We are very happy to welcome Garrett Leigh to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Leigh’s novel Slide is now available in audiobook from Dreamspinner Press. Slide is the first book of the Roads series.
Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.
Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com.
You can learn more about Garrett on her website.
Jodi: Thank you, Garrett for taking the time to visit the Smoocher’s Voice blog again. It was a pleasure chatting with you about Bold earlier in the month. Slide is one of my favorite books. The plot and characters kept me enthralled since page one. What was the inspiration for this book?
Garrett: Slide began with seven little words: “He didn’t often let me fuck him.” I can’t remember now if the phrase survived the editing process and ever ended up in the book, but the phrase came first, then Ash, then Pete. Ash’s story is the backbone of Slide, and it came from many places — myself, friends, lovers, and my twisted imagination.
Jodi: One of the most intriguing parts of this book is the switching back and forth between Ash’s and Pete’s perspectives, from the prologue, parts one and two, and the epilogue. As a reader, I enjoy reading books written in first person point of view. As I writer, do you find it challenging to write in first person, especially from two different characters’ perspectives?
Garrett: Yes. Using first person POV is challenging because it’s vital that each character has a distinctive voice, and that the format of the book makes it clear who has the floor. For example, I think it would be difficult to switch back and forth with each chapter, even if you’d nailed the voice aspect. From time to time, it did worry me that I’d fucked it up, but now, reading what people have written about Ash and Pete since, I think it was clear they were very different young men.
Jodi: Ash is such an intriguing, in-depth character. He has a lot of layers, and he doesn’t always understand why he acts the way he does. Was it difficult getting into his head space?
Garrett: Sometimes. He’s not very good at expressing himself, but as the series progressed, he kinda grew, and I realized that it was actually Pete who had more trouble getting to grips with his emotions. There was something almost childlike about Ash, but Pete was a tough nut to crack. Dude was just too damn strong.
Jodi: Tell us a little about Ash and his background.
Garrett: Ash was born in Texas to his young, drug addict mother. He lived with her until she died when he was three. After that, he became a ward of the state and spent twelve years in foster care and boy’s homes until he ran away to Philadelphia at the age of fifteen. After that, he lived on the streets and developed a drug habit of his own until Ellie found him. She straightened him out a little, got him into a shelter, and encouraged him to take his tattoo apprenticeship. A year or so later, she moved to Chicago, and he went with her.
Jodi: Despite his solitary nature, Ash does have a lot of good friends who want to help him. Ash trusts Joe, Pete and Ellie, but he does not trust David, Ellie’s father. Why is that?
Garrett: I don’t think Ash actually is that solitary; it’s more he doesn’t know any better. He’s spent his whole live alone — or alone in a crowd — and it doesn’t occur to him to change that. Even when he moves in with Pete, it doesn’t change much, because Pete really is a solitary creature. Rare is the book where we really see Ash grow out of this habit. As for David, without giving too much away to those who haven’t read Slide, Ash has secrets he doesn’t even know himself, but subconsciously, I think he senses David’s suspicions about his past, and he doesn’t want to confront them. It’s always uncomfortable when someone sees straight through you, isn’t it?
Jodi: Pete is a caregiver. He is a paramedic and has a big heart, although he does seem to act without thinking sometimes. He also seems deeply affected by tragedies that he sees as a paramedic. What motivates Pete?
Garrett: I think it’s important to remember that Pete is only 24 at the beginning of Slide. He is a natural caregiver, and loves his job far more than he likes to let on, but he’s young, and he doesn’t always get it right. Pete has already experienced deep personal tragedy. His father was killed when he was just fourteen. He is his mother’s (Maggie) sole caretaker — though he never admits she needs such a thing. Add Ash on top of that, it’s no wonder he loses his shit from time to time. Motivation wise? Pete keeps most people at arm’s length, but there’s nothing he won’t do for those lucky enough to be loved by him.
Jodi: Pete seems to have feelings for Ash from the beginning. One of my favorite lines of the book is when he tells Ash, “I like you, and I want you to feel better.” Is it difficult for Pete to keep his feelings in check and be patient with Ash?
Garrett: Very. Though we aren’t in his POV for this section of the book, it’s clear he knows that pushing Ash too far, too fast, will send him running. For anyone who wants to get inside Pete’s head at the beginning of the book, Marked is available for free download from Dreamspinner Press and ARe.
Jodi: Ellie and her family are minor characters in this book, but they play a huge role in both Pete’s and Ash’s life. Why does Ellie have such a strong attachment to both men?
Garrett: Gonna answer this one short and sweet …wouldn’t you?
Jodi: Excellent point, yes I would. Did you do research on foster care or PTSD for this book?
Garrett: A little. The foster care system in the U.S. is very different to what we have in the U.K:, the terminology, the processes, I wanted to be sure I got it right. As for PTSD, I’ve written about it a lot and dealt with the various sides of mental illness in my personal life, so I felt I had that pretty much covered.
Jodi: Is Daryl Hunter based on a real person?
Garrett: No. He was an amalgamation of several monsters.
Jodi: The second book in the series, Rare, is equally as intense and captivating. Will there be more books in this series?
Garrett: I don’t think so. I’ve been back and forth on this many times, but at the moment, Ash and Pete are content where they are. It’s more likely they’ll make a cameo appearance in another series. I do miss them, though. Especially Ash. And Pete. And Joe. Hmm.
Book 1, Roads series
Roads: Book One
Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…
Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.
Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.
Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.