Guest Author Interview: Spencer Spears

Cover by Spencer Spears

We’re kicking off June in style here at Novak Tower and what better way to start than with the fabulous Spencer Spears. He’s here to talk about his brand new book Wild Heart, and that cover alone has me ridiculously excited!

1. What inspired you to write Wild Heart? Can you tell us a little more about the story?
At first, I just wanted to write a light and fluffy series set on an island. The books were supposed to be short and sweet, and not really have any angst. But as I got to know my characters, I realized that Mal had a lot of darkness in his past, and Deacon was dealing with a lot of sorrow and guilt. Which probably makes the book sound super depressing, and I swear, it’s not! There’s surfing and kittens and lots of kissing. But as I got into writing the book, I realized I really wanted to explore some of the issues that come up around living in a small town, dealing with bigoted family members, the weight of the past that we all carry around with us, and how we find hope and love despite all that. So a lot of the world-building things that come up in Wild Heart – the way the island is changing, and Deacon’s family history – are going to continue to unfold in the next two books.

2. Can you share something with us about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Hmm… well, as I alluded to in question #1, both of Deacon’s brothers, Emory and Connor, are getting books of their own. Oh–and Mal is a Cancer . Someone asked me that the other day, since Deacon mentions that he’s a Virgo. Mal’s birthday actually happens during Wild Heart, but he doesn’t mention it to Deacon because he’s learned not to make a big deal about it. God, I’ve spent way too much time thinking about Mal’s past. Maybe someday it’ll actually make it into some kind of book or something!

3. What was the hardest scene to write?
Oh man, the scene on the steps of the guest house in Chapter 9, where Mal misinterprets what Deacon wants. I wrote that scene over and over again, starting from scratch each time. From a storytelling perspective, I knew I needed an “almost-but-not-quite” beat, where they got a little closer, then pulled back. But from a character perspective, I could only write something that felt true to Mal and Deacon. And I couldn’t see either of them confidently coming onto the other one, or even being brave enough to just say what they wanted. Not at that point in the story. They were both too hesitant, too unsure. It finally clicked when I realized that was the crux of the scene – that uncertainty, the miscommunication that arose from them both wanting the other, but not feeling comfortable saying it, and being really insecure about how the other person saw them. Mal’s got this awful history with guys who’ve used him, and when I realized that that would inform how he saw Deacon, and what his expectations would be, then everything came together.

4. What did you edit out of this book? Or really want to include but it just didn’t fit?
I had this scene where Deacon teaches Mal how to swim. It was so clear to me what it would look like – the weather, the light, all the sensory details, the feelings of fear and trust, the hopes that they each had for the future, but were too afraid to say out loud. But it just didn’t fit with the pacing of the book – I couldn’t make it work. So I ended up pulling it out, and I’m toying with the idea of rewriting it as a short story for them in the future, because I still just love it so much.

5. What came first with Wild Heart, the characters or the plot? Is that the same for all your books?
Characters, 100%. That’s how it always is, for me. Even if I know I want to write a book with a certain trope, it won’t come together until I have a handle on the characters. I’ve got lots of story ideas in my head that are still waiting for a character to jump out and say, “That’s MY story, write it about me!” Conversely, I’ve got “story” ideas in my head that are really just snippets of scenes between two characters, where I have no idea what’s going on in the book around them. For Wild Heart, I had this image of someone jumping out the bathroom window of a roadside motel, and Mal sprang to life for me from that. And Deacon became real for me once I saw the scene of him going to Mal’s room at night to protect him, his heart beating out of his chest because he thinks he’s lost him. Everything else rippled out from there.

6. If we made Wild Heart into a movie, who would be your dream casting for Mal and Deacon?
I’m pretty sure I’d be so thrilled Wild Heart was becoming a movie that I’d say yes to it being acted out by sock puppets. But I was just saying in my Facebook group that Henry Cavill gives me really strong Deacon vibes, when he’s rocking a beard. He’s a bit older than Deacon would be, and I know he’s British, but… Sigh. That face.  And for Mal? It’d have to be someone who captures that vulnerability and determination. I’m open to suggestions! 

