A couple weeks ago, while Jeff was doing the Hat Trick 2 blog tour, he was hosted by one of our excellent friends, Wade Kelly, on her blog. Since Wade had a book come out this week, we wanted to have her on the blog.
Jeff reviewed Wade’s Names Can Never Hurt Me back on Monday. We both loved the book and are thrilled to have her here to talk more about it. So please give a warm welcome to Wade as we get going with our Q&A.
J&W: We’ll start simple, tell our readers a little something about yourself in case they don’t know about Wade Kelly
Wade: Hello. It is great to be included on your blog today, btw. ☺ Um, me? I am a wife and mother of three. I like snakes and I have a lizard living in my bathroom. (on purpose.) I started writing M/M fiction in 2009.
J&W: What was the inspiration behind Names Can Never Hurt Me?
Wade: Oh gosh, I started writing it so long ago it is hard to think why, except I say a video by Ryan Amador called “Define Me” and I found it thought provoking. I started thinking about labeling and categorizing people and I guess it all came out of there.
J&W: Wow. We hadn’t seen that video before. Great song and some powerful images too. It’s easy to see how that was the inspiration.
Wade: Yeah, but along with that video, which definitely inspired my thoughts, was a recent trip to Knoebel’s Amusement Park. There, I experienced that exact reaction that RC did in the book. My dad died 2.5 years ago and I remember vividly all the times he had taken me on that ride as a kid. When that happened, the book definitely started taking shape because I wanted to incorporate my feelings and the loss of my dad into RC’s character.
J&W: Nick and RC’s time at the amusement park is a great part of the book. Now we know why.
Let’s shift gears a little, how many works in progress do you have at any one time?
Wade: It used to be ONLY ONE AT A TIME, but as I have been doing this a while things change. Sometimes the story is not moving in one so I am able to jump to another story. I am not saying I have many WIPs going on all the time, but I have that option and it has worked. I did have three going at the same time once and I was able to hop characters without much difficulty. But that takes concentration and I am so busy right now, ONE WIP right now is just fine.
J&W: How did you decide Names would be the book you would work on after My Roommates A Jock? Well, Crap!?
Wade: Well, that’s an interesting question. After When Love Is Not Enough came out in 2011, I had the sequel ready to go. The Cost of Loving was written and submitted and then rejected. (By three publishers.) I think I was depressed and frustrated because rarely do they tell you why, so I needed a break and wrote My Roommates A Jock? Well, Crap! Jock was funny, and light, and easy. I wrote it in two months and it was published in December of 2012. But I wanted The Cost of Loving to get out there! So I found and editor, spent $2000 in editing, resubmitted an altered story with an HEA and Boom! TCOL got published in 2013. At that point, Names had been started. But another book had ALSO been started. Book 3 of The Unconditional Love Series, Darian’s Book, called Love, Trust, and Learning To Live Again has about 36k written. I was writing the last book in that trilogy, but decided to write Names and publish that one next because I was learning to play the game. Readers want the HEA. Publishers want what sells. I decided to finish Names because it was a lighter story with an HEA and also was NOT connected to any of my other books. It could be a stand alone. I thought if I kept submitting books that did not sell well, because FYI books on gay suicide are NOT huge sellers, that perhaps I would be rejected again and I wasn’t up for that. It’s depressing. So I wrote Names. And yay, it’s now published!
J&W: How would you describe Nick’s world in a nutshell? What do you want readers to take away from his world, especially given the changes?
Wade: I see Nick as this spoiled kid who has never had to be a man yet. He has a cushy life, he has what he considers friends, he gets sex regularly without even trying, and he’s never had anything horrible happen to him. He’s a little slow a processing information and I don’t think he’s ever needed to push the limits. NOW he’s challenged. Corey comes in and stirs up feelings he’s never considered, but meeting RC rocks him. He starts questioning himself in a completely different way because the attraction is so strong. Why does he miss him so much? Why does he feel the way he does when he’s with RC? And he’s afraid of the terminology and “defining” himself. My thought is, just because culture is slowly accepting what it means to be gay, that doesn’t mean each individual will be able to accept it so easily in themselves. Each person is different and the journey of self-awareness and acknowledgement is different.
Does this make sense? And have a answered the question about this book, or does it sound like I am talking way outside what this book included? lol
J&W: It makes complete sense, especially in context of the book. If people don’t get it before they read Names they will after, for sure.
If you were casting the movie for Names who’s getting the roles?
I would ask Michael Kudo to be my casting director! HAHA
In my head, RC looks like a picture I found of Joey Fatone from *NYSYC. He was older and heavier, maybe, and had a slight beard. But I don’t know if he acts. I haven’t thought of actors to fit the roles so I think that would be hard to answer.
Can YOU think of any actors to fit the characters?
