Author Spotlight ~ A. Zukowski

 

A warm welcome to today’s Spotlight Author, A. Zukowski.

Thank you for joining us and sharing more about yourself.

A. Zukowski

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in too many places to name, but I consider Manchester, UK, my home town. I grew up roaming the gay village, which was a red light district. They tried to clean it up, so it’s not that bad now. Later, I worked in London and studied screenwriting. After many more moves, I’ve come back to London where I’m based now.

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

Ah. If you meet me in person, you’ll think I’m totally, absolutely ordinary and boring. ^_^

How do you relax?

You know, that thing people do…

Do you have a favorite quote (either from your own books or one’s you’ve read)?

I’m with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter ~ Allen Ginsberg, Howl

How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing?

As a screenwriter, I found myself creating things that simply wouldn’t sell! Everyone kept telling me to write something else, write what I knew. When I did that, it never lived up to what they thought my life was about. Well, the only person who never judged me that way was my mentor, who’s a wonderful producer, and who used to work for the BBC. So, about three, four years ago, I started writing fiction, fully expecting none of it to see the light of day. I dabbled with blogging. But when I finished Jay and Sasha’s story, I really wanted to share it.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my writing. I still don’t.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Do I have a writing career now? The reaction I’ve been receiving for my debut novel has been a surprise to me, and it’s encouraging. I’d like to carry on writing, and to find readers who get it. I have no particular ambition as a writer.

What’s your favorite part of writing?

The emotional journey. It’s a bit clichéd, isn’t it? But seriously, my stories are always about characters. The MCs end up living in my head for months on end. They love, they hate, they self-doubt and they make big fucking mistakes. I like that.

Why did you choose to write GLBTQ romance? Why not another genre?

Ha! I think one of the recent reviews states that my book’s not a romance. I tell stories, and I try not to fit them into genres. I’ve been told by publishers that they can’t consider my books because people die(!) or they don’t have sex scenes etc. I do give my characters love and a happy ending, though, because they’ve earned it.

Do you write any other genre?

I think that’s why LGBTQ romance is useful because you can combine it with other genres. After the London Stories series, I’ve also got several WIPs, which are part of a queer romance sci-fi series.

Describe a scene in your writing that has made you laugh or cry.

Hmmm. The child abuse in The Boy was hard to write, and I cried more than once. I didn’t want to detail it first, but my editor suggested that I really should, since it’s an important part of Sasha’s character. Of course, she was right. In fact, writing so many horrific scenes in his story was not easy. I was so depressed all the time, I can’t tell you. In case you are wondering, though, I enjoy the lighter scenes as well, and there is HEA. The MCs are both tremendous characters who can laugh about things, even when they struggle through life.

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Give the readers a brief summary of your latest book.

Jay Palmer is two months away from his sixteenth birthday. He doesn’t realise how his life will be changed forever when a gang of thugs leaves a badly injured boy on his doorstep. He and his single mum Maggie nurse the stranger, who turns out to be sixteen-year-old Aleksander Zukowski, also known as Sasha. Sasha ran away from care two and half years ago. He sleeps rough, is addicted to drugs and sells himself on the streets of London to fund his habit. For the first time in his life, he has a reason to change.

Sasha confirms what Jay already knows about himself but it’s not easy for Jay to come out to his macho mates in a largely black neighbourhood. Sasha has an uphill struggle to stay clean when his past simply throws him back into the abyss.

It’s a YA gay romance about two teenagers finding love, courage and redemption on the mean streets of London.

What genre does it fall in?

A YA/NA gay romance

Share a few words about your latest book, other than the usual blurb.

At one point, I’d drifted through the Dutch cities—Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam—sleeping in shelters and hostels. Before some of these places opened for the night, we’d waited in the train stations and sometimes on the streets. It was foolhardy, but my eighteen-year-old self was fearless, and I live to tell the tale.

The Boy Who Fell to Earth comes from memories like this, and of my experiences of growing up. It’s also a dedication to some people I’ve lost. They’ve inspired me with their deep flaws, and their hope for love and acceptance.

Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they?

Jay’s a mixed race boy from East London. His mum’s a formidable mother figure, and they are poor, but strong people. He’s able to see through all the darkness to imagine the light. An absolutely stunning character to write. Sasha refers to Jay at one point, “I saw the little droplets of water on the fabric. They were as beautiful and pure as him.” That’s Jay.

