TNA: Hi, Whitley, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Whitley: Hello. I’m Whitley Gray. I write M/M contemporary romance. When I’m not writing, I work in the medical field, which provides a lot of interesting material for characters and plotlines.
TNA: Tell us how you made your way to the M/M genre: fanfic, a book or author that moved you? What drew you to the gay romance genre?
Whitley: It was a chat on a book site. I read an excerpt of an M/M book that intrigued me. After buying and reading the book, I figured out that I loved having two heroes. The dynamics were so much more appealing than M/F romance. That started an avalanche of M/M reading. Changing my writing from M/F to M/M was liberating.
TNA: Let’s talk a bit about your new book <em>Crash Pad</em>. How did you come up with the idea for the story?
Whitley: I wanted to write a story where the characters met by accident—literally. After tossing around a number of different ideas, I hit on an athletic interaction. Ordinarily a novice rollerblader would seem to be the likely culprit in an accident, but it brought out a whole new response from both characters to have the runner be the one at fault.
TNA: What would you say is Remy and Jamie’s attraction, what’s their chemistry, and what makes them work?
Whitley: Initially Remy is attracted to Jamie’s looks and vice versa. Jamie is suspicious but discovers Remy isn’t a jerk doctor; he’s compassionate and caring. As this was lacking in Jamie’s last relationship, he responds—cautiously. Remy is used to guys being more attracted to his checkbook than him—he’s attractive, but not model material. Jamie makes no move to go after Remy’s money—no mention of suing him for causing the accident, no attempt to spend Remy’s money. They work because each gets what they need from the relationship.
TNA: Would you like to share a short excerpt from the book with us?
Whitley: I’d love to!
Physician Remy Marshall has two loves: Emergency Medicine and running. Work doesn’t leave much time to meet guys, and most seem more interested in his bank account than him. With a week off to train for a marathon, Remy plans to make the most of his precious vacation. The last thing he needs is a distraction.
Jamie Sutton is new to the area. He hopes to make a fresh start after leaving an abusive relationship with an orthopedic surgeon. He’s got a new job as a massage therapist and wants to meet some nice guys. Against his better judgment, Jamie decides the best way to meet a cute rollerblader he’s seen in the park is on wheels.
With attention on his watch and not where he’s going, Remy crashes into Jamie and fractures the first-time rollerblader’s ankle. Jamie has no one to help him after the injury; Remy proposes Jamie stay with him. Jamie is reluctant, but it’s a better option than staying with the odd guy in the neighboring motel room. As the two get acquainted, Jamie’s past comes calling. Remy discovers the prize he really wants isn’t a medal in a marathon, but the man right in front of him.
Available at: Amazon
Two miles to go.
Remy’s running shoes slapped on the asphalt path through the park. As he passed the mile marker, he glanced at his watch. Seven minutes for the last mile. To be competitive in next month’s marathon, he’d need to get it down to six and a half. He hit the Reset button and picked up the pace. A little crowded on the path, but otherwise a perfect day to add a couple of miles onto his usual six. They’d had snow last year at this time. Old Man Winter had blessed them with one last blizzard on Memorial Day before going into hibernation.
This afternoon, people packed the recreation areas around the lake. Screeches and laughter came from the playground. The fragrance of grilled steak wafted over from the picnic area, and his stomach growled. Remy shook out his hands. On pace for six and a half minutes. Good.
By the time he got home, he’d need to rush through his shower to get ready for tonight. The guy Brett planned to introduce him to better be worth the trouble. A double date/blind date for dinner wasn’t Remy’s idea of a good time. Of course, alone at home wasn’t any better. If the guy turned out to be a dud, Remy could claim a headache and leave early. As he turned the corner, the sun flashed in his eyes. He ducked his head, squinted at his watch, and kept running.
Remy landed on his back in the grass; the impact knocked the wind out of him. For a moment, he stared up at the sky. What’d he hit? His side of the path had been clear a second ago, so where had the roadblock come from? A hand rested on his groin. A strange hand. A man’s hand.
What the hell? Remy scrambled backward.
