Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Starstruck, the first in the multi-author Bluewater Bay series!
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off L.A. Witt’s backlist (excluding Starstruck) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 9th, and winners will be announced on November 10th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
We are very happy to welcome L.A. Witt to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. L.A.’s latest novel Starstruck is available on Riptide Publishing. Starstruck is the first book in the Bluewater Bay universe.
L.A. Witt is an author of gay erotic romances, and has been recently exiled from Okinawa, Japan, to Omaha, Nebraska. She resides there with her husband, a telekinetic goldfish, and two incredibly spoiled cats. It’s unclear if the exile was the result of the mostly classified “Aquarium Incident,” or if she’s actually being hidden, for her protection, from the Polynesian Mafia and her arch nemesis, erotic romance author .
Connect with L.A.:
Jodi: Thank you L.A. for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. I have to admit I am a long-time fan of your writing, your solo works as well as your collaborative efforts. Although Starstruck is a solo effort, it is part of a newly created universe, similar to Tucker Springs. What is the inspiration for Bluewater Bay and this world of characters?
L.A.: Basically, after Tucker Springs ended, I wanted to try the multi-author/same-town series again, but in a different area, with a larger group of authors, and with some existing issue/conflict within the town (which ended up being the TV series threatening the small town lifestyle). Aleksandr Voinov and I chatted for a while, and after doing some brainstorming, we came up with the town of Bluewater Bay, situated on the north end of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Then we started bringing authors on board, and they started populating the town with interesting characters and cool places.
And of course, since Bluewater Bay is right up the highway from Forks, we thought it would be fun to give a little hat tip to Twilight, which is set in and filmed in Forks. So our town is the home of Wolf’s Landing, a paranormal television series mostly revolving around werewolves. From there, we wanted to really incorporate the fun of a series with that kind of following, so things like conventions and fandom play a huge role in the shenanigans of Bluewater Bay.
Jodi: Levi Pritchard is an interesting character. Like some of the characters in your other books, Levi is living behind the closed door of a closet. Why does his family still have such a controlling part in the decisions he makes regarding his sexuality?
L.A.: I think our knee jerk reaction is that once someone is over eighteen or so, their parents’ input should cease to have any significant effect on their lives. But the fact is, it often doesn’t work that way. Parental disapproval can be incredibly damaging to kids, but also adults. Further, the results of a dysfunctional family can last well into adulthood.
In Levi’s case, he’s in his late thirties, and has always craved both his parents’ approval and just a peaceful relationship with his folks. Because he’s worked so hard for so many years to iron out some of the longstanding dysfunction in his family, and has made loads of progress, he’s scared to death to throw a monkey wrench in the whole thing. And yeah, on the surface, it seems weird for a man in his late thirties to be that hung up on what his parents think, but I can’t even count the number of people in my life who suppress aspects of their lives, worry about their folks finding out about things, and agonize over how to gently break boat-rocking news to their parents, even when they’re into their forties and beyond.
Jodi: A lot of people live vicariously through the lives of their favorite actors and musicians. Do you think fans, in general, are affected when they find out an actor portraying a macho superhero is gay?
L.A.: I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as it used to be for celebrities in general to come out, but just from listening to conversations with people speculating about celebrity sexualities (oh, the things people wring their hands over…) there’s definitely a different standard for each “tier” of celebrities. If a pop star or a cute young actor comes out, there’s some gossip and headlines about it, but it’s not as big of a deal as if someone like Vin Diesel or Sylvester Stallone were to come out. Which is silly, of course, but we’re talking about a society in which Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Keeping Up With the Kardashians exist. In other words, we’re a strange people. LOL
Jodi: Did you base Levi’s character on any real personalities?
L.A.: Levi got a little bit of my reclusiveness and film snobbery, but for the most part, he’s his own guy. He and Carter were both super vocal right from the start, and their personalities crystallized almost immediately. Some characters are a bit tough to draw a bead on at first, but not those two.
