After the Snow by Lane Swift

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Hi everyone.  Please welcome Lane Swift to my blog today with an interview and a look at After the Snow.

First of all, please would you introduce yourself to anyone lurking here? 

Hi, I’m Lane Swift and I write contemporary romances featuring diverse queer characters. 

What made you decide to start writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but until about seven or eight years ago I’d mainly only written non-fiction (essays, magazine articles, educational resources). My few forays into poetry and short stories had never seen the light of day—I didn’t have the confidence to show my efforts to anyone. However, after I discovered fanfiction I also found online communities where I could read and write fiction in a collaborative way—by giving and receiving constructive feedback—and that changed everything for me. I’ve been writing constantly ever since.

Do you write your stories in order from start to finish or do you write out of order?

Typically, I know the start and the end of a story before I begin writing. That means that even though I usually start at the beginning and aim to plod through to the end, things rarely go that way. I tend to hop out of order when I’m stuck or start losing motivation.

Do you plot out the stories before you start writing, or do you let the characters take over?  Or is it a bit of both?

I am a plotter, one hundred percent, but that doesn’t preclude my characters from taking over (remember ‘plot is character and character is plot’?). Usually, I have a good sense of my characters and a premise for a story, and the plotting is a result of asking myself how I get these two love interests to a happy ending. Their natures drive the plot, and plot events are driven by how those characters will behave under certain engineered (by me!) circumstances.

Where do you get your ideas from?

In the words of Stephen King, I think a better question is not where but why?

My ideas come from everywhere. A memory, a chance encounter, a phrase in a book, a song lyric, a stranger walking past my house—any of those can trigger a thought that leads to another thought, that leads to a ‘what if?’ And so on. Story ideas constantly grow like weeds in my mind. Some make it onto the page.

How do you keep disciplined in your writing?     

I don’t! I’m terribly undisciplined but I do have a natural tendency to be productive in some shape or form. I have long spells (weeks usually but sometimes months) where I write nothing at all, or at best pages of streams of consciousness that start and go nowhere. These are often times when I’m ‘percolating’ a story in my head. Then I’ll have weeks, and sometimes months, of writing like I’m possessed. When I’m not writing I tend to read a lot, or get swallowed up by other pursuits.

How did you get into male/male romances?  What do you like about writing them?

A beautifully romantic kiss between two beloved male characters on a TV show called Torchwood started me on the road to reading romance. At that time, I’d read a few romantic novels, but didn’t actively search them out. However, those men ignited a spark of desire in me to be swept away by the power of love, and that fire has been burning bright ever since.

As soon as I started writing romance, I knew I wanted to write love stories with happy endings for all kinds of characters. I’m most excited by writing queer romance, perhaps because it’s less available in our entertainment media than male/female romance. For me, the same applies to POC characters. In the future, if I can make the right contacts and do the research, I’d also like to write romances featuring differently abled characters.

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?

Eventually, yes. I think within the next ten years.

I have mixed-race parentage, and when my parents married (in the UK) it was considered shocking and socially unacceptable in most circles, though it wasn’t illegal. Nowadays, most people in the UK don’t bat an eyelid where mixed-race relationships are concerned—not in real life or when it appears on television or in fiction. Eventually, I think LGBTQ+ relationships of all types will be regarded in the same way.

There seems to be some controversy about heterosexual women writing male/male romances, and whether they should or not.  Have you encountered this and what is your opinion on the matter?

I identify as a female pansexual, which I suppose puts me in the same boat as heterosexual women writing male/male romances. I’ve seen the debates online, but I haven’t received any sort of hostility with respect to my own writing.

Personally, I believe any person should be able to write about any character they choose. However, if an author makes that choice then they have to take responsibility for the way they represent their characters (whether they are gay men, or people with a different ethnicity to their own, or a different ability, and so on).

Many marginalised and minority groups are underrepresented as authors, and that for me is where we have the biggest problem.

Why did you choose to go down the self-publishing route?

Control, control, control!

What advice do you have for anyone who is thinking about going down the self-publishing route?

Research, research, research! Join online communities or follow blogs of self-publishers, find out what self-publishing involves all the way from book production to marketing to keeping sales records. And be honest with yourself. Do you want to produce something high quality, that’s been professionally edited and proofread, and with an equally professionally finished cover? If the answer is yes, then are you prepared to lose money if you don’t sell enough books to recoup your costs? Are you also prepared for the extra work involved producing, uploading and marketing the finished product (or the cost of paying someone to do it)?

