.

His gaze and his attention had drifted down the stairs; now he came back to himself with a thump, back to Kerry’s gray eyes—curious, nervous, anticipating. Back to Kerry’s face, so close to his own that Owen could feel the warmth of Kerry’s breath.

Kerry had his back against the wall, and all Owen had to do was take a single step to press and hold him there. He didn’t; he leaned forward and took Kerry’s mouth instead, and Kerry closed his eyes and fell forward, fell into his kiss.

And that was all it took. They turned and fumbled and bumped their way down the hall, hands and mouths all over each other. Six months. Owen managed to get one sleeve of Kerry’s T-shirt over his shoulder; Kerry had undone Owen’s pants and had a hand inside, when the crunch of wildflower stems underneath their feet made them both jump. Kerry broke the kiss, blinking in surprise. They were in the bedroom; Owen hadn’t even realized it.

“Is there hay on the floor?”

“Wildflowers,” Owen said.

Neither of them reached for a light switch. Kerry usually preferred to make love in the dark. Through the half-open curtains, the blue-white glare of the farm’s halogen floodlights illuminated the room in monochrome, like the light that filters through falling snow.

“I forgot to light the candles,” Owen added, feeling stupid.

Kerry smiled against Owen’s lips. “I don’t give a damn about the candles, sweetheart,” he said, and kicked the door shut before dragging Owen down onto the bed in a crackling of breaking wildflower stems. Owen found himself on his back, his pants around his knees, with Kerry straddling him and rearing back to skin off his T-shirt over his lean body.

In the dim light, his tattoos were stark black on white skin. All were his own design; he’d made a canvas of himself, too. Spider legs and dragon’s wings reached around Kerry’s ribs from the small of his back; an ornate Celtic knot clasped his biceps like a lover’s fingers, and a cherry tree stretched its flower-laden branches across his chest. Low on his belly, a rose bloomed, its thorny branches curling beneath the waistband of his low-slung jeans, pointing lower yet. Owen himself was wide and muscular and covered with a thatch of gray hair; next to him, Kerry was as thin and sharp as a knife blade.

Owen, breathing hard, paused in the act of fumbling with Kerry’s zipper because Kerry had stopped, too, and was just looking at him. His face was a study in darkness and light, his eyes as clear and brilliant as a winter sky.

“Is something wrong?” Owen asked.

Kerry shook his head. “Nothing, just— You, surrounded by flowers, chiaroscuro… I want to paint you.”


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I'm also doing a giveaway for my blog tour. Comment on any post in the tour and you'll be entered to win a custom-made scarf, knitted by me for you, in your choice of color and material! All the details are here:http://laylawier.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/scarf-giveaway/

8 comments:

  1. Lovely excerpt, Layla! I'm a sucked for a well deployed word like chiaroscuro.

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    1. Thank you so much, Andys! I love writing descriptive paragraphs, but sometimes worry I'm a little overly florid. I'm glad you like it!

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  2. What great sounding book. I would love to read it.

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  3. Sounds like a good read. I'd love to read it. Thanks for the giveaway too!

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    1. Thank you, Sin Chan! Good luck to everyone in the giveaway, too. :)

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  4. Thanks for answering Chris' questions! And for an extra excerpt.

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