Lying prone on the turf next to him, in a tangle of arms, legs, and rollerblades, was a helmeted man. Remy scowled. One of those damn skater boys, always clogging the path and expecting everyone to get out of their way. God, they were a hazard.
Remy’s face heated. Except his time, he’d been the hazard. The rollerblader groaned. The sound of hurt. Remy’s medical training kicked in, and he scrambled to his knees and bent over the man.
“Hey. You okay?”
“My…ankle.” Lips pulled back in a grimace, revealing enough teeth to suggest agony. The man’s helmet angled over both eyes as he tugged at the buckle. “Stupid thing.”
“Here.” Remy got the chinstrap unfastened. “Does your neck hurt?”
“No.” The skater took a deep breath and rolled to his back. “Sheezus.”
Remy pushed the headgear up far enough to reveal the skater’s eyes, but they remained shut. The brain bucket gave good protection, but a concussion wasn’t out of the question. “Can you open your eyes?”
Golden lashes lifted to reveal eyes the blue of a first-place ribbon. The guy reached up and yanked the helmet off, and for a moment Remy couldn’t move. The injured man had blond curls, plastered down into hat hair. A straight nose and full lips. Gorgeous. Wow. Just…wow.
“Argh,” moaned Gorgeous.
Nice doctor you are, ogling the injured patient. Shoving the improper thoughts away, Remy got back to work with his assessment. “Anything else hurt?”
“Knee,” the man muttered, lids closing over the world’s most gorgeous eyes. “Frickin’ ankle inside the skate.”
Fracture? With the skates, Remy couldn’t see a thing. Removing them would help, but the boot would keep a fracture splinted until they could get X-rays. The guy could move all four extremities. Other than a scrape on the left shin, everything seemed to be in working order. Remy pushed on the man’s hipbones, checking for pelvic fracture.
The man grabbed Remy’s wrists. “You should buy me dinner first, don’t you think?”
Remy winced. Nice move, dummy. This isn’t the ER. The sun had apparently addled his wits. “Sorry. What’s your name?”
“Jamie.” He bent his knee and another grimace twisted his features. “Hurts.”
“I’m Remy Marshall.” He gripped Jamie’s long-fingered hand. “Well, Jamie, I think an ER visit is in your future.”
TNA: What’s the one book you’ve read in the M/M genre that when you finished, you thought, “Wow, I wish I’d written this?” What made it such a powerful book for you?
Whitley: Just one? I’d say I Spy Something Bloody by Josh Lanyon. I love the way the relationship has so much push and pull. A lot of conflict and a good adventure to boot.
TNA: Let’s pretend you have the opportunity to make one of your books into a movie. Which book would you choose, and why do you think it would make good cinema?
Whitley: High Concept would likely make the best movie. It’s a suspense novel, the story of a cop and an FBI profiler who must work together to solve a series of deadly home invasions before the killer moves in on them. The plot is full of twists and turns, and the relationship between the two guys is full of fireworks.
TNA: Who would you choose to play the leading roles? What makes them perfect for those parts?
Whitley: That’s tough. Bradley Cooper and Jake Gyllenhaal. Their personalities could pull off these two strong male characters, and I think they’d be open to this sort of story. And they both have great smiles.
TNA: What do you think makes for great leading men? Do you write a “type” of man you find really sexy?
Whitley: Having a bit of baggage and having been knocked around by life makes for the best characters. Life isn’t easy. This is why I also tend to write characters in their early thirties—an eighteen year old doesn’t have the breadth of experience you find in a thirty-two year old. To me, vulnerability is sexy. A character who has a wall around himself and then lets someone in gets me every time.
TNA: We romance readers are all invested in our happily-ever-afters, but Shakespeare proved through characters such as Romeo and Juliet that tragic romance has its place. Would you ever consider writing a story in which one (or both) of your characters died at the end? Why or why not?
Whitley: I don’t think I could kill them both off. That would be too intense. I have considered writing a story where one character dies in the end, but that sort of tragedy is hard to pull off. Plus, after spending a whole book with a character, I’m emotionally invested in them. Killing him would feel terrible.
TNA: Thanks again for visiting with us today, Whitley, will you tell readers where we can find you on the internet?