A. J. Llewellyn is here on the blog tour for the novel, The Mediator. A.J. is talking about the inspiration behind the story and has a eBook copy of the book to giveaway to one of our readers. To enter to win, leave a comment and an email address where you can be reached if chosen. Contest ends January 3rd.
The Mediator’s Inspiration by A.J. Llewellyn
I’ve had quite a long time to think about the inspiration behind my book, The Mediator. It’s one of my earliest stories for Totally Bound, and one I adored writing. But at the time, I submitted it for a short, sexy snack type of story and I always wanted to expand on it.
You see, the characters still live in my head.
Does that happen to other writers?
That certain characters grab and hold on to them? I’m sorry to say that now that I’ve been given the gorgeous opportunity to expand and revise my original story (I added almost ten thousand words), my two heroes have gone awfully quiet inside my brain.
I miss my mediator, Icarus Smith, and the man of his dreams, Italian welterweight boxing champion, Paulo de Luca, screaming at me in sleep and by day. Some characters just do that. I think Icarus particularly tugged hard at me because so much of me is in him. And vice versa.
At one time, Las Vegas was a big part of my life as a boxing reporter. I had a lot of down time, as all the boxing media did, but I was no gambler. I found other things to do. I usually traveled there with my dog and we took wonderful desert hikes through red Rocks, The Grand Canyon, and visited Hoover Dam. I began to be interested in the history of Las Vegas.
That’s how I discovered a secret, still painful piece of the city’s story, an area called Avenue D.
In the 1950s, the African-American community was forced to live there. The residents were not allowed to cross this street. When superstar Sammy Davis Jr., performed in Vegas, he shone on the Strip, adored by his white audiences. Once the house lights dimmed, a chauffeur-driven limousine hustled him to Avenue D, where he stayed as a guest in different people’s homes.
It’s a shameful chapter of American history. One that still has very little attention. Using this area as a backdrop for my story, I began writing The Mediator, which eventually took shape as a novella. I chose to make Icarus as obsessed with the once-dilapidated neighborhood as I was.
He trudged the streets with me, hearing the ghosts of children laughing, aware that there was beauty in small moments.
I love this story and hope you will too. I believe in love. I believe in second chances. Just as Avenue D, now officially on the National Register of Historic Places and known as Berkley Square got a second chance, so does Icarus Smith. He gets to reunite with the hot, wonderful man he met one fateful summer in Rome. True love, like a summer sun can last longer than we think. Sometimes, it may even last forever.
Can Icarus hold on to the man he treasures…or will this take all his negotiating skills as a mediator?
The Mediator by A.J. Llewellyn
Publisher: Totally Bound Books
Sales Link: Buy It Here
Icarus Smith has two problems, and they both want him…their Mediator.
Icarus Smith has just landed an unusual assignment. A licensed mediator used to handling squabbling spouses, he’s been hand-picked to negotiate a forty-million-dollar welterweight championship title fight. The problem is, these two world boxing champions hate each other. Worst of all, Icarus has discovered that one of them, Italian superstar Paolo de Luca, is the man with whom he had a passionate affair in Italy the previous summer. Paolo cruelly dumped him, and Icarus realizes he is still devastated. Can he overcome his personal feelings to work with Paolo and the boxer’s arch-nemesis, US champion Adam Wyler?
So far, the fight scheduled to take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden is a bust. Fans have bought tickets, and Pay-Per-View sales are through the roof. Just like Lady Di’s face once adorned dishcloths, these guys have their faces on buttons, badges, posters, TV and print ads. And they don’t care.
But Icarus has an even bigger problem. He’s just accepted promoter Thaddeus Halsey’s huge wad of cash to broker this deal and Icarus wants the money for a restoration project in his hometown in Las Vegas. Can Icarus go through with mediation? Can he persuade the man who broke his heart to face the guy who now apparently wants it?
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of multiple male ménage.
Publisher’s Note: This book was previously released by Totally Bound under the same title. It has been expanded, revised and re-edited for re-release.
Excerpt from The Mediator:
“You’re ordering that?” Jerome Curtin scoffed at me.
I looked up from the menu, trying to hide my embarrassment. Ten minutes I’d known the guy, and it was ten minutes too many. Before I could respond, a man in red silk pants and a lime green shirt rushed by me on stilts. Jugglers followed him, then came the singers. The diners around us began to applaud. To my astonishment, the statue of an old man sitting on the bench right opposite me came to life.
The briny smell of St. Mark’s Square and the canal’s waters filled my senses with nostalgia. The singers in their brightly colored costumes gathered near the fountain, gaudy masks held to their faces, and started to sing. The Carnevale di Venezia came beautifully to life. The twilight ambience with its flickering wall sconces put me in a better mood, as did the old Italian folk melody. I recognized it, but didn’t remember how.
I glanced back up at the waiter. Pity flashed in his eyes. I guessed he’d had his share of bad dates, too.
“Sorry.” In a flash of joy it came back to me. “Lu Me Sceccu,” I practically shouted.
My table companion looked startled then he rolled his eyes. “Number one on Billboard, was it?”
Well! No need to be rude. “I know that song!” I tried to place it and it hit me.
I couldn’t believe that almost eighteen months later, I’d buried the memory so deep that it hurt to recall it. It was like a scar on my soul. I spent my whole life counseling people, urging them to forget the past. Me, I’d just submerged the pain in work. I took a deep breath and grabbed my glass of iced water.
“Sir?” The waiter’s eyes were full of sympathy. “Are you okay?”
No. “Yes, I’m fine, thank you.”
Jerome Curtin suddenly leaned across the table and kissed me. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he slipped his tongue into my mouth. It was like being invaded by an electric eel.
I pushed him off me. “What are you doing?” I sputtered as iced water ran down my suit and tie. It figured that the one time I’d splurged on new clothes, they’d be ruined.
The waiter produced hand towels out of nowhere and gave them to me, still looking like he felt very bad for me.
“Thank you.” I pressed the towels against my soaking wet shirt.
“You looked like you wanted to be kissed,” Jerome said.
Not by you.
“You had this look in your eye.”
Yeah, I could just imagine. I’d thought I was over it—him, that is. The astonishing man I’d met that summer, when I’d found the love I’d thought would never die. Lu Me Sceccu. I smiled now, recalling that it was an elderly woman’s love song to her dearly departed forty-year-old donkey.
“Icarus, you’re keeping the man waiting!” Jerome blared the words at me over the top of the singers’ voices.
A busboy appeared and deftly replaced the tablecloth, gave me a new napkin, then refilled my water glass. I thanked him. I could feel water seeping into my underpants. Later, I might find this funny. Right now, I wished I’d gone home and caught up on case work, like I usually did.
“I’ll have a dozen oysters,” I said, changing my order. “And the tomato ricotta salad, please.”
The waiter nodded. “Excellent choice, sir.”
As he took Jerome’s order, I grasped for the fleeting moments of sheer happiness I recalled from that magnificent Sunday lunch when Pio had taken me to meet his family. I had never felt so accepted, so…embraced by a family. I’d wanted to be with them forever. And it wasn’t like me, not at all, to fall so quickly, so hard.
To love total strangers so deeply.
About the Author:
A.J. Llewellyn is an author whose obsession with myth, magic, love and romance might have led to serious stalking charges had it not been for the ability to write. Thanks to the existence of some very patient publishers, A.J.’s days are spent writing, reading and dreaming up new worlds. AJ has definitely stopped Google-searching former boyfriends and given up all ambition to taste-test every cup cake in the universe to produce over 150 published gay erotic romance novels. A.J. wants you to read them all. You can find this author lurking on Facebook and Twitter – part-time class clown being another occupation. When not writing or reading, A.J.’s other passions include juggling, kite-boarding and spending a fortune buying upgrades for Pearl’s Peril.
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Contest: AJ Llewellyn is happy to give away an epub copy of The Mediator. To enter to win leave a comment below and an email address where you can be reached if chosen. Contest ends January 3rd.