Cat and Lori: Hi! Thanks for joining Cat and Lori on this blog tour/giveaway celebrating the release of our first joint self-published book, Guarded. We know you’ll enjoy this super-hot, super-kinky tale of a rock star and his bodyguard. Leave a comment for a chance to win a special Guarded swag pack, featuring an exclusive T-shirt and signed paperback! Each comment counts as an entry, so follow us on all of our stops and rack up more chances to win!
TNA: Hi, Cat and L.A., thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourselves, hobbies, interests, things we might not know about you but should?
Cat: I have a bed linen fetish. (Seriously – my credit card SHRIEKS whenever I walk past Pottery Barn.) You could call me a TV and music junkie too – I’ve got over 80 gigs of music in my iTunes library.
L.A: I’m a music junkie too, and my debit card hyperventilates when I get anywhere near a bookstore. Especially a used bookstore. If they have used CDs, I’m really screwed. I’m also a photographer. Used to be pro, but then realized how much I hate working weddings. So now it’s just a hobby.
TNA: Have you always written M/M Romance, or is that something that came along later in your writing career? What is it that drew you toward exploring gay relationships in your writing? Do you enter a different mindset when writing M/M as opposed to M/F? Or, for that matter, M/M/M, M/M/F, and all the other relationship variants?
Cat: I wrote slash fan fiction for, oh, twenty-odd years before I turned my hand to pro-fic, so I’m pretty comfortable writing all the colors of the rainbow. I tend to concentrate on M/M these days, but I’ve also written a TON of M/M/F.
No, I don’t really enter a different mind-set when I switch sub-genres. Writing is writing. Love is love.
L.A.: I started out writing epic fantasy, then switched to erotic romance when I started writing full-time. A few books later, I was dared to write M/M, and… well, here we are. I can’t even put my finger on why it clicked as well as it did, but writing about two men was almost immediately easy. It just made sense, I guess.
As far as a different mindset, no. As Cat said, love is love.
TNA: If you could go back in time, to the moment you sat down and began writing your first book, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give yourself now that you have the benefit of experience?
Cat: Enjoy the relative peace and quiet, ‘cause once you get published, the roller coaster never stops.
L.A.: OMG, Cat hit that one on the head. Also probably something to the effect of “it’s okay to reject advice that doesn’t sound right, because there’s a good chance it’s not right for you.”
Cat: Yes! That too. I often tell new writers to ignore the naysayers. Sure, your early work will suck – everybody’s does. Just believe in yourself and work hard, and you’ll get there. Above all – don’t give up!
TNA: How would you describe your books to someone who hasn’t read them yet? Do your characters share common qualities? What’s your idea of a great protagonist?
Cat: Cat & Lori books usually feature one or more alpha males butting heads. Or in Jordan’s case – an alpha in the streets, a total submissive pain-slut in the sheets.
A great protag—whether you like him or not—engages the emotions and takes you on a roller coaster ride with him. Them. (You all know what I mean!)
L.A.: LOL @ Cat’s description of Jordan. Right on the money. So far, our books are definitely big on alpha males butting heads. And pulling hair. And shoving. And—
Cough. Sorry. I’d say our characters are generally alphas but not assholes, sweet but not pushovers, and intelligent but somewhat prone to doing stupid stuff in the heat of the moment. And maybe that last part’s not even accurate. Maybe the better way to say it would be that our guys aren’t stupid, but they’re very, very human, and sometimes when emotions run high, people make mistakes.
TNA: Let’s talk a little bit about the reason you’re both here today, your new book Guarded. First of all, rock stars: what made you decide Jordan Kane needed to be a rock star, and what is it, do you think, that makes him particularly sexy?
Cat: What isn’t sexy about him? He’s hot, he’s talented, he’s got a volatile temper. He’s kinky as hell. Everything about him screams “DANGEROUS!” Who wouldn’t want to write about a character like that?
But yes, as Lori points out below, he has a heart. In fact, it’s his love for his best friend that very nearly undoes him.
