Unquietly Me Interview with Avon Gale, M/M romance author of Let the Wrong Light In, + eBook Giveaway!

avon-gale-author-pic-300x300Unquietly Me Interview with the fabulous Avon Gale, M/M romance author of Let the Wrong Light In and Breakaway (Scoring Chances series, Book 1), releasing November 27, 2015!

 
In late September, after I posted my review (5 of 5 stars) on Goodreads of Avon Gale’s debut M/M romance novel, Let the Wrong Light In, Avon contacted me about quoting my review on her website. I was beyond thrilled and giddy to be chatting with a writer I admire, especially when she told me that she liked my review.

She thought it was awesome that I really “got” the book, because she could tell the story came across the way she intended it to. I was curious about why she thought so. I also loved how her effervescent and down-to-earth personality came across in her messages and emails. I asked if I could interview her on my blog, because she seemed so genuine and fun.

If Avon were a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, she would describe herself as “Avon Gale, hair stylist and novelist, who likes bourbon, road trips, yelling at the Boston Bruins, thunderstorms and candy.” Then she’d “do jazz hands or something.” Her tattoo, visible in her author photo above, represents a kind of touchstone.

~ Avon ~

      I have a tattoo on my upper arm that is a cloud with a compass inside of it. It has the words “Follow some other storm” and “to the heart” around the picture. Those are lyrics from two different songs, “Good Morning, Magpie” by my favorite band, Murder by Death, and “The Road” by Frank Turner. The compass in the storm is basically how I want to live my life—doing what I love and learning to seek out challenges instead of running away from them.

 

Doing what she loves includes writing M/M romance, which she got into around 2008, though she’s been writing since she was a kid. “I have a thousand old notebooks, legal pads, typewritten-sheets of stories, mostly half-finished,” Avon says. “I love people and I’m an only child, so inventing characters is about as natural to me as breathing.”

So, how did Avon come up with her characters in Let the Wrong Light In and what were her intentions for the novel? Perhaps, some could describe it as an enemies-to-lovers, office romance, which is a common trope in het contemporary romances. The obvious difference is that in Let the Wrong Light In the romance is between two men—the snarky, junior architect, and bisexual protagonist, Avery Hextall, and his reserved, asshole boss, and project manager, Malin Lacroix.

In terms of M/M tropes, it could also be seen as a gay-for-you, May-December romance, but it’s a little more complicated than that. It explores what Avon calls “latent bisexuality,” awkward characters “who discover things about themselves they didn’t know.” In fact, it’s something that happens to her characters in almost everything she writes.

What’s more, the line through on the word “wrong” in the title and the use of light in the narrative practically scream extended metaphor, challenging readers to look beyond the surface and actually interpret a romance novel beyond the common tropes found in both het and M/M romances. So, I asked Avon if she wanted to clue readers in.

~ Avon ~

      I didn’t want to tell readers how the story should come across, and one of the reasons I kept it in Avery’s POV was I liked playing with an unreliable narrator. Avery starts off as a character who seems to know what he wants, and I wanted the reader to sort of learn with him that he actually doesn’t know as much as he thought he did.
      There’s a theme of transparency in the novel, which I sort of played with by using glass/window metaphors, and the difference between seeing what you want to see and seeing what’s there in front of you. The idea of letting the wrong light in was basically that sometimes you have to find out what you don’t want in order to find out what you do. Avery and Malin do a lot of things wrong, especially at first, because sometimes relationships aren’t easy. They both have very strong ideas about what they want and need, and have to come to terms with how those are often two very different things.

 

One of the things Avery thinks he wants from Malin is what Avon calls “impact play.” Avery has a kink for getting smacked in the face. He’s not very good at asking for what he wants, and he often provokes Malin to give it to him.

