TNA: We’re so pleased to have Josephine Myles dropping in as our guest today on her blog tour to promote the re-release of Tailor Made, in anticipation of the long awaited sequel, Custom Fit. Take it away, Jo!
Josephine: Hi, Lisa, thanks for inviting me over to chat about Tailor Made. 🙂
TNA: What made you decide to revisit this particular book?
Josephine: It had always been my intention to write a sequel, but I decided I wanted to wait to do so until it was out of the original two year contract with Amber Quill Press. This meant I could get a sexy new cover and a strong series identity for the two books.
Revisiting Tailor Made was essential to make sure I was prepared for starting the sequel (Custom Fit, out in the summer!), but I’d have wanted to anyway before self-publishing it. I felt like readers deserved the best I could write, and so I went through it all again with a fine-tooth comb, and paid for a professional proof-read to catch any errors that slipped through in the first edition.
TNA: As you went through your revisions, what things stood out upon revisiting that you wish you’d done differently in its original inception?
Josephine: Honestly, apart from minor things like word choice, there wasn’t anything I wanted to change. I’d thought initially that I might want to stretch things out and add a scene or two of Felix and Andrew getting to know each other before the first sex scene, but when I read it again I changed my mind. I think I’d just been influenced by a couple of reviewers who questioned how quickly Andrew gave in to Felix’s seduction. Reading it, though, I thought that was perfectly in character for a horny teenage lad, even if he was intending to save himself for Mr. Right.
I suspect some readers look for reflections of how they would have behaved in a situation, and I think men tend to be a lot less picky than women are about who they will sleep with, and how soon they’ll do so after meeting someone. Please feel free to argue with me on that in the comments—I know some men and women are different!—but as a general theory I’ve found it backed up by most men (gay, straight and bi) that I’ve spoken to.
Basically, I want my characters to read like “real”, everyday men, not like some idealised version of them. While I know I could appeal to more readers if I made them closer to the romance novel ideal, I have to write what feels true to me.
TNA: Did Felix and Andrew stand the test of time, did you find things about them you felt needed changed and/or perfected?
Josephine: I was very happy with both their characters, but what I did take issue with was my tendency to use overly complicated words and phrasing. While I could accept Felix using some pretentious words (he’d been studying academic texts about art, after all), I just couldn’t see them being part of Andrew’s vocabulary. I had him saying things like “dissonance” when he could have just said “clash”. That all needed cleaning up.
TNA: How did you come up with the idea for the story when you wrote it?
Josephine: The original prompt was for a college story, and I remember thinking I’d write one about an art student and a lecturer at university, because I thought the whole transgressive thing would be fun to write. But for some reason the arrogant art lecturer just wasn’t an appealing character, and I ended up making him into Saul, the antagonist in Tailor Made. Proof that even bad ideas have some uses!
Andrew was created as the perfect foil for Felix. Someone who values craft over the pretentiousness of conceptual art. At the time of writing I was frustrated at not being able to use my sewing machine, as I’d moved to a very small house in order to save money when making the gamble of going full time as a writer. There was no room to set up even a small table for dressmaking! I think Andrew sprung from that frustration, and my annoyance at myself for not having pursued dressmaking more seriously when I was younger.
TNA: Do you believe art should challenge perception and push the envelope?
Josephine: No. My issue there is with the word “should”. I take a craftman’s approach to art and I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with art intended purely for aesthetic appreciation, or indeed in art that is functional—making beautiful furniture, for instance. I don’t object to conceptual and abstract art per se, but I get annoyed when pretentious academic types hold that up as the purest form of art there is. I’m more a follower of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, who believed things should be both beautiful and useful.
Thanks for having me over to chat, Lisa, and I’ll see you at GRL in October!
TNA: Thanks for being here, Jo, see you in Chicago!
College tart Felix McAvoy is used to causing a stir with his conceptual art pranks, but for his final show, he’s planning something even more outrageous. In a last ditch attempt to seduce his jaded tutor, Felix plans to wear the canvas in a subversive display. However, if he’s going to do this right he’ll need a tailor-made canvas suit. Fortunately, he knows just the tailor to turn to for the favour—and Felix isn’t shy about offering favours of a very different kind in return.
First year fashion student Andrew Wheeler knows Felix by reputation only—and plans to keep things that way. Andrew’s determined to save himself for the man of his dreams, and Felix couldn’t be more different from his ideal Mr. Right. There’s only one use Andrew will contemplate for Felix’s body: a model for his end of year project. Trouble is, it’s going to involve a lot of close contact with a nearly naked Felix, and Andrew’s never had temptation quite so close at hand!
