Lisa: We’re so pleased to welcome author Tory Temple today to chat with us about the re-release of her book Keeping Karma.
Hi, Tory, welcome! Why don’t we start by having you tell us a few things about yourself that most people don’t know?
Tory: Well, let’s see. My current choice of fitness is running half marathons. Ever since I ran my first one in 2010 with a fractured knee, I’ve made it my goal to never injure myself during a run again! I have two halfs lined up for the end of 2016. Another little tidbit about myself that most readers probably aren’t aware of is that I’m a huge Disney fan. It’s hard to live in southern California and not be exposed to Disney! I have a tattoo of a Disney character on my right shoulder, but you’ll have to meet me in person to find out who it is.
Lisa: Are there any particular books or authors you would name that made you think, “Yeah, I want to do this writing thing too?” If so, what books or which authors would you name, and how did they inspire you?
Tory: In the M/M genre, the first author I ever came across was Chris Owen. This was in 2004, and she’s since become my writing partner, but back then I would never have imagined us being friends. I read her novel Bareback and it really touched me; so much so that I knew instantly I wanted to tell stories as beautifully as she does.
Lisa: What would you say are your least and most favorite things about being an author?
Tory: Most favorite is when someone reads a story of mine and tells me how much they clicked with one of the characters. My characters are very real to me and I invest a lot of time to ensure that their personalities shine. When a reader has strong feelings about one of them and takes the time to let me know, that is so rewarding for me! The least favorite thing is sitting down to write when I’m feeling unmotivated. Then it’s a chore. Trying to drag words out of my brain makes me more tired than any physical workout.
Lisa: Keeping Karma is in its second incarnation with Dreamspinner. Will readers who read the book in its original publication find any new material, or did you feel the story was complete and perfect as is?
Tory: Aside from an excellent new editing job, the story remains the same. That’s not to say that there aren’t things I wish to change about it! Our editing timeline didn’t allow for the extensive rewrites I had in my head. However, there is a second edition sequel to Keeping Karma that I plan on expanding to novel length. There will definitely be new material there.
Lisa: Speaking as a reader, it seems to be a given in almost every book I read that one of the MCs is a pet owner—dog, cat, horse, whatever. Make one of the guys a vet, and fuhgetaboudit. What do you think makes a guy who loves animals so damn appealing?
Tory: This is an awesome question. I personally feel that having children or animals in a story gives the men a chance to show a tender side. Pets are more popular than kids in the stories I read, and I think this allows the author to give their main character a softer edge that might not be otherwise apparent. I love when I read about an MC cuddling his cat or throwing a ball for his pup. Animals have such a magic ability to bring out tenderness.
Lisa: If I were to interview Alex and Dylan, what would they say about you?
Tory: Alex would say I have too many dogs. He’s a cat person. And Dylan would remind me that three of my pets aren’t legal in my state of residence. Then again, I ignore him—everything is illegal to own in California! And his boyfriend has a ferret.
Lisa: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?
Tory: Alex, without question. I would walk him around my house and make him tell me what each of my animals are thinking in turn. I’m mostly interested in the dogs and cat, though. I honestly don’t think my tortoises have much on their mind except “Eat grass. Dandelions. Rose petals. More grass.” That being said, I’m not quite sure I really want to know what my cat thinks. The disgusted expression on his face most of the time is all the indicator I need.
Lisa: Would you consider sharing a short excerpt from the book with us? Maybe one of your favorite scenes, and tell us what makes it one of your faves?
Tory: Ha! So glad I get a chance to share this scene, since it’s definitely my favorite. Alex has an illegal ferret named Karma, and here’s what happens when his animal control officer boyfriend meets Karma for the first time.
“What,” Dylan asked, his voice hoarse from sleep, “is that?”
“Um. It’s a carpet weasel?” It was a lame answer. Alex knew Dylan knew exactly what Karma was.
“Uh-huh,” Dylan said, his tone neutral.
A day late and a dollar short, Karma chose that moment to slink back over to Alex’s lap and nose around. Alex held her firmly and crawled out of bed. “I’ll just put her away. Be right back.”
Karma started to squirm in his hands as soon as she realized where they were headed. No! No room! Play play play outside!
