What television sitcom is most like your family? Why?
Growing up, my family was a lot like the “traditional” family on Modern Family, with a house full of kids and my parents juggling t all. I was, coincidentally, most like Alex—the quiet bookworm! Now I have my own family, and we’re more like Jay and Gloria, the more reserved couple with the serious son… Only I don’t have an accent!
What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
My favorite thing to do to realx is listen to music. I also love movies – I get so wrapped up in the plot, I forget real life for a while.
If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?
Never be afraid of being who you are, even if other people don’t like it.
At what age were you the happiest? What triggered such joy?
Actually, I think right now is the happiest time in my life, thus far. I’m finally doing what I love,and I am surrounded by people that support me in it. It’s wonderful!
What is the number one lie you tell yourself? How is that working out?
The number one lie I tell myself is that I’m not good enough. Strangely, it isn’t usually that helpful. I’m learning to get over it by realizing I don’t have to be “good enough” to be happy. I just have to be me.
Now about you as an author…
What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?
Growing up, I read a lot of Gary Paulsen. When I hit my preteen years, I discovered Tolkien – my life changed forever! I think German and Russian writers have influenced me heavily too; Rilke, Kafka and Dosteyevsky are my favorites. I still have my copy of Crime and Punishment I got for my fourteenth birthday.
Did anyone in your life influence you or encouraged you to be a writer? (teacher, family member, friend)
I had a lot of positive encouragement on my writing over the years, but two people were instrumental – my seventh grade English teacher who first gave me an awe and respect for the artistry in writing, and my fiance, who was the first person in my adult life to take my dream of being a writer seriously.
What is your favorite aspect or writing? Your least favorite?
I enjoy most aspects of writing, but my favorite would be when I finish a chapter, that moment looking back and seeing what I’ve written, realizing… I just wrote that! My least favorite part would be sitting down to the keyboard and seeing the blank page.
What aspect of writing would you most like to improve on?
I’ve always had a weakness when it comes to action sequences. I’m learning, and definitely getting practice with my fantasy novel-in-progress, Shadow and Flame. It’s an epic novel full of sword fights and major battles. It’s a trial by fire experience!
Do you have a common theme or item that appears in each of your books?
A common theme in most of my writing is dichotomy. Drown, Shadow and Flame and its cousin Time and Tide (same world, different era) all have two main characters from very different backgrounds. In Drown the plot is what comes from the relationship between the two characters. In my fantasy novels, it gets more complex.
Dom Sal is the star quarterback of his high school football team. His charming, earnest personality has girls tripping over themselves to be with him. Everyone knows his family lives in the St. Michael Charity Housing, but all that matters is how many touchdowns he can score. And Dom never lets them down. No one knows he hides a secret--he dreams about men.
Damion Adrik is the school freak. His gothic style and cold, biting sarcasm keeps everyone at arm's length. His all-too-perfect family is a prison cell, and he's slowly destroying himself from the inside out. No one knows he has secrets of his own and that he's tormented by the darkness he takes comfort in. No one truly sees him, until Dom.
When these two worlds collide and the spark of attraction pulls Dom and Damion together, both boys are faced with choices that will break their realities in two. While conflict with parents and peers drives them closer together, their inner battles threaten to destroy the relationship they fight so desperately to keep. In the end, they must choose whether to be true to themselves, and each other, or to drown in the lives they built before.
“You never know, he could have been awesome!” Dom smiled. The air was crisp in his lungs, with the smell of autumn. The pep rally was about to start, but Chance had forgotten his letterman jacket in his car. Bennet and James had volunteered to go out with him, using the excuse to throw the football around parking lot; they were not disappointed in the admiring hoots and whistles they got for their effort. Dom just shook his head at their antics. “I mean, he never really got the chance. He threw eight-six in his first season!”
“Yeah, keep dreaming,” Bennet threw back, tossing the ball into the air. “Manning had way more plays, and half the screw ups.” He opened the door, following the others through and into the building. The cheers were echoing off the walls inside.
Dom looked back at him. “Manning didn’t even…” His voice trailed off when he glanced ahead.
Damion was standing five feet away.
