Jeff & Will continue to shine the spotlight on the All American Boy series by talking briefly about the books in the series before they are also joined by series authors Shane K. Morton, Miski Harris, and Elle Keaton. Not only do they discuss their All American Boy books, they also talk to us about their other recent releases, along with what they’re working on next.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Books are linked with Universal Book Links so you can see a variety of places to purchase ebooks and audiobooks. All links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Rainbow Romance Reader Report Subscription Sign Up
- All American Boy Series
- Shane K. Morton Interview
- Shane K. Morton website | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram
- Sean Azinsalt on Amazon
- The Boy is Mine by Shane Morton
- A Summer Called Desire by Shane K. Morton
- The Trouble with Off Campus Housing by Shane K. Morton
- Sailors, Strangulation and Sunscreen by Shane K. Morton
- The Fantastic Fluke by Sam Burns
- Mad Men by Onley James
- Miski Harris Interview
- Elle Keaton Interview
- Elle Keaton website | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub
- Not a Boy by Elle Keaton
- Real Risk by Elle Keaton
- Conspiracy Theory (Veiled Intentions #1) by Elle Keaton
- Storm Season (Shielded Hearts #1) by Elle Keaton
- The Foreman and the Drifter (Farthingdale Ranch #1) by Jackie North
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we continue our look at the “All American Boys” series with authors, Elle Keaton, Shane K. Morton, and Miski Harris.
Will: Welcome to episode 371, “The Big Gay Fiction” podcast. The show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Will. And with me as always is my cohost and husband, Jeff.
Jeff: Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. It is so great to have you back for another episode of the show.
Will: So, in case you haven’t heard, Jeff and I started a little something called the Rainbow Romance Reader Report. It is the new official newsletter of the show. When you sign up, you’ll get updates about what Jeff and I have been up to, like what we’ve been reading. We’re also gonna give you the latest news about new releases and upcoming titles, as well as a peek at what’s coming up on the show. And for everyone that does sign up, you’ll get a free collection of reviews and recommendations of books for readers of our genre, contemporary historical, even holiday stories. We got suggestions, a whole lot of them. If you’d like to sign up for the Rainbow Romance Reader Report, all you have to do is go to biggayfictionpodcast.com/report.
Jeff: So, in our last episode, we talked with author K.C. Kassidy, who also writes as Sierra Hill. And it’s as Sierra Hill that the “All American Boy” series was created. There’s been a couple of releases of that series that are male/female-focused. And for this latest series, Sierra decided to create an all-gay romance series. So, we’ve got nine new books that are out there, all set in Stoney Brook, Maine with a Tall Ship Festival to attend. And it’s been really fun this week, spotlighting these books.
Will: Yeah. The summer festival serves as a wonderful backdrop for each of these stories.
Jeff: And I don’t think you could have picked a festival that I would enjoy more than the Tall Ship Festival, because even when we were in New York, I remember there was one spring or summer or something where a whole bunch of tall ships moved down the Hudson River. And I was absolutely enamored by the whole thing. So, I would like to go to this festival if nothing else and meet all these people that are in these books.
Will: So, in addition to K.C. Kassidy’s book, “Pretty Boy,” we’ve also got “Green Eyed Boy” by BL Maxwell. In this one, after driving cross country, food festival enthusiast, Billy, may have found his perfect match in Lance, a lobster roll food truck operator.
Jeff: What festival doesn’t need food trucks? I mean, that’s kind of a wonderful choice to have along for the ride is to bring some foodies together, because you gotta have good food. And, of course, in Maine, so many of these books have some aspect of lobster in them because, of course, it’s Maine. So, yeah. That’s a good one.
Will: Also on deck as part of the series is, “Sailor Boy” by Kris Jacen. Single dad, Kendall, wants to share the fun of boating with his young daughter at the Tall Ships Festival. To that, add Jeremy, a handsome sailor. And it just might be the perfect summer for all of them.
Jeff: Single dad, boats. And I love Kris’s writing. So, this one’s very near the top of my TBR right now.
Will: And David Michael’s “Boy on the Horizon.” Collegiate Jacob is bartending for the summer when he encounters handsome, travel blogger, William, a guy who just might knock his carefully chartered plans off course.
Jeff: Again, such a nice way to integrate your setting and the festival because, of course, a travel blogger is gonna come cover the fest. And how many, you know, college kids go to places like Stoney Brook to get their summer jobs. It’s such a perfect combination.
Will: Next up is “Devin’s Boys” by Layla Dorine. Devon is a mildly washed-up musician, who’s called upon by Moon to help his fellow bandmate, Michael, get over his stage fright. And it’s Devin’s unorthodox methods that just might lead to a happy ending for all of them.
Jeff: I love that Layla was able to, essentially make a rockstar type of romance dealing with musicians at this festival in this town. I kind of wanna read that because I feel like I’m having a renaissance of musicians now, thanks to Ariella Zoelle. I just kind of put this in as another musician book to read.
Will: “Summer Boy” by TL Travis, is about hometown guide, Jonas, who’s life revolves around working at his family’s restaurant. And his stable humdrum day-to-day is shaken up by vacationing college party boy, Micah.
Jeff: There had to be at least one book that featured a local having their whole world shook up because of some college party guy show up. That one, I think will be some interesting push and pull between the small town and the big college party life. And they’re just gonna come together in a very fiery way.
Will: And in case you missed our discussion last week with K.C. Kassidy, her title, “Pretty Boy” is about a world-traveling male model named, Finn, who returns home to prove something to his dad and ends up finding love with lobsterman, Mason.
