TNA: The Novel Approach is positively giddy to welcome Piper Vaughn and Kade Boehme today on their Wood, Screws & Nails Blog Tour. They’ve both agreed to answer a few questions for us, so we’ll get right to it.
How long was this collaboration in the works? What made you guys decide that you needed to write a book together, and how far into the process were you when you felt that sense of “yeah, we’ve nailed it (pun fully intended), this is going to work”?
Piper: I believe we discussed this story initially in late spring of last year, but then, knowing I was going to be gone on a month-long UK/European adventure, we decided to hold off on starting it until after I got back. The actual writing started in July, 2013. I think the sense of knowing we were going to nail it (hehe) came pretty early on. It was easy to work together. Surprisingly so. You never know how things are going to work from one coauthor to the next, but Kade and I got this done with little fuss. :)
Kade: Yeah, we rocked this story from day one, honestly. We batted it back and forth then a few weeks later we were like “whoa…we’re finished already?” It was one of those stories where we just kinda clicked and went for it. Heh, best time I’ve ever had talking about tools.
TNA: Did you do a lot of plotting, or was the writing generally more freestyle just to see where and how far you could take the story before you gave it a specific direction?
Piper: When working with a coauthor—and usually when working solo as well—I like to plot extensively. That being said, I’m more likely to wing it on a solo project, but when working with someone else, I think it works best to have a clear roadmap of where we both expect things to go. Kade and I talked out a general outline for the entire story, then we came up with a chapter-by-chapter outline. Not everything ended up going exactly how we had it in the initial outline, but since we were reading each other’s chapters as we went along, it was easy to adapt the events in my chapters to be cohesive with what he’d written (and vice versa). But from the beginning, we both had a really clear picture of how we wanted this story to go.
Kade: I say more power to anyone who can still wing it while coauthoring because I couldn’t imagine doing it differently than how we did it. When we’d plotted it, we had such clear ideas of where the next major point of the story would lead that even if you went off the beaten path a little you knew when to get back to the original road so the other person could pick up where they were meant. It went pretty seamlessly for us because of it, I’d say. Ha! Poor Piper kept having to put up with beast chapters from me, though. (“Uh, Kade, we’ll probably have to make this two chapters.” *blushes* “Oops.”)
TNA: Which one of you came up with the idea for the story, and how did it happen? Was that also a team effort, watching HGTV one day and you decided you needed to write a book about it? Who came up with your innuendoishly fun-filled title?
Piper: The idea was actually mine originally. I was talking about it with Kade on the phone one night and he said “I’d really love to write this with you.” Since I like to coauthor, I was instantly keen on the idea of doing it together. Later on, once we’d discussed the idea with some people and sent it to some preliminary readers, we were talking about how we still needed a title for it. One of my best friends, Terry Milien, suggested Wood, Screws, & Nails, and we loved the pun potential so much, we took it and ran with it. :D
Kade: Yes, we really do owe Terry a major hug for that title because…yeah…we got some serious mileage. I had Malachi and Aaron talking wood and rubbing (with a sander ;) with almost pervish joy. When Piper said she’d wanted to write this story and presented me with the original idea, I couldn’t say no. I was like I must. I love the best-friend’s-dad angle. It’s always fun to write couples who “probably shouldn’t.”
TNA: How long did it take to write the book? Were you nervous submitting the manuscript? As authors, does hitting send on that email, and the ensuing wait, ever get easier? How do you cope with those bouts of anxiety: start in on your next book, vent to friends, drink…?
Piper: I think it took about a month and a half or so. This is including beta rounds and revising, etc. It’s not a terribly long book—it’s about 48K words—and splitting the work in half really sped things up.
As for the wait after hitting send, I don’t think it ever gets easier. Not for me, anyway. Sometimes I go out to celebrate, but I usually just try to distract myself. I read, write, and, yeah, sometimes vent to friends. Emails containing stuff like “oh, my God, it’s been forever, they hate it!” tend to fly around when the wait hits the 2-week mark. I admit it, I’m not the most patient individual around. ;)
Kade: It wasn’t a long process. We seemed to really get it done once we actually started. The longest part was revising after betas helped up with some stuff.
Waiting… that’s always the devil for me. Whether I hear back in 4 days or 4 weeks, I drive myself nuts. I can’t usually write because I’m too distracted. I do a lot of celebrating that we finished another story, though. And I’m sure that surprises no one. I try my best not to think on it, honestly. But that tends to be pointless, haha.
