ZA Maxfield on Jack: Grime and Punishment ~ Retro Reads Author Spotlight Interview Excerpt

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank ZA Maxfield for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from Loose Id Jack: Grime and Punishment. Prism Book Alliance® recently reviewed Jack: Grime and Punishment. You can find the review here.


1. We are here today to talk about the Brothers Grime series. What can you tell us about it?

One day I was at an RWA meeting and the speaker was talking about her book, a mashup of “The Bachelorette” and Regency romances. She challenged us to think about writing high concept novels and the idea came to me to do a mashup of “Dirty Jobs” and an m/m novel. I’ve always been fascinated by people who do crime scene clean up. You don’t often hear about them but can you imagine how you’d feel if something happened in your home and you were already traumatized, and then you had to clean up a mess of biologically hazardous waste? Even fingerprint powder is a mess. It wasn’t hard to create the idea. It nagged at me until I started writing it.

2. Tell us more about our main characters?

The three men who run The Brother’s Grime are long time friends. Eddie and Gabe are cousins. Jack is a firefighter who was injured on duty and unable to do his job anymore. He started the company because he wasn’t finished wanting to help people. He needed to find another way to be part of the cycle of righting peoples lives after tragedy. There’s a lot of money in cleaning these scenes because it’s a specialized job and there’s some risk to it. You have to be aware of each scene and its contaminants; whether it’s biological, like in a crime scene or the site where someone has died, or vermin related, in the case of hoarding.

3. What about the Brothers Grime Series makes you the proudest?

I guess I loved that these guys weren’t billionaires or whatever. Each of them could live next door to me. In fact, I very much put it in my neighborhood. Eddie drops his niece off at my kids’ elementary school. They’re blue collar guys who figured out a good niche but they’re also compassionate. They need to be gentle with the people they work with. I took my cue from the men who picked up my mother’s body after she passed. They were so respectful and loving with her. They wrapped her in handmade quilts and treated her like a living human. People who work with the aftermath of death or those that clean a house when hoarding is an issue are so patient, in my experience. I wanted to honor that.

4. If you could change one thing in the Brothers Grime Series what would it be and why?

I would make Jack’s story longer. I loved those guys. I should have stayed in their world for some more time.

5. What was the inspiration for this story series?

Like I mentioned, it just came to me all at once at an RWA meeting. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember the author’s name, but I did thank her personally at RWA nationals in Texas, her home state.

6. If the world were going to end tomorrow, how would you spend your last night on earth?

Right here, in my house with my husband and kids and their friends.

7. Tell us about some of your other titles.

I have about thirty titles so that would take a long time. What I can say is several of them have recently been put in audiobook format, including the Brother’s Grime, and you can find those at, just check out my author name, Z.A. Maxfield! The St. Nacho’s Series, The Deep Series, Family Unit, and Gasp, and Now Jack, Grime and Punishment, and Eddie, Grime Doesn’t Pay, are all available as audio titles. I hope you listen and enjoy! And stay tuned for the last in the Deep Series, Deep Deliverance, coming in the first week of March!

8. Rapid Fire Time

Favorite Color? Green
Pen or pencil ? Pencil (No. 2 with a perfectly sharpened tip and a pristine eraser.)
Think before you talk or talk before you think? Talk before I think. Always.
Tropical island or snow covered mountain cabin? Snow covered mountain cabin
Long or Short? Long
3D or 2D? 2D
Rain or snow? Rain
Hats or Fascinators? BOTH. And lots of them. You have no idea how many hatboxes I have.
Top or Bottom? Whatever man. S’long as it doesn’t hurt much.
Favorite Decade? the nineties. I’d like to relive it, because my kids were so little I hardly remember it.

9. What are you working on? What is next?

Coming up next is the third in the vampire series, Deep Deliverance, Adin is taking his vampire baby steps and he’s mad as hell about it. Donte has to let go and let him learn by himself and we all know how well that will work. Ned Harwiche III is dead, but his children are anxious to meet Adin at the funeral. They’re tiger shifters who seem to want to use Adin as a chew toy. Wait…Ned Harwiche had kids?

Stay tuned for more vampires.


Title: Jack: Grime and Punishment

Author: ZA Maxfield

Publisher: Loose Id


Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance


The Brothers Grime is Jack Masterson’s way of helping people in crisis after disability ends his career as a firefighter. Jack’s people get to a scene long after the physical trauma ends. They don’t solve crime or rescue the victims. They help people move on. The new job is all Jack wants or needs, until he gets the call about old flame Nick Foasberg’s suicide.

Ryan Halloran’s cousin Nick has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Despite that, Ryan does everything he knows to help. Ryan only understands part of what happened between Nick and Jack in high school, but after Nick’s suicide, Ryan agrees both he and Jack need closure. They work together to clean the scene and despite the situation, heat flares between them.

Jack is keeping a painful secret and fighting his attraction to Nick’s lookalike cousin, Ryan. Ryan calls himself a magnet for lost causes and worries Jack might be the next in a long line of losers. Despite his misgivings, despite the past and the mistakes they’ve both made, Jack gives Ryan something to look forward to, and Ryan gives Jack a reason to stop looking back, in Grime And Punishment.


Jack couldn’t say exactly how he ended up sitting at Dave Huntley’s mother’s kitchen table, drinking coffee from delicate, gold-embossed teacups. When she brought out a bag of shortbread cookies and turned the whole thing into a teddy bear picnic, he pinched himself discreetly.

Because he didn’t want to think about Nick, his thoughts settled on Dave.

This is where Dave comes from.

This explains so much.

Karen’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “What Jack is saying, I think, is that while you might be able to clean the room yourself, it might be better—emotionally speaking—to have a third party come in.”

