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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kelly Jensen on tour with her latest novel, Chasing Forever. Welcome, Kelly.
If You Could Be Any Animal by Kelly Jensen
This post is another in a series I’ve written for all three books of the This Time Forever trilogy. To recap, in Building Forever, I decided that Charlie was most like a golden retriever and Simon wouldn’t mind being associated with a rare leopard. For Renewing Forever, Frank still hasn’t forgiven me for comparing him to an otter, but Tom said it first. For his part, Tom’s quite pleased with the choice of coyote. So what about Brian and Mal?
Mal’s actually pretty easy. I had his animal pinned down month ago. Easily, he’s a St. Bernard. To begin with, it was a bit of a whimsical choice. I sort of pictured Mal (in St. Bernard form) racing to the rescue of someone (probably Brian), barreling over a mountain landscape, never flagging, tongue lolling, handy little keg of something warm bouncing from his collar.
What? I’m a writer. I have a very active imagination. Also, I might have been drinking whiskey at the time and it’s definitely whiskey in that little keg. Tell me you don’t immediately picture the little barrel hanging from its neck when you think of a St. Bernard.
What really drew me to this particular breed, though, was their temperament. The St. Bernard epitomizes the phrase “gentle giant.” They’re large, loving, puppy dogs. They’re patient and sweet. They’re notably good with children. Like all large breeds, they do need proper exercise and socialization, and that could be why Mal is such a grump at the beginning of the book. Active people don’t do well with broken limbs.
Mal has a twin, Donny. They’re fraternal twins, alike enough in appearance to be brothers, but in no way identical. Physically, they’re similar, though, and Donny is as much a St. Bernard as Mal. Donny is the one who’ll grab you by the scruff of your neck when you’re lying half dead in the snow and drag you back down the mountain to a cozy little village so you can be fussed over. (I feel another book idea coming on…)
Donny is also the one who’ll drool all over you as he enthusiastically licks you clean. Or just says hello. Thankfully, Mal is a little bit more restrained. Or just shy.
So what about Brian? I had to think long and hard about Brian because he holds so much of his self close. He’s very guarded, which is odd when you consider how social he is. My first idea for him was a cat, but that felt too easy. Also, Simon was a cat and I didn’t want to give them the same animal. I started thinking about more secretive, furtive animals, but they didn’t feel right, either. Brian isn’t small and he’s not shy. He just has secrets.
I briefly considered giving him my own avatar, the mythical creature I most closely identify with: the phoenix. He does transform during this story and in a way, he does pass through a veil to return from the ashes of his past. But it felt a little unfair to give Brian something so magnificent when everyone else got regular creatures.
Brian, by the way, thinks it’s very fair. But he’s not writing this post.
But he is a bird. A golden eagle. I did hesitate to use an eagle, because they’re notably monogamous, or mostly so. But Brian is human, first of all, and not solely driven by the imperative to mate (not for the purpose of offspring, anyway). Secondly, he does desire just one partner. He’s not polyamorous, he’s just… not settled. His domestication starts the very minute he finds his nephew on his couch, though. Suddenly, Brian’s home is no longer just a house. It becomes a nest, and he begins the process of making it a safe place for Josh. He’d already set his sights on Mal, and Mal is just the sort of partner he’s always needed.
By the end of the book, Brian is very much an eagle. He has soared—and he knows exactly where his home and family is, meaning he will always return to his nest.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts. It’s fun to be whimsical with my characters, and so often after I finish a book and particularly a series, I miss hanging out with my guys. These posts have been an opportunity to revisit them for a while, as well as introduce them to you.
Chasing Forever is the final book in the series This Time Forever. Brian and Mal’s story is special in all sorts of ways. Even though these books all standalone, Brian has been there since the beginning–as the character everyone loved to hate in the first book, and the character who seemed to have more to him in book two. In this final story, I share who Brian really is, and hope you’ll all come to love him as much as I do. Then there’s Mal, his other half, my serious soldier who has been waiting all his life for a challenge like Brian. Sometimes we have to be knocked lower than ever before in order to reach that high, and Mal’s journey is one I treasure. I hope you enjoy reading this story of redemption and learning to live out loud.
About Chasing Forever
Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.
Now available from Riptide Publishing!
About the This Time Forever Series
Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.
This series includes:
- Building Forever — released October 15
- Renewing Forever — released November 12
- Chasing Forever — released December 10
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly:
To celebrate the release of Chasing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 15, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!