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Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.
Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.
Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.
Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.
As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.
Ok…*deep breaths*…we’ve got a good one here…here goes…
Welcome to Boys In Our Books, Heidi Cullinan!!!!
Heidi: Thanks for having me. :)
Susan: Heidi, how much can we gush about you and especially about this book “Love Lessons” before you officially get sick of us? :) We’re such fans of yours. “Dance With Me” had been my personal favorite…but “Love Lessons” has taken over! What a GREAT book!
Heidi: Aw, thank you. Dance With Me and Love Lessons are definitely from the same place in my brain, so I’m not surprised to hear those are your two faves.
Susan: Would you agree that this is a bit different than many of your other books? Were you aiming for a younger audience (it’s not technically YA, but could be considered as such)? Even the amount of “smexy” was toned down, I felt, in comparison to your other books.
Heidi: Yes, there’s definitely less sex. That wasn’t something I decided but more what the book turned out to be. I’d read a lot of young and new adult before last summer, and finally I couldn’t stand it, I had to play too. I’d meant it to be short (for me), more a 50-60k book, a simple category kind of college-set romance. It is still partly that, though a lot longer than originally intended, and the themes went a bit deeper than originally planned. I wasn’t aiming for anything in particular. I started writing it for me, and I finished writing it for my own personal Dr. Williams. The irony is he’s not paying attention to his Facebook right now, so I think when I get a hardcopy I’ll just mail it and see what happens.
Susan: There were so many GREAT and INTERESTING and LAYERED characters in the story. Were any of these inspired by specific people in your life? (And since he’s my favorite, was there an inspiration for the ADORABLE Kelly?)
Heidi: The only real life steal is Dr. Williams for my own undergraduate advisor, but even then it’s more the idea and the archetype than the person. I think I got a sandwich gag in there, which is a joke only Scholtz will get, but other than that just a few incidents and the idea of a mentor who replaces a parent is real. The college is partly my undergraduate alma matter, though only in a few instances, most notably the dorm requirement. That’s completely true, and it was just as aggravating for us as it was in the book.
Kelly is one of my archetypes. People who have read all my work will no doubt go, “Hey, he’s kind of like Sam Keller!” or they might think he’s a bit like Adam Ellery without so much anxiety. There are flavors of Laurie, and Frankie (who you haven’t met yet: wait for Novemeber) or Chenco (wait for April). These characters are all a bit me too, but I am not entirely convinced there is not some kindly star system beaming me this archetype because maybe I was nice to it once upon a time. I just hope they never stop, because I really love this character. Kelly and all his incarnations.
I’ll save Walter for your next question.
Susan: BTW, without spoilers, I just want to say the scene by the lake…Walter’s low point…just…powerful, emotional, beautiful. When you’re writing a scene like that, how much of your own emotions come out? Were you feeling everything Walter was feeling before and after Kelly’s arrival?
Heidi: Walter. Oh, dear Walter. I joke and say that Walter is Randy Jansen’s white collar younger cousin, which is probably true, but since I always say Randy Jansen is the most me of all my characters, this means also that Walter is me. He’s also a subconscious homage to Damon Suede–who, incidentally, also loves Randy Jansen. So there’s that.
Mostly Walter’s conflicts are sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly the ones I faced in college. He handles things differently than I did and has a better front, but let’s suffice it to say I faced and buried a few old demons writing this book. Which was why it didn’t stay a sweet, simple category. I think I kind of suck at that, so I’ll stop trying and leave it to the experts. Much easier to read them than write them anyway.
Susan: Tell us about that FABULOUS cover!!!! (love, love, love it!)
Heidi: That is the work of the briliant Kaxana at Samhain. I believe my wonderful, perfect, amazing editor Sasha Knight helped with some of the direction of the images, but mostly that’s Kaxana saying, “Can I make the cover a little gay?” and me saying, “Honey make it as gay as you want.” The result, of course, was nothing but fabulous.
Susan: What’s next on the docket for you? Will you write any more Tucker Springs books? Any more collaborations in the pipeline?
Heidi: It’s my plan to write a Tucker Springs story, but I’ve had some health setbacks and so my schedule is very flux at the moment. Nothing is for sure, so we’ll have to wait and see. The one thing I can tell you is to settle in and wait. It won’t be anytime soon, if it happens at all.
My WIP at the moment is a sequel to Love Lessons. I had no plans to write one initially, but I’m loving this story and am so glad it’s next on my docket. This is a new set of characters but Walter and Kelly show up and are secondary. It is possible the novel is titled Fever Pitch but don’t get attached. It is also possible Walter and Kelly get married at the end of Fever Pitch, or during or something, but don’t get attached to that either. Right now that book is dragging me backward through hell, alternating the days my body plays field hockey with itself, so mostly all I know is that it’s set in Minnesota, that Walter and Kelly are in it, and that there’s a lot of singing and playing of violins. Though I can tell you that one opened up with a very hot makeout scene at the lake, so it’s not like I’ve forgotten how to write sexy.
Susan: Before you go, we do have to ask…WHAT’S THE STORY WITH THE CAT VIDEO??? (I mean, the staring contest WAS hilarious!) But, how did it go viral and get as popular (Walter & Glinda were in Huffington Post for goodness sakes!) as it had?
Heidi: All that happened was that I videotaped our cats being their usual idiot selves, was too lazy to click the FB link and uploaded to YouTube instead. The next morning I woke up to offers to buy it, and it was on the Huffington Post by the afternoon. My daughter saw it on her first day of school on some CNN Student Edition broadcast. She was really pissed when the kids didn’t believe those were her cats.
What’s really interesting is that all these people added my channel, as in subscribed. My channel except for that video is nothing but book trailers for gay romance. I wasn’t really planning on making a Love Lessons trailer, but I so very am now.
Susan: Wait…your cat’s name is WALTER? And the MC’s name is WALTER? Discuss.
Heidi: When I’m setting up a story, I pick the names. Sometimes I’m deliberate and search Behind the Name, but sometimes I just sort of poke around in my head or what’s in front of me. (Crabtree and Evelyn from Double Blind was because there was a bottle of lotion on the desk.) Walter usually sits beside my desk in this cat stand thing. I looked over, thought, that’s a good name, and there it was. Kind of a dumb story, but it’s what I’ve got.
Susan: Heidi! We so loved having you join us here! Can’t wait for more books! AND FOR EVERYONE, you MUST read “Love Lessons”!!!
Heidi: I loved being here! This was really fun. I’ll go off and write some more books now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state’s LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/heidicullinan
1 ecopy of LOVE LESSONS
1 Car Charm