Tia: First of all, thank you for having me! I live in the middle of nowhere town in eastern Finland. Pretty much like the town in my shifter series, the one that’s closest to the farm. I love where I live, so it sort of ended up starring in a series because the environment is such a bit part of the story there.
I’m chronically single, a romantic at heart, and a wee bit on the kinky side. I’m also a crazy cat person, and I would adopt all stray dogs from Spain if I could (I have one already, wish I could add more to my fur family!)
TNA: Have you always written M/M Romance, or is that something that came along later in your writing career? What was your first published M/M title, and if you could go back in time to the moment you sat down and began writing it, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give yourself now that you have the benefit of experience?
Tia: I have one other-than-M/M romance title that was once upon a time published by Summerhouse Publishing. That came out I think a couple of weeks before my first M/M novella, Auld Lang Syne, did. The first story is a short M/M/F piece called The Double Ds. (If anyone wants to still read it, just email me and we’ll talk. ;))
I’d written fan fiction for a couple of years-ish by the time I looked at an anthology call on the Dreamspinner website. I had this idea for a story and went “oh well, they’ll never take it, but at least I’d have written something original!”
Turns out they didn’t want the story for the cowboys anthology, but they offered me a separate contract which blew me away completely. Still sort of does! I don’t think there’s anything to add to that me, she needed to learn all the stuff she did with that process, and I compliment her on taking the risk to submitting to her favorite M/M publisher.
TNA: Do you remember the first M/M book you ever read? If so, what was it, and what about it made the most lasting impression upon you?
Tia: I THINK it was Bareback by Chris Owen, one of those (for me) early cowboy M/M books. I loved the gritty, the hot smexy, and the MCs were wonderful from my POV. I don’t look at the book the same anymore, but I can still see why I loved it back then. It’s a good book, but MANY have come after it and stolen my geeky heart away. ;)
TNA: How would you describe your books to someone who hasn’t read them yet? Do your characters share common qualities? What’s your idea of a great protagonist?
Tia: I’d, firstly, say that I have a writing style that’s not for everyone. It’s a fact that I acknowledge completely. I also always try to leave something to the reader to figure out. It might be much in one story, but a lot in another. It’s about the little things for me, and I tend to write very character driven, slightly outside-the-box stories.
I’ve yet to write something I didn’t need to get out of my head. I also tend to tackle some things and issues that people shy away from sometimes in romance (HIV, alcoholism, threesomes as a way to actually just spice up a relationship or to serve another non-menage purpose, and so on.)
I’d like to think my protagonists tend to be faulty men in some ways, and mostly they know exactly what their problem is, but they can be a bit in denial about it and that’s where the romance steps in to correct their ways. ;)
TNA: Let’s talk a little bit about your latest release, Mirage. In a sea of twenty-something romances, what made you decide to make Jasper a more, shall we say, mature character? Are there advantages to writing about a man who’s reached middle age? Did the broader range of his life experiences offer you a richer vein to tap from while writing this book?
Tia: First of all, Mirage came from the idea of a closeted, already past his prime, country star. It was obvious pretty soon that Jasper’s Major Problem was his alcoholism and his feelings of worthlessness. He also needed reasons for surviving that long, and having children—because he’s such a loving person—seemed obvious and realistic with how Jasper had lived his life.
He also needed to have a career in music behind him. Those things won’t come quickly. There was also something very rugged about the way Jasper is, and that, from my point of view, often comes from a hard life and/or age. No twenty-something could be where Jasper is, I don’t think. So yeah, there’s so much more to write about, and the age adds a layer of things they already know about themselves but, like in Jasper’s case, might still be struggling with.
TNA: If Jasper “Red” Blue were to describe himself in just a few sentences, what would he want us to know about him?
Tia: I think he’d say he’s finally happy, but still a bit scared of his demons. And he’d certainly say he won’t ever be a surfer, but he won’t mind watching Cade surf with Jasper’s kids. Then he’d go get some coffee and pet his dogs, most likely.
TNA: Cade Wallace is the man who turns Jasper just a little bit inside-out. If Jasper were to describe Cade in just a few sentences, what are some of the things he’d want us to know about him?
Tia: Somewhere in my head, Jasper snorted when I read the question and Cade said “Libido-awakening.” Then there was some playful wrestling that turned into making out…. Wait, what was the question?
I think Jasper would just say Cade is beautiful in every way that matters. He’d also probably add something about Cade’s long hair just because he likes it so much and it would be a perfect way to tease Cade a bit.
TNA: What would you say makes Jasper and Cade work as a couple? How do they contrast and complement each other?
Tia: They both have a need to belong to someone in a very basic way. They both want a home to be a person, not a place, and they need to know the other person won’t just get up and leave when the first obstacle comes along.
Jasper is more serious and needs a bit of a boost sometimes because his view of himself is pretty low. Cade can be the person to remind him of his worth and love him without condition.
Then, if we look at it the other way, Cade needs someone calm and kind to be there for him to balance him out. And someone who knows he might get restless and know how to deal with it.
TNA: What made you decide to settle on country music as Jasper’s forte? Did you have a playlist you listened to as you wrote, and if so, what’s the one song that brought everything together for you as you wrote this story?
Tia: I think one of the reasons I chose country was that I used to say for a long time I’d listen to anything but country music. I was very prejudiced and thought I’d never find country I’d like. Then a friend managed to introduce me to some country in the right moment, and here I am, actually voluntarily listening to some of the newer country songs out there.