Jeff: Another good look at the people who live there locally finding love in their town during the Tall Ship Festival. Now, of course, we mentioned there are nine books in this series, so there are still three to talk about. And these we’re gonna hear directly from the authors about. Shane K. Morton is gonna talk to us about “The Boy Is Mine.” Miski Harris is gonna give us all the details on “Boy Overboard.” And Elle Keaton is gonna tell us about “Not a Boy.” We’ll not only hear about their books, we’re gonna hear how they approach writing in this world. We’ll also talk to them about their other recent releases and what’s coming up next for them.
Shane K. Morton Interview
Shane: I am Shane K. Morton. I write M/M romance, some LGBT YA, gay-cozy mystery. And then under my dark pen name as Sean Azinsalt, characters you love to hate.
Jeff: Who love to hate. That’s a brand tag right there.
Shane: I should use that.
Jeff: Tell us a little bit about your entry in the “All American Boy” series with “The Boy Is Mine.”
Shane: “The Boy Is Mine” is my ’80s fantasia of bringing kind of that young ’80s movie, like “Can’t Buy Me Love” and that kind of stuff into kind of what that might be in today’s world. It starts off with a man who’s just getting ready to go into his senior year of college, who comes back to his small town of Stoney Brook, Maine for the summer. And he hasn’t returned since he graduated because the town really holds a lot of past kind of ill will and trauma in his brain. He wasn’t well-liked in high school and was teased, and kind of bullied a lot. And, of course, the person that bullied him the most was the person that he had his first crush on. So, it’s kind of what happens when these two characters meet, you know, six years later, and how they kind of overcome the past while forming some kind of relationship in the now. But, you know, the past always creeps back in, and it’s not dark. That makes it sound much darker than it is. It’s actually very light, very sweet. It’s very fun. I mean, all of the books take place during the Tall Ship Festival that Maine has. And for me, it’s like, I’m from a really small town in Kentucky. And tomorrow is actually kind of our big event, like the Tall Ship Festival for Maine, and it was called Tater Day. Honestly, not sure why it’s called Tater Day. It had something to do with potatoes in the 1920s and ’30s. That’s all I really remember. But there’s a parade and, you know, all of this kind of stuff around it. So, I kind of drew from my experiences of being in a small town and having that kind of festival and bringing that into the Tall Ship Festival.
Jeff: There’s something about small towns and festivals that are, for me, as a reader, I’m like, “Oh, small town and festival. I love it.” What do you think it is about those two things that work so well in romance?
Shane: Well, I think it’s like a blanket that you pull over yourself. You know, like, we all have… Anyone from a small town has some kind of small-town experience like that. Every small, well, not every small town, but most small towns have some kind of event that brings the town together in some way, Fourth of July, the Fireworks celebration, or some strange thing like Tater Day or the Tall Ship parade. And, I mean, Hallmark has made an entire genre out of the small town event gathering, you know, so it’s comfortable. It’s something that we can understand and kind of embrace, I think.
Jeff: And then you bring in the whole ’80s sort of nostalgia thing and updating the ’80s to now. How did you pluck out the various bits of the ’80s to kind of spin those for Devon and Owen?
Shane: ’80s movies always had… You know, I mean, you look at one ’80s movie, you look at five ’80s movies, and there is something so similar about the way that they were constructed, right? And I’m a child of the ’80s. So, for some reason, when I started writing this book, I just kept going back to things like “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and “Little Bits & Pieces” of things like the “Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candle,” you know, little things that just kind of rang true to me for the story. “Can’t Buy Me Love,”was actually, I think, the one that kind of hit me the hardest when I started writing this because I wanted there to be some kind of bet that set the two characters at odds, almost, you know, one unbeknownst that this was happening. And the other one regretting the decision fairly quickly, but caught in it and unable to escape it. And how that was gonna kind of bring back the past for these two characters because fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, right? So, there’s just some kind of the dialogue in ’80s movies, the banter is always so much fun. And I love writing good banter. So, I just kind of let my inner ’80s child flow. While I was writing this, I watched a few movies to kind of get me back into it, which is never a problem. I love watching those ’80s teen comedies, are still my jam. So, I went back, watched a few of those. And then just let these characters go, and kind of just start talking to me. And thankfully, they talked a lot. The banter in the book, I must say, I’m very happy with it. So, it’s lots of fun. My characters both have a very quick whip, and they use it a lot, so.
Jeff: What was your favorite scene to write in “The Boy Is Mine.”
Shane: There’s the scene where Owen picks up Devon for a date. It’s their second date. And Devon starts letting his guard down. And it was really the banter scene as they drove on their way to the date that probably made me giggle the most while I was writing it because I just thought it was so funny from both characters’ perspectives, trying to keep up with each other and then one-up each other as they went along. That was probably my favorite scene. My second favorite scene, I don’t wanna give anything away, but it takes place on a softball field. A lot of ’80s movies have that grand gesture, right? And “The Boy Is Mine” also has a couple different grand gestures that work on various levels, of course, or don’t work on various levels. And I will say that there is a grand gesture on a softball field that has also some very great banter in it as the two characters try to figure out how to move past, or if they’re gonna be able to move past what has happened. So, that was also a lot of fun to write.
Jeff: Very cool. Grand gestures, always one of my favorite parts of the book, just to see what’s going to be the grand thing that needs to happen to, you know, make the people come together. And walk in that each day.
Shane: And I love that they don’t work. Like, I love to kind of turn that and make the grand gesture almost be the worst thing that you could have done sometimes. You know, like I…
Jeff: That just drives up my angst level when that happens.
