Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Renae Kaye for taking the time to talk with us today.
Title: Safe in his Arms
Author: Renae Kaye
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance
In the late-night quiet of the caravan park shower room, Lon Taylor washes away the filth of the Western Australian mines. He’s not looking for anyone, but when Casey offers, Lon doesn’t turn him down.
Welcoming the young man in his big, hairy arms, Lon provides a safety to Casey that he has never known, and Casey wants to stay forever. Still reeling from the breakup of his family years ago, Lon’s not sure he’s ready for the responsibility of the comfort and security Casey craves.
But perhaps Lon can risk opening his heart again and hoping for a brighter future. Casey has some pretty big skeletons in his past to deal with. And Lon wonders what Casey will do when he finds out how badly Lon failed at protecting the ones he loved eight years ago.
Firstly, let me say I have really enjoyed all your books since (and including) ‘Loving Jay’. Did the excellent response to ‘Loving Jay’ make you commit to being a writer, whilst a busy Mum, or were you intending to keep writing, regardless?
Haha – I’ve only just (with this release) become comfortable with the thought of calling myself a “writer.” I had a goal to spend two years, honing my skills until I could get something sold. Happily enough for me, I was accepted for publication immediately.
I wrote Loving Jay and finished it in June 2013. Then I started on The Blinding Light. After I finally got the nerve to send it off to the publisher in July, it was another 6 weeks before it was accepted. By that stage The Blinding Light was a chapter away from being finished.
In fact, by the time Loving Jay was published, I’d already finished The Shearing Gun, Bear Chasing and Safe In His Arms. So I will have to say that reader response had no impact on my writing those stories at all.
No one was more surprised than me that Loving Jay was accepted for publication. I was committed to writing, no matter what happened with Jay. But the enthusiasm for my books has been phenomenal – thank you guys!! – and so I believe I am now committed to being a serious writer, rather than a hobby writer.
Do you do a lot of research for your books, as to this reader your stories always feel very authentic, yet cover very different backgrounds and locations?
Aw – thank you for saying that. That’s what a writer likes to hear.
No, I really do minimal research. Google helps a lot, as does hanging out in certain chat rooms. I guess people are most wanting to know how did I do the research for The Shearing Gun. Well, that one was just a lot of recalling my childhood. Shearing and farming is in my background.
The places I base my stories in are familiar to me, which is why I always have books set in my home state. The characters? – well, some have inspiration. Jay, Hank and Elliot are all loosely based on people I know. So their way of talking, walking and dressing comes easy to me, and is therefore easy to describe.
But as a writer, I feel my characters like they are myself. Before I start a story, I create an entire personality complete with flaws, childhood demons, common phrases used and dislikes. I begin a story, not thinking about the plot, but thinking about the reaction of this very real person to the situation I’ve just created.
The locations are real, the people in my head are real. Hopefully that’s what makes it authentic.
Can you tell us a little about your latest novel ‘Safe in his Arms’? Do you have any connection to the Mining industry in Australia?
I don’t think there is a person in Western Australia that isn’t somehow connected to mining.
We have a large population of Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) miners in Western Australia. I haven’t been to the mines, but my BFF has. I’m also one of these people who soak in useless information to recycle later.
The latest information shows 60,000 people who work FIFO in WA mines. So I decided to accurately reflect the population of my city by making Lon a mine worker.
I have family in the country, and while travelling to see them, you often encounter huge road trains transporting the huge mechanical machinery up to the mines, or you see the fantastically enormous cylinders and funnels and weird bits they need. It is actually awe inspiring.
Safe In His Arms is a story about running away, yet facing your fears. Lon was a part of a large family until a tragedy struck. For eight years, he’s been in limbo. He’s unable to move on because of events out of his control, but at the same time, he is shying away from ever loving someone again. His home is temporary (a caravan park) and his job requires him to be away from home for long stretches of time (FIFO). Lon is a loner.
Casey had his childhood shattered by abuse. He is still coping with the after effects of this and sees safety in Lon’s huge frame. He’s by no means broken. He just needs a little bit of breathing space every now and then before going back out to fight his demons.
In England we always feel a certain kinship with the Australians, and we admire the Ozzie humour and forthright, independent spirit. Did you ever worry that the Australian humour etc. in your books, would not be understood elsewhere? I’m particularly thinking of the big U.S. market.
