I'm very excited about today. Why? Well, I'll tell you why. Becasue it's my turn on the Frat Boy & Toppy Blog Tour and I get to sit and chat with Anne Tenino AND I get to share an exclusive excerpt. Well, actually, I get to share a whoooooole chapter.
Be sure to head off to visit Anne's blog afterwards, she has some way awesome giveaways going on for the tour. You can find her at http://annetenino.com/
Okey, dokey. Let's do this...
Amara: Hi Anne! Welcome to my Place. Come in, come in, please, make yourself comfortable. I’m so excited that you’re here. *smiles* Thanks for coming to sit and chat with me.
Amara: Awesome. Let’s start with the obvious. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Anne: Well, do you want the official version or the real version? Eh, actually they’re the same thing. I live in Oregon, I’m forty-mumble, I have two tween daughters—which is sometimes entertaining and sometimes a nightmare—I have a husband who I’ve been with for close to twenty years . . . You know, I really don’t know what else to say. I guess I lead a pretty settled life.
I could swear it used to be more interesting. *confused*
Amara: Ha! *grins* We share a state! Cool. So, tell me about your current book.
Anne: Frat Boy & Toppy? Well, it’s about a frat boy, Brad, who rather suddenly comes out to himself. He’s obsessed with a history grad student who’s the TA for one of his classes, Sebastian. Brad’s fit really well into a mold his whole life, and now he’s trying to break out of it. Sebastian’s happy to help, in his own way. *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*
FB&T is essentially a lighthearted romp. I may touch on some deeper issues, but heavy angst isn’t really my oeuvre. Hot sex is more my thing. Brad isn’t a stereotypical frat boy, though. Sebastian is sort of a stereotypical grad student.
Amara: Sounds good. Now, being a Riptide tour, tell me, was it working with them?
Anne: I enjoyed it. The editing was great, especially. I developed a pretty good relationship with Rachel in particular. There are lots of things to like about Riptide, and so far it’s been positive overall.
Amara: Very nice. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Anne: It’s smexy, dude.
Amara: *laughs* That’s as good a reason as any. Do you have any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Anne: My main project right now is Too Stupid to Live. TSTL is the story of Sam—a secondary character from Whitetail Rock—and Ian, a former fire-fighter. Sam’s got some physical self-image issues, and Ian’s got some emotional issues. They sort of help each other out.
My next project should be One Queer Iota, the next book in the Task Force Iota series. I’m also working sporadically on two shorts, one’s a little more serious than my usual fare, and the other is a coming out story that’s pretty light. Psssst! It doesn’t have a traditional HEA.
Amara: Sounds good. Now, I’m curious, who or what inspired you to become an author?
Anne: My older sister has always been a talented artist. My father’s an artist, so she came by it through him. I suppose in any other family I might have been considered a pretty good artist, but in ours I always felt like the lesser talent. I remember by about eighth grade thinking I would like to be an author, then one day my sister came home with some fantastic grade on an essay and my mom was gushing about how great a writer she was. My reaction was, “Well [expletive], she’s got me there, too.”
I still wrote off and on my whole life, but I didn’t pursue writing as a career until I got really sick and had nothing else to do. Then one day inspiration wandered along and ta-dah! I finished a book.
Amara: How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Anne: The morning after I contracted 18% Gray, we flew to China (we’d already planned to, it wasn’t because I’d sold the book). A few weeks before that, I’d also sold a short story—I’d already been paid for it, so I decided I’d use that money to buy something special on the trip in celebration of both sales.
One day while there I was walking down the street and passed a shop with a huge collection of brightly colored ceramic penis sculptures. I bought one of those as my muse. You can see him (I’m pretty sure it’s a him) on my site, http://annetenino.com/my-garden/ if you scroll about halfway down.
Amara: *laughs* Um… your muse is a brightly colored penis sculpture? Gotta love it. So darlin’, what’s your favorite song/movie?
