BG: So today Brandon Witt is going to be dropping in at The Shepherd’s Bean. He’s an amazingly talented author—he writes straight from the heart—and he’s gorgeous and kind and sweet too. Such a great guy. I’m really looking forward to…oh! Here he is! Hey, Bradon!
Brandon: Hi, Ben! So nice to see you!
BG: Thanks for coming by. How are you doing?
Brandon: Doing better now that I’m going to get some caffeine! How are you?
BG: I’m great. Can I get you a cup of coffee? I guess that’s a dumb question considering you just said you’re wanting some caffine.
Brandon: Yes, please. Or a pot. I might have an addiction.
BG: (Laughs) Well, you’ll have to wait to get that much. They make coffee one cup at a time here. It’s a real art. Is there any type of coffee you particularly like?
Brandon: I’m not too finicky. Although, if I have the choice, I’ll pick a blond roast. There’s more caffeine.
BG: I know they’ll find something you like. If coffee is truly “God in a cup,” the owner of The Shepherd’s Bean is some kind of Messiah. But while he’s taking care of that, let me ask. What have you been up to lately?
Brandon: I’ve been writing like crazy! I’ve finished four novels since moving into writing full time. I just left teaching full time last June, and I’m getting to the point where the money I saved up is nearly gone, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the new books doing well, while trying to get some side businesses back in place, just in case.
In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying living life with my new corgi (who was a rescue), Alastair. He’s getting a bit braver every day. I knew I loved my older two dogs with all of my heart, but I wasn’t clear how much I actually needed a dog. I feel more like myself now that I have a new guy with me.
BG: I totally understand. That’s the way it is with me and Sarah Jane and Oliver. They’re both dachshuand Yorkshire terrier mixes and I need them.
Brandon: My goal to have three rescue corgis, but that will have to wait on finances. For now, it will just be Alastair and me.
BG: Want to share pictures?
(Ben and Brandon share pictures)
BG: Gosh, he’s a cute boy!
Brandon: So stinking cute! Love them.
BG: Oliver and Sarah Jane–they are the same mix but you would never know it. But anyway…anything else going on in your life?
Brandon: There’s also been a lot of family stuff going on. My little brother just got married. I’m not a big wedding guy (despite having an entire book about a wedding store), but his wedding was really wonderful.
BG: So Brandon, you’ve got a new book, and it’s got an incredibly beautiful cover.
Brandon: Thank you! I think it might be my favorite of my covers to date! Under a Sky of Ash and the cover of my first novel are the only ones I opened and started to cry. Anne Cain, the artist, is just a pure God-send!
BG: Tell me about the actual book.
Brandon: Like the cover, I think this is my favorite book I’ve written to date. It was for sure the easiest to write, it just flew through my fingers and was a pure joy. Probably strange considering there is quite a bit of angst in it. However, there is also the most humor in this book of any other my books. I know people are sometimes nervous with angsty books, but I promise you a ton of laughs and a HEA.
BG: Now you just came out with a book—The Imperfection of Swans—in January! How did you get two novels written that close together? Are you the new Andrew Grey writing complete novels in three or four weeks?
Brandon: (Laughs) When I decided to quite teaching, I sat down (via email) with my publisher and came up with a game plan. I will be writing a new novel every three months. That sounds like a lot, but, honestly, it’s the same amount of time that I used to spend writing a book, just a lot more intensive as I’m doing it in a compacted amount of time instead of spreading it out over a year. But, I’m not teaching, so that is glorious!
BG: I am also very curious about your titles. They’re not typical at all. Where do you come up with them?
Brandon: The title for Under a Sky of Ash came just as easily as the rest of the book. It just showed up, out of the blue, as I was doing the planning, even before I started writing it. Typically, the titles take a lot more work and I’ll have pages of possible titles until one hits and then I clear it with my boyfriend. He has good taste in such things. Honestly, I realize that I’m not a well known artist and so I try to look at it from that perspective. If there are two artists I don’t know, I’ll go with the one with the better title, though I know that’s subjective. I like a title have some poetry in it, at least a lot of the time. A lot of heart, sweat, tears, and work goes into every book that is written. I think a title deserves an equal amount of respect and consideration.
BG: So what’s next for you?
Brandon: Trying to make end met! Keep your fingers crossed. My next novel Son of Money (which is a little less lyrical of title, intentionally) come out in the next two to three months. I also have two short and stand alone Men of Myth fantasy stories—one in an anthology from Wilde City and then in Dreamspinner’s June Daily Dose. The fist novel of the Rocky Mountain Boys series should be come out in October or November.
