Hi everyone. Please welcome John Keys to my blog with a brand new interview and news about his latest book.
First of all, please would you introduce yourself to anyone lurking here?
Hello everyone. I’m Jon Keys and a relative newcomer as an author. But I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I can remember. Those summer book challenges the local public library would have, that was a weeks worth of books for me. Growing up in the southwest I was fascinated with Native American culture and still am.
A few years ago I made the jump that a lot of authors make and thought “I can do better than that.” From there I started writing male/male erotic romance for a few on-line collections. The reader response was wonderful and their support was a large part of the reason I began to write. I’d end it with ‘and the rest is history’ but in my case I’m hoping the best is yet to come.
What genre(s) do you write and how did you get into it/them?
Well, I’m a little all over the place when it comes to genre. Most of my writing so far has been contemporary M/M romance. But I’ve always loved science fiction/fantasy, so now I have a few fantasy stories in the works, one of which will hopefully be released in 2014. One interesting thing is happening as I try a new genre, my fantasy writing is much darker.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Developing the story, no question about it. Working out the details of what happens and seeing how things develop, I find all of that fascinating.
Do you write your stories in order from start to finish or do you write out of order?
No, I’m definitely an in order writer. I know people jump around but that just confuses me. I write the first draft quickly to get the story onto paper, but it’s always in order. Now the outlining and editing I will jump around to whichever part I think needs help the most.
Which of your own characters is your favourite and why?
From all my stories, I’d have to say Mitch from my on-line Wrangler Butts series is the favourite, at least right now. Probably because I’ve written more about him so he’s a very comfortable character. Mitch is also a clown and keeps Darin from getting too serious, which he needs. He’s always struck me as one of those friends you can call at 3am and there are no questions, just tell me where you are and I’ll be there to help.
What kind of research do you do?
Mostly my research is on-line. Wikipedia and I are buddies. For the police procedure in Crossfire I used the expert forum in a writing community I frequent. They were great about the details of how an investigation would be assigned. Recently I’ve also started using Pinterest as a source of photos, more of the settings than people. I don’t look for photos of people who might fit my characters before I write.
How do you keep disciplined in your writing?
Truthfully, my biggest challenge is to stop writing and have a life. I tend to be more than a little obsessive so my challenge is to keep things balanced and not let the writing take over.
How did you get into male/male romances? What do you like about writing them?
I could relate to male/male romances being a cisgender male who identifies as bisexual. I like that I can create these situations, some of which I’ve experienced or witnessed, and have them come out like I want. I’m afraid I’m a sucker for a happily ever after.
Despite the growing market for same sex romances, it is still a long way from being mainstream. Do you see a time when they make it to the bestseller lists?
I would hope there comes a time when the gender identity of the characters is just assumed to be as varied as in life. Things are changing so quickly in recent years that it’s easy to see a time when a same sex romance would make the best seller list.
If you were a shape-shifter, what animal would you be?
Himalayan snow leopard, they have to be one of the most beautiful and graceful animals. For some reason their tails fascinate me, too. They look as big as my wrist.
If you could travel through time to the past, do you think you’d survive in your favourite time period?
No, probably not. I’ve actually thought about this. I was born breech so probably wouldn’t have survived childbirth and now my eyesight is so bad that I would never be able to hunt for myself. No, I’m better off in the modern age.
What do you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing?
Gardening, that’s probably my favourite. Although it’s probably more of a passion after miserable winters like we had last year. I like to swim and kayak, too, just don’t get to do it too much.
Do you enjoy films and/or TV shows? Which are your favourites?
Oh yeah, thank goodness for DVR. I love Big Bang Theory. I’ve known all those people in real life, including Sheldon. Actually I’ve known several Sheldons. My other can’t miss it favourite is Faceoff on the SciFi channel. I’m not a big fan of reality TV, but I love Faceoff. They’re so creative.
Is there anywhere you would like to visit which you have not had chance to yet?
New Zealand and Australia. I think they’re fascinating. I’d also like to get to see more first hand from the Maori and Aborigine people.
Do you like to cook? What is your specialty dish?