“You are going to your room,” Alex muttered. He knew Karma understood the word ‘room’ from all the times he’d tried to train her to go there by herself, but she had a mind of her own. And Alex called bullshit on all the people who said you could train a ferret, anyway.
He got to her door and saw that yes, she had indeed managed to nudge it open because of the faulty latch. Alex sighed and tossed Karma onto one of the three hammocks that were strung up from various places in the room. “You stay there, brat.”
She did no such thing, of course, wriggling around like a little whirling dervish and disappearing into one of the long PVC-pipe tunnels. Alex could hear her nails scrabbling along the pipe as she navigated her way.
Wondering how he could successfully keep Karma in her room, Alex turned to study the latch mechanism and bumped straight into Dylan. Of course the guy had followed Alex; it would have been stupid to assume he would have stayed cooperatively in Alex’s bed. And possibly forget he ever saw the small, illegal animal that Alex kept as a pet.
“Wow.” Dylan whistled softly and pushed Karma’s door open a little farther. His gaze scanned the room, taking in the hammocks, pipes, pillows, and tunnels that Alex had laid out.
“Yeah, it’s…” Alex trailed off, his own gaze traveling around the room as if seeing it for the first time. “Kind of elaborate.”
“It’s that, yeah.” Dylan smiled a little and nudged one of Karma’s bell-balls with his foot. “Lucky ferret, getting a whole room like this.”
“Oh, there used to be more. I had five in here. But then they all got old and died, and Karma was the baby, and she never got along too well with the other ones so I didn’t get her a friend once she was alone, and–” He cut himself off abruptly when he realized that he’d just revealed that not only did he own one animal that was against California law, but at one time he’d had four others.
“Five, huh?” Dylan leaned on the wall under one of the suspended pipes and raised a brow.
Shit, shit, shit. What the hell was it about this guy that made Alex say stuff like that? Or blush, for that matter? God.
“Five,” he mumbled. He’d already said it, no use trying to lie now. “Uh… I was watching them for a friend?”
Lisa: In keeping with the animal theme, if you could be any animal in the world, what would you choose? Why?
Tory: I honestly feel like I’d have the best time as a sea otter. They are so clever and playful. They’re actually one of the only mammals other than primates to use tools to open their food. Not to mention the fact that they have an extremely high metabolism and get to eat about 25% of their body weight every day! We do have them in the wild in California, but not a large population of them. Watching them swim and play is always fascinating to me.
Lisa: Thanks so much for dropping in to chat today, Tory. It’s been great to have you with us. Will you tell us where we can find you on the internet?
Tory: Thank you so much for this opportunity and the thoughtful questions! You can find me at the links below, and I hope to hear from readers about Keeping Karma. I’m always interested to know about other people’s pets!
Bio: Tory Temple lives and works in southern California where she happens to spend a lot of time around firefighters. It makes for excellent storytelling, so Tory definitely uses that to her advantage! She is guardian to three pit bulls who only attack with kisses, one snobby cat, as well as other assorted friends from the animal kingdom. (Husband included.) Her fondest wish is to be a stay at home dog mom. You can tempt her with promises of cheese and/or Mexican food. On Saturday nights, she is usually watching Netflix and thinking about how to get the newest firemen in her head to hook up. Tory loves reader emails and looks forward to hearing from anyone who wants to drop her a line.
About Keeping Karma
Alex Myers is keeping deeper secrets than just his pet ferret, Karma, who is illegal in California. Both Alex and his twin sister, Tabitha, can “hear” the thoughts of animals. It’s an ability he puts to good use working at an emergency animal clinic while studying to become a veterinarian.
One night, local animal-control officer Dylan Travers comes into the clinic with an injured fawn, and it doesn’t take the two men long to act on their mutual attraction. But the closer they become, the harder it is for Alex to keep Karma and the rest of his menagerie from Dylan. And then there’s the matter of his ability…. Will Dylan even believe him if he tries to explain?
Add to that debilitating migraines from especially “loud” animals and a scheming coworker threatening the clinic, and Alex needs Dylan’s support more than ever. Alex just wants to keep his job, his pets, his lover, and his sanity. But he can’t do it alone.
First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2009.