Piece Me Back Together Anthology
Authors: Raine O’Tierney, L.J. LaBarthe, Cate Ashwood
- All That Shimmers by Raine O’Tierney
- Swimming With Elephants by L.J.LaBarthe,
- Red Runs Through by Cate Ashwood
Release Dates: May 6, May 13, and May 20
My “Q and A” with Cate Ashwood, L.J. LaBarthe, and Raine O’Tierney
1. Just that title is heartrending…why such an anthology?
Cate: I think that the hurt/comfort theme is so relatable to so many people. Perhaps not to this degree, but most people have dealt with injury, or illness, or loss in their lives.
2. Hurt/comfort is a trope some readers love and others avoid, is this something you all personally enjoy reading as well as writing?
Cate: It’s true, and there are some elements of some of these stories that might not appeal to everyone. My story, for example, has a character that is HIV positive and I knew that some readers might dismiss the story for that reason alone, but it was for that very reason that I felt it was a story that needed to be told. I am so proud of this anthology because the subject matter could have so easily become dark or depressing, but all three of these novellas have an undercurrent of hope and lightness to them.
Personally, I love the hurt/comfort trope. I think overcoming something like that makes the HEA that much sweeter.
3. How did this anthology come together?
RO: Ooh! I’m glad I got this question because it means I can gush. Basically, I really, really wanted to do something collaborative with Cate and L.J. because…well…ZOMG. So talented! And I love collaborative projects and the meshing and melding of minds. So I asked and they said yes. It was a whirlwind of ideas, but our theme “healing” was quickly decided upon and it just flew from there. I’m forever grateful to these talented writers!
4. Did it start with the authors or subject matter?
RO: Oops! I over-answered the last Q! LOL! It started with the authors and then a brainstorming session that quickly led us to the healing theme which spoke so strongly to us all.
5. Imo, the order of the stories in any anthology needs to be thought out and logical, starting with a story to pull you into the right frame of mind and an especially strong and memorable one to end on. How important is order in an anthology? Who decides?
L. J.: I think it’s pretty important and I also think it’s important that the order be determined by a third party who isn’t so close to the stories as the authors are. The first anthology I worked on and pulled the authors together for was “Under the Southern Cross,” a set of five stories set in and about Australia. The story order was determined by our senior editor in consultation with me, and I think the way she figured it out worked really well, especially as there were several genres in the collection–historical, contemporary, dystopian and horror. With this one, I believe the order was again determined by the senior editor of the collection, and I think she’s done a terrific job.
6. What is the strongest hurt/comfort story or movie that you remember that left its greatest impact on you as a writer and reader/audience?
L. J.: This is going to be long, and I apologise in advance. I’m glad you said movies here, because I watch a lot of them and I tend to view them through the lens of “film/TV as a visual novel,” regardless of whether they’re based on a book or not. That probably stems from when I was at university studying Film Studies as part of my degree, and I find I get a lot out of a film that I didn’t prior to that. I also watch a lot of Bollywood movies, because I am a huge, huge fan of Bollywood, and I think that it’s a movie industry that often is dismissed for the fact every film has at least one song-and-dance musical routine. That doesn’t make every film a light-hearted fluff-filled romp, though–far from it. I’ve watched some of the most devestating dramas, the most hilarious comedies and the most romantic love stories from Bollywood, not to mention superhero films, historicals, James Bond-esque films and more.
So first is a film called “Haider.” It’s a reimagining of “Hamlet,” set in the modern era, during the purges in Kashmir in the 90s, which I knew very little about before this film. It is a gritty, heart-breaking film, and all of the cast are phenomenal in this, the writing is incredible and the inclusion of the two famous soliloquys fit so well into this piece that looks at race riots and police corruption. This was a heart breaking film, not just for Haider, the Hamlet character, but for his entire family and the woman he loves, the Ophelia character. So that’s number one. Number two is a piece called “Devdas” which is a torn apart by love and politics narrative, and involves the main character refusing to defend himself from a false charge which lands him, an Indian national, in a Pakistani prison. He does this to ensure the honour and safety of the woman he loves, who is Pakistani, who is unaware he’s done this and thinks that he’s dead, and she has gone to his family home in India to help set up an orphanage. When they reunite, it’s another tear-jerker and yes, both films made me a bit weepy. I highly recommend them both, though.
Book-wise, the one that leaps first to mind is the first “Infected” novel by Andrea Speed. The ending made me bawl like a baby, which I very rarely do with books, and it left a huge impression on me. She created wonderfully flawed, likable characters and then ripped out readers hearts, and did it leaving the reader with the desire to read the next book. I still bawled like a baby, though.
Finally, TV-wise, an Australian show called “Offspring” ripped out the hearts of all of its viewers with the death of a main character who died before his partner gave birth to their baby. Twitter was exploding with people watching it, screaming, and yes, I was one of them. The band The Offspring had to tweet to tell their fans, who were asking them, that no, no one had died, the band was all fine, the tweets were about a show with the same name. The show was set in a particular suburb in Melbourne, and the next day, the police station local to that suburb tweeted saying that no, there would be no inquest into the death of said character. Everyone in Australia who watched the show or knew someone who watched the show were great sports about it, as Twitter filled up with woe, tears and denial. That death was like a sucker-punch to the heart, and yep, once again, I bawled like a baby!
7. What’s next in store for each of you?
Cate: I have a new novel called The Storm Before the Calm that is coming out from Dreamspinner Press on June 5th. Here’s the blurb:
Charlie has one passion in life: dancing. It’s his salvation when it feels like the world is swallowing him whole. When his mom secretly secures him a spot in the summer intensive at the Free Rein Dance Company in New York, he is thrilled. He knows that once the summer ends, he’ll have to return to Beacon to get a job and help support his family, but for those two months, he can spread his wings.
In New York he meets Max, a junior instructor who is everything Charlie wishes he could be. Bold and self-assured, Max radiates pride in who he is. As they spend time together, Max shows Charlie what life can be like past the walls of his closed-minded home town. But Charlie doesn’t know if he’s ready to show the world who he truly is when standing in the spotlight is the last thing he wants.
RO: Next for me is my Love is an Open Road story from the 2015 Don’t Read in the Closet event! I submitted my *hella* late so I imagine it will be one of the last to be released. Other than that, I’m writing the sequel to last year’s Bowl Full of Cherries, co-writing an humorous adventure story, and considering finally tackling that one big “This will emotionally wreck me” story I’ve been putting off for, eh, 20 years? What’s another couple of weeks, right?
L.: For me, there is still a lot of editing to do. I have another three books due out this year, so there’s finishing up the edits on those. Two of those are the last two of the “Archangel Chronicles” novels, and the other is a co-authored book with Cate Ashwood. Then I hope to breathe and catch up on sleep a bit, then dive back in and finish the two works in progress that are glaring at me for ignoring them! One of those is a contemporary and the other is a paranormal. A full length contemporary called Waiting for the Moon and You has *just* been released through Dreamspinner as well, so I’m trying to do a bit of promo for that in between all the editing!
Piece Us Back Together Anthology:
Life can seem bleak for people suffering devastating injuries or illnesses of the mind and body, and every day can be a struggle. But sometimes, when hope seems in short supply, they find a reason to keep up the fight. The men in these stories face some of the most difficult challenges imaginable, but fortunately they won’t be facing them alone, because when everything seems darkest, a point of light appears. With compassion, understanding, and love, these hurt souls have a chance to piece the broken parts of their lives and themselves into something strong and beautiful. Love might even be able to mend the most serious wounds of all—those of the heart.
All That Shimmers by Raine O’Tierney
Beau Bell is a former Olympic hopeful, left paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. He has every reason in the world to be pissed off and miserable, yet he’s training for the Paralympics Men’s 100m—S6 division. The chair? Just a part of who he is now. Beau’s attitude is golden. If only he could contend with this one little issue: errant erections and no way to relieve them!
Nikša Meríc is a lonely scientist and really bad poet living underneath the old building where he does his research. Every night he watches his neighbor through his basement window as he undresses in his wheelchair. Although there is no apparent reason for Nikša to be unhappy, he’s struggled with depression his whole life and has tried to kill himself on multiple occasions.
When Beau proposes that his “voyeur” come over and help him experiment with the erections he can’t actually feel, the relationship they build is a sexual one. But the relationship they need is one that will heal each other’s heart as well.
Available May 6th, 2015
Swimming With Elephants by L.J. LaBarthe
After suffering a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, Garrett believes his life is over. Depressed, bereft, in pain, and unable to return to the career he loves as an arborist, he sees no hope or future for himself. But a trip to Havelock Island in India turns his world upside down. He meets Jai, an Indian nurse, and becomes smitten with him. Near the end of his trip, while swimming with an elephant, he tells Jai how he feels.
After Garrett returns to Australia, he wonders if he can ever be healed of all his pain—physical, emotional, and mental—and fears that love and romance will never be his again. But then Jai turns up in Perth and brings with him astonishing news.
Available May 13th, 2015
Red Runs Through by Cate Ashwood
Carter McClintock’s life is uncomplicated. For the past five years, he’s spent so much time in hospital scrubs that one day bleeds into the next, and that’s just the way he likes it. That is, until he meets Matthew Nolan. Carter has never had a patient affect him the way Matthew does. During Matthew’s stay in the hospital, the chemistry is unmistakable, and once he is discharged, Carter asks him out.
Despite the obvious attraction between them, Matthew’s HIV status keeps him from handing Carter his heart, refusing to believe anyone could ever truly want him. When Matthew’s past comes to light, their budding relationship is threatened before it has even begun. But Carter isn’t one to give up without a fight and he will do anything to show Matthew the lengths he will go to keep them together.
Pages or Words: Varies by book
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
Excerpt from Red Runs Through by Cate Ashwood
Carter looked at Matthew, and there it was. That moment of electricity that arced between them. Matthew didn’t let go of Carter’s hand, instead cradling it in his own. Carter inched closer and waited patiently to see if Matthew would do the same.
Slowly, they erased the space between them until they were a fraction of an inch apart.
“Carter,” Matthew whispered a sliver of a moment before Carter closed the last of the distance between them and pressed his lips against Matthew’s. For a moment, Carter thought Matthew was going to pull away, but then he kissed him back, his lips parting slightly and his tongue darting out to lick Carter’s bottom lip. Carter hummed his pleasure and opened for Matthew, letting him in and kissing him with everything he had.
It was a little bit fumbling and a lot sexy as they got their hands involved, touching and teasing one another until Matthew pulled back, pushing Carter away with a firm hand on his chest.
“I’m sorry, Carter, I can’t….”
Stunned, Carter didn’t know what to say other than, “Why not?”
Matthew sighed. “It’s not that I don’t want to. God, do I want to. But… you don’t know everything about me, and I can’t take advantage of you like that. You need to know if you’re going to make an informed decision about me.”
Carter’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion. “So tell me and I’ll make the informed decision to go back to kissing you. I like kissing you, Matthew. Actually, I like everything about you.”
“You don’t know that,” Matthew said sternly. He sat back on the couch and scrubbed his hands over his face.
“Tell me,” Carter said.
Matthew looked at him, his eyes wide, his face pale. “I’m HIV positive.”
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Goodreads Link: Piece Us Back Together – All That Shimmers – Swimming with Elephants – Red Runs Through
About the authors:
Raine O’Tierney lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Siôn O’Tierney. When she’s not writing, she’s either asleep, or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers! Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on M/M) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!
L.J. LaBarthe is a French-Australian woman, who was born during the Witching Hour, just after midnight. From this auspicious beginning, she went on to write a prize-winning short story about Humpty Dumpty wearing an Aussie hat complete with corks dangling from it when she was six years old. From there, she wrote for her high school yearbook, her university newspaper, and, from her early teens to her twenties, produced a fanzine about the local punk rock music scene. She loves music of all kinds and was once a classical pianist; she loves languages and speaks French and English and a teeny-tiny smattering of Mandarin Chinese, which she hopes to relearn properly very soon. She enjoys TV, film, travel, cooking, eating out, abandoned places, urbex, history, and researching.
L.J. loves to read complicated plots and hopes to do complex plot lines justice in her own writing. She writes paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary Australian stories, usually m/m romance and featuring m/m erotica. She has won a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention and another award for Best Historical Gay Novel.
L.J. lives in the city of Adelaide, and is owned by her cat.
Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot-pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after.
Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, her brand new little boy, and her two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.
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