INTERVIEW WITH COLIN CAMPBELL!


Here’s an interview with
Love’s Magic’s irrepressible Irishman,
Colin Campbell!!

Note: This interview takes place during the time of Love’s Magic, but before its climactic ending.

What is your real, birth name? What name do you use?
Colin Michael Campbell. Call me Colin… or Irish.

Do you have a nickname? What is it, and where did you get it?
*laughs* I have lots of nicknames. I’m a campus cop. Students call me everything from ‘asshole’ to Colin McFuck and Colin McHardcase. Anything with a Mc in front of it. I got the names from being wild-ass Irish cop who breaks up drunken frat parties and arrests those accused of assault with absolutely NO hesitation or indecision. If they’re a dick or an abuser, I take them down hard and fast.

A lot of my friends call me ‘Irish’ because… well, because I am and damned proud to be. My Irish heritage is one of the most important parts of my life.

What do you look like?
I’m 6” 2”, 185 lbs. I’ve got sandy colored hair… it’s sorta curly. I’m 33. I guess I have a good build and a good smile. I don’t much think about how I look. I let other people worry about that.

How do you dress most of the time?
T-Shirts and jeans or my police blues.

How do you “dress up?”
T-shirt and jeans. Kidding. I can wear a suit now and then. But I’d prefer not to ‘dress up’. Not my style. Hard to wear a suit while you’re riding on a motorcycle. But I do own a tux and look damned good in it.

How do you “dress down?”
For what kind of occasion? Jeans and a T-shirt I guess… usually an Irish T-shirt.

What do you wear when you go to sleep?
Depends on who’s there with me. Usually I wear my underwear to bed. Briefs not boxers.

Do you wear any jewelry?
A cross around my neck which I keep under my T-shirt. My sister gave it to me.

In your opinion, what is your best feature?
Hmmm.. I think probably my smile, which I’ve heard is nice. For me, my best feature is that I’m strong and am physically fit. I play baseball and tennis. I ski. So being physically fit is important to me. Plus, I’m a cop. I need to be strong and fit. I sometimes have to wrestle with drunk, doped up frat boys who are 10 years younger than me. I have to be able to handle them so I stay fit.

What’s your real birth date?
August 8th, 1985

Where do you live? Describe it:
I live in a one-bedroom apartment. It’s small and usually pretty messy because I’m not there much. I work a lot and then I go to McCafferty’s…. a gay Irish pub where I hang out.

Do you own a car? Describe it.
I own a *1983 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Limited Edition*, and no, I won’t sell it to you. I also own a red 2016 Suzuki HAYABUSA GSX13 anniversary edition with gold trim. Won’t sell that either! It’s sort of my trademark on campus.

What is your most prized mundane possession? Why do you value it so much?
I own a mandolin that my grandfather gave to me. He taught me to play it and I got pretty good at it. I have a fairly good singing voice. My grandpa taught me to sing Irish folk songs. I used to sing them with my sister, Kathleen. It means more to me than anything else I own.

What one word best describes you?
Irish.

Familial Questions
What was your family like?
Middle class working folks. Strong catholic upbringing. We were a close family. My mom still lives in Scituate.

Who was your father, and what was he like?
My dad was named Michael McLarin Campbell. He owned a small grocery store in Scituate, MA. He was quiet but very strong inside. I admired him a lot, though I sure gave him a lot of trouble when I was a teenager. He never hit me. Never yelled at me. He’d just look at me with very disappointed eyes. That was enough. Things happened in our family. Bad things that I won’t talk about. Things I honestly don’t think my dad ever got over. Things that eventually killed him. He never talked about stuff that happened. But I saw how he suffered.

Who was your mother, and what was she like?
My mom is Brianna Mae Campbell. She’s a typical housewife I guess. She’s a great cook and a wonderfully affectionate mom. Now she travels all over with her friends from the senior center in Scituate. She worries about me too much and subscribes to that damned University of Virginia newspaper which features stuff I do now and then. I wish she didn’t. It only gives her more reason to worry. But she likes seeing my name in print.

What was your parents’ marriage like? Were they married? Did they remain married?
They were married until dad died of a heart attack when I was 17. They were old fashioned in a way. Not all that openly affectionate in front of us kids, but we knew they loved each other. My mom called my dad. “Mister Campbell’ whenever she was mad. They were both deeply religious and went to mass every Sunday.

What were your siblings’ names? What were they like?
One sister, Kathleen. She’s dead. I won’t talk about her.

What’s the worst thing one of your siblings ever did to you? What’s the worst thing you’ve done to one of your siblings?
Won’t talk about that.

When’s the last time you saw any member of your family? Where are they now?
My mom still lives in Scituate. I call her once a week and go there as often as I can. I was last there about a month ago. She’s really active with the local Senior Center and travels with her friends. She’s in good health and happy… though she does wish I’d found work closer to where she lives. I worry about it a lot.

Did you ever meet any other family members? Who were they? What did you think of them?
I’ve met a lot of my family in Ireland. We’d go there every few years on vacation. I have cousins who were part of the IRA and when I was younger they intimidated the hell out of me. Now we’re good buddies. We get together and sing and drink Irish whiskey and enjoy the hell out of each other. I have an Aunt who lives in Killarney who I love dearly. My mon’s sister and a great lady. That’s where I stay when I go there to visit. She has a cottage near Dingle which is right by the ocean. We went there a lot when I was a kid. Most beautiful place on Earth.