7. What inspired you to start writing?
I have two answers for this–a practical one, and an emotional one.
The practical one is that I started writing as a just-for-kicks hobby. Ages ago, I’d read this article about people who published dinosaur erotica on Amazon, and a few years later, I thought, “Huh. I wonder if I could do that.” Obviously, my writing doesn’t involve dinosaurs, but I was curious to see if I could even write a full-length novel, and it turned out that a) yes, I could, and b) I really, really liked writing.
The emotional answer is that I’d always been someone who told stories to myself. I lived in my own little world inside my head and would work on these long, angsty epics that I thought about before I fell asleep, or when I commuted to work, or pretty much any time I had downtime. I never thought that I could actually do anything with that habit. It always seemed like more of a defense mechanism than anything else–a way of processing a world that I felt ill-equipped for, with all my too-many-feelings and being-too-sensitive. I thought “real” writers had some kind of magic ability that let them take the mundane prose inside their heads and turn it into something breathtaking on the page. But once I gave myself permission to try writing “just as a hobby,” I realized that there’s no magic. There’s hard work and practice and skill, but that’s it. And that was such an exciting, freeing thing to realize, because suddenly I had an outlet for all the stories I’d stored up in my head for the past 30-some years I’ve spent on this planet.

8. What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Obviously, what I read has a huge influence. Other authors in the m/m genre constantly inspire me to push myself in my writing. And some of the best m/m writing I’ve ever read has been fanfiction, so I have to mention that as well. And to be honest? I watched a lot of teen dramas on TV when I was in middle and high school (and, uh, maybe into my 20s, haha), and that had a pretty formative influence on how I think about storytelling, character development, handling large casts and interlocking stories, and just building worlds that people can sink into and lose themselves in. It’s something I think about any time I set out to start a new series – who am I writing about, why should people care, and what makes the characters – and the place they live – special?

9. As an experienced author, do you have any advice or tips for new authors who are just starting out?
1) Don’t write the book you care about most first. Save that for your second book, where you know what you’re doing a little better.
2) Learn from other authors, but don’t compare yourself to them. Comparison takes all the joy out of writing. Run your own race.
3) Relatedly, learn from other authors, but don’t feel that you have to do exactly what they do in order to be “successful” or “a real author” or whatever standard you’re trying to meet. Different people plan differently, outline differently, write differently, release differently, interact with readers differently, do everything differently. An author you admire might religiously write 5k a day with a green glitter gel pen in a pristine Moleskine notebook while burning patchouli and listening to BTS, and that’s great for them, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing. Experiment, find what works for you, and do that.

10. What is your favourite childhood book?
Oooh, this is a super hard question! I read A LOT as a kid. When I was really little, it was definitely Scuppers, The Sailor Dog, which got me obsessed with travel, shipwrecks, and the ocean. And dogs, obviously. I bought a copy for myself as an adult, because I’m a sentimental sop. When I got a bit older, it was probably The Secret Garden, because what kid doesn’t want to go live in a giant, spooky country manor and discover a private wilderness all their own? Dickon was probably my first literary crush, and an aged-up m/m version where Dickon and Colin fall in love is for sure on my list of “books I really want to write if I ever get the time.”

11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
I try to spend as much time outside as I can. My goal is to make it to all the US National Parks, and all the state parks in Minnesota, but even just a run around my neighborhood is guaranteed to lift my spirits. As far as secret passions, most people probably don’t know that I worked in linguistics for 10 years before switching to writing. It’s what I studied in undergrad and grad school as well, and if you’re not careful, I’ll corner you at a party and talk your ear off about Jespersen’s cycle or the links between Malagasy, Maori, and Hawaiian. 

Omg look at this cutie!

12. Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
Brontosaurus, definitely. Specifically Sally the Brontosaurus, a stuffed animal I had as a kid who now keeps me company at my writing desk. 

Thank you Spencer for giving such great answers and sharing such a cute picture of Sally too! I’m can’t wait to dive into Mal and Deacon’s book.
Wild Heart is out now.

You can find Spencer on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, Instagram, Tumblr as well as his website. You can also sign up for his newsletter and join his Facebook Group, Spencer’s Space or follow his author Facebook Page.

Guest Author Interview: Lily Morton

Cover by Natasha Snow |

I am over the moon today because one of my favourite authors, the utterly fabulous Lily Morton, is here to talk about her brand new release Gideon, which is out right now!

1. Can you share something with us about the book that isn’t in the blurb? 
Gideon doesn’t feel real or connected to anyone. For all of the people who surround him, he’s incredibly lonely. However, he’s accepted that as being part of the price of fame. But then he meets Eli and finds someone who sees all of him and wants him despite the bad bits. The book is about someone finding the courage to be honest about who they are.

2. What did you edit out of this book? Or really want to include but it just didn’t fit? 
I actually edited more out of this book than I normally do. I don’t usually have any excess material. In the middle of the book the couple are separated and the entire chapter was originally made up of the letters that they wrote to each other. However, it slowed the momentum down so I took them out. I’ll share them at some point with my readers’ group, Lily’s Snark Squad.