L.A.: Jordan was one of those characters who came along and said “You bitches are writing my story, so sit down and grab a pen.” He’s dangerous, he’s impulsive, he’s demanding, but he’s also got a huge heart, desperately wants to save his best friend from himself, and craves the kind of love Jase is offering. I mean, we basically had to write this guy if either of us was ever going to sleep again.
TNA: You explore dominance and submission in the book, something it seems Jordan very much needs from his bodyguard/boyfriend, Jase Hewitt, if I’m reading the blurb correctly, to cope with the stress of life in the spotlight. Was a D/s relationship always a part of the plotting process, or did the characters lead you there once you started writing? What would you each say is the most difficult part of writing a really good BDSM scene?
Cat: We were shooting for kinky from the get-go, but we had no idea HOW kinky until the characters decided to go full-tilt-boogie on us. It really was a case of them whispering their darkest fantasies into our ears, so of course we had no choice but to give our boys (yes, Jase too!) what they needed.
Writing BDSM’s really not that hard once you find the emotional core of the scene. It’s not all about toys and costumes. The connection between the characters is what’s most important, IMO.
L.A.: We’ve both written quite a bit of BDSM before, so that was nothing new, but the dynamic between Jase and Jordan was certainly an intense roller coaster. We never knew when one of them would pull out all the stops, and when the other would get overwhelmed because it was too much, and how they’d eventually find a happy medium. Basically, every time we pushed Jase and Jordan deeper into the D/s relationship, we were dumping an entire bucket of fireworks onto a bonfire and then standing back to see if the result was an amazing show or a disastrous explosion.
Cat: WOOHOO! *lights a firecracker, waits for it to go BOOM!*
TNA: In a few sentences, what would you each say about the character you didn’t write that complements and makes him work with the character you created and wrote?
Cat: One of our betas called Jase “the ultimate service Top,” and yeah, that describes him pretty well. He’s a protector at heart. A calming, even nurturing influence on Jordan, who is – let’s face it – intense and stressed and veering out of control.
L.A.: Jordan is a firecracker. No two ways about it. He’s not only the kind of man who wants someone to rein him in, but the kind who needs it. He needs someone who’s willing to push him right to the edge of his limits, but is also safe and sane enough to know when to stop pushing. Essentially, Jordan is a sports car with way too much horsepower, and Jase is the foot on the brake. And as much as Jase is a protector, kind of Mr. Play It Safe, Jordan is basically the wild yin to Jase’s calm yang. Just the right amount of dangerous to keep things interesting, but willing to be pulled back to safety before things get too far out of control.
In other words, Jase seriously has his hands full with Jordan, but that’s how he likes it.
TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt from the book with us?
Cat: Of course! Here’s a tantalizing scene from Jordan’s POV, where Jase takes him to his first play party.
Blurb: On the surface, rock star Jordan Kane has it all. His band No Rules is burning up the charts and headlining a world tour. His bodyguard doubles as a hot, kinky boyfriend who knows just how to push all his buttons. But behind the scenes, he’s suffocating.
Jase Hewitt never imagined he’d have a shot at bedding the larger than life rock star – never mind dominating him – but now he’s worried he’s in over his head. Jordan’s kinks run deep, dark, and sometimes dangerous, putting Jase’s desires to both pleasure and protect him at odds.
They might have a fighting chance at finding the safe, happy medium between what Jordan needs and what Jase is willing to give, but there’s one problem: Daniel, Jordan’s childhood best friend, the band’s talented guitarist — and a volatile, hard-partying drug addict. Jordan is determined to save Daniel from himself, but Jase has been there, done that, and desperately wants to protect Jordan from the inevitable heartache of watching an addict self-destruct.
When Daniel goes off the rails again, Jordan calls off the tour to get him help. Tension within the band skyrockets and pressure from the record label sends Jordan into a dark spiral. Now his band — and his life — are balanced on a knife’s edge, and Jase is the only one who can pull him back… but only if the echoes of his own tragic past don’t push him over first.
Excerpt: “Jordan.” Jase’s voice cut through the resurgent buzz of conversation. He stood next to Robert by the unlit fireplace, turning something long and black over and over in his hands. A piece of ribbon?
