TNA: Hi, Posy, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
PR: Thanks for inviting me to do this.
Let’s start with my age without me coming right out and giving you a number. My favorite jeans when I was a young were bell-bottoms, as a teen I spent hours on my hair and makeup, and when plaid became the rage, I was very happy to be earth crunchy. I’m most definitely a Gen Xer. I’m also an ambivert who enjoys working alone but playing with friends. I’m a realist, a mom, a wife, and a teacher. Medical concerns have followed my loved ones and me for years, so I’ve had to modify my life to accommodate that. Writing has been one of my best tools to help cope during those tough times. It was an illness that brought me to writing fiction in the first place.
TNA: Was there someone who inspired and encouraged you to begin writing creatively?
PR: My husband encouraged me. I’d been writing research, non-fiction, and poetry for years, but I never felt I could write a fictional book. That seemed overwhelming to me. When I was bedbound for months, I wrote a short story. After I shared it my husband, he told me to keep going. I’ve never stopped writing since.
TNA: Why did you start writing M/M romance?
PR: M/M romance is where I started my fiction career. Story after story kept popping to life in my head, and they wouldn’t go away until I wrote them. I love the egalitarian nature of M/M relationships, which has been highly lacking in M/F romance. Because of that, I’ll probably stay in the M/M genre for a long time.
TNA: What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?
PR: Distraction free, but with a kid, a dog, and a husband, that doesn’t happen very often. There needs to be coffee beside me in the morning, and if I’m listening to music, it has to be lyric free and played softly. I also like to be able to look outside on a regular basis, so my desk is very close to windows.
TNA: For your real job, you teach parenting classes. Is there one important piece of advice that ALL parents should have?
PR: Keep in mind your end goal as a parent even when trying to just get through the next ten minutes. We want to send our children into the world as caring, thoughtful, capable people who can also lift themselves up from tough times and not get stuck over small failures. We need to give them tools to use and chances to fail now so they can succeed later.
TNA: How much input do you have in the design of your book covers? The three covers for The North Star Trilogy tie together nicely. Who was the artist?
PR: I’m given a lot of input on covers, but then I step back and allow the artist to work her magic, which Anne Cain did. I wanted to use the golden spiral on the covers. It’s found in nature (I’m a nature lover) and shows growth. Since North Star is all about change, growth, and trying to make life work, I felt the symbolism fit perfectly.
The golden spiral is in the shell on Spark and in the arch of the Stone Arch Bridge on Fusion. Since the cover for Flare hasn’t been revealed yet, you’ll have to wait and see how it gets represented there.
TNA: Have you ever seen a particularly sexy photograph and knew you had to write a book based on that picture? If so, which book(s)?
PR: I wrote flash fiction based on a beautiful black and white photo of a young man lost in his pleasure. He was oblivious to the rest of the world, so I wrote a voyeuristic piece. I have yet to write a whole book based on a photo, but I’m certainly inspired by them.
TNA: Was Kevin and Hugo’s story planned as a trilogy from the beginning?
PR: Yes, most definitely. When I wrote it, I didn’t stop to edit until I had rough drafts of all three books written. North Star is actually one very long story.
Fusion is the book that inspired the entire trilogy, though. This is the story I’ve been so anxious to share. Kevin and Hugo are both faced with some very huge decision. They are at an impasse, it seems, and they have to decide if they are going to build a bridge to create a life together, or if they are going to turn around and walk away from each other. That’s why the Stone Arch Bridge just had to be on the cover of this book.
TNA: When can we expect the third and final book in the trilogy to be in our hot little hands?
PR: Flare has a tentative release date of January 13th. I just finished my first round of edits, so it’s right on track.
TNA: Another author recently began the third installment of a popular series and as he started writing, he said, “Man, I’ve missed you guys.” Did you feel that way about Hugo and Kevin in between Spark and Fusion?
PR: Perhaps with editing, since I never took time off between writing the books. But I have pretty much lived and breathed these men for a year and a half. I’m even adapting their teen years into a YA story for Harmony Ink. Private Display of Affection will be released December 12th.
TNA: Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite? If so, who and why?
PR: That’s like asking which child is your favorite. I’m not sure I can choose, and that makes me thankful I only have one child in my life too. I loved Thomas in Fall Into You because he never allowed fame to change who he was on the inside. Hugo in North Star is amazing to me. He has been hurt and feels very broken and unworthy at times, but he goes out of his way to help people around him because he sees they are worse off than he is. He’s a survivor. But so is Kevin, even if I don’t understand his experience as well as I do Hugo’s. I also love Cal in Feathers From the Sky. He’s funny, irreverent, and a little bit pissy, which was a joy to write.
TNA: How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
PR: Quirky. Sarcastic. Dorky. I was that kid who made jokes in school that no one got, so I assumed I wasn’t funny at all. Then I got to college and people thought I was hilarious. Just don’t ever ask me to tell jokes. I suck at those because I can’t ever remember the punch line.
Unexpected humor makes me laugh. I love sarcasm up to a point. But I truly love dirty jokes.
TNA: Conversely, what makes you cry?
PR: Everything. Can that be my answer? Haha. I cry when my heartstrings are tugged, and there are many things that do that because of past experiences or my empathy for fellow human beings.
TNA: Do you have a favorite literary character? If so, who and why?
PR: Severus Snape. I loved hating him at first, but I always liked him in an unexplainable way. He was written with such depth that I bawled my eyes out when he gone. Then I realized I loved him. How does that happen? Seriously. I want to know, because I want to write a character like that!
TNA: If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, real or fictional, who would it be and what’s the one question you’d love to ask?
PR: I’d want to sit down with my father. He died when I was five, and I barely got a chance to know him. I’d ask an open-ended question. “Would you tell me about your highest highs and your lowest lows?”
TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?
PR: I’m starting a story for National Novel Writing Month and I’m getting to know the characters yet. It will take place in a neighborhood, and I’m going to be writing about many neighbors. I can’t wait to see how many notes I’ll take to keep everything straight in my head with this one.
TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?
TNA: Would you like to share an excerpt from Fusion with us?
PR: Sure I will. In this scene Hugo’s insecurities are getting the best of him after Kevin is unable to pick him up at the airport and then doesn’t return texts or calls. He calls Summer for help because he realizes he’s in a tailspin.
Hugo sat up in a panic, thinking about how they left things after their argument on Hugo’s balcony—if you could call that an argument. He didn’t think it was an argument because they’d had great sex afterward and Kevin had given him a sweet good-bye when he dropped him off at the airport the following morning. Hugo thought he was doing the best thing for Brooke, Finn, Kevin, himself, and even Erin by encouraging him to come out soon. But maybe Kevin didn’t know that.
Then he remembered his nearly automatic remarks about how he wouldn’t ever be closeted again and that people were going to know Hugo was gay just by looking at him. It wasn’t like a purse fell out of Hugo’s mouth whenever he spoke, but he set off people’s gaydar all the time.
He’d pushed too hard, he realized, even when Hugo knew Kevin needed someone who could be patient, waiting for him to come out in his own time.
“Gah. So stupid,” Hugo said to no one but himself.
Kevin had been living with all of himself in the closet his whole life while Hugo had lived with some of himself in the closet for only half his life. They were two very different experiences. Kevin had been happy to live his life the way he had until Hugo showed up, and all of a sudden, Hugo had turned Kevin’s world upside down. There were children to consider, and Hugo was pressuring Kevin to expose the hidden part of himself to the world so they could be together. But that wasn’t even true. But it was.
Hugo could see his thoughts were going in circles and knew he needed the one brutally honest person in his life who could help him figure this out.
“Hey,” Summer answered her phone. “What’s up, stranger?”
“Hi.” Hugo knew he sounded pathetic.
“Uh-oh. What’s up? Your place or mine?” she asked, clearly knowing he needed to talk. “Don’t move. I’ll be right over,” she said and quickly hung up.