J&W: Joey would be a good choice for RC. Here’s Jeff’s picks for some others. For Nick, Jeff can see one of the Carver twins, most recently seen on Teen Wolf. Lauren Graham would make a good mom for Nick. I could see her having those discussions with Nick, like the one in your excerpt below, because of her work on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. Meanwhile, perhaps Michael will drop into the comments with some casting choices.
Back to the questions: Names sits right in the middle of the Wade Kelly scale between lighthearted/laughs and angst/pain. We would agree with that because we both laughed and cried as we read it. But the Wade Kelly special tilts far more on the angst/pain side, why is that?
Wade: Beth Bellanca came up with that term probably because of When Love Is Not Enough. That book had the angst, and tears, but also the flashbacks and time jumps and POV shifts that drove some readers crazy. I think Beth and I figured out that was just my style and it was OKAY to be different. If a reader picks up a book now and I’m telling you it is a “Wade Kelly Special” then you know what to expect. I was told by someone else that sometimes people don’t want to think so much when reading so those are the people who may not enjoy my stuff. I strive for complexity. With Names, I think I have complexity, but not with flashbacks and POV shifts, I wanted to give readers the chance to see I am ABLE to write all in ONE POV and all chronologically. You need to expect the unexpected from me!
J&W: How does it differ for you writing on one side of the scale or the other? Was Names more of a challenge because it’s in the middle?
I go with what my brain decides. I am not sure I set out to do either, I think of a story and it comes out. Cole happened to be funny. And Rob sort of stole the show in some ways and I think Jock came out lighthearted for the most part on its own.
Names was a challenge because I had women in it and because there were LOADS of characters! That was the hard part. Zillions of characters is harder to keep straight!
9) Give us a tease of what you’re working on now. You’ve give some previews of the beginning and it looks like it’s going to be on the angst/pain side again. What’s the inspiration for this story?
Wade: I had an English assignment in Oct/Nov 2013 where I had to describe a painting. The idea was to look beyond what was in the painting and tell a story. Well, I did, and Misplaced Affection came out of that. The Painting was “Ophelia” by Arthur Hughes. I saw her at a wedding. And then I pictured her being in love with the groom and the narrator of the story discovers in that moment he is in love with the groom as well. Ta-da, story. Now, having said that, the story then took on its own ideas and became very deep and involved and not so much a straight up love story about a guy in love with his best friend, the groom. This one is painful because of character development. Their back stories and hard to write. And hard also in the sense of wanting to show the story and not tell it. So I am challenged here. If I can pull off what is in my head believably (key word) then this may be my best book yet. I don’t know. You will have to beta it and tell me! :p
Besides Misplaced Affections, what else is coming up that readers should be on the look out for?
Wade: I want to get Misplaced Affection finished this year and hopefully published. I will most like self-publish it for time’s sake. Plus, it will give me experience in self-publishing should Darian’s book get rejected. MA (Misplaced Affection) doesn’t have characters or links to other books so it is a perfect candidate for self-pub. I will keep readers informed.
Also, another “older” book of mine will be out of print this month. This is actually GOOD news as I will then alter it, improve on it, and publish it under the name Wade Kelly. I hope to attract new readers with that since very few people even know it is mine. Sculpting Clay was published under the name Linda Reilly and is a paranormal (ish) M/M romance, light and cute, and my first novel. But I want it to be even better! I HOPE to have that out by the end of the year.
J&W: Okay, time for 10 rapid-fire questions. Only one answer on each please:
Name one author (any genre) you draw inspiration from: Amy Lane
What’s the last song that you heard: “Where No One Goes” from How to Train Your Dragon 2
Favorite writing distraction: Facebook, if you mean what distracts me FROM writing.
Last movie you saw (in theatre or on TV): Theater: X-Men: Days of Future Past. Home: How to Train Your Dragon
Favorite TV show: Teen Wolf
Favorite board game: Monopoly
What part of the day do you like to write: Morning
What is your go-to comfort food: cake (although it does make me ill eating too much)
Who plays you in a movie about Wade Kelly: Meg Ryan
Favorite superhero: Iron Man
J&W: And in closing, we asked our mutual friend and fellow author Michael Kudo to give us a question to ask you. We suspect your fans are going to find this answer interesting, and will also have their own opinion. Here’s the question: “Imagine if Matt from (When Love Is Not Enough) met Cole from (Jock) instead of Ellis. How would they have interacted/hit it off? And would Matt find anything in Cole that reminded him of Jaime?”
Wade: First thought, I’m going to kill Michael.
Um, wow…. Matt is a sports guy. Runner, well built, tough Firefighter dude… I think Ellis would remind him of Jaime. Jamie and Matt were similar body types, same size, Darian was the smaller one. I don’t think Cole would remind Matt of Jaime at all. And I don’t know that he would be attracted to Cole either. Matt was attracted to Darian because of his vulnerability. And Darian had that Femme thing going on: make-up, nails, and piercings. I think Matt might be attracted to Corey from Names Can Never Hurt Me, but not Cole. Cole would maybe be a friend, but nothing more.