Sasha’s basically a broken person, on the way to total self-destruction at various points of the novel. The question for me as a writer is what kind of journey he goes through, and how to get him there. How he learns that he can love another (Jay) and love himself. His story is absolutely heart-breaking. His personality is much closer to mine, so I seriously should have some counselling after finishing the novel.

Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon? Is this book part of a series?

It was not my intention to start a series, but I’ve already drafted the next book of the “London Stories series”. That’s Liam’s story. He’s Sasha’s drug addict friend who shares the squat with him. An Irish lad who ran away from home and ended up a panhandler in London. He’s going to find his own redemption in Liam for Hire. The third story in the series is a WIP at the moment, which is about Liam’s friend Chris who’s a trans/queer, bisexual man. The story will feature Chris and Alex, who’s an ex-boxer. Alex will come to terms with his sexuality, too.  

Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

I have absolutely no clue! River Phoenix circa. Running on Empty as Sasha? Ah, in the recent French film Quand on a 17 ans, the main character is mixed race and he really has a great presence. Let me find the name: Corentin Fila. He’d be a perfect Jay.

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.

I don’t know if I have one! I want to touch my readers, make them feel the characters’ emotions. It was suggested to me by my mentor (see above) that I’d always have a goal when I wrote. How do I want the readers to feel at the end of the story?

What does your writing process look like?

Messy. I usually start with the characters and a setting, and let the story flow. Not being schooled in literature, I don’t consider plot till much later. I do however think as a script writer, and am aware of the dramatic arc. Then, I spend months over the editing.  

When/where is your favorite time/place to write?

Night time. Too late – something like ten to two.

What genre/s do you enjoy reading in your free time?

As a reader, I don’t think about genres either, but these days I almost never read or watch anything that is heteronormative.

What was the last book you read? What did you like about it?

I am reading My Name is N by Robert Karjel, a Swedish writer. It’s a thriller and very layered, with intertwining stories happening in Indonesia, New York and an American detention centre in the Pacific. I’m enjoying it. The writing style is crisp, and the characters detailed and interesting. There was a news story when the translation came out in the USA, because some readers complained that they’d inadvertently picked it up, and hadn’t liked the fact that they were not warned about the central character’s bisexuality. Comments like that totally annoy me. The book’s working for me so far as a thriller.

Have you held any interesting jobs while you worked on your books?

Is it interesting that quite a while ago I worked with criminals (not in the sense that I robbed banks with them!)? They are great inspirations. Seriously, they, together with my own demons and all the crazies I’ve known, I have no shortage of characters I can write about for a very long time.

What hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I swim. I’m a geek who likes board games. Told you, absolutely bloody boring.

Thank you for stopping by and telling us more about yourself.

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The Boy Who Fell to Earth

Blurb:

A gang leaves a badly injured teenager on Jay’s doorstep. Sasha is homeless, addicted to drugs and sells himself on the streets to fund his habit. Jay’s attraction to Sasha confirms his sexuality. Now he has to come out to his macho mates. Sasha needs to stay clean when his past threatens to throw him back into the abyss. Are the two boys strong enough to stay together against all odds? A YA story about hope, courage, and compassion on the mean streets of London.

“It has a force that keeps you on the edge of the seat and a grittiness that opens your eyes and makes you think.” ~ Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

“I know this is one of those stories that will play on my mind long after I’ve stopped reading.” ~ Alpha Book Club

 

Buy links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Excerpt:

The first time Jay kisses a boy

We ended up sharing a joint again that afternoon. I carried on my one-sided conversation while he patiently listened to me, his newly cleaned hair shining in the sun. He had his back to the door frame, his eyes closed to catch the rays like he was on holidays enjoying himself, trying to get a tan. For the first time since we picked him off the front lawn, he was relaxed. I was absolutely mesmerised by the shape of his face, the lines of his nose, the vulnerability of that bruised body. I leaned forward and touched his lips with mine.

 His eyes snapped open, but he didn’t seem shocked or upset.

 Still. I moved away, awkwardly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” I muttered.

 He gazed at me, his eyes quietly assessing me. His facial expression was calm and receptive. “It’s okay.”

 My eyes went wide. “Okay? Hmm.” I busied myself with a little loose thread on my top. I hadn’t even kissed a boy before and now I had done this to a stranger, someone who didn’t yet have a name. What the fuck was I doing?

 He lit the joint and drew on it deeply. He breathed out, cocked his head, and looked at my face, as if he was trying to work me out. “Does your mum know you’re gay?”

 I stared at him. I hadn’t considered coming out seriously. Hell, I hadn’t even come out to myself, so why would I have spoken to Ma about it? “Uh, no,” I answered.

 He took another toke and passed the joint back to me. He didn’t comment further.

All my doubts evaporated. He’d acted like it was nothing special and, like he said, it was okay. Kissing a boy you found attractive was fine. I couldn’t believe I’d come out for the first time to a total stranger after kissing him.

About the Author

Zukowski is a London-based British writer who grew up in the gay village and red light district of Manchester. AZ was trained in screenwriting at the University of the Arts London; National Film & Television School and Script Factory, UK, followed by various misadventures as a film journalist, and writer and producer of short films.

Social Media Links:

Goodreads

WordPress Blog

Facebook

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Author Spotlight – Kenna Knight

A warm welcome to today’s Spotlight Author, Kenna Knight.

Thank you for joining us and sharing more about yourself.

KENNA KNIGHT

Interview Prompts…

The prized possession you value above all others… I would have to say my most prized possession is my computer. It holds so many ideas for future books as well as every manuscript I’ve ever written. Without it I would be lost and unable to work and since I love my work that would be devastating.

The unqualified regret you wish you could amend… I wish I had spent more time with her before she died. She had a stroke three years prior to her death and after the stroke I couldn’t see the person who raised me in her eyes any longer. It made it difficult to spend time with her but I should have done it anyway.

The temptation you wish you could resist… Sugar, plain and simple. I have a terrible sweet tooth.

The book that holds everlasting resonance… Brightside by Kim Holden moved me deeply. It showed me how beautiful and positive people can be even in the face of adversity.

The priority activity if you were invisible for a day… Oh, this is easy. I would hang out in my teenage daughter’s room and find out what she’s doing up there all the time.

The film you can watch time and time again… Okay now, don’t judge, but I can, and do, watch the Twilight series over and over. I love it and if I’ve gone too long without seeing it I’ll sit down and binge watch all five movies in a row.

The person who influenced you the most… My grandmother made me the person I am today. Without her love and guidance I don’t know what would have become of me.

The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity… The first thing that popped into my mind when I read this question was, strangely enough, writing. I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a little girl and that is what I went to college for. Writing came straight out of left field. If you had told me five years ago that I would be quitting my job at the hospital to become a full time author I would have laughed in your face.

The poem that touches your soul… Sticks and stones will build your thrones but love lives ever after. Atticus.

The event that altered the course of your life… My mother’s death when I was nine years old. Nothing has been the same since.

The happiest moment you will cherish forever… There are several, every time I had a child felt like the happiest moment of my life.

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you… Finding true love.

The way you would spend your fantasy twenty-four hours, with no travel restrictions… I would want to see England and France but with only twenty-four hours I would have to choose England.

The pet hate that makes your hackles rise… Mouth noises make me gag and crinkling wrappers in a quiet room makes me want to scream. OMG just stop!

The figure from history you would most like to buy a pie and a pint… Mary Queen of Scots. She was such a heroic, strong willed woman who fought for what she felt was right even when those around her tried to convince her differently.

The piece of wisdom you would pass onto a child… Love more. Judge less.

The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again… I didn’t lose it; it was stolen from me, but my mother’s wedding ring.

The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it… I would rig the lottery so I would win the Powerball!

The character you enjoyed writing the most… I wrote a story about an alpha male who was the wealthy owner of a chain of restaurants all over the world. He was damaged and brooding but when he met the protagonist he wanted to be a better man. To me that’s what love is all about, two people who are better when they are together.

The character you found difficult to write… It might sound odd but writing happy well-rounded characters is difficult for me. I don’t know many people who are genuinely happy and that makes them feel foreign to write.

The book you enjoyed planning/writing the most… The story about the alpha male I spoke of earlier. It was a trilogy that I put my heart and soul into. I was invested in those characters. I loved them. I knew them inside and out, they felt like my friends and family. I still miss them.

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Gay Couple Love Home Concept

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Author Bio

Kenna Knight was born and raised in the Midwest and now lives in sunny California with her children and her fur babies. Kenna is a laugh out loud extroverted introvert who has a voracious appetite for reading all types of romance stories.

A former health care professional turned romance author Kenna thrives on working full time from home where she can keep an eye on her kids. Kenna has been writing contemporary romance for five years under other pen names but only recently read her first m/m romance novel. She liked it so much she decided to try writing the genre herself and found that she loved it.

Kenna enjoys writing emotional stories with a touch of heartache, a pinch of disappointment, a smidgen of healing and a king sized helping of happily ever after.

