Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Cover art: Reese Dante
Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton here today talking about their new release Second Hand.
~ A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton ~
How much of yourself goes into a character?
Marie: A little piece of me goes into every single one, but how much varies from character to character. For most of them, it’s only small, random things, like their pet peeves or their favorite drink. Others have more. Trey from Family Man had a lot of my real life experiences, and Cody from Trailer Trash had a lot of my “not fitting in” teenage angst.
Heidi: I’d agree that it’s mostly random things. I’ve had a few I identify strongly with, but no one has ever felt like a self-insert. They definitely end up with a lot of my personal stories and things I’ve witnessed/experienced, but it’s a real remix. For Second Hand, honestly, I’m the one who had El’s family making tamales, but that was all research. I’d never made them myself. Now I can make them like a pro and have had tutoring by people who know their stuff, and my tamales aren’t half bad. But at the time I wrote that, it wasn’t even borrowed from my experiences.
Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?
Marie: I’m going to be honest here — I despise research. My degree is in history, so it seems like something I should love, but I don’t. Which is why I mostly write contemporaries. Every time I’ve started writing something historical, I got bored and shifted it to an AU instead, largely so I could just make shit up and not have to do research. (Song of Oestend and Release being prime examples.)
Heidi: I research everything because it makes me feel grounded. I usually only write about something I have at least some familiarity with, but even then I’m always investigating. I don’t think it plays a role in my choices, but it does vary by project. Interestingly some of the least research I had to do was for Clockwork Heart, which I thought would have the most. There my biggest problem was all the dang languages.
Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?
Marie: Never. Growing up, I mostly read fantasy, with a smattering of horror, scifi, and mysteries in between. Back in about 2008, I read Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series. At the end of the second book, the two male protagonists become lovers, and I was blown away. So I started looking for more fantasy books with gay protagonists. I slid down a slippery slope into gay romance. I spent about a year reading every one I could get my hands on (which was only a few, really, because I was still reading paperbacks). Then, in 2009, I wrote my first book (Promises), and I haven’t read a romance since then (except for a handful that I’ve beta read for friends). These days, I primarily read thrillers and mysteries, with a bit of horror and fantasy in between.
Heidi: I started reading Harlequins in the library and sneaking them into checkout when I was a teenager, but I didn’t start formally reading romance until my choir teacher handed me A Knight in Shining Armor and told me I should read it. I really loved both the adventure and the female-centered adult story, plus the guaranteed HEA. In college I read a lot of them on the weekends after reading dead white men all week (I was an English major). Nowadays I still read romance, but I also read fantasy, Japanese fiction, and Japanese and Chinese manga and light novels.
Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?
Marie: Yes, I did this with Trailer Trash. I originally started it back in about 2011. But then I knew it was going to get heavy and angsty, so I put it aside for several years. I finally went back and finished it in late 2015. I loved those boys too much to leave them hanging.
Heidi: A lot of my stories take years to write because I get to spots where it’s like their a pudding that needs to set up. Sometimes I need to think about it, sometimes I need to wrestle with it, and sometimes I need to forget about it and come back. It’s never been because I was overly emotional about it, but sometimes I see what I have to do to it and think, I’m not ready for that. Antisocial was probably the most difficult. Honestly part of me wanted another six months on that one, but sometimes you have to write the book when you have to write the book. But this is why The Roosevelt series takes so long. Those books really make me sit and ponder stuff. I feel like I’ve been having an argument with David for three years now.
Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?
Marie: My favorite is Song of Oestend, and its sequel, Saviours of Oestend. They have everything I love writing — friends to lovers, opposites attract, role reversal, a redeemed bad boy, and a touch of BDSM. And they have things I don’t get to write often — burly cowboys, paranormal elements, and an alternate universe setting.
Heidi: Double Blind is always my favorite, though while I wrote it Antisocial was. I began to get unwell as it was published and promoted, though, so it’s lost some of its luster for me with time. But pretty much Double Blind for life.
Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story? Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?
Marie: I don’t do this often, but yes, it has happened. Back in 2012 or so, Heidi and I started writing a book together. It was supposed to be just for fun — not necessarily to publish — and without really deciding to, I ended up dumping a whole lot of myself into that. All my issues growing up with an addict, and then as an adult, watching my mother’s addiction catch up to her, seeing her in the hospital over and over again, dealing with the constant victim mentality — I dumped it all into that book. In hindsight, it was quite cathartic. And I’m glad Heidi talked me into publishing it after all. (But it’s not Second Hand. It’s the other book we wrote together — Family Man.)
Heidi: Yeah, I don’t set out to do it, but I talk to myself a lot while I write, and I hate chaos, so writing is a way to put order to things. The books I’m finishing up now feel to me like my way of creating a place/world I don’t know is possible to exist, yet I enjoy feeling like here, it could. I don’t try to overtly work through stuff, though. In fact, I work to avoid it. It just happens to me. I feel like if I deliberately attempt to address an issue, it comes out a mess.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Marie: I’m currently finishing up Spare the Rod, the third book in the Heretic Doms Club series. I have one more to write after that, to finish the series. But first, I have to squeeze in a new Tucker Springs book.
Heidi: I’m finishing up edits on the last of the Copper Point: Medical series out this year from Dreamspinner, and then I finally, finally get to write the books I was supposed to write in 2017, starting with Rebel Heart. Somewhere in there I have to write another Tucker Springs book, but I’m hoping to produce at least two indie works first. 2019 will be the Year of the New Books for me.
Check out Second Hand, revised and re-edited, re-releases on January 8, 2019 from Dreamspinner Press. We hope you enjoy it!
A Tucker Springs Novel
Paul Hannon flunked out of vet school. His fiancée left him. He can barely afford his rent, and he hates his house. About the only things he has left are a pantry full of his ex’s kitchen gadgets and a lot of emotional baggage. He could really use a win—and that’s when he meets El.
Pawnbroker El Rozal is a cynic. His own family’s dysfunction has taught him that love and relationships lead to misery. Despite that belief, he keeps making up excuses to see Paul again. Paul, who doesn’t seem to realize that he’s talented and kind and worthy. Paul, who’s not over his ex-fiancée and is probably straight anyway. Paul, who’s so blind to El’s growing attraction, even asking him out on dates doesn’t seem to tip him off.
El may not do relationships, but something has to give. If he wants to keep Paul, he’ll have to convince him he’s worthy of love—and he’ll have to admit that attachment might not be so bad after all.
Tucker Springs Series
About the Authors:
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Colorado Eagles and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one teenage daughter, one adorable dog, and one very stupid cat, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
Marie also writes dark dystopian erotic fantasy under the name A.M. Sexton. You can find her at http://mariesexton.net/, and on Facebook and Twitter.