Just The Way You Are (Just Life #4) by E E Montgomery
Release Date: April 17, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing E E Montgomery author of Just the Way You Are.
Hi EE, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
I’m very lazy. I also like to achieve things. It took me some time but I finally worked out that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. I just have to work out the easy way of doing things for the best results. Organisation is the key. When I focus, I’m completely focused, so I try to achieve as much as I can during that time, because as soon as I stop, I stop completely and become distracted by anything that floats by. Ooh, shiny. I’m currently trying to bring a little more organization into my writing because I think it’ll speed the process, but I have to be careful not to organize myself out of the chase. I write because I have to find out what happens. If I plot too carefully, I know how the story is going to end and I lose interest in it.
Part of liking to achieve things goes hand-in-hand with my constant need to know. That means I keep going back to school. I have four degrees—two undergrad and two post-grad—and I have numerous certificates that qualify me for various things (business administration, picture framing, therapeutic massage, plus others). I also take on part time jobs (on top of my usual full-time job) that will teach me something different. The last time I did that was several years ago when I wanted to learn about the jewellery industry and how jewellery was made. I ended up staying in that job for seven years. I’ve also, at various times, found out how fast food is prepared, how waiters work, how a small crops farm operates, and what a market stall owner does. I’m currently learning about property management.
It might sound cold, but I’ve used the same system when dating. I’ve dated people to learn about golf, sprinting, wine, theatrical performance, tax laws, and costuming among other things. My current partnership began because I wanted to learn about ballroom dancing. This one has stuck.
Writing is another way of fulfilling my need to know. When I get an idea, I have to find out what happens.
Just the Way You Are is the fourth book in the Just Life series. When I started the series, I had no idea I was writing more than a short story with an unhappy ending, but every time I got to know the characters, and met a few more, I wanted to know their stories too. This last book is Jonathan’s story.
Jonathan has lived with Anthony for ten years. Anthony is selfish, dishonest and abusive and Jonathan hasn’t been happy for a long time. He stays because he feels responsible for Anthony being in a wheelchair, and he can’t see any alternative. At the end of the third book, Just in Time, Anthony attempts to kill Jonathan and then himself. It takes that violence for Jonathan to understand he has to make a different choice with his life, or die. The opening scene of Just the Way You Are is of Jonathan, only just out of hospital, moving out of the house he shared with Anthony. This is his journey from downtrodden, frightened abuse victim, to the man he once thought he could be.
- Give us an interesting fun fact about your book or series:
Jonathan’s apartment is based on a building in New Farm, Brisbane. The apartment was for sale a couple of years ago and I entertained fantasies of buying it as an investment. It’s an old building and the apartment had wonderful original features and magnificent polished wood floors.
Just so you know, fantasizing about buying investment properties happens regularly with me.
I’ve pasted an image here of something similar. The image is from: http://www.realestate.com.au/property-unit-qld-new+farm-119850141
- How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I find titles incredibly difficult to choose—or incredibly easy. I like to have a title that has some relevance to the story and resonates with it or me. I’m a character-driven writer and my titles reflect that. Generally, my titles reflect something about the character’s life or the core of their personality. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it very wrong.
The Just Life series grew from the first story Just His Type. After the second one, Just Like a Date, fell neatly into place with the ‘Just…’ part, I deliberately looked for titles beginning with Just. The series name was obvious to me because I was writing about something that was just life, nothing anyone else couldn’t also experience at some time.
Ordinary People, as a title, came to me within the first paragraph of writing. It had no other incarnations. Vinnie is such an ordinary person that you’d never think there’d be anything extraordinary about his life. He’s a study in contrasts from macro to micro, and I like that the title foreshadows the contrasts. It’s a good title and I can’t think of another one that would work better, but it would also be a good title for a series.
In Another Life came directly from Katy Perry’s The One That Got Away. I had the title before I had any of the story.