Shane: It’s a little angsty, but it’s not very angsty, I promise. Just a little bit of angst that creeps in.
Jeff: What excited you about being part of the “All American Boy” series?
Shane: Well, I love the name of the series. I feel like that a lot of my romance books, I am writing about the “All American Boy,” to begin with, because that’s my experience, right? So, when they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, I went back and looked and I thought the covers looked lovely. And I loved the concept and the idea of this small town in Maine, a place I had never written about but had enjoyed a couple different summers there. And then the Tall Ships Festival, I don’t know, it just sounded so beautiful. And this kind of large event that… When you live in a small town, those kind of large events take over everything, right? So, I just thought it sounded like a really fun project. And I didn’t really realize what I was gonna write for a while. I was busy with my cozy mysteries and getting those out. And then when I finally sat down and started really thinking about what it was I wanted to write for this, and all these characters just kind of popped out of nowhere. And I felt like they fit really well in the concept of that “All American Boy.”
Jeff: It’s really great when the characters just go, “Here we are.”
Shane:Yeah. And there’s some other great authors that are a part of it. So, very happy to be asked.
Jeff: Yeah. The lineup is pretty stellar.
Jeff: And it sounds like, you know, working with the small town and working with the Tall Ship Festival, I mean, that kind of played right into everything for you being able to utilize those elements too.
Shane:Yeah. I’ve written a couple books that take place in larger cities, mainly those have been Sean Azinsalt books. But Shane Morton writes mainly, which is myself, writes mainly small-town books actually. I mean, pretty much every one of my series takes place in some kind of small-town, even though I lived in large cities most of my life. Now, for some reason, I always wanna go back and write about those small-town experiences that I’ve had. Maybe I should go to therapy and figure out why, but that is what I’m kind of drawn to. So, it felt like a natural fit.
Jeff: And we should talk about also, you’ve had a couple other releases this spring.
Jeff: There’s “A Summer Called Desire,” which is the third book in your “Bluegrass Boys” series. Tell us a little bit about that series and this new installment that you’ve got.
Shane: So, I’m from Kentucky, which is the Bluegrass State. So, they’re not autobiographical in any way, right? But I write what I know and what I have had… I mean, every character I write has some form of me. It just is my process. And the way that I function as a writer, there is always a part of me in at least the main character of the books. And I started thinking about my college experiences in a small Kentucky, fairly liberal town, fairly not liberal town. But, you know, for Kentucky at the time in the ’80s, it was a fairly liberal town. And I started thinking about those experiences. And the first book that I wrote was “The Trouble With Off-Campus Housing,” which took place, I mean, I pretty much just said it, at my college. And then a couple years later, I wrote “Adorkable,” which also took place at that same school. And the “Bluegrass Boys” just kind of sprouted out of that. And it’s a lot of jock geek country boy, romance, all of the fun tropes for romance, of course, that pop in and out of the books. But I really like to explore that discovering your identity in college, right? And how that can alter and change you, your perception of the other people around you, you know, how that helps you grow into the person that you become.
And in the ’80s, for me, well, ’80s and early ’90s, I came out of the closet in college. And pretty much every person that I knew that wound up being LGBT came out of the closet in college. And I started thinking about watching them grow and how we all changed and became bloomed into someone new. And so that’s kind of the impetus of why I started writing “Bluegrass Boys.” And then it really is just a lot of fun, sweet romance coming out of the closet and discovering that first love. The last book in the “Bluegrass Boys” series was a serial that I wrote for my newsletter in 2021. The last installment came out beginning of December, and I put it all together, of course, wound up adding about 10,000 words to it. I discovered when I write a serial, I go back and look at it. After doing it for really the first time, I went back and I was like, “Oh, wow, I really did kind of skip two chapters here. You know, like, there’s something…” Now, that I know the full arc of the story, I wanna go back and kind of rework lots and lots of big pieces of it. But this is the first book in the series that actually doesn’t take place at the college, it happens over summer break. And, yeah. And it’s really, really high heat. All the “Bluegrass Boys” books are pretty steamy, which is not always normal for me, but, yes.
Jeff: And then there’s the fifth book in your “Drag Queen Detective” series. What can you tell us about Victor and Harper dealing with a killer on a cruise ship? Of course, without giving away too many spoilers either.
Shane: I love these characters so much. So, they’re gay-cozy mysteries. There is, of course, a romance element that, you know, flows through the entire series. But it is murder she wrote with drag queens. The fifth book is a lot of fun. It really gets back into, Victor had a little bit of a breakdown, identity crisis breakdown in the fourth book, which for a cozy mystery, I think was a little bit darker than normal. But I really felt like that’s where the character had to go. And then this is kind of the deep breath that comes after that as they try to escape and go on vacation. And, of course, someone just has to die.
Jeff: Of course.
Shane: As is always the way it happens with Victor, no matter where he goes, a dead body seems to follow him now. I did a lot of research about cruise ships.
It’s like the wild west. Like, there’s no marshalls, it’s just security. You know, the hired security that is there. And once you get so far off of port, like, there’s no one to investigate the crime. But the captain, he really is the law on the water, right? So, the crews could go on. He has Harper, who is actually a sheriff of small town investigate. And, of course, he invests with Victor, who is also hidden romance novelist, Vicki Dean, in drag form, of course. I’ve had so many people, you know, tell me how much they really enjoy the character. I mean, Victor’s, his three identities that he possesses, that kind of make up his whole, I just find that so fascinating. You know, how you can borrow the strength from one or the backbone from another, or the clinical brain of somebody that you’ve created in your head. And then, you know, bring that into who you are, it’s just…I don’t know. Identity’s always been… It’s always fascinated me. So, being able to really write a series, a cozy mystery series, which really has this underlying thing about identities and how they control us or cause problems for us kind of underneath it all, has been lots of fun.
