Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
As my bio states, I’m a night owl and tend to work in the evenings and deep into the night. There is something about the dark and quiet outside that soothes me, and brings my creativity to the fore. I have written a lot of contemporary gay stories and romances, but there are a few forays into science fiction and fantasy as well. Since that is what I read when I grew up, I suspect there will be more in the near future.
How long have you been writing for, and what inspired you to start writing?
I have been a full-time writer since June of 2009 when my first book was published (To Find and to Keep). I was a management consultant before that and with 12-hour days there wasn’t much time left for writing. I knew it had to be one or the other, so, risk-taker that I am, I quit my job when the first book was released. I had some money saved up and ran an “austerity program” for a while until things took off. I have never looked back!
Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
The Baker is part of my Workplace Encounters series - inspired by men meeting at work, but staying away from the so-called office romance. After the earlier books in the series focused on some of the more “technical” blue collar jobs like those of elevator mechanic, bricklayer, and carpenter, I was ready for one that had more of an artistic slant. And what can be more artistic than baking? A few things, probably, but I have a particular liking for food, so it seemed like a good idea to tackle cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.
How did you come up with the title?
All the titles in this series are basically the name of the profession I take a look at in that book. I spend a lot of time researching each job, and the focus of the story is on the type of situation or problem people in that profession come across. So what could be more appropriate than naming the book after the job?
Are there any characters that you write, that are based on you, or people you know?
Some of my characters probably have parts of people I know inside them. But mostly my ideas and characters come from dreams, so it isn’t always obvious. They tend to be amalgamations of the people I meet in “real life”, and none of them have been recognizable as any of them. There are a few exceptions. One of the bosses in Aviophobia (a recent release about two men whose life changes after they survive a plane crash) is modelled on a few top management types I met when I was a marketing director, and later a management consultant. And while he is true to the type, he is not a specific person I remember.
Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about them?
My characters definitely pop into my head. Mostly it happens in dreams, but sometimes while I’m doing other things. Once they are there, I take my time getting to know them, so to speak. Sometimes it feels like an interview, and I have to pull the information out of them. Sometimes they are quite happy to keep talking. And sometimes scenes of their life just pop right into the next dream. Those scenes are the most fun for me to figure out where they go and how they fit. And they always tell me more about a character’s life, so even if they don’t happen to end up in the story, they’re a great source of background information.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
Definitely a plotter. After one or more characters pop into my head (usually in a dream), I map out their story on a spreadsheet. Each chapter gets a column, and then I note points like the date, the point of view character, a rough description of each scene in separate line from top to bottom. It helps me see the story at a glance and discover any holes.
Initially only the first three of four chapters are clear, the rest is more vague. But as I write each chapter, stuff that might happen in the next few chapters pops up and I add it to the spreadsheet. So it’s very much a “living” document that changes as I go. But it really helps me stay on track. And believe me, with characters like mine, who can be very stubborn, keeping them reined in can be a full-time job.
What are your writing and personal goals for 2015 and beyond?
I am planning to write the next Workplace Encounters novella, called The Lumberjack and planned for an April 2016 release. I also have a cowboy story on my mind, and a sequel for Eye of Scota (a science fiction novel). Then there are two science fiction trilogies I will be working on, and hopefully my next self-published book in the Gemstone Chronicles series (Diamonds of Victory). I’ll be attending the UK LGBTQ Meet in Bristol in September and am planning a couple of trips to see my nieces.
When is your next book coming out, and what’s it about?
My next release is The Truck Driver, planned for an August release at Dreamspinner Press. It’s a rerelease, but I have added a few scenes and it has been reedited. This is the blurb:
Joshua Becket enjoys the independence of being a truck driver. He has been saving for his own rig, but a declining economy and bad management stand in his way. Hope comes when Robert Oldfield buys the company. He is determined to make Gordon Trucking a success, and when he rides with Joshua in an attempt to learn the business, Joshua finds out why—Robert is trying to prove his worth to the parents who disowned him. Lust ignites and both men recognize the possibility for happiness together, but Joshua worries about his coworkers’ reactions. Then a competitor starts playing dirty, mysterious accidents sabotage Robert’s plans, and the resulting crisis might end Joshua’s chance for a future with a job and a man he loves—permanently.
