Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Anyta Sunday and Andrew Q. Gordon for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from Dreamspinner Press (Un)Masked. Prism Book Alliance® recently reviewed (Un)Masked. You can find the review here.
In Honor of Anyta Sunday and Andrew Q Gordon appearing on our Retro Reads Spotlight, (Un)Masked is on sale for $3.99 for a limited time! (that is more than 40% off, just saying)
Retro Reads Spotlight with Andrew Gordon and Anyta Sunday
1. We are here today to talk about (Un)Masked. What can you tell us about it?
Anyta: This was our first published, co-writing endeavor! I remember chatting with Andrew online and emailing the manuscript back and forth. I have this vivid memory of traveling around England and Scotland while we were fine-tuning scenes.
Andrew: My most vivid memory with this was sitting in the hotel doing edits. Anyta and her family were visiting us and we were going over the edits. That and learning the meaning of scroggin (trail mix) and Jandles (flip flops).
Regarding the book itself, it’s set in Wellington, New Zealand where Anyta is from and I felt like I’d been there after all the work we did on the book. It’s Jay’s story, primarily, but Lethe and Graham figure prominently. Lethe’s family was cursed and he is forced to hide his face to avoid trouble. Only Jay isn’t affected by the curse, at least so they thought.
2. Tell us more about our main character?
Anyta: Jay has a really big heart. He loves his best friend Gristle and would do anything for him. They loved writing and producing plays together and it was their dream to perform on Wellington’s Tory Street Theater.
Here’s a wee fact . . . the scene with losing a shoe in the giraffe enclosure? Yeah, that was based on something that happened with a friend of mine at the zoo!
Andrew: What she said. 😉
3. What about (Un)Masked makes you the proudest?
Anyta: It was my first publication through a publishing house! That was a big achievement for me.
Andrew: This was my first published book as well, but I’m most proud of how much closer Anyta and I got during the process. That and how much I learned from her – she’s quite fabulous.
4. If you could change one thing in (Un)Masked what would it be and why?
Anyta: Killing a certain character, because we made so many people upset. Nah, I probably wouldn’t change that—the story needed it—but yeah, that was a super hard thing to do to a loveable character.
Andrew: I don’t really want to change anything – sorry if that’s a cop out, but it was exactly how I/we wanted it.
5. Can you talk a little about the inspiration for (Un)Masked?
Anyta: Oh God, lol, I struggle to remember. It was quite a few years ago that we wrote it. I think we both knew we wanted a story that had a magical twist to it but that was grounded firmly in our world and reality, so that there would be a feeling of maybe this could have happened . . .
Andrew: This was more Anyta’s idea at first, she said, ‘what if. . .’ and we ran with it from there.
6. Will we be hearing more from this world in the future?
Anyta: Probably not any time soon. I know I have enough projects to get me through the next two – three years, LOL.
Andrew: Agreed. We did a very short story for Dreamspinner Press’s Day of Silence and I’d like to do a few more maybe short stories with these two, but nothing like a full on novel anytime soon. I don’t know where we’d take it.
7. Anything else you want to tell us about (Un)Masked?
Anyta: Well, when we were editing the book and in the process of getting it ready for publication, I was actually living in the States! I was so thrilled to be living only 3 hours away from Andy, and the best part? I got to meet my co-author and his lovely family!
Andrew: Anyta’s knack for imagery comes through in so many places. It really does feel like I’ve been to Wellington after writing (Un)Masked. This isn’t your normal paranormal/urban fantasy book. The ‘speculative fiction’ part is subtle, but very different.
8. Can you talk a little about the co-writing process?
Anyta: What’s so great about writing with Andy, other than he’s awesome and a great writer, is the process itself. It’s very motivating working with him, I’m excited to get into the gritty of rewriting and I work faster knowing that Andy is waiting on the other end to take over when I go to bed. It’s great to shift the manuscript back and forth, working to each other’s strengths. I find when I’m stuck in my single projects, then I need a few days to figure things out—working with Andy, all we need is a chat session, and we’ve sorted things out. It’s brilliant.
Andrew: Don’t believe anything she said about me, they’re all lies…um yeah, even the good bits. But I agree, the process is awesome. I can’t say I could replicate it with anyone else. Anyta and I definitely have different strengths, but we share a lot of the same quirks. I can’t say I’m as easy to work with as she is, but Anyta approaches the collaboration with zero ego. (And as between the two of us, she has more room to have one.) I can’t think of any time either of us dug our heels in and said, no, I want it this way. Now we did have a few marathon chapters of 10 or 11 revisions, but those seemed to make the book that much better.