3. What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer? 
I think having a deep love of reading made me want to write. I always had a very vivid imagination and would constantly make up stories in my head. It was my husband who pushed me to go for it because he’s always believed in me. It’s down to him that I went full-time as a writer too.

4. What sort of challenges did you face writing this book? 
I think probably that the main character was Gideon. Quite a few people didn’t like him at all in Milo and he was seen as a bit of a villain. However, I loved him as soon as he came into my head. He’s grumpy and acerbic but very vulnerable. I adore that type of character.

5. If we made Gideon into a movie, who would be your dream casting for Gideon and Eli? 
Ooh, I think Gideon would be Richard Armitage and Eli would be the late and very wonderful Heath Ledger.

6. This is the third book in the Finding Home series, do you have any plans for more stories in this series or are you planning something new? 
There won’t be any more books in the Finding Home series. I’m writing a standalone at the moment. However, I always say that and invariably it turns into a series!

7. Your writing always has a distinctly British feel and flare, was that a deliberate choice or just something that came naturally to your writing? 
It’s completely natural. I am British so the humour and the language are all me. 

8. As an experienced author, what do you have any advice or tips for new authors who are just starting out? 
I would say to make friends with other authors in the community. Writing can be a lonely business so it’s lovely to be able to bounce ideas off friends, share tips or just chat. They’re the only people who will understand fully what you do.

9. What is your favourite childhood book? 
The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. I loved the whole book but I was absolutely fascinated by the description of his house for some reason. I’d read that over and over again and was quite disappointed when he left it to go adventuring.

10. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about? 
I’m a voracious reader. I try to walk every day because it helps to clear my mind. I also love the cinema and travelling with my husband.

11. Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
Diplodocus. Very cute and a vegetarian

Thank you Lily! I’m so happy to find another Diplodocus fan (they’re always and forever my favourite), and I can’t wait to see what you have planned for us next.
Gideon is out now and you should definitely add it to your reading list!

You can find Lily on Bookbub, Twitter and Instagram, plus her website and her Pinterest page, where you can see all her book inspiration. You can also join her Facebook Group: Lily’s Snark Squad for more fun things too.

Guest Author Interview: Nora Phoenix & K M Neuhold

I’m ridiculously excited today because not only has Pixie, the final instalment of the bestselling Ballsy Boys Series, been released, but the amazing authors Nora Phoenix and K M Neuhold are here to talk about it!

1.What’s your process of co-writing? Do you each take a POV, or do you both write different chapters, or is it more of a blend? Do you Skype or work on a collab document?
K M Neyhold [K]: We each write a POV. Usually we plan out a book through messaging and by working on a shared Google Doc, neither of us are much for video chats lol. At the start of the process, there’s usually a lot of back and forth like “what if this happens?” Or “how about that?”, and then as it starts to unfold, we tend to start building off each other’s chapters and seeing where the story takes us.
Nora Phoenix [N]: What always amazes me is how in sync we are. We’ve rarely disagreed on anything. In fact, I can’t even remember a time when we wanted to go in different directions. Usually, we’re super in tune and we complement each other, so we’ll build on whatever idea the other one suggests. I love that.

2. What inspired you to write the Ballsy Boys series?
K: I honestly can’t remember the initial spark. We’d talked casually about co-writing something and then the idea of porn stars emerged and we both got super excited about it and the rest is history.
N: I think someone posted something in Kyleen’s group about porn stars and that we should write that trope, and we jumped on it right away. We had the main storyline plotted out within a day, I think.

3. Who’s been your favourite Ballsy Boy to write about? Any reason?
K: My personal favorite was Tank. I’m not sure why but I loved his gruff exterior with his mushy, sweet center. I loved the banter and heat between him and Brewer. I just loved him lol.
N: Oh, that’s a tough one. I think Bear may be my favorite, even though he’s technically not a Ballsy Boy. He’s so vulnerable underneath that hot silver bear exterior and so scared to love again after getting hurt.

4. Although Pixie is the final Ballsy Boy to get his HEA, would you consider writing other books in this universe?
K: Yes! We have spin-offs planned.
N: We’re nowhere near done, haha. We have so many ideas for more books. And we keep creating all these side characters that readers want to know more about, so we kinda have to write their stories as well…

5. Do you have a favourite trope or kink that you’ve been able to write about in this series?
K: My favorite trope to write is best friends to lovers, which there wasn’t an opportunity for in this series. And my favorite kink is puppy play, which we may work on together in the future 😉
N: I love me some enemies to lovers, so in that sense Tank was perfect. But I love me some daddy kink as well, so Pixie was an awesome story to write!

