Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Christopher Koehler for taking the time to talk with us today.
Author: Christopher Koehler
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title
The Lives of Remy and Michael: Book One
Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pacific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they’re both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia.
Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most.
We are here today to talk about Poz. What do you want to tell us about it?
Poz tells the story of a high schooler who made some colorful choices the summer between his junior and senior years of high school, and the consequences will follow him for the rest of his life. That said, Poz is funny and life-affirming. It is a book about life and love, not death.
Tell me more about Remy and Michael.
Remy is, or at least can be, brash and outspoken. Michael is cautious. Michael is one of those who can make friends with anyone, whereas Remy holds something of himself back and never entirely easy in public. Remy has the reputation for being arrogant, but he’s actually aloof and insecure in public contexts. Michael is his social shield.
Michael is the steadying presence in Remy’s life, the quiet eye of Remy’s storm. Michael’s stronger than Remy, I think, at least in some ways, but Remy’s more ruthless. Michael thinks before acting, but Remy will cut someone out his life like a diseased limb if that’s what it takes without appearing to give it much thought. Key word: appearing, because if anything, Remy suffers from paralysis by analysis, but once he decides to act, he does.
Remy will do anything to protect Michael and will do anything for Michael. Michael is one of the few who understands just how vulnerable Remy is.
Poz is not officially part of the CalPac Crew series, but we do get to see a few of our favorites from CalPac. Poz is your first YA story with Harmony Ink Press. What inspired you to move from Adult titles to the YA world?
Actually, it is officially a part of the CalPac world if you come look inside the covers of the Dreamspinner books. If you approach it via Harmony Ink, it’s not, but even then my editors and I dropped the ball because when I wrote the acknowledgments I wrote them as if Poz were to be published by DSP. Astute YA readers will figure out something’s up and if their sleuthing skills are good enough, they may well find their way to the CalPac series.
I went back and forth on whether or not to publish Poz with Dreamspinner or Harmony Ink. On the one hand, books published with DSP earn more (sorry, but writing is a business). On the other hand, Poz was written with a certain message in mind and after discussing the matter with Dreamspinner’s publisher and Harmony Ink’s coordinator, we switched Poz to Harmony Ink, more or less at the last moment.
By publishing Poz under the Harmony Ink imprint, it can be placed in libraries, for example, making it and its messages of safer sex, knowing your HIV status, and realizing that a diagnosis of HIV is simply life changing (and not life ending) are in the hands of the demographic with the highest rates in new infections, young gay and bi men ages 16-24 or so. Surprise, parents! Keeping your sons ignorant isn’t keeping them safe, it only keeps them from protecting themselves and their partners.
Will we be seeing more from these characters in a sequel?
Oh absolutely. See my answer to Question 9, below. I am even now writing what happens to Remy and Michael and the secondary characters approximately six months after Poz ends.
Poz takes on a very serious topic with grace and responsibility. What was your inspiration for it?
What inspired me? Impotent fury and frustration at rising rates of new infections among young men. I lived through the plague. I was in junior high when it hit and I grew up about 70 miles from San Francisco. I already knew I was gay and I was well aware that what I wanted could kill me. Long before safe sex campaigns, I’d already figured out that wearing condoms meant two men weren’t technically touching where it counted. I was a strange child.
Look, we know what causes HIV. We know how to prevent new infections. Somehow, that message isn’t getting through anymore. I’ll leave questions of “why not?” to other people. If the Reagan 80s taught us anything, it’s that judgement and condemnation don’t work. Neither does despair.
So what could I do? I can write things. I ran this idea for a story about a high school rower by my publisher and her response was “Go for it.” I have an amazing publisher.
Do you ever abandon a draft partly written and just move on? Do you keep a file of plot ideas?
Yes to both questions. I have all kinds of files of ideas, include a dieselpunk quartet and a manners comedy not unlike First Impressions. I started it a number of years ago but had to abandon it when my depression grew too severe. It’s hard to be satirical and mocking when you can barely get out of bed. Anyway, it’ll either be called A Dish Best Served Cold or Everything But The Lemon, since it starts out when the protagonist learns his husband died via a tragic self-strangulation accident (post—that’s autoerotic asphyxiation). When everyone in his life turns feral, the protagonist does the only thing he possibly can. He gets revenge.
Only it turns out that it takes a lot of time to build up the layers of crazy found in a book like FI. You can’t just crank that out, so while I a well-developed plot, it’s the layering I’m working on. It’s a lot like lacquer that way, patiently laying down thin coat after thin coat to produce the glossy depth needed to make your readers wonder if you’re completely off your rocker. The only problem with abandoning a book and picking it up again is that some of the pop culture references are too dated to use anymore.
Do you take a break from a first draft to get distance from it, or dive right into editing, or edit heavily as you write?
I try not to edit as I write, but with the amount of outlining I do before I write, my first draft is almost a finished draft. Rather than edit as I go, I make note of things that need to be addressed as I realize the need. “Thread [such and so]” means go back and lay the groundwork for something, for example. Or I’ll make notes about a glaring hole in the plot as soon as I realize one exists. Sometimes I jot these down at the beginning of the manuscript, sometimes at the beginning of the chapter I’m working on when I figure them out.
Once I have a completed draft, I collect all of these into a separate document and then go about addressing them. Then I run spell-check and look for dropped words—this is my biggest problem as a writer, hands down. After I’ve gone through what I can do and am totally incapable of seeing any errors, I farm it out to beta readers. My husband makes it his mission to catch those dropped words, while other betas address other issues. Together they provide a wide range of comments that force me to consider many issues with my story, and these invariably make for a better read.
Rapid Fire time
- Sausage or Hamburger? Neither, I’m a half-assed vegetarian.
- Vanilla or Chocolate? Chocolate.
- Underwear and socks: folded in the drawer or tossed? Folded in the drawer.
- Porsche or Prius? Porsche (I drive a Mercedes with the same 0-60 time as a Boxter). Also, I don’t actually fit in a Prius. I’ve tried.
- Fire or Ice? Ice
- Favorite Color? Blue
- Sweet or Savory? Sweet
- Coke or Pepsi? (Diet) Coke.
What are you working on? What’s next?
I’m currently writing on the sequel to Poz, currently titled All That Is Solid (Melts Into Air). It traces the further evolution of Remy and Michael’s relation, as well as their realization that as much as they love each other they cannot be together for a variety of reasons. It will be followed by the third and final book in the trilogy, Finding Solid Ground, that ties everything up with a pretty ribbon. I make these boys work for their HEA, but they end up with one by the end of the third book.
About the Author:
Christopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out of putting pen to paper.
Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged both that tendency and the writing. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting.
When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction.
Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.
Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he’s an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly.
7 Jan – Prism Book Alliance
9 Jan – Cody Kennedy
10 Jan – The Novel Approach
14 Jan – JP Barnaby
15 Jan – Love Bytes
19 Jan – GGR Reviews
21 Jan – Hearts on Fire Reviews
22 Jan – MM Good Book Reviews
26 Jan – James Erich
28 Jan – Joyfully Jay
2 Feb – Rainbow Gold Reviews
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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