BG: One of the things I love best about going to events such as the Dreamspinner Press Author’s Workshop is meeting my fellow writers. And one of the sweetest I’ve met is Tara Lain. I discovered that she is not only a wonderful writer, but a really wonderful person as well.
In real life Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. Hey, she’s helping me find my “Brand.”
What makes me happy is that she’s meeting me here today at The Shepherd’s Bean. And what do you know? She’s here. Good morning Tara! Good to see you again. I haven’t seen you since we were all in Florida.
Tara: Hi Ben! *giant hug* Thanks for inviting me to the Bean!
BG: It’s a pleasure. Now I hear you’re another of those tea drinking authors…. There’s a lot of you.
Tara: I drink coffee occasionally, but mostly I love tea! I’m kind of addicted to English Breakfast tea lattes with a touch of vanilla.
BG: It sounds pretty good. Sorry to say that Bean, the owner, doesn’t serve it though. Is there any coffee you like?
Tara: I drink decaf lattes. I know, that’s not real coffee! What would you recommend?
BG: They do have a latte to live for!
Tara: Hey, latte me! I’ve gotta try what’s good.
BG: I’ll order if for you.
BG: So tell me what you’ve been up to lately?
Tara: I tend to stay on the far North side of busy and now is no exception. As you mentioned, I recently attended the Dreamspinner Author’s Workshop in Florida and got to spend a couple extra days there doing the Mickey thing! That was a blast—because I love Animal Kingdom and all the food at the World Showcase in Epcot Center. My honey and I had a great lunch with my wonderful agent at Tutto Italia and a memorable dinner in the Moroccan pavilion.
BG: Oh! I had dinner there last year with EM Lynley and Nessa Warin. It was delicious. Wonderful food.
Tara: Very fun. Also, I leave for RT in two weeks, which is always a crazy busy time. This year I get to do three panels plus the Dreamspinner Reader Party and the other DSP events—and the book signing, of course. But two trips in two months take a bite out of my writing time (I try to write a book in two months) and right now I’m working on my first ever cowboy romance! Yahooo! or should I say Yee Haw? I’m having a blast writing it and it has a fun twist. It’s planned for release at the holidays. Of course, I have my new release in just a few days and I always do a blog tour for my new books, so lots of prep has gone into that. Yes, lots going on.
BG: I noticed that like me, you only started writing MM five years or so. How did you start writing in this genre?
Tara: By accident! (Of course, there are no accidents.)
BG: I certainly believe that.
Tara: I decided to write a book. Since I’ve been a writer of non-fiction most of my life, people always said, “write a book”. It sounded like work—until I started reading erotic romance. That sounded way more like fun, so I began planning an older woman /younger man romance. In the original idea, the young man lived with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, I’d been reading the Dark Elves series by Jet Mykles—most of them are het. I ordered another book from Amazon by Jet called Heaven—without really looking at the blurb. Well, when it arrived I discovered it was—MM!! I started reading and was transfixed. I loved the dynamic of two male archetypes, the lack of gender roles, plus I’d been deeply committed to two friends I had as a girl who were both gay. I decided this was for me. I added another man to my story—in place of the girlfriend—and an LGBT ménage called Genetic Attraction was born! It did well and the rest is history. I immediately honed in on the two men as my favorite part of the stories and switched to gay romance from ménages shortly thereafter. That was about thirty-two books ago!
BG: WOW! I had no idea it was that many.
Now you set a lot of your stories in Laguna Beach, where you live with your husband. Most of my stories take place in Kansas City, where I live. People have said KC often becomes almost a character in my story. What made you choose to set so many of your tales where you live?
Tara: My honey and I lived in Laguna for many years. About a year ago, we downsized and moved inland a little to get away from the traffic! (That’s the downside of Laguna Beach I don’t talk about. LOL) But Laguna is like a small town in a big Metroplex. It has so much great story material—beaches, sunshine, art, great restaurants, summer festivals, and a thriving gay community. One of my readers says he always expects to see my characters walking down the streets in town. I know so many details about the town that I can set stories here and not have to research or dig for color. Many readers have planned vacations to Laguna based on my books. Hmm. I should speak to the Chamber of Commerce—
BG: You’re known for your “unique heroes.” What do think makes your characters unique?
Tara: I call my guys the “Beautiful Boys of Romance.” They’re hard to describe, but my readers say they know them when they see them. My heroes tend to be young—most under 30 and some New Adult (18-24), so they’re grappling with newish issues in their lives, making transitions to “who they really are”. Most of my books have as a theme (whether I intend it or not) living an authentic life. My guys are beautiful—at least internally and many externally as well, and—to use my reader’s term—they often have a deep “sweetness” that even some very hard times haven’t been able to erase. It’s that inner beauty that unites them—whether they’re alpha males or flamboyant queens.
BG: So you have a new book—Prince of the Playhouse. Interesting name! You’ve got me intrigued. Tell me it.
Tara: Titles are my thing. I love creating them. The series is called Love in Laguna (all can be read stand alone) and I had written about a third of the first book and still didn’t have a title I loved—which is unusual for me. On the page, one of my heroes calls the other “his knight”. Wham. It leaped out at me. Much of the story takes place on Ocean Avenue in Laguna Beach, so that book became Knight of Ocean Avenue. The second story in the series involves a construction worker who falls in love with his cardiologist. That title evolved as Knave of Broken Hearts. And this book takes place partly at the famed Laguna Playhouse where my hero, Ru, is asked to design costumes for a special performance of Hamlet starring the world’s biggest action movie star, Gray Anson—who happens to be Ru’s biggest crush. Hence, we have Prince of the Playhouse.
By the way, there will be a fourth book entitled Lord of a Thousand Steps.
Prince of the Playhouse was very fun to write because my hero, who plays a small role in the first book and appears to be just a very chic and flamboyant fashion designer, turned out to have a secret past!
BG: Now in “real life” you own an advertising and public relations firm. Do your co-workers know what you write?
Tara: Yes they do. Even a few of my clients do. Although I keep the two halves of my work life separate, they are happily married.
BG: I hope you’re enjoying your latte.
Tara: Delicious! I’ll have to visit again soon.
BG: Please sit as long as you like. The Shepherd’s Bean doesn’t close for hours—although I know you have a busy schedule.
Tara: Well I could pull out the laptop, have another latte, and work on my cowboy book!
BG: Sounds great! I write here all the time. It’s fun. So I’ll leave you to it. Oh, and by the way, the lattes are made with real milk and cream and are organic and from cows raised on grass and no antibiotics by the way….
Tara: Definitely my choice being a health freak!
BG: Thanks again for dropping by and I hope you know you are welcome any time
Tara: Thank you so much for inviting me. *giant hugs*
Title: Prince of the Playhouse
Author: Tara Lain
Series: Love in Laguna Series
Genre: M/M, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Driven by his desire to become a successful fashion designer and concerned with hiding his questionable past, Ru Maitland has let obsession with action movie star Gray Anson on the big screen replace his social life. Then obsession and reality collide when Ru is asked to design fashion costumes for a special performance of Hamlet at the Playhouse in Laguna starring none other than Gray Anson. Gray turns out to be a compelling mix of shy and brash and, despite a high profile engagement to a female socialite, the signals Gray sends Ru have his libido doing the salsa.
Gray Anson has what most people only dream of—great wealth, huge fame, a job he loves. For that, he’s given up any semblance of privacy and the right to say no to the thousands of people who depend on him and the millions who love him. He sees everything he’s ever wanted just outside the bubble of his life, but how can he make the compromises needed to embrace it? When Ru’s shady past crashes into Gray’s paparazzi-haunted present, both men have to learn that sometimes the only acceptable compromise is the truth.
Food arrived. Ru had ordered the salmon, one of his faves, and Gray copied him. Merle had gone for Rick’s famous fish sandwich, as had most of the others. As the waiter placed the plates in front of Ru and Gray, Gray’s napkin dropped to the floor between his legs. He scooted back, spread his knees so he could reach between them, and managed to press the full length of his hard-muscled thigh against Ru’s. Perfect paralysis. Don’t move, don’t speak, don’t make him aware of what he’s done. Shocks of heat streaked into Ru’s balls, and he enjoyed the boil.
Gray snagged the napkin, scooted his chair back in, and—didn’t move his leg. From knee to hip, his long limb rested fully against Ru’s. Didn’t he notice? Was being pressed against another man normal for him? Maybe an action-star thing?
Forget about food, conversation, breathing. Don’t miss a moment.
Artie started talking to Gray about some entertainment industry thing. Gray ate heartily. Nothing abnormal or extraordinary going on in his universe. Ru pushed his salmon on the plate and gazed into near space, every ounce of his consciousness living in his tingling flesh.
Ru’s glance flicked up to find Merle staring at him. “Sorry?”
“Boy, you were a million miles away. Designing costumes?”
“Oh yes.” He liked Merle. He didn’t want to wish the guy would shut up so he could listen to the sound of his balls expanding.
Merle lowered his voice. “I wondered if you’d like to get that drink we didn’t quite get to have later?”
Gray shifted and pressed his knee harder. Ru sucked wind. “Oh!”
Merle cocked his head. “Is that an unexpected invitation?” He grinned. “I did everything except hire a billboard.”
“Oh no. Sorry. I, uh, have so much to do—”
“It’s not really late. We could go over to the Ocean Bar for a little while, and then you can get home to your designs.”
Gray turned abruptly to Ru. “Did you talk with Artie about your great design concepts for the Hamlet character?”
“Oh no, not yet.”
Artie grinned. “I’m all ears.”
Ru glanced at a deflated-looking Merle but launched into an explanation of his glamorized gangster costume. The more he talked, the more excited he got. “It immediately sets Hamlet apart from his family and everyone else. He has other allegiances, a different take on the world. When he says ‘to be or not to be,’ he’s not just depressed and melancholy. He’s seriously considering his options, and they’re violent.”
Gray started beating out a rap rhythm on the edge of the table. “To be or not to be. Yeah, to be or not to be. That’s the question in front of me.”
The others laughed, and Merle joined in.
Ru nodded. “Horatio would have some of the same gang colors as Hamlet, but we can see that he’s being sucked in by the man.”
Artie clapped. “Brilliant idea, Ru.”
“But remember, this will be fashion, not costume, so it will suggest the look but not be slavish.”
“Can’t wait to see it.”
Beverly nodded and sipped more wine. “Amajing. Ruj’s amajing.”
Ru sat back and smiled. Even while he’d been rapping, Gray had never moved his leg. If anything, he’d pressed it harder against Ru. Jesus, he wanted to pull Gray to his feet and press more than their legs together.
Penelope leaned forward and looked toward Ru. “I agree, you’re amazing.”
He nodded. “Why, thank you, lovely lady.” It made him feel a little squirmy to think he was lusting after this woman’s boyfriend, but maybe she and Gray had some kind of agreement?
She put a hand on Gray’s arm. “I think I should ask him.”
Gray frowned. “No, not now.”
“No better time. Ru, I’m soon going to be looking for a designer for my wedding gown, and I’d like to invite you to submit a concept. It’s not right away. I know you’re working on a collection, but I wanted to tell you, so you can keep my needs in mind.”
Ru didn’t move. Even his heart must have quit. He couldn’t hear it beating over the rushing in his ears.
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!