We’re so pleased to have Taylor here visiting with us today. She has a new book just released with MLR Press called Disasterology 101, and she’s not only here today to talk a little bit about the book but also to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a FREE copy! (Contest details follow the excerpt below)
And now, please welcome Taylor!
TVD: Thanks for having me. :)
Q. – When did you begin writing creatively? Was there any one person who encouraged and inspired you to publish your work?
TVD: I’m a bit of an accidental writer. I hadn’t been dreaming up characters or creating stories in my head before writing Six Degrees of Lust. In fact, I started writing because of a very good friend of mine. She has been writing since forever and her dream was to get published. But she was having a bit of a hard time finishing her stories, so she asked me to collaborate with her. Anyone who knows me would tell you how…obsessive…I am about finishing what I start, and the idea was for me to attempt to write something with her, and keep her focused through completion of the book. So I got to work on it. The collaboration didn’t last long, though. As it turned out we had different styles, and that’s when I realized I actually have a style and a rather defined voice. I submitted Six Degrees of Lust five months later.
Q. – What was your first published book?
TVD: Six Degrees of Lust was contracted first, but while it was in edits I wrote and published Heatstroke, a free novella for the MM Romance Group’s Hot Summer Days event on Goodreads.
Q. – Have you always written M/M romance? What attracted you to the genre?
TVD: Always. I didn’t choose to write gay romance, though. I’m convinced it’s a calling. :-)
Q. – Let’s talk a little bit about your newest book, Disasterology 101. You delve deeply into the subject of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How much research did you do to make sure you got Cedric’s affliction just right?
TVD: The research process was intense and extensive. I read medical textbooks and testimonies; talked to people I know who are affected by either germaphobia or some form of ODC. I studied treatments, therapies and medication until I felt confident I had a sound basic knowledge of what would be Cedric’s condition. Then I sat down to write. This is a serious subject, and it was my responsibility to get it right.
Q. – Was he a difficult character to write?
TVD: Not at all. Once I knew how severe his condition was, he kind of guided me ’til the end. :)
Q. – Bruce and I both agree that the sense of anxiety while reading this book was pretty tangible, sometimes almost overwhelming! Did you ever worry at any point that Cedric’s own anxiety wouldn’t translate well on the page?
TVD: Every single day.
Q. – Did you have anxiety while writing the book?
TVD: Absolutely. Like I mentioned before, I took on a serious issue that could be a trigger to many readers. It was important I got it right, both for Cedric and for every OCD patient out there that might read Disasterology 101.
Q. – Were you ever tempted at any point to come up with a “magic fix” for Cedric’s OCD?
TVD: No. That’s not realistic. It isn’t the way it works for OCD patients. They can take medication, go to counseling and therapy and get better as a result, but there’s no cure for them in real life. They face the challenge to cope and find ways to live their lives to the best of their capability, and I’m anal when it comes to details and accuracy. Cedric was never meant to be “fixed”.
Q. – This might seem like a silly question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Was it a conscious choice to make Cedric British, or did he just show up in your imagination that way?
TVD: I knew from the very beginning there was a dichotomy between who Cedric seemed to be and the man he really was; between his physical appearance and his behavior. In my imagination he looked like a thug, but sounded posh. And I actually thought the word “posh”. He was British from the get go. :)
Q. – I don’t want to dismiss Kevin and the importance of his role in Cedric’s life, so let me ask you this: which character came to you first, and how did you decide that Kevin—this recently divorced, not even out of the closet yet, inexperienced in his sexuality dad to three kids—would be a perfect fit for Cedric?
TVD: Cedric came to me first. As complicated as he was, he needed a man who was understanding, patient and rock solid. A man who could deal with the unexpected and be able to roll with the punches. Life isn’t perfect though, so of course he’d come with his own set of baggage, and I knew Kevin’s experience with kids and the chaotic environment they often create would come in handy when it came to dealing with Cedric. :)
Q. – What made you decide to write a ten year age difference between these two men?
TVD: It wasn’t a conscious decision. Once I knew he was a father of three it was only natural he’d be significantly older. He needed time to make those babies, build a life and ultimately get divorced before meeting his guy.
Q. – Do you have news of any works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?
TVD: Currently I’m editing Six Degrees of Separation, the second installment in my “By Degrees” serial, and also working on a story about gay Puerto Rican guys dealing with taboos and machismo that’s set in Puerto Rico. Homosexuality isn’t widely accepted in my country, and that’s something I want to explore and write about.
Q. – Where can readers find you on the internet?
Q. – Would you be willing to share an excerpt of Disasterology 101 with us?
TVD: Of course. This excerpt takes place during a conversation between Cedric and Kevin where they discuss the possibility of getting together. Enjoy!
Disasterology 101: Excerpt
Kevin had always had a thing for architecture. He was a big fan of the structures Greenbriar built all over the world, and it had just dawned on him that eventually, some of them would be Cedric’s designs. Had circumstances been different Kevin would’ve loved to talk to him about his job.
Instead he was about to turn him down.
Kevin decided to do it during the second class break. He didn’t think it was appropriate for him to approach Cedric while the class was technically still in progress, but he couldn’t deal anymore with the heated—albeit brief—looks Cedric kept casting his way. And he especially didn’t want to wait until everybody had left. He didn’t trust himself. If they were alone and that pretty young thing decided to kiss him again, Kevin might not be able to resist.
Cedric left the room during the first break, but for the second he told the students he’d see them in fifteen minutes and stood in front of the board. He was still facing it when Kevin approached him. It was the weirdest thing. He wasn’t writing. He wasn’t even moving. He just stood there and—
“Are you counting?”
He surely was. That was the second time Kevin had seen him do that. And Cedric didn’t stop to answer. He just held up his left hand, a clear sign he didn’t want to be interrupted, and continued counting until he reached thirty. Then he turned around, and damned if he didn’t look as if he’d just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
“You should be out with the rest of the class,” Cedric muttered, not quite making eye contact with Kevin. “I didn’t mean for anyone to witness that.” He didn’t explain what “that” was, and Kevin didn’t ask.
“We need to talk.”
“We’ll talk after class.”
Cedric tried to walk by him. Kevin didn’t let him pass. “We’ll talk now.”
“You’re too close.”
“I can’t have you breathing on me like that. Not when I haven’t prepared for it.”
“Does this have anything to do with your issue with germs?”
“How did you know I have an issue?”
“You’re kidding me, right?” Kevin couldn’t hold his sardonic chuckle back. “I don’t get you. I really don’t. You can’t handle me breathing near you, but you can—” He glanced at the door to make sure they were still alone. “You’ve kissed me and stuck your tongue in my mouth, and for some reason that I can’t even understand you want to have sex with m—”
“You want to have sex with me too.”
“That’s not the point,” Kevin growled. “How the hell are we going to manage sex if you can’t handle my germs?” he finished in a very low voice. “Anal sex is a messy thing, you know?”
“It can be a little complicated but there are ways around it,” Cedric said, glancing at Kevin from under those long, thick lashes of his. Kevin’s throat was suddenly so dry he had to gulp several times. “I know my limits, and it isn’t the same when I’m the one making the moves.”
“How is it different?”
“This is not the time or the place to discuss this.”
“It’s going to have to do.”
Cedric shook his head and moved toward the door. “Come with me.”
Kevin followed him to the floor’s emergency exit and up the stairs, all the way to the roof. Good. They had a little privacy. He felt much better knowing there wouldn’t be any accidental witnesses.
The moment the roof door closed behind him Kevin repeated his question. “So how is it different?”
“I have control.”
“That doesn’t explain how it’s different.”
He shouldn’t be asking this. Considering he had no intentions of being with Cedric, it was information Kevin didn’t need. But he couldn’t resist.
“You’d have to cooperate.”
“In order to cooperate I’d have to understand what the he—”
“There’s a time limit for things,” Cedric mumbled.
“What does that mean?”
Cedric shoved his hands inside his pockets and paced in front of Kevin. “And there are things I’ve never tried to do… that I’m afraid I’ll never be able to do.”
“What things?” Kevin couldn’t remember any other time when he’d felt as exasperated as he did at that moment. “Come on, Cedric. How’s a man supposed to score with you if he doesn’t know the rules?”
Cedric didn’t answer. He didn’t move for the longest time, and didn’t seem to be breathing either. “Thank you for coming back to class, by the way,” Cedric finally said, his words followed by a tug of his lip ring. His had to be the pinkest, most tempting tongue in existence. “But you should know I would’ve called had you not been here tonight.”
Kevin sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Please don’t do that.”
“Don’t call you?”
Kevin nodded. He’d never be able to resist Cedric if the guy decided to actively pursue him. “This has to stop.”
“There won’t be any disciplinary actions against us, Kevin. I checked. Neither Greenbriar nor MCC will care if they find out we’re having sex. You don’t need to worry about that.”
“I’m…not… I’m not having—” Kevin shut his mouth, counted to five and started again. “I’m not having sex with you.”
“You just said you are.”
“What?” Kevin quickly reviewed their conversation in his mind, but came up with nothing. “When did I say that?”
“You asked about the rules,” Cedric clarified. “You wanted to know what it takes to score with me.”
“Okay….” Kevin took a deep breath and released it quickly. “That’s not what I meant.”
“I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“I can’t have sex with you.”
“You took a shower.”
“That doesn’t mean I was planning on having sex.”
Cedric glared at him. “You shouldn’t have taken a shower.”
“Had I known you would jump to the wrong conclus—Jesus!” Kevin took several steps back when Cedric leaned forward and sniffed his neck. “What are you doing?”
“You took a shower and now I can’t smell your sweat. Not that I can deal with it all the time, but once in a while is fine. As long as you run and take a shower right away. I like to see you sweaty and a bit dirty. Makes you look even sexier. ”
Kevin stared at him. Opened his mouth and then closed it again when he couldn’t figure out what to say. He rubbed his face with his hands and paced a little before coming to a halt in front of Cedric.
“Are you saying I stunk before?” He finally asked through gritted teeth.
Cedric slipped his tongue through his lip ring and tugged at it. Kevin’s misbehaved dick stirred inside his jeans. “You look upset.”
“You didn’t smell at the sex shop, but the first day of class you did. Only a little, though. I wouldn’t even say you stunk, but you did smell. I could smell you. Drove me crazy, I have to say. I wanted you so much I almost threw you over my desk. I don’t remember being harder in my life. See, I have a very sensitive olfactory sense. Anything out of order and I break out in a sweat. Sometimes I even throw up. But I smelled you and I got hard and that’s why you can’t say you won’t have sex with me.”
Kevin was speechless. Amazed by the amount of information coming at him and completely confused by it. He was also charmed out of his wits by Cedric’s quirky behavior and his courage to continue to talk even though he looked as if he wanted the floor to open up and swallow him.
“So what are you saying?” Kevin asked after a few seconds of hard thinking. “That we have to have sex because you could smell me?”
“Because you didn’t make me gag right away.” Cedric moved so fast he was on top of Kevin before he could even register they guy had moved. When Cedric snatched Kevin’s hand and pressed it against himself, all thoughts escaped Kevin’s mind. “And because even when you’re being bloody contrary, I can see you want me and you still manage to get me hard.”
This Contest Is Now Closed