Ryan slid a glance Jack’s way. “Is that what Jack is saying? That I might be emotionally scarred by cleaning my cousin’s blood from the tub, and he won’t?”

She bit her full lower lip. “Jack, I believe what Ryan is saying is he’s worried—”

“I heard him.” Jack sighed. I’ll have to ask Dave if his mom is a marriage counselor. “We both knew the deceased.”

The phone rang, and Karen left them alone while she answered it.

For a couple of minutes, silence consumed them. Jack heard the number on the stove clock flip over from 10:56 to 10:57. Then 10:58.

“Why are you here?” Ryan finally asked.

“To bid the job like everyone else.”

“Right.” Ryan’s tone of voice indicated he didn’t buy it. He’d wrapped his arms around himself.

Jack put his cup into the saucer none too gently, then pushed it away. “Christ. I should not be using something as fragile as that.”

Ryan’s lips curved into a faint smile. “They’re pretty, though.”

God. Pale skin, pale brows. Freckles dusted the bridge of his nose and were scattered by the thousands over his forearms where he’d pushed up his sleeves.

Eyes the lightest shade of blue, like shadows in the snow.

Ryan was so like Nick. Yet…they were as individual as snowflakes.

Where Nick Foasberg had been built brutal in the way of Irishmen with the blood of Vikings in them, Ryan had softer edges. He was all lean muscle mass and just as tall as Nick, but he wasn’t keen like Nick had been. He wasn’t sharp or hard.

Ryan’s body language said he had nothing to prove.

He was intelligent. That much was clear. Was he a Foasberg? Or a cousin with a different name?

Jack said, “Look, you don’t know me, but—”

“I know of you.” Ryan’s gaze locked with his. “I know what Nick did to you. I was there.”

Jack’s heart dropped like an elevator with a broken cable. “You—”

“I know he humiliated you. How he and his friends beat you.” His gaze was searching. “What did you think would happen when you asked him to senior prom publicly, when you made a circus out of it so everyone knew you had a thing for him?”

Jack’s heart contracted. “I don’t know.”

I didn’t expect my best friend—who was also my fucking lover, goddamn it—and six other assholes to beat the hell out of me. I didn’t expect I’d barely escape being sodomized with a broom handle because someone called the cops.

No, sir. I did not expect that.

Ryan’s hostile expression turned to one of pity. “I would never condone what he did. Violence is wrong. But you should have gone to him in private. Told him you were gay. Talked to him about it. He was your friend. He would have understood. But he felt cornered when you did your whole rose-between-the-teeth thing. He was desperate.”

“You’re seriously going with that?” Despite years of practice controlling his reaction to Nick’s betrayal, Jack’s voice rose. Ryan clearly remembered things differently than he did. “Gay-panic defense?”

“No. Never.” Ryan’s fists tightened in his lap. “But I’m certain he never meant the situation to get so out of control.”

More minutes of silence—measured by the mechanical sound of numbers flipping—ticked by.

Jack felt bone tired already, and it was still early. “What the hell happened to him?”

“He killed himself.”

“I know that. I guess I meant…do you know why?”

“Things haven’t gone well for him for a while.”

Jack sat back. “I didn’t know.”

“You heard the Foasbergs lost the dealership, right?”

“Yes.” Foasberg Chevrolet had been their family business for about eighty years. Jack heard they lost the dealership when GM restructured after the bailout.

Jack took a cookie to give his hands something to do. “That was a nice place.”

“He tried to keep the service bays open for a while, after. Tried to get a different franchise. It finally closed, and they sold the land. The market was shit, and they pretty much lost everything.”

“I didn’t know.”

“After that, things just”—Ryan lowered his lashes—“went downhill.”


“I’m sorry.” Karen reentered. The heels of her shoes tapped briskly on the tiled floor. “I have to go pick up a friend whose car quit on her.”

Jack rose to leave. Karen picked up her purse from the kitchen counter.

She must have realized leaving meant Ryan would have to face going back to his house alone, because suddenly she turned to him. “Ryan, you could stay here and finish your coffee. I won’t be very long. You can make yourself at home until—”

“I couldn’t.” Ryan stood up. “I’ve abused your hospitality enough today.”

“But you shouldn’t have to go back there, not when—”

“It’s fine. It’s not like I can unsee the scene.”

Ryan started toward the door. Jack and Karen followed.

Jack wasn’t ready to give up on the job just yet. “Mind if I come with you? I could give you a quote.”

“I told you—”

“I understand, Ryan. I really do. If you know how to clean and disinfect and dispose of waste materials, then you’ll be able to save money if you do it yourself. But you might find it’s more emotional than you imagined and change your mind. Even if you don’t use Brothers Grime, my bid will give you a ballpark idea of what any reputable firm would charge you for the job.”

Karen smiled. “All right. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it, Ryan?”

“Yes.” Ryan didn’t look Jack’s way.

“Excellent.” Karen pulled Jack into a hug before he had a chance to make that impossible. She did the same for Ryan, and he welcomed her. “I’m so sorry I have to leave. Expect me to stop by later with food.”

“You don’t need to go to any trouble.”

“It’s no trouble.” Karen practically shook him. “I’ll worry about you.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Ryan smiled.

“Jack, it was a pleasure meeting you,” she said.

“You too, ma’am.”

She closed the door behind them, presumably because she had to go through the house to get to the garage. A minute later, the heavy steel door rolled up, and Karen’s import sedan backed down the driveway. Still awkward around Ryan, Jack waved from the porch as she sped away.

Then they headed toward Ryan’s place, the final stop on Nick Foasberg’s short and troubled journey through life.

About the Author

AuthorPhotoZ. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.


Jack: Grime and Punishment on Goodreads
Loose Id
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA


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,

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