Less than ten minutes later, Summer was using her key to walk through Hugo’s front door with two cups of ice cream from Sebastian Joe’s in hand. She handed Hugo one and sat down next to his feet, which were drawn up on the couch cushion.
“Okay, what happened?” she demanded.
“I think I scared him off.” Hugo started going through what happened the other night and his confusing thought process since Kevin had refused to return any messages.
“But didn’t you say he wanted to tell Erin?”
“Yeah, he says that. But I wonder if he just agreed to placate me because I said I wouldn’t move in until Brooke wasn’t keeping our secret anymore.”
“Which is smart and extremely considerate. I doubt Kevin thought that was a ridiculous request.”
“I shouldn’t have said anything in the first place. What does it really matter if he’s mum about us?”
“I don’t know, Hugo. Tell me. Why does it matter to you that you not have to keep secrets?” she asked. Summer’s face was dark with annoyance—such a contrast to her Minnesota Dairy Princess looks with her light-blonde hair and blue eyes. But she was fiercely protective of Hugo, especially when he swam in guilt or was too hard on himself. It always annoyed her. “Seriously. Why no secrets?” She quirked a brow, and Hugo had to look away and down at his bare feet so he could answer.
“Because I kept them long enough, and I vowed to myself I’d never allow anyone to put me back in the closet I worked so hard to get out of.” He spoke in a flat tone that mocked the former declaration he made to himself when he was all of eighteen.
“And is that still important to you?”
Hugo felt himself scowl as he considered it.
“I think asking which is more important is probably the better question. Is being open and honest more important than having Kevin in my life? The short answer is no. But the long answer is I want to have both. Sure, at thirty-five, I’m no longer an idealist and could easily live a more subtle lifestyle than I was willing to at eighteen, but it would be a huge change. People he knows already look at me like something’s off about me. It feels like living in Austin all over again. I drop the kids off places and get these odd looks like these people can’t figure me out.”
“Or maybe they’re just curious why you’re there and not Kevin or Erin. Who’s that stranger picking up the Magnus kids?” Summer suggested.
“Nah. I know what I see, and it feels like high school did. Someone’s going to figure out I’m gay, and can you imagine the gossip flying around Edina then?”
“Edina is pretty gay-friendly.”
Hugo rolled his eyes at her. “In comparison to what town? Anoka, where all the gay kids keep killing themselves?”
“Come on, Hugo. You’re being so harsh. You haven’t even been around long enough to be accepted by the cake eaters,” Summer managed to get out through her laugh, and Hugo couldn’t help but chuckle along with her.
“You’re saying the elite rich of Edina just don’t like me ’cause I’m a regular outsider, not because I’m a gay outsider?”
“Maybe. Or maybe you’re overreacting and reading looks of curiosity as judgment because you haven’t had to hide since high school. That’s got to be bringing a lot of shit up.”
“Yeah.” Hugo conceded her point.
“Edina’s a first-ring suburb, not some ass-backward place. Eventually these people will accept you. You just need to give them enough time.” Summer was trying to be encouraging, but Hugo just wasn’t feeling it.
“They’d tolerate me, at most. But tolerance isn’t the same thing as acceptance. In Uptown, I’m accepted exactly how I am, and I don’t need to ever slip back into the closet. For Brooke and Finn and Kevin, I’m willing to go there for a short time, but I already feel sick about it. You know I can’t stand feeling dishonest.”
Summer nodded and slipped her fingers through Hugo’s hair. “I know, sweetie. I know.”
“I’m worried I scared him off because I made it pretty fucking clear people around us were going to figure it out, figure out we’re together.” Hugo pulled his knees to his chest, wrapped his arms around his legs, and rested his cheek on a knee. “He’s talked about marriage. Did you know that?”
“Kinda hard to get married when you’re in the closet, isn’t it?”
TNA: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Posy. It was great getting to know you a little bit better.
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED