We are very happy to welcome Lynley Wayne to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Lynley’s latest novel Facing Demons, book three in the Scars series, is available on MLR Press.
Lynley Wayne is the pen name of a thirty-something female living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. When not writing, she can usually be found reading and thinking up creative ways to avoid housework. She is married to a very understanding husband who doesn’t complain when she spends hours in front of the computer and he ends up having to fix supper on occasion, or when she asks random off the wall questions. Or when she talks for hours about whatever story she’s working on. Yeah, basically he’s vying for sainthood.
Lynley strongly believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness, no matter how it may differ from the norm. She writes characters she wants to read and hopes others enjoy them as much as she enjoyed writing them.
While most people who know her wouldn’t guess, she’s a hardcore romantic at heart and loves nothing more than a happily ever after. Lynley may have come to romance later than some, but once she found it she never looked back. It was years later when she accidentally stumbled onto the male/male genre and knew it was where she was meant to be. From then on she’s spent endless hours writing about love in its many forms.
It is her hope that one day society will be able to look past the labels and see the person behind it. That they will realize we are all the same. Until that time comes, she will continue telling stories of a love others may believe is wrong, but she thinks is nothing short of beautiful.
Check out Lynley Wayne’s books and blog at http://www.lynleywayne.com.
Jodi: Thank you, Lynley, for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Tell us a little about yourself and how you decided to write in the m/m genre.
Lynley: Thanks for having me. There’s really not much to tell. I’ve always loved to read and write. I was in first or second grade when I wrote my first story. I’ve jotted down ideas for books and/or characters for as long as I can remember.
As far as why I chose the genre… I didn’t, not really. I think it chose me. I sort of stumbled upon the genre one day. I read gay romance for about a year, before I wrote my first m/m story. I was still working on a fantasy series that I had hoped to submit, at the time. My first gay romance book is soooooo bad that no one but me will ever see it. I keep it to remind myself of how far I’ve come. Scars was my second attempt at the genre. Jace popped into my head and refused to go away until I told his story. I wrote the 125k word, first draft, of Scars in under a week. After that, there was no looking back for me. Writing Jace and Nathaniel’s story sparked something and I immediately sat down and wrote Rocky’s Road.
Jodi: On your website, you mention that you “make things up for a living.” Have you always wanted to write fiction?
Lynley: Without a doubt. While I went through phases of wanting to be a marine biologist, a FBI profiler, a lawyer, and even a daycare owner, being a writer was always there. When I was in high school, I told one of my English teachers I wanted to be a writer. He was someone I respected a great deal. He looked at the first two pages of the book I was working on at the time and told me not to waste my time, because I’d be better off working fast food. After that, I sort of gave up on my dreams of ever becoming published, but I never stopped writing.
A few years ago, after the economy took a nosedive, I found myself searching for a job and having no luck. At a convention, I had the pleasure of talking to an author I admire a great deal. I mentioned that I had wanted to be a writer, but that I wasn’t good enough. She told me to go for it, because I’d never know unless I tried. Then she told me how many rejections she got before she ever got a contract. I went home and I looked at the partially written stories I had lying around in notebooks and in computer files and realized she was right. I had nothing to lose.
Jodi: What was your inspiration for the Scars series?
Lynley: First off, I never intended to write a series. When I sat down to write Scars, it was supposed to be a standalone. The closer I got to the end, the louder Rocky got, and I knew I had to tell his story as well. I wrote Scars in January 2010. I wrote Rocky’s Road in February 2010. I always knew Cam’s story, and I knew about the relationship between Cam, Seth, and Landon. I tried several times since 2010 to write Seth and Cam’s story. I always knew they would end up together. I just wasn’t sure on the how. While working on edits for Rocky’s Road, my editor said, “You have to write Seth’s story, readers are going to what to know what happens with him.” I knew she was right, but I still couldn’t seem to get the story right, no matter how much I tried. I worked on other things, but Seth and Cam were never far from my mind.
Then one day it just hit me. All these years I had been trying to tell their story in the present day. The problem is, their story started when they were kids. In order to tell it, I had to start at the beginning. Once I had that light bulb moment, I was off and running. The first half of the book — the younger years — was easy to write. The rest, not so much.
Jodi: Jace is the center of Scars, and he plays an important role in the second book as he is Rocky’s brother. Tell us a little about Jace’s character.
Lynley: Jace and Nathaniel are the few characters that I actually know where they came from. Most of the time I have no clue where I got my inspiration. Back in 2010, I read, Keeping Promise Rock by Amy Lane, and the character of Carrick really spoke to me. Around that same time I read, Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. Add to those two things an article about how many of our soldiers were returning home with PTSD and the new treatments they were experimenting with to help those brave men and women. Then shake well and sleep on it and voilà… you have Jace Montgomery. Jace is a tough guy who doesn’t know how to be anything else. He isn’t good with talking about his feelings, so he uses sex to show Nathaniel how he feels. He is very much a product of the societal belief that “real men” have to be strong, that they can’t cry or show emotion.
Jodi: Did you need to do a lot of research about PTSD for Scars?
Lynley: I should probably say, “Yes, I spent weeks and weeks researching.” However, the truth is that I didn’t. I looked up the symptoms of PTSD and asked someone I know in the military the most likely place Jace would have been sent for treatment. That’s about the extent of my research; the rest just came from my highly active imagination. Like I said in the author notes on that book, I have people who are close to me who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, so I pulled from that to make Jace’s episodes as realistic as possible.
Jodi: Both Jace and Nathaniel are “damaged,” yet they seem to have an instant connection and trust for each other. Why does Nathaniel trust Jace, especially after meeting in such dire circumstances?
Lynley: The character of Nathaniel is actually based on a real person. (Which is funny because he’s the one character that people tell me is unrealistic.) People who have been abused or forced to survive in less than ideal circumstances, they learn to read people. They have to, because their life could depend on them being able to size someone up within seconds of meeting them. Nathaniel is like that. At first, he is clearly scared waking up in a strange apartment. He’s even scared of Jace in the beginning. But, after the initial shock, Nathaniel’s gut tells him that Jace isn’t a bad guy and so he trusts it and it turns out that he’s right.
Jodi: Although Scars focuses on Jace and Nathaniel, the story is centered around Jace, and readers do not learn a lot about Nathaniel’s life on the streets. Was this a conscience decision on your part to not explore that, or did the story’s focus evolve on its own?
Lynley: I had no clue what was going to happen in that book. I don’t plot out my stories before I write them. I just sit down and I let it take me wherever it will and then I edit like crazy. The first draft of Scars was 125K words. The final published version was 98K words. People talk about the end of the story being rushed, that’s because I had to cut over 25K words. Had I written in more of Nathaniel’s backstory, then I would have had to delete something else. There were actually two or three scenes that dealt with Nathaniel’s past that ended up being cut during edits. There were also several scenes with Rocky and Jace’s other brothers, as well as one with Landon, that got cut. The one with Landon actually ended up in Rocky’s Road… sort of.
I’ve thought about writing a holiday story that would give a peek into their lives a few years later and would hit more on Nathaniel’s backstory, but so far I haven’t found the proper inspiration. But maybe one day.
Jodi: It is interesting that neither man seems to identify with being gay, but they are still drawn to each other sexually. Why did you choose to develop the relationship from that perspective?
Lynley: I guess it’s because I have a big thing with labels. In Scars, Jace has a lot of the same views as I do on that subject. I think society tries too hard to put everyone in to neat little categories and slap labels on them, when the truth is that most of us don’t fit within the parameters that have been defined. I believe everyone has the potential to fall in love with someone of the same sex, even if they identify as straight. Whether or not they act on those feelings is a whole other conversation. That’s what I wanted to show in this book. Jace believes in his heart that Nathaniel is the exception to the rule. If he and Nathaniel ever went their separate ways, odds are Jace would go back to dating women. So even though he is with a man, he doesn’t identify as gay.
Jodi: Jace knows his best friend Landon is gay. Does Landon’s experience of coming out to his family effect Jace’s actions and decisions regarding admitting to being gay.
Lynley: Like I said, Jace doesn’t really consider himself gay. So, I’d have to say no.
Jodi: Clearly Jace has no idea that his best friend Landon is a Dom. In the second book, Rocky’s Road, readers and Jace learn that not only is Landon a Dom, but Rocky, Jace’s brother who has been living in the closet, is a natural submissive. The realization is an interesting journey for Rocky, who has never explored his homosexuality before. What type of research did you need to do to develop this part of Rocky’s personality?
Lynley: I didn’t really do any research for that. I just imagined how I would feel if I were Rocky. What would it be like for me to suddenly realize there is a name for this thing I’ve always thought made me different. Not just the submissive thing, but the gay thing as well. When I’m writing I sort of become my characters. I do my best to put myself in their skin and in the end hope I get it right.
Jodi: Did you need to do research into the BDSM lifestyle for this book and for Landon’s character?
Lynley: Yes. I knew a little bit about BDSM, but when I realized where Rocky’s Road was going I found Fetlife.com, an online BDSM community and signed up for an account. I talked to people and asked questions. A lot of the BDSM stuff was either added in or changed after the initial draft was written, because I wanted to get it right. I wanted to portray BDSM in a way those in the lifestyle I had talked to would be okay with. More than a few were concerned about me putting BDSM in a bad light. (This is before the whole phenomenon over a certain trilogy.) A few people suggested I watch the movie, Secretary, to get a better understanding of the emotional aspects of BDSM.
Jodi: Why did you choose to write about this lifestyle in Rocky’s Road and Facing Demons?
Lynley: It wasn’t a conscience choice. I knew as much about Rocky and Landon as Jace did. It wasn’t until Landon says, “Look at me. Keep your eyes on me. You can say, ‘No.’ You hold the power here.” Landon’s voice was calm, steady, in control. (pg.24, Rocky’s Road)
That I realized there was more to Landon than I thought. Like I said in the author notes of that book, all that we knew about Landon up to that point was what Jace knew. In Rocky’s Road we were seeing Landon through different eyes. As a writer I have to go where the story, where my characters, take me.
Jodi: For some people, reading the interactions between Landon and Rocky may be uncomfortable. It is clear that the Landon loves Rocky and that Rocky enjoys being submissive to Landon. Abuse and submission is not the same thing as Landon tries to explain to Rocky and Jace. Do you have a message to readers about the BDSM lifestyle?
Lynley: If you are going to get involved with the BDSM lifestyle, then please, please, please, do your research. What you read in books — mine included — is fantasy. Rocky goes to a BDSM club with Landon on their first date, a week after he met the guy for the first time. In fiction that’s fine; in real life it is not. A lot of people find what they need in BDSM and there is nothing at all wrong with that, but remember these three words: safe, sane, and consensual. And always have a safeword! No exceptions.
Jodi: In Rocky’s Road, readers meet Seth, one of Landon’s best friends and the owner of the BDSM club of which Landon is a member. Seth is lonely and clearly yearns for a relationship similar to Landon’s and Rocky’s. He repeatedly tells Landon how lucky he is to have found Rocky. Is Facing Demons Seth’s second chance at love?
Lynley: Most definitely. This book is Seth’s second chance in more ways that one. Many, if not all, of his previous relationships failed because he always held a part of himself back. That all stems from what happened between him and Cam as teenagers, which you will learn about in this book.
Jodi: Tell us a little about Seth and Cameron.
Lynley: They have known each other since they were kids. As teenagers they end up in a relationship and Seth knows that the two of them are meant to be together. Cam, he isn’t as convinced. Cam is a bit more of a pessimist — although he would say realist. Cam’s had a hard life and he knows that no matter how much you wish for something to be true, it doesn’t change the cold hard facts.
Seth is more of an optimist. He believes that love conquers all. They disagree on pretty much everything. The one thing they both agree on is that they love one another.
Jodi: Is there a mystery in Facing Demons?
Lynley: I guess you could say there is. In the second half of the book Cam is trying to figure out who betrayed him and why. If I say much more it would give too much away. I will say, while there are underlying mystery elements, the main focus of this book is the relationship between Cam and Seth.
Jodi: Will the issue of dominance and submission play an important role in this book?
Lynley: Not really. There are times that Seth’s Dom side comes out and there are instances when there is a clear shift of power between them, but BDSM isn’t as big a part of their story as people might expect.
Jodi: What is your next project?
Lynley: At the moment, I’m working on the sequel to A Life Interrupted. I’m also hoping to finish a few of my other works in progress. Once I’m done with the sequel, I have no idea what will be next. You can always check out the WIP tab on my website for my progress.
At the age of fifteen, Seth Dempsey gave his heart to Cameron Reyes. Three years later, Cam shattered it when he walked away. When Cam blows back into Seth’s life years later, Seth knows he will do whatever it takes to ensure Cam doesn’t slip away again. Even if it means going up against a corrupt DEA agent and a drug cartel.
Cameron Reyes was born on the wrong side of the tracks. He fell in love with Seth, but knew the only way to keep him safe was to leave, no matter how much it hurt. Eleven years later, when his life implodes, he knows the only person he can trust is the boy whose heart he broke all those years ago.
While they fight to stay one step ahead of everyone and clear Cam’s name, can they learn to work together in order to face down the demons of the past and find the happily ever after they have dreamed of?
How can you find yourself when you don’t know where to start?
For Rocky, the move from Indiana to Maryland isn’t half as daunting as the prospect of finally taking the time to explore his sexuality. Luckily for him, Rocky has his brother’s best friend for a guide...
Landon had all but given up on finding someone to spend his life with. Hope sparks in his chest when he meets Rocky, whose naturally submissive nature perfectly complements Landon’s dominance. As Landon introduces Rocky to the world of BDSM, the two men learn that sometimes you have to traverse a rocky road to find your way to happiness.
Jace, an injured ex-soldier suffering from PTSD, saves Nathaniel, a nineteen-year-old street kid, from a beating. In doing so, he has no way of knowing that he will find his own salvation.
Jace came home from the war scarred in more ways than one. The physical scars that he carries are nothing compared to the mental ones. Struggling with PTSD, he has closed himself off from the rest of the world. The last thing that he ever thought to do was fall in love... Nathaniel has lived on the streets since he was thirteen. When he wakes up in a strange apartment after being badly beaten, he has no idea how he got there. Little does he know that his rescuer, the large man with scars crisscrossing his face, could hold the key to healing the scars that they both have.