No. A length of black leather with a shiny, open padlock dangling at one end.
“Come here,” Jase said, in that command tone that never failed to make every part of me stand at attention—including the part trapped down the front of these skintight leather pants.
I was used to having thousands of eyes on me when I performed, so why did eight people watching me now send every last drop of blood flooding my face? Licking my lips, I padded across the carpet, ten steps that felt more like half a mile, and dropped to my knees in front of Jase.
Renee gasped. Jase almost did too—at least, I could’ve sworn I heard him inhale. This wasn’t anything we’d planned or rehearsed, it just seemed like the right thing to do. The thing Jase would’ve wanted me to do.
“Look at me, Jordan.”
I lifted my chin slowly, meeting his gaze. We hadn’t rehearsed this part either, but I had a good idea what he intended.
“Do you accept my collar for the evening?” he asked.
“Yes, Jase.” I bent my head and let him put it on, practically swooning as his fingers brushed my throat, every touch as intimate as a kiss. Probably the only time he’d be touching my throat all evening, and everyone was watching.
He finished buckling it on, the lock sliding in place with a soft click, then ruffled my hair and cupped my cheek. His warm, sweaty skin was too tempting to resist. I kissed his palm, savoring the salty taste, and heard Renee murmur, “How beautiful.”
“Stand, Jordan,” Jase ordered. I don’t know how I managed it with the weight of all those gazes on me, but I swayed to my feet, pulse tripping when Jase looped an arm around my waist. “Relax,” he murmured.
“Would you like to see the dungeon?” Robert asked. “I’ve made some improvements since you were here last, Jase.”
“Love to,” Jase said.
I followed several paces behind, like Jase had told me to, as everyone picked up their bags on their way to that amazing wrought-iron staircase. Down we went, into the room I’d thought was the basement, but instead of a musty hole in the ground, the door at the base of the stairs opened onto a generous, moodily-lit space with various toys and implements either hanging from or propped against the walls.
A pair of leather-upholstered X-shaped crosses stood side by side. A matching table, upholstered in the same oxblood-colored leather, stood in the center of the room, eyebolts for easy-access bondage decorating all points. A sturdy wooden frame with multi-colored rope woven through it in a chain-link pattern took up an entire wall, right next to a double-tiered rack of floggers and whips.
Jase walked up to the rope web and ran his hand over it. “I don’t remember seeing this before.”
“That’s one of the improvements. The others are…” Robert pointed up, indicating a collection of hooks and O-rings bolted to the ceiling. “We’ve had the ceiling reinforced for suspension.”
“Very cool. Although I don’t think Jordan’s ready to be hoisted fifteen feet in the air, are you, Jordan?”
God, he actually expected me to talk standing here in the middle of all this? Breathe, dammit. I glanced up at the suspension points, my insides going as wobbly as fresh Jello. Heights didn’t usually bother me. I spent most of my life playing on elevated stages where my likelihood of falling was nil. But if anyone lost their grip on the suspension rope, I’d end up with a broken neck, if I survived at all. “I, um, I’d rather not, Jase.”
“Try the web, darling,” Renee said, coming up behind me. I thought she was about to lay her hands on my shoulders, but the possessive glow flickering in Jase’s eyes warned her off. “It’ll hold you up beautifully. Just fall into it and drift off to that lovely forever place.”
Jase held out his hand, and I went to him. I let him shove me up against the web, my fingers threading through the rope, holding tight. It had enough give to hold my weight, and if I shut my eyes and let myself go limp, it was almost like falling face first into my mattress at home.
Jase pushed his hard cock against the small of my back. Why did he still have his jeans on—and that fucking decadent leather coat? “Shirt off,” he said. “Don’t turn around.”
I kept my grip on the web with one hand while I unbuttoned my shirt with the other. Slid it off my shoulders—or rather, Jase did. He had his hands in my hair again, tying it back with a leather thong, and when he pushed me up against the web this time, all I felt was the soft rasp of cotton on my back. “Shall I tie you? Or do you think you can hold on?”
“I, uh…” I gave the web a couple of hard tugs. It wasn’t going anywhere. “I’m good.”