6. Did you know from the beginning who would end up with who at the start of the series, or has it been a case of working it out book-by-book?
We had all the couples/throuple planned from the start.
N: Yeah, we knew who was gonna end up with who, though in some cases we didn’t know more than the basics. Campy for instance, we knew that he was gonna fall for his roommate but we had no idea who Jackson was yet…or that he would be such a romantic sweetheart. I loved that, that we discovered all these amazing characters.

7. Pixie seems to have been popular throughout, at least he’s one of my favourites, what’s your favourite aspect of his character?
I love how cute and sweet he is. He inspires people to want to take care of him like a little puppy or something lol.
N: I love that he knows what he wants and is unashamed about it. Like, he wants a Daddy and he owns that. I love that.

8. We’ve only gotten to see hints of Bear’s character so far, can you tease us with a little more information about him?
K: Bring the tissues? Lol.
N: Bear is…complicated. He’s a man with a huge heart, and a string caring and protective instinct. But he’s also a man who’s gotten hurt in the past and has closed himself off from love. It’s gonna be quite the journey for him. And yes, tissues are advised, haha.

9. What came first with this series? The characters or the plots?
K: I think they came at the same time. We have a sheet where we wrote down all the guys’ nicknames, who they were paired with, and the trope for their story. It was sort of a flurry of excitement, so it’s hard to remember the order it was all written down in, lol.
N: In some cases we had very specific ideas about the characters. In other cases they were a little more secretive. Campy for instance didn’t show himself much until his book, and even then he was pretty closed off. Bear even more, I think. But in all cases, we knew the basic trope and plot we wanted to write. All we needed to do was be patient until the characters revealed themselves.

10. We’ve loved seeing you work together on the Ballsy Boys, would you collaborate again on another series?
K: Yes!! We love working together and this is definitely going to be a partnership that lasts long beyond Ballsy.
N: Hell yes, haha. We mesh so well that we have no intention of quitting this partnership, Besides, we all all these ideas for books we still want to write together!

Well, now I’m even more excited, if that’s even possible?! Thank you stopping by and answering all my questions.
Pixie is out now and you should 100% get yourself a copy asap!

You can find K. M. Neuhold on her website, Twitter, Instagram and Amazon. Plus you can join their awesome reader ground, Neuhold’s Nerds, and sign up for their newsletter.

You can find Nora Phoenix on her website (where you can sign up for her newsletter), Twitter, Instagram and Amazon. And join her fabulous reader ground Nora’s Nook.

Guest Author Interview: Noah Steele

Cover Design: Aria Tan of Resplendent Media

It’s another wonderful day here at Novak HQ because the very lovely Noah Steele has stopped by to chat about his fabulous new book Fighting For Love, the second in the ‘Cut to the Feeling’ series, which is out now!

1.What inspired you to write Fighting For Love? Can you tell us a little more about the story?
Fighting for Love is, at its core, a story about emotions as strength. It follows Oliver, Aiden’s best friend from Racing into Love, and picks up about six months after the end of book 1 in the series. He’s officially over Aiden (yes, he used to date his now-best friend!) and stumbled unexpectedly into a romance with someone new and mysterious! Different parts of the book are inspired by different things. Oliver being at the start of his writing career and Seth’s love of fitness both come from my own life experiences. Oliver was always expressly written as being Asian, and this book features a size difference couple. That’s inspired by own relationship! We just celebrated our 9-year anniversary a couple days ago 🙂 Music is also a huge inspiration for me. Fighting for Love was fuelled by a few songs you’ll see me sharing on social media after release day.

2. Can you share something with us about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Yes! There’s another supporting character who returns in this book that readers of Racing into Love might remember from the very beginning of that book. This book CAN be read as a standalone title, but that character coming back is pretty important. He added a depth to some scenes that I didn’t know I was missing until I got stuck and he helped me out of it by demanding to come back into the story somehow after a long absence. I know this is vague, but there’s a lot I don’t want to spoil!

3. What was the hardest scene to write?
There’s a really gritty fight scene in this book. I write sweet stories that have a little edge to them, and the darker elements are always tough for me to write. This fight scene in particular got really rough for the characters involved. I got lost in it, and it took me to a place that brought things out in the characters I didn’t know they had in them. I’m glad it did, because it really helped me resolve their character arcs, but it was really hard to write the hurt! I think it was my most heavily edited scene, because I had to make the fight believable and dark enough to have impact. I had to step back from my keyboard so many times to get through it, though.

4. What did you edit out of this book? Or really want to include but it just didn’t fit?
In the original draft, Seth was an MMA fighter with a totally different character arc! I salvaged bits and pieces for the Seth you’ll get to know as Oliver’s love interest in Fighting for Love. Some of my sex scene setting ideas didn’t make it in, either, but I have plans for those to show up as some fun freebies for readers! There’s also a a sentence in which I described Seth as looming beside some windows like a henge, and my editor told me it was too far out to include. She was right, but I still love the image of it!

5. What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Some of my influences might seem unlikely! They aren’t really other writers. I think my life as a writer is most strongly influenced by the stories I consumed in other media growing up. I think my writing has strong themes of found family and strength in friendship because I’m a gay man and a huge fan of Sailor Moon. I’m also an avid JRPG fan, and I always aim for stories that feel epic even though they seem to start pretty simple, because it’s the kind of storytelling I was most interested in throughout my teen years.

6. Olly’s story is the second in your Cut to the Feeling Series, do you have any plans for more stories in this series?
I do! There are 3 more planned for a total of 5 books in this series. The first chapter of Cut to the Feeling #3 is a bonus at the end of Fighting for Love! But because I never know when enough is enough, the final Cut to the Feeling book is the perfect lead in to what I have planned for my second series. I can’t say more for now, except that the world of Cut to the Feeling won’t be the end of the world I’ve created!

7. What sort of challenges did you face writing this book?
It was so hard to strike a balance of emotions throughout this book! Olly and Seth are so different from Aiden and Derrek from book 1, both as individuals and as a couple. It was especially hard for me to get into Seth’s head because he only really opened up in scenes he shared with Olly one-on-one. Making sure he was likeable was a challenge. I also wanted to make sure Olly and Seth stood out against the supporting characters I was already comfortable with, and I think I did it!

8. If we made Fighting For Love into a movie, who would be your dream casting for Oliver and Seth?
So, here’s thing. If I were to ever pursue having Cut to the Feeling happen on a screen, I would want queer actors in queer roles. I’m mostly ignoring age for this dream cast! So, Scott Evans (he’s Chris Evans’ brother!) as Seth. He totally already looks like an older Seth to me, anyway. As far as having the right look goes, I’d love to see K-pop singer Holland as Oliver. They totally have similar vibes, and Holland is also an openly gay performer. I’m not sure if he does any acting, though! I think, going beyond actors I can name, I’d love to see young newcomers confident in their sexuality take on these characters for the screen, because they’d certainly deserve the opportunity to see themselves accurately represented in the media.

9. This is your second book, how did publishing your first change your writing process? Do you have any advice or tips for first time authors?
Publishing Racing into Love made me much more of a dedicated planner. Timelines are SO vital my process now! I’ve become obsessed with calendars and scheduling. Writing that first book really hammered in the discipline necessary to work through tough days where words just weren’t coming because the most important thing is to just finish the draft. So, here’s my advice for anyone starting out. You need to understand going in that as an author, and especially as an indie author, you are both a writer and a business person. You’ll be the one setting your schedules, contacting bloggers and other authors, sourcing covers, booking promo, and all of that while needing enough time to write according to your timeline. Take the time to study the landscape of your genre. Push through writer’s block to just get it done. Take breaks when you need them, not because you think you can’t write. Believe in yourself and understand that things could change at any time. Just do your best and be yourself and write what you love.

10. What is your favourite childhood book?
There was this really cool book series I checked out from my local public library branch a bunch as a pre-teen. I’m counting this as childhood because I totally blanked trying to think of books from when I was a kid! So this series is called Circle of Three, by Isobel Bird. It’s about three girls in different social circles who come together over their interest in witchcraft. This series is my jam! It’s one of my earliest exposures to the occult in fiction, and was a big part of shaping my early practice as a witch (yes, not only do I write books, I cast spells)!

11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
VIDEO GAMES! Not so secret, I talk about it everywhere. I’m a HUGE fan of RPGs like Final Fantasy and Persona. I also like to paint, but I’m a terrible visual artist and mostly slap paint onto small canvases just for fun when I still want to be creative but need a short break from my word count. Does choreographing unnecessarily complicated dance routines to synthpop songs in my shower count as a secret hobby?

12. Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I love velociraptors SO MUCH. They remind me of cats. I’m not sure I can explain how or why. Their little claws just make me so happy.

Thank you Noah for dropping by and giving such wonderful answers to all my questions! Also I can totally and 100% see the association of cats and velociprators and I’m never going to look at cats the same way…

You can find Noah on Amazon, Bookbub, Twitter and Instagram, plus at his website (where you can also sign up for his newsletter!). And you can join his Facebook Group: Noah’s Dream Hive too.