Of course, here in Australia we look to England as the Motherland – who imprisoned our sorry asses and transported us as convicts in chains to a harsh foreign land to die… **wink** LOL.
Oh, yes. Before and after Loving Jay was released, I had been told by a variety of people (both authors and readers) that I’m cutting myself off by only having stories based in Australia. I am completely aware of the statistics that tell me that books set in America sell better, but in truth, I couldn’t be anything else.
I wouldn’t be able to accurately portray any other culture or setting, so when writing, I think that you have to take me as you find me. As an Australian, I struggle to find m/m books set in Australia, and when I do, it feels like a comfortable old slipper as I read the familiar phrases and places. That’s not to say I don’t occasionally like wearing other types of shoes – books set in other places are wonderfully exotic and I learn a lot – it just means I like my slippers sometimes. My main audience is overseas, I am acutely aware of this, but that doesn’t mean I should ignore my aussie readers.
It has become apparent to me, that some readers don’t like the Aussie humour, and that’s fine with me. Thank you for reading and trying. But I love the emails and reviews that say, “I’m an Australian. Thank you for writing my country.” Those emails are the reason I will continue to write stories based in Australia. Because everyone deserves a voice.
Humour is me. Safe In His Arms is the most serious book of mine, so far. But it is still mostly free of angst and full of humour. (Wait for the next book if you think Loving Jay was funny). I think there is too much hardship, depression and seriousness in this world today. We need to laugh. I need to laugh. I think an integral part of being Australian is to smile through the bad bits with humour. And I personally think this is a great way to be.
‘Safe in his Arms’ is the first of your books where you have mentioned the words ‘angst’ and ‘dark’, is this novel very different to your others?
The subject matter of this book is very dark. We’re talking about child abuse, rape, tragedy, alcohol abuse and many more. Both of my characters come from very emotional and traumatic experiences. I set out to write a very different novel from the fluff of Loving Jay. I thought I could be a serious writer.
**laughs at her own naivety**
I tried. But the humour which is essential to me as a person kept coming through. So I’m not saying this book is over-the-top humorous. I’m not saying this is completely dark. It walks the line between the two. Hopefully the line was straight down the middle and the dark/angsty subjects were approached with sensitivity.
There are three things that I hope that every single Renae Kaye story will have: Australianisms, humour, and original/everyday characters. Those are my core values in writing. Exploring the boundaries of these values is going to be fun to me. This book has more graphic sexual scenes (as fitting with the characters) and tragic backgrounds, but you should still find the Australianism, the humour, and the guy-on-the-street type of character.
I genuinely enjoy all your books, but do you personally have a favourite?
Loving Jay I think will always be a favourite. He was the first! *wink* But Jay is just so lovable, you know.
I’m not going to ask why you write m/m romances because my own reply would be why not?!
I’ve always found Australians to be fairly tolerant, live and let live people…what is the reaction to gay romance/fiction like in Australia, generally, and do you have to be careful about talking about the books you write?
I actually only have one foot out of the closet about my writing. I’ve told the people who I know would be accepting – people around my age and younger. I’m hesitating about telling others because I fear their reaction – and “others” includes my family.
I’m not afraid, and I’m not ashamed. I just don’t wish them to treat me differently than before. And I don’t wish people to judge me by that single label of “Writes about gay men.” Now if that doesn’t sound like a gay person coming out of the closet, then I don’t know what does!
Some people have jobs that they need to tread lightly when discussing in public. I know a person who works in the funeral industry (behind the scenes if you get my drift). He doesn’t discuss his job unless he knows you will be comfortable with the subject. The same with me. I doubt if I will be rocking up to the local nursing home and giving a talk on how I approached the writing of my latest sex scene, and the research involved, but it doesn’t mean I’m hiding my fledgling career.
Older generations, and deeply religious people are those I step lightly with. But my daughter’s kindy teachers have both read Loving Jay, which is rather scary to me. I think Australians are tolerant to the subject matter, but if you say the words “gay romance”, they hear it as “porn.”
The cover to your latest book seems different in feel from the rest, how much say do you have on what goes on the front cover?
I find Dreamspinner wonderful in trying to incorporate the author’s ideas on to the cover. They gather the information from the author and take on the feel of the story as well as the content. Paul Richmond is DSP’s Art Director and I think he does a wonderful job in assigning an appropriate cover artist depending on what the author wants for the story.