Jeff: Tell us something that you’ve read recently that you would recommend to our listeners?
Shane: So, I’m behind a lot. I just read “Fluke,” the Sam Burns series for the first time. And I’m obsessed with it actually getting ready to dive into Book 2, but I just finished it like four or five days ago. The new Onley James series, I think Book 5 is coming out recently. I’m not behind on that. It’s amazing. And, yeah. And I actually got some paperbacks recently from books that I really just kinda loved and wanted to have a physical copy of. I don’t know about you, I’m really not a Kindle reader. I have a Kindle limited subscription. I do try to read a lot on there, but I wind up buying the book, you know, pretty much anyway, at this point in time, just I’ve gotta have the paperback. I’m a paperback person.
Jeff: If we love the book, we have to have it on our shelves. We’re book packrats, to be honest.
Shane: Oh, yeah.
Jeff: What’s coming up next for you later in this year?
Shane: I have a few exciting things, I think. I won’t say who, but I have my first co-write that we’re working on right now. And I’m very excited by that. She’s one of my favorites and has become a really one of my best friends too. So, I’m very happy that we’re doing it together. I am working on more “Drag Queen Detective” books, and then spinning the side characters. Victor has a group of friends. There’s really six people throughout the books that will come in and help him at different times. And one is a character that I’ve written. She’s been in three other books. That weren’t “Drag Queen Detective” books but were still kind of “Drag Queen Detective” books, just not this “Drag Queen Detective” book. And I’m spinning her off into her own PI series set here in West Hollywood. And then Victor’s best friend, Corey. I’m excited to spin him and his boyfriend off into their own little side adventures. I have big plans for him, so.
Shane: So, many people want his book, so I’m gonna do it. We’ll see how it goes if it becomes a series or is just a one-off. And I have my first real paranormal series coming out. Pre-order is not out, but it will be coming out end of April called “The Dark Half,” which is a two-book series. And the second book will come out in June.
Jeff: Fantastic. Lots of good stuff to look forward to. How can everybody keep up with you online to know when all this stuff is coming out, pre-orders going up, and all that stuff?
Shane: The best play is, of course, my Facebook readers group, which is called Shane’s Sweet & Salty readers. And my website, shanekmorton.com. It’s always a little behind on the updating, but it does get updated eventually.
Jeff: Well, Shane, thank you so much for spending a little bit of time with us. And we wish you all the success with “The Boy Is Mine” and everything else you’ve got going on.
Shane: Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate it. It’s been fun being here.
Miski Harris Interview
Miski: Hi, everybody. I’m Miski Harris. I’m a contemporary gay romance, gay fiction, and paranormal author.
Jeff: You’ve got this brand new entry in the “All American Boy” series with “Boy Overboard.” Tell us about this book.
Miski: The series was brought to me by my PA. I call Tammy my keeper, because I get a little OCD at times, and I’m everywhere all at once and accomplishing nothing. So, she brought this to me. I’d done a couple of anthologies, and so she thought that I would enjoy this. I did and I didn’t. I’m a pantser. I write a basic plot, but then I let my characters tell the story. And that takes a little more time, but I was really intrigued by this idea. And I really did wanna do a same world series. And it was in Maine, where I actually have a gay male friend, who lives there and I could get my mandatory research in. I like to write stories that have an element of redemption. I’m seeing that as a pattern in my writing. I like for the little guy to win. And one of the things I noticed when I came into this business was that all the men on the covers were blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and, you know, robust chested, and so forth. So, my books are interracial and sponsor men of color.
Anyway, I have a strong heart for people who have been insulted, abused, or otherwise misused because they’re male and gay. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen to women, but you write what you know. And my biggest exposure to this started when I was in the military. So, I stuck along those lines. Riko is a millennial. And the millennial theme song is graduate college, buy a million-dollar house and expensive foreign car, and run the world. The reality of that, not so much. And so, you know, millennials become kind of a cuss word, oh, you know, he’s a millennial. So, I substituted the word brat. That’s what Riko is. He’s a 25-year-old millennial brat. But he also has an overbearing father. It’s not that his parents don’t love him. And they know he’s gay. But somewhere in his father’s heart, this is all something that he needs to outgrow. So, in rebellion, Riko takes off and heads out into the world. Because of circumstances, he winds up in this little town called Stoney Brook. And if you can imagine a rich kid with suddenly no money in a one-horse town.
Jeff: It takes some adjustment.
Miski: My second main character is Braxton. And by contrast, Braxton’s 30. He’s had to work for everything. Unlike Riko, nothing was given to him. And he’s now the successful owner of a fine dining restaurant in Stoney Brook. There are a couple of places in Stoney Brook that are such that people vacation there, just these experience. And Le Maison Blair is one of those experiences. I like enemies to lovers because it doesn’t mean that they have to be two guys who were in a fistfight, they can just be two men with different ideologies. So, I tend to buck the grand of the typical M/M story. But if I don’t, why read Miski’s book? And in this series, there are nine other authors that you can read. So, I am hoping, actually, I’m sure because I’ve conversed with a couple of them that I gave the series a different approach.
Jeff: Yeah. There’s definitely a couple of authors. I think you’re one of them. I think Elle Keaton is one of them with how she did the age gap. And it’s nice to see the different approaches because then there’s a little something for everybody in the series.
Miski: And, you know, the thing is, is that mine isn’t as much of an age gap as it is a level of maturity. Because five years isn’t a lot, you know, Riko’s 25 and Braxton is 30. But speaking of Elle, I’ve got to give her props. Because as I was struggling with the geography of this world, I needed some things and I contacted Elle. And she just about poured the manuscript out to me, which when you’re busy writing your own story to stop and take time with another author. So, our characters interact. She has a young familiar intern named Ben. And Ben and Riko become friends. Riko winds up staying at the Stoney Brook end, which is Elle’s creation. So, our stories actually have some intertwining in that way, and I’ll forever be grateful to her for that. So, in “Boy Overboard,” you’ll actually see a reaction to Ben’s story.
Jeff: Oh, I love that when that happens in shared universes, how the characters cross between the books and everything. And I really love the setup here where everybody’s in the same town. You’ve also got the Tall Ship Festival. How does that play into your story?
Miski: It’s actually the catalyst for a lot of Riko’s growth. Because of the festival, the local merchants have to create sort of a vendor area so that people who are just there for the festival, aren’t tearing up the town. Braxton, at the same time, uses that opportunity to build an extension of his restaurant. So, there’s opportunities for Riko to grow into the town because of the festival, and make friends and become part, not just the festival itself but the heartbeat of the town. At one point, something about Riko becomes very common knowledge and then says, “Welcome to Stoney Brook.”
Jeff: Because that is a small town, you don’t get to keep any secrets.
Miski: It is. There are no secrets there. And that’s one of the things that he struggles with, like, you know, something about him will be all over town before he’s had breakfasts. And, you know, he’s like, “How? Why?” He does ask that a lot. But I enjoyed writing it.
Jeff: What was your favorite scene to write?
Miski: I have a couple. But the one scene that I actually posted on Facebook that I actually cried through was my favorite. But that’s also I can’t tell that one because it’s sort of a point of the story, and it’ll ruin it for everybody.
Jeff: Yeah, we definitely don’t want spoilers. So, when readers get to this scene where they’re gonna cry, they’ll know that’s the one.
Miski: Yes. However, one of my other favorite scenes, I have two of them. One is the very beginning, it’s emotional because it shows that everybody isn’t cool with who Riko is in the world. It’s Riko’s first lesson in, you know, all bears aren’t cute and cuddly. You know, all cookies don’t have sugar that… you know, all those things that your parents always tell you. So, that’s his first lesson. And just because Jeff likes you doesn’t mean that all men who wear black frame glasses are gonna like you. I think one of the more intense scenes is the first sort of erotic scene between Riko and Braxton. Braxton calls Riko a brat a lot. And Braxton’s kinky. I will allow that out. But he’s not a dumb. And so I try to address some things that I think people don’t know. There’s a difference between wanting a little spicy in your life and being a full-out member of the BDSM community. And while I enjoy reading a good BDSM book, I don’t know that I could have the right one. But I can put a little flavor in the bedroom. So, Riko is one of those people that every time you hear him open his mouth, you just wanna slap him. In Braxton’s case, he just wants to spank him. So, my favorite scene is the actual spanking. Riko learns a lot about the difference between looking something up on Google and experiencing it. And so, you know, Riko is like, “He what? But wait a minute. Isn’t he supposed to…? But is he really…” So that was my favorite scene.
Jeff: We have to talk about your book from the end of last year, “Cruise.” Tell us a little bit about the 10 days that Armando and Lyndon have at sea?
Miski: Armando is a gay man in an ultra-religious family. His wife is actually considers herself asexual, aromantic. They were best for growing up. And to get their parents out of their hair, they got married. They had a son, Michael, by artificial insemination. I caught a lot of heat for that. But you know what? Unless you’ve lived that fiscal level of life, you have no what people who do not have immediate access to money will do to achieve a drink. And so for everybody listening, please stop telling me that they couldn’t do this because everything I do is research. And people have, and this couple did. Anyway, Marta dies. And she’s been sending Armando on these gay cruises every year as giving him a kitchen pass to go be who he really is for hiding her secret. I never do discuss what Marta does because she’s deceased. As you can tell, there’s a pattern there. I like tugging heartstrings right off the top.
So, the book starts with her funeral. Lyndon, on the other hand, is a Uber busy, architect, and author. You know, he’s that over-focused young man who has come out of a seriously bad relationship. The cruise that they’re on is a real cruise. If you Googled 2,000 gay men on a cruise, that’s an actual cruise and left Rome on my birthday. And I literally followed that itinerary. I Googled photographs and tour information. And so they did all this stuff. They swam the caves. Lyndon being an architect, sketched out the beautiful grottos in Greece. Oh my God, I wanna see them myself. And as they did this, their relationship developed. They went to Pompeii and walked through those ruins. There’s a stalker involved. And that’s all I say about that. They have a friend of Armando’s named, Danny, who can be a little bit of a cock blocker. Danny was such a pain in the ass. Sometimes you just wanted to slap him. But remember what I said, I love redemption. And there’s a reason behind Danny. But that’s not how the story ends. They get home. Armando has a face-off with his family. And Lyndon has a face-off with his pets, that really could have gone badly, but Lyndon’s got a Gun Tote’n Mamas.
Jeff: So, now I just wanna read this book all the more. It’s gonna have to move up my TBR because you’ve given you so much more here than the blurb even has.
Miski: Well, John Solo, who narrated my first two books, he forced that out at GRL. So, I was glad the book was out. Oh, because… John said, “Well, I understand there’s a mama that’ll cut a bitch.” And I said, “Nah, but she’ll shoot the mother…”
Jeff: I love John.
