TNA: Hi, Skylar, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies, interests, odds and ends things that make you, you.
Skylar: Hi! Thanks so much for hosting me!
I’ve pretty simple interests: good books, good food, and good company.
I love anything to do with water too. It doesn’t matter to me if it is a bathtub, a pool, or the ocean. Being around the water makes me happy. If you want to meet me for martinis and a book discussion poolside, I’m all in!
Additionally, I’m the proud mom of three great kids, and I’m an animal lover too. A good chunk of my time revolves around that part of my life.
TNA: What was your first published M/M title? Do you remember the precise moment you came up with the story idea and knew you wouldn’t rest until it was told?
Skylar: My first published title was Exposed. I don’t recall the day that I came up with the original idea, but I do recall the day I figured out the puzzle piece of the story. For me, every story has one important element that holds the rest together—the puzzle piece. With Exposed, I originally created Rafe as a young kid hiding out on Daniel’s yacht. I’d written a few chapters, but it didn’t feel right to me. While I was swimming in my mom’s pool, I suddenly realized the story was about a betrayal. Rafe wasn’t a kid—he was a reporter pretending to be a troubled college kid—and that was my needed piece. Dripping wet, I climbed out the pool to write it down, and the rest of the story fell into place.
TNA: If you could go back in time, to the moment you sat down and began writing that first book, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Skylar: I’d tell myself to believe in the book, forgive its flaws, and trust the process. Oh, and to write the next book, instead of checking my mailbox obsessively for word about the submission, lol.
TNA: Let’s chat about your new book, The Guy From Glamour. Will you tell us a little bit about it and how you came up with the idea for the story?
Skylar: It would be my pleasure. I’m really excited for the release of this book because it is the start of The Guy Series.
The Guy from Glamour focuses on a taciturn military man who returns to America with reluctance to settle a family crisis, but he’s unable to resist what he finds in the tiny town of Glamour. Dean thinks he does not want or need relationships, until he falls hard for Anthony, who is all about love.
I wanted to write a novel in this genre where the MC is very close to his family. That’s Anthony. As a romance reader, I often enjoy books with parents and siblings in them. It occurred to me that many romances in our genre often have hostile families or no families (although there are some wonderful exceptions to this). It made me a little sad, and I wanted to create my new MC as a man who deeply values his slightly dysfunctional, but ultimately loving clan. I wanted the family dynamic to be affectionate too. They are a family of huggers, including the father.
In my real life, I have a friend who lives down the street from his parents (and his two siblings also live down the street from the parents). Whenever I have gone to a party at his house, whether it is a football bash or his kid’s birthday, his entire family shows up, and I mean all of them -—cousins, siblings, uncles — they are at every occasion. I’m always fascinated by their closeness, both in proximity as well as emotionally. I thought it might be a blast to write about a family similar to his and it really was.
TNA: Tell us a little bit about your MCs (please feel free to fill in their names here). If you were to try and describe each of them in just three words, what are the words you’d use to give us an idea of who they are?
Skylar: Anthony: selfless, grounded, and compassionate
Dean: stoic, protective, and loyal
TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt from the book with us?
Skylar: I’d love to share one. This is a little scene where Anthony’s sisters first meet Dean.
Anthony Carrino loves his big, gregarious Italian-American family, even if his sisters are interfering, and his dad, the local sheriff, knows everything going on in town. He’s happy as a middle school guidance counselor. Despite helping kids and their parents fix their problems, Anthony can’t manage to get his own love life right. If only everyone would stop calling him the “nice” guy.
Dean Pierce doesn’t do relationships. A tough-minded military man, he is dedicated to his job as a Night Stalker, flying Chinook helicopters and not speaking much to anybody. He certainly doesn’t want to deal with a mess of emotions. But when tragedy strikes, Dean finds his hands full with his troubled niece, her irresistible guidance counselor, and a meddlesome family, which includes a rather large puppy.
“Hey, how about giving me a hand before I drop this greasy bag?” Mia broke off at the sight of Dean, and her jaw nearly hit the floor. Anthony knew the feeling. The first sight of Dean could make anybody salivate, but Mia recovered quickly. “You must be Nicki’s uncle, right? I’m so sorry about your sister.”
Dean nodded. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“Aw, ma’am.” Mia put a hand to her chest. “How nice is that? Please, make yourself at home and have some food.”
When Dean didn’t say more, Mia looked at Anthony. He shrugged. He was from a family of talkers and touchers, and clearly Dean was uneasy with both.
“Hey, Mia,” Gina called loudly, coming into the room. “Where’s my plate? Wolf Blitzer is about to start.” She skidded to a halt as soon as she saw Dean. “Anthony.” Gina slugged him in the arm. “You didn’t say we got company.”
“Yes, he did tell us. Remember?” Mia put her hands on her hips and scowled at her sister.
“No, I don’t remember. If I had, my face would have been all fixed.” Gina had her normal red lipstick on, but the rest of her face was without makeup. Personally, Anthony thought Gina wore way too much and looked better without it.
Anthony saw Dean look from Gina to Mia and back again. They were identical, although Mia weighed about five pounds more and Gina had longer hair, but Anthony knew to a casual onlooker those differences were hard to spot.
“Shut up, Gina. You put mascara on driving down the highway; I’m sure you got a little on now. Besides, he’s Nicki’s uncle,” Mia said firmly, scooping out some Chinese food.
“Oh shit. I’m sorry.” Gina immediately dropped her slightly flirtatious stance. She picked up the plate that Mia had just loaded with food and offered it to Dean. “Hungry?”
“Not really, I—”
Gina shoved the plate into Dean’s big hands and then handed him a fork.
“We’re Italian.” Anthony smiled at Dean. “Being hungry is kind of a rhetorical question.”
“So where’s Nicki?” Mia asked.
“Upstairs in her room.”
“We should get her,” Gina said, shaking her head. “She’s skin and bones,” she said to Dean.
“Are you taking Nicki with you tonight?” Mia asked.
Dean looked at Anthony frantically.
“Nicki will stay here for a bit longer,” Anthony said. “So Dean can get to know her first.”
Dean’s dark eyes filled with gratitude, and Anthony looked away. What was wrong with him? It was just a look of thanks, nothing more. He was really an idiot these days.
“She’s a sweetie,” Gina told Dean. “Pretty too. But not a big talker.”
“Not like the Carrino family.” Mia laughed. “We never shut up.”
“And on that note of honesty,” Anthony said, “can I ask the two of you to give us some time alone to discuss Nicki? Please?”
Mia held up her hands in surrender. “Sure, kick out your big-mouthed sisters.”
“We already discussed the kid,” Dean said.
“Not enough.” Anthony stared into Dean’s eyes.
“He’s sweet, but bossy, isn’t he?” Mia asked Dean. “We’re all used to
Anthony trying to take charge, especially when he’s fixing things. No big deal. You guys talk. I’ll go set up some television trays for us. My soap’s on anyhow.” She headed out of the kitchen with Gina hot at her heels.
“Wait a minute! The Situation Room is coming on!”
“Gina, you watch him every day!”
They could still hear Gina and Mia bickering in the next room. “Some things never change,” Anthony said.
“They both live here?”
“No, they have a small apartment a few blocks away, but since my mom’s out of town, they have kind of invaded the place. Gina decided Dad needed her help, and Mia followed her over. They are both single now, and after they both got divorced, they moved in together. Actually, they were married to brothers.”
“Nope. And yeah, I know, it’s weird. What can I tell you? They always did go for the same type of guys. They were stepbrothers, but still…. Mia hung in there with her husband Cody for about six months longer than Gina and Tom lasted, but then they both ended up divorced. They spent most of their time here anyhow, visiting mom and dad. The girls seem to think they need to be here night and day while Mom’s gone. To tell you the truth, I think they’re afraid Mom will kick some ass if they don’t. Anyhow, since the divorces, Gina and Mia started a business together, a salon.” Anthony grimaced. “I can’t tell you how many times they experimented on me as a kid. I was their favorite guinea pig. One time, they dyed my hair red and I looked like Bozo the Clown for a month.”
Dean smiled for the first time—a surprisingly lopsided grin that struck Anthony like a blow. Anthony couldn’t help it—it made him think of hot, raw, all-out sex with Dean. God help him.
Anthony sucked in some air to recover, but he was unable to pull his gaze away.
“What’s the salon called?” Dean asked.
“Guys and Dolls. Like the musical? My mom suggested it to them and they liked it. I thought Best Head was a better name,” Anthony added with a grin, “but the girls didn’t find that name as funny. Anyhow, despite the economy, it seems to be doing fairly well. My other sister, Stacey, the pregnant one, she’s an accountant and lives in New Jersey with her husband Mark and their two kids. No signs of divorce.”
