The author behind today’s 5.4.8×5 interview is none other than Lynn Lorenz. My first foray into her work was Edward Unconditionally and while she’s written many other truly wonderful stories, this one still holds a special place for me for reasons you’ll discover during the interview. Not only is Lynn a gifted writer she’s also a great friend, one who’s help over the past few years has been both invaluable and very much appreciated. I’m not sure what I did in a past life to have stumbled across so many amazingly kind and generous writers, but I’m happy to say Lynn is one of them. So without further ado…
Ethan: In a sea of straight-acting gay men, who populate the terrain of Gay or M/M romance, you presented us with Edward in Edward Unconditionally, the third book in your Common Powers series. I even mentioned to you once that he reminded me of one of my best friends, which is part of what made this book work on so many levels for me. : ) What was it about this character that spoke to you as the author, where the hell did you find him, and what made you write his love story, well…unconditionally, for lack of a better term?
Lynn: I’d been writing a lot of “butch” guys, men who were closeted or because of where they lived, were outwardly seen as more straight than gay for self-preservation. Edward had been dancing around in my back brain, doing a bold and sassy cha-cha with lots of booty shakin’, and I couldn’t resist him. Well, who can resist a man in chocolate brown leather fringe? I hadn’t read very many stories with such an openly gay character, and I worried at first that readers wouldn’t like him. I worried that my publisher would publish the story with a non-butch hero. But I found that of all my characters, Edward is the one that everyone asks about. He’s endearing, vulnerable, smart, and smart-mouthed, and although he’s been a little beaten down by life, his bad choices and his family, he doesn’t let that stop him. He’s at a point in his life where it’s time to take things seriously, or be doomed to repeat the same mistakes, and he’s determined to change his ways because he wants more.
Ethan: He is a really great character, Lynn. He definitely has a spirit that jumps right off the page. How do you feel Edwards’s special gift of being able to figure out and fix what’s wrong with everyone but himself affect the person he’d become as the book began? I found myself wondering if that would be stressful for him, to always be able to give of himself, yet never be the recipient of that gift. Did that factor into your development of his character at all?
Lynn: For Edward, the ability to heal was just one of the many facets of his life he’d never taken seriously. It was there, and he used it, but never really thought of it as a gift, more like a pain in the ass, since he couldn’t use it on himself. Edward was floating through his life without a guiding wind. As with most people, it took a wake-up call to open his eyes to what he is truly capable of, how strong he can really be, and how remarkable a person he is. It was part of his character’s arc – going from cha-cha-ing through life, to having to make some hard choices, that brings Edward to a new place, a place where he can finally be Edward, Unconditionally.
Ethan: I think every author has that moment, when a reader or reviewer gleans some aspect from your book that you never consciously set out to include when you were writing the story. Has there been anything about Edward Unconditionally that came as a shock to you after the fact – perhaps a characterization revelation or unintended plot point?
Lynn: Not that I can think of. But it’s been a while since I wrote Edward, and there might have been something then that I can’t remember. I do remember one poster saying that the stuff with his grandmother was slow and thinking, “I think she’s missed the point.” Another person complained about the lack of sex and the length of time it took for Jack and Edward to “get it on.”
I did that intentionally, building sexual tension can be as exquisite as the act, making it that much sweeter when it does happen. My books don’t tend to be filled with pages and pages of sex, but with Edward, Unconditionally, the lack of sex didn’t hurt it at all. In fact, I think most of the readers appreciated the slow burning build up. I hope they did at least.
Edwards best friend, the very opinionated bulldog, Winston played an integral role in bringing his owner and Chief of Police, Jack Whittaker together. Was that the intention from the very beginning or did that idea come to you as the story progressed? I only ask since love-by-dog-attack isn’t one of the go-to meet-cutes one automatically thinks of when beginning a love story. : )
Lynn: I wanted an opening that would set the tone of the story, and show, in one scene, who Edward was and who Jack was, and Winston was the dog for the job. I love quirky situations, mixing it up, and it could have been a routine traffic stop, but I twisted it a bit. Also, Edward needed a best friend, and everyone knows “a boy and his dog” is one of the closest friendships there is. To Edward, Winston is the one being who has accepted Edward for who he is, loves him completely, and Edward loves Winston right back with the same acceptance. Finding a person to love him the same way was what Edward needed.