Fighting for Love is available now and you should definitely check it out!

Guest Author Interview: Toby Wise

Author Icon: | Cover Design: Cosmic Letterz

Exciting times abound because today, debut author (and one of my best friends) Toby Wise has dropped by to talk about their first book, Ageless Fate, which is the first in their Mpreg shifter romance series ‘A Collection of Stray’s’.

1. What inspired you to write Ageless Fate? Can you tell us a little more about the story?
As soon as I started reading omegaverse I was hooked. I loved the world building, I loved the dramatics, and I most of all loved the idea of fucking with gender norms.
I’ve always enjoyed world building and making interesting characters so I wanted to write a story where I could make my own world and my own lore. Ageless Fate deals with instalove and true mates and mpreg of course, but it also deals with adoptive family, mythical creatures, witches, and hunters. It’s lighthearted and (hopefully) humours while also having this fun, new world you can get lost in.

2. Can you share something with us about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
In this book, Dakota has a pregnancy craving, Rainbow Chip Frosting. Most of his kids AND his mate all think it’s gross and tease him about it but Dakota eats the stuff straight from the can. It’s Dakota and Cameron versus the rest of the family. Have you ever tried the stuff because personally, I’m a huge fan of the sweet treat!!

It’s so yummy – I’m definitely on Dakota’s side too!

3. What was the hardest scene to write?
Personally, I write in chronological order. I like to start at chapter one and write each chapter in order. There was one scene, where the family goes into the woods and enjoy a family run in their animal forms, I had to go back and add after I’d finished writing everything else and it was tough to get back into the mindspace of these characters and what they were going through at that time again.

4. What did you edit out of this book? Or really want to include but it just didn’t fit?
There’s a scene where Charlie and Dakota celebrate Charlie’s very first published book. And by celebrate I mean sexy times! It didn’t really fit in the book but I WILL be releasing it as a little bonus chapter after the book comes out!

5. What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
The very first omegaverse series I ever read was The Northern Lodge Pack by Susi Hawke. I’d read a lot of omegaverse in fanfiction but I hadn’t realized there were original books in at genre. From that moment, I dreamed of writing my own books and publishing them. My best friend encouraged me so finally, I sat down and began seriously writing this series and here we are today. (Thanks Bestie!)

6. Dakota’s family is pretty large and filled with some interesting characters, what is the future for them? Do you have any plans?
So many plans… I’m currently working on writing ‘A Collection of Strays Book Two’ which will be Elwood’s story. I have plans for six books in this series so each character will find their mates and have their happily ever after.

7. What sort of challenges did you face writing this book?
There’s so many things you don’t know about the world of self publishing until you’re in the middle of it. I had no idea how to format my book so it looked pretty on paper, I didn’t know how to set up my author account, I didn’t know how to get a cover done. It’s just the little things you have to figure out along the way. Obviously I’ve (somewhat) figured my shit out now and hopefully the second book will be a tiny bit less stressful!

8. If we made Ageless Fate into a movie, who would be your dream casting for Dakota and Charlie?
Oh man. I love and hate this question! I think everyone who reads the book is going to picture someone different and that’s half the fun. Personally, I imagine Dakota as a sexy silver fox, someone like McSteamy aka Eric Dane. That bit of grey in his hair and beard… *sigh*. Now Charlie I picture someone with dark hair, strong, very sexy of course. Basically I picture Chris Hemsworth haha. *active all the heart eyes*

9. What have you learnt from the whole debut writer process? Do you have any advice for writers working on their first novel?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I kept trying to figure everything out on my own and things would have been so much easier if I’d just asked for help. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously? Right now I’m still at the stage where I am just filled with awe and wonder that this is real. I’m publishing a book and making my dream come true. If I take myself too seriously I might lose that sense of wonder and I NEVER want that to happen. I wanna stay humble and grateful that I get to do this.

10. What is your favourite childhood book?
Probably Green Eggs and Ham. Mostly because when we read it in school, our teacher always made greed dyed eggs with ham! Sell me anything if food is involved.

11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
I’m a stay at home parent so if I’m not writing I’m almost definitely drinking coffee and spending time with my kiddo. (He’s almost three so therefore an energetic handful ❤ )

12. Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
LAWL. I cannot think of a single dinosaur…… so I’m going with the first one that comes to mind. The one from Meet the Robinsons who shouts, “I got a big head! And little arms!” Seems kinda fitting for me haha!

I was so super tempted to include that gif here!

Thank you so much for dropping in to answer all of my fiendish questions! I can’t wait to read the rest of this family’s adventures.