The goth looked at him with frightened, ice-cold eyes. Belatedly Dom noticed the woman standing next to him, wearing a black hoodie with safety pins woven through the pockets. Jealousy took his chest, but he didn’t know why.
The moment passed. “Move, fag!” Chance growled. He shoved Damion with both hands, hard in the chest; the startled figure tumbled back, falling flat on his behind.
“Get lost!” Terissa barked back.
James burst out laughing, ignoring her. “Fucking fairy!” Feet shuffled towards the downed goth, intent on kicking him out of the way. “You scared, Freak?”
“Yeah, where’s your fucking boyfriend?” Chance laughed along. “Shouldn’t he be here to save your ass?”
Dom felt sick. This was out of control, and he couldn’t find his voice. He saw Damion’s fists clench, the fire light in his eyes, ready to get up and fight. He saw the pain in those eyes, too—it screamed so loud, he wondered that no one else saw. Why didn’t they see it? James was stepping closer, even as the goth started rising.
“…Stop,” Dom croaked.
James didn’t hear him, though Chance did. The lineman turned to face his best friend. “Huh?”
Dom took a deep breath, stepping forward—James looked back to him. “I mean… We’re gonna be late to the rally,” he added. Masking the fear in his gut, he tried to flash a smile. “We’re the stars, remember?”
“Oh yeah!” Bennet joked as if he’d actually forgotten. “C’mon James, leave him! We’re gonna miss it!” His tone was casual, like someone telling a kid to leave his toy.
The running back hesitated, not eager to let the goth escape. But when the others started off in the direction of the gym, he gave up. “Fucking Freak,” spat, putting his foot to the goth’s chest and pushing him down again. Then he turned to join the others.
Damion watched the pack disappear down the hallway, half numb in shock, not even feeling where James’ heel had dug into his rib. Dom had lingered, too; only for a moment, but it was long enough to catch Damion’s eye—he knew Dom had done that on purpose. He knew the jock had protected him. But… Damion couldn’t shake the disbelief. …Why?
“What a bunch of jerks,” Terissa growled. She had knelt beside him, trying to help him up.
A hand touched on his shoulder, and it brought Damion back to reality. “Get off,” he commanded, pushing her aside to rise.
For a moment, she hesitated. She saw him get up, shoulder his bag; she saw his gaze still fixed down the hallway where the jocks had disappeared. Mustering courage, she tried again. “It’s like Dom’s their freaking god or something…” Damion hadn’t acknowledged her. “I bet he could piss in their cereal and they’d still worship him.”
Deep down, Damion knew she was wrong. He knew if they ever knew the truth about Dom, they’d be the first to hang him out to dry. Did Dom know that? Was he scared like Damion was?
Great excerpt. You can tell the angst between the boys. How did you decide on your story plot?
The original plot was pretty simple: a goth and a jock fall in love. The story grew as the characters developed until it was as much a coming of age story as a romance.
How did you choose your characters names and location for your story?
I’m actually a little shy about that, because it’s so very geeky! The main characters (except for James, who started as a minor character) all have Latin-based names that fit their stereotype, or who they are assumed to be in the beginning. Dominic Sal means “Belonging to God, Savior”; Damion Adrik means “Demon, Dark One”; Chance, Christine and Angela all have similar names to Dom. Victor, Julian and Adi (Amadeus) are more uniquely chosen. Even the name of their town, Marcella, means “Battleground”. I never gave an exact location geographically for Marcella, because I wanted to keep the story focused on the characters, and the setting only as important as it needed to be.
Do you have a favorite scene? Why?
It’s hard to chose a favorite, but I am very fond of the scene where Damion shows Dom his notebooki full of drawings. Damion has a lot of sharp edges to his personality, and being able to see him in his native element, beneath all his defenses, was something I really enjoyed.
Do you have a character that you identify with? Who and why?
I identify with both Dom and Damion, in different ways. They’re two sides of the same coin, the good and the bad of a deeply feeling nature, which is something very real to me. Dom has a lot more confidence than I had at his age, and Damion has a lot more boldness and destructive energy, but I can sympathize with both characters’ desire to be seen and loved for who they really are.
Thank you Alex for stopping by today! I hope everyone will check out Alex's new release, Drown at Amazon, All Romance and Barnes and Noble. :)