Childhood Questions
What is your first memory?
Playing with my sister on the front porch of our house in Scituate.

What was your favorite toy?
A baseball and glove

What was your favorite game?
Baseball

Any non-family member adults stick out in your mind? Who were they, and how did you know them? Why do they stick out?
There was an Irish gangster in our neighborhood, Mick Delaney. He used to scare the crap out of me because we all knew he’d killed people. But at the same time I had a sneaking respect for the fact that NO ONE told Mick what to do. He was the undisputed boss. I admired that, though if I met him now I’d put him away in a split second. He was a criminal and I take criminals down.

Who was your best friend when you were growing up?
I ran with a gang of guys in my very early teens. An Irish gang with loose associations with ex IRA. Got into some trouble then. Some of those guys were friends, but it was a bad environment and my sister, Kathy, helped me move past it and into a lifestyle centered more on music and sports.
I guess my best friend was Dermot Parry. We hung out a lot and since he was also gay we made out and had did some experimenting sexually. It wasn’t a ‘love’ thing though. Just two guys foolin’ around. I still get in touch with Derm now and then. He’s a good guy.

What is your fondest, childhood memory?
My grandfather teaching me to play my mandolin and singing Irish folk songs with my sister, Kathy.

What is your worst childhood memory?
I won’t talk about it.

Adolescent Questions
How old were you when you went on your first date?
If you mean kissing behind the school… maybe 14. Didn’t date much in high school. I was already out as gay and there weren’t many ‘out’ gay guys attending there.

It is common for one’s view of authority to develop in their adolescent years. What is your view of authority?
My view of authority is that I AM the authority. I don’t let anyone tell me what to do, not even my bosses. The event that most affected my view on authority? I’m not sure. Seeing what those in authority DO in general I guess. Doesn’t leave much room for respect. I respect my own beliefs and values, not anyone else’s.

What were you like in high school? What “clique” did you best fit in with?
Ran with an Irish gang for awhile, but was led away from that life by my sister, Kathleen. I guess I was pretty much as I am now. I studied hard, but I also played hard. I took no shit. Guys tried to bully me because I was openly gay but they only tried it once. I beat the shit out of them and they thought better of doing it again. I mostly minded my own business but like I said… I took no shit.

What were your high school goals?
I really focused on getting good grades because I wanted to get into college.

Who was your idol when you were growing up? Who did you first fantasize about in your life?
I don’t go in much for idols. But I did have a bit of a crush on Jensen Ackles from Supernatural. He and I both like pie! If I fantasized at all it was probably about him.

What is your favorite memory from adolescence?
Christmas in Ireland when I was 13.

What is your worst memory from adolescence?
Won’t talk about that.

Occupational Questions
Do you have a job? I’m the Sergeant in Charge of the Special Assault Unit of the University of Virginia campus police force. I catch bad buys and do my level best to put them away for as long as the law allows. I don’t take any shit. When I walk into a frat, or a sorority house for that matter, they all know they’d be smart to cut the crap and give me what I want. I don’t get physical. I don’t usually have to unless some stupid frat boy gives me trouble.

Costs a LOT of money to go to the University of Virginia and most of them have parents at home who are footing the bill. All I have to do is wave their parent’s phone number in their faces and most of the time they get cooperative in a hurry. Don’t want to lose their ‘ride’.

What is your boss or employer like?
My direct boss is Lenny Hallman. He’s a great guy and a good friend. Mainly because he leaves me and my staff alone and lets us get on with our work. An out and proud gay cop wasn’t all that common when I started here a decade ago. Lenny gave me a chance to prove myself. He didn’t judge me for my sexual orientation. He judged me by the kind of job I did for him. And I never gave him reason to regret it.

What are your co-workers like?
I have four staff working under me. We get along fine. If I couldn’t trust them I’d get rid of them. I send them out to investigate open assault cases of all kinds… all the way from simple assault to felonious assault and rape cases. They’re all dedicated cops. They’re all dead honest. It’s the only way I would work with them. I get rid of goof-offs. Lenny knows better than to try to shove a sub-standard cop at me. I’d never put up with it and he knows it.

What is something you had to learn that you hated?
That you can’t beat the system. Sometimes it’s going to beat you and you have to let that go. I take every case personally so it’s hard for me to accept it when the system blocks my investigations or victims won’t press charges. I don’t blame the victims. I don’t try to pressure them to press charges. If they say ‘no’ back away. But it kills me inside none the less.

Do you tend to save or spend your money?
Spend. On my motorcycles, car.. stuff like that.

Likes & Dislikes Questions​
What hobbies do you have?
I sing and play the mandolin. I play ball and ski and run and play tennis and… well, you get the drift.

Who is your closest mundane friend? Describe them and how you relate to them.
Jeff Kerry. I’ve known Jeff for years. We went to bed together once a long time ago to pay off a pool playing bet, but that’s the only time. I don’t mess around with Jeff. I trust him. And that’s saying something. Most of my friendships are either with my fellow officers and with my staff at the station. And those are work related friendships.
Jeff and I can talk. I can tell him things I wouldn’t tell anyone else. He’s a smart ass and loves to mock and tease me and he’s the only one who gets away with it. I don’t know exactly what he does for a living but I do know it requires a very high security clearance.