I went with a publisher initially to learn the ropes, and I will continue to publish as a hybrid author for the time being. At the moment, I don’t advocate for one or the other—both have their pros and cons—but that might change going forward.

What do you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing?

I listen to a lot of music. I can lose hours following links on YouTube or Spotify discovering new-to-me artists. I also have a special fondness for vinyl, especially when I can turn it up loud enough to rattle the floorboards!

I also run regularly, in any weather, and in fair weather, I’m a keen gardener.

What is your favourite genre to read?

As well as romances, I love to read thrillers, near-future (or realistic) science fiction, and anything dystopian. However, I’ll read almost anything on a recommendation and occasionally read non-fiction.

Do you like to travel?  What are your favourite places to visit?

I love travelling—and the means is as important to me as the end. The best destinations for me are places where the food is good. Needless to say, that means I love Italy, and the rest of the Mediterranean, as well as parts of Asia.

Do you like to cook?  What is your specialty dish?

I hate cooking unless it’s for a crowd. Usually I make a monster lasagne, and make sure there’s enough for leftovers so I don’t have to cook again for a couple of days.

What is your idea of a perfect romantic date?

Dinner, and afterwards if it goes well, a walk by the ocean. Or wild dancing, depending on the mood generated at dinner.

On a practical level, you can learn a lot about how compatible you are with a person by what/how they eat, and what kind of person they are depending on how they behave toward wait staff etc. Also, having food in front of you can alleviate awkward pauses, and allow space for the conversation develop and flow.

What are you working on at the moment, and what are we likely to see from you in the coming months?

I’m writing the third book in the Michigan Seasons series, and at the same time a female/female mystery. Both are giving me headaches in their own sweet ways but I think that will get better once my latest book is released. (Releases always make me nervous!)

Please tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is the second in the four-part Michigan Seasons series, called After The Snow. It follows the blossoming romance between Nick Harris, who is a British businessman on a two-year assignment in Michigan, and Dale Hepburn who is his American landlord.

Title: After the Snow
Author: Lane Swift
Series: Michigan Seasons #2
Release Date: April 4th 2017
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance

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BLURB

To be that perfect someone doesn’t mean you have to be perfect…

Christmas is over, but Dale Hepburn is determined to show his new British love, Nick Harris, how much fun a Michigan winter can be, starting with outdoor ice skating lessons. His life would be perfect—if he wasn’t secretly trying to dig himself out of an avalanche of debt that he doesn’t want Nick to know about. After all, Nick believes Dale is reliable, sensible, and solvent.

But while Dale works extra hours, and saves every spare cent, and hopes Nick never finds out about his past financial mistakes, unforeseen expenses keep piling on like Michigan’s unrelenting snow. And to make matters worse, there’s that little white lie Dale told Nick about having another teaching job lined up after the end of his current contract…

An emotionally tense romance with a satisfying HFN

~54,000 words

Find After the Snow on Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon Universal

EXCERPT

I put the latch across the door and sat on the bed to undo my laces, eager to get my feet out of those stiff, patent rental shoes. Hours of socialising melted away in the ordered quiet of our room, and when I toed off my shoes it was a special kind of bliss to be able to wriggle my liberated toes.

Nick stood by the window, and I could see his reflection in the glass. With his hands stuffed in his trouser pockets, he seemed tense, like maybe he was already playing back the entire night in his head and analysing every word he’d said.

He had a way about him, my beautiful Nick. Sometimes he seemed so confident and in control, other times kind of innocent and bewildered, like he wasn’t quite sure how he’d got to wherever he was. Either way, he kept me enthralled.

I said, ‘A company like Lamplin isn’t going to risk its profits on someone who doesn’t cut it. If you get some small advantage in terms of being noticed because you’re a person of colour or because you’re gay, so what? What about all the advantages us cis white guys get every single day?’

‘I suppose. Anyway, there’s no point in worrying, is there? It’s not like I can change who I am.’

‘And hallelujah to that,’ I said, pulling off my socks.

Nick took off his jacket and hung it over the back of one of the chairs by the window, then draped his bow tie over his jacket. ‘The view is amazing.’

It sure was from where I was sitting. The bedside lamp illuminated his profile, and drew me to him like a moth to a flame.

We were on a high floor, with partial glimpses of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario on the opposite shore. Nick rested his forehead and hands against the glass, and I stepped in behind him, wrapping my arms around his waist. It was a clear, starry night and the city lights stretched on for miles, but the soft skin behind Nick’s ear interested me more. America had plenty of iconic cities, and if I was brutally honest, most of Detroit was rundown or derelict. A few shiny lights and the distant view were deceiving.

Nudging the shell of his ear with my nose, I kissed Nick, and his shiver rippled through me. ‘You should see the New York skyline.’

‘I’d like to.’ His breathing grew heavier as I pressed my chest to his back and ran my hands over his chest and stomach. ‘We could go together. What do you think?’

I’d only been to New York City once before, in my early twenties. Mostly, that weekend had consisted of drinking too much alcohol in a dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Fun at the time, but not what I would choose to do now.

‘Sounds like a good idea, after the snow.’

Over Christmas I’d decided that come the warmer weather I’d sell my pickup and get a small SUV. Maybe an Escape. If I released some cash, I could pay off one credit card, and maybe swing for a real vacation instead of packing and hauling boxes for Vinny.

Nick covered one of my hands with his, and pushed it down, down over smooth fabric and the hard bulge in the front of his trousers. His voice had the huskier pitch of arousal. ‘After the snow? When will that be?’

‘April?’

I squeezed his dick through the fabric, and he groaned.

‘I was thinking more along the lines of February. Sometime around Valentine’s Day.’

A month. Two measly pay cheques and no extra work. I’d never be able to scrape the funds together. My hand drifted, searching for an excuse, which in my present state of arousal was like trying to catch a football kicked into the stratosphere. The best I could come up with was: ‘It’ll be too cold in February.’

Nick retrieved my hand and put it back over his dick, where it belonged, at the same time as he ground his ass against my own aching erection. It was a dirty, offensive move, beautifully executed, topped off with a satisfied grunt and a gentle plea. ‘But I was hoping we’d be able to go ice skating together on one of the outdoor ice rinks. I should be able to make it around without causing any major damage by then.’

How could I refuse when he’d brought my fingertips to his soft, sweet mouth? The answer was simple. Because thirty thousand dollars of credit card debt—not to mention the money I owed Maggie and the bank—had me bound and chained.

Michigan Seasons Book One

Title: More Than Christmas
Release Date: December 10th 2016
Genre: MM Contemporary Holiday Romance

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BLURB

Keeping life simple can be a complicated business.

High-flying young British executive, Nick Harris, knows exactly what he wants out of his two-year American assignment—a bigger salary, a promotion and some no-strings fun. How convenient then, that his gorgeous hunk of a next door neighbour, Dale Hepburn, is friendly, single and bisexual?

But Dale has had his fill of casual and he’s holding out for love that will last. Knowing that Nick’s stay in America is temporary, he welcomes him into his life as a friend; they train together in his garage gym, hang out and watch television, and dress up for the neighbourhood kids at Halloween.

Then the first snow falls, and with Christmas approaching and temperatures plummeting, Nick finds he increasingly yearns for the warmth of Dale’s arms—only he’s worried that pushing Dale for more heat in their relationship will land him outside in the cold.

Nick’s long-term future in America may not be certain, but if he wants a future with Dale, he must find a way to persuade him they can be more than Christmas.

A heartwarming romance with a satisfying HFN

~32,000 words

Find More Than Christmas on Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK

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About the Author

Lane Swift profile pic

Lane’s earliest attempts at fiction writing were sporadic, haphazard and utterly cringeworthy: a bit of maudlin poetry here, the odd short story there—and somewhere in between, half a dozen pages of a memoir that didn’t get beyond reminiscing over the untidy draw in her childhood kitchen.

Years and years later, after several career-changes, two children, and two international house moves, Lane arrived at a time and place in her life where she wanted to return to writing. Since then, it has become her passion; the one thing she wants to do for the rest of her life.

As far as reading goes, she enjoys many genres: science fiction, mystery, crimes, thrillers and horror. But there’s nothing she likes more than when those stories are driven by the power of true love. So, it was really no surprise that when she finally put her middle-aged fingers to the keyboard, she started writing romance.

Lane’s love stories feature diverse queer characters in the starring roles. She sometimes combines contemporary romance with mystery, suspense or paranormal, and always gives her heroes and heroines their hard-earned happy ending. She has books published with Less Than Three Press and Dreamspinner Press, as well as self-published titles.

Home is currently in Hampshire, on the south coast of England, and there are no plans to move for the foreseeable future. Eighteen house moves in the last twenty-five years is surely enough for anyone! And when she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Lane can often be found running on the local roads, trails and beaches.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon

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