Jodi: Levi seems torn between his desire to act and his hatred of all things Hollywood. Why does he stay in Bluewater Bay when Hollywood comes to town?
L.A.: I think Levi really likes the town, and he’s holding out hope that Wolf’s Landing will eventually go away. Plus he lives far enough from the town proper that he can avoid it all most of the time, even though it annoys him to have to avoid it.
Jodi: Carter Samuels is openly gay and has a bit of a hero worship thing going with Levi – at first. Carter is younger than Levi. This is a dynamic you have explored in a few of your novels. What is it about the age dynamic about an older and younger man that intrigues you?
L.A.: Before I got married, I had, shall we say, a habit of dating older men. So I have a lot of firsthand experience with the way people behave around relationships with big age gaps, and to a lesser extent, the challenges of being in one of those relationships. (A lesser extent because it really wasn’t that challenging for us.) When I started writing romances, I like playing with age gaps, but not making a huge deal out of them.
Jodi: Tell us a little about Carter and what makes him tick?
L.A.: Carter is cool. I love him. He’s just so much fun. As far as what makes him tick, I think he’s just straight up ambition. He doesn’t just want to act, he wants to be a great actor. He’s ballsy and snarky, but has this little shy streak that I think is so sweet, especially when he’s first trying to talk to Levi without turning into a squealing fanboy.
Jodi: Is the difference in generations the reason the two men view being openly gay differently?
L.A.: To a degree, yes. Neither of their families were terribly accepting of the idea, but Carter had the implicit support of his generation. These days, we’re shocked and horrified by families who reject their children based on sexuality, so even when his parents were upset, Carter had had enough exposure to people who did accept homosexuality to know they were being jerks. Obviously it still hurt, but there’s a difference between “you aren’t accepting who I am” and “there really is something wrong with me.” Levi came from a generation where he’d be more inclined to believe HE was the problem, rather than his parents’ reaction being the problem.
Jodi: Why does Hollywood seem more accepting of Carter and Ari than of Levi and Anna?
L.A.: With Carter, he’s been out from day one. He started his career as a young gay man, and it’s what’s expected of him. Levi, however, established himself as a macho action hero, which gave himself two strikes: one, he didn’t come out right away, so people assumed he was straight, and two, he’s the “macho” type, which people incorrectly assume means straight. So for Levi, coming out meant redefining himself. And Hollywood isn’t big on that kind of thing, which is why you see actors get typecast and struggle to break out of that type (i.e., comedy actors trying to be taken seriously).
Plus, as Finn Larson (the slimy producer) points out to Levi, the public sometimes perceives coming out as something “trendy” or done for attention. If Levi came out while he was in the middle of making an acting comeback, it could easily be perceived as a publicity stunt. (And yes, just writing that makes me see red.)
As far as Anna, well, to be honest, there’s no shortage of misogyny in Hollywood. Being a director, Anna’s already fighting an uphill battle just by being female. Adding in that she’s a lesbian – and thus “rejecting” men – she has an even bigger struggle. Without naming names, that sadly comes from actual anecdotes from people I know.
Jodi: You and Aleksandr Voinov have partnered up, again, to write The Lone Wolf, which is the fourth book set in Bluewater Bay. Tell us a little about that book.
L.A.: First, it’s the closest thing to a romantic comedy that Team VoinWitt will ever produce. Second, it’s kind of a hat tip to fan fiction writers. Many M/M fans came to this genre from fanfic, so we thought it would be fun to work fanfic into a book.
Basically, Hunter Easton is the author of the wildly successful Wolf’s Landing series, and he’s stuck on the next book. A friend of his (who goes by the handle Lone Wolf) writes some novel-length fanfic. Lone Wolf – aka, Kevin – thinks he’s sending his book to another fan for some beta reading, but it turns out, he’s actually sent it to Hunter Easton himself. And Hunter adores the book. So you have a fanfic book that winds up getting incorporated into the series it was based on, and all the while, author and fanfic author are falling in love with each other.
