I’ve always been in love with story—reading it, telling it, and more recently writing it. One of the things I love about being a storyteller is the way a seed of any idea can grow into something that looks nothing like I expected when it started.
My husband teases me about thinking of my characters as actual people—“You wrote them, honey! How can they surprise you?”—but the truth is that I just start them on their journey, somewhere in the middle they always seem to come alive, and then they take the rest of the book in directions I don’t always expect.
Every time one of my books is published, I’ve already fallen a little bit in love with the people in it, and can only hope I’ve done their story justice.
Restitution is the third contemporary gay romance I’ve written, and it’s one that had been percolating in the back of my mind for months, changing as it grew, and then changing again, before it ever made it to the page.
Originally, I’d intended to write a story set in prison. When I first started writing m/m (under a pen name which shall never be mentioned), I published a prison romance which I thought could be improved on. I’d always liked the story, and now I hoped that I’d grown enough as a writer to tell it the way I’d always wanted to. The more I thought about it, though, the more I wanted to focus on the character dealing with the aftereffect of his wrongful conviction rather than his time behind bars, and so the idea changed to one about finding one’s way back after losing everything.
Restitution kept brewing in the back of my mind as I was writing my previous book, Sliding Into Home, and during the course of researching that one, I found out about the FDA’s discriminatory blood donation policy for gay men. It wasn’t something that fit into Sliding, but I knew I wanted to find a way to fit it into Restitution… so then I had to figure out how to incorporate that storyline, which gave birth to a whole new character (Emma), changing the whole dynamic of one of my main characters (Parker).
By the time I was finally ready to write Restitution, the outline looked nothing like what I’d expected when I started, and thanks to a series of conversations with a friend about living as a gay man in the South, the setting moved from my comfort zone (the Pacific Northwest) to an area I knew nothing about, changing the landscape of the story and my characters yet again.
The thing that never changed, the thread that always ran through it, was the same thing that drew me to writing romance in the first place. Regardless of the circumstances and settings and the fun I sometimes have with secondary characters, the story I always strive to tell is a love story. It’s sappy, but true. I’m in love with falling in love, and at the end of the day my stories always end up being about the same thing: two people who find something in each other that makes their little piece of the world a better place for being together.