Join Prism Book Alliance® as Kelly Jensen goes Outside the Margins today.
I don’t write clever books. My stories aren’t particularly literary, either. There are no parallels to the classics and my characters don’t reflect historic archetypes. I don’t set out to present big ideas or challenge convention. No one is going to pick up one of my books and say, “This is smart.”
I worry about this sometimes, about the fact my stories don’t really accomplish much more than pair two lonely characters together, happily ever after. I wonder if I should be trying to do something more. When I think about what I most like to read, though, or the sort of movies I really like to watch, there is a clear parallel. Every now and then I’ll pick up a “classic,” or watch an “important” film, but mostly… I just want to be entertained. Especially now.
Simpler stories aren’t dumb. Writing happy ever afters isn’t a wasted exercise. A lot of people, me included, like reading them. Especially now. And while my books may not expand the boundaries of the Western Canon, they do explore my thoughts on identity, sexuality and romance. These subjects will always be relevant.
My characters aren’t really all that simple, either. I love creating a character like Jake (Block and Strike), who appears to be one thing – an ex-con with anger issues – but who is actually quite another thing – a big ole mama bear who really wants someone to hibernate with. Forever. I also love writing characters like Marc (Counting Series) who is questioning – not just his sexuality, but his entire direction. I’m currently drafting the third and final story for Marc and Henry and there is a scene where Marc realizes that every act of defiance meant to distance him from his parents has also distanced him from himself. At the age of twenty-eight, he’s only just beginning to learn who he truly is.
I tend to choose simple settings, however, particularly when writing contemporary romance. My heroes aren’t particularly heroic. They’re construction workers, accountants, travel agents, teachers and, um, accountants. (Accountants need love too!) My stories tend to cover every day events – a hiking trip, a business trip, a day in the life, and so on. Most of my books are set somewhere in Pennsylvania. Ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary places. I want my characters and settings to be relatable.
I love it when someone reads one of my books and tells me that my characters feel real, that they could be a brother, cousin, neighbour, or guy they work with. That’s when I feel like I’ve actually written a clever book. If I’ve managed to put a real person on the page, then my story counts for something. It says something – hopefully something a reader is longing to hear.
Because it’s February, I want to feature my super romantic novella, When Was the Last Time. I wrote this story because I wanted to explore something… well, something fairly ordinary. What happens when two people click so well, they start moving on well-oiled tracks? Everything is deceptively good… until it’s not. Complacency has set in and while life isn’t exactly boring, maybe the meaning of important things has been buried beneath the mundane. Sad fact, this is a part of romance too.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt from When Was the Last Time. It’s a fairly somber moment, one filled with regret. The depth of Paul and Evan’s relationship lies just beneath, though. It’s clear that Evan is often in Paul’s thoughts. He’s simply lost touch with the day to day and so has decided to make one day special. He’s kinda missing the point – but it all works out in the end. <3
Title: When Was the Last Time
Author: Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 02/12/2016
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
Paul Summerfield is stunned by the gentle reminder it has been over a year since he and his partner, Evan Akkerman, have made love. He vows to take Evan out for Valentine’s Day. Dinner and sex. Lots of sex. There’s only one catch—he’s supposed to be in San Francisco that week cataloging the art collection of an important new client. No problem, he’ll just change his schedule and cut his trip short by a day.
In San Francisco, Paul struggles with regrets and the fear his love is slipping away from him. Every call to Evan seems only to prove the distance between them is increasing. All this, and a key piece of his client’s catalog is caught up in customs. To keep their Valentine’s date, Paul will have to choose between the career he’s built over fifteen years and the man he’s loved for just as long.
Paul pointed the cursor toward the little Save icon and clicked. There, catalog complete but for that one piece, the printing blocks. Leaning away from his laptop, he scrubbed the heels of his palms over his eyes. The short absence of light sent him for a dizzy spin. Man, he was tired. He checked the time—3:15 a.m.—and it was Wednesday already. The thirteenth.
If he could expedite the delivery of that last piece and complete the catalog, he’d have time to sleep before catching his flight back to Philly, and he wouldn’t have to waste the following day, Valentine’s Day, in bed. He could maybe shop for something new to wear, or a gift for Evan. Clean the house. Do something useful.
But the catalog wasn’t complete.
Paul shut off his laptop and put it aside, then went to stand in front of the long window overlooking the bay. He had yet to glimpse the water during the day. Maybe a sideways view from a cab, if he’d been looking. He could easily imagine it, though.
Would Evan enjoy it?
Maybe that should have been the plan. Bring Evan with him to San Francisco. Let him play tourist while Paul completed his catalog, then start their weekend on Thursday, Valentine’s Day. When was the last time they’d taken a trip together? They used to do it all the time—what with Paul’s business requiring travel and Evan’s agent discounts. They’d never been to San Francisco together, but they had made it to LA.
Paul smiled. That had been a fun trip. When had it been—nine years ago? A flash memory of Evan dancing from star to star along Hollywood Boulevard widened his smile. They’d gone to Disneyland too. Stuffed themselves with hot dogs and cotton candy and waited in line for all the rides. Paul remembered how Evan’s hand had felt around his, how he’d worried he might break Evan’s bones as he screamed his way through loop-de-loops and corkscrews. He’d ridden those coasters for Evan, thinking he was going to die on every one.
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
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