TNA: Is it harder to collaborate on a novel than it is writing on your own? What are some of the things you like about co-authoring versus writing on your onesies? Could you see yourselves doing it again?
Piper: I wouldn’t say that it’s harder, per se. The difficult thing is that you don’t have complete control when writing with someone else. Compromise is the key word. You might occasionally disagree on where to take a character or scene and you have to work those things out. But, at the same time, sometimes it’s easier to come up with a plot when you’re bouncing the idea off someone else. Plus, two people writing accelerates the process, as I said above. What I like most about co-writing is that we get to create this work and these characters together. It’s not just mine anymore; it’s ours. I think that’s pretty cool. And, since I’ve already written over 7 books and stories with other people, I can easily see myself doing it over and over again. In fact, I already have more joint projects already in the works.
Kade: This was my first collaboration, but eighth published work, so this was the experiment. It wasn’t bad, but I think that was because I was working with someone who’d done the coauthoring before. I can’t imagine if it’d been someone else. It was interesting to see each other work and how the other made a character come alive in a way you may not have considered. I feel the story was better for it. I can definitely see giving co-writing another try.
TNA: Aaron and Malachi are a May/December couple. What made you decide there needed to be an age difference in this romance? What is it about the older man/younger man dynamic that you find sexy?
Piper: It all stemmed from the question: what would happen if a guy developed a crush on his best friend’s father? In order for that to work, the age gap had to be a part of it. I think some men just get sexier as they age (Robert Downey, Jr., anyone?) and there’s a certain appeal to the idea of being with someone who has so much more experience—not necessarily sexually, but in life also.
Kade: I personally always have crushed on the older man. Hell, my first novella was a similar best-friend’s-dad setup. But like I said earlier, it’s also fun to write the couple who “probably shouldn’t”. In this case, there was no way there wouldn’t have been an age difference since they were a dad and his son’s college roommate. (Piper: I totally agree with Kade here. There’s a certain taboo aspect to this particular scenario, which made it very interesting to write.)
TNA: Speaking of sexy, was it kind of weird writing the sex scenes together? Did you ever say to each other, “No, I’m sorry but you cannot put that there?”
Piper: Haha. No, it wasn’t weird. I guess I’m kind of inured to it by now after already having done it with MJ and Xara. We didn’t jointly write the sex scenes. He wrote one, I wrote two (or, well, one and a half :P). When we read each other’s scenes, of course we commented on things. But outside of something that really jumps out as weird or wrong or whatever, I tend to leave my coauthors’ sex scenes alone. I don’t really want mine to be messed with, so I extend that same courtesy.
Kade: Haha nah! It’s no weirder than reading a sex scene the other has written – which is not weird at all. It was a lot of “oooh I’m gonna write this” and “omg Piper I HAVE to do some docking!” It was fun.
TNA: Do you feel like divulging who wrote which character, or is that sooper-seekrit? If you were each to describe the other’s character, what would you say about him that would give us a clue as to what makes them work together as a couple?
Piper: Actually, we didn’t each take a character. We both wrote Aaron and Malachi. We split the writing up by chapters, not characters. So, essentially, they’re both ours.
What would I say makes Aaron and Malachi work as a couple? Well, at the end of the day, they’re both down to earth, simple guys who want similar things out of life. Mal is mature for his age, which works for Aaron because he’s kind of young at heart still after being a teenage father and missing the years when he’d have normally been out there sowing his wild oats. They work because they both have something the other needs. For Malachi, he likes that Aaron is older and established in life. He doesn’t just want to screw around like the guys closer to Malachi’s age. Malachi is the type of guy who wants to nest. He wants to find love and settle down and he hasn’t had much luck meeting men in his age range who want the same. But then for Aaron, Malachi helps to lighten him up and gives him someone he can relax and be himself with, even in spite of the hot as hell sexual tension that burns between them.
Kade: I think Aaron had always had to be the steady guy, the responsible guy. When Malachi came in and was a rock through storm Julian (you’ll see) it’s hard to think they wouldn’t have been perfect for each other.
TNA: Do you both know how freakishly tempted I am right now to ask you who’s the better tool handler, Aaron or Malachi? Did you find yourselves making all sorts of punny jokes while you were writing?
