Lisa: We’re so pleased to welcome author Riley Parks to TNA today to chat with us on the event of her novel, Bleeding Like Me, releasing in November from Boroughs Publishing. Hi, Riley! Let’s start out with an easy one: tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
Riley: A lot of people in my everyday life don’t know I write novels, but you do, which means you know a huge part of me already.
Lisa: Would you care to share an excerpt from of your favorite scenes in the book with us? What makes it a fave?
Riley: I loved writing about Evan’s paintings. I wish I had the artistic talent to put what I saw in my mind onto a canvas. Evan’s passion for art helped me layer him as a character. He was a tortured artist who was freed by his art, while being tortured by his demons.
The Excerpt: His features were perfect, from the gentleness in his eyes to the thickness of his thighs, the fullness of his lips, to the cuts of his hips. Evan had noticed how gorgeous Jackson was when they first hooked up, but it was different now. A man who had been so brash and hard was dropping his guard, and the moments of softness only made him more breathtaking. Jackson was the most beautiful contradiction, so Evan made his paintings the same. Fingers grasped the stems of vibrant flowers while crimson blood poured from an adoring gaze.
Lisa: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?
Riley: This is difficult because as much as I would want to spend time with Jackson, he intimidates me. I feel like he’d tell me off or give me dirty looks and I would be crushed.
Lisa: On the flipside, which character would you probably least get along with? Why?
Riley: I would least get along with Aiden. I don’t want to give a spoiler, but I value loyalty.
Lisa: If I were to interview Jackson and Evan, what would they say about you?
Riley: They’d probably say they have to work at holding themselves back from popping a cap in my ass for being so annoyingly obsessed with them.
Lisa: How long did it take to write Bleeding Like Me, and what was the most difficult part of the writing process (i.e., dialogue, plot or character development, pacing, etc.)?
Riley: It took me a month to write Bleeding Like Me, and the most difficult part of the writing process was pacing. I’m all about insta-love and the books I write aren’t.
Lisa: Was there a particular part of the process—from writing to editing to cover design to publishing—that was easier or harder than you thought it would be? What was it?
Riley: Editing was the most difficult part of the process for me. My editor is wonderful, but I have some bad habits to break. The best way to break those bad habits is to edit them out of a full-length novel.
Lisa: Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, and do you have a favorite genre/sub-genre?
Riley: I look for books that have compelling characters who I want to know more about, and it’s even better if the protagonists are flawed. My favorite genre is M/M Romance. Recently I’ve been into reading Alpha Beta Omega books. I got nauseous the first time I read about knotting, but now I’m all about the knotting. Bring on the knotting.
Lisa: Have you ever written a line, paragraph, or passage, and thought, “Darn, that’s pretty amazing, even if I do say so myself”? What was it?
Riley: Yes. I love to play with literary elements and when something comes together in a beautiful way I get really excited. Here’s a line from my upcoming novel, which will be released in March (as of now it has a working title, so I’ll wait to announce it) :
“From the warm tone of his hair to the star-like dusting of freckles forming constellations over his skin, Owen was celestial.”
Lisa: Let’s talk tropes: do you have a few favorites that you enjoy both writing and reading? If so, what are they and what makes them your faves?
Riley: Enemies to lovers is my favorite trope because there’s nothing more delicious than two people who think they despise each other realizing all the tension can erupt into passion.
Lisa: If you could choose one of your books to be adapted for the silver screen, which would you choose? Why do you think it would translate well to film?
Riley: I’d love to see Bleeding Like Me adapted for the silver screen. It’s gritty, raw, and sexy. I think the cinematography would be interesting, playing with the juxtaposition of the softness of their love and the harshness of the streets that shaped them.
Lisa: What’s the one book you’ve read in your lifetime that you wish you’d written? Why did this particular book leave such a lasting impact on you?
Riley: I read Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was in high school and it changed the way I looked at writing. There’s a scene in which the protagonist describes riding in a car through the Fort Pitt tunnel and seeing the skyline of Pittsburgh. It took my breath away and showed me how impactful a moment could be. I ended up spending a good amount of time in Pittsburgh a few years after reading the book, and wept the first time I rode through the tunnel. That’s powerful.
Lisa: What books and authors would you say influenced you to become a writer yourself?
Riley: As noted above, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky influenced me greatly. I’m writing a novel from the first-person point of view right now and I’m hoping to do it as well as Mr. Chbosky.
Lisa: If you won the lottery, what’s the first completely self-indulgent thing you’d do?
Riley: Buy an apartment in the South of France.
Lisa: Let’s pretend you’re taking a road trip, and you can choose any three of your characters to go with you. First, who would you want on the ride-along, and why them?
Riley: I’d take Jackson, Evan and Jamal. Jackson and Evan are my loves and Jamal cracks me up.
Lisa: Second, who would be most likely to:
*Have to hit every rest stop bathroom:
*Whine about how long it’s taking to get where you’re going:
Riley: Jackson is my whiner.
*Break wind with the windows rolled up:
*Flip incessantly through songs on their music app:
Lisa: If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three things you’d absolutely have to have?
Riley: My family, sunblock for our pale asses, and a genie lamp to grant us wishes.
Lisa: If you could travel back in time, with all your years of experience and wisdom intact, what advice would you give to your teenage self?
Riley: I’d tell myself to keep writing and stop listening to people when they tell me you it’s not a realistic career goal.
Lisa: If you were to sit down and write your autobiography today, what would the title be?
Riley: I Could Have Done Worse
Lisa: Thanks so much for stopping by, Riley. It’s been great getting to know you a little better.
About the Book
Title: Bleeding Like Me
Author: Riley Parks
Release Date: November 21st, 2017
Genre: MM Contemporary Dark Romance
Published By: Boroughs Publishing
Find Bleeding Like Me on Goodreads
Buy Links: Boroughs | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords
Blurb: Being gay in their neighborhood is perilous. Being gay in a street gang is unheard of. Being gay and in love with a man in a rival gang is a death wish. Through drug addiction, brutality, and seemingly endless peril, they remain; finding stability within each other that shouldn’t exist in their volatile world.
He didn’t paint people; the curves of their bodies and angles of their faces never interested him as much as cityscapes. The circumstances of his life had compelled him to create new worlds that he could get lost in rather than reflect the features of the people he ran from. He constructed buildings from their foundations, making them taller and stronger than he was. He adorned the edifices with countless windows, always left open or cracked so hope could pour in and fears could seep out. Tree lined streets reminded him how to breathe, pumping oxygen through the atmosphere, off the canvas, and into his lungs.
He didn’t paint people until the day he no longer desired the anonymity of his cities. The streets didn’t feel like his escape anymore, not like him. Cerulean skies gave way to pale blue eyes and bus routes to pink pouts. Evan didn’t paint people until he painted Jackson.
About the Author
Riley has always loved to write, believing that life has the possibility to be its most beautiful when it’s portrayed on the pages of a book. Feeling the need to create and liberate in the midst of the political landscape, Riley writes novels that focus on LGBTQ protagonists, wanting to honor a community that deserves better representation depicting lives, loves and triumphs in all facets of fiction.
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