Ethan: Aside from the entitlement that comes from his upbringing, in spite of the fact he falls on, what some might deem the more fem side with regard to his sexuality and despite his otherwise total lack of direction in life, Edward does have a strength about him that rivals Jack’s more obvious style. It’s a much more subtle type of strength, but where do you think that comes from and how important was that in your mind when it came to making this story and these characters mesh so well?
Lynn: Edward’s strength comes from inside, that part of a person that whispers “get up, don’t stay down.” He’s been knocked down hard in his life, but his spirit isn’t damaged by it. He’s still open to love, willing to chance it, ready to get up off the mat when he’s been knocked on his ass, and try again. When he meets Jack, he sees the strength of control Jack has and when he lets himself gather his own control, he discovers what he’s truly capable of.
Jack on the other hand, has had an equally hard life, but he’s shut himself off from his emotions and from love, telling himself he doesn’t need it. He’s physically strong, and in complete control of his emotions and needs, until he meets Edward. Edward is the catalyst that opens Jack’s heart and mind to a life he thought he couldn’t have or didn’t deserve.
Ethan: Thank you so much for stopping by and giving us a little insight into your writing process as well as a little background from this wonderful book. For the rest of you…please enjoy the excerpt below!!
When Jack meets Edward at a traffic stop, his world is rocked — and not for the better. Edward is the gayest man he’s ever seen, and Spring Lake is a small town just getting comfortable with its own new gay couple, Brian Russell and Rush Weston. Unlike Edward, Rush and Brian are big, strapping, manly men. But manly isn’t what turns Jack on. It’s Edward — everything about the younger man drives Jack wild with desire and the need to control Edward’s wild, impetuous spirit.
For Edward, his attraction to “bad boys” has been his romantic downfall. His heart’s been broken so many times he’s lost count. When he meets Jack, Edward falls for the all-American by-the-book lawman, but finds his attempts rebuffed and his pride severely wounded. Jack’s straight, or at least says he is, but Edward knows that look in Jack’s eyes, he’s seen it before from other men. How can a man so right be so wrong?
Edward tempts Jack beyond anyone he’s ever met and his desire for Edward builds each time he encounters the younger man, until he can no longer deny it or himself. But Edward doesn’t want sex on the side, he wants forever. He wants the fairy tale.
Can Jack give Edward what he wants or will Jack’s fear of being ridiculed for his choice of a partner keep them from their Happily Ever After?
“Hell and damnation!” Edward flicked his gaze to the rearview mirror.
A large white car with blue and red flashing lights followed him, and he could hear the wail of a siren. For a moment, he thought about not stopping but decided Texas wasn’t the place to try to elude the cops. Didn’t they use cattle prods here?
“You don’t think that’s the welcoming committee, do you?”
“I didn’t think so.” Edward slowed down and eased off the road as far as he could without going into a ditch big enough to eat a Buick.
He reached over, picked up his jacket, and fished out his wallet. Taking his proof of insurance and the registration papers from the glove box, he sat back and waited, his fingers drumming rhythmically on the wheel.
“You don’t think Barney Fife was using gaydar, do you?” Edward chuckled as he watched the cop car pull behind him.
Winston scratched at the door.
“You need to go walksies, Winston?”
Edward grabbed Winston’s leash, dug under the red bandanna that decorated Winston’s neck, and clipped the end to a leather collar. Getting out, Edward pulled on the leash, and Winston hopped down.
A deep, irritated voice came out of the air. “Driver. Get back in your vehicle.”
