G’day everyone! First of all I’d like to thank Lisa Horan for giving me this spot on ‘The Novel Approach’ to talk to you all! (Waves to Lisa!) Thank you!
So, first a short bio as requested:
I’m an Australian writer and most of my life has been experienced from the saddle or out in the paddock, because I’ve ridden and worked with horses all my life. So I guess the first thing you will notice when you read my stories is that my characters tend to spend a lot of time on horseback or out on the farm. For the same reason, you’ll also get a look at some very dangerous (and some very cute) Australian wildlife in my stories. So if you’re used to reading stories set in city clubs and bars, prepare to take a walk on the (other) wild side! My characters are a little bit dustier and harder to catch on foot!
I am happy to hear from readers on my e-mail or Facebook. You’ll find me on Twitter too, but a little less often as I’m not all that familiar with Twitter yet! All the links are below. I can’t promise an instant reply,because I go out working sometimes for a week or so, but I will get back to readers as soon as I can. Plus also, being in Australia, if you email me during your waking hours I’ll be fast asleep because it will be somewhere in the middle of the night here. But I will respond! (Eventually LOL).
The Bushrangers series
This series started out with a cautious toe-in-the-water from me, a novella called ‘The Billabong.’ When Dreamspinner liked and accepted it, the first thing I did was pick myself up off the floor. Then I polished off and sent in the next novella, ‘Walkabout’ published on 27th August 2014. I felt a mixture of guilt and delight that so many people reviewed ‘The Billabong’ with comments that ‘they’d love to read more of the story’ so I figured I’d better get my act together and continue Jim and Mark’s story.Thus began the Bushrangers series!
The Billabong is about a cattleman, Jim Kelly, who meets and falls in love with a man, Mark Turner, who turns out to be hiding the fact that he’s an outlaw on the run. It turns out Mark has fallen just as deeply for Jim, and Jim faces some life-changing decisions as he throws his lot in with Mark.
Walkabout follows Jim as he in turn, follows Mark – away from everything that Jim has ever known. There’s no doubt the attraction between them is searing hot, but is that enough to keep them together in the face of all the dangers they face? Mark and Jim try to evade the troopers and use their skills as stockmen (cowboys!) to eke out a meagre, honest living, and Jim is starting to hope that Mark is not as bad as he feared. But will Mark’s streak of good behaviour last?
More in The Bushrangers series to come!
There’s another novella, ‘Dingo Run’ which should be through final edits and into pre-production by the time you see this post. There’s a novel after that, which I’m 40,000 words into and really firing on at the moment. So if you love these guys as much as I have grown to, you’ll have plenty of stories to look forward to.
Writing the ‘Bushrangers’ Series – An unusual experience
Usually I am a very structured writer. I set up my main characters, plot out the storyline, do summaries of each chapter in the story, then fill in the text. I know what I am going to write for every chapter.
With the Bushrangers series, it is a totally different writing experience. It feels like I sit down to write and a door opens into the past. I step through and there they are, going about their daily lives. I struggle to keep up with the story line at times, as things can move quickly and my typing’s not really that fast. I don’t have time to wonder about this process while I’m writing, but afterwards I often sit down and ponder. Some of the things I’d written ad hoc into the story turned out to be uncannily accurate. (I discovered this when I did some belated additional research at the behest of my editors.)It’s almost as though these guys existed in obscurity and wanted their story told.
Recent Short Stories by Jack Byrne
Dreamspinner seemed happy with my stories so far, so I gathered my courage and stepped out of my comfort zone to write a short story set in the U.S. That story was ‘The Bear Next Door’ which they published in the ‘A Taste of Honey’ anthology on 18th August 2014.
A couple of people have asked me whether writing about bears is a departure for me from my usual writing, but on reflection I’d have to say ‘no’. You see, in setting the Bushrangers series in outback Australia in the 1870’s I pretty much had to make my main characters, Jim and Mark, fairly tough – otherwise they wouldn’t have survived the harsh conditions and their outlaw lifestyle. So I was really creating that sort of character anyway, something it wasn’t too hard to translate into writing about bears for ‘The Bear Next Door.’ Also, I have a close friend who is a bear, and he is such a sweet person, such a gentleman, but because he is so scary looking (he really is!) he gets ‘judged by his cover’ and has told me that he wishes people would see past that. He’s one of the main reasons I was inspired to write this story.
