We’re so pleased to welcome author Kelly Jensen to TNA today, on the tour for her newest novel, Block and Strike. She’s giving a little behind-the-scenes insight into the book, as well as offering a great giveaway, so be sure to check out the entry details below.
Behind the Book
As a reader, I always want to know what’s behind the book. Why the author wrote it and what it means to them. Is this particular book special, or just an idea they had? As a writer, I like to answer those same questions. So why did I write Block and Strike? The simple answer is that I wanted to share the experience of gaining confidence through self-defense and martial arts training.
I’m always thinking in terms of story and my ideas come from everywhere. The forests around my house inspire tales of epic journeys. Playing Dishonored 2 has me plotting revenge thrillers. I was struck with perhaps my favourite story idea yet while trying to fit too many Cheez-Its into my mouth. I figured out the character arc of book three of that same series while watching Doctor Strange.
One day, as I was packing to leave the dojo, I poked a fellow student in the ribs with my bo staff. We laughed about it. This guy has broken my nose. I broke a couple toes kicking him in the ankle. He has sat on me. I’ve bruised his neck. If I’d poked him in the eye with my bo staff we would probably have only laughed more.
No one pokes anyone in the eye with a bo staff in Block and Strike. The kernel of story came from me picturing the following encounter: What if a young woman was walking to the door of her apartment with an armload of parcels while another of the building’s tenants was backing out of his door with a full gym bag over one shoulder and a bo staff tucked under his other arm? What if they collided? It’d be an interesting way to meet, right?
Furthering the idea, what if she always wanted to study self-defense, but never really had the courage to try? Having a handsome guy poke her in the ribs with his bo staff (I know where your mind is going…) might just be the incentive she needs. There’s no real plot there, though. So, what if she really needs to study self-defense? Needs the confidence to help her combat something in her past?
This is where I decided that someone else had probably already written this book. Several someones. So I switched genders and decided to write about a young man with little to no self-esteem, who really needed a friend. Someone to inspire a need for confidence and help him recognise his inner strength. That young man is Maxwell Wilson and writing his story tore me to pieces.
I put a little of myself into all of my characters. It’s the only way I know how to make them feel real. I give them my own traits, good and bad, and dream my way to better things with all of them. Max is me at twenty-one. Legally an adult, but with no idea what that means. He’s not a person, yet. His dreams are loose knit and his ambitions are unformed. He has no idea who he is or what he wants to be.
Worse, he received no help or encouragement from his parents. One actively disdains him while the other seems indifferent to Max’s struggle—or is unable to deal with it.
Max doesn’t need a hand up. He’s already standing on his own two feet. What he needs is someone to point that out to him. Then help him walk. Then run. That someone is Jacob Kendricks. He’s… Well, at first glance, he’s kinda perfect. Jake is so not perfect, though…and I’m going to talk more about him in another blog post. Here, I’ll end by saying Jake is the one who will teach Max the importance of self-confidence. Max has to discover it for himself, though, and studying self-defense and martial arts will go a long way toward that.
Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. Two winners will each receive $25 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.
Question: What do you want to be when you grow up? If you’re already there, did you fulfill your ambition, or choose something else?
About the Book
Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
About the Author
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Follow the Tour
1/6 The Novel Approach “Behind the Book”
1/6 Just Love: Queer Book Reviews “Jake’s Book”
1/9 Sinfully Gay Romance “Writing Kids and Family”
1/9 MM Good Book Reviews “Character Casting”
1/10 Joyfully Jay “The Max and Jake Playlist”
1/10 Boy Meets Boy Reviews “Chatting with Jake and Max”
1/11 Love Bytes “Martial Arts Movies”
1/11 Prism Book Alliance “Driving Movies”
1/12 Gay Book Reviews “Learning to Make Noise – Why I Study Self Defense”
1/12 Diverse Reader “Hobbies”
1/13 Rick R. Reed “Fruit of the Forest Pie”