There’s also the age old thing about country being very white and straight, and nothing else isn’t accepted easily, if at all. But then when you look around, there are people trying to change that, and something about it all fascinated me enough to write a whole book around the world. I have to admit though, when I first started to write it, I thought it would be much more into the country politics and fears of GLBTQ than it turned out to be. For the life of me I can’t seem to write anything but character driven stuff!
I’ll do you one better than just sharing general song inspiration (there was a lot of that!) and show you the contents of the cover album Jasper records in the book in addition to his actual new album. Just picture the songs being performed in a low, raspy male voice in country style, and you’re pretty much there.
TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt from Mirage with us?
Tia: Oh yes. This is from when the guys meet for the first time, and their dogs meet one another as well.
Sighing, Jasper closed his eyes in the welcome shade of the sunroof.
He woke up with a start a few hours later when Smith got up from next to his chair. The dog stood still as a statue, cropped ears fixed toward the house. Wesson was on alert too, his blessedly intact ears looking for the sound Smith was hearing.
“What is it, boys?” Jasper got up and took a look at his wristwatch. “Damn it!” He’d slept for hours!
He made his way inside and through the house, the dogs flanking him on both sides. He opened the front door and stepped out to see headlights in a cloud of dust approaching from the main road.
Jasper had no time to be worried or panic, because he could see it was a truck and he needed to put one foot in front of another to get to the spot he had thought was perfect to park the large vehicle.
By the time he was there, the gleaming dark-gray truck was slowing down already. Jasper waved a hand toward what was possibly going to be a riding ring eventually—if he ever got to it—and Wallace pulled into the spot like the pro he was.
When the guy opened his door, a few notes of the latest Carrie Underwood single Janey had been singing during their movie night drifted into the summer evening before the radio was turned off.
And then it was time to face the music.
Cade Wallace dropped down from the cabin and told his dog—Jasper could see a white head peeking from the window—to stay put. The man closed the door and turned toward Jasper.
“Red Blue, I presume,” Wallace said, and extended his hand for a shake.
“Cade Wallace.” Jasper tilted his head and shook Wallace’s hand.
“Just call me Cade, since that part is real and not invented.” Cade grinned, his teeth white in his tanned face.
“On this property I’m either Jasper or Red.” Jasper nodded and let go of the offered hand.
“These your boys?” Cade nodded at the dogs that still stood behind Jasper, guarding him.
“Yeah.” Jasper turned so that Cade could see the dogs better and to hide his obvious staring.
The man was, in one word, stunning. From his tanned arms to the dimples when he smiled, to the mystery of a crocheted hat on his head that seemed to hide a mass of hair based on the way it was stretched in the back.
“Hello, boys.” Cade knelt down to be at the dogs’ level.
“This is Smith, and that’s Wesson. I’ve had them for four years or so.” Jasper introduced the dogs, who were trying to figure the newcomer out.
They sniffed Cade’s hands, and Wesson was warming up faster. Smith, on the other hand, was still a little stiff if not outright cold, and kept flicking his gaze from Cade to the truck.
“Smith wants to meet your dog. He’s not convinced yet.” Jasper smiled and reached down to pet his dog. “He won’t be aggressive, he’s just cautious and hates fights for obvious reasons.”
“Obviously…,” Cade said in a disgusted tone and glanced at Smith’s scars. Then he suddenly burst out laughing.
Cade held up a hand and went to open the door to let his dog out.
“Jasper, Smith, Wesson… this is Will.” Cade’s blue eyes twinkled with barely contained humor, and when Jasper finally made the connection and snorted, Cade started to laugh in earnest.
“Will, Smith, and Wesson….” Jasper stared at the dogs, who were making their own introductions by the usual posturing and butt sniffing, and let out a laugh. “This should turn out to be an interesting time….”
“You met me at a very strange time in my life.”
“Quoting Fight Club?”
The expression on Cade’s face showed his pleased surprise.
Suddenly Jasper felt slightly awkward, and he gestured at the house in the distance.
“Let’s go in. I have a doggie door for the boys,” he said both for information and to fill in the strange, not-quite-awkward moment.
TNA: Thanks for sharing that with us, Tia. Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs with us?
Tia: I’m writing a story for the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s event. It’s one POV of a certain time in a WIP, a novel, I’m currently writing. There’s also another novel in that same universe, and in addition to those I’m also trying to figure out what to do with my NaNoWriMo novel from 2013 with which I’ve gotten up to about halfway through.
The stories are about parenting-while-inked-and-pierced, overcoming an unusual childhood and facing the world as an adult, figuring out who you are in the world of gay dating (the working title is Silver Fox and the Cub for this one ;)). Those are only the three things in the same universe.
The NaNo is a story set in Britain about a former dancer from the US and an English lad who has to come terms with his family problems and some other pretty interesting stuff. Sounds much more lame than it is, really!
I don’t have four WIPs at the same time, ever. So this is scary, yet oddly wonderful.
TNA: And finally, would you kindly share with us all the places we can find you on the internet?
Tia: I have my website at http://www.tiafielding.com, and then I also have a Facebook author page at http://www.facebook.com/authortiafielding. You might want to check out my other links, and the easiest way to do that is to go to my website and look around.