Jeff has a way of seeing through my bullshit that I can’t help but admire… mainly because I’m an excellent bullshitter and it doesn’t usually happen. But not with Jeff. He calls me on it every time… and enjoys doing it.

Who is your worst mundane enemy?
In generally, university politics. The kind of politics that protects frat boys who’ve committed assault because their fathers are alumni and donate thousands to the university. Happens all the time.

What bands do you like?
I like the High Kings. They play Irish folk music. I also like some of the groups from the 2000s, Chicago, Green Day. But I didn’t follow pop music much.

What tape or CD hasn’t left your player since your purchased it?
Memory Lane by the High Kings Why? It has some of my favorite Irish folk songs on it and they’re sung damn well.

What song is “your song?”
Free Falling, Tom Petty

What’s been your favorite movie of all time?
Don’t go to many movies but I like watching DVDs at home. I liked the Departed and the French Connection. You know. Cop movies where the cop isn’t a jerk or dirty. I don’t watch romance movies and think superhero movies are stupid.

Read any good books? What were they?
Don’t have much time for reading. Read a lot in college just trying to make Dean’s list, which I did.

What do you watch on the Television?
Supernatural, NCIS, Blue Bloods stuff like that.

When it comes to mundane politics, do you care? If so, which way do you tend to vote?
I get accused of being right-wing because I’m known as a tough cop, but I’m NOT. Once you’ve seen someone get shot I don’t know how you can’t be in favor of gun control, especially when that someone is 18 years old. It’s not a pretty sight. Bullets do fucking horrible things to the human body so I really do care! I vote and I expect others to vote as well. I’d be real pissed if I thought they hadn’t and I wouldn’t be shy about saying so.

What type of places do you hang out in with your mundane friends?
McCafferty’s. It’s a gay Irish pub with a piano bar where I sing all kinds of Irish song and a few pop songs. They serve a strong Irish Stout which I love.

What type of places do you hang out in with your normal friends?
Same place.

What annoys you more than anything else?
Having to deal with university administrators. I usually try to foist them off on my Lieutenant. They’re full of shit and don’t care about anything except image.

What would be the perfect gift for you?
An Irish T-shirt… I’ve got dozens and I love them.

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
The west coast of Ireland.

What time of day is your favorite?
Night, because I’m off work.

What kind of weather is your favorite?
I don’t have one. I play baseball and ski so hot or cold is fine with me.

What is your favorite food?
Pizza.

What is your least favorite food?
All the salad that my mom made me eat at home.

What is your favorite drink? (Coffee, Coke, Juice, Beer, Wine, etc.)
Coffee. Cops subsist on coffee.

What’s your favorite animal?
Don’t have one.

Do you have any pets? Do you want any pets? What kind?
Don’t want one. I’m not home enough to take care of one.

What do you find most relaxing?
Watching TV. Singing relaxes me. I enjoy it. Running relaxes me.

What habit that others have annoys you most?
Getting clingy with me. I hate that. It only happens once, then you’re out of my life.

What kind of things embarrass you?
Too much emotion. I don’t know how to handle it so I get embarrassed and back away.

What don’t you like about yourself?
I’m too quick to judge at times. I think it comes with being a cop. You sometimes have to make split second decisions because your life could depend upon it. And I’m not always right.

How would you like to look?
Just the way I do. What the fuck would be the point of wanting anything else?

Sex & Intimacy Questions
Would you consider yourself straight, gay, bi, or something else? Why?
I’m gay. Why? Because I was born that way. Stupid question.

Who was the first person you had sex with?
Doug Hampton. When did it happen? I was about 15. He was a member of a gang I ran with. What was it like? It wasn’t all that great. He wanted a blow job and I happily gave him one. I had a bit of a crush on him. How well did it go? Went fine for HIM, not all that well for me. He was rough and stupid and damn near choked me to death. Who needs that? Especially your first time. But he did teach me how NOT to give a blow job so for that I’m grateful.

Have you ever had a same-sex experience?
That’s ALL I’ve had, though I made out with a few girls just to see what it was like. And for the most part it’s gone fine. I’m a damned good lover.

What is your deepest, most well-hidden sexual fantasy?
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be submissive. And, no. I’ve never tried it and no, I never will. I’m just curious.

What was the wildest thing you’ve ever done, sexually?
Made love on a Ferris wheel. Me and Dermot Parry gave each other hand jobs while we were soaring high above Scituate. Best hand job I ever got. Laughed our asses off.

Is there any sexual activity that you enjoy and/or practice regularly that can be considered non-standard? (Bondage, Fantasy Play, etc.) Why do you like it?
I have a reputation around Charlottesville for being a bit promiscuous. Fact is, I’m not. I encourage the reputation, believe me. But the fact is that I take damned few guys to bed, and when I do the sex is pretty much of the straight-forward, meat and potatoes, non-kinky variety. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, I don’t know. But I don’t like kinky sex. I don’t much like weirdness of any kind.