Ageless Fate is available now and you can also get your paws on
Before Fate, a FREE prequel that introduces you to all of Dakota’s family!

You can also find Toby on Twitter and join their super fun Facebook Group: Toby’s Wiseasses.

March Wrap Up

March has come and gone all too quickly for me, although I’m quite excited that April has arrived for a couple of reasons.

I’m going to be honest in that March hasn’t been great in terms of my mental health and my general tiredness/health. Life is quite stressful at the moment and trying to get a writing career of the ground, along with everything else, has been exhausting.

Still, I think I’ve done more than I realised. So without further ado, here are my March achievements:

  1. Finished the second draft of Breakaway, adding about 7k overall.
  2. Sent it to a few friends to beta read, which has been utterly terrifying! (I’m awaiting their feedback with baited breath.)
  3. Plotted all of book two and wrote a timeline.
  4. Started book two and wrote around 2.6k.
  5. Got stuck into my challenge fic. Although it’s not quite done yet, I wrote enough to submit at the check in.
  6. Did my first guest author interview with the amazing K M Neuhold, and lined up some great future guests too.
  7. Started my author Instagram page – it’ll be mostly food and cool book stuff, but why not come follow me?!

There may be a few other minor things (does my new addiction to Shadowhunters count?), but I’m actually really pleased with that. This is why these wrap ups are good because it actually puts physical proof in front of my brain – take that anxiety!

April is a super exciting time though because my best friend’s first book is out, Breakaway goes to my editor and my artist is starting on my cover. Plus I’d love to get my challenge fic finished and get stuck into book two before my edits come back – it’s all go!

What are your March achievements or April goals?

Guest Author Interview: K. M. Neuhold

Uncomplicated Cover by Natasha Snow (

For my very first Guest Author Interview, I’m joined by none other than the amazing, bestselling author K. M. Neuhold! She’s here to talk about her brand new book Uncomplicated, which is the second in her Inked series, and is out today!

1. What inspired you to write Uncomplicated? Can you tell us a little more about the story?
The inspiration question is always such a tough one for me because it can be really hard to pinpoint ONE source of inspiration for most of my stories. Beau first showed up on the scene in Going Commando as just this fun, flirty bartender most of the Heathens crew wanted to bang, and Royal liked to brag that he once DID bang. I originally didn’t plan for him to have his own story, just for him to be a fun side character, but as the series wore on, I started to get the sense there was a lot more to him than he let on originally. THEN as Cas appeared in From Ashes and Finn appeared in Shattered Pieces, things started to fall into place. This book took me by surprise in a lot of ways because it’s a bit different than most of my MMM books. I don’t want to spoil anything, so let’s just say that these characters had a bit more angst than I expected from them, but in the end I think that makes the HEA even sweeter.

2. Can you share something with us about the book that isn’t in the blurb? 
It’s so hard to fit nuances of a story into a short blurb, so when it says in the blurb that Beau knows he shouldn’t be fooling around with Cas’ ex, what I DIDN’T fit in, is that for the first chunk of the story, no one realizes Finn is Cas’ ex, especially not Beau 😉 .  

3. What was the hardest scene to write?
I’m not sure about the hardest scene, but Finn has some trouble with a gang and resolving that issue took me WEEKS to figure out.

4. What did you edit out of this book? Or really want to include but it just didn’t fit? 
I would have liked to include a lot more flashbacks to Cas and Finn’s past together, but it just didn’t fit the flow of the story, so there’s only one full on peek back at their history. 

5. What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
There were always books in my house growing up so I read A LOT starting from a young age and I think that was a huge influence. That, and my love for shmoopy love stories.

6. Beau, Cas and Finn’s story is the second in your Inked Series, do you have any plans for more stories in this series? Or any more in the Heathen’s Ink world?
Kyle is absolutely still waiting on his Happily Ever After. I also have a feeling Clay’s ex (the one who introduced him to shibari), Max’s boss, and maybe even Liam’s therapist might still have stories coming.
7. What sort of challenges did you face writing this book?
Like I said, this one had a bit more angst than I expected and I tried to fight the characters on it initially which only really accomplished stalling me in my tracks for a week or so. Once I gave in and let them be a little angsty and upset it was much more smooth sailing.

8. If we made Uncomplicated into a movie, who would be your dream casting for Beau, Cas and Finn? 
I’m going to be honest, I don’t know like any actors haha. I legit just tried to google “hot actors” to try and answer this question. Beau would need to be someone with long-ish blond hair, I kind of picture him as one of the Hemsworths maybe? And for Cas and Finn, they’re both bigger, muscular guys. Haha that’s probably not all that helpful, but I can tell you if this was made into a movie I’d demand to be present at the casting sessions so I could enjoy all the pretty men showing up to audition. 

