Lynn Kelling Interview & Giveaway: Song of the Lonesome Cowboy
Kazza: Today author Lynn Kelling has stopped by to have a long overdue chat with Kazza about her books, influences, some of that darker, brooding writing, and Kazza’s 2014 Book of the Year – Arctic Absolution. Not to mention discussing her latest release, Song of the Lonesome Cowboy – which is up for giveaway as well. So I’d like to extend a warm On Top Down Under Book Review welcome to author Lynn Kelling.
Lynn: Thank you so much for having me!
Kazza: For those readers who may not have read your books before, what are the primary genres/sub genres you write in?
Lynn: So far my books are all in the dark, gay, contemporary romance realm, with the one exception of Cursed Blessings, which is a paranormal romance. Most of my books look into the psychology behind lifestyles that exist on the fringes of society – prostitutes, professional Doms and subs, incestuous twins, and ex-convicts, to name a few. And, as much as I sometimes try to resist, they usually all end up with at least a BDSM flavor, though some go much deeper into that world. Most of my books in the Society of Masters series explore the lives of full-time Dominants and submissives.
Kazza: What was the impetus for you writing in these areas?
Lynn: I love the excitement of examining lifestyles I’m completely unfamiliar with, as well as attempting to expose the relatable, human struggles happening there. Life in general can be pretty isolating, no matter who you are, so I’ve always felt challenging readers to relate to someone much different from them is a great way to bring people closer together. I also think it can be strengthening to see a flawed, imperfect character overcome seemingly impossible, terrifying situations.
Kazza: I haven’t read all your books but the ones I have, and the one I am currently reading, My Brother’s Lover, have a psychological, and a gritty real-feel to them. I love it, but I know from experience delving into people’s psyches is not easy work. Do you ever have to get up and shake it off because things just got real? Or do you ever feel the weight of a particular character or characters pushing down on you? Or more, do you feel so attached it becomes incredibly intense as your character’s voice’s outlet?
Lynn: Oh, all of my stories have their truly upsetting moments, and having a good cry over the particularly heart-wrenching ones is a fairly regular occurrence for me, but I push to get there. I get upset by my writing all the time, typing while crying (no matter how strangely my family is looking at me for doing it), or having to go for a walk or just sit in a quiet, private space for a while. Those moments make me feel like I’m doing something right. I know if something is making me emotional, then there’s a greater chance it’ll touch the reader too, and what good is a story that doesn’t move you?
A few of my stories have been harder on me than others. From Temptation is one that really pushed me to the edge, psychologically and emotionally. I got so close to Kyle that I think it actually hurt me. He’s one of my characters that can just randomly bring me to tears if I think about them too deeply, like a wound that doesn’t heal. Song of the Lonesome Cowboy is another. I wouldn’t call it a weight, though. It’s more that I begin to feel like there’s so much of me in the character who is going through these ordeals, that it gets hard to step away and essentially abandon them, especially when it’s time to let others read and judge the story, apart from how I feel about it. With Tucker in Song of the Lonesome Cowboy, he goes through a process of admission, coming out as a gay man and an abuse victim, and I still feel really protective of him. I don’t think that will ever go away.
I started trying to portray the lives of the emotionally scarred because of people in my life who were in abusive relationships, or making these choices for themselves that left me feeling profoundly helpless. Because a lot of times you can’t save people. They simply won’t leave the bad place they’re trapped in, or even acknowledge it. When you’re on the outside looking in, it can feel really futile, wanting to help and be there when your efforts may not even be welcome. There are a lot of people I love that I know I’ll never be able to save, so writing these characters and showing their fight for their own happy endings is intensely cathartic.
Kazza: Writers read, having said that, who do you feel has influenced or perhaps inspired you in your writing? And why is that?
Lynn: Maybe this is weird, but I think Stephen King has been my greatest influence. I’ve read almost all of his work and what has always appealed to me and amazed me about him is how personal and relatable his characters and stories are. No matter what the outlandish, bizarre problem is, his characters always have a realness to them which I love. And the simplicity of language he uses feels really elegant, especially when trying to describe things that are hard to wrap your mind around.
I’m also a huge fan of his son’s work. Joe Hill fascinates me, in that he grew up with this legend of a father but has managed to capture his own brand of magic in his work, digging even deeper and somehow going darker, diving into the minds of his twisted creations.
They both inspire me to really try to put the reader right there in the thick of things, and once they’re in, keep the story moving quickly so there’s no choice but to keep going.
Kazza: Last year I had the pleasure of reading my first Lynn Kelling book, Arctic Absolution. It impressed me so much it was my 2014 Book of the Year. It’s not always an easy read, to me that’s part of its appeal, but it’s extremely gripping, edgy, and erotic, with two flawed main characters in Dixon and Jaye. Where did these amazing guys come from? And the idea of setting it in Alaska?
Lynn: Well, first off, thank you again for that insanely humbling honor. It’s honestly one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me.
Jaye and Dixon developed quickly once I’d set the specific challenge for myself of writing a twisted romance way out in the middle of nowhere. I’d already written a short (unpublished) story set in Antarctica. The setting changed the dynamics of the story so drastically, it was unlike anything I’d tried before but as alien the landscape was, it was real. I actually heard from readers who’d worked and lived in McMurdo, and the intensity of the day to day challenges of simply surviving instantly cranked up the excitement of the story, like it must have as well for the people living there.
So, I wanted something similar, but not quite so far out. In Alaska, Dixon still has a fairly normal job, and Jaye, fresh out of prison, is experiencing a transition that others go through every single day. But when there’s really no one around, the rules we all usually play by kind of go away. I loved that. I think a lot of times, we’re pressured to do the right thing just because we know others are watching and there’s less chance of getting away with doing the wrong thing. Dixon and Jaye don’t have those constraints. There’s no one around, no one to see what’s happening, no one to help or get in the way of whatever ideas spring to mind. The law is very thinly spread. It’s wilderness.
Once I was inside Jaye’s skin, curled up in front of a fireplace, no one around for miles, with nothing but the icy wind battering the walls of a tiny cabin to keep him company, his personal ghosts started to come out to play. And with Dixon, sitting behind the wheel of his Expedition, with nothing to distract him from replaying all of his bad choices over and over again in his head, I got a clear sense of who he was, and who he was still trying to be. With both of those guys, they both are strong in different ways, but existing on the fringes has taken its toll. There was very little outside pressure trying to shape them into something more civilized.
Kazza: I believe there’s a book – prequel – in the pipeline for Jaye. When he was in jail? I can’t tell you how nervous I am bout Jaye *bites nails* Anyway, is there anything you can fill us readers in on, and if this book is coming out, when it may be due?
Lynn: Absolutely. Caged Jaye is the prequel to Arctic Absolution, spanning from when Jaye was a fairly normal kid working a retail job and living with his boyfriend, through most of his time in prison. I was a little intimidated, too, when I was first setting out to write that story. There is no romance per se, but there are plenty of strange relationships happening. Once I was in it, I knew it was a story that desperately needed to be told. I think it would do Jaye a disservice to not show how hard he worked to become as strong as he is in Arctic Absolution. Sure, he’s scarred and struggling, but he knows who he is and what he’s capable of. That’s a far cry from the naive boy he used to be.
I did scads of research on the actual prison facility Jaye would have been sent to so that the story would have even more realism. I won’t sugar coat it, Caged Jaye is scary and it doesn’t shy away from showing how hard Jaye has to fight just to stay alive. But we know he does make it out, and he’s a hero, steady enough for someone like Dixon to lean heavily on. Out of every character I’ve written, I’m most proud of Jaye, and mostly because of how much he grows.
I’m currently editing 3 stories at once (weak chuckle), and as soon as I’m done those, Caged Jaye is next up on my plate, so it will be released within the year, but that’s as much as I can pinpoint the release date right now. My publisher has also asked me to write more about Jaye and Dixon, filling in the time for Jaye between the end of Caged Jaye and the beginning of Arctic Absolution, and also maybe showing more of what happens to them both after the end of Arctic.
Kazza: Recently I read and loved Song of the Lonesome Cowboy which was released yesterday. This is another compellingly dark(er) read. Rather than Alaska, this is rooted in the southern parts of America and follows a country music singer and band. And while there are some definite personal demons to be found in this story for the MC, Tucker, it is definitely a different story to Arctic Absolution. What was the inspiration for the book? For Tucker? For the country music background?
Lynn: Tucker is actually a secondary character in Whatever the Cost, one of my first novels. It’s about two male prostitutes serving some pretty high-end clientele. That book begins with a sexual encounter between Tucker, the adorably nervous, shy client, and William, the experienced, mysterious but seductive prostitute. After their transaction is completed, the reader follows William out the door and back to his life, but I always wanted to know more about who Tucker is and why he went looking for William in the first place. William’s employer is The Company, a nefarious organization that appears in several of my novels, including The Society of Masters. Tucker’s on the other side of that, going back to them over and over again to fulfil his own needs. That’s where this book started, but it grew into something else entirely.
In the country music world, the mold of what kind of artist you can be is pretty specifically defined. If you’re a man, you have to appeal to consumers a certain way, as a man’s man – polite, charming, rugged, and down to earth. Likewise for women, you can’t go against the grain. You need to play by the old rules if you want to get anywhere. It felt like the perfect breeding ground for some terrifying power dynamics. As a young artist, Tucker is willing to do whatever it takes to have a chance to be somebody, so it’s all too easy for a predatory executive to pressure unwitting, closeted Tucker into sex for a chance at a career. Tucker can’t be publicly out as a gay man without seeing many doors slam in his face, but in private meetings with that executive, Nathan Briant, it’s only his rules that matter. That’s what drives Tucker to hide his sexuality by hiring hookers rather than looking for love.
As far as we’ve come in modern society, there’s still a long way to go. There are still people being cruelly taken advantage of, as people in power use that leverage to keep those beneath them under their heel. I wanted to show that, and how hard it can be to get out from under and just live honestly when so many people are looking on and judging.
Kazza: I know authors can be inspired by a picture; they see a strong muse. Was this the case for Tucker? Or any character in the book? Know any hot pictures will be greatly appreciated and used in the interview J I also know music plays a big role in a lot of author’s writing, were there any songs that inspired you before and during Song of the Lonesome Cowboy? It would certainly be fitting given ‘song’ is in the title.
Lynn: Tucker wasn’t born from a specific picture, but these pictures do a good job capturing how I see his sweet and submissive but mysterious darkness.
W.D.Y.W.F.M.? by The Neighbourhood is a song that has the slow burn of all of Tucker’s self-doubt and repressed sexuality. You can hear in it a lot of the yearning I think would be in Tucker’s music.
The Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice is a song that breaks my heart every time I hear it. It just gives me chills. There’s such a sad resignation in the way he sings that inspired Tucker in a lot of ways. I think Tucker idealizes Mags, who he knows he’ll never have, in ways that are captured by that song too.
Kazza: What books/works in progresscan readers be on the look-out for from you in the near future?
Lynn: My next release will be Double Heat (Twin Ties 3), which is the ongoing saga of two sets of identical twins caught up in one complicated four-way relationship. The first book in that series, My Brother’s Lover, won an Honorable Mention and Finalist spot in the 2014 Rainbow Awards. The second book, Twin Affairs, is currently banned by Amazon but we’re in the process of resubmitting it. In the meantime, both books are currently available in all formats through all other major booksellers.
Also out soon is a new novel, Loving the Master, which is sort of my gritty and dark, gay contemporary BDSM spin on Cinderella and the love story of a very unlikely couple. David is a bored, fairly isolated and lonely billionaire, as well as a skilled Dominant who owns and operates a private gay club. Shea is a near-homeless, charming and self-deprecating teenage waiter. That book is part of the Society of Masters, and some of the characters have or will crossover with Bound by Lies and the Deliver Us series, as well as the Don’t… series by author Jack L. Pyke. In Bound by Lies, David and Shea had been together for several years, but there was a lot of mystery around their relationship. Loving the Master is a look back at how they got together. There’s also a novella to be released along with it, Learning from the Master, which tells the story of how Jenner Parrish from Bound by Lies was thoroughly seduced and began training as a Dom by both David and Shea.
Kazza: Look out for Song of the Lonesome Cowboy as it’s just been released and is excellent reading. Thank you to Lynn Kelling for popping by and having a chat with us today at OTDU. And thank you for the giveaway
Lynn: Thank you so much, Kazza and OTDU, for everything! It was wonderful to chat with you.
**Congratulations to Lee Todd for winning the giveaway**
Simply leave a comment below before midnight Eastern US Time on Feb 15th for a chance to win an ebook copy of Lynn Kelling’s latest release, Song of the Lonesome Cowboy. (**If you receive a spam message don’t worry, we will see it and add your comment. Cheers.)
Kazza’s Spoiler Free Review
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, BDSM, Gay
Tucker Reynolds is a rising star in country music. The people from his record label tell him he’s destined to be one of the greats—but only if he fits the “good ol’ boy” image country fans expect from him. The trouble is, that’s not the kind of man’s man Tucker really wants to be. Forced into an unsavory relationship with a record executive and frustrated by his regrettably platonic relationship with his best friend and guitarist, Mags Palmer, Tucker turns to kinky sex with male prostitutes for release. Things hit Tucker’s limit when one of Tucker’s bandmates, Jess Grayville, begins to suspect what’s going on, and puts himself in danger to protect Tucker. Desperate for a way out of his troubles, Tucker realizes only honesty, love, and a true song can save himself and the man who stands by him. (M/M – For content labels and excerpt, see details on publisher’s site.
Lynn Kelling began writing in order to tell stories that aren’t afraid of the dark, don’t hold anything back and always strive to be memorable, forging lasting attachments between character and reader. Her inspiration comes from taking a closer look at behaviors and ideas lurking at the fringes of life—basically anything that people may hesitate to speak of in mixed company, but everyone wonders about anyway. Her work is driven by the taboo in order to expose the humanity within it. Lynn is an artist, designer and lover of any form of creative self-expression that comes from a place of honesty and emotion, whether it’s body art or opera. She has had multiple novels published, has written over seventy works of erotic fiction of varying lengths, and always has several novels in progress.