Edward waved at the cop to let him know it was all right and walked around the car with Winston. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, Winston,” he intoned as the dog, head down, nose in action, sniffed his way along the grass at the side of the road.
“I said get back in your car. That’s an order.”
Good Lord, there was no need to get pissy about it.
Edward called over his shoulder as the dog pulled him farther away, “My ID is on the seat if you need it. I just need to walk my dog.”
* * * * *
“No. No. No,” Jack muttered. This was not happening to him. He’d given that guy a direct order, and he wasn’t used to being disobeyed. Jack shook his head, and the motion started the pounding again.
“Fuck!” He opened the car door, got out, slid his hat on his head, and put his hand on the butt of his semiautomatic. There was no way in hell he was going to take this crap from some… He stopped, doing a double take at the young man and his dog.
“What the—” he muttered under his breath.
The man and the dog wore matching red bandannas tied around their necks. Jack blinked. The dog, one of those ugly-as-hell bulldogs, waddled down the side of the road. Immense balls swung with every step as he pulled his master after him like a cowboy holding on to a stubborn cow headed for the barn.
His owner wore the tightest dark blue jeans Jack had ever seen cover a man’s behind. His ice blue shirt was Western cut, but the piping had brown leather fringe. At least, Jack thought it was leather.
“Oh my God.” Jack held back a snicker. Was this guy for real?
Jack headed to the car, leaned over the door, and picked up the packet of papers.
“Get over here. Now,” Jack ordered as he looked at each form. After checking the name, Jack tossed the registration on the seat. It matched the name on the insurance card, which he added to the pile.
He picked up the leather wallet. Soft, supple, it reeked of Italy and money. He had no idea how much it cost, but it was probably more than he’d spend on a good leather jacket. Looking up, he watched the driver approach and come around the car with the dog pulling hard on the leash and growling.
Jack looked at the dog and frowned, then up to the man’s face. Early thirties, five feet ten inches, short black hair, and deep brown eyes that stopped Jack in his tracks.
The growling grew closer, louder, then white-hot pain erupted as the dog chomped down on Jack’s ankle and shook his leg like a…well, like a dog with a bone.
“What the fuck!” Jack jumped back, dropped the wallet, and drew his weapon.
“No! Don’t hurt Winston!” the guy yelled, lunged forward, and grabbed Jack’s weapon arm.
Jack’s mind screamed ambush, and his adrenaline kicked into overdrive. He hopped backward as he jerked his arm away from the man and tried to kick the dog off his leg at the same time. Everyone was growling, and everyone had a piece of him.
“Let go of me!” Jack shouted. “Stop it, or the gun might go off!”
“Don’t shoot!” The man’s grip tightened on his arm, now more frantic than before. Jack flexed his bicep and pulled the guy into him, his gun pointed at the sky.
Through gritted teeth, Jack said, “If you let me go right now and get this mutt off me, I won’t shoot you both.” They weren’t quite chest to chest; the guy was shorter than Jack by a good four inches. Jack wanted to kill the son of a bitch right then and there. Then the damned dog.
“Promise?” Breathy and soft, that one word shivered down Jack’s spine and held him in its grip.
“I promise.” He had no idea why he was making promises to this man. He didn’t have to promise a damn thing; he was the law.
The man let go and stepped away just as the dog shook Jack again, its massive head snapping from side to side. Jack hopped backward and his arms pinwheeled in the air. He lost his footing, went down on his side, hit his head on the ground, and a new wave of pain erupted as his elbow jammed down on the blacktop.
The front tire on the car hissed and flattened.
The man grabbed the dog, cooed to it, and Jack felt the dog’s teeth release his leg.
No one was going to believe this. Thank God his patrol car wasn’t one of the ones that had the new dash video cameras and that this moment wouldn’t be captured. And shared among all his men for them to laugh at him.
If it were up to him, no one would know about this either.