J&W: Wade, thanks so much for stopping by to talk about Names Can Never Hurt Me, and some of the other random stuff we threw at you.
Thank you for this opportunity to be on your blog. I think this was the funnest batch of questions anyone has ever asked, Michael’s included, and I am so happy that you took the time to think them up!
Here’s Wade’s official bio and links so you can find her:
Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it is not easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. She writes passionately about the controversial issues witnessed in real life and strives to make a difference by making people think. Wade does not have a background in writing or philosophy, but still draws from personal experience to ponder contentious subjects on paper. When not writing, she is thinking about writing, and more than likely scribbling ideas on sticky notes in the car while playing “taxi driver” for her three children. She likes snakes, and has a tegu (lizard) living in her bathroom.
And now an Excerpt from Names Can Never Hurt Me
My mom entered without knocking. “I thought I told you to keep the door open,” she asked with a glare.
“Sorry,” Corey apologized for me. “I forgot you said that. We were going to play Just Dance 4, and I thought it might be too loud.”
I love that he lied for me.
“Uh-huh,” she mused. I don’t think she believed him, because the way she sniffed the air and sauntered over in my direction suggested she was suspicious of something. She grabbed my chin, inspected my face, and then released me. “Just keep the door open. Your father and I are going to bed soon, so you can’t play for long anyway. Twenty minutes, and your friend has to go home.”
“Mom, I’m not a little kid. I can have a friend over if I want to.”
“You may not be a kid, but you live in my house. If you rented your own place, you could do what you want”—she glanced at Corey—“with whomever you wanted. Tonight, it’s lights out in twenty minutes. Got it?”
“Yes, Mrs. Jones,” Corey answered politely.
“Whatever,” I said. “Twenty minutes is fine. Next time I’ll drive to DC to visit him.”
“That’s fine. As long as you pay for the gas.” She always threw sarcasm my way, but treated him like gold. “It was nice to see you, Corey. Be careful driving home. And thanks for the baking lesson. I had fun.”
“Me too. Goodnight.”
My mom left the door wide open. I hooked up the Just Dance game and turned the sound up loud enough to mask our conversation. “That was close,” I said.
Corey walked over to me with a grin on his face.
“What?” He pointed to the mirror, and I turned to take a look. I had Corey’s lip gloss on my lips and smeared up my cheek. It was colorless, but it was shiny and contained bits of glitter. “Oh no,” I sighed. “How am I going to explain this? She’s going to think I’m gay.”
“Is that such a bad thing?” Corey rubbed my shoulders and looked at me in the mirror.
I knew what he wanted to hear. Of course being gay wasn’t a bad thing—for him. But for me? What would people say? How would people react? I didn’t live in DC or New York or San Francisco. I lived in Maryland. I didn’t want to move. I’d lived here all my life. What would my parents say? Or my boss?
Corey watched me as he reapplied his lip gloss. “You can think about it all you want, but you can’t change what you are on the inside. That mask you wear only works on those who can’t see it.” He walked to my door and paused. “Take it off, Nicky.”
A mask? I wasn’t wearing a mask. I didn’t know what he was talking about. “Hey, Corey,” I called after him.
He stopped on his way down the hall and turned. “Yeah?”
“Why did you come here tonight?”
He smiled and batted his eyes, much like he’d done in the kitchen earlier that night. “Sugar, a little birdie told me you needed a reminder of what it’s like to fly.” He gestured to me and added, “All that extra baggage you wear will only bring you down. Let it go, Nicky.” He turned and walked away, wiggling his fingers at me over his shoulder and saying, “Let it go.”
I didn’t know how to feel after Corey left. I felt stunned, I guess. I lay in bed that night thinking about what he’d said. I knew the “little bird” was M-L. She was the only one who understood me that well. Was I mad at her for meddling? No. She knew I needed Corey to help figure out my shit, but what he’d said didn’t fix things, it only complicated them.
At work, all I could do was obsess over the conversation. I was glad it was a slow day and that Marcy was “illegally” texting. I was even too vexed to fuss at her.
All this time I’d thought I was straight. I was a straight guy who happened to be attracted to one hot, spiky-blond, gay guy. I was a straight guy with a boy-toy on the side. Corey had never meant that much to me. At least, I’d told myself that for over a year. And all the girls I’d dated didn’t mean much because I wasn’t looking to get married. I wanted sex, and so did most of them, so it was a win-win situation for everyone.
M-L was right: I was gay. Oh my God.
I’m gay. I’m not bi, I’m gay. I’m a gay guy with a girlfriend who doesn’t know I’m gay.