The funniest thing about writing ‘The Bear Next Door’ was that I told the editors to change anything I had made too Australian…. And wow, did they go to town! I had no idea my writing was so Aussie! Perhaps I should have guessed when my senior editor for the Bushrangers series put a ‘Glossary of Australian Terms’ in front of all my books LOL!
(‘Hot off the Press’ anthology, Dreamspinner Press, *coming soon)
(Okay, so I enjoy writing short stories. They’re fun, and they’re a nice distraction from the sometimes long, hard slog of writing novels.)
For ‘Perfect Bound’ I returned to the familiar and safe ground of writing a story set in Australia (mostly to save the Dreamspinner editors any more gray hairs LOL!). This story is almost entirely character-driven though, which is new territory again for me! Michael Eldridge, author, meets Daniel Saunders, print shop manager, and the sparks are instant (after all, the anthology is called ‘Hot off the Press’ so I figured I had to stick to the theme LOL).
Sub-themes (apart from the obligatory hot sex): The story examines the difference that family makes, specifically, family acceptance (or otherwise). Michael and Daniel had two very different experiences of coming out, and even now, ten years later, their respective families’ responses at the time have ongoing repercussions for them. It’s also a story about financial loss, how Michael and Daniel deal with that individually, and the repercussions within their relationship. It’s about how things can look great from the outside even when everything is falling apart on the inside. Above all it’s about how if you look hard enough, you can find hope in any situation.
The Hot off the Press anthology is due out in November to the best of my knowledge.
Okay, so if you like my writing, it would be nice if you could leave a review, an email or a Facebook comment to let me know that. There’s likely to be plenty more in the Bushrangers series, because as I said I love these characters and I enjoy writing about them! Also I intend to keep submitting shorts to Dreamspinner because it’s fun!
Once again a big shout out to Lisa and The Novel Approach for hosting me, thanks Lisa!
And here’s a link to my Dreamspinner Press author page where you can buy all the Dreamspinner books
Sequel to The Billabong
Bushrangers: Book Two
A novella from the Dragon-ghosts of Viscaya Universe
In New South Wales, Australia, in 1876, sweating out a living from the savage, dry wilderness tests a man’s worth. Cattleman Jim Kelly gave up everything he knew to outrun the law with his lover Mark Turner. Struggling to survive, the two turn to crime and venture farther into the harsh outback. And while Jim is enthralled by Mark’s almost paranormal strength and physical power, he starts to question his love after seeing Mark’s explosive temper first hand.
Excerpt: That night Jim was still feeling out of sorts. He kept remembering the easy strength and coldness of Mark during the holdup. He thought about Mark’s physical power, the way he had picked up a grown man by the scruff of the neck. He thought about the cool indifference in Mark’s voice as he held a gun to that man’s head. It was so much at odds with the gentle, warm man who Jim had come to know. Jim felt a return of the strange tightness that had taken hold over his body during the holdup.
Mark came into the tent once it was set up. The ground beneath them was soft—one of the only soft patches of earth in the mountainous country Mark had automatically fled to after the holdup. They had trotted three miles along a riverbed and rode out over a huge flat rock, then turned into the hills to hide their trail. It was unlikely the settlers would try to follow them, but if they told the police in the next town, the police might come after them. It was wise to hide their trail.
They had bathed as well as they could, using the billy to pour cold stream water over themselves. Jim had hung his clothes on a line between the tent and a nearby sapling to dry overnight in the warm Australian air. He was sitting in the tent wrapped in Mark’s long riding coat when Mark came in. Mark was wrapped in their only “towel,” a three-foot length of calico they had found on the road and cleaned up. Knotted around his waist, the thin damp calico didn’t leave much to the imagination.
Mark stopped just inside the tent door, and Jim looked up at him after a while. Mark’s eyes were piercing as he surveyed Jim. “You all right?”
Jim sighed and said nothing, and Mark came over and sat next to him. “Talk.”
Jim put his head in his hands. “About what? You’re an outlaw. I knew that.”
“Is it going to be a problem?”
“What do you mean?” asked Jim, feeling confused.
“Is it going to be a problem between us, you know,” replied Mark, waving his hand vaguely in the air between the two of them. It was as close as Jim and he ever seemed to get to discussing their feelings for each other. A vague reference here or there.As though by not speaking of their relationship, even to each other, they could keep it protected and secret.