It was just some good fun. So much fun, in fact, that Aleks’s partner didn’t believe we were actually working. I was staying with them in London while we wrote it, and we kept laughing our heads off. He was convinced we were just goofing off. But we were actually writing!
Jodi: You collaborate with other authors all of the time and seem to have a great rapport with Aleks (Market Garden universe, Hostile Ground). Is it more challenging to write with a cowriter?
L.A.: I’m fairly certain that Aleks has a USB port in the base of my skull. The connection we have is unreal. I have a great rapport with all of my co-authors, but with Aleks, it’s kind of spooky sometimes.
In general, it’s actually easier to co-write. On my own, when I get stuck, I either have to figure it out myself or go hit up a beta reader. When you’re co-writing, you have two brains in the same book, which makes it exponentially easier to work out plot problems. And brainstorming with a co-author is ridiculously fun.
Plus, you can’t co-write with someone and not learn something. I’ve learned from every single one of my co-writers, and I think I’m a better author (on my own and otherwise) because of it.
Jodi: What are some of the challenges with creating a universe for a series that will have multiple authors’ writing stories?
L.A.: The biggest thing is making sure everybody is on the same page about what the town looks like and what kind of “vibe” it has. With Tucker Springs, for example, Marie Sexton and I actually spent some time together in the area on which the town was based.
We generally create a “bible” containing all the pertinent information about the town, and we update it based on what everybody does: Like if someone closes a business, opens a new one, burns a building down, etc. We do the same with people – anyone who is mentioned, from a barista at the coffee shop all the way up to main characters, gets listed, and then we make sure everyone uses them consistently. Characters listed in the bible are also fair game for anyone who wants to write a story about them, too.
It’s challenging, but it’s not too hard.
Jodi: Does Lauren Gallagher ever write about characters from L.A. Witt’s books? For example would Lauren write a book focused on Anna Maxwell?
L.A.: Lauren actually is writing Anna Maxwell’s book. That one will be out much later in the series, and is tentatively titled Stuck Landing, but yes, Lauren will be getting involved with Bluewater Bay.
As far as Lauren writing characters from L.A. Witt’s books in general… there are a few cameo Easter eggs in some of my books (Angel and Dante from Out of Focus make a brief appearance in I’ll Show You Mine, for example). There’s also a character from The Princess and the Porn Star (one of Lauren’s books) who will likely get his own L.A. Witt story at some point.
Jodi: What is your next project?
L.A.: As always, I have numerous projects in the works. I’m currently finishing up a sweet Christian romance, which will be released by Riptide next year under the name Ann Gallagher. I also seem to be on a bisexual ménage binge, so expect to see some of those in the very near future. Then there’s the sequel to Aleks Voinov’s Dark Soul, which sadly had to go onto the back burner for a little while but is going to get done before the end of 2015.
And speaking of Aleks, he’ll be coming to visit me in Seattle very soon, and we’ll be getting some long overdue co-writing time in. We’ve got some Market Garden books in the works, a WWII historical that we’ve been itching to finish, and some other cool stuff in the works.
Hollywood is full of dirty secrets, but Carter refuses to be Levi’s.
Retired action star Levi Pritchard has made a quiet life for himself in the sleepy logging town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. But then Hollywood comes to film the wildly popular television series Wolf’s Landing, and Bluewater Bay isn’t so sleepy anymore. His retirement doesn’t stick, either, because he’s offered a part on the show—exactly the kind of complex role he’d always wanted, one that would prove him more than a glorified stuntman. The only catch? He has to stay in the closet—no matter how attractive he finds his co-star.
Carter Samuels is the critically-acclaimed male lead on Wolf’s Landing. And now, the man who inspired him to take up acting—and made him realize he’s gay—is joining the cast, and sparks fly between them instantly. But Carter is out and proud and determined to stay true to himself.
Remaining just friends is the only thing to do, as both the studio and Levi’s disapproving, dysfunctional family keep reminding them. Except their friendship deepens by the day, tempting them with what they can’t have but both desperately need.