Miski: John is amazing. He really is. And he was one of the first people to encourage me, you know, that what he really enjoyed was that I actually write romance and fiction, and not erotica. He called it a bold move. But, you know, I’m 70, I can do whatever the hell I want these days.
Jeff: Yes, you can.
Miski: And I have the good fortune of not having the right to rent, so.
Jeff: Spinning to something else, what is something that you’ve read recently, that you would want our listeners to have a read at?
Miski: Actually, Will has a new book coming out, it’s called “The Return.” It’s paranormal, and it’s just right up my alley.
Jeff: Parker Williams, right?
Miski: Yes. And the book releases on the day that we do this podcast, so the 14th of April. So, happy birthday Parker. I love you. He’s another person who writes contemporary with an edge. And he’s one of those, you can’t put it down authors. And I believe that if people pick up “The Return,” that’s what’s gonna happen. I mean, seriously, I’m doing the final edits on “Boy Overboard.” And every night when I put that to bed, I was in my copy reading myself to sleep. That’s all I can say because, again, this is release day. You know, the blur speaks for itself.
Jeff: That’s awesome, to give a little release day love to Parker. And what’s coming up next for you now that “Boy Overboard” is out? What more do we have to look forward to this year?
Miski: Well, first I’m gonna drink a lot of wine. I’ve got a couple of book signings coming up. The end of this month, I’m actually doing Authors & Dancers Against Cancer in Ohio and RomantiConn in July. But in the meantime, my next book is “Damage Control.” It’s been on the back burner for a while, its book being “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” But there are two young men in my prior stories. One is Teddy, who everybody falls in love with. Teddy’s a social worker who’s also a drag. And the other is a young veteran who was in collateral damage. And because of the way the VA rates you, which isn’t necessarily in line with the rating you got from the military when you’re discharged. He has some PTSD issues, but his biggest issue is seizures. And that doesn’t qualify him to receive a support animal a hundred percent paid for. The military uses dogs. And almost every one of my stories has an animal of some kind in it. I love animals. This particular dog is a Portuguese water dog named River. So, as in the romance, I’m gonna bring Teddy in. I’ve tentatively named him David together, but it’s primarily gonna be my airman’s story of, again, rebirth, rebuilding, and redemption, because is that’s what the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” series is about, coming out of the military damaged and being able to rebuild yourself, rebuild your life and find love.
Jeff: Exciting that you’re getting to continue that series.
Jeff: Something to look forward to there. How can people keep up with you online? And most importantly, to know when “Damage Control” is gonna be able to come out?
Miski: I’m on Facebook. I have a group Miski’s Mischief Makers. I keep it simple. My Facebook page is, personal page is, just Miski Harris, same for Instagram and Twitter, which Tammy keeps up. I do have a webpage, and it’s www.miskiharris.com. I keep it simple. But there, you can sign up for my newsletter, which is really the primary place that I put everything.
Jeff: We will link to all of that in our show notes, along with all the books that we talked about. Miski, thank you so much for coming to talk to us about “Boy Overboard.”
Miski: Thank you.
Elle Keaton Interview
Elle: I’m Elle Keaton, and I write M/M romantic suspense and contemporary M/M romance, for the most part.
Jeff: You’re one of the many books arriving this month in the “All American Boy” series. And you’ve played with the titling a little bit here with the title of “Not a Boy.” Tell us about this story.
Elle: Well, “Not a Boy” is kind of what I call, I don’t know. I guess it’s age gap positive. The younger character is a little more confident maybe than some, you know, we’ve seen or not, you know, some of the other kind of, like, sub-genres out there. He knows what he wants. He’s going for it. And the other character… He’s a definitely professional person, but he’s had a little less luck in the love department, and it’s kind of jaded and stuff. I want to say the tropes are, like I said, age gap positive sort of opposites attract just in age and profession, son of the groom a bit comes in instead of father of the bride, some son of the groom.
Jeff: Well, I am curious, like, what was your inspiration for the story of Henry and Ben?
Elle: Okay. That’s a very good question. I knew when Sierra and I talked that I wanted to use some spare characters from my Piedras Island series. I have two series that are on this island off Washington State, partly because I knew them better. And when I write, I find fellas, they’re very challenging because you have a certain amount of space and you have to be able to fit in a good solid story. I just feel like I needed to know my characters. And I already knew those two characters fairly well. So, I was like, “Okay, it’s gonna be age gap.” That’s where I started. I had actually just met Henry. He appears in real danger. And I was like, “Oh, I really like him, but what can I do with him? How can I give him a story?” And then I was looking around for cover because I couldn’t find anything I liked. And I found this one through Christopher John for “Not a Boy.” And it was so perfect. And I realized right then that that’s how I wanted the dynamic, this confident, younger guy. And he’s not like alpha guy. He’s just a confident person, who’s had his own troubles in life, but has come out on top and is moving through his life. So, that’s where the inspiration came from.
Jeff: And you could tell that the guy on your cover has a story. He’s just got that look that he…
Elle: He does.
Jeff: He’s got a story. He’s got something to say.
Elle: He does. I just love this cover so much. I just adore it. And, yeah. He’s definitely… I mean, I hope I did it justice.
Jeff: What was your favorite scene to write between Henry and Ben? If that’s something you could tell us without giving away spoilers.