Jim heaved a sigh. “You take a dangerous occupation, and you turn it into an impossible occupation. Our luck is going to run out. You’re going to get killed.”
“I didn’t choose this occupation,” Mark pointed out.
“You can still choose something else!”
There was a long silence, and then Mark said, “I’ll try.”
Jim felt himself shiver, and then Mark moved around to face him and push him down on the ground carefully, holding Jim’s face in both hands. “You’re still shaking.”
Jim felt his body begin to respond to Mark despite his frame of mind and allowed Mark to kiss him. It was a long, careful kiss, and Mark stopped often to gaze into his eyes.
Eventually Mark commented, “You’re so tense, like a man who’s been shot—tense all over.”
“I’m not used to all this. And I was actually nearly shot. That woman had a good bead on me for quite a few seconds.”
“It’s exciting, isn’t it?” Mark’s voice was breathy and deep in his ear, surprising Jim.
Jim hesitated, then found himself nodding. “Yes.” He reached for Mark, a wave of need coming over him suddenly. Perhaps it was simply the need to forget the events of the day, to lose himself in Mark’s presence and power. Perhaps it was something darker, Jim thought, but then lost his train of thought as Mark began to play his feverishly hot hands over Jim’s body.
Mark dropped the calico from around his waist and pulled the coat out from around Jim, and then Jim felt Mark’s hot lips devouring his neck and chest. Mark took Jim’s nipple in his mouth, making Jim’s torso arch under him and press against the strong body above him. He felt Mark reach down and take his balls between his fingers, playing them gently back and forth, then stroking up along Jim’s growing erection. Jim felt the tension in his body feed into his erection, until it was tight and almost painful. Mark crooned something soothing in his ear and wrapped his warm hand around Jim’s penis, and Jim gave a whimper of relief as some of the tension in him segued into pleasure.
“You’re so fucking hard,” whispered Mark, and Jim felt another jolt of pleasure at the profanity. He turned and captured Mark’s lips in his again, desperately kissing away the tension between them. Mark was just as eager, and soon he slicked his fingers in Jim’s precum and used them to lubricate Jim’s bunched hole, slipping one finger after another in. Jim gave a muffled yelp as two of those long fingers pressed into him, finding the pleasure center they had discovered there. Mark’s erection was now hard and leaking, and Jim felt him withdraw his fingers and replace them at his entrance with his member.
Mark grabbed Jim’s blond hair until Jim focused on him. Mark whispered, “You won’t get this from anyone else. So you’re stuck with me, outlaw or not.”
Jim felt the blunt pressure on him increase, and suddenly gave a cry of pain as he was stretched and breached. Mark seemed bigger and harder than Jim had felt him before, and Jim struggled to keep his body relaxed as Mark pushed into him. Jim lost control when the hardness entering him slid across that pleasure center, and by the time Mark was fully inside him, Jim was kissing his lover shamelessly, tugging at his tight ass with both hands to bring him deeper, whispering in his ear, “More.”
Mark responded like a man possessed, withdrawing himself several times and reentering Jim until he slid slickly in and out of his body. Jim felt himself pounded, felt the strength and power of Mark hammering into him faster and faster, then forgot to think or feel anything as he exploded too quickly into a rolling climax that sent his seed spurting out between their bodies again and again and sent his brain off somewhere he did not know where. He heard a growl from Mark, and another, and suddenly Mark, too, tensed all over and came, heat pouring deep within Jim. Mark’s body was stiff like a board, shaking, until he finally slumped exhausted onto Jim.
After a minute Mark rolled to the side, then pulled Jim close and lay there, eyes shut and exhausted. Jim was feeling something odd within him and hunted around for words to express it. He looked into the deep brown eyes, which had opened and were looking at him again, watching Jim’s every expression.
“What?” murmured Mark sleepily.
Jim was silent for a long time, then said, “I’d be lost if anything happened to you now.”
He did not know what reaction he expected from Mark, but he was not expecting to be crushed quite so hard to his chest. Mark said in his low, postsex rumble, “Nothing’s going to happen to me.”
“I hope not.”
Mark’s arms tightened about him even more, and Jim fell asleep quickly, exhausted.
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED