We are very happy to welcome EM Lynley to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Lynley’s latest novel Spaghetti Western is available on Dreamspinner Press. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!
EM Lynley has worked in high finance, high-tech, and the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing sexy man-on-man romance. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.
EM Lynley writes gay erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. Her Precious Gems series is “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone”— only gayer. The Delectable series is Gay Romance with Taste. Her books are available in print and e-book from Amazon & other book distributors.
Check out EM Lynley’s blog at http://www.emlynley.com/.
Jodi: Thank you, EM, for stopping by the blog today and including us in your most recent tour. I have enjoyed reading all of the books in the Delectable series. What was your inspiration for this series?
EM: Hi Jodi, thank you so much for having me here again.
Before I started the Delectable series, I always had scenes in my books with pretty vivid food and eating experiences. I got many emails from readers telling me how much they loved the food scenes, sometimes even feeling inspired to cook or eat something I’d mentioned. Rarer Than Rubies, which takes place in Thailand is pretty much guaranteed to send readers in search of Thai food.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize I could put this to work in a series. One thing I decided in advance was that each book would be a standalone, so readers could start anywhere and not feel late the party. If one book doesn’t appeal, that doesn’t mean a reader won’t enjoy another book in the series.
Jodi: Each of the books, with the exception of the first novella, Brand New Flavor, contains recipes at the end of the story. Are these original recipes? Do you cook and bake?
EM: Before I started writing seriously about six years ago, my passion was food and cooking. I’ve taken many cooking classes, own about 500 cookbooks and get invited to a lot of potlucks because my friends love for me to bring their favorite dishes. I’ve taken food writing classes and eaten my way around several countries. I considered culinary school at one point, but realized working as a chef probably wasn’t a great fit for me. This is probably the second-best way for me to make cooking a part of my professional life.
Some of the recipes in the books are original, while others are variations on recipes I’ve found. I do a lot of cooking research for the books in this series, which includes trying out different recipes and tweaking them in a way the main characters would.
Jodi: The common thread in the series is food, but there is also a common thread with the characters. They all a bit vulnerable and not great at communication. Do you find this is a commonality in real-life relationships?
EM: Absolutely! No matter how close we are to the people we love most, communication is always a challenge. It’s more difficult in new relationships, so that’s an additional layer to consider. I also love writing about men who are very passionate about their jobs. Such professional devotion often leads my characters so give less time to their private lives, which makes them even worse at communication. When you take into account the men are often from really different worlds, it’s even more of a challenge to get them on the same page.
That was definitely something I loved exploring about Riley, who comes from an image-conscious family of Boston blue-bloods and Colby, who is a down-to-earth guy used to not thinking much about his feelings, but has high expectations of others in terms of honesty and integrity. These kind of communication pitfalls are common and realistic.
Jodi: Spaghetti Western is so different from your last book Bound for Trouble. Is it a challenge to switch gears in your writing style?
EM: It’s definitely a challenge to switch gears! The storylines are completely different, but the characters aren’t a world apart. Colby shares a lot of the same values as Deke Kane in Bound for Trouble. They’re both honest, protective of those they care about, and expect too much of themselves. I like to think those two would be friends if they met in real life. Colby wouldn’t know what to make of Ryan, though I’d like to see them try and have a conversation.
I actually enjoy switching up the type of stories I work on. An intense mystery like Bound for Trouble takes a lot out of me as a writer. The story requires more complex plotting and sometimes I’d go to bed with my head spinning, trying to work my way through the treads of the investigation. Spaghetti Western was a nice change of pace, lighter in tone and takes place outdoors in clean, fresh air.
Jodi: Colby and Riley in Spaghetti Western do not have much in common, except they both seem lonely, and not they are great at expressing themselves. Tell us a little about these men.
EM: I’ve already touched on some of the aspects of Colby I really love. He’s hardworking, dedicated and tries to carry the weight of the world—or at least his family ranch—on his shoulders, without asking for much from anyone. Horses don’t ask about feelings, so he feels comfortable with them.
Riley spent his adult life running away from his family’s stuffy world and trying to be his own person, so he doesn’t understand why Colby feels such an obligation to his family and land. He’s only a few years younger than Colby, but he’s nowhere near as “grown-up.” Riley has a lot to learn about life, and Colby is well-suited to teach him a few things. But Colby learns from Riley too. They fill in the empty places each had tried to ignore until they met.
Jodi: Riley is ready to have a great summer moving in with his boyfriend and working at a new job. Of course, his well-made plans are shattered when he arrives in Colorado. Is his subsequent self-destructive behavior typical or an anomaly for him?
EM: Yes, and no. He’s always had trouble really believing in himself, partly because of him never living up to his parents’ expectations. He’s also been chasing one set of goals in life that never really satisfied him. Before Aspen, Riley had a group of friends to support him and keep him from that sort of self-destructive behavior. On his own in Aspen, he doesn’t have that, so he goes a lot farther than he might have done before.
Jodi: What possesses Colby to rescue Riley from his predicament?
EM: Colby can’t bear to watch a calf get into trouble or walk past an injured animal, even if helping it could be dangerous. He’s just as protective of people. Lucky for Riley, Colby didn’t think the predicament was his own fault! Otherwise he might just have had another beer and ignored poor Riley.
