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Welcome, Amy Jo!
AJC: Thank you! And thank you for having me! I’m so excited for Real World to be out finally
So, before we go any further, can we talk about how AMAZING every single cover of this series has been? Simple, yet striking!
AJC: My cover artist at Samhain, Kanaxa, is absolutely amazing. She finds the most striking images for this series. It’s a thrill every time I get to do a new cover reveal. My March release is a pair of novellas that will be available both individually and packaged together as an anthology, so I get three new covers to show off in January. And one of them is beard-y. *sighs* I almost peed in my pants with excitement. I keep waiting for my publisher to say, “Hey, wait a minute…”.
Ok, we won’t ask you to pick your favorite of the series, that would be too cruel. :) But, this is Tom and Reese’s second go around…so what drew you to the continuation of their story?
AJC: A lot of my books in this series end with what I think of as a HFN ending. Happy For Now. When the protagonists are still in college, as much as they love each other and are committed to each other, there’s always a part of me that thinks, “Fingers crossed that this works out for them in the long run. I really hope it does.” OFF CAMPUS, Tom and Reese’s first book, definitely ended like that, and I just needed to write those guys a forever HEA. I am emotionally attached to that book in a way that doesn’t always happen. I mean, I love all my books, but some of them just linger more fully in my heart. OFF CAMPUS was like that, and I knew from the beginning that I wanted to revisit these two and get them their forever HEA.
And how many more stories in this series to you anticipate?
AJC: At least three more. The two novellas in March are about Austin and Vinnie, Rafi’s roommates from LEVEL HANDS. And I’m working on a book about Varun from THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. After that, we’ll see. The series has to end eventually, and I’ve got plans for all kinds of cool new stuff next year. But still…I’ve got a vague sort of plot for a poly f/m/f romance about Andie from NOTHING LIKE PARIS. Plus, now that I’ve got Tom and Reese settled, there’s a part of me that’s tempted to see what they’ll be like in another five years. But I don’t know, three books about those two might be pushing it!
This has been one of those series that has been FANTASTIC at representing all kinds of love. Has it been hard, either in the creative process OR in the reception of the books by the readership by being this diverse? In a nutshell, did you get any sh*t for crossing over? :)
AJC: Ha! I wouldn’t say I got any sh*t, but I did get a lot of readers emailing or messaging or tweeting me to say they wouldn’t be reading THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which is about Cash and Steph from OFF CAMPUS. And hey, I want people to read books they enjoy! Not books they feel obligated to pick up. But I also get emails from people who were thrilled to read a romance about a bisexual woman, especially because there’s a fair amount of talk in the book about being bi (Steph) or hetero-flexible (I think we have to give Cash that one after the threesome with Varun!). Those emails made me really happy. Of course, Tom is bi, so the series was never exclusively about gay men right from book one. In real life, my social circle is full of all kinds of people. Gay, straight, bi, trans, genderqueer, lesbian. It’s important to me to write books that reflect that part of my world. So, yes, there will be more m/f couples in my LGBTQ series. More lesbians! More trans folk! I’m an overachiever. I want to do it all.
You’re one of those authors that CRANKS out books. How do you DO it? How do you have the ideas, write them so quickly at such HIGH quality, promote them, and then start it all over again? Where do you get the energy?
AJC: I have no life. I mean, almost literally. And this isn’t a pace I can keep up forever. I’m well aware of that. But when I sold the Bend or Break series at the same time as my last couple of Harlequins, it felt like a “strike while the iron is hot” kind of moment. And then I got invited to participate in so many cool anthologies and collections, so the titles keep on piling up. But I’ve literally cut out about 95% of my social time to focus on work, and I miss my friends! I figure I have about another year in me of super intense work, and then I’ll need to slow down some in order to preserve my ability to breathe. I hope that I will have established myself with my audience by that point.
Also, housework? Only on special occasions. No joke. When things get really bad, I invite people I don’t know that well over for dinner, so Ihave to clean. This doesn’t work with friends. I have no shame with them.
If you were to complete the sentence: Readers who loved ______________ will definitely enjoy “Real World” (or the “Bend or Break” series as a whole).
AJC: Ahhh! This is hard! Let’s see…readers who loved Heidi Cullinan’s Love Lessons series (for the stories about a large group of friends), or Kaje Harper’s The Rebuilding Year (for its sequel following up with the same couple), or Amy Lane’s Christmas Kitsch (for Christmas sentimentality) will definitely enjoy Real World, and the series!
You’re also a prolific reader! yay! Can you give our followers recommendations (either m/m or m/f or any other combination!) for:
Hunky cowboy: My favorite cowboy books are Rowan Speedwell’s Love, Like Water, and ZA Maxfield’s cowboy series. Rowan is a terrific writer and a lovely person, and Love, Like Water is a terrific book about a battered ex-undercover cop trying to recover on a ranch from a brutal case. Maxfield’s books are kinkier, but I love the idea of this ranch where a group of gay men find a safe place to land.
So sweeeeeeeet: R. Cooper’s A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate. The couple in that book remember a long ago event very differently, and their yearning for each other is overwhelming. I love it. Also, JL Merrow’s Muscling Through, with its unique narrator, is marvelous. Can be read over and over again: Harper Fox’s Scrap Metal is pure magic. And KJ Charles’s Think of England is so exquisitely written I could read it forever. And Alexis Hall’s There Will Be Phlogiston. Regency ménage for the win!
Pure, uanpologetic smut: Eli Easton’s The Great Sex Olympics of 221b is both free and some of my favorite smut ever. It’s also sweet and emotional too, so I don’t know if it really qualifies as smut, but that’s probably why it’s one of my favorites.
Sexy law enforcement: Alex Beecroft’s Trowchester Blues is about an ex-cop with issues and an ex-thief who owns a bookshop. I mean, they had me at “bookshop.” And Keira Andrews’s Valor on the Move has a fine Secret Service agent and the president’s closeted son.
100 Tissue tear jerker: Amy Lane’s Ethan in Gold has a main character who grew up touch-starved, and another whose sibling is horribly ill. That whole book had me bawling. Also, her basketball book, The Locker Room. Yeah, Amy Lane makes me cry. No surprise there. :)
And before you go, can you tell us what’s in the pipeline for you?
AJC: So many things! I’ve got some kinky erotic novellas coming up in January & February, before the next Bend or Break release. After that, I’ve got a couple of new series in the works. One is a small town romance series, and another is a historical series set in a 1930s London drag dance hall. Both are LGBTQ series, in which I shall continue to write books about kinds of queer folk. Probably even the occasional straight person! I’m expecting to have a ton of fun with them. Oh! And I just signed the contract to be a part of the Riptide Holiday Bundle next year. I can’t wait!
Thanks, again, for stopping by! Come back ANY time!
AJC: Thank you so much for having me! I’ve gotta go reread a bunch of the books I just rec’d, now that I’ve reminded myself of how much I love them…
When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.
Give years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.
Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.
At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.
Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Jo Cousins lives in Chicago, where she writes contemporary romance, tweets more than she ought, and sometimes runs way too far. She loves her boy and the Cubs, who taught her that being awesome doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with winning.
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