Santino Hassell on Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story) ~ Interview, Rafflecopter Giveaway

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Santino Hassell for stopping by today.


Title: Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story)
Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Genre: Contemporary


A Five Boroughs Story

Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Santino Answers Fan Questions about Life and Five Boroughs

On Life

During NaNo and on promo blog tours, etc. how do you balance your career & writing/promo? Is it necessary to take time off work, or do you still manage your work schedule along with all the authoring activities? I’m always impressed by how engaged you are with bloggers, publishers, fellow writers, & fans.

Thank you! I try my best to let my readers and fellow writers know I exist as more than just a promo machine. Also, I genuinely enjoy interacting with people. The combination of everything is extremely time consuming, and I have to manage my time pretty strictly. It’d be great to take a few days off during new releases, but it’s not possible. Generally, I try to keep up with social media at work but it’s been hard this year so I’ll slot an hour into after work, then I’ll tackle emails, and I’ll try to get in at least two writing sprints at night. Weekends should be easier but I just end up procrastinating for longer.

Has moving away from NYC affected your writing? Does location and/or environment play a big part in your creative process?

I think it may have affected my writing for the better in some ways. I love NYC with all my heart, but the reality is that the time I spent commuting and waiting on trains added to my stress, diminished my after work time, and prevented me from getting words on paper at night. The reduced stress that I’ve experienced here (on a daily basis) has been better for me.

Do you see yourself moving back to NYC at some point in your life?

I do. I’m not sure when, but probably before I hit the big 4-0.

Will you eventually do readings/in store appearances or will you continue with your semi-anonymous persona?

If I’m ever able to give up my day job and write full time, I definitely would. 🙂 Is that likely to happen? Probably not.

About Five Boroughs

Will our SB and SP boys (yes i have already claimed them fight meee lol) make cameos in the other 5 boroughs books?

Definitely! Michael and Nunzio are prominent side characters in SUNSET PARK, and all of those guys have cameos in FIRST AND FIRST–the third book which is due out in April.

In SB, you hit on Michael’s spiral into alcoholism with ridiculous accuracy, his decent into. No man’s land and eventual rehab, the feelings he had and what he experienced in treatment were spot fucking on. So many authors get that wrong, did you research treatment centers and alcoholic behavior?

A lot of what I wrote was based on my own experience with treatment centers and AA. I’ve had some history with both. I find that a lot of times people write rehab as this haven of good vibes and people who all really want to change, and who have counselors who are super mellow, but that’s not the reality for people who end up in government run facilities. I doubt it’s the reality for any addict, though. The drying out period is not fun no matter your class status.

I’m in lust with Juan Forgia. Will he be on any more of the Five Boroughs covers, or because the remaining books’ focus will not be on Michael or Raymond, will there be other swoon-worthy models?

He’s on SUTPHIN BOULEVARD and SUNSET PARK, and if book 4 stays the same I hope to get him on that one too. :] He won’t be on FIRST AND FIRST, but I love the photograph I licensed for that novel. It’s truly gorgeous in terms of style and mood, and the model is perfect for the main character.

Do you anticipate writing the rest of the Five Boroughs books in your signature gritty, non-romantic-romance style or have some of the characters/storylines encouraged you to go with a different approach?

FIRST AND FIRST is a little different, but it’s because the characters are very different from the Rodriguez men. He’s more sensitive, more self conscious, and has a very different life. He’s also extremely rich so the book takes us from Queens and Brooklyn to a luxury penthouse on Spruce Street in the Financial District. It’s still my style, but the character’s voice is different.

Will there be one book for each of the five boroughs in NYC to coincide with the title of the series or do you think there will be additional books or possible novellas?

That was my initial plan, but I’m not sure if it will end up going in that direction for various reasons. Partly because different characters have demanded attention and I may feel more strongly about their stories than others. Eventually, I hope to get there, though.

Do you think you managed to make David a sympathetic character after he was left in book 1 looking like a cheater and an annoying co-worker?

I think I did. Now that people are in David’s head, they may understand why he made the mistakes he made and what motivated his actions. But it’s also possible people will continue judging him harshly. There are always going to be readers who don’t connect with a character.

As a Mexican, I was thoroughly impressed with the way Emilio Vega (in In the Company of Shadows) read as a Latino character, and when Ais and you wrote using Monterrey as a setting I was even more impressed. The food, the language, the ambiance, all of it totally felt right. Something that’s left me annoyed and angered in a lot of books didn’t happen with ICoS, which is why, if I’m being honest, I gave Sutphin Boulevard a chance, and I was not disappointed! 🙂

So, my question is: HOW DO YOU DO IT? Honestly, the way you portray Latinos reads so real sometimes I am wondering where the fuck do you get your insider’s information.

Wow, this is an amazing compliment. Thank you! There are two parts to it, I think. Growing up, I lived in a very diverse area and one of my closest friends was Puerto Rican. Because of circumstances in my own household, I spent a lot of time at that friend’s home (much like Nunzio and the Rodriguez home). When living in NYC, I also worked in schools with very large Latino populations. That being said, I’m still aware that I’m a white person experiencing these different cultures so I always check myself. With SB and SP, I had betas and early readers who checked my portrayal of the characters, customs, and also my Spanish.


Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story) on Goodreads
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

SH-imageSantino is a writer of queer romance heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Find Santino:

Website (
Facebook (
Newsletter (
Twitter (
Goodreads (
Amazon (

Other books in the Five Boroughs series:

Book 2: FIRST AND FIRST coming in April 2016

Other books by Santino Hassell:


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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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.

35 thoughts on “Santino Hassell on Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story) ~ Interview, Rafflecopter Giveaway

  1. I just started reading Sutphin Blvd so I’m a bit behind the 5 boroughs curve, (and given how slow I read, it might be until April before I catch up), but I already enjoy your style. Looking forward to the rest and best of luck with this release.


  2. I’m reading Sutphin Boulevard right now and loving every minute of it. I’m torn because I need to read fast but I do not want to finish it…

  3. Thanks for the interesting interview. I am looking forward to reading Sunset Park. While I did not like either Raymond or David at first in book 1, I came to care about them a lot by the end, so was glad book 2 focused on them.

  4. I love that you have nailed the educational jargon, teacher cliques and gossip chain on the head. This is probably one of the best written romance novels I have ever read. I applaud you.

  5. All the questions were great! I especially (because I’m still hung up on ICoS since that was my first taste of you and Ais’ writing!) liked the one about Latino culture and your thoughtful response. All your responses were thoughtful. Become a full time writer, though, so you can do those readings and in stores! Umm … yeah, that was my question! 😉

  6. I got SB as a gift and am totally hooked. Your characters are spot on and real. (Love that!) Can’t wait to get Sunset Park.

    Great interview.

  7. I’m looking forward to reading this, ever since the podcast I heard with Santino and Karen Stivali. And I have to say, that is one of the sexiest covers I’ve seen.

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