He buried his face in my neck, my hair, inhaling deeply. I let my head fall back, allowing him full access to my throat. He licked his way along the pulse in my carotid, got a piece of skin between his teeth, and bit down hard.
Hard enough to leave a mark—I hoped, I hoped.
I groaned when he moved away, darting a glance over my shoulder. He rummaged in his bag, drawing out a coil of long, sleek, deadly-looking leather. One of the singletails he’d shown me at his apartment the other day. “One more time—what’s our safeword?” he said.
“Do you want this?”
How could he even ask, when I was already trembling, dying for him to touch me? To fuck me or flog me. To grind me into nothing and bring me back to life again. “God, Jase, just do it. Whatever you’re gonna do…”
“Say it,” he growled. “Tell me you want it.”
“I-I want it. Want you.”
“Good.” He nuzzled my throat again, then grabbed me by the chin, those icy eyes of his nearly melting me. “I’m gonna hurt you now. And yes—everyone is watching.”
And with that, he stepped back and laid his whip across me.
TNA: How is collaborative writing easier and/or more difficult than writing a book on your own? Do you find your style and character voices change at all when writing with someone else?
Cat: No, not really. In fact, I think Lori’s and my voices mesh pretty well. Most people can’t tell which of us wrote what, which is, IMHO, the highest compliment a writing partnership can receive.
And “What Lori said” about the perks of co-writing. Two filthy minds are definitely better than one!
L.A.: I’m just going to start putting “What Cat said” in every answer, because she nailed it. LOL As far as collaborative vs solo, the biggest perk of co-writing is when you get stuck, you have someone who knows the story/characters as well as you do who can help you get unstuck. Plus, with the way Cat and I write – alternating chapters – there’s a certain little thrill in getting a shiny new chapter in your inbox, and then saying “Oh, it’s gonna be like that? OH IT’S ON NOW…” and writing the next one. It’s kind of this playful back and forth thing, trying to pull the rug out from under each other, and in doing so, we create all kinds of tension between the characters.
So basically, co-writing rules.
TNA: I know this is sort of like asking you to name your favorite child, but of all the books you’ve each written, do you have a favorite? If so, which and why?
Cat: I’ll have to go with Guarded. I got so swept up in the characters and the story, I got a little depressed for a few days after we typed “The End.”
L.A.: Oh man, I couldn’t choose between the books we’ve written. I love Jase and Jordan, but I love the SEALs too. DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!!
TNA: If you could bring one of your characters off the page and into the real world, whom would you most like to spend time with, and what makes him/her someone you think you could be friends with?
Cat: Not sure I’d want to hang out with Jordan – he’s a bit intense for me. Jase, OTOH – yeah, we could do lunch. I’d love to pick his brain about his days as a submissive. (And actually, that’s a story Lori and I are kicking around – so stay tuned!)
L.A.: Jase is really laidback, so I could definitely hang out with him. Jordan, too, if he was duly restrained. Or occupied. By, say, polishing a pair of boots…
TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs with us?
Cat: I’m currently finishing up TAP OUT, the third book in my Bannon’s Gym series for Samhain, then Lori and I have a few new irons in the fire. *rubs hands together*
L.A.: I have…my God, so many things in the works, all of which I’m trying to wrap up so Cat and I can go on to our next project. I’m currently working on a Klondike Gold Rush era steampunk novella, a lesbian military romance, a contemporary bisexual ménage, and a sequel to Aleksandr Voinov’s Dark Soul series. Needless to say, it’s keeping me busy.
Cat: As usual, Lori makes me look like a slacker.
TNA: And finally, would you kindly share with us all the places we can find you on the internet?
Cat’s Bio: Cat Grant lives by the sea in beautiful Monterey, California, with one persnickety feline and way too many books and DVDs. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her watching movies or TV (Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries are among her favorite shows), singing along to her favorite band (30 Seconds to Mars), or fantasizing about kinky sex with Michael Fassbender and/or Jared Leto.
Here’s Cat’s various hideouts on the Internet:
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L.A.’s Bio: L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.