Book Name: Nights Like These
Author Name: Chris Scully
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Chris Scully here for an author interview and to talk about writing and her latest book, Nights Like These:
Q One of your main characters is Miles, 40 years old. I love an older protagonist. What was the inspiration behind Miles?
Age doesn’t mean you are any less immature or insecure—as Miles clearly demonstrates. I think older characters are definitely underrepresented in the romance genre (MF/MM), which is a bit odd because as a reading/writing community a lot of us are in that age bracket. As someone born with “an old soul”, I’ve never really identified with the angst of twenty-somethings—even when I was a twenty-something! I personally find it very difficult to write credible young adults because I don’t have those ‘traditional’ YA experiences to draw on. And as someone comfortable in her forties, I have no burning desire to revisit that period of my life. I like to be able to relate to characters I read or write—and for me that probably means they will be older (so far they’ve ranged from late twenties to early fifties). In the case of this novel, I knew that my protagonist was going to be cynical and jaded, and I feel that’s something that comes with being older. There is also definitely a large part of me in Miles. So much of the novel is wrapped up with my own experiences in being a mid-career employee who’s laid off that in a sense he became my alter ego.
Q Your main characters profession is something you don’t often see, again where did you get that idea and why?
Up until recently, I worked in an office building much like the one in the novel (in fact it’s my inspiration) and the security guards were fixtures–not to mention often the butt of friendly jokes. It is such a thankless job to sit there and not be able to interact with anyone. When I started thinking about writing a mystery, I didn’t want my character to be a cop or PI or special agent. That’s the standard route. I wanted him to be an everyday guy who gets mixed up in stuff beyond his control. As a writer you have a little more freedom to play fast and loose with the rules of mystery writing. The idea of a security guard seemed perfect, especially because it also tied in with Miles being laid off and unable to find a job and his perception that the job is beneath him.
Q. Is there a mystery involved or is this straight (pardon the word) romance?
He he he. There is definitely a mystery involved, but that’s not the focus and it’s pretty light. Actually, when I began writing, it was with the intention of it being a mystery with a romantic subplot, but along the way that flip-flopped. I’d say it’s 65% romance with 35% mystery.
Q. When you read romance, what twists do you like to see?
I love a good twist, but you don’t usually see that so much in romance. Sometimes you get these “ah ha” moments where an author might subtly imply or reference something unexpected. I love that moment of realization. I remember many years ago reading an Amanda Quick historical in which a pair of secondary characters were lesbians. It was implied so subtly that when it finally hit me I went “Oh wow, that’s why…”. What I don’t like are authors who jerk the characters around just to drag out the story and keep them apart.
Q. And do you incorporate those into your writing as well?
Not always consciously, but yes I do occasionally like to imply things or add in layers. Most readers probably don’t even notice it. In Rebound, because the whole story is told from Emmett’s point of view, you think it’s Emmett’s story. But when Sky says “You’re my Christmas miracle” it was intended to add a whole other dimension and make you suddenly look at things from his perspective. Also, depending on the story, I like to withhold information and reveal it later to heighten the emotion. In Touch Me, a short erotic novella I wrote and self-published, it starts out seemingly just about a guy giving erotic massages, but then when you find out about his personal situation, it changes the dynamic entirely.
Q. What drives your story as your are writing it, the plot or the characters or the romance? Or all of the above?
It’s a combination, and the balance between the three depends on the story. Character usually plays the largest role for me–even in Nights Like These, which I consider to be plot-driven, Miles is still a very strong character. It wouldn’t be the same story without him. I think if you have great characters, the romance becomes a natural extension.
Q Do you plot out your stories or do they change and morph as you write?
Again, it’s a combination. I like to have a rough plot or plan, but I try to be flexible if things start to change and to give the characters some freedom. Nights Like These is a perfect example. It was supposed to be a mystery, but Miles’ personality took over completely. My beta-readers indicated they were confused because it seemed like two different stories. My mystery loving friend said it was “too romantic”, and my romance reader found the mystery parts boring. Rather than try to force it into something it wasn’t, I finally accepted that the romance/ comedic aspects were stronger and did some rewriting to make the mystery secondary.
Q. Favorite story or author as a child?
Tough call. As a young child, my favorite was The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch. It’s about a princess who ends up rescuing herself instead of waiting on the prince. Considering this was written in the seventies, it is incredibly subversive. I still love the message of Paperbag Princess today. If I had kids I would definitely be reading that to them. Robert Munsch is an amazing kid’s author because of the way he writes for both kids and their parents. If you haven’t read Love You Forever, you definitely should, but be prepared with tissues. I still read this as an adult and bawl. You can listen to these stories for free on his website.
Q. What’s next for you as an author?
For now I’m concentrating on finishing my latest project (Happy) and also getting another novel (Until September) to publication. That should take me through most of 2015 at my current pace. After a year of unemployment I’m back to work full-time, so writing has to go back to second place. I’d like to target one book a year. Yes, that’s low compared to my peers, but it’s what I think I can comfortably manage and work full-time.
Eventually I’d like to move more into the gay fiction area—that is, fiction where the main character happens to be gay. I have a couple of ideas for romantic thrillers I’d like to try, and I that’s probably where I’ll focus for my next new project. They will definitely still have a romance angle, because I’m a born romantic, but they just won’t be as emotional and introspective.
CHRIS SCULLY lives in Toronto, Canada where she grew up spinning romantic stories in her head. When the tedium of a corporate day job grew too much, she took a chance and found her creative escape in writing. Always searching for something different, she has discovered a home in M/M romance and strives to give her characters the happy endings they deserve.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Starting over sucks. At forty, Miles Koprowski thought he had life all figured out. He had a nice car, a hot young lover, and a cushy job… and then he didn’t. Call it fate, or karma, or a downturn in the market, but this opinionated cynic is now forced to play rent-a-cop in a dying office building in the burbs just to make ends meet. Throw in an unhinged ex, a coworker who hates him, and a hot new boss, and suddenly everything is uncertain.
Miles doesn’t plan on liking the night shift or becoming embroiled in a mystery that reawakens old passions and puts him in danger. And he certainly doesn’t plan on falling for the overbearing head of security, Colton Decker, former soldier and doting dad. But nights like these can change a man, make him start to believe there’s more to life than a high paying job and a warm body in his bed. With a thief on the loose and his new job in jeopardy, Miles will have to decide what’s truly important. He might discover things he never knew he wanted… as long as he makes it through the night.
Categories: Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery
Nights Like These Excerpt:
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going, dumb—” I managed to sputter before my mouth stopped working entirely and dropped open. The ability to speak, to think, deserted me at the first sight of the hunky stranger standing in front of me, his face contorted with apology as he tried to mop up my sodden jacket with a handful of napkins. He was a few inches taller than me—closer to six feet—and on the stocky side. His broad shoulders filled out a nicely tailored suit, and he projected an air of confidence that I’d never be able to pull off in a million years.
He was clean-shaven too, with a dark buzz cut that made me long to run a hand over his head simply to feel the texture. And gorgeous. Did I happen to mention that?
In short, he was the kind of guy you’d want to be stranded with on a deserted island; the kind you could count on to save you. If you were so inclined. Me? I didn’t need saving.
A pair of friendly, light-colored eyes now stared back at me, bemused. Odd that his lips were moving, but no sound was coming out.
“What?” I asked, blinking back to attention. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had literally made me speechless. Me, Miles Koprowski, who never met a silence he didn’t want to fill.
Hell, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d been on the receiving end of a full-body pat-down either. At least not so quickly. His hands were still drifting over my chest, wiping up the last drips of coffee, and the simple touch was doing alarming things to my heart rate.
“Are you okay?” he demanded. “Did you get burned?” Before I could react, he seized my wrist and held my hand up for inspection. Strong, lightly calloused fingers, I added to my mental list. Working hands. Dumbly, I looked down. The skin on the back of my right hand was red and stung like a son of a bitch, but it wasn’t blistering. I did flinch slightly when he skimmed his thumb over the sensitive area, but not from pain, more from the touch itself. My entire body lit up, as though I’d stuck a finger in an electrical socket. “It doesn’t look too bad. I think you’ll live. Put some aloe on it when you get home.”
“Doctor?” I croaked, because really, that would be too perfect.
“Nope. Just seen a lot of injuries.” His lips twitched with barely contained amusement. “Sorry to disappoint you.” Sense of humor, check.
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