Anne: My favorite movie is Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. I LOVE that movie. I haven’t seen it in a while, come to think of it . . .
Amara: If you could have any superpower/be any superhero, what/who would you choose? Why?
Anne: I always feel like I should have an answer to this, but I don’t. I mean, I don’t have any one answer. I guess right now, my superpower would be snapping my fingers and having money appear out of thin air. I would do this, of course, because it would teach me the value of money—i.e., that money is truly valueless and all the things worth having in life can’t be bought. I would like to spend my way into that insight. I think it’s a lesson that should be learned through personal experience. I’m ready to begin my personal experience.
Amara: Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Anne: Strangely enough, “Black Girls” by The Violent Femmes was very inspiring to me when I was writing Whitetail Rock. I can’t really explain why. For Frat Boy & Toppy I didn’t have a theme song. I don’t listen to music while I write. Although frequently “Burning Down the House” would wander though my head.
Amara: Great. Now it’s wandering thru my head.
*smiles* That was fun. Thanks so much for chatting with me. I hope we get to do this again.
Excerpt...“C’mon, dude. Just tell me. Is it an STD?”
That got Brad’s attention. “What?” Kyle had been yammering at him for a few minutes, but Brad was working on his history essay. It had to be really good. He was positive the person who actually read these was Sebastian, and if he wanted Sebastian’s attention, one way to get it was to write a memorable essay. One that was memorable because it was so good.
Kyle was fucking with his concentration. The history of Sparta took some effort to write about. It was boring as hell. Nothing about guys-on-guys in the books he was looking in.
“Do you have some kinda STD? Is that why you aren’t the Alpha Dawg anymore?”
God, were these guys ever gonna get past this? “No. And I fucking hate that nickname. Go away, I’m trying to write.”
“And what’s with that, dude? You hate history.”
“I still gotta pass it, Kyle. If I don’t keep up the GPA, I lose the scholarship.”
“Yeah, but you usually write some lame-ass paper on Monday night. You’ve been working on that one for, like, five hours and it’s freaking Saturday. You get high enough grades in your other classes to even it all out.” Kyle refrained from mentioning most of those classes were health, PE, and “family and consumer sciences.” Home ec, in other words.
Brad shrugged. Whatever. “I want it to be good.” The fuck was a stoa again? Kyle stood silently next to him for so long Brad had to look up again. “What?”
“All you need’s a C. Why do you care if it’s good?”
Dammit. Brad looked back down at his paper again, quickly. “Just do,” he muttered, flipping through his book like he was looking up something very important.
Kyle sighed and walked a couple steps away to flop down on his bed. “The guys are starting a betting pool, Brad.”
“Why do I care?”
“It’s about you. They’re taking bets on how long you can go without getting laid, and why you stopped chasing tail.”
“Tank bet you’re secretly engaged.”
Brad laughed. “Yeah? He’s gonna lose.”
“Ricky bet two hundred bucks that you’re secretly engaged with a baby on the way.” Brad could tell by the sound of Kyle’s voice he was smiling over that one.
Brad sighed. “No one ever claimed Ricky was smart. What are the odds?”
“Shit, I don’t know. I never understood how that worked.”
“So who bet I have an STD?”
Kyle didn’t answer. Which was sort of an answer in itself. “Hope you didn’t put a lot of money on that, bro,” Brad murmured without looking around.
Kyle huffed a breath out. “Collin laid twenty on you being gay.” He started laughing.
Brad froze up for just a second. Kyle’s laughter didn’t change, so he must not have noticed. Brad forced a big grin and turned around. He even managed a chuckle or two. “Hope he didn’t need that twenty.”
He was going to have to keep an eye on Collin.
* * *
Brad got a C+ on his paper about Sparta. Sebastian didn’t even look at him when he handed it back.
The next week, Brad bought a paper online.