Standing over Jack with the dog in his arms, the man looked down at him. The bulldog’s tongue licked around its mouth as if savoring the taste of Jack’s flesh and blood, looking very pleased with itself.
From his spot on the ground, Jack said, “You’re lucky I didn’t shoot you.”
He shoved his gun back into the holster and pushed himself up to sitting. After pulling up his leg, he rolled up his cuff, pushed down his black sock, and examined the bite. Two puncture wounds just above his ankle leaked blood, his pants were shredded, and his dignity was shot to hell.
Would it be murder? First degree or manslaughter? How much time would he have to do?
“I’m going to have to impound your dog. He doesn’t have a tag.” Jack grabbed his hat and shoved it back on.
“You can’t do that!” The man clutched his dog to him and stepped back. “Winston can’t go to jail.”
“Yes, I can. I’m the fucking chief of police. I can do anything I fucking want to. And if you give me any more lip, I’ll toss you in a cell and throw away the fucking key.” Jack pushed to his feet. “Now, put the dog back in your car.”
Finally, the guy did what Jack told him to do. The dog hopped in, and as the man shut the Miata’s door, he murmured to the dog, “Stay right there, Winston.”
Jack glared at the dog, then said, “Now, hands on the car and spread your legs.”
Jack grabbed the man’s arm and spun him around. “I said, spread your legs,” he growled as a flash of power and control shot through his body. Uh-uh. Not good.
“But I hardly know you. I’m really not that kind of guy,” he drawled over his shoulder.
As the bulldog kept his eyes on Jack, probably looking for a chance to bite again, Jack slid his hands over the guy’s back, hips, and down his legs, lingering on firm muscles, absorbing the heat of the younger man’s body. “Anything you want to declare?”
“Just my sexuality, Officer.”
“That’s chief of police.” Unfortunately, he was clean. Jack had hoped he’d find something on the dude, just to add to the list of charges. “Put your hands behind your back.” Jack pulled out his cuffs.
“I said, ‘Put your hands behind your back.’”
“Am I under arrest?” This time the younger man did as he was told. Jack slapped the handcuffs over his wrists and then walked him by the arm over to his patrol car.
“This is for your protection and mine. I’ll take them off if everything checks out.”
Jack caught a flicker of fear in his brown eyes; then it was gone. Jack didn’t answer. Instead, he said, “Stay here; don’t move.” Jack leaned him against the bumper.
Sliding behind the wheel, he picked up the radio and took a deep breath. The man had made him so mad Jack had lost his professionalism, lost his control, and had cursed. Not cool.
Christ, Jack had been so rattled, he hadn’t followed procedure. For all Jack knew, he could be wanted in three states. That shirt alone should get the guy arrested.
He stole a look at his prisoner, decided it was time to pull himself together and act like the cop he was, put down the mic, and got out of the car. He strode over to the Miata and picked up the driver’s license and wallet lying on the ground, then gathered up the other papers.
Jack stared at it. “Edward Paul Beauregard the Third? Are you joking?”
“No.” The man stood straighter.
“The Third?” Who puts that on their license? Senior, junior, maybe, but the little III behind the name seemed so pretentious.
“Yes. I’m Edward Beauregard, of the Atlanta Beauregards,” he drawled, as if it should mean something to Jack.
“Well, Mr. Beauregard, I’m going to call in your license and see if you need to be sitting in the back with that crazed mutt of yours.” Sitting in the car again, he picked up the mic and read off the numbers to his dispatcher. If it came back positive, he’d put the guy in the back of the car. With his damn dog.
“He’s not a crazed mutt. He’s registered.” Beauregard tilted his nose upward.
“Registered as a lethal weapon?”
“Lethal weapon. Cute. I had no idea sheriffs were so funny.”
Jack let the sheriff comment slide. “Does he always attack people?”
The man looked Jack up and down, then purred, “Like me, I guess he can’t resist a man in uniform.”
© Copyright 2009 Lynn Lorenz