Slim Chance by Jeff Erno
Cover art by L.C. Chase
Available for Purchase at
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jeff Erno here today. Welcome, Jeff!
Thank you for hosting me on Scattered Thoughts. I’m thrilled to be promoting the release of my brand new novel, Slim Chance, which is a gay romance featuring a couple of unconventional main characters. Oliver is a twentysomething computer programmer who’s been battling obesity his entire life. His love interest, Benjy, is his coworker, and Benjy carries his own baggage. He suffers from severe social anxiety. With Benjy’s help, Oliver sets out to lose weight and become a new man. In the process, he and Benjy fall in love, but Oliver ultimately must decide if Benjy still fits within Oliver’s new lifestyle as a much trimmer man.
- How much of yourself goes into a character?
I’ve recently determined that it’s more than I intended or realized at the time I was writing. I’ve never set out to write autobiographies, but I can see at least fragments of myself within many of my protagonists. Certainly in my earliest works—Trust Me, Dumb Jock, and Puppy Love—I didn’t even attempt to conceal the ways in which I related to the main character. Much of the backstory, setting, and personality for each of these characters were drawn from my own experience. As I continued writing, expanding my subject matter, I featured a lot of characters who were very different than me. Then most recently I’ve written a few books featuring older protagonists (Baggage, The Escort, Speedy Rewards) and these stories have characters who are in many ways similar to the middle-aged version of myself.
- Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?
I envy authors who have the types of minds that absorb details. I think you have to be like this in order to write a believable, realistic historical novel. I think a lot of it has to do with personal interest. If you’ve watched a lot movies from a certain setting or era, or if you’ve read a lot of books, fiction or non, about a time period, and you have one of those minds that stores all the details for easy recall, then your work is going to appear more polished. In my case, I usually stick to contemporary stories. I don’t have great recall like that. Most of the research I do is about specific things in contemporary society, and most of the information I find online with Google searches. Sometimes I consult with an expert within an industry or a profession.
- Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?
As a teenager I read books like SE Hinton’s The Outsiders and a lot of Stephen King novels. By the time I was a young adult I was reading sci-fi and bestselling romance authors such as Danielle Steele and Jackie Collins. Once in a while I’d lay my hands on a gay-themed story but they usually were not romances. Bookstores carried gay books in the “Gay/Lesbian Studies” section, and most were biographies or non-fiction. Then I finally discovered gay fiction, and this was back in the day when Armistead Maupin, Paul Monette, and Andrew Holleran were just becoming famous. Though they wrote fiction, they definitely didn’t pretend their books were romances. A little later, I joined a book club where I was able to select “gay literature” as my preferred genre and became aware of a brand new set of authors, some of whom actually did write romantic and/or erotic gay stories. My favorite was Chris Kenry. He was the very first author who wrote gay romance that even come close to resembling the kinds we see today in m/m. I think he was published by Kensington, and they were one of the few larger publishers who took a chance on gay-themed fictional stories. Christopher Rice was another author who was writing romantic themed gay stories before m/m emerged. And I could provide a long list of examples thereafter of authors that paved the way for us to transition making gay literature more mainstream. M/M romance actually emerged online out of fanfiction and slash fiction. And some of the early m/m romance publishers (like Dreamspinner—read their history on their website) began with an idea to publish romance books that exclusively featured gay characters.
- Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?
Not all my stories are “romances” per se, but they all have happy endings. I’ve never been able to write a story without an HEA.
Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?
I read a lot of heterosexual romances and any gay romances I could lay my hands on, but at the time, there weren’t many available.
- Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?
Interestingly, my “favorite” changes. It’s sort of like asking me to choose a favorite period of my life. Dumb Jock and Trust Me remind me of my teenage years. Puppy Love takes me to a place when I was deeply in love with a very controlling man—it’s very bittersweet. Baggage contains every ounce of regret I’ve ever felt in my life and feels like a baring of my soul. Speedy Rewards reminds me of a group of coworkers I loved with all my heart. The story I probably would choose as the one I want to be most remembered is Final Destiny. It’s not the most read or highest rated, and it’s not a romance, but I think it’s my best work.
- What’s next for you as an author?
I just completed an m/m romance featuring a pediatric nurse and a police detective who fall in love while working together to solve a murder case. I’ve started a YA novel featuring a teenager with telekinetic powers who uses a magical remote control gifted to him by his witchly aunt to attract a boyfriend. I also just finished a Christmas story and have a dystopian, a BDSM erotic story, and another romance in the works.
Can a man improve his appearance without losing everything good inside him?
Oliver has always been obese and suffered from a negative body image. He’s tried diets before, failing time after time, but he vows this time will be different. As he begins an exercise program, his confidence increases—and so does his interest in his friend and coworker Benjy. Though they bonded long ago over a love of online gaming, it takes a lot of courage for Oliver to share his new body and be intimate with another man.
A passionate romance blooms, but as Oliver nears his goal, it seems he doesn’t need Benjy—with his chronic anxiety and troubled past—now that he’s made attractive new friends at the gym. But not all relationships are equal, and Oliver realizes that Benjy, who loved and supported him when no one else did, is more than a reminder of his old life.
A pleasing appearance means nothing when it hides a lonely, empty heart, and if Oliver cannot decide what’s truly important, he’ll lose what he cherishes most.
About the Author
Jeff Erno currently lives in southern Michigan. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and human resources. Jeff began writing stories in the late 1990’s and initially posted them to a free online amateur website. The positive feedback he received from readers encouraged him to continue, and this eventually led to the publication of his first novel, Dumb Jock. Erno has subsequently published several other novels.
His greatest passion in life is writing, and he hopes to be able to continue sharing his work with readers worldwide.