Anthony hesitated for a second, and then, knowing he’d already told Dean he was gay, he decided he had nothing to hide. “I recently left the apartment that I shared with my ex-boyfriend. It felt right just to come home. I do plan to get my own place, but guidance counselors don’t exactly rake in big bucks. And Rick, my ex, the place was in his name and he’s kind of… um… Rick is—”
“He’s a prick,” Gina said, waltzing back into the kitchen. “I forgot our drinks.”
“What? He was, Anthony. You were way too good for him.”
“You never like anybody I date,” Anthony muttered.
“When you finally date somebody of quality, little brother, I’ll love him. Rick was not it. He was a whiny prick and….” She looked at Dean for support. “He had a unibrow.”
“Oh he did not!”
“Please. I’m in the business.” Gina put her hands on her hips. “Mia,” she yelled out.
“What?” Mia shouted back.
“Didn’t Rick have a unibrow?”
“Yeah, he did.” Mia’s laugh could be heard in the next room.
“Right.” Gina nodded. “And I mean, I get it. It’s not his fault he had a unibrow, but it is his fault he didn’t care to wax it off. I offered plenty of times.” She peered at Dean’s face. “You got nice eyebrows.”
Dean raised them. “Thanks.”
TNA: I know this is sort of like asking you to name your favorite child, but of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite? If so, which and why?
Skylar: I favor different ones on different days. I always fall in love with my characters as I write them. Right now, since I went back and edited The Guy from Glamour, I’m back in love with Anthony and Dean. Anthony because he is so full of love, and Dean because he is so awkward and blunt. However, since I recently finished and submitted another book in The Guy series, The Only Guy, due out in May, I’m also infatuated with Jesse, who is a real underdog in his fight for love and just pulls at my heartstrings.
But…If you ask me the same questions tomorrow, I might say Rafe for his penchant for trouble or Liam for his yearning.
Gah! I really can’t pick!
TNA: If you could bring one of your characters off the page and into the real world, who would you choose and why? What makes him (or her) someone you think would make an impression upon the world?
Skylar: I’d bring Daniel, from Exposed, to real world. He has a deep code of honor, and I think we need more honorable people in the world. He also has the capacity to forgive. The world absolutely needs some more of that too. And, as Rafe would freely add, “he’s freaking loaded.” Daniel would do good deeds with all his money.
TNA: What would you say are the best and worst parts of the writing process for you?
Skylar: The best part, without a doubt, is the writing itself. It is such a high to put all my creative energies into a project. I love it! When I’m writing something new, my husband jokes that I’m in my “zone,” and he says this because I see and hear nothing else. It’s true. My house can be a disaster, the phone can be ringing, the kids can be bickering, and I’m in my place of bliss, lol. I am a geek too. I even enjoy the editing part of writing. I really do!
The worst part is the waiting: waiting on the submission, waiting for your turn in the editing queue, waiting for the book to be released, and waiting for the reviews. All of that makes my stomach flip-flop.
TNA: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Whichever you are, why do you feel that method works best for you?
Skylar: Plotter. Although I don’t work from formal outlines, I’m always thinking about the characters. I let them percolate inside of me for some time. It’s funny, actually, that you asked this. I recently finished a novella with Cate Ashwood. Five Ways a Boy Can Break Your Heart is due out in late February from Dreamspinner. When we wrote it together, Cate and I realized we had very different approaches. We constantly joked about it. She’s the hare and I’m the tortoise. Ultimately, though, I think we really brought out the best in each other. In any case, I’m the type of writer who will meticulously tweak each draft, even down to my galley. I also like to print my work out (on a very cheap printer) and read it over several times. I think this helps me “see” the work organically.
TNA: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Skylar: I’d love to have the ability to heal myself and others. Besides the fact that I hate seeing any person or animal hurting, I think we’d all be braver without the fear of pain looming over us.
TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?
Skylar: Sure! The Only Guy is due out from Dreamspinner in May, and I’m writing the third novel in The Guy Series. This will be Henry’s story. It’s going to be an enemies-to-lovers trope (or I think it will be…I’ll see where Henry wants to go with it). Cate and I are also planning another book together and have started on that one.
TNA: And finally, would you kindly share with us all the places we can find you on the internet?
TNA: Thanks again so much for being here with is today, Skylar!
Skylar: Thanks so much for hosting me!
The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED