Blog Versary Interview and Giveaway: Lynn Kelling
Lynn: Thanks for having me and congratulations!! Your blog is a big favourite of mine for many reasons – the cool people, the in-depth reviews, the naughty pictures…
Kazza: Thanks, Lynn. Yes, in-depth, we’ll go with that… and you have to love a naughty pic or two 🙂
Kazza: I recently finished reading Double Heat (Twin Ties #3) and I loved it. It’s a terrific series. Twin Ties is, well, pretty brave, because not only do you have twincest at the centre of this universe, but you have double twincest with Evan and Brennan and Alek and Luka. How did this series come about? I know you’ve had a hard time with Amazon because of the subject matter, yet here you are at the third book. I know Forbidden Fiction is very supportive, but, still, what keeps you going when an organisation as large and as pivotal in marketing e-books as Amazon bans your book? It has to be frustrating because if you don’t like the material don’t “one click” it. It’s simple, right?
Lynn: This series actually started off several years ago as fanfiction. I come from the Supernatural fandom, where brocest isn’t exactly abnormal, so the taboo factor wore off for me many years ago! Originally the twins were portrayed by the characters from the show *and* the actors who play the characters on the show. I fantasize regularly about getting to meet in real life the characters I write about, so the idea of combining fiction and reality was what inspired me. But, after I began, the story grew into its own creature and became original fiction. I fell in love with Evan, Brennan, Alek and Luka for each of their unique qualities, so I took it in a whole other direction to create the Twin Ties series.
Dealing with Amazon has been a headache. They’re really unfair to authors, indie publishers and the worlds of gay and erotic fiction for so many reasons – censorship on every level, whether it’s for arbitrary facets of the content, the cover art, or titles, but they also keep an enormous percentage of all proceeds for themselves, which makes it next to impossible for authors to profit from sales. I encourage readers to buy directly from the publisher whenever possible. It’s a way to support authors in a significant way.
I’m glad to say that, thanks to the hard work of my publisher at ForbiddenFiction, the Twin Ties books are finally all currently available on Amazon. But, even if the books did get banned again, it wouldn’t keep me from writing exactly what I’m inspired to write. There are other ways to get books into readers’ hands. My job is to be true to the characters and the story, no matter where it leads. I keep writing in order to see my characters complete their journey and get to their happily ever afters. That’s the most important thing.
Kazza: Apart from the fact that I mentioned the twincest, and I won’t lie, it is a hot-tamale of a series, it also tackles some deeper issues very well. The difference between the 20 something Popovic twins as opposed to Evan and Brennan who are in their late teens. There is a naiveté about Ev and Bren as opposed to Alek and Luka’s street smarts. Do you see the Popovic twins as having experienced more and being more patient and understanding because of that? Because of the age difference/life experience ? Or it’s just who they are – guys in love with ‘their’ guys? Guys who happen to also be twins and understand this (taboo) passion they both have for their respective brother?
Lynn: I think some people on a basic level just want to be taken care of and made to feel safe, whereas others have a stronger drive to protect and safeguard in order to have a greater sense of control. That’s the difference between the two sets of twins, in my eyes. Alek and Luka have lived in chaos without structure and support from their parents. That led them to make terrible mistakes – getting into drugs and having unsafe sex with dangerous people. Now that they’re getting older and trying to make a life for themselves, their need to set things right is really strong. Brennan had to be the sole caretaker of his mother when she was dealing with cancer, so he thrives on the attention and care of the twins. The same is even truer of Evan, who so desperately needed loved ones paying closer attention to him and showing him that he matters. Alek and Luka’s natural inclination to take care of those they love, and to pitch in to tackle practical issues, winds up helping all of them.
Their ages absolutely play into it, too. Alek and Luka are further down their paths and have more experience under their belts to help guide them, which benefits Evan and Brennan. They know what works and what doesn’t, even when it comes to the brotherly love aspect of their lives.
Kazza: You also explore depression, the splitting up of twins because parents can’t deal with their issues, and the consequences of that. There’s also something I found particularly well written and empathetic in book #3 – the predatory behaviour of an older guy (in this case) with a much younger guy. As someone who’s worked with this I know that’s not easy subject matter. Do the characters take you down this path? Or, is it a feel you get as you write Ev and Bren and Alek and Luka?
Lynn: One of the main reasons why I write is to explore why people do what they do. I feel like every single person on this planet has endured difficult things, which has helped shape who they are. Most of the time when it comes to people we encounter in our daily lives, we never find out exactly what those difficult things were. The great thing about fiction is being able to peek into the darkest corners of someone’s identity and see what’s lurking there.
With Evan and the predatory men he’s dealt with – it’s something that happens in the real world every day and is rarely spoken of openly or in detail. But like so many others, Evan survived that, and I felt I owed it to him to give him a chance to share exactly what it was he was forced to live through and carry in his head in secret. Those private experiences help us understand him so much better, and I hope in sharing what Evan went through, it’ll help my readers to possibly be more open to noticing warning signs in those around them, for those who are dealing with similar situations.
I do have a soft spot for vulnerable characters, but I also recognize their vulnerability can come at a high price. Then again, I absolutely love seeing someone whose weakness has caused them to be hurt be able to fight back and grow stronger because of the challenges they’ve faced.
Kazza: I’m not a good series reader, especially when the same characters are in the series the whole time. However, I find myself totally sucked into the Twin Ties series, eagerly looking forward to more Evan and Brennan and Alek and Luka. For those like me, how likely are we to get more? If very likely, how much more can we expect? I know there is dysfunction in Alek and Luka’s past, we’ve seen glimpses. Are we going to get into their heads more? Their past? Oh, and Jimmy? I have this soft spot that keeps growing for him. I started out not trusting him. I now trust him implicitly but I keep wondering about someone who gives so much and has so little support himself. You have to tell me there is something more to him than I see on page – hopefully not bad, I think I’d cry, just throwing that out there… Is there something more about Jimmy, or is he just a great character to have in a series?
Lynn: Well, to start with, I do have a short prequel coming out called Only the Lonely, which covers when Evan was fourteen and the specific series of events that directly led to his decision to attempt suicide. We also get to meet the most unusual “boyfriend” Evan ever had (whom Evan has referred to in conversation, which prompted my editor to ask me to write about him). It was a story I absolutely had to explore, even if only for myself. I had to know why Evan did what he did. The magic part of the way the story unfolded was the ways Brennan, Alek and Luka, as well as other secondary characters, all appeared in the story, many years before Evan met them. It wasn’t something I foresaw happening going in, but when it happened naturally, it gave things a greater, more hopeful depth.
I have started writing book 4 in the Twin Ties series. I have the plot outlined and goals in place. We will get a closer look at the Alek and Luka’s family. That set of twins will have a central role in the book. They’re at a point where they need to find ways to get Evan to keep opening up to them in order to keep him safe, which leads them to be more open with their own pasts. Once that box is opened, though, strange things sneak out.
As for Jimmy… I like the mystery of him. I’ve intentionally used and maintained it. A popular theory among some of my readers has been that he had a fling with Charlie, but I don’t think that’s the case. I do have some specific ideas about what’s going on with Jimmy below the surface, but he’s one of those people who has given so much of himself, what he has kept sacred is very reluctantly shared. We mostly see Jimmy through Evan’s eyes, and Evan doesn’t know much. I will say that I think Jimmy has suffered profound loss, like Evan. It’s what has drawn them together and keeps Jimmy fighting so hard to save Evan somehow. He doesn’t want to lose any more than he already has.
Kazza: One more Twin Ties question I cannot leave off…. Carter and Presley? Okay, that’s not a question, that’s just two names, but series readers will know what I mean. Good God, there has to be something brewing for this pair? Protective, supportive and enigmatic are only a few words I can muster to describe them. Anything planned for what I suspect are a series favourite pair for more than a few readers?
Lynn: *chuckles* Okay… I have started writing a story about them, told from Presley’s point of view, about when he and Carter first get together. I actually shared an excerpt from it during a recent author chat (so stop by the next one – you never know what I might post!) Carter and Presley have kind of a strange beginning. Carter basically hardcore seduces Presley, but Pres sees it as Carter just trying to get laid and he resents being used that way by someone he considers a good friend. Both of them completely suck at talking things out, so there are a lot of misunderstandings and false assumptions made. They’re a hot but frustrating couple when they’re alone together, but so ridiculous that I can’t resist them.
It means a lot that there’s been so much interest in their story, and it’s a big motivator for me to go back to it and finish it up!
Kazza: I know we discussed Caged Jaye – the prequel to Arctic Absolution – last interview but you weren’t sure about timings. People who have read Arctic Absolution will know Jaye was incarcerated prior to meeting Dixon in the wilds of Alaska. Can you tell readers a little about the concept of Caged Jaye?
Lynn: I’m very excited to be able to confirm that Caged Jaye will be released this winter. It’s actually going to be my next release (fingers crossed for January!). Caged Jaye is the story about how Jaye – a teenager working his ass off to make ends meet with a retail job in Anchorage, Alaska, and living with his boyfriend – winds up in prison and what happens to him once he gets there. Readers of Arctic Absolution will know that Jaye is a fair-faced young guy who can absolutely take care of himself, no matter what that entails. I wrote Caged Jaye to honor Jaye’s journey from normal teenage kid with a rough childhood to the strong, charismatic, capable man he becomes. It took one hell of a lot of research to achieve, but I think I’m most proud of Caged Jaye of all of the stories I’ve written. It’s not a romance – it’s a thriller and a survival story. The dangers aren’t only physical; Jaye’s sanity is at risk, too. Sure, it’s scary, but each challenge Jaye faces shapes him a little more and makes him a little stronger. The whole point going in was to have the readers really rooting for Jaye, following him into a world most of us (thankfully) never have to live in.
Kazza: I also believe there’s going to be another book about Dix and Jaye, other than Caged Jaye. The book that is not Caged Jaye has me intrigued. What time frame are we talking about – post Arctic Absolution or pre? Any teasers about this book? Any closer to knowing approximate release dates on either? Since Arctic Absolution was my Book of the Year last year I guess I am tapping my toes here in great (and complimentary) anticipation 🙂
Lynn: Thank you again for the astonishingly awesome honor of Book of the Year for Arctic Absolution! Yes, I do intend to write another book about Dixon and Jaye. It would be a sequel that takes place shortly after Arctic Absolution ends. Because the story will incorporate more of Jaye’s history with the gang he was initiated into in prison – the Disciples – I always intended to write it after Caged Jaye was wrapped (which means I might begin writing it any day now). Caged Jaye introduces Cash, Jaye’s former “owner” and head of the Sheridan, Oregon branch of the Disciples. He might be kind of a divisive figure, but I absolutely love him. I do intend to have Dixon and Cash encounter each other in some way in the sequel. There will be more of a meshing of worlds for Jaye in that book, which I’m really excited about. I’ve been eager to throw Dixon into Jaye’s world the way Jaye was thrown into his.
Kazza: I can’t even begin to say how much I’m looking forward to these books
Kazza: Apart from the above series/books, is there anything else we can look out for from Lynn Kelling on the near horizon? If so, what and when?
Lynn: I have a new MM BDSM Romance coming out in early February titled Loving the Master. It’s a prequel to Bound by Lies and takes place in the larger Society of Masters world I share with author Jack L. Pyke. One of her characters from the Master’s Circle makes an appearance Loving the Master. But it also works perfectly well as a standalone story, for those unfamiliar with any of the other books. Loving the Master doesn’t have the darkness of some of my other work, but is more a purely romantic and steamy story of how two unlikely people – a wealthy CEO and Dominant named David, and a near-penniless, awkward waiter and self-professed comic book geek named Shea – wind up together and why. David owns and runs a private gay BDSM club, and it’s a decadent world for a naive teenage virgin to be suddenly immersed into.
Following that I’ll be working on edits for another new gay romance with the working title of Boy in a Dress, about a genderqueer exotic dancer and former military brat named Kerry who’s thoroughly seduced by Ewyn, the Irish security guard at the club where he dances. When we first meet him, Kerry is just coming off a breakup with his transgender boyfriend and dealing with a whole host of familial and identity issues. Ewyn is really the first person to ever give Kerry the total freedom to be exactly the person he wants to be. It’s a feel-good story that I can’t wait to share.
Lately I’ve been writing Bare, a Gay For You novel about a painting professor and his unlikely muse. It also touches on the disturbing world of conversion therapy, which I’m really fascinated by. Since I’ve got the first draft of that nearly wrapped, I’ll be able to move on to Twin Ties 4, the Arctic Absolution sequel, or the Carter/Presley story. But in addition to that, there’s a long list of half-finished stories I’ve been slowly chipping away at. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more writing in the near future!
Kazza: A big thank you to Lynn Kelling for being here today as part of our blog anniversary and for the fantastic giveaway as well.
Kazza’s Lynn Kelling Reviews
A set of signed paperbacks – My Brother’s Lover and Dual Affairs. Plus a third signed paperback of Arctic Absolution. Simply leave a comment below for a chance to win these fantastic signed books by midnight October 31st. (If you receive a spam message on commenting, don’t worry, we will see it and add it.)