Monday, August 1, 2011

Guest Blog: Brien Michaels

Happy Monday all.  Today Brien Michaels has come by to hang at my Place for a little chat and to share an excerpt from the upcoming book, Sparks Fly.  Yaaaay!  There's a giveaway going over on his site, so you'll want to check that out too.  Now, with a warm welcome, I to turn the Place over to Brien.

I have an addiction...

They say that the first step to solving your problem is admitting you have one, right? Well, here goes… *Stands up. Takes a deep breath* My name is Brien Michaels, m/m author, and I’m addicted to straight/closeted guys. Well, writing them, anyway. There’s just something about that constant war raging inside their heads that draws me in and doesn’t want to let me go. Writing their stories is troubling and tragic and quite possibly doing some permanent damage to my mental health, but damn it I don’t care. Telling the story of a man who never believed he would fall for another man is just way too fulfilling to give up. I know there’s at least one author out there *nudges Cara* who knows what I mean.

As far as I can tell, this whole thing started slightly before the holiday season of 2009, when these two guys strolled into my head with a perfectly heart-breaking story of (literally) not being allowed to love each other. The manuscript held me captivated for the two and a half months it took me to write it, and when I was done, I think I danced around the projection booth at my job (or the writing cave, as some of my co-workers so affectionately call it when they don’t see me for a couple hours), I loved it so much. But despite my love, I told myself that I couldn’t go down that road of forbidden love again; that I wasn’t that cruel and sadistic of an author to put another set of characters through a similar situation, or perhaps worse.

Then, maybe a month later, another pair strolled into my mind and, that same day, the first 3k of their story poured from my fingers faster than anything I’ve ever written. I knew from the outset that their story would be one of intense emotional torture, but I kept working away at it, anyway. There were scenes where I laughed, scenes where I got all teary eyed, and one in particular where I legitimately had to walk away from the computer I was so disgusted with myself. But by the time I typed The Endor, in my case it’s usually the date I started the story through the date I finished itI had never been happier with a completed manuscript. Come to think of it, still to this day, I haven’t. Their ending just felt…worked for, you know?

I think that’s what attracts me to those particular types of stories. When you’ve got one man who’s completely unwilling, or even mostly unwilling, paired with one who either wants it or is almost equally as unwilling, the chemistry when they finally get down to business is amazingly powerful. And if you do it right, by the time the last page rolls around their happy ending feels like it’s been earned. On top of that, if I put them through hell and high water just to be together, it’s very unlikely they’ll break up anytime soon. Or at least that’s what I like to think. The characters sometimes take on a mind of their own.

The pairing in Sparks Fly was born out of this morbid fascination, but this one was way different than anything I’d done before. This time my heroes were just kind of thrust together. But it was only because it was the end of the world and all the women were dead. No big deal. Wanna see what happens when a straight man and a man who’s repressed his…urges since high school meet on a cruise? Huh? Huh? Huh? Sparks Fly is releasing from Etopia Press this Friday!

Wanna win a free copy? Take the sentence below and visit my blog for all the details.

“The sharp pang in Eduardo’s chest alarmed him, but only because it proved to him that he was falling for this guy much faster than he’d even believed possible.”

*Goes back to current straight boy torture.*

You can find me online at:

