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Title: The First Morning After
Author: Marie Lark
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary, Gay
Release Date: 06/07/2016
For as long as he can remember, Danny Rojas has wanted All-Star first baseman, Mitchel Finch. And he could swear that in high school, Mitchel was interested, too. But the baseball team made Danny’s life a living hell back then, and the moment he was able, he got out. Five years later at a friend’s wedding, Danny finally has the chance, and more importantly, the courage, to act on his years-long crush.
Mitchel Finch used to have it so good—a brilliant athlete with lots of friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, and a place of importance in his home town. All he had to do was play it straight. But when an injury ends his baseball career, and his best friend’s wedding reminds him of everything he lost, Mitchel jumps at the opportunity Danny gives him—a night to be honest with himself. A night to finally feel wanted for exactly who he is.
The trouble is, neither of their circumstances has changed by morning. Mitchel is still closeted, and Danny is still the town pariah. Can a connection, building for years and forged in one night, survive the first morning after?
Recent Release Spotlight with Marie Lark
We are here today to talk about The First Morning After. What can you tell us about it?
Hello, and thanks so much for having me! The First Morning After is a story about the secret lives we lead growing up in small towns—secret identities, secret desires—and what happens when those secrets become too burdensome and the truth starts to leak out through the cracks in the images we have of ourselves.
Please tell us more about our main characters.
The story follows Danny Rojas and Mitchel Finch over the course of a weekend when they’re both home for a wedding. Danny is the town pariah, a misfit who was never any good at hiding his sexuality or his feelings for Mitchel—his high school crush and the star of the baseball team. Danny comes home for the wedding to confront his past, take on his bullies, and finally tell Mitchel what had always been implicit between them back in school.
Mitchel is deeply in the closet and looking for a way to be himself for a night without the risk of jeopardizing his place in his community. But what he finds with Danny sets in motion events he can’t control and a change of heart within himself, forcing him to make a choice between living a life that’s comfortable and safe and one that could actually make him happy.
What do you want to tell those who may be new to the series?
This is the first book in the series, so, welcome!
What about The First Morning After makes you the proudest?
Mitchel Finch! I adore him. He is such a flawed, conflicted character, which makes the steps he takes by the end of the book all the more rewarding and meaningful. Writing him, I wanted to shake him and hug him.
What is next for these characters? Is there more to this series? If so who will we hear from next?
I have two more books planned in this series! The next one is a direct sequel to The First Morning After, called The Second First Date, and it follows Mitchel to Philadelphia for the next part of his story with Danny. After that, I want to give Peach and Wild Miles their stories—and I have no idea yet how that will go, but boy am I curious!
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Practice, practice, practice! Writing is a muscle that only develops if you work at it and don’t let it atrophy. Everyone starts out sloppy and embarrassingly bad, but if you practice (and absorb all your favorite stories/techniques/tropes/etc. from other books, movies, TV shows, sports that you consume) you’ll start to develop a unique voice and the technical skill to go with it.
Also, join a group, whether it’s a critique group of trusted friends or a professional organization like RWA. One word—Resources!
What part of a new story comes to you first? Characters? Plot? A scene? A theme? Or does it vary from book to book?
It’s always the characters. I’ve written fanfic for ages, so it’s always the nugget of a character that I’ve seen somewhere else that sparks the story I want to tell. By the end, they hardly have any resemblance to their original inspiration, but it’s that one attribute or image that sparks the story. For this book it was the idea that the hot jock actually has a lot to learn about love and sex from the geek who’s held a torch for him since high school.
Do you have a character in your head that you have yet to write a story for?
So many characters! They’re never fully formed until I start writing them (and then go back and revise them), but I’ve got an entire hockey team ready to go up there—I just need about 10 more hours in a day!
Do you actively try to have women characters in your M/M to balance the male focus of the MCs?
Yes, I do. But it’s tough. My first series was a M/M, F/F, and a M/M/F, so I love to write ladies! And I think it’s kind of a bummer that female characters are often shunted to the side in a lot of M/M romance, but it’s the nature of the genre. I try to treat each of my characters as though they’re the hero/heroine of their own story, so I think that at least makes them more than cardboard cutout tropes like the Evil Ex-Girlfriend or the Meddling Best Friend.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
To understand and speak any/every language! I could go anywhere and talk to anyone!