BG: I am really looking forward to reading those. Hey, anything you write.
Brandon: Thank you! I’m excited about them as well. Honestly, they’re a bit of a struggle for me. I’m treating them more like your typical romance, which is a challenge for me!
But I want to give it a go!
BG: And I know you will do a great job.
Brandon: Ah, flattery. You know I love that.
BG: Thanks for dropping by and feel free to have as much coffee as you want!
Brandon: Thanks for inviting me! And, those are dangerous words, there won’t be an ounce of coffee let in the place!
Title: Under a Sky of Ash
Author: Brandon Witt
Genre: M/M, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 21, 2016
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
More than a decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.
Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.
Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.
Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.
Dreamspinner Link: http://bit.ly/24nAMg4
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/22iOFh9
Brandon: I chose this scene to give you a small taste of ManDonna who is one of the main side characters of Under a Sky of Ash, and one of my all-time favorite characters. In this scene, Isaiah and Charity, who are co-teachers and had a really rough day at school, came to Hamburger Mary’s for Family Feud night to blow off some steam.
There’s nothing like a drag queen and two gorgeous men in Speedos to make your worries disappear. The frequency with which Charity’s cheeks brightened in a blush as she drank hot tea was the cherry on top of it all.
I let it all go. All the frustration of being blamed for consequences of the disabilities and neglect of my students. The potential fallout from Ben Woods’s assumption. Even the dark shadows of my past quieted in the bright raucousness of Hamburger Mary’s.
The crowd, and it was indeed a crowd, was a good mix of ages and beauty level. There was even a decent segment of racial diversity, which was relaxing.
“Oh, honey! This next question could pitch a tent or two.” ManDonna hiked her skirt, revealing eight-inch spiked heels covered in rainbow rhinestones, then stomped to the left side of the stage. She ran a long gold nail down the neck of the nearest contestant and pulled his shirt away from his chest, making a show of taking a peek, then fanning herself with the cards in her other hand. “All right, red team, name the top five places on a man’s body where size matters most. And, sweetie, if you get this first one wrong, you lose your gay card.” She removed her hand from where she’d been raking her nails through the man’s chest hair and gave his cheek a light slap. “But I’ll think of something to help you earn it back.”
The hoots and hollers that filled the restaurant drowned out the man’s answer at first. When they died down, ManDonna smacked his cheek again. “They couldn’t hear you, lamb. Now say it like you mean it!”
“His cock!” Even though the man’s cheeks flushed a violent pink, he made a grinding motion with his hips, setting the place in riots once more. Once the catcalls quieted, ManDonna tossed a thick rope of her red lion’s mane hair over her shoulder and addressed the Speedo-clad hunk on her right. “Show us your cock! I mean, show us if cock is up there.”
The nearly naked man walked to the makeshift plywood Family Feud board, grabbed his package, shaking it at the crowd, and then pulled back the slot for the number one answer. Again the crowd let loose a torrent of squeals and whistles as the word Cock was revealed.
Charity touched my shoulder, drawing my attention. Her blushing complexion looked as if it had become permanent, and she had tears of laughter running down her face. “I think we’ve found our new Thursday night routine.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right.”
She motioned toward the other Speedo-wearing stud. “Maybe we should hang out afterwards. I could arrange an introduction.”
I couldn’t suppress a shudder. “I’ll pass.”
She rolled her eyes. “What? Too pretty for you?”
“Yes, actually.” He looked like every other pretty boy who graced the cover of Instinct magazine. “We’d probably just talk about the hours he spends in the gym and all the different types of supplements he takes.”
“Are you the pot or the kettle in this scenario of yours?”
“I can’t believe you just said that.”
“Well, it’s true. You’re every bit as muscled as he is. And did you forget that I’m your roommate? I know exactly how many supplements you take every day.”
“Doesn’t mean I want to date myself.” I turned back to the stage. ManDonna had already moved to the third man on the red team. Before I could see what the last answer had been, my phone vibrated in my pocket. A notification from Scruff was highlighted on the screen. Swiping my thumb over it, the app opened directly to the new message.
The profile picture showed a shirtless blond man, who looked similar to the guy on stage Charity had pointed out.
You are gorgeous. I’m at the table to your right. Want to get together after this? Top or bottom?
Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….
Want to keep up with Brandon? Then just click on any of the links below.