I am thrilled to welcome Garrett Leigh to UK Gay Romance. She has been incredibly supportive of our venture. We have an exclusive first glimpse of her cover art for Slide, to be published by Dreamspinner, and Garrett is offering a giveaway of Gypsy Rain, listed as a favourite book on the blog. Have you been to any of the places mentioned in Garrett’s interview? Leave a comment below to be entered into the draw.
Hmm, where to start? I live in a small commuter town just north of London with my husband, two kids, a dog with half a brain, and a cat with a chip on her shoulder. I’m 29, and now I’ve reached that milestone, I intend to stay here for the foreseeable future.
I’ve been writing just about my whole life, but it’s been about three years since I decided to take it seriously. It got to the stage where I either had to give the men in my head a voice, or have myself committed.
Angst. I can’t write a word without it. I’ve tried, I really have, but my 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.
I’m contracted at Dreamspinner Press and Extasy books. I’m also a freelance cover artist at Dreamspinner Press, and I do my very best to produce all my own cover art. The covers you will see below are all mine. I go indie style as well for those who self-publish, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
How did I come to MM?
I began writing MM long before I ever read much of it. Whenever I sat down to write, I opened my laptop and a bunch of tortured beardy men came out. Every time. Over and over I tried to write from the POV of a woman, to insert a wonderful, emotive heroine, but I couldn’t do it. It didn’t work. It didn’t sound right. It didn’t feel right.
So I gave in and wrote my darkly troubled boys, and over time, it just became natural to weave them together. Of course, I never looked back. Who would in a genre of such scope and beauty?
That being said, I adore the women in my books, and in the books of other who manage to write them far better than I ever could. Women are strong, maternal, warm and wonderful beings, and the wounded MC’s I create couldn’t survive without them.
I just can’t get into their heads enough to give them a book of their own. Or maybe I can, and that’s the problem. It’s not escapist enough, because writing is a cathartic exercise for me. In all my books, you will find traces of my own personal demons, my own private battles. For me, it’s the very essence of what I write.
Where do I base my books?
You’ve picked a very good time to ask me that question. If you’d asked me a year ago, I would’ve said America all the way. At the time, I was writing the Roads series, which is set in Chicago.
As I’ve said above, I put a lot of myself into my writing, and with Slide and its accompanying books, it was the characters who caught the short straw and took on much of my own personality, traits and experiences. I’d walked in Ash’s shoes (to a certain degree), but I knew next to nothing about Chicago, and it was research that allowed me to explore the wonderful city he’d made his first ever real home.
Fast forward a year and I began writing Gypsy Rain, and later, its sequel, Gypsy Storm (more about that later). I based the books in the UK…Cornwall to begin with, and later, London.
Writing that series was a very different process to Roads. This time, my characters were people I didn’t really know. I hadn’t lived their lives, or felt the things they’d felt, but because of where the stories were set, I had been where they’d been, and it was a wonderful experience to take them on a journey through the electric streets of Dalston and Stoke Newington…Camden and Tottenham. Places where I’d lived a heady and briefly exotic life of my own. Dex’s soul was, and still is, very much a mystery to me, but I could taste the air he was breathing, hear the rumble of the London buses, and feel his apprehension as he stepped onto the tube for the very first time.
Also, it was refreshing to let my Brit side go wild. I’d experimented recently with creating a British character in my wounded war vet novel, Only Love, and I loved it. It was refreshing to write without restraint, and without having to think ‘would an American really say that?’ You would not believe how liberating it was to write the phrase ‘…bloody hell, you daft twat…’ and know it was truly in the right place!
Little things, I know, but banded together they mean everything.
What’s next, and what am I writing at the moment?
At the moment, I’m fully engrossed in Gypsy Storm, the sequel for the teeny tiny novella Gypsy Rain.
When I released Gypsy Rain, many people asked for Dex’s story. I didn’t want to write it at first. Poor Dex has a terrible story to tell, but of course, once I started, I couldn’t stop. Gypsy Storm is a much longer, darker book, and pretty brutal, but one I felt I had to write. Not sure when it will be done, but probably around September, and then I need to make a decision what to do with it.
After that, who knows?
Cornish fudge maker Seb Wright is anticipating and dreading the upcoming tourist season with equal measure. The cash injection is more than welcome, the long hours in the sticky, vanilla scented kitchen less so.
A few days into the first tentative sparks of summer a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Vagrant Dex is a new face in town…a beautiful, sullen enigma, and yet with each busy day that passes, Seb finds himself becoming more and more attracted to the mysterious, young man.
A young man who seems destined to become the heartbeat of a summer he’ll never forget.
He was on his third trip between the cottage and the shop when the heavens opened. Briefly, he couldn’t believe his rotten luck, until he spotted Dex shuffling up the street, once again soaked to the skin.
For a moment, he stared. The bruises on Dex’s face had faded to a dull shade of greenish yellow, and from a distance, they could hardly be seen.The image of him huddled in the doorway of the beachwear shop flashed into his mind, and he found himself suddenly, irrationally, angry.
Were they really still there? Really still in a place where Dex was hiding from a summer storm with nowhere to go? Still in a place where he went home to his comfortable bed every night with no clue where Dex laid his head?
Something inside him snapped. He propped the heavy cooling slab he carried against a dry stone wall, pulled his hood up, and started down the road. Paying the rain no heed, Dex was walking with his eyes down, so he didn’t notice Seb until he was practically on top of him.
“Come home with me.”
Dex raised his head, blinking in surprise. “What?”
“Come home with me. You can’t sleep out in this.”
The defiance in his eyes broke Seb’s heart. Dex had never admitted that he had no place to call home, and it seemed he never would. “Says me,” he said shortly. “I’m working at home tonight, and you’re coming with me.”
Dex stared at him, his face inscrutable, and the silence stretched on and on, punctuated only by a brutal clap of thunder. “What do you want from me?”
Seb stepped closer and lightly touched the fading marks on Dex’s face. “I want you to be safe and dry, even if it’s only for one night. I can’t… fuck. I can’t leave you out here. Please don’t make me.”
Watch out for Gypsy Storm sometime next year!
Slide (Roads #1)
Slide is the first of the four part Roads series being released by Dreamspinner Press. It will be followed by Marked, Rare and Freed.
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…all the things Ash never knew he could have…never knew he wanted until Pete showed him a different way to live.
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 too late that Ash has slipped away from him. Betrayal, secrets and lies unfold and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, he must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.
More than Life
More than Life is a novella set in Kosovo, coming out with Extasy Books sometime, the details are still pretty vague, but here’s the working blurb.
An extraordinary bond forged in war, shattered by death and saved by love.
Set in the Kosovan war, Mikail a young ethnic Albanian catholic, fights in the underground resistance, smuggling intelligence and precious cargo out of war torn Pristina. Isa, an enigmatic CIA operative becomes an unlikely ally, and when a secret mission brings them together, heat, passion and a love they’ve never known consumes them. They forge a deep bond, but the war around them continues to rage, and as Serbian forces close in on Pristina, Isa makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his young lover.
Four years later, Mik lives in the shadow of the Albanian mountains, trying to rebuild his life with what remains of his family. His grief for Isa weighs heavily on his young shoulders until one day a lone man appears in the forest. Is the broken stranger the love Mik believed was gone forever, or is he just a dream?
Only Love, my wounded solider novel, is under review right now. I’m hoping it’s contracted, but I’m at that horrible waiting stage where I’m utterly convinced it won’t be. Ask me again in September!
I also have a series of dirty novellas under review at certain publishing house. Bullet will be the first book from the Blue Boy Studio series, but I’m still not sure who will be releasing them. Again, ask me in a month or two!
Edit: Garrett asked me to include the fantastic news that the Blue Boy Studio series was signed by Loose ID last night
To sum up…
So yeah, that’s me. I’m relatively new on the scene, but I’m hoping that will change in the next year or so. I’ve got a lot going on, and a lot coming up. I’ve met some wonderful people in the genre already, and I hope to meet many, many more.
Thanks for having me,
Internet links (Social Media)
Cover Art: email@example.com