Is there any sexual activity that you will not, under any circumstances, do?
I won’t ever hurt a sexual partner, even if they want me to. No way. Jesus, I see enough pain and abuse on the job. People who’ve been raped and assaulted and had their lives ruined by it. The thought of being the kind of man who could enjoy inflicting pain another human being sickens me. If they want pain, they’ll have to find it somewhere else because they won’t find it with me.

Do you currently have a lover?
If you mean a romantic relationship, no. I don’t do those. I have friends at McCafferty’s who I take home now and then, but that’s it. One night only or very short-term liaisons. I’m attracted to guys who understand that, and don’t bug me for more. I’m honest with any guy I take home. I let them know up front that this is ALL they can expect and that if they start asking for more, that’ll be it. They’ll be done. I don’t want involvements.

What is the perfect romantic date?
One with no romance or clingy shit attached to it. I don’t do romance.

Describe the perfect romantic partner for you.
*laughs my ass off* The kind that doesn’t exist. I don’t want romance. I don’t want that kind of… closeness.

Do you ever want to get married and have children? When do you see this happening?
Uh.. no. Never. I don’t even want a dog. Too much responsibility.

What is more important – sex or intimacy?
Sex. I don’t want intimacy. I don’t want anyone getting that close.

What was your most recent relationship like?
I don’t have relationships. I’ve recently been… seeing, I guess, a guy named Joshua. I’ve actually seen more of him than is usual for me, but we work together so maybe that’s why. He’s quiet and intense. He fascinates me in a strange way that I can’t quite figure out. I feel… different somehow when I’m around Josh, and that both confuses me and makes me feel a weird kind of happiness.

Can you see a relationship developing between you and Josh?
Oh, hell no! He’s a friend. I work with him. We go to bed together now and then. He may have those kind of feelings toward me, at least that’s the vibe I’ve been getting lately. But he knows better than to say so or get clingy in any way. I won’t put up with it and Josh knows it.

It’s weird with Josh, though because usually I wouldn’t give a damn if some guy got a ‘case’ on me and got hurt in the process. I warn them all up front NOT to do that because it’s stupid and pointless. But I’d actually hate the idea of hurting Josh. I really hope he doesn’t make me do that. I don’t want to hurt him. I really don’t.

What’s the worst thing you’ve done to someone you loved?
Not recognize it when they were desperate.

Miscellaneous Questions
What is the thing that has frightened you most?
What scares me most is that I’ll miss something important in a case I’m working on and some motherfucker will get away with assault or rape simply because I screwed up. I’m afraid of missing something when I’m trying to convince the victims to prosecute. When they refuse to prosecute and there ends up being another rape or assault by the same assailant I am devastated. Nothing scares me more than that. I feel responsible. I AM responsible.

Has anyone or anything you’ve ever cared about died? How did you feel about it? What happened?
I won’t talk about that.

What was the worst injury you’ve ever received? How did it happen?
Broke my leg skiing when I was 16. I was being reckless so I’m lucky it wasn’t worse I guess.

How ticklish are you? Where are you ticklish?
Not at all.

What is your current long term goal?
Catch bad guys and put them away.

What is your current short term goal?
Catch bad guys and put them away.

Do you have any bad habits? If so, what are they, and do you plan to get rid of them?
I have a ton of them! Mostly they revolve around thinking I know everything and not being all that good at compromise. I tend to try to overpower people with my personality… at least that’s what I’ve been told. And I tend to be pretty good at it. If I can’t overpower them, I charm them into going my way. Works every time.

I’m told that I’m arrogant and prideful and I wouldn’t disagree. Goes along with thinking I know everything I guess.
I have a bad temper. I get angry quick. But I cool off quickly too.

And no, I have no plans to get rid of my bad habits. Like me as I am or get lost. Keeps the riff-raff away.

If you were a mundane person, what would you do with your life? What occupation would you want, and how would you spend all your time?
I’m doing what I want to do. I want to catch people who rape or assault others and put them away for as long as humanly possible.

What time period do you wish you had lived in? Why? (Looking at this as an attempt to change history doesn’t count.) What appeals to you about this era?
I’d like to live in the 1600s in the American West. I think I’d have made a good Sheriff in a place like Tombstone. It appeals to me because it’s open, free, and anything’s on the table.

How private of a person are you? Why?
I’m a very private person. I crack a lot of jokes and am considered a pretty fun guy to be around, but not many people know the real Colin Campbell. The things that mean the most to me are the things that I can’t talk about… or won’t talk about.

If you were to gain an obscenely large sum of money (via an inheritance, a lawsuit, a lottery, or anything else) what would you do with it?
Go on a trip to Ireland for a few months. Buy my mom a new house, though I doubt she’d want it. I don’t know. Don’t think much about money. I make enough.

What would you wish for if you found a genie?
That I catch every single abuser or rapist on the University of Virginia campus and put them away for as long as the law allows.

What do you do when you are bored?
Sing or run. I run a lot.

What is the most frightening potential handicap or disfigurement you can conceive of? What makes it so frightening?
I’d hate any handicap that kept me from playing ball or running. Kept me from any of the sports that I love. I’m not sure what I’d do with myself if that happened. Not sure how I’d work off all the excess energy roiling around inside me. I’m afraid I’d go nuts.

Thanks for talking with us Colin! Hope you’ll come back again! 
No sweat!


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Throw in another sex scene!!

“Throw in another sex scene!” said the guy who was betaing (is that a word?) my book. Then he added: “You know you want to!”

Well, actually I didn’t want to. Not because I don’t like writing sex scenes between my characters, because I do. These guys love each other, or are well on their way to loving each other and I want them to show it! But I don’t think the point to gay romance is two guys (or more) clawing at each other every other paragraph. I don’t write erotica. I write romance.

My assumption is, these guys are having sex a lot more often than I’m writing about it. My book doesn’t chronicle every second of their day. There’s a story going on here and I write in service to that story, not to my character’s libido. I mean there are only so many ways that two human beings can make love. The logistics of the experience are well known. There’s no doubt that you can explore a ton of alternative positions like armpits and what have you. I also realize that there are many types of sexual experiences open for writers to explore and that’s all very well and good.

But basic meat and potatoes sex isn’t really all that complicated. Two penis’s, , two testicles, two pair of hands, two mouths, two anal receptacles. That’s pretty much the basic equipment. Now combine them in any way that suits you. After awhile though it would all have to come out sounding pretty much the same, at least mechanically. Insert tab A into slot B.

What makes a sex scene unique, in my opinion, isn’t the sex, it’s the feelings being expressed during the sex. It’s the emotions that lead TO the sex. It’s the sentiments that are expressed AFTER the sex. The sex itself, the mechanics of it all… who cares? To me that’s barely worth mentioning. How many ways ARE there to give a blowjob? Only one that I know of. But there are a million ways to experience that blowjob both as a giver and a receiver and THAT is where my interest lies.

It’s that singular moment – that split second – when their eyes meet and their very souls cry out in an ecstasy that is secondary to the unity of their bodies. That is where my interest lies. If I can somehow capture that moment, then it’s not a sex scene anymore. It is a joining of two human spirits that transcends the physical. A joining that fills an emptiness which is experienced in the spirit rather than in the body. I want to write sex scenes where bodies are a means to that end rather than the end itself.

I want my characters to feel differently after they’ve made love. I want them to BE different. I want the experience to bring a sea-change that alters them and their relationship in ways which are fundamental to the story I’m trying to tell.

In Love’s Magic, the very first time Colin and Joshua make love, Colin is instantly transformed. He might not have fully realized it at the time, and god knows he put them both through the tortures of the damned before he’d finally admit it. But the experience altered him. It opened a place within him which had been crusted over and barricaded tightly shut. Joshua’s kind, gentle nature touched that wounded place within our tough, Irish cop and coaxed open a small window allowing healing and light to penetrate.

That’s what a sex scene should do, in my opinion. It should bring light to the dark places within our character’s soul. At least the ones we write about should. Every sexual encounter between our guys might not bring that sense of profound healing and change. Sometimes they’re just making love. It’s pleasurable and satisfying and they enjoy the hell out of it, but it doesn’t move their souls. Those moments are fun for them and I’m glad they have those moments. I just don’t want to write about them. I’ll give them their privacy during those encounters. I’ll only stick my nose in when they have those soul-moving moments that propel our story, and their relationship into new and unexplored territory!

So, nope. I didn’t add another sex scene. I did want to, he wasn’t wrong. But truth is… I just didn’t see the point.


 

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I know. You’re sick of hearing it.

Ok. Here I come doing what every other author on the planet has done and will always do… beg for reviews.

I know. You’ve heard it all before. ‘Please, PLEEEEASE review my book!’ Believe me, I hate saying it and I’d imagine that every other author is as sick of saying it as I am. You feel like a beggar on a street corner holding out a tin cup. But the nature of published works is that reviews matter. They count. Hell, even a BAD review is better than NO review, which makes little sense to me but which is true none the less.

It’s hard to constantly be asking people to give of their time to write down what they think of your work. It feels awkward and embarrassing. Our readers have already given of their time – not to mention their hard-earned money – to support your work, and here we come asking for even more. I understand why readers get annoyed by the constant pestering. First it’s ‘BUY MY BOOK’! Then it’s ‘REVIEW MY BOOK!’. Soon to be followed, no doubt, by ‘BUY THE SEQUEL TO MY BOOK!’

May I just say this? Authors hate doing it. We cringe inside very single time we put those posts and emails out there. We don’t want to annoy people. We don’t want to be pests. Honestly. But there is also this: We believe in our work. Many if not most of us have spent years developing these books. We’ve made huge investments of time, energy, love, sweat, tears, and often money (for editors, cover artists, promotions, etc… ) all because we honestly believe we’re telling a good story which you would enjoy reading.

Some of us aren’t even in it for the money. We simply love to write, love our characters, and believe we told a great story which we’re dying to share with like-minded folks. And the hard, cold, truth is Amazon rules when it comes to books, and on Amazon reviews are what puts your work at the top of the ‘customers who read this item also bought‘ list, which is where every author yearns to be.

So, dear readers, my plea to you is this. Review, review, review. I don’t care what book it is, write a review. Write two words: ‘Great read!’ and toss in a few stars. Please.

OR.. what the hell, if you didn’t like the book, say so!! But also say why. Don’t just 1-star it and walk away. Tell the author where you think they fell short. You’re entitled to your opinion, and believe me, any reviewer who points out the faults and flaws in my work has done me a huge favor. It may not feel good at the time, but it teaches me what I need to know in order to get better at what I do.