Jodi: Riley is finished with relationships, but Colby has never really had a relationship. Why is that?
EM: It’s tough to have much of a personal life living on a ranch that’s three hours from the nearest speck of a town. In Colby’s world, everyone knows everybody else’s business. Being gay doesn’t help, because he never has much chance to meet anyone he could have a relationship with. Since the Rocking Z is a family-run ranch, he spends all his time with family or the few employees. The gay men he meets in town on the occasional weekend don’t fit into Colby’s life on his ranch.
Jodi: The dilemma in this story is not typical. Did you base the idea on the movie referenced?
EM: Do you mean Urban Cowboy? I really only took away some fashion faux pas from the film. I haven’t seen it in years, so I can’t recall what it’s about.
Jodi: Did you have to do research on ranches for this story?
EM: Of course! Research is one of my favorite things. A friend of a friend lived on a cattle ranch and I was all set to pay them a visit to see what life was really like day-to-day on a ranch. Unfortunately, the visit didn’t work out. I had to find some other resources including documentaries about ranching, a few books on raising beef cattle, and memories of a few ranch summer camps. I learned a lot of interesting things about cattle. But the most important thing was about the men and women who spend their lives working on these ranches. There are few or no days off, not much chance to get away from the ranch for more than a day or two, and it’s a twenty-four hour a day job, every day. I honestly don’t think I could work that hard every day my whole life. I have such incredible respect for ranchers!
I did some research on chuck wagons too. They held a very important role in the days of the old cattle drives, back before barbed wire and a decent rail system, when cowboys had to move cattle hundreds or thousands of miles from pasture to stockyards. I didn’t know that the chuck wagon cook was also the doctor, dentist, and just about everything else for the cowboys.
Jodi: Riley is friends with the characters in another book in the series, Lightning the Way Home, co-written with Shira Anthony. Do you have plans to bring the characters from the series together in a future book?
EM: I would love to have them all meet up for a big event, maybe a wedding? There would be a huge fight over who cooks what and I’d have to schedule each one their own time in the kitchen. But no one would leave that party hungry.
Jodi: What was your inspiration for Wellington? Does he realize that Colby is only interested in saving his ranch?
EM: Wellington personifies the opposite of everything Colby loves about the Rocking Z, and he’s also a lot like the people Riley grew up with, the people his parents like spending time with. It wasn’t difficult to find a way to make him everything both men dislike! Wellington was a lot of fun to write.
Jodi: Will Wellington or Phillip get their own stories?
EM: What if we fix them up? I don’t have much affection for Wellington, but Phillip might deserve a story. I like that Riley worried about him even though Phillip wrecked Riley’s life — though that might have been the best thing that ever happened to him. But you can see what a good influence Colby has on Riley, that he cared about Phillip!
Jodi: Okay, so I have to ask, do you have a favorite story in this series?
EM: It’s like choosing a favorite child! Each story has a special place in my heart for different reasons. An Intoxicating Crush is set in the world of winemaking, and since I worked in the business for seven years, it’s a story I really enjoyed writing. Lighting the Way Home features Jewish characters and brings up (mostly) good memories of family and growing up. Gingerbread Palace introduced me to the situation faced by LGBTQ foster kids, and there are firemen in it! Brand New Flavor is all about ice cream. Hello, ice cream!
How on earth could I choose a favorite?
Jodi: How about a favorite recipe?
EM: That’s tough too! I love the apple tarte in Lighting the Way Home, and I make those carrots all the time. I love the gingerbread recipe that has the crystallized ginger in it and from Spaghetti Western, I adore the cobbler recipes made with sourdough.
Jodi: What is your next project?
EM: I don’t know what’s next for the Delectable series, but the next novel to be on the lookout for is called Dirty Dining. There is more dirt than dining in that one, so I’m not including any recipes, though they’d probably be X-rated if I had to come up with some. It’s a super-sexy and fun book.
I’ve also got a novella in the upcoming box set Unconditional Surrender, about two Army Rangers who fell for each other back in the days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell but each kept the attraction to himself. When they meet up again now that being gay won’t get them kicked out, they have a chance to see whether that old attraction is enough for a relationship.
A Novel in the Delectable Series
Cordon Bleu-trained chef Riley Emerson arrives in Aspen, Colorado for a summer at the best restaurant in town, only to discover his jerk of a boyfriend has dumped him, leaving his heart and his plans in tatters. Doubting himself and longing for a change of pace, he takes a low-paying position at the Rocking Z guest ranch, though he expects nature up close and personal won’t hold a candle to his exciting Paris lifestyle.
When born-and-bred cattle rancher Colby Zane spots a newcomer being pawed at by a passel of horny cowboys at Aspen’s Club Rawhide, he rushes in, throws the guy over his shoulder, and rescues him. Sober, Riley Emerson is sweet and sexy, but not interested in more than a one-night stand. Still, Colby’s over the moon when Riley later arrives as the new cook on his family’s ranch.
But all’s not well at the Rocking Z. Unsurmountable financial problems force them to seek a cash infusion from outside investor Fitz Wellington. Fitz is hot for Colby, and he won’t sign on the dotted line without some very personal incentives. The future of the ranch is at stake, and Colby’s just that desperate, but saving the Z might mean losing Riley.