~ Avon ~

      I really wanted to write about two people who wanted this dynamic but weren’t immediately good at it, and who had to figure it out as they went along. Avery is a character who gets lost in his own head a lot, and I think the benefit for him is it is an immediate way to bring him back to the present. The novel is written in present-tense because Avery is a here-and-now character, and it was meant to showcase how he never thinks much beyond the immediacy of the moment.
      Smacking is a very visceral, sharp and immediate way to bring Avery’s attention where Malin wants it. It doesn’t have to be very hard to be effective, because they finally work out that impact play isn’t really their thing. Avery doesn’t like pain as much as he likes attention, and so that’s why it works with him. Striking someone in the face is very personal, and it centers Avery and “brings him back” from wherever he goes in his head, so I think that’s why Malin likes it.
      Avery and Malin were idiots when they first got together. It took them getting to know each other to finally work out that maybe what they needed was more mental and less impact play. And it’s a relationship dynamic that needs trust and really knowing your partner, and until they figured that out, they were a mess.

 

Avon was going through her own journey while she was writing this book and saw a lot of herself in her characters. When she started writing Let the Wrong Light In in 2012, she was working a job she hated, had a horrible boss, and was dealing with the sudden loss of a friend and writing partner. While rereading and editing the book, she realized that by writing the novel she was working through the issues in her life at the time. I admire how Avon transformed a difficult situation into a positive experience by writing this book.

“Sadly, unlike Malin,” Avon says, “there was nothing attractive about my boss in the slightest. Malin’s personality is fun for me, because I tried to give hints of it through the book while keeping in Avery’s POV—there are times he actually does find Avery amusing, but Avery tends to gloss over those moments because they are subtle and Avery is not.”

Though Avon sees more of herself in Avery, her love of hockey was a factor in creating Malin’s character, a French-Canadian hockey fan. (She also speaks a little French!)

~ Avon ~

      The hockey was definitely something he loved that he’d been denying himself because that’s what Malin did. The reason Malin is French-Canadian is kind of random, but I was on a trip to Montreal and saw Habitat 67, a modern design apartment building that was built in the 70’s. Somehow that stuck with me when I was writing and Malin became French-Canadian. Also I really liked the last name “Lacroix.” As for parts of me that are Malin, I think there are some aspects of his character that were relevant to my life at the time. I was also trying to deal with loss and trying to avoid confronting a lot of strong emotions.

 

Avery, on the other hand, is confrontational and doesn’t hesitate to express his strong emotions, no matter how confused and uncertain he is about them.

~ Avon ~

      I’m a lot more like Avery than any of my other characters, and I think it goes back to my working through some issues in my life at the time I wrote it. I’m very extroverted and friendly, and impulsive on occasion. I also am super expressive (and have totally stomped my foot) like Avery. I think Avery’s personality can hide just how awkward he is about relationships. Basically they both have a fear of commitment—Avery because he worries he’s not good enough, and Malin because he doesn’t want to love someone and have them leave him.

 

Avery’s snarky attitude is as much a front as Malin’s aloof demeanor. His super expressiveness and awkwardness are shown in his very first scene with Malin. He’s so pissed off with his boss for rejecting another one of his architectural designs that he barges into Malin’s office without an appointment.
 

THE PROBLEM with barging into Lacroix’s office, Avery quickly discovers, is the reality is far more anticlimactic than he imagined. It starts out promisingly enough. He storms in without knocking, and that’s pretty great. Then he yells for five minutes and even pounds his fist on Lacroix’s desk for added dramatic effect.

Lacroix just looks at him. “Is there a problem, Mr. Hextall?”

Avery gives his desk a cursory glance, looking for the red pen. Fuck that red pen, man. And fuck Lacroix. Fuck him and his classy suits, his icy eyes, his hands that look more like a violinist’s than a project manager’s. They’re nice hands, actually… and wait, what is he doing? He’s here to yell at Lacroix, not think about his hands.

“Yeah, there is a problem,” Avery huffs, ready to shout so loud that the glass pains in the window behind Lacroix will shatter into pieces. Maybe the son of a bitch will get sucked outside–à la every action movie Avery’s ever seen. “The problem with you is you’re a prick with no soul.”

 

I was totally chuckling throughout this scene and many others in this novel and at the overall snarky narration. For Avon, it’s a delight to make people happy and laugh through her writing and in her job as a hair stylist. It’s a “dream come true,” she says, to be a published author.

~ Avon ~

      It is super strange to see people talk about my characters, because for so long they were only in my head and now it feels like they’re real almost! I love writing humor, and to be honest, having someone tell me that I made them laugh is one of my favorite things to hear. I like making people happy, and hope that they leave my salon feeling good about themselves and are therefore happy and nice to others. That’s how I feel about my writing, too. I just want people to enjoy the time they spend with my characters, and have it be a positive reading experience.