9. Tell us about some of your other titles.
Andrew: Since Anyta left this bit blank, let me crow about her for a bit – Writing as Drew Wellington, she has a YA fantasy series – Knights of the Compass – that is awesome. Invisible is similar to (Un)Masked in it’s quirky slightly magic way. Liam Davis and the Raven is a bit of a thriller MM romance that like so many of her books has a unique flavor that is all her. Rock was really quite amazing. It is one of her newest books and it shows how much she’s grown as a writer. It’s quirky and wonderful.
10. Rapid Fire Time
- Love Story or Thriller? Anyta: Love Story; Andrew: Thriller.
- Fire or Ice? Anyta: Ice; Andrew: Ice.
- Steak or Pizza? Anyta: Steak; Andrew: Pizza – I don’t eat beef.
- Train or Plane? Anyta: Plane; Andrew: Trains.
- Any Tattoos or piercings? Anyta: Pierced Ears / Belly button; Andrew: Soccer tattoo on my leg and both ears pierced, but I’ve not worn them much since I became a real adult.
- Music or TV/Movies? Anyta: Music; Andrew: Both.
- Salty or Sugary? Anyta: Sugary (though not allowed anymore); Andrew: Salty – it fits my personality.
- Porsche or Prius? Anyta: Prius; Andrew: Neither, I’m a total Jeep Wrangler man.
11. What are you working on? What is next?
Anyta: Working on a few projects at the moment, one contemporary college-based MM romance with my fabulous co-author Andrew Q. Gordon, another a dragon-shifter trilogy (think Buffy meet Harry Potter with an MM twist), and a couple of smaller novellas!
Andrew: Other than the one Antya mentioned we’re working on together, a sequel to Purpose; Book 4 of Champion of the Gods; and if I ever find the time, finishing Harp Strings, a college age MM Romance.
Author: Anyta Sunday and Andrew Q. Gordon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Caroline Wimmer
Jay Walker has two wishes: to perform the play of his dreams alongside his best friend at Wellington’s Tory Street Theatre, and to meet that special someone. Someone he’d go to the ends of the earth for. Someone who might only exist in fairy tales.
When Jay meets accordion busker Lethe Cross, it’s like living a dream come true. Lethe’s music captivates Jay, and he resolves to meet the man who plays so beautifully. But then he discovers Lethe’s life is more like a nightmare. The phrase “down on his luck” can’t begin to cover it. Determined to help, Jay does some snooping for answers—and winds up on the wrong end of a centuries-old curse. The good news is there’s a way to break it. The bad news is it might cost Jay his life.
After working an eight-hour shift at Front View Café, I saw him again while I was walking to my bus stop. He was standing on the concrete wall, wearing a green hoodie today, and his music soared in the air, trailing its way over and beckoning me closer.
I straightened, holding my breath before letting it out with a growing smile. Fumbling in my shorts’ pocket, I extracted a two-dollar coin. I was saving it for bus fare home, but I’d walk. It was a nice day, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to this guy again.
I watched him from across the path, waiting until he’d finished his piece. When the song came to an end, a family of cyclists zoomed between us. He jumped off the wall with casual grace and collected his earnings. I checked to my left. Another three bikes yet to pass. Finally, the last one cleared my path.
Where had he disappeared to? This couldn’t happen a second time. I scoured the pavement; he was nowhere to be seen. After crossing to the wall where he’d played, I looked over and spotted his hoodie. He was walking through the sand in the direction of the boatsheds.
The two-dollar coin cut into my hand. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to track him down to give it to him.
I jumped over the wall and marched after him, my sneakers sinking into the hot sand, slowing my movement. A stray arc of water hit my arm from a couple shooting at each other with water guns.
“Sorry, mate,” they apologized.
I smiled it off. No worries. The way I felt right now, they could’ve knocked me down, and it wouldn’t have bothered me. Besides, the water was refreshing.
The green hoodie winked out of view, and I hurried down a short set of stairs to catch up. I reeled around the corner, much too fast, connecting with something solid. Very green. And carrying an accordion. “Shit!” I cried as I stumbled with my victim to the concrete path. “Oh, God, I’m sorry.”
I scrambled off, feeling the heat race to my cheeks. My mystery guy pushed himself neatly to his feet. His hoodie had slipped off in the fall, and the sunlight haloed his blond hair.
“Really sorry,” I murmured again.
“No problem,” he replied, spinning a smile and staring at me. The same, odd, penetrating stare as yesterday.
“I—I heard you play,” I stammered. “You’re very talented.” My nerves suddenly caught up with me, and I didn’t know what I wanted to say anymore. I held out the coin to him. “Um, I wanted to drop this in your box, but you left too quickly.”
I glanced around us, unable to keep eye contact the way he could. The blue-and-white boathouses shone brightly in the sun, crowned nicely by the green-hilled backdrop and St. Gerard’s Monastery.
“You keep finding me,” he said, a wary note in his voice. “Are you Thoth?”
I frowned at the guy, who still hadn’t taken my offering. Thoth? “Uh, no. I’m Jay.”
The intensity of his green eyes sent a pleasant shiver spiraling through me. I dropped my gaze to his shoulder. There came a distinct releasing of breath, and then the words: “Well, Jay, mind if I ask you a question?”
“Will you take this money and tell me your name?”
“Aye.” His smile seemed to steadily grow. “What do I look like to you?”
Huh? “Th—that’s a bizarre question.”
His smile faded, and he nodded but didn’t offer any explanation. Only waited.
“Um, you look like you’re a musician?” Was that the answer he was looking for?
“No, I mean….” He took a breath, and it shook as he let it out. “Do you notice the scar on my face?”
This had to rank as the most unusual conversation starter I’d experienced. Why would he care if I noticed his scar? Or did he feel self-conscious about it? Maybe that’s why he donned the hood while he’d played. “It’s barely noticeable. I don’t think anyone would see it from a distance. Besides, the way it quirks your brow….” I drifted off, catching myself before I let out how much it suited him.
A new smile cracked his face. “I’m Lethe. Lethe Cross. So, you liked that little piece, did you?” He unstrapped the accordion, opened one of the boathouses, and ducked inside.
“You have quite a presence. Have you performed before?” I peered into the shed. Instead of a boat or boating equipment, the space had a bed, drawers, table, and chairs—even a basin and bench in the corner. Did he live here? Seriously. Here?
Lethe came back. I reached out to hand him the coin. He took it from my pinched fingers and then pushed it back into the palm of my hand. He jiggled his pockets. “I did quite well today. Keep it.” He wiped the beads of sweat off his brow. “How about we get ice cream instead?”
I dropped the coin into my pocket and nodded. Lethe quickly locked up.
“Is this where you live?” I asked cautiously, trying not to let out any hint of my surprise—and failing.
“Yes. For the moment. Until Mr. Patterson comes back from his sailing trip. But that’s a few months off yet.”
“Who’s Mr. Patterson?”
He shrugged. “Haven’t much of a clue. But he is madly in love with Mrs. Cableman from Hataitai and would do anything for her. That’s how I scored the place.”
“Did she suggest he lend it to you?”
“Um, yeah, something like that.”
“Does she love him back?” Not that it mattered, but I was curious—and well, too nervous to think of anything else to chat about.
“Wouldn’t have the foggiest. What’s your favorite flavor?”
Lethe laughed. “Ice cream.”
We climbed up the stairs back to the sand. “Boysenberry. Just a tick.” I bent down, undid my laces, and took off my shoes. I peeled my socks off and stuffed one in each of my lower pockets. Lifting my shoes, I poured out the sand, tied the laces together, and flung them over my shoulder. “And yours?”
Lethe had shucked on his hood again. “My…?”
“Favorite flavor!” I returned the same laugh he’d given me before.
He turned, so I could see his face. “Goody goody gumdrops for sure. I like the lollies inside. They’re so cold and chewy.”
About the Author
A born and raised New Zealander, Anyta Sunday has been exploring the literary world since she started reading Roald Dahl as a kid. Inspired, stories have been piling up in her head ever since. Fast forward to her mid-twenties and jump a few countries (Germany, America, and back again), and she started putting pen to paper. When she’s not writing or chasing her kid around, she’s reading, hiking, watching a Joss Whedon series, attempting pilates, or curling up with her two cats. Updates on her projects can be found at anytasunday.com.
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of twenty years, their daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.
Comment on the post for a chance to win a back list ebook from both Anyta and Andrew.
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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