For me, it depends on the novel as to how much say I want in the cover. I fully acknowledge that I’m the author, and my forte is not cover art, so I’m happy to allow the artists to work how they want. They’re the experts. I remember nixing one draft for Loving Jay as it showed an underground train station which was obviously not Australian.
Similarly it also depends on the availability of pictures/photos that can be sourced. For Safe In His Arms, I said I wanted a dark brooding cover, showing a muscled, older, hairy man embracing a younger guy. Or if they couldn’t find that pic – just a big guy on the front. Anna Sikorska did BRILLIANTLY with my instructions.
For The Shearing Gun I asked for a collage of pictures, showing a farming scene, a guy shearing a sheep, my characters leaning on a gate and the pub in Dumbleyung. Paul put together the cover and managed to get 3-and-a-half of my four picture requests into the one cover.
Who do you write for? (Hahaha sneaky abstract question)
An interesting question. Are you meaning literally or philosophically?
So far, I’ve written four novels and one short story, which will all be published by Dreamspinner Press – with one more to come next year. The stories that I write are mainly m/m, but occasionally I do pen m/f novels. So far those books haven’t been published because I’m too lazy (ie short of time) to get around to finding a publisher for them.
But philosophically? Who do I write for? Primarily I write for myself. Loving Jay was created to because I wanted to cheer myself up with a humorous story to read. I thought I would print it off and read it from time to time, but then my BFF told me to send it off, and NR Walker (who didn’t know me from a bar of soap) gave me the final push, so I sent the draft to Dreamspinner and they sent me back a contract. LOL. I still have trouble believing that.
Secondly, I write for readers. To cheer them up, and (walking out on to thin ice here) to normalise homosexuality in the general public. Yes, I love m/m myself, but in literature you cannot walk into a library and easily pull a story off the shelves and find gay romance. Which is sad. I think homosexuality is such a big and contentious issue in society because people don’t understand what goes on – and I don’t just mean in a sexual sense. Humans, as a culture, are afraid of things they don’t understand. Writing a book, which hopefully (please!) a library will stock, can open the door to understanding that gay people are no different from straight people. They love, they laugh, they have feelings exactly the same as anyone else.
I have my first book coming out in January…what advice would you give this and all newbie authors?
I think most authors give the advice of “Don’t read the bad reviews.” I think this is good advice, because the bad reviews are going to be soul destroying. But no matter how many times you are told not to read them, you will eventually. Even if you just happen to glance and see them. So I’m not going to give the advice of not to read them, but warn you to be prepared for them, and we ALL get them.
Now, the advice I will give has to do with judging yourself. It’s advice that I find hard to do myself, but I’m getting better at it. Don’t compare. It’s so easy to pick a well-read author and compare your success to theirs. Don’t. Your path is your own. Just because their first book flopped and yours didn’t, it doesn’t mean you are heading for superstardom. Don’t be discouraged if your sales numbers are less than theirs. Don’t compare ratings or sales or Facebook friends or even the amount of times they blog in release week. Because you are not them. Don’t compare. Because you write differently, you have a different audience, you have a different path.
Instead of comparing, set yourself goals. Then judge yourself against those goals. Make the goals hard enough that you will strive to make them, but realistic enough that they are achievable.
This question is asked in a state of awe….How did you manage to release four novels and a novella in one year, whilst being a Mum to young children, and retain your sanity?!
I have NO IDEA!
I think the one thing that most people don’t reflect on, is the fact that it’s a long time between writing a book and publishing.
As previously mentioned, I wrote Loving Jay long before it was published. I actually submitted Loving Jay to the publisher in July 2013. I had nearly finished The Blinding Light by the time I received acceptance of my submission. I had written The Shearing Gun by the time I received my first edits. And I wrote Safe In His Arms and Bear Chasing before it was released.
Edits and promo chew a lot of your time – a lot more than I anticipated (like 100 fold!). So most of my writing was done before I hit this stage. Once the cycle of editing (which is a minimum of three rounds of edits plus a proof read) and releasing began to crank up, my writing time disappeared.
As for sanity? I’m the youngest of nine children. It’s always been doubtful I ever had any to begin with. **laughs**
Let me thank Renae, once again, for spending time with us, today. ‘Safe in his Arms’ is released through Dreamspinner Press.
Thank you for having me – I’ve had a great time.
About the Author:
Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
Renae Kaye has kindly offered an eCopy for 1 lucky commenter
Locally held contests will end 7 days from original posting date at 8pm CDT. Must be 18 or older to enter, void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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