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Author: j. leigh bailey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 10/17/2016
Seventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.
As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.
Upcoming Release Spotlight with j. leigh bailey
We are here today to talk about Guyliner. What can you tell us about it?
Young Adult novels, generally speaking, tend to tell the story of a young person coming to terms with who they are as individuals and what their role in the world is. That’s one of the biggest journeys we make as teenagers. In Guyliner, we have a character, Connor, who has his role and his future set solidly in place. He’s the Golden Boy—he gets good grades, he’s a star athlete, he has the perfect girlfriend, he’s ambitious, responsible. He’s the kind of guy who you’d absolutely hate if he weren’t so darned nice. He knows what he wants for his future—to get a scholarship to a good university and get out of the dead-end town where he lives. Then the new kid comes to town. Graham is an eyeliner-wearing soccer-phenom from the city, and he refuses to hide who he is or apologize for being himself. When the two meet, they discover that Connor’s perfect image is a crumbling façade, and Graham is hiding a traumatic past behind his long sleeves and eye makeup.
What about Guyliner makes you the proudest?
As a writer, what makes me proudest about Guyliner is that it is the first book I ever wrote. I know I’ve since had four other novels published, but Guyliner was the first. It’s the “book of my heart” that you hear authors talk about. This is the first story that wouldn’t leave me alone; it wouldn’t let me quit when the writing got hard or I thought I was deluding myself.
What is next for these characters? Is there more to this series? If so who will we hear from next?
This is a stand-alone novel, so there won’t be any more books with these boys. In my head I know exactly how their Happy-for-Now story will turn into their Happy-Ever-After story. I know what struggles they will have when they have to separate for college, and I know the major life moments they will share. So, even though I’m not planning another book, rest assured they will enjoy a future full of love and adventure together. (I’m a romance writer—I couldn’t have it any other way!)
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
I’ve got two pieces (sorry—I’m a rebel), one general and one specific. The specific: push the boundaries of what you think you can do. If you’re not sure you are capable of writing a particular story/character/trope, do it anyway. Often times, those things at the edge of our comfort zone are the things that resonate with the reader.
The specific: (I stole this from Cherry Adair, and modified it slightly to keep it G-rated) Ask yourself: What is the point of this scene? Every single scene needs to do something to move the plot forward, reveal character, create tension/conflict. Best case scenario, it does all of this. If you can’t state decisively what the point of the scene is, or if your only answer is “character development,” you probably don’t need the scene. Or you need to add something else to it to make the scene do double duty.
What is the nicest thing a reader has said to you in a review, email, in person, or on social media?
An acquaintance of my mother’s read my first book, Nobody’s Hero. He’d never read any M/M stories, or romances for that matter before, and only did because he knew my mom. When I saw him after he’d read it, he said, “Thank you.” Then he told me about his gay uncle, the man who helped raise him. About how growing up, no one talked about his uncle’s sexuality—everyone knew, but pretended not to. Like if they acknowledged it, they would have to do something about it. Better he remain the “bachelor” uncle. My mom’s friend then said the world needs more books like mine to show that there are fully engaged, accepting families for whom a member’s sexuality was not a shameful secret to be buried.
As a side note, this is the point when I started telling people I write M/M YA romance, not just YA. Up until then, I hesitated about both the M/M and the Romance designations, worried that the people I talked with, be they family or coworkers or random acquaintances, wouldn’t approve. Now I’m ashamed that I wasn’t more proud of what I write. I also realize I’m lucky that neither my job or my relationship with my family is put at risk with my writing career, which I understand is not always the case.
What was your inspiration for this story?
I could write a whole blog post about this. Unlike most of my other works, where the inspiration was a random word or image, I actually have a real inspiration story for Guyliner.
In short, however, Guyliner came about from a fortuitous combination of a Taco Bell cahier and J. L. Langley. I actually dedicated Guyliner to “Taco Bell Guy” (a shy young man with dark hair that hung in his eyes, thick eyeliner around said eyes, and an arm full of burn scars). On the night that I met Taco Bell Guy, I sat in the restaurant’s dining room reading one of Langley’s With or Without books (With Abandon, I think, which is awesome, by the way). In the combination of a great M/M romance and the conundrum that was Taco Bell Guy, Guyliner was first conceived.
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 don’t really take a break. I tend to write fairly slow, and when I sit down to write, I circle back to what I wrote the previous session and clean it up before starting the new words. This helps me keep track of the mood and story as I move forward. I suspect this only works for me because I write very linearly. I’m not a plotter, so I don’t really write scenes out of order.
If you could be any Disney character who would you be, and why?
Belle from Beauty and the Beast, no question. She’s a bookworm, and the Beast gives her a library? My own personal fairy tale.
If you had to be a cat, dog, or a rat, which would you choose and why?
I’d be a cat, 100%. Cats spend like 90% of the day sleeping and eating. People mostly leave them alone to do what they want. That’s like the perfect life for me. Especially since in my world, cats also read.
You lock three M/M authors in a room and drop in one item. Who are the authors, what is the item, and what happens?
The authors: Damon Suede, Charlie Cochet, J. L. Langley.
The item: A lap top.
What I want to happen: They write a book. Can you imagine a book with Suede’s energy, Cochet’s humor, and Langley’s heart?
What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?
I just finished Annabeth Alberts’ Connection Error. I cannot stress enough how amazing this book is. Seriously. I’m a writer and I have no words besides “read it.”
Rapid Fire Time:
Underwear and socks: folded in the drawer or tossed?–Tossed
Australia or England?—I’m a total anglophile. It would have to be England.
Sushi or pasta?—I hate fish and am a total carb-oholic. Pasta.
Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings?—Both? I don’t think I could chose, because it would totally depend on my mood.
Shifters or Vampires?—Shifters.
Hugs or Kisses?—Hugs.
Multiple choice questions or essay questions?—Essays. I need to explain my answers. Always.
Lucky Charms or Trix?—Lucky Charms
Country or City?—Neither. I’m a total suburbanite. I want the best of both worlds.
What are you working on? What is next?
Right now I am working on a quirky shifter series that takes place in Cody, Wyoming. My characters are an easily-distracted coyote shifter who falls for a staid-but-mysterious buffalo shifter. I’ve been having so much fun in that world. I’ve also got plans for another contemporary YA novel with a city kid with a graffiti habit who gets stuck on a dude ranch in the middle of Wyoming.
One lucky commenter will win free digital copy of Guyliner.
About the Author
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBTQ Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships, and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending. Find out more at www.jleighbailey.net or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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