Social Media Links

 

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Loving Noah is coming to Amazon and KU September 26th

Release Blitz ~ Exposure by Aly Hayden

New Release by Aly Hayden

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Title: Exposure

Author: Aly Hayden

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Aria from Resplendent Media

Genres: Contemporary M/M Romance

Length: 61,000 words/150 pages approx.

 It is the first book in the Drawn Together series.

Each book follows a different couple, so there’s a HEA and no cliffhanger.

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Blurb

Sam Hayward’s parents think he has a boyfriend. And he does… in his dreams. But when they insist Sam bring his partner to the annual Labor Day family reunion, his options are to either admit it was all a lie or find a stand-in in a hurry. The trouble is that his lies have all been based on one very real man.

Ben Matheny has been hurt before. When he’s bribed into playing a part by his friends, he fleshes out Sam’s dreams, but it’s like flying too close to the sun. He’s always had a crush on Sam, and now they’re going to the Hamptons to spend a week pretending they’re lovers, everything is getting harder.

When Ben uncovers another lie Sam has told – that Ben is every bit as rich as Sam is – things begin to unravel. If Sam isn’t happy with who Ben is, Ben can’t stick around to get burned again.

With their hearts on the line, the two must fight for their dreams as the pressure mounts. It would be so easy to admit that it was all a sham, but some dreams are worth the risk.

EXPOSURE BLURB

Excerpt

“Guess we have the hot tub all to ourselves,” Ben said with a smile.

He didn’t know whether he meant the words to be flirtatious or not. It was one thing to flirt when there were other people present. That was just what he did, how he interacted with people. Deliberately flirting with Sam was different. Dangerous.

“Guess we do.”

Sam’s voice was lower than usual. Almost seductive. There was no one around that would make Sam feel like he had to play the part of the boyfriend, which meant only one thing: Sam was actually into him. The signs were all there, if Ben was reading them correctly—the way Sam had taken to holding his hand, the morning wood after cuddling all night long, the look Sam had given him when he’d seen Ben in the shorts. And then there was that thing he had started to say right before they had gotten on the boat.

Much as Ben wanted to believe that Sam might have feelings for him too, there was still a part of him that wasn’t sure. There was certainly one way for him to find out, though. The hot tub was big enough for about six people, so naturally they had taken corners along the same wall. Slowly, Ben moved closer and closer to Sam, until they were sitting side by side. He took a deep breath, steeling his nerves, and let his leg brush against Sam’s.

“What are you doing?” Sam’s voice was low and husky, and when Ben looked up, he found Sam’s pupils so large that only a sliver of hazel showed around the edges.

He swallowed hard. “Getting closer to you.”

His heart beat so fast that his chest ached as he waited for Sam to do something. Say something. Have any reaction at all. It had been so easy when it was just flirting, but this…this was terrifying.

Seconds passed, though, and Sam didn’t move away. Instead, he leaned back against the side of the hot tub and slid his hand into Ben’s, underneath the water.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he said softly.

Encouraged by the reaction, Ben shifted down a bit and let his head rest on Sam’s shoulder. “Me too.” They sat in silence for a few seconds. Ben didn’t want to ruin the moment, but he knew that if he didn’t say anything, he would regret it. “Before, when we were about to get on the boat. What were you going to say?”

“I um…” Sam scratched at the back of his neck. “I was going to say, what if—”

“Sammy, Benny!”

Ben whipped around to see Karrigan. Someone had escaped from nap time. He fought to suppress a groan. Looked like this conversation would have to wait.

Buy Links ~ Available on KU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads Link

Meet the Author

Aly Hayden has loved writing ever since she learned to pick up a pencil. As a child, she used to write short stories, then progressed to novels of various genres, none of which were ever published – for good reason. She started writing fanfiction in 2011, publishing on Archive of Our Own. After finding M/M romance in 2012, she fell in love and made it her mission to write one of her own one day. When Aly isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her lovable Yorkie and watching old reruns of House Hunters.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook Author Page

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway: WIN ONE OF THREE e-copies of Exposure

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Release Blitz Schedule

EXPOSURE SCHEDULE 2

SEPTEMBER 14

Millsy Loves Books 

The Way She Reads

Tangents and Tissues 

Geekymama’s Reviews 

SEPTEMBER 15

Books Laid Bare Boys 

The Reading Addict 

Reviews by Crystal 

SEPTEMBER 16

Diverse Reader 

Bayou Book Junkie 

Top 2 Bottom Reviews and More 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

Making it Happen 

My Fiction Nook 

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author 

Megan’s Media Melange 

A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

SEPTEMBER 19

Drops of Ink  

 

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