For me the truth is this: I love my characters and I believe in their story. I want my work to do well because I want to attract new readers who will also love my characters and become invested in their story. Please help me, and every other author out there (who I’m sure feels exactly the same way) by reviewing their work on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, Smashwords… you name it.

You will be giving a huge and very welcome gift to folks who have taken the big, scary step of putting their heart’s blood out there for the world to read and judge. Please. Write that review.


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Which actors would play my characters in the Love’s Magic movie???

 


Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your book?

Now I’m embarrassed. I always have an actual person’s face in mind for my characters. Always. And usually that face belongs to an actor or actress. It’s just easier for me to write when I can see the character living out what’s going on in my mind.

I had Colin and Joshua completely fleshed out in the character development sheets I always use when I first start writing. I knew them. I knew what they were like. I knew what the liked and didn’t like. I knew their faults and flaws and weaknesses. I knew their strengths. And I had a (sort-of) idea what they looked like.

Colin, of course, was Irish. And I wanted him to look Irish. It’s a lot of who he is as a man and it was important to me that the character’s image in my mind convey the deep love he feels for being Irish. So, I went looking for Irish men. And this is who I chose:

Kill me now! Yes. It’s Jamie Dornan. But… BUT… I honest-to-god had NO idea who he was when I picked the image. He just looked IRISH! I am no fan of Christian Grey, had never read 50 Shades of anything, have never seen the movies, had never seen Jamie in anything. He just looked… Irish!  And, of course, he looked hot as FUCK!

As Joshua said when he first saw Colin on hit motorcycle: “Colin sat astride the bike, his muscular frame wonderfully emphasized by his black leather jacket and tight jeans. In his hand was a helmet emblazoned with a shamrock and the words: ‘Go Irish!’ My God, Joshua thought, his breath catching in his chest. He’s just so fucking hot!”

I know now, of course. Trust me to pick the actor playing the most notorious heterosexual on the planet as the mental model for my gay-as-hell Irish cop.

*sighs*

But… once I saw him I was sunk. He just WAS Colin! So I’m stuck with Jamie Dornan… if such a thing is possible. And, frankly, the Jamie Dornan who was and remains ‘Colin’ in my fevered brain is Jamie as Sheriff Graham in ‘Once Upon a Time’. THAT’ is Colin to me.

Joshua. Again, I went on the hunt for an ethnic look. Joshua is Jewish. I needed a Jewish guy. And there he was.

Again, I had no clue who Adam Brody was when I picked him. I had never seen the OC, didn’t know Adam from Adam in the garden of Eden. I just knew he was Joshua. There were the dark, tumbling curls that Colin drooled over. There was the Jewish strength and calm that he relied on.

In fact THIS is the picture that Colin was looking at when he thought: “Alone in his apartment at night, he studied the only picture he had of Joshua, clutching it tightly in one hand while holding his phone in the other. It was a black and white photo which Joshua had given to him some weeks ago. The photo was beautifully lit and the reflective expression on Joshua’s face framed by his dark, tumbling curls tore at Colin’s heart. He gazed past Colin with dreamy eyes which focused on some distant and unreachable goal.”

So those are the two guys I continually saw in my head as I wrote Love’s Magic. I have to confess… once I’d discovered Jamie Dornan (and I admit that I am really late to that party!) I knew Colin couldn’t have been anyone else. And frankly, having he and Adam firmly planted in my brain made writing Colin and Joshua’s romantic scenes a lot more pleasurable. I mean a LOT!

I often wonder if I’m the only author who uses uber-hot fantasy guys as her mental model when they write. Somehow I doubt it.

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My most annoying character!

I’ve been asked which character in my story gave me fits or constantly surprised me by going in directions I hadn’t intended, and the answer to that question would have to be, Colin.

I adored that feisty Irishman from the moment he sprang, full grown, from my brain. Cocky, arrogant, and utterly contemptuous of romance in any form, he was a pistol from day-one.

He didn’t seem to GET that I wanted him to fall in love with Joshua. I tried to corral him, entice him, yank and pull him. But still he resisted. Every word I wrote to try to lead him down love’s rosy path ended up sounding hollow and dishonest. It wasn’t Colin’s voice and I knew it. I had to try again because what I’d written was just wrong.

I had to stop writing and listen to what my fiercely independent Irishman was trying to tell me. I had to stop putting words in his mouth and let him speak. And believe me when he did, he had a lot to say.

I discovered that this alpha-male Irish cop wanted to fall in love with Joshua, and in fact needed to fall in love with him. But the many layers of defense that he’d built up around his heart was a roaring whirlpool that drowned out that need.

This was not a man who could easily admit to being afraid. After all he had a reputation to uphold and there’s nothing like Irish ego and pride to ignite feelings of self-preservation. Perhaps it’s not rhetoric to say that Colin was afraid to be afraid. His fears were not focused around one issue. Colin’s heart was a maze of complex questions all of which led back to one chilling answer and one horrifying childhood trauma.

He is not a one-dimensional character and at first I didn’t get that. His resistance to love and intimacy was multi-layered and breaking down one of those layers offered no guarantee that a completely different issue wouldn’t raise its head and slam the door to Colin’s heart shut tight.

I had to explore each layer side-by-side with my independent Irishman. I had to let him lead me down the paths where he feared to walk and understand why he feared to walk them. I discovered a complex, multi-dimensional man whose fears flowed from a deep well of memory, most of which had been bottled-up since childhood. I discovered that his fear of love, intimacy, and commitment came from a legitimate source. I discovered that I couldn’t force him to love. I had to step back and let Joshua lead him to Love’s Magic.

Once I took myself out of the equation and let Joshua take over, the process became easier. I didn’t have to lure, bait, or force Colin in Joshua’s direction. I just had to step back and let him choose to move in the direction he was dying to go.

Even then, it wasn’t an easy process for Joshua or for me. Colin remains frustrating, obstinate and fearful. But Joshua’s struggle to understand the man he loved revealed more about the soul of my complex Irish cop than I ever knew was there.

I hope you will walk beside Colin and Joshua on their journey. I hope you’ll cheer their victories and mourn their defeats as they struggle to find Love’s Magic.

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Joshua walked away from Love’s Magic…

I thought long and hard about Joshua before I ever began to write Love’s Magic. Some things I knew on instinct from the moment the character emerged in my mind. I knew he was lonely. I know he’d been abused in his childhood at the hands of an alcoholic father. I knew he was damaged.

Another man might have turned his wounded spirit on others, returning abuse for abuse, but I knew this wasn’t Joshua’s way. He wanted to be healed, but he also longed to heal others who had been hurt as deeply as he had. I think one reason he fell so hard for Colin was that his empathetic spirit saw the pain and darkness that kept Colin’s heart locked away and untouchable.

No two men could have seemed more opposite in nature. What could a swaggering, cocky, self-assured Irish cop possibly have in common with a soft-spoken, reticent, Jewish Doctor of Psychology? But from the very beginning Joshua sensed something deeper in Colin’s nature, something beyond the fiercely independent, I-don’t-do-relationships attitude. He sensed something noble and deeply committed. He sensed a man on a quest to right a terrible wrong.

He didn’t know what drove Colin, but whatever crisis from the past held him captive, Joshua instinctively knew it was a huge part of what made Colin the man he was. He wasn’t under any illusions about the future. Colin had made it very clear on their first ‘date’ that he made no promises to anyone… ever, and he offered Joshua a clear-cut choice: see me on my terms or don’t see me at all.

Joshua tried to do it Colin’s way. He tried to accept his role as the sometimes friend and occasional bed-partner. But Joshua’s self-awareness had grown in the years since he was a shy, awkward boy struggling to believe in his own value.

What I admired most about Joshua was his determination not to let anything cheapen the love he felt for his charismatic Irish cop, not even Colin. He would not allow the love that meant everything to him to be treated as a short-term sexual liaison, bereft of feeling or intimacy, bereft of meaning. He knew he deserved more. He knew Colin deserved more.

Colin’s refusal to admit love into his heart did more to help Joshua grow past the pain of his abused childhood than anything else in his life. He simply loved Colin too much to demean what he felt for him. He found the strength and courage to walk away even though it broke his heart.

Even as the author, I honestly didn’t expect him to choose that route. But any other decision meant agreeing with Colin that what they shared could be minimized. I hated writing those scenes. It broke my heart because I knew how much Colin needed him. But… I had to trust in what he and Joshua were telling me and let them lead me to where they needed to go. I had to trust that they’d be together again if that’s what was meant to be.

Joshua knew Colin could never care for a man he couldn’t respect and who didn’t respect himself. And, even in the midst of his heartbreak, he discovered a new sense of self-worth that brought healing to himself and to his family. And as he walked the shores of Lake Michigan, remembering the nights he’d shared with his charismatic Irishman, he allowed himself to hope that Colin would one day realize that in leaving Joshua had offered him the greatest and most loving gift his heart could give and, perhaps give Love’s Magic another try.

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Why two gay couples? And why assault?


I was asked by someone who read Love’s Magic why I tackled the subject of campus assault in my manuscript. They commented that the subject matter seemed tricky and further added that writing a book which featured TWO unique gay couples seemed like dangerous territory for a first-time novelist. In fact that one aspect of Love’s Magic has drawn more attention than almost any other, which rather surprised me.

I can only say this. As someone who has been an assault victim I felt the subject needed discussion. And since I was attempting to offer as many viewpoints as possible on how victims and the persons close to them experience and deal with such a dreadful ordeal, I needed the perspective of both my couples in order to best explore the full range of possibilities.

But Love’s Magic is also a love story. These four men have each found someone who has become… or is becoming… the most important person in their lives. For David and Nate, it’s an already established relationship that gets rocked to its core when Nate is attacked. For Colin and Joshua, it’s working their way past some incredibly high, deep emotional barricades, particularly in Colin’s case, which make finding and keeping that relationship damn near impossible. And all of these issues revolve around the personal experience each of them has had with some form of abuse.

The four main characters in Love’s magic had to deal with assault and abuse, each in their own unique way, and no one of them handles it quite the way the others do. Each of these four men are stumbling toward their own healing and eventually share the best of what they’ve learned along the way with the other three. I needed every single one of these men in order to tell the story that needed to be told. Each of them saw the issue from a different perspective. But before they could find the healing they needed they each had to learn to see it through each other’s eyes.

