by Teodora Kostova
“What would you say if I told you that I’m putting all my current projects on hold and writing a gay romance book?” I asked one of my closest friends a few months ago.
“I think that’s great!” she responded without a hint of hesitation.
Yeah, great. Only, I never planned this. My inner control freak was freaking the hell out. I love reading MM romance books, but writing them? What if I fail miserably? What if people hate it? What if I hate it? What if…
I can go on and on with the ‘what ifs’. In the end of the day, I had no choice. The story was so huge inside of me that I had to sit down and write it or there would have been no space in my mind for anything else.
I’ll always remember the day Jared and Fenix’s story hit me so hard my hands started shaking. I was watching this amazing musical at the Apollo in London’s West End. The two main male characters had such extraordinary chemistry, even though they were friends, not romantically involved. My mind started drifting as I watched, asking question after question and finding the answers itself. By the time the musical was over, I had half the book already in my head. As we were exiting the theatre, I saw a poster advertising another show performed at the same theatre – a matinee musical aimed at younger audiences.
And there it was. It all clicked so fast and so well that I literally dragged my husband home and started jotting down notes.
Six weeks later, Dance was done and shipped off to the editor. I felt exhausted and yet so accomplished. I never thought I’d write another book again (I say this after finishing every book), and a gay romance at that! Who would have thought?
Wait, what would people think about that? Now that the manuscript was finished I had so much work on my hands – promotion, marketing, swag design, blog tour… How was I supposed to do all that when my audience was waiting for a straight romance book, the third in a series no less? How was I supposed to approach all bloggers I knew and ask them to review my current gay romance book? Did I need to write it under a pseudonym? Did I have to create this whole new persona? New Twitter and Facebook accounts, new contacts, new me?
Lots of people I went for advice to answered yes to all these questions. And yet, my gut feeling was screaming NO.
Why would I do this? It’s my book. I’m as proud of it as I’m of all my books. True, lots of hardcore MM romance fans are biased against authors who write in both genres and even say they’d never pick a book written by such an author. I respect that – everyone’s entitled to their own reading preferences. However, I’m free to do as I sit fit with my own books, too.
Soon, I was a genre crosser with both straight and gay romance books under my belt.
It wasn’t easy convincing people to give my book a chance. But it was worth it. So many of my readers who have never read MM romance before, picked it up simply because it’s my book. And so many of them loved it and went on searching for more books in the genre. I can’t even begin to express how much this alone means to me.
There are currently over seven billion people on this Earth and each and every one of them is different. People should not be cast into groups, judged by clichéd stereotypes and denied basic human rights. Differences should be embraced and encouraged – that’s the beauty of humankind. Diversity is what moves the world forward.
I’ve always said that the way to full equality and acceptance is merging the lines – there shouldn’t be gay weddings and gay books and gay movies and gay couples. We should strike the gay off. It’s life. It’s people. It’s their stories and their joys and their hardships and their children, jobs, houses.
By introducing gay, straight, trans*, bisexual, asexual characters in books, all books, we as authors are helping blur those lines. We’re burning the walls surrounding the artificially created groups and connecting people in a wonderful way.
Would it have been easier to have started from scratch and created a whole new author just for my MM romance books? Probably. People wouldn’t have been biased about my work just because I also write straight romance, and it would have made things much simpler.
But the way I’m doing it, along with more and more amazing authors, is the right way. The way that will help the world move forward and be better for future generations.
Jared Hartley is happy. He has a starring role in a popular West End musical, great friends, adoring fans and his own flat in Central London. A relationship is not something he has ever really wanted. Making big plans for the future is not in his nature – Jared is content with his single status and enjoying all the benefits of that lifestyle.
He doesn’t even realise something is missing in his life.
Until he meets Fenix.
Fenix Bergman has a dream – to perform on Broadway. When he gets offered the lead role in Poison – a new musical based in London, he accepts, immediately recognising the huge potential of the show.
Fenix thinks he has his life completely figured out – he will move to London, help Poison become the new West End hit and bide his time until Broadway comes knocking on his door. He has never wished for anything else but proving to himself and the world that he is a performer worthy of the biggest theatre stage.
Until he meets Jared.
Jared and Fenix’s lives collide and they fill each other’s missing pieces. Neither of them expects to feel so much, so fast for the other.
Neither of them expects to need someone so badly when love hasn’t even been in their plans.
But when Fenix’s star becomes too bright for London, will the dream he’s chased all his life ruin the dream he’s holding in his hands?
Will he survive getting everything he’s ever wanted?