EXCERPT: Chapter Two
Felix was halfway down the art block corridor before he realised he hadn’t peered into Saul’s office like he usually did. He halted for a moment, contemplating heading back. Saul was usually in his office at this time of day, and Felix could always come up with some kind of excuse to monopolise his attention for a few minutes. But nah, he’d give up the pleasure today. After all, Felix was on his way to sort out his sexy suit, which would definitely catch Saul’s attention in the long run. Actually, doing it naked would have been the best bet, but nudity had been banned, just like the bodily fluids—which, contrary to what Andrew thought, hadn’t been entirely down to Felix’s coloured-watermasquerading-as-piss iceberg.
Last year, Grant deHavilland had grossed out every last exhibition goer by sitting at a wooden desk eating out of a catering sized jar of apple sauce, and then throwing up into a bowler hat after every fifth mouthful. The stench had been unbelievable. He’d called it “Magritte, Reconstituted.” Felix still hadn’t quite been able to figure out what the purpose was behind that little piece of subversion, but if it had been to annoy the university management, it had worked like a treat.
As he crossed the deserted quadrangle on his way to the textiles block, Felix wondered what on earth had possessed him to sign up for a degree at an institution that prided itself on conceptual art. He knew he’d been swayed by the sheer beauty of Bath the city, but he’d been offered other places. He could have chosen a university where his drawing and painting skills would have been fostered, but instead he found himself desperately thinking up new ways to shock the tutors out of their jaded, “seen it all before” attitude. What had been fun in his first year was becoming more and more like hard work, and the thought of moving to London and trying to make a career out of more of the same didn’t exactly have him jumping up and down with enthusiasm. Try as he might, he just couldn’t picture himself hanging out with Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin, swapping notes on the best way to pickle a sheep or embroider the names of all your past shags onto a tent.
Still, if there was one thing he was looking forward to, it was seeing Andrew again. Felix hadn’t been able to get the bloke out of his head all day. Every time he moved, his unfamiliar underwear reminded him of their impending meeting. How the hell did anyone ever concentrate on sport, wearing a jockstrap? There’s no way he’d be able to keep his mind on the ball—not unless it was one of the pair
currently being cradled by the silky fabric.
This time, when he pushed his way through the textile studio door, Andrew was waiting, leaning against the wall looking all neat and buttoned up in his blue shirt and flawless black jeans.
“Your top male model has just entered the building,” Felix announced as he twirled on the spot. Unfortunately he misjudged the closeness of one of the tables and ended up bumping into it. “Whoops! Better get practicing those moves, hadn’t I? Will you be wanting any mincing, because it may not come naturally but I reckon I can have a good stab at it.” He demonstrated with a hand on his hip and a pronounced pout.
Andrew’s lips gave a twitch, just like they had yesterday. God, Felix wanted to make this man smile. He’d look amazing happy. Everyone did though, didn’t they? Well, except Saul, who had smouldering arrogance down to a T and only ever gave cruel smiles.
“Let’s leave the catwalk practice till nearer the time. You don’t need to do anything outrageous.”
“But outrageous is my middle name, Andy-baby.”
“Would you stop calling me that!”
Felix grinned. “Whatever you say, sugarplum.” He shrugged off his leather jacket and threw it on the table. “Now, where do you want me? And I must warn you, I didn’t manage to get hold of a vest.”
Andrew huffed, but then drew in a sharp breath as Felix stripped off his T-shirt.
Felix turned around slowly, giving Andrew time to get a good look at his torso. It was a pleasant view, even if he did say so himself. Felix might not be a bulked up gym bunny, but he had a set of weights and made sure he put in a good hour’s work out a couple of times a week, and walking up and down all the bloody hills in Bath took care of the rest of his fitness regime. God knew how anyone ever managed to get fat in a city like this. Starving, carless art students certainly couldn’t afford to.
When Felix turned back to face Andrew he was delighted to see the want written plain in those eyes. They glittered with it, dark and demanding. Felix started on his jeans, flipping the buttons slowly, teasing.
“Please tell me you’re at least wearing underpants,” Andrew rasped, his voice a cracked parody of its usual tone.
“Oh yeah. Well, kind of. I think you’d have to classify them as that.”
© Josephine Myles – February 2014
The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED