Christopher Koehler on Poz ~ Blog Tour, Interview, Rafflecopter Giveaway

Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Christopher Koehler for taking the time to talk with us today.

PozFS

Title: Poz
Author: Christopher Koehler
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publication Date:01/08/2015
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

Blurb:

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.

Interview:

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.

Author Links:

Visit him at http://christopherkoehler.net/blog or follow him on Twitter @christopherink.

Tour Stops:

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

Buy Links:

Harmony Ink Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Poz_Blog-Tour-Graphic

Farewell Giveaway
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,

Brandilyn
This post may contain affiliate links.
Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews.  The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.

54 thoughts on “Christopher Koehler on Poz ~ Blog Tour, Interview, Rafflecopter Giveaway

  1. I enjoyed the interview and the “CalPac Crew” series is one of my favourites series to read.

    ShirleyAnn(at)speakman40(dot)freeserve(dot)co(dot)uk

    • Okay, here’s where I admit that as much as I love all the guys in the CalPac series, Rocking The Boat, the first of the series, still makes me cringe a bit. It was the first novel I ever published and I see all the things I did wrong. But it’s also the place to start. I wrote them as stand-alones, at least at first, but that more or less when by the wayside, certainly by book 3.

    • Yer silly, no you don’t. :p 😀

      Also, I’m def looking forward to reading this and I don’t read a lot of YA, but this sounds too good to miss.

      • Poz honestly could’ve gone either way in terms of YA vs grown-up (“adult” has such fun connotations in American English doesn’t it? The mr and I were in London for our 20th anniversary last summer, and non-kids’ cereals were labeled “adult cereals” in the supermarket. I laughed my ass off and took a picture). I ended up situating it as YA because of the message. But yeah, YA isn’t usually my thing, either, but it seems to be where the action is in fiction these days.

        If you like steampunk, which I do, that’s where I get my fix, since Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series (it’s where you go if you want people finished) and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy rock.

  2. Christopher, I too am surprised and disheartened by all of the young people being diagnosed, I’ve had two friends, under 25, diagnosed in the last year alone, one only a couple of months ago. And here in my small town, there were a group of young people, male and female, trying to pass it to each other, no clue as to why someone would do this to themselves or others. In one case, a girl got pregnant, on purpose and passed it to her baby,another stupid decision. They all thought it was something “cool” to do and most of these kids were younger than my friends who were diagnosed and all were straight, as far as I know. In any case, what they dI’d and might possibly still be doing, is not only stupid, but reckles too. If they only knew what could happen, what did happen in the 80s and early 90s. It just makes me so angry to know that they became positive on purpose and knowing how devastating that diagnosis can be to my friends. Sure, most of the time it’s very treatable and controlled now, with meds that are a little easier to handle. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are still very expensive and that some people can’t take them or that secondary ailments can be twice as bad and harder to treat. And then there’s the depression that sometimes comes along after the diagnosis.
    The biggest problem I see, is the fact that kids aren’t being taught about this in school. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a sex ed class, it can be a science class. But I’d say 75-90% of middle and high school kids have no clue, especially in small communities. Sure, they know that a condom can usually prevent transmission. But how many know that it can also be transmitted through oral sex, even though the likelihood is much lower. How many know what really happened in the 80s, how many even care?
    Something has to change, before it begins all over again.
    Sorry for going on a rant, but it’s something very close to my heart and once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop.

  3. No need to apologize, at all, maryj. You’re simply speaking the truth. It does feel like HIV doesn’t really get a lot of headlines anymore and has probably fallen off the list of things to be included in classes. I’m glad ou came and shared with us.

    • Thank you Lirtle. While I might not be what some call “a true activist”, I still want to do everything I can to make people understand that it’s not just a little thing simply because it’s symptoms can be treated or that the drugs will keep them alive. The drugs are expensive, they can make you sick and even if they’re in them, how many will take them faithfully, exactly as prescribed. I’d imagine not too many of them, because many of them are still too busy partying to pay attention to their health and we all know this is true.

  4. Christopher, I’m glad you’ve decided to put this under YA. I buy YA books to donate to various teen lgbtq services, and this was one I’ve had my eye on (and buying a paperback through DSP means I get the ebook for free so I can read it.) I haven’t heard of your writing before, so double bonus, your writing through the HI imprint gives you a new adult reader. 🙂 Great post, and though I was already looking forward to the story, that’s even more true now.

    • Thanks 🙂

      In going back and forth about where to position Poz, one of my hopes is that by going with YA and Harmony Ink Poz would end up in libraries of various kinds. I’m not sure delusional to think it’ll ever end up in a classroom, but if it’s in a library, maybe it’ll find its way into the hands of some LGBTQI teen who needs it. Then, mission accomplished.

      • I am every hopeful. There’s some schools and some teachers who might just surprise us. Plus, librarians are awesome for helping kids find books they need.

      • I’m going to suggest it to our local library, both in print and as an ebook. I just found out a few days ago that we have many LGBT ebooks available to check out. I might also attempt to speak to the high school librarian to see if she/he will order it. But first I’m going to ask Jeff Erno to send me a few copies of Bullied to give to them as well. If they agree, I’ll order Poz myself, if I have to and donate it to them

      • Awesome, Lirtle! I’m totally giving you a virtual hip bump. I love my fellow readers! We know words can change the world for the better, and hopefully we’re helping with that in a tiny way. Hey, even affecting one life, right? Keep being fabulous. 🙂

  5. I lived through the whole AIDS scare in the 80’s and remember the number of obituaries in the newspaper every day. I still can’t believe that people take that kind of chance. Even though it may not be a automatic death sentence, being tied to daily meds is nothing to be desired. I guess you had to be there.

    • Same here. I was in jr high when it hit and I grew up an hour or so from San Francisco. There was no way to avoid news of the plague. So with news of rising rates of infections I go back and forth between compassion and wanting to scream at people.

      • I started my first year of high school in 1980 and I think people started to get it a little before then, but I’m not completely sure about that, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong. I grew up and still live in a small town in the central part of Louisiana, population well less than 10,000. Back then, it was probably around 5000 or so.
        I’m sure it’s because of this, we just didn’t see it here and of course, no one would have admitted it back then anyway. I didn’t find out until a couple of years ago, the bf I had pretty much all thru middle school and first year or so of high school, died in 1994, pretty sure it was AIDS related, but not sure because I can’t find any of his blood relatives. He has a brother that grew up with him, but no clue as to where he is either. Found out about 10 years ago that his Foster dad had kicked him out and refused to let his wife talk to Paul after he came out, which was most likely during senior year (I quit after 11th year was finished) because he did not graduate with the class. He left and went to Missouri at some point, because that’s where he died. It broke my heart when I found out what had happened because I know if I had kept in touch with him after I left school, it might not have happened. He was one of my best friends in school and it was like when I didn’t go back for senior year, I just turned my back on everyone, even though it wasn’t something I did intentionally, it just happened. I want to cry every time I think about it, knowing I could have probably made a difference in his life had I been there to help when that man made him leave.
        All I can say is he better thank God he’s dead, because if I had the chance, I’d definitely give him a piece of my mind.

  6. LOL. The rapid answer question answer for the first one had me cracking up. I would be one too, can’t completely give up meat =( Thank you great post =)

    • The funny part is, I resumed carnivory at the same time my husband went full-on vegan. I do a lot of the cooking and I’m not a short-order cook. I cook mostly vegan meals because it’s easier for me to eat meat at other times than it is for him to pick it out of dinner, hence the “half-assed” part.

      We respect each other’s preferences. So there are no snide “meat is murder” comments from him and I don’t say anything about what he eats being dinner for real food. I also don’t cook with butter…unless he’s being difficult 😉

  7. I have read and enjoyed 2 of your books. I’m a nurse and was in training during the 80’s AIDS scare. I remember people being in isolation and dying horribly. People don’t understand . Medications are just a little of what keeps these people alive. They have to change their lifestyle and be vigilant about their health. And there is still a stigma on people with HIV and AIDS. It sounds like this is a book for all YA not just LGBT.

    • Sex is a powerful motivator, but it’s only a small part of life…the rest of life that has affected by HIV. I wish there were some way to convey that. I hope Poz can be a book for all YA and NA. Thanks for sharing your expertise 🙂

  8. I’m glad that despite the personal disadvantages, you chose to go with Harmony Ink for this book. Positive messages like this are really needed by teens today. Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Such a powerful message that is important to spread. I think it’s great that you chose to go with Harmony Ink for that reason. Congrats on your release.

    • The publisher was really patient while I chewed my guts out over this. I tend to overthink things. In the end, making the statement won out. I hope Poz is able to make it into at least a few libraries, which has been my goal all along.

  10. Christopher, I’m so glad to see you’ve written one of the VERY few on HIV. Kudos to you. I’ve just read Mary Gresham’s comment and it is quite disturbing. Are these kids taking HIV as a novelty? As a game? If only parents would sit down with their kids and explain the dangers of these awful disease, make them understand that by being careless they are playing Russian Roulette with their lives. Also, schools should take the initiative to educate their students but since these morons think that HIV is a “gay” thing they refuse to even go there. SMDH. It’s up to us parents to make their kids aware of the dangers, just like I’ve done with mine. I hope your book reaches a lot of teens and young adults. Much success to you.
    taina1959 @ yahoo.com

    • It really shocks me how very few novels there are about HIV (or other intrusions of reality). It’s like the sun always shines on TV or something. Even in novels dealing with some pretty gritty reality there aren’t even any HIV or other STI scares. This diseases is out there and it’s on the increase again, but no. The sun keeps right on shining. Hopefully Poz and the fact that it’s not scolding and that it’s ultimately pretty upbeat and life-affirming can get at least a few people’s attention. What I need to show in the follow-up is how much work it is for Remy to keep things steady.

      I think part of the trouble is the major disconnect parents often experience when they think of their children and sex, and I say that as a parent. I remember how unclean I felt the first time I ran across my son’s browser history (some of it was pretty out there). What it really meant, however, is that I needed to up my game. My son had questions and the fact that he was looking meant I hadn’t supplied the answers. Campaigning for abstinence-only sex ed in school won’t make those questions disappear.

      All I can think is that those young adults treating HIV as a game or a way to relieve the tedium were victims of that kind of thinking.

      • I wish that young people would read A Letter to Steven by Fabian Black where a man who was careless with his sexual encounters has contracted HIV, then suddenly he finds the man he wants to spend the rest of his life with, only it was too late.
        “It feels better going without” VS. your life. Which to choose. I’d always choose life.

Leave a Reply