My historical stories have been difficult to choose titles for. Both Between Love and Honor and The Courage to Love began life as something else entirely. Between Love and Honor was originally submitted as My Heart is Broken but luckily was changed before publication. The Courage to Love started life as From Over There, a disaster of a title. I didn’t settle on the current title until I’d finished the book and was onto the third version in my editing before submission.
One of my disaster titles is What About Him. That’s the question that ran through my head the whole time I was writing the story but it stopped me thinking beyond that question when it came to choosing a title.
- Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
This is Jonathan’s journey from downtrodden, frightened abuse victim, to the man he once thought he could be. He doesn’t DO anything that most other people don’t do every day, but it’s all incredibly difficult for him. To give an example, this is a conversation between Jonathan and his cousin Liam:
“I know you’re scared. That doesn’t make you weak. I’m scared too—about Mark—but I’m not going to let that stop me getting what I know will be the best thing that has ever happened to me. Whatever obstacles Mark and I stumble across, I’ll work through them with him.” He held his hand up to forestall Jonathan’s reply. “I know it’s not the same thing. I don’t have the horror of Anthony living inside my head. What I’m saying is, it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from. Starting something new is bloody terrifying, but if you take control right from the beginning and know where you want to be by the end, I think you’ll have a better chance of getting it.”
Nope. Not helping. It was still as scary as hell. Jonathan’s head was whirling. Deciding between beef and chicken for dinner was too much for him. No way would he be able to decide anything about Ben. Would Ben be expecting a decision from him? Could Jonathan put him off? Just for a while. And there he had his answer. He could barely cope with making day-to-day decisions for himself. Trying to make a potentially lifechanging decision about Ben would send him to the loony bin.
- What do you think makes a good story?
I was once told, in their simplest form, there are only one hundred different plots to write. If that’s true, and given there are more than a hundred great stories out there, it stands to reason that greatness is in the telling. As an example, I’ll use the Harry Potter series. I don’t think there’s anything special in the writing in those books. A couple of them could have been half the length and still been good. What makes those books stand out from others is twofold: J.K. Rowling is an exceptionally good story teller, and she hit the niche when the audience was looking for it (most of that was because she persevered).
Good stories could also be good for some people and not for others, because the characters’ journeys resonate with something personal for them.
It’s that connection with the reader, whether it’s personal or something they’re now ready to read, that makes a story good.
- What does your family think of your writing?
I have mixed reactions from my family. One of my sisters is incredibly excited for me to be writing and getting published. She has no problems with the genre or the content. My mother has read all of the books that have come out in print. She liked The Courage to Love because she grew up in the area where it was set and says I got the history right. She acknowledges the books are about two nice boys but makes no other comment than that (not that I’d expect my 86 year old mother to talk openly about sex). Just to be clear, she hasn’t always been so accepting. It’s been a long road to this stage. Most of the others offer me a cross between embarrassed acknowledgement and pretending that part of my life doesn’t exist at all. I always let them know when I have a new release. They’re pleased that I’ve found my passion and am enjoying my life, and they’re incredibly grateful I use a pseudonym. They all love me in their own way and have come to accept that I tread my own path.
After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.
He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap. For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.
Pages or Words: 70,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.
The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.
At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him. Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan… Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.
He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him. The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.
The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.
Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.
A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.
The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.
“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.
Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground. Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body. The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.
About the Author
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.
Where to find the author:
You can contact E E Montgomery at email@example.com; on
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on
Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her
Website: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and
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Tour Dates & Stops: April 20 – May 1, 2015
14-Sep Bayou Book Junkie, Mikky’s World of Books, Divine Magazine, Hearts on Fire
21-Sep Kimi-Chan, V’s Reads, Love Bytes
28-Sep My Fiction Nook, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Happily Ever Chapter
5-Oct Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Bike Book Reviews
12-Oct Velvet Panic, 3 Chicks After Dark
19-Oct Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
26-Oct Prism Book Alliance
2-Nov BFD Book Blog
9-Nov Emotion in Motion
16-Nov Inked Rainbow Reads
23-Nov Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy
30-Nov Jessie G. Books