What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
I am working on the sequel to Eye of Scota: Cináed. The working title is Compass of Mil, and it’s the story of Gordan, heir of the McAlpin Clan on the planet Dalriata, He is Cináed’s older brother and a dedicated warrior. He discovers an attraction to Cináed’s best friend Akir at the end of book one, but is highly reluctant to follow his feelings.
Here is an unedited snippet from chapter one:
Parlan smiled and put the empty mug onto the floor. “Now that’s done, tell me how your search for this Holy Messenger is going.”
“It’s driving me nuts.” Gordan put down his half finished meal, suddenly no longer hungry. “I know it’s important we find it so Tadeo can contact his spaceship via the Eye rather than having to make the long trip. Especially with the coronation coming up and everything that still needs to get done before then. But we don’t even know what it looks like. So even though we’ve been through the High Priest’s personal chambers and most of the monastery, we could have walked right past it for all we know.”
“We?” Parlan raised his eyebrows.
“Yeah.” Gordan gritted his teeth. “Cináed thought that his best friend would be able to help, so Akir has been trailing along. Not that it’s done any good.”
He’d first seen Akir in the practice court when Cináed had returned from his mission to find more Slànach Stones. Half a foot shorter than Gordan, he had a slender body that managed to exude strength. His hair was a dark red and wavy and his eyes a deep forest green. With a straight nose and a high forehead, his milk-white skin and teeth, he looked almost pretty. Gordan had ruthlessly ignored those thoughts. Akir was a man, and Gordan wasn’t attracted to other men.
The effect of hearing that the bonding between two men was the secret to recharging the Stones on that fateful day had made his father angrier than he’d ever seen him. His lack of acceptance of returning to the Old Laws, which apparently supported this, had driven Cináed to renounce the clan. It had also made Gordan think about his own allegiance to a man who apparently supported the priests and their power over the entire population. That just wasn’t right, no matter what the excuse.
“Gordan?” Parlan frowned at him when he looked up. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong.” He wasn’t going there. “But Akir is a healer priest, one of our natural enemies. They’ve suppressed warriors for centuries, made us subservient to their needs rather than letting us be an independent second force in government like we used to be. I’m having a really hard time trusting him.”
“But he’s Cináed’s best friend, right?” Parlan looked puzzled.
“True. I remember they spent all their time together before they were tested and taken away by the priests just after their fifth birthdays. And he’s supported Cináed all along, even his being married to Tadeo.” Gordan shook his head. “He just sets my teeth on edge.”
He didn’t want to think about the reasons. The more time he’d spent with Akir, the stronger this strange attraction had seemed to get. On top of which Akir was nice, unfailingly polite and very good with people. The way he sometimes looked at Gordan definitely made him very uncomfortable.
Title: The Baker
Series: Workplace Encounters
Author: Serena Yates
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Length: 40000 words
Release Date: July 15, 2015
Blurb: Ian Wallace works as a baker for his tyrannical father in their family owned Scottish Bakehouse in Casper, Wyoming. He wants to represent the bakery in the upcoming Tartan Day competition, but his father refuses to reveal the secret ingredients that make them so successful—unless Ian gets married and has a son, proving he is fit to continue the family line.
Just before New Year’s Eve, Cameron Lewis, a former Marine turned police detective, comes into the bakery for donuts for his department and some black buns for himself. Cameron is hooked, and as his visits become more frequent, they stir Ian’s father’s suspicions. But threats can’t stop Ian from donning his kilt and entering the competition anyway—to show his father what he can do on his own. Though he might not have the secret ingredients, Ian and Cameron might still discover a recipe for happiness.
Just before nine things had slowed down to a manageable level, and Ian was about to take a short restroom break, leaving the store to Senga. But then the doorbell tinkled yet again, and the most gorgeous man Ian had ever laid eyes on walked into the store. He was tall, probably over six feet, had blond hair in a ruthless buzz cut, and his warm brown eyes invited Ian to trust him. The man was well built, muscular like a Marine, and wore a smart dark green suit, covered by an open black winter topcoat. His facial expression seemed guarded but curious as he looked around the store. Ian had the strangest feeling he was cataloging exits and potential sources of danger.
Thank God Senga was busy with a group of women unable to decide what they wanted so Ian had an excuse to talk to the guy.
“What can I do for you, sir?” Ian’s voice sounded suspiciously hoarse, and for the briefest moment, a spark of heat appeared in Mr. Good-looking’s eyes.
“I’ve never been to this bakery before….” The stranger trailed off as he examined Ian with the same curiosity and concentration he had used to assess the shop.
I know you haven’t. I’d definitely remember you!
“A colleague at the station recommended your stuff, so I came to have a look.” The stranger tilted his head. “You’ll probably laugh, since this is such a cliché, but I’m looking for donuts.”
“Station? Donuts?” Ian’s brain refused to function for a moment.
“Yeah, I’m a cop. Well, a detective actually, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I love donuts, and so do my colleagues.” The stranger laughed, and the deep, resonant sound thrilled Ian to his core.
“Ah. Right, well, we do sell donuts.” Ian pointed to the display. “It’s not a great selection, since most customers seem to come here for the more Scottish specialties, but I hope you can find some you like.”
“I’ll take two dozen, please.” Mr. Detective smiled. “And what else do you think I should get so my colleagues can find out about your wonderful work? It does smell amazing in here.”
“Thank you.” Ian started to put the donuts into a box and, without thinking, blurted out the first thing he could think of. “Would you like to try my buns?”
“Your… buns?” Mr. Detective’s eyebrows rose, a twinkle appeared in his eyes, and an amused smile curved his dark red lips.
“Yes. The black ones.” Ian pointed at the cakes, only to realize what the stranger must have meant when the man couldn’t stop grinning. Heaven above, was the gorgeous specimen of male beauty gay? But who else would have gotten the joke? Not that Ian had meant it as a joke. He was deep enough in the closet he didn’t know how to begin looking for the door, never mind find it. He definitely wouldn’t mind trying if this guy were on the other side, waiting for him. But Mr. Detective probably wasn’t out either, even if he were gay. A gay cop, or detective, wouldn’t make it out here in the wilds of Wyoming. Ian could feel himself blush even as he realized he was now babbling in his own head.
“Oh, I see.” Mr. Detective bent toward the black buns and grinned. “They look kinda cute. Are they as Scottish as they look with that flag painted on them?”
“Yes, they’re a traditional cake eaten during the traditional Scottish Hogmanay celebration on New Year’s Day.” Ian finished packing up the donuts, closed the box, and placed it on the counter. “Would you like to try one?”
“Yes, please. I have no idea what’s inside, but I like surprises. I’ll try to figure out what the ingredients are.” Mr. Detective looked back up. “Gives me a fun mystery to ponder.”
“Okay, I’ll get you one in a small box.” Ian wasn’t going to ask about the other mysteries, the not-so-fun ones, in the man’s life. He might be a homicide detective, and eww, Ian wasn’t going there. “Anything else I can get you?”
“Nah, I’m okay for now.” Mr. Detective grinned again. “But if your stuff tastes as good as it looks and smells, I’ll definitely be back. Can’t believe I’ve worked here for five years and have never noticed this place. Don’t tell anyone, or they’ll take my badge.”
Ian laughed as he rang up the purchase and took the guy’s money. As far as I’m concerned, you can come back anytime, Mr. Detective!
I’m a night owl and start writing when everyone else in my time zone is asleep. I’ve loved reading all my life and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. Although I always wanted to be a writer, financial independence came first. Twenty-some years and a successful business career later I took some online writing classes and never looked back.
Living and working in seven countries has taught me that there's more than one way to get things done. It has instilled tremendous respect for the many different cultures, beliefs, attitudes and preferences that exist on our planet.
I like exploring those differences in my stories, most of which happen to be romances. My characters have a tendency to want to do their own thing, so I often have to rein them back in. The one thing we all agree on is the desire for a happy ending.
I currently live in the United Kingdom, sharing my house with a vast collection of books. I like reading, traveling, spending time with my nieces and listening to classical music. I have a passion for science and learning new languages.
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