The following Tuesday, two days early, Sebastian walked in and straight up to Brad, handing his paper back while Prof Whitehall was yakking away. Sebastian barely looked at him when he dropped it in front of Brad. It had a sticky note on it. Once Brad got over seeing Sebastian walk straight toward him, and then checking out his ass as Sebastian walked away, he read the note.
2:30 p.m., my office, rm 232a Allen
Whose office? Prof Whitehall’s? Brad broke out in a cold sweat and leaned over to hiss into Kyle’s ear, “Where’s Whitehall’s office?”
Kyle was starting to get used to Brad’s weird new quirks. He barely glanced at Brad before writing “History Dept.” on the margin of his notepaper. Brad nudged him and raised his eyebrows. Kyle rolled his eyes and wrote “236 Allen Hall.”
So, not Professor Whitehall’s office, then. That must mean . . . Sebastian’s office? Brad took a deep breath. This time the sweat broke out on his hands. That “Hot for Teacher” song started playing in his head. About a million images flashed through his mind, a lot of them involving him on his knees. His stomach balled up in a knot and all his blood rushed south.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. Please.
Class got out at 11:00. He wasn’t able to eat lunch, didn’t even try. Instead, he went back to the frat and fretted. He didn’t have a lot of prior experience with fretting. What did Sebastian want? Could it be the same thing Brad wanted? He finally left his room in a haze and his baggiest pair of jeans at two o’clock.
This must be what it felt like when you were fourteen and had your first crush. Except he was twenty-one, and he’d never felt this way at fourteen. Even then he’d seen girls as mostly status symbols. A necessary evil. He’d been the star running back in a small-town high school. He’d had an image to maintain. His coach had made it very clear he expected that from him.
Brad stood in front of the short hallway to the #232 offices. “A” was the first one on his right. There were four more doors: one more on the right side, two on the left and one at the end. The hallway wasn’t well-lit, but he could pretty clearly see the door to 232A was propped open.
Voices drifted out of the open doorway. For just a second, his mind went to that porn video he’d seen over the weekend, where the teachers “punished” that student by tying him down and fucking him over a desk. All of them. An academic gangbang.
Brad swallowed. This wouldn’t be like that. Maybe Sebastian had noticed Brad watching him (how could he not?). Maybe he was crazy attracted to Brad, and he was fishing to see if Brad could maybe swing that way.
Oh, he could so fucking swing that way. He’d bend over the desk right now if Sebastian asked him to.
“I have a kind of important meeting.” Sebastian’s voice, drifting down the hall.
Brad’s heart thumped a couple of times, reminding him it needed some oxygen. That’s me. He started walking toward the door, listening for more. He didn’t hear anything else but Sebastian’s voice, murmuring. What did he have to say to his officemate in such a quiet voice?
Then Brad was standing in the doorway, clearing his throat. He wasn’t doing it to attract Sebastian’s attention. He needed to clear it. It was dry as a desert. Sebastian turned toward him at the sound and smiled.
Brad thought he might faint. Man up, dude.
“Hey, Brad,” Sebastian said, walking his way and smiling that smile.
Brad swallowed. “Hey,” he croaked. Sebastian cocked his head a second, studying him. He stopped a couple feet in front of Brad, still looking at him like he was trying to figure something out. “Um, hey, I thought the office was going to be free, but it looks like it’s not. I’d kinda like to talk to you in private, so . . .” Sebastian raised an eyebrow at him.
Could this actually be about what Brad wanted it to be about? Like, a hook-up? “Private’s good,” Brad blurted. Then felt himself go red.
“Yeah,” Sebastian agreed immediately. He looked like he was trying not to smile. “Yeah, so I think we can probably find a semi-deserted coffee shop on Sixth Avenue, and probably get a table with enough privacy to talk there.”
The bow-chicka-bow-bow soundtrack in Brad’s head stopped playing. Either the dude was way kinkier than Brad was ready for, or this wasn’t going to be about sex.
That’s when it hit Brad’s testosterone-addled brain what else this meeting might be about.