 

But Avon also likes the dark stuff, like Manna Francis’s “The Administration” series, in which “one of the characters is thoroughly unlikeable at times” and is set in a dystopian future where no one’s really a “good guy.”

~ Avon ~

      I love evil characters in love, too. Of course, I wrote a story about an assassin and a rentboy, and basically they banter and watch HGTV. Because that’s how my brain works, apparently. But I’m fascinated with demons, and I have a few things in the works dealing with that. My favorite genre is actually horror, especially when it comes to movies.

 

In fact, the book she’s planning for Harlan, one of Avery’s friends in Let the Wrong Light In, has an element of horror. “He ends up renovating a cursed hotel for a family headed by an intolerant dickhead politician,” Avon tells me, “and hooking up with said dickhead’s in-the-closet son.” I so want to read that!

Reading Let the Wrong Light In was definitely a positive reading experience for me. I’m so looking forward to reading Avon Gale’s future books, including her new M/M sports romance series, Scoring Chances, about minor league hockey players.

~ Avon ~

      I was at a minor league game when I thought about how cool it would be to write about minor league players. These guys make a fraction of the money as the majors, and have crazy insane schedules in a league that is always changing. I read a book called “Journeyman” by Sean Pronger, whose brother was an NHL star and who was, himself, the kind of player that got traded a lot from team to team, usually in the minor leagues. A lot of that translated to Jared Shore, who is a character in Breakaway.
      Breakaway is the first novel in my Scoring Chances series. It’s about a kid named Lane Courtnall, who’s from Canada and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lane’s not quite mature enough to play for the big club, so he gets sent to the minors and the (fictional) Sea Storm of Jacksonville, Florida. While there, his social awkwardness (if you like awkward characters, you’ll definitely like Lane!) lands him in hot water with his team. In order to make them like him, he throws off his gloves and tries to fight Jared Shore, who is the enforcer for the Sea Storm’s rivals, the Savannah Renegades. Unlike Lane, Jared is a veteran player who is near retirement, and has played all over the country for various minor league teams.
      The second book, Save of the Game, is about two characters from the first book, Ethan and Riley, and there is an excerpt at the end of Breakaway. I just submitted the third in the series to Dreamspinner for publication consideration, and that one switches to the Spitfires of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

 
Breakaway releases on November 27, 2015.

It was a pleasure and an honor to interview Avon Gale. I wish her all the best on her writing career!

 

Where to find Avon Gale: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway: 1 eBook copy of Let the Wrong Light In to one thoughtful commenter!
Please leave your email address in the required field, so I can let you know if you’re the lucky winner!

 


 
Let_the_wrong_Light_in_FINAL-199x300Available Now!

Let the Wrong Light In by Avon Gale

Avery Hextall, a junior architect at a prestigious firm, is thrilled when his design is chosen for a new performing arts center—even if it means working closely with his insufferably uptight project manager, Malin Lacroix. When a chance encounter in the boss’s office proves that Lacroix is anything but cold, Avery is determined to learn more about the real man beneath the aloof veneer.

Despite their growing attraction and their increasingly kinky encounters, the enigmatic Malin remains as emotionally distant as ever. Worse, Avery’s friends are convinced Malin thinks of Avery as a dirty secret and nothing more—a secret that might destroy both of their careers.

But the real secret is a single moment in time that haunts Malin and keeps him from committing to the life he wants with Avery. In order to move on, Avery must help Malin come to terms with the tragedy in his past before they can work on building a future—together.

 

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Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes and Noble | All Romance E-Books

 


 
BreakawayFS-200x300Available now for pre-order!

Breakaway by Avon Gale
Scoring Chances #1
Release Date: November 27, 2015

Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He hopes to prove himself to the teammates he alienated through his social clumsiness by throwing off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades, during a rivalry game. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.

Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere, a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game, and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show the younger man how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

 

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Pre-order at Dreamspinner’s website!


Giveaway: 1 eBook copy of Let the Wrong Light In to one thoughtful commenter!
Please leave your email address in the required field, so I can let you know if you’re the lucky winner!
Feel free to like and share! Thanks so much and Good Luck!

 



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