What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?
I’m a YA junkie, so I just finished Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis, and I’ve got Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo for the beach next week.
Rapid Fire Time
- Batman or Superman? Black Widow
- Larry or Sterek? Kirk/Spock (gotta go with the classic)
- Baseball or Cricket? Baseball!
- Hockey or Figure Skating? HOCKEY!
- Kirk or Picard? Picard!
- Dogs or Cats? Dogs!
- Harry or Draco? Harry!
- Favorite flower? Zinnias!
Warning: Contains NSFW language and imagery.
“No, fuck you. I want a do-over.”
“A—” Danny’s mouth dropped open, and his brows lifted in surprise. But he recovered quick, laughing again. “Um, no. Nothing else up my ass tonight, sorry.”
“Then you do me.” As soon as he said it, Mitchel’s stomach dropped to his feet. But he lifted his chin, gratified to see Danny blinking his big dark eyes like that was the last thing he expected to hear.
“You want me to—” He gestured in the general direction of Mitchel’s ass, that infuriating tilt to his mouth and eyebrow back to taunt him.
“I want you to get off. No one’s ever complained before. Everyone has a good time.”
“Got a reputation to uphold or something? What the hell do you care? Who’d believe me if I ever told anyone?” Danny tucked his dick back into his underwear but didn’t button the rest of the way up, and the only thing—the only thing—that kept Mitchel from bolting out of the motel and never showing his face again was that Danny was still hard as nails. Danny still wanted him, even though Mitchel was apparently shit in the sack. Or against the sink, whatever.
“Everyone has a good time,” he said again between clenched teeth. But that fucking smirk had him on edge. What if they’d all lied? Girls could fake it—he knew this, and he’d done his level best to be good to Kacey. Always waited for her to come first. It’d taken long enough sometimes that if she was faking, she’d have just done it sooner. He was pretty sure on that count.
But guys? Guys couldn’t fake it. All the guys he’d hooked up with had just jerked off at the end—that’s what bathroom hookups were for.
Danny looked at him with something like pity in his eyes.
“Look, if you think you can do better—”
“I <i>think</i> every gay kid like me wants to get fucked by the hot jock who, it turns out, likes dick. You’re like a fairytale. It doesn’t matter whether you’re actually any good—you’re already the dream.” Danny stood tall against the sink, defiant and proud in a way he’d never been in school. His fearlessness, his honesty, and his pity cut Mitchel to the bone.
“That’s probably the shittiest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
Danny’s smirk disappeared. “I didn’t really mean it as a bad thing.”
“You just said I’m bad at sex, but it doesn’t matter because I’m not a person—I’m an idea. I’m your idea.” Mitchel snorted a laugh. “You got fucked—badly—by a Mitchel Finch idea. Congratu-fucking-lations.”
He turned to leave, made it out of the bathroom, and opened the door, his throat tight and his eyes stinging, before Danny slammed it shut in front of him. Mitchel turned, surprised yet again that Danny was his height, his size.
“Is it so bad, being someone everyone wants?” Danny asked searchingly.
Mitchel scoffed. “We were at the same wedding. No one’s linin’ up to be with me now.” Braden Clark didn’t count, poor fool.
Danny’s face did something complicated—a frowning smile or a smiling frown. “I am. God help me. I’ve been in line since…” He shrugged. “Eighth grade?”
Mitchel’s heart kicked against his ribs and tried to shove up into his throat at the honesty in that confession.
Danny flushed, gaze darting to the side and down before he stepped in close, angled Mitchel against the door, and kissed him right on the mouth—confident and deep and a little sweet, like he was smiling while he did it.
“Come on, Mitchel Finch. Let me show you how it’s done,” he said against Mitchel’s lips.
“Because you’re some kind of expert.” He hooked his fingers in the waist of Danny’s suit pants. “You had no moves last time I saw you.”
Drawing him away from the door with a hand at the back of his neck, Danny shook his head. “Son, you have no idea. A lot can change in five years.”
That, at least, was true.
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About the Author
Marie Lark is a part-time teacher and rest-of-the-time writer. She lives in New York with her very respectable husband and tiny dog. She writes contemporary New Adult and LGBTQ romance, but loves love stories of all kinds. Romance is like kung fu—it’s in everything. Jackie Chan said that, right?
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