Piper: I’d have to give this to Aaron. Malachi has been helping his carpenter father for years, but this is Aaron’s job, his livelihood, and he’s been doing it since he was younger than Malachi. He definitely wins for experience, even if Mal does teach him a trick or two along the way. ;) We did include the occasional tool metaphor—how could we resist?—but we didn’t go overboard. The story is supposed to be fun and sexy, yeah, but it definitely wasn’t written as a rom-com.
Kade: We saved all the dirty puns for chat-sessions. Oh to see the things we said to each other writing this one. I’d agree with Piper, though. But isn’t that what’s the draw to Aaron for Malachi? He’s more experienced.
TNA: Would you both care to share some info on your current WIPs and upcoming releases with us?
Piper: Currently I’m working on a spin-off to Wood, Screws, & Nails featuring Blake, the friend who was supposed to help Aaron remodel the family lake house but gets injured. If I get it done on time (*knock on wood*), we’d be looking at a November release date. In fact, my spin-off and the one Kade is writing are supposed to be released simultaneously. :) I’m also working on something for the M/M Romance Group’s “Love’s Landscapes” event and the follow-up to The Party Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek with Xara X. Xanakas. That one will hopefully be out in August sometime, barring complications. Also, the second edition of The Luckiest (Lucky Moon #2) with MJ O’Shea is due out from Dreamspinner in September.
Kade: I’m currently also working on my spin-off to Wood, Screws, & Nails, featuring Greg, Aaron’s childhood buddy from Lake Geneva who is around throughout the book. I’m also currently working on the sequel to Gangster Country and one I’ll be releasing for charity in June.
TNA: How about where everyone can stalk you on the internet?
Piper: You can find me at http://pipervaughn.com, which has links for all my social media sites. Come stalk me on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Pinterest. :)
Kade: http://kadeboehme.wordpress.com has all things Kaderade. My blog, WIPs, and social network links. Always love to hear from peeps!
Blurb: Aaron Costa’s summer was all planned. Despite having to remodel the family lake house, it would be a vacation of sorts, and he had every intention of enjoying it—until the friend who was supposed to help him got injured and left him in a lurch. He decides to take the opportunity to bond with his son and hires Julian and his roommate, Malachi, to assist.
As a broke college student, Malachi could use the money, and spending the summer with Aaron for eye candy sounds like a dream. “Look but don’t touch” becomes his motto. But when Julian starts flaking on his responsibilities and Malachi and Aaron are forced to spend long hours alone together, their mutual attraction is impossible to resist.
Aaron can’t fight the temptation sexy Malachi presents. But more than their age difference stands in their way, not the least of which is Aaron’s semi-closeted status and the fact that he’s never openly discussed his sexuality with his son. He has no idea how Julian will react when he learns his father is not only gay, he’s also dating his best friend.
“You did what, now?” Aaron paused in his tracks as he tried to make sure he hadn’t misheard the bad news Blake had called to deliver.
“It’s a compound fracture. The big lug Marty Cazuko took me down, all three hundred pounds of him, against the fucking curb. Man, I’m so sorry.” And he was. Aaron could hear it in his friend’s voice. Aaron looked at the salmon-colored button-down he had pulled from his closet and decided it was way too flashy for anything he’d be doing over the summer. He threw it aside and decided packing could wait for a minute.
“What were you thinking playing street hockey with Marty Cazuko? He’s a brick wall and clumsy as hell,” Aaron scolded. God, could Aaron sound any more like his father if he tried? He supposed at thirty-seven it was inevitable, but as evidenced by this conversation, neither he nor his friends had matured too much over the years in a lot of ways. Blake always insisted it came with the territory of being footloose bachelors their whole lives, especially for a couple of gay guys who spent most of their money—the stuff not going to bills, and in Aaron’s case, college expenses—on beer and baseball tickets. “You knew that was an accident waiting to happen. The guy can’t even leave a game of cards without a black eye.”
Blake sighed through the line. “I know, I know. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And there may have been beer involved.”
Aaron shot himself a look in the mirror that he wished he was shooting at Blake instead. “I have no doubt.”
“Is this gonna majorly fuck up your plans?” Blake asked. Aaron could tell the guy felt bad so he couldn’t find it in himself to give him too much shit. In all actuality, it wasn’t a huge deal. Aaron had plenty of options to help him renovate his family’s house out on Lake Geneva; he’d just been looking forward to his best friend being the one helping. Beer, hard work, and downtime from their everyday lives would have made for one hell of a summer, and he could hear in Blake’s voice he was mourning the loss of a vacation on the lake—even one that included home repairs.
Blake was as quiet about his sexuality as Aaron. Neither was closeted, per se, but they weren’t waving flags anywhere. They lived on the unspoken understanding with their coworkers in the construction industry that they were no threat to the macho straight boys and they’d be quiet about things like where they put their dicks at night, but they demanded respect in return. And they were both respected, especially after Aaron started his own contracting company and built it up through word of mouth and his own two hands. No one worked as hard as they did without earning the respect of others.
People also didn’t work as hard as they did and get laid very often. They’d never crossed the line of sleeping with each other, not wanting to mess with the good thing they had in their lifelong friendship. They were both also just a bit too toppy to be compatible even during drunk sex. And yes, they’d almost done that until they both got too aggressive and it turned into a drunken fight. When you ended up with a fist in your face instead of a dick, you knew it was probably a bust.
So this summer was supposed to be theirs. Their chance to get out of the city. Nurse a few hangovers, maybe accidentally find a guy to hang out with, all without the watchful eyes of coworkers who scrutinized the homos a little more closely than the others. And now, Blake was going to be laid up for the next six to eight weeks on his mother’s couch in Villa Park. Poor guy.
“No, man. I can call in some people from work. Two of my crews are done ’til August and I’m sure a few of the guys wouldn’t mind a bit of extra cash for some easy renos.”
“Yeah. You’re right. Maybe I can get out there to see what you do with the place before you sell it,” Blake said. Aaron could tell that his friend’s wistfulness was more about what he would be missing than any memories he had of staying at the lake house. Any other time Blake had been out there, they’d had Jules, which meant Aaron was in daddy mode.
Jules! “Hey, I think I just got an idea. Let me call you later, okay?”
“Cool. I’ll probably pass out from these meds soon, anyway. Sorry again, Aar.”
“No, B, I’m sorry. You’re the one whose bone was sticking out his calf. You take it easy, and I’ll keep some beer chilling for when you get back on your feet, man.”
They said their goodbyes and Aaron threw a few more things in his duffel before shoring up the nerve to call Jules—Julian. His son. Julian was pretty much the typical college kid these days, only calling dad when he needed some cash. Aaron wasn’t sure Julian would want to spend the entire summer working, but Aaron could always pay him, same as he would have if one of the guys from his crew had come up. Plus, the summer could be a good chance to spend some time together. It’d been a long while since they’d done much “bonding”. They’d had an every-other-weekend relationship for so long it might do some good to have a couple of months together.
But that put a halt to any time looking for some quiet male companionship. Another situation where it was likely known he was gay, but the words had never been spoken. Aaron had been a teenage father. Nothing new there. He hadn’t known whether he was gay or not, slept with his best friend, and bam, there were two kids with a baby on board. He wasn’t sure which had nearly killed his very Italian, very Catholic parents more—teenage pregnancy or his and Carrie’s refusal to get married to save face. It took a long time for everyone to wrap their heads around that, and after Aaron had explained it for the millionth time, he was tired of saying it over and over, so he just stopped. He let people think what they wanted and owned his truth.
Who needed the bullshit of being all out and proud anyway? Those guys either caught shit or were into scenes Aaron had no use for. All he needed was good friends, hard work, and his kid. He figured he’d done pretty well for himself, all things considered.
He decided to stop pussyfooting and just get to dialing. Worst that could happen, Julian would say no. Aaron found Jules’s contact in his phone and dialed, listening through the tones. After a few rings, he got sent to voice mail. Shit. Aaron suddenly remembered that it was only nine a.m. so the chances of his twenty-one year old son actually being coherent seemed nil. Aaron thought he’d give one more quick try and looked through Julian’s contact, then dialed the number for his apartment. After two rings, he got an answer.
“Hello?” That most certainly was not Julian. Must be the elusive roommate. Aaron had only been to Julian’s off-campus apartment a handful of times, but he was probably more aware than he should’ve been that the roommate was MIA during a couple of his visits. Ever since Aaron saw the guy at a family day Julian’s freshman year, he’d been jealous he wasn’t eighteen again and starting school with his son.
“Is Julian around?” Aaron asked, amused at the sleepy grumbling from the other guy. Aaron thought he heard something like “Bastard with his phone always on silent. People waking me up all the time.” Yeah, Aaron knew that about Julian. But this guy’s voice was sexy with its morning rasp. Aaron realized just those sexy complaints were giving him a semi-erection.
Shit. He was talking about his son’s roommate who, if Aaron remembered correctly, was not much older than his son. Oh great, you’re officially one of those dads who perv on the friends. Aaron looked at himself in the full-length mirror that hung on his closet door. He half expected to see some pervy old man staring back at him instead of just plain old Aaron.
“Here he is,” the roommate said right before Aaron heard a thunk and Julian “oomph” with a “Dude, that shit hurt.”
“My bad. Heads up.” Aaron laughed at the roommate’s caustic response. He figured that was best. Julian definitely needed someone who could handle his grade-A smart-ass mouth. “Phone’s for you,” the voice said in the background, dryly.
After some rustling, Julian finally picked up the phone, sounding as tired as his roommate. “Hello?” Aaron wondered why someone would want to sleep all day, then immediately felt very, very old.
“Hey, Jules. It’s Dad.”
“Yeah, what’s up, buddy?”
“Uh.” More rustling. “Not much, Dad. Why so early?”
“Well, I’m about to head out of town, and I wanted to get something squared away before I leave.”
“Okay,” Julian drawled. “Well, what is it?”
Aaron didn’t know why it was suddenly hard to ask what he’d called to ask. Not like it was a big deal. He just hadn’t asked Julian to spend a long amount of time with him since before Julian entered his hormonal late teenage years and become a major pain in the ass to everyone.
“Dad?” Julian asked with a huff.
“Oh, shit, sorry. I’m packing,” Aaron lied. Great role model he was. “So I’m taking some time off for the summer and renovating the old family cabin up on Lake Geneva.”
“Wow. Gramps and Gram are really selling it?” Julian didn’t sound pleased, and Aaron couldn’t imagine why. He’d begged off the last couple times Aaron or his parents had asked if Julian wanted to go up for a weekend.
“Yeah. They figure it’s time. I need a vacation, and they need the renovations done, so we worked out a deal that suits us all and makes me feel less guilty about taking a couple months off.”
“Hmm,” was Julian’s only response.
“Anyway, your Uncle Blake was going up to help, but he broke his leg.”
Julian laughed, fondly, and it was damn nice to hear. “Isn’t this the fourth time in like two years he’s broken a bone?”
Aaron grunted. “You know Blake. Can’t sit still so he goes out and gets banged up. That’s why I’m calling.”
“Well, I still need help up at the house. I figure it’ll take six, eight weeks at the most. I was wondering if you’d want to come up and lend your old man a hand.”
Another beat of silence, damn the kid. “I don’t know, Dad,” Julian said, hesitation in his tone. He was definitely about to turn Aaron down, and here was Aaron already having gotten himself excited about spending the summer with his son just from talking to him for five minutes. The relationship he wanted to have with Julian always put into perspective his lack of having a relationship with another man. His son came first, so he didn’t need a boyfriend or another fuck buddy to hide away with all summer. He wasn’t twenty any more. He needed time with his kid.
“I could pay. I’d pay you what I’d pay my crew.”
That got Julian’s attention. “Really?”
“Yeah. You’d have to work for it, but it’d be a damn good wage.”
Julian was quiet again, but this time, Aaron could tell Julian was thinking over his proposal. “You could have weekends off to fuck around at the lake, too,” Aaron offered.
“My roommate, Malachi, he’s in need of some work over the summer, too. You know, for books and stuff. Any way he could tag along?”
Now it was Aaron’s turn to think on it. Well, he had gotten hard just hearing the guy’s voice, but that didn’t mean he was going to jump him. It couldn’t hurt having an extra pair of hands without having to call someone in from the Chicago crew who’d also ask for gas money. Besides, Aaron wouldn’t be able to complain about having a cute young thing wandering around. What man would? Aaron remembered well what Malachi looked like. He knew what kind of torture he was asking for. But again, if it’d get him some time with Julian, Aaron could deal.
“Agreed. Same deal. I’ll pay you both what I’d pay my crew if they worked on the project. Weekends off.”
“Days off for bad weather, too.”
“Now you’re pushing it,” Aaron said with a laugh.
“Awesome. I’ll go tell Malachi. Thanks, Dad. And, uh, hey. It’ll be cool to see you, old man.” Click. Aaron stared at the phone in his hand as the word Disconnected blinked on his screen. He was pleased that Julian wanted to see him but scoffed fondly at the old man remark. I’ll show you old.
“You’re welcome,” he said to the empty room, shaking his head. It was going to be an interesting summer.
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