9. As an experienced author, what do you have any advice or tips for new authors who are just starting out? 
Don’t read reviews.

10. What is your favourite childhood book? 
Harry Potter!

11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about? 
I mostly read lol. I DO have a bit of a reality TV addiction too, which you can totally see reflected in Beau in this book haha.

12. Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?

Thanks for dropping in and giving such excellent answers to my many, many questions!

You can find K. M. Neuhold on her website, Twitter, Instagram and Amazon. Plus you can join their awesome reader ground, Neuhold’s Nerds, and sign up for their newsletter.

Uncomplicated is available now, and you should definitely check it out!

Happy International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day and to celebrate, I thought I’d share some of my absolutely favourite women in literature.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love strong female characters, and given any chance I will talk your ear off the subject. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favourites:

Sabriel & Lirael
The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix
In his fantasy YA series, Nix gives a phenomenal range of female characters who own their cleverness and their strength. They figure out puzzles, they stand up for themselves, they work together and even put the dead to rest. I first read this series at fourteen/fifteen and it’s still a firm favourite of mine, so while Sabriel and Lirael are my standout characters, the whole series is packed with fantastic women.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
It might seem odd to include a children’s book from 1936, but this story has always been a favourite and it’s only as an adult that I’ve truly appreciated how amazing Sylvia is. Noel’s cast is almost entirely female, but Sylvia is the glue that holds the entire family together – she is kind and sweet, but also incredibly determined and I love her for that.

The Entire Cast of ‘The Stars are Legion’
The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley
It seems a little like cheating to include the entire cast of a novel, but given that this brutal science fiction novel has an all female line up, I’m going to include it. Hurley is one of my favourite science fiction writers and this novel is gritty and visceral, but it’s got a tiny soft side too. I can’t choose a favourite because I love all the characters in different ways – they’re kickass, sneaky, determined and not afraid of a fight! It totally challenged my expectations of gender because I’d never seen women written this way – and I loved it.

On a side note: I’d also recommend Hurley’s excellent essay “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative”.

Jenny Perata
Space Unicorn Blues by T. J Berry
This novel wiggled into my life last year and blew my mind – it’s diverse, it’s queer, it’s fantastical but it’s also fierce as fuck. Jenny isn’t really a good person, but she’s not necessarily a bad one either – she’s shades of grey and that’s so representative of people. Berry gives us a whole cast of morally ambiguous characters and throws them together, pitting them against the universe and providing a great piece of social commentary along with it.
I also have to give a shout out to Ricky Tang – I love her so much… even though I know she’d rob me blind, I’m pretty sure I’d be happy about it.

Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax
Terry Pratchett
I couldn’t write this list and not include two of my favourite witches. Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax are two very different women, and yet I love them both equally. They’re respected, they’re listened to and they’re smart – plus lots of people are scared of them… even if that’s just because Nanny is a terrible singer. Although Pratchett’s discworld contains a host of wonderful women (including Susan, who I also adore), I think Granny and Nanny are my favourites – and if I can be anything like them then I’ll be pleased.

I feel like I should end this list here, as I’ve only just scratched the surface. But if we don’t stop, we’ll be here all day and sadly I have editing to attack!

But I’ll finish off by asking: who are your favourite female characters?

January and February Wrap Up

Somehow, we’ve arrived in March and I’m still not quite sure how we got here… but since we are here, I thought I’d do a little wrap up of what writerly things I’ve done so far this year, and hopefully I can turn this into a monthly feature.

I know that sometimes I tend to lose sight of the little things that I’ve achieved, since I’m always focused on the end results and larger goals. But since these small achievements help me get there, I think it’s important to remember them and just how far I’ve come. So without further ado, here are things I’m celebrating:

– Wrote just under 27,000 words (for Breakaway and a gift fic for a friend)
– Started my blog and Twitter account
– Booked my editor for April (which feels like such a long way away!)

– Finished the first draft of Breakaway
– Booked my cover artist (who I’m ridiculously excited to be working with)
– Edited my first draft on paper and started working through those edits
– Started plotting book 2 and found some awesome people to ask some super secret research questions
– Wrote a total of 6640 words (both Breakaway and for a fanfiction challenge I’m taking part in)
– Shared my valentine’s day short story (which you can find here)

All in all, it’s been a good start to the year and it’s amazing to see what I’ve achieved already.

My March goals are to finish my edits, potentially get a beta reader, finish my challenge fic and to start plotting book 2. Plus I’d love to blog more regularly too!

What are your March writing goals?