j. leigh bailey On Writing, Romances, and her new release Fox Hunt (Shifter U #4) (author interview, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Fox Hunt (Shifter U #4) by J. Leigh Bailey

Dreamspinner Press
Published July 2nd 2019

Cover Art: Aaron Anderson

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with J. Leigh Bailey

I’d like to start with a big “Thank you!” to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me here today to celebrate the upcoming release of Fox Hunt, the fourth book in my Shifter U paranormal series.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain? To get away? To move past? To widen your knowledge? Why do you write?

 

I write for the same reason I read: ESCAPE. Honestly, sometimes the real world sucks—you just have to turn on the news or review your Twitter feed to see this—but books, especially romance novels, provide an escape like no other. As a reader, I love knowing that no matter what happens to my characters, no matter what challenges they face, or how bad the bad guy is, there will be a Happy Ever After. As a writer, it’s very much the same. One of the frustrating parts of watching the news or seeing people be hateful to and about each other, is how helpless it can make you feel. There’s only so much a person can do, and sometimes it feels like it’s not enough. As a writer, I take back some of that control. Sure. I can make the world my characters live in tough, but then, with a few strokes of my fingers, I can make it all right again. I add a little heart ache and a dash of angst, but then I turn around and create love. There’s nothing more rewarding than creating a world of love and hope, even if it’s fiction. Sometimes, especially because it’s fiction. As a writer, I can create that same escape mechanism that I’ve relied on as a reader. Now, hopefully other can escape reality for a while in a world of my choosing, in a world where love and hope really can conquer all.

Have you ever had an issue in real life and worked through it by writing it out in a story?

 

I’ve been battling depression since I was a teenager. For years, I used romance novels to avoid dealing with the negative thoughts and emotions in my head. Novels were an escape, for sure, but they also became a crutch—and not necessarily a healthy one—for me. Eventually I learned better coping mechanisms (counseling, antidepressants, exercise, etc). One of the things that works really well for me is writing. I’m a huge believer in using writing—whether it’s journaling, poetry, short stories, novels, etc.—as a way to help cope with depression and anxiety. What it does for me—and others—is allow us to process different situations, thoughts, and scenarios with some emotional distance. I can take some of the negative emotions inside myself, give them to another character, and let them deal with it for a while. This distance enables me to stop internalizing things and to apply logic to an emotional situation. I discovered one of my emotional triggers almost by accident when writing one of my books. And as soon as I realized what I’d written, and what my characters were doing, I had a better understanding of myself. And with that distance, I learned to recognize my own triggers before I had too much time to get sucked into the downward spiral. It’s not a cure-all by any means, but writing has given me the means to process things in a healthier way.

Do you/did you read romances as a teenager and as an adult?

 

Yep. I was the girl who had my nose in a book—a ROMANCE book—all through middle school and high school, up through my adulthood. I was the one whose 7th grade English teacher wanted to know if my mother knew what I was reading (the answer is yes, she absolutely did). I’d been known to have a romance novel with me at the ROLLER RINK(!) and at the football game (!). During high school I read in study hall, which taught me two things: First,  sex scene sound WAY different when read aloud by a 15-year-old boy than they do in your head; Second, in historical romances of 350-450 pages written in the early/mid-90s, there is always a sex scene on page 200. I was (and am) the lady in the office breakroom reading a different romance novel every day at lunch. It was more obvious back in the day when people could see the cover of the book, but in this age of digital, it just looks like I’m one of the many people staring at my phone.

 

What’s next for you as a writer?

 

I’ve got a couple of projects I’m really excited about. The first is a male/male light sci-fi series that takes place on a brothel star cruiser which is actually the undercover base for a secret militia. It’s tropey and fun. Definitely a romance set in space vs. a sci-fi novel with romantic elements (believe me, there’s a difference!) I have a demisexual prince, a courtesan-trained mechanic, a naïve scientist, a cynical smuggler, a pansexual prince, and a drag queen general, all bent on saving the galaxy.

Here’s the series blurb:

 

The SuperNova Galactic Brothel is the premier pleasure cruiser of the Su’Mar galaxy, a shining beacon in a star system at the edge of war. The elite from every star system frequent the establishment because they know Madame Nova’s courtesans and amenities are the best, bar-none. But beneath the glitzy and glamorous façade, a secret lurks—one that might be the galaxy’s last bastion of defense against the Order of Nammu.

 

Long thought a rumor, the Order of Nammu has been systematically destabilizing the galaxy for years—influencing, instigating, menacing—and now the galaxy is on the brink of collapse. When the Order’s operatives infiltrate SuperNova, a hidden battle station is revealed and the galaxy is thrust into war.

 

The three Adan brothers, princes of the planet Enkhi, are called upon to rally the galaxy’s leaders, marshaling them into war. Along the way, they fall for the unlikeliest of partners—men who are inappropriate matches for a prince, but whose love allows each brother to discover new strengths needed to overcome the threat of the Order of Nammu and save the galaxy’s inhabitants.