An Excerpt from Dance
“You wanna tell me what’s been bothering you all evening?” Jared asked casually.
“You’ve been distracted all through dinner and even now. I know something’s bothering you so you might just as well tell me,” Jared said and resumed his insanely tender pattern tracing on Fenix’s hip.
Even though Fenix wanted to tell him, he was reluctant to.
“Fen?” Jared encouraged gently. The use of that particular nickname broke down Fenix’s last defences. He sighed.
“I don’t want you to move in with Adam while the renovations last,” he said finally, his voice level and as devoid of emotion as he could make it. For a second, Jared looked confused, but then it dawned on him, his eyes sparkling mischievously.
“Are you jealous?” he asked, grinning.
“No,” Fenix denied on an instinct, making Jared laugh.
Fenix hadn’t expected Jared to laugh wholeheartedly at that and pushed his hand away, flopping onto his back. Jared followed him immediately, stretching on top of him and forcing him to meet his eyes.
“You have no reason to be. Adam and I are friends; we’ve always been friends, even when we fucked,” Jared said softly, his gorgeous, pink, wet lips just an inch from Fenix’s. His jealousy flared even more.
“You said he was your first. That kinda leaves a lasting memory,” he said.
There. Proper jealous boyfriend routine.
“But that’s what it is – a memory. If we wanted to be together, we would have been. We just don’t want to.”
That did nothing to ease Fenix’s mind. He felt stupid and irrational and out of line for even mentioning it. He hated that he’d even opened his big mouth, and he was afraid Jared might hate it too.
“Baby? There’s more, I can see it in your eyes,” Jared said, his voice so calm and gentle. No judgement. No impatience. Fenix decided to let it all out, and if Jared decided it was too much to handle, then so be it. But he could not spend the next three weeks keeping all that inside. He opened his mouth and ranted without even pausing for breath.
“Yes, I’m jealous. Even when you say that you’re nothing more than friends, I’m still jealous. He was your first lover and you’ll never forget that. He’ll always be special to you. But what I hate even more than that is the fact that I feel this way, because we just met two days ago! I have no right to feel this way, we’re not in a relationship or anything, we don’t know anything about each other. And yet, the thought of not spending a single night with you drives me crazy, let alone three fucking weeks. I want you to stay with me, not with Adam. I want to tell you that I don’t want to fuck anybody else and I don’t want you to fuck anybody else either. I want…” Fenix paused, his voice growing quiet at Jared’s expression. He had not expected that. “You. I want you, Jared. How can I want you so much after two days? It scares the hell out of me.”
Jared stared at him. He was shocked, but he wasn’t angry. He wasn’t pulling back as if he thought Fenix was crazy. That was a good sign, right?
“You want me to stay with you?” he asked finally.
Jared’s lips pulled back in a stunning, happy grin. His eyes danced as he kept staring at Fenix as if searching for a sign he was leading him on.
“And you want to be exclusive?”
“Yes!” Fenix confirmed, unable to stop the joyful grin appearing on his own lips.
“I don’t care how long we’ve known each other, Fen. This feels right. I want you, too. I want everything with you,” Jared said as he kissed him, tangling his hands in Fenix’s hair and relaxing his body on top of him. All too soon he pulled back and rested on his side again, tugging Fenix to follow him. When they were facing each other again, Jared moved even closer, leaving just an inch between their lips. “You know how in books and movies at the end, just before the happily ever after, they always say, ‘I knew you were the one the moment I saw you’, or ‘I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with you when I first met you’?”
“I don’t wanna waste that time – the time between realising that and actually saying it. I don’t wanna bend to society’s rules about how long we should be together before I tell you ‘I love you’ or before I know you’re it. Because I knew it the moment I lay eyes on you, Fenix. Something inside me woke up and jumped and pointed at you and shouted: ‘That’s him. That’s the guy for you.’ You’re it for me, love. I know it here,” he took Fenix’s hand and placed it on his chest, right over his heart. “And I don’t care what anybody else says.”
“You’re it for me, too, Jared.”
About Teodora Kostova
Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband Ted and my son Jason. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I’ve tried bores me to death and I have to do what I’ve always wanted to do, but never had to guts to fully embrace. I’ve been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among another things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It’s the only time that I’m truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time – my son has a bigger attention span than me.
When I’m procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Wii game by a six year old.
This giveaway will have TWO winners! One winner will win a signed paperback copy of Dance while the other will win a Dance swag pack. Here’s a pic of what these winners can look forward to!
The giveaway starts now and ends August 19, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.
Don’t forget to check out Morgan’s review of Dance to see what she thought of it!