I wanted to talk a bit about each of the four main characters.

Colin is the cop. He deals with every kind of assault on a daily basis as the man charged with finding and arresting the perpetrators of these crimes. But it also is a deeply personal issue for him for reasons which he will discuss with no one. There is pain buried deep within Colin that no ones sees, feelings he has suppressed for most of his life. But when Joshua cracks open his heart everything comes pouring out, and not all of it is good.

Joshua was abused as a child. He was physically assaulted by a drunken father who broke Joshua’s arm when he was eight. He knows what it’s like to be locked in a dark closet and left alone for hours with no food, no light, no help. He became a Doctor of Psychology in order to help others who had suffered as he had, but also to find his own healing. He could see more easily into Colin’s heart than he could into his own. And in helping the man he loved find healing, he also found healing within himself.

Gay themed romance novel cover images for a special collection.

David was never physically abused. But he was assaulted emotionally and verbally by a cold and critical parent and grew up completely unable to believe in his own worth. These issues haunted him for most of his life and were the primary reason why his marriage failed. His father’s voice was still in his ears, directing his life through constant criticism of everything David did and became. The psychological damage David suffered kept him closeted for many, many years. His relationship with Nate led him to the therapy he needed and at least a partial healing.

Nate was never abused in any way. He had an almost ideal childhood. But he fell in love with a man whose self esteem had been badly damaged by a father’s coldness and constant criticism and had to learn how to cope with David’s resulting insecurities as their relationship grew. When Nate went to the rescue of a student who was under attack on the Tog, a park on the university campus, he was badly, though not critically, injured. The trauma he suffered then was the catalyst which eventually drew all four men together.

No two people experience life in the same way. It’s a unique journey for all of us. And when it comes to dealing with abuse in any form, and there are many, it often takes more than one perspective to lead us to the healing we need. Love’s Magic explores many of those pathways through the lives of four exceptional and dynamic men. I hope you’ll get to know them all. I think their stories will touch your heart.


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Character Development…

Writing fan-fiction for over twenty years meant that when I began to write my first novel, I started with a handicap. I was used to living in someone else’s world. I was used to working with characters who were, for the most part, already fully developed.

As a result, I had no real experience at character development, and it showed. The first book I wrote remains unpublished for the simple reason that it didn’t deserve to be. It was terrible! I was still, in many ways, writing fan-fiction. My characters were one-dimensional and lacked the unique qualities that would make them pop on the page and in the reader’s mind.

My first book was a valuable learning experience, though a painful one. Faced with the reality of how horrible it was and understanding the reasons for it, I began to research tools and techniques which could help me develop characters with real depth. That’s when I found character profile worksheets, many of which can be found on the Internet. These sheets contained a list of questions that introduced me to each of my characters. Real understanding came when I moved past those early, introductory queries and began to delve more deeply into why they answered the questions the way they did.

It’s fine to respond to the question: ‘How does the character deal with anger?’ by stating that he or she reacts with outbursts or shouting. But understanding why they deal with it that way requires a deeper level of understanding. It requires going back into their past experiences sometimes all the way to childhood. That one simple character trait, if used as a starting point to deeper analysis, can lead to insights that reach far beyond that one introductory question.

I tend to fill out character profile sheets in a fair amount of detail. And during those times when I’m floundering and unsure how a character might respond to a given situation, re-reading their profile sheet can provide the insight I’m seeking. I often go back and revise or add to these profile sheets as new aspects of the character’s personality and motivations come into focus. Those profile sheets are my primary tool for developing characters, for keeping them consistent, and for helping them grow.

You’ll find a GREAT character profile form here!

 


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Glowing reviews for ‘Love’s Magic’!

Can’t tell you how thrilled I am to read the glowing reviews for Love’s Magic! As a first-time author, these reviews are a thrill for my heart. But beyond that, it’s so gratifying to know that others see in these characters what I’ve seen in them from the start.

I’m deeply grateful to these reviewers for their willingness to give of their time and effort. They have a great love for books and the authors who write them and that love shows in their willingness to give back to the gay romance community by serving as reviewers and bloggers. It’s a time-consuming process that requires both love and commitment. I’m in awe of these folks. A grateful newbie author thanks them from the heart.

From Fay Kennedy – 5-Stars! 

“This was a first time read for this author and I absolutely loved it. The story had me with in the first paragraph as Nate and his boyfriend David bantered. But this also includes a fabulous story for Colin and Joshua’s romance.

‘Maybe some things are worth a broken heart, he mused. Maybe some men are worth it. A beautiful quote in this book from Joshua’s thoughts. I loved the Irish scenes with Joshua and Colin. Both stories interwoven and brilliantly written.”


From Dani Grey – 4-Stars! 

“I fell in love with these characters. The way they had to fight for their love and futures was a ride of ups and downs to the end.

They fight not just ghosts of the past, but also have to fight for their future. “


RS Dino 4-Stars!! 

“Janice is no rooky at writing skill. I am aware of her writing gigs for the past years and her experience certainly pays off well in this book.

Finally, I love how the author ended the book. The happy ever after is, of course, expected, yet, still, reading how it happens without a cliffhanger calmed me down.”


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