 

The second project I’m working on is a contemporary gay YA novel, which I’m pitching as the movie Juno meets Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It’s got a little angst, a little humor, a little romance, and a character coming to terms with the sacrifices required to be a parent—especially as an underage dad.

 

BLURB

 

A Shifter U Tale

Outfoxing their enemies will be a bear of a task.

Aspiring journalist and fox shifter David ends up with a target on his back after hacking the Moreau Initiative, the shifter world’s greatest enemy. But he won’t let that stop him from the campus tour road trip that’ll help him become the next Anderson Cooper… even if his family insists he travel with a grumpy grizzly bear bodyguard.

Buddy Brady is older, sexy, and too damn distracting for David, and as the sexual tension builds, so does the suspicion around the repeated attacks—first in Chicago, then in New York. Someone is tracking them, and all clues point to a traitor in the shifter ranks. Worst of all, they could be after David’s family….

Excerpt:

The hotel I’d chosen was… rough.

Buddy was less polite. “This place is two beers shy of a murder-suicide.”

“I didn’t take you for a snob,” I said, even as I sort of agreed with his assessment. To call the place fleabag would be giving it too much credit. “Besides,” I added, “we’re at the height of tourist season. We’re lucky to find a room anywhere, let alone one for less than a hundred bucks a night.”

“If this place is a dime more than twenty-five dollars, you’re paying too much.”

“I tried to tell you we should have kept going to Sioux Falls.” Thanks to the early start, there was plenty of daylight left, and Sioux Falls was only an hour farther down the line. Buddy had put the kibosh on that, reaching over to press the twitching muscle of my forearm. “You’ve been stretching your back for the last two hours, and twice you got a charley horse in your foot.”

So, yeah, I gave in. I’d been sore, and driving that long nonstop took a surprising amount of energy. Which is how we ended up in terrifyingly run-down motel near the interstate that smelled of smoke and desperation.

It had been a long night. Long and enlightening.

I learned two things from sharing a room with Buddy. First, he slept in soft cotton shorts and a tank top that showed exactly how broad his shoulders were. And second, he snored. The snoring didn’t even bother me, which I guess could be called a third thing I learned. Actually, the heavy breathing was oddly comforting.

I’m not exactly sure what woke me up after I’d finally fallen asleep sometime after three thirty. Maybe noise from a passing semi or a slamming door somewhere in the motel. Whatever it was, I pried my gritty eyes open and promptly squeezed them shut again. Only to open them in awe.

Buddy was… he was… holy shit, I had no words.

On the floor at the foot of his bed, he rested on his knees, his body bowed backward, hands gripping his ankles. It was… obscene? Crazy? Sexy as fuck?

And this was the exact moment my generalized awareness and attraction became straight-up perving. With the way he contorted his body, his pelvis thrust forward, and his thin cotton shorts left nothing to the imagination. He released his ankles and slowly flowed forward, reversing his arching body until his palms lay flat on the carpet in front of him. Then he lifted first one knee, then the other, until his body made a perfect inverted V, his ass on full display.

I may have drooled a little. Because, damn.

Buddy the grumpy grizzly shifter did yoga. I had no idea that a burly man working through yoga poses would be more exciting to me than a lap dance at a strip club.

“You should join me,” he said.

I’m not sure what word I meant to say, but an inarticulate grunt was my response. Because if by joining him, he meant letting me drape myself over that massive—and bendy—body, then I was all in. But… “Wait, what?”

Buddy tilted his head meeting my eyes. “Yoga. It’s good for you. Centers your mind and body.”

“Yeah, it’s not my kind of thing,” I said, trying to keep my voice and my breathing even.

His shirt fell until it bunched up at his neck, giving me a clear view of that mile-wide back, and if I looked right, I got a good shot at his hairy chest. My heartbeat picked up.

“You should consider it.” His nostrils flared, and his eyes narrowed. His right hand slipped, and he fell forward, barely catching himself before face-planting into what was undoubtedly gross carpet.

Nope, nope, nope. This wasn’t happening. I forced myself to think of what a black light would pick up in this place. The floor was probably a Pollock painting of various bodily fluids. When even that wasn’t enough to push away the heat in my blood—and loins—I jumped up. “I’m more of a runner.” In more ways than one.

 

 

 

During my travels, I’ve stayed in a couple of …rough…hotels. How about you? Any vivid experiences at a hotel/motel you want to share?

 

**GIVEAWAY**

I’ll be giving away a digital copy of the Shifter U novel of your choice (Stalking Buffalo Bill, Chasing Thunderbird, The Night Owl and the Insomniac, or Fox Hunt) to a random commenter! Giveaway will close on July 18.

 

About the Author

  1. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending. For upcoming releases and appearances information, sign up for her newsletter athttps://t.co/FfL9gFVJLQ.

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