The excerpt:
Lincoln had been shocked when the ship’s captain had agreed to let him throw one of his meet and greets. He’d known it was a long shot when he’d first proposed the idea, but he figured they’d make some money for both himself and the captain. But as he mingled with the throng, the same familiar, tired emotions washed over him. Before he’d started organizing these parties, Lincoln had never understood just how much work faking emotion could be. If he had to shake one more hand or ask one more person how his evening was going, he was going to scream.
He enjoyed the business of matchmaking, throwing parties where men could find other men they were compatible with in the months after the world had Darkened; the work was very satisfying, especially if the relationships lasted. He’d always thought the best part was hearing the success stories.
It had all become so monotonous though. Faking smiles, he didn’t mind so much; he didn’t really have to put any effort into that. People usually seemed satisfied with his forced grin and, after a few seconds, they would continue making their rounds. Forcing laughter at someone’s dumbass joke, on the other hand, generally made him want to go on a shooting rampage these days. People were so inane and self-absorbed these days and if you didn’t respond to every little thing they said they went all to pieces. When the fuck had men gotten so sensitive?
At a quarter past ten, things started looking up. Lincoln was still walking around, doing more of the same and wondering if he was ever going to find someone for himself at one of these damned functions.
A door at the other end of the room opened and a man slipped in, obviously trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. His eyes did a quick scan of the room before they met Lincoln’s and froze. Lincoln wasn’t sure why, but all the oxygen seemed to disappear from the room as he and the stranger stared at one another.
Have we met? the stranger’s eyes whispered at Lincoln from across the room, and even though the answer was an emphatic no, he wanted to change that as quickly as possible. He wanted to meet the stranger and learn everything possible about him. He wanted to do things to him he hadn’t wanted to do to a man since those dark days of high school when he’d felt like the world really had gone to hell and would never come back. He had so much he wanted to say, and even more he wanted to do.
The stranger came closer and Lincoln panicked. He’d never been good with talking to guys, which was one of the reasons he’d repressed his homosexual side for so long.
Why is he coming over here? Lincoln wondered. His eyes darted around, desperate for anything that would get him out of this stranger’s path. He turned and scanned the room behind him, but he was surrounded.
“Hi,” a voice said from behind him. Lincoln closed his eyes and let the man’s voice wash over him. It was the voice of a god, in his opinion, and tightened things in his body he’d never known existed. He found himself turning back around, his eyes traveling up until they met the deep hazel of the intriguing stranger’s.
“Hi,” Lincoln said. His voice sounded choked even to himself, as though he hadn’t been talking nonstop for the last three hours, having conversations a third grader might have found interesting. What the hell was going on? Why did he suddenly feel like an ignorant schoolboy with a crush all over again?
“I’m Eduardo.” The stranger extended his hand.
Lincoln took it and almost instantly wished he hadn’t. An electrical current surged, starting at his fingers and shooting straight down to his cock.
“Link,” Lincoln said, giving Eduardo the nickname everyone had been calling him since those fucking Zelda games had come out. He ignored the sudden tightness of his boxers.
The side of Eduardo’s mouth tilted upwards in a grin and Lincoln thought he might die. That one small gesture seemed to light up the other man’s already attractive face and change it in to something sexier. “What?” Lincoln asked.
“It’s nothing,” Eduardo said. If he was at all uncomfortable, he didn’t show it, even though he was standing in the middle of a room full of men and initiating conversation with a guy who probably wanted to get into his pants. “You know, you look really familiar to me.” He had a slight accent, but not Hispanic. More of a southern drawl.
Lincoln chuckled. So this was the game they were going to play tonight, huh? “Yeah, you do, too.” The lie served his purposes at the moment. He didn’t want Eduardo to stop talking to him. “But I can’t put my finger on where we’ve met before.”
“School, maybe?”
“No. It can’t have been there. I went to school in Europe.”
“Really? Where were you born?”
“Back in Florida, but me and my parents moved to Scotland when I was really young. I moved back here for college.”
The man called Eduardo looked genuinely intrigued. Lincoln didn’t feel like he was talking through the wall of insincerity most men put up at these parties and, before he could stop himself, he felt the corners of his mouth turning upward.
Eduardo’s eyes were studying him and he knew it, but the more they talked, the more Lincoln studied as well. He noted the almond complexion of Eduardo’s skin, the way his suit broadened already wide shoulders, the sheer confidence in the way he stood. The muscles that threatened to burst from beneath his sleeves. The freshly re-twisted dreads that extended halfway down his back.
By eleven, the two of them headed to Lincoln’s room, partygoers be damned. He couldn’t remember once in his life when he’d felt a connection so instant and, even if it was just for one night, he wasn’t letting it slip away. When the elevator dinged and the doors slid open, Lincoln was dismayed to see two other men already on board. Sighing, he got on with Eduardo.
The silence was without a doubt the most awkward Lincoln had ever experienced. One of the other men was tall and slender. He kept pulling at his blue denim suit, apparently trying to look busy. His eyes shifted to each of the other men in the tiny space, to the buttons on the wall and finally the doors. The other occupant was a little shorter with spiked green hair, a skin-tight tank top and shorts that hugged his ass in a way asses were never meant to be hugged in public. His adoring eyes kept making their way to Mr. Denim Suit and there was no doubt what he had on his mind.
Lincoln’s stomach was knotting. What was he doing? The thought of sleeping with another man hadn’t crossed his mind in more than half a decade, yet here he was, going to his room with way more than thinking about it on his mind. For so long he’d hidden within the folds of female after female, but now, standing on an elevator on a cruise ship, eyes drinking in every inch of Eduardo’s frame, he couldn’t remember why. His skin tingled with desire, and the longer they took to get to his floor, the more intense that desire became.
No one said a word until a cool female voice came over the PA to announce that they had arrived at the seventh floor. Denim Suit flew off the elevator faster than anyone Lincoln had ever seen. Green Hair giggled, bade Lincoln and Eduardo good night, and followed.
“God, I hate Stranger Silence,” Eduardo said as the doors slid shut once more.
“Me, too.”
More silence until the tenth floor, but Lincoln could feel Eduardo’s eyes on him again, appraising him, examining every inch with some hopefully devious purpose in mind. When the elevator opened, Lincoln grabbed Eduardo’s hand and practically dragged him toward his stateroom.
When they were just outside, Eduardo halted. “Before we go in there, what are we doing?”
Lincoln raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“Just wanna make sure you’re thinking the same thing I am.”
Lincoln rolled his eyes, used his key card to disengage the lock and open the door. He was met with a fetid odor, rotten, like copper hanging in the air mixed with sulfur. “What is that smell?”
“I don’t know,” Eduardo said. His voice sounded strained, as if he was trying not to breathe. “But you should probably call the steward and get that che—”
Lincoln turned on the light. Although the tiny shower of sparks that had accompanied the sudden glow from the overhead bulbs in the room had been unusual, it was no reason for Eduardo to stop talking. “What? Why’d you—holy shit!”
A cyclone would have left the room in a better state. Both lamps that had been on the bedside tables were on the floor, their light bulbs shattered. Trash and clothes were strewn all over everything, and the mirror above the vanity table was cracked all the way through.
And there was a dead body on Lincoln’s bed.

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