Yes, I do. A specialty dish huh. Probably spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast and then rich chocolate brownies with homemade ice cream on top. Okay, now I’m hungry.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Relax, be yourself. The world will not end if you make a bad decision.
What are you working on at the moment, and what are we likely to see from you in the coming months?
I have an amazing number of things in the works. Coming July 23rd is Showstring, which is part of a cowboy anthology called Rode Hard. In September my first novella, Home Grown, is set to be released. Home Grown is a foodie romance between a vender at the farmer’s market and one of his customers. February 3rd of 2015 is the release date for Drawing the Devil, which is about a budding romance between a champion bull rider and one of the rodeo clowns. I also have Three is Just Enough, which is my first male/male/female novel about a developing triad relationship between three college students. Razor, my retelling of a Grimm’s Fairytale is also under contract and will be my second novella. So lots of work in the pipeline upcoming in the next twelve months.
hings still in the works include my NaNoWriMo project for last year. Obsidian Sun is my first fantasy novel, and is a rescue drama set in the Iron Age. I’m hoping to start it looking for a home by the end of summer. I’m also expanding a short story I wrote call Rut into a novella. Rut is about a couple who try to save their rocky relationship with a fall elk hunt together. Finally I have a new story I’m beginning to write called Sacred Dance. It’s a different take on super heroes and their supernatural villain.
So, lots and lots of things in the works.
Please tell us about your latest book.
Rick Anthis, a forty-five year old veteran of the Colorado State Police, and his husband, Gabriel Thorkelson, a deputy sheriff in a nearby county, enjoy the peace of their suburban Boulder home. Until three gunshots rip through the tranquil neighborhood and Rick witnesses the kidnapping of his buddy, eight year old Jacob.
The clues are sparse until Gabe reminds Rick of something Jacob had said. Rick has a starting point. He and his CSI team locate the remote hideout, only to find the the kidnappers are gone, and Gabe is missing too.
Excerpt from Crossfire.
Rick dried the last dish and handed it to Gabriel to put away. Gabriel settled the last plate into the white cabinets. He loved their house and the quiet, older neighborhood it was in. He hoped Mark and Rachel could work out their issues, keeping Jacob in the forefront.
Rick put his hand around Gabriel’s slender waist. He’s as sexy as he was in college. Damn just being next to him makes me randy. Releasing Gabriel, Rick folded the dishtowel carefully and laid it beside the sink. “Supper was great. You’re a damn fine cook.”
Gabriel snickered and spun to pop Rick with a wet towel. “It should taste good. Your mother gave me herbs from her garden the last time we visited.”
“Mom’s just trying to fatten me up. I’m kind of skinny for a forty-three year old Greek man.”
The towel snapped against Rick’s butt again and he grabbed at it. Gabriel danced away, his face lit with delight. “Where does that leave me?”
Rick swept Gabriel up and kissed him. “It leaves you in my arms, just where you should be.”
Rick paused as he remembered the note in his pocket. Leaving his hand on the small of Gabriel’s back he reached in his shirt pocket and fished out a small piece of yellow paper. He gripped it between two fingers and dangled the sheet in front of Gabriel.
“Speaking of, I found another note in my lunch.”
Gabriel studied the symbols on the page as if he’d never seen them. “Huh, what do you think that means?”
Rick smiled. “I know what it’s meant the last dozen times I found one in my lunch.”
“Really? And what was that?”
“It meant I was going to be exhausted the whole next day.”
“You don’t say. Let me see that.” Gabriel took the paper from Rick’s hand and appeared to study the content. “Looks like Native American symbols. Hmm, maybe ‘bear’ and ‘hunt’.” He smiled at Rick with a glimmer in his eyes. “Are we going on a bear hunt this fall?” Gabriel reached up and tugged on the short hair coming from the top of Rick’s T-shirt. The slight touch shifted his libido into high gear.
He nuzzled his face against Gabriel’s throat and sighed at the spicy fragrance that curled through his nostrils. Rick slid his hand under Gabriel’s shirt; the rub of his chest hair on Rick’s palm ignited his desire. “What’s the sign for otter? Because I think I need to hunt one of those little furry things.” I still can’t believe Mom gave Gabe my Eagle Scout pictogram project.
Where can we find you and your books on the web?
Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.
A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.