Elle: That’s such a good question. So, I really had fun coming up with their first meeting, the first time that they saw each other, which is not gonna give anything away because you all… I mean, the back of the book says that they kind of run into each other. But I didn’t want it to make it a kind of, like, “Wham bam, thank you, man, meet up.” I wanted it to be more, like, “Oh, they tried a little bit to get to know each other.” So, that was fun. And I had fun kind of their back and forth banter with that. Another scene I really enjoyed writing was later in the book at the wedding. And I think readers will know that one. It’s not between them though, it’s between Henry and another character, but I don’t wanna give too much away.
Jeff: Yeah, we don’t want spoilers. Tell us a little bit more about the series that this is connected to.
Elle: It’s a shared world. But the only thing that we had to do was, as each individual author was, we had to somehow either mention or be in Stoney Brook, Maine where the Tall Ship… And Stoney Brook is not real, but there is a Tall Ship Festival in Maine. So, that’s kind of… Everybody did it a little bit differently. We did kind of try and share some things that we made up. Like, I have an inn in line and a little shop that only appears very briefly, but someone else… You know, I wrote it down on the spreadsheet that we shared. And so that’ll show up in another book. And I do know… I don’t wanna give away the ending, but I know that there’s lots of mentions of pirates. I look through the real Tall Ship Festival, and they have like dress up like a pirate day and stuff. So, that’s kind of how we did it. I do know personally a few of the authors, so I was able to kind of, like, you know, pick their brains a little bit when they were writing. But I think it’s going to be fun. I don’t know everybody’s story. So, I’m just excited as you to read them.
Jeff: That’s always what’s exciting when you’ve got these shared universes, like “All American Boy,” where see how they connect, and then how they’re separated, and how everybody kind of plays with what’s going on in there. How many parameters did you get to create your story other than you were kind of setting in the same spot?
Elle: Well, none really. I think there’s all different, you know, M/M, but all genres could be there, you know, could be represented. Really this Tall Ship Festival mentioning, it’s the most important thing and novella length. So, not really anything over, like, 45. I don’t think any of them are over that. I think they’re mostly around 40, and mine’s just around 32. And so that was really it.
Jeff: What kind of drew you into wanting to be part of this collection?
Elle: I’ve always wanted to write in, like, a shared world and, you know, I’ve definitely kind of put my interest out there. Funny story is I did apply to be part of the one that Sarina Bowen did a while back.
Jeff: Yeah. “Vino and Veritas”
Elle: Yeah. Okay. So I don’t watch TV. I do not watch TV. I swear to you, hardly ever. And if I do, I’m watching a crime show. So, I sent in my little thing and I spent a lot of time on it, which is fine. And then I was told no, which was also fine because I know a lot of people applied and I wasn’t really concerned about that. But then like two months later, I was watching “Schitt’s Creek.” And I basically wrote the same plotline as the one where he sneaks into the cabin. I mean, like, it was scary. I’m looking at this point. “Oh my gosh. They think I didn’t know,” or “That they also…” I was horribly embarrassed, but also it was pure chance. So, it was funny anyway. Anyway, so I was really excited to be able to be part of this, you know, the shared world. A lot of it is because, you know, all of us come from different places in the indie author, writing world old. And I love to be able to get my books out to other people who may just have looked at my books before and been like, “Oh, I don’t think I wanna read that.” But now maybe because I brought in some of my characters and they’ll be drawn to my stuff. And maybe my readers, who come in for “Not a Boy” will be like, “Oh my gosh, I really wanna pick up this K.C. Kassidy or this Lela Dru. That’s my part of it. It’s like share the love.
Jeff: Which is the great thing about shared universe. I know I’ve read my share of shared universe, and all of a sudden it’s like, you’re moving along. Like, “Well I don’t know this all here. Let me read.” It’s like, “Oh, now I need more from this author because, yeah, they’re awesome.” Now, we do have to mention that just a week after “Not a Boy” comes out, you’ve got “Real Risk” coming out, which is the third book in the West Coast Forensic series. Tell us a little bit about that book and the West Coast Forensic series.
Elle: So, let’s see. Let’s start with about the series a little bit. So, the series is a spin-on series of my three-book same couple series, it’s called “Veiled Intentions.” And the two main characters in “Real Trouble,” actually, first, we first meet them in my original series called “Shielded Hearts.” And I had never written these guys’ story. And I had people writing me about it, and writing me about it and writing… But I’m sure, you know, as yourself, like, sometimes it’s just not the right time for that story. It just wasn’t. Writing a three same couple series was very hard for me. I loved doing it, but it was hard. Although I did learn how to write longer. And so that was something I definitely learned from doing that. So, anyway, I was like, “Oh, I wanna do more in this universe, but I don’t wanna keep writing. I love these guys, but I’m done with them. I’m tired of being in their pocket.” So, I was like, okay, it’s time for Danny and Soren’s story. And I brought them to the island. And that’s how it got started. And so “Real Risk” is, so is a character. One of the characters have been around, both of them really, but the man on the front, who’s Devon, he’s been in since the very beginning of “Veiled Intentions.” You almost see him on the very first page. I can’t remember it’s the first page, but it’s close. And he’s a firefighter, the only paid firefighter on the island because most of these little places, and for real, only have volunteer firefighters. So, there’s usually just one paid person. So, he’s the firefighter. And then, of course, I have my West Coast Forensics guys who I’m having slowly move up to the island because I’m tired of flying him back and forth. All right. And so Kimball is the other character, and he’s in his late 50s. He was an ATF agent. He opened his own business with another character that we see off and on. And that’s how they meet. Kimball comes up to the island to help investigate a series of fires. There’s a lot of fire, a lot of fire on my island…
Jeff: Don’t burn the island down.
Elle: I know, right? So, that’s how they meet. And they kind of dance around each other for a while. They’re not necessarily looking for a relationship with each other, for sure, right? And so basically fire’s happening, again, and it’s arson, which is a really hard thing to investigate. Actually, I did a lot of my own research writing this book about arsonists and the psychology behind arson, the kind that’s not for money, which is mostly what arson is. And even that is very hard to investigate and identify. That is how they meet and how they get together. And it’s a longer story. It’s a slow, slow, slow burn story, just because of who they are and how the story played out. And I really had a fun writing it. These guys made me laugh a lot and it’s like suspense, right? So, that’s really not the point, but they did make me laugh, so.
Jeff: Well, you need those tension-breakers too in those suspense books, whether it’s Uber, or just the moment where they get to, you know, have a moment to themselves, or whatever that is. Get that breath.
Elle: Yeah. So, Devon the character on the front, he’s more, I don’t wanna say laid back, but he definitely has a worldview that’s just, like, whatever happens, happens. And, you know, he doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about stuff and then the other guys. Like, he’s always dating inappropriate way too… Like, not even just like years too young but just emotionally, too young of men, right? And so that’s a kind of a point that they get a lot of mileage out of that teasing back and forth and stuff, so.
Jeff: That’s fun.
Elle: It is. It was really fun to write. I have a few more pages of edits to do but I’m super excited. Almost ready. Almost out the door. It’s been sitting there for, I don’t know, a long time since October, I guess, is when I started.
Jeff: Oh, wow.
Jeff: Is there anything else you can tease us about what’s coming next a little later in the year, once “Real Risk” gets out there and everything?
Elle: Well, I have another shared universe book, and I’m gonna write a rockstar book, which I have never done before. And I do have the cover image, but I can’t show you. It’s gonna be in road to October, and that comes out in October. I believe, it’s a bodyguard romance, but it’ll be fun. I’m super excited for it. And then in late September, I’ll have “Real Hazard,” which is the one after “Real Risk.” So, this is like, you heard it first. It’s a gay for you, single dad, demisexual trope, and it’s foster. So, if anybody that knows my stuff, it’s foster. And then Dutch who’s a cook on the island, and has this little girl named Hazel, which is kind of where I got hazard from. But also there’s other stuff that happens because there’s always somebody…you know, something happens and I don’t wanna give it away, but that’s who it’s coming. And I’m really excited. I’ve had these two simmering since, like, I look… I’m trying to think, like, mid-December, I came up with this and I’m like, but I have to write “Real Risk” first. I’m not very good about… I tend to be linear. And even though part of it does happen at the same time of “Real Risk,” my writer brain says, “No, you have to do this first.”
Jeff: I’m very much the same, it’s like one thing has to come after the other. And the other characters need to be quiet until I’m done over here.
Elle: Yeah. And I did. I had to just keep writing these little, like, okay, this idea, you know, words. I like a lot of descriptive words to help me kind of get my characters, keep them kind of… I like to have like three or five descriptor words, and I’m like, so is coming up my words for my characters, but I couldn’t go any further. So, I’m really excited to get started on that.
Jeff: We love to get recommendations here on the podcast. What’s something that you’ve read recently that you would recommend to our listeners?
Elle: Well, let me tell you. I was on vacation last month for 11-plus days out of my house and I binged all of Jackie North’s “Farthingdale Ranch” series.
Jeff: Oh, wonderful.
Elle: At that point, there were only four out. And I believe that five came out at the very, my last day in my trip, and six came out yesterday. So, I have not had time to read six yet, but they’re really good. They’re really good. There’s a great sense of place, like the actual ranch and the surroundings are character in the book. And I really enjoyed the different pairings. It was fun.
Jeff: That’s excellent. And how could people keep up with you online to find out, you know, everything about “Not a Boy,” about “Real Risk,” and everything else coming up?
Elle: Well, I’m on Facebook as ElleKeatonWrites, I believe. And I have a Facebook reader group if you’re interested in that kind of thing and it’s Elle Keaton’s Highway to Elle, very clever name. I also have a newsletter, you can go to my website, which is ellekeaton.com, and there’s a popup. And once you’re a member of my newsletter, there’s tons of free reads you can download that are all on my website, you know, different like outtakes, or shorts, or even a couple old stories that I never pursued any further are there. And Goodreads, and Book Bub, and all those places, I’m definitely wrapped there.
Jeff: We will link to all of these things in our show notes, so people can easily find them. Thank you so much for coming and talking to us a little bit about “Not a Boy” and “Real Risk.”
Elle: Oh, thank you for having me.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. The show notes page has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And thanks so much to Elle, Shane, and Miski for talking to us about their “All American Boy” books. There’s definitely something in this series for everybody. And with the novella length, it’s a perfect way to spend, perhaps a lot of time this spring and summer in Maine. Can’t you just imagine this being like a series of films for, like, I don’t know, Hallmark channel or Netflix, if you wanna go a little steamier with it, you could just come, shoot in the small town setting for a few weeks, and have nine amazing stories to just… It makes such a good movie series.
Will: I am here for it.
All right. I think that’s going to do it for this episode. Coming up on Monday in episode 372, author Kosoko Jackson joins us to talk about his rom-com, “I’m So (Not) Over You.”
Jeff: And of course, that book is our spring big gay fiction book club selection. But in addition to talking about, “I’m So (Not) Over You,” we’re also gonna find out about his recent young adult thriller, “Survive the Dome.”
Will: On behalf of Jeff and myself, we wanna thank you so much for listening. And we hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kind of stories that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.