on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Tag Archives: Kate McMurray Week!

Sorry this post is so long guys! There was just so much I had to tell you! Please, feel free to skip around. I’d be so happy and surprised if anyone actually made it through everything LOL. Even though I can’t link these to send you right to the spot you want in the post (damn WordPress.com), for the sake of laziness, here’s a List of Contents:

Hello to another week!
Last Week’s Reviews
What’s Up This Week
Dominique Frost Visits!
Giveaways
My Birthday Post — Baking Cakes!
Love Has No Boundaries reviews
This Week’s Reviews
Announcements
Laura’s New Blog!
Blog Updates
Coming Soon!
This Week’s Releases I Like
Lou Harper Week! (June 22-28)
Announcement! Next Author Week Profile

Look at all that GORGEOUS hair! -- Found at and Linked To Tam's Tumblr

Look at all that GORGEOUS hair! — Found at and Linked To Tam’s Tumblr

Well, how has everyone been this week? TAR is in a bit of a flux — besides this being a busy month as TAR’s one year anniversary, we’re in the downtime between two big events. Kate McMurray Week went off really well. I really loved reading all of Kate’s books that I hadn’t before and the interview was fun for both of us. She’s a really great lady! Next up is Lou Harper Week, starting on June 22. I’ve read about 75% of her backlist now (much more prepared than I was for Kate’s!) and I’m really enjoying sharing my reviews with you. Lou is a rather new author for me, or at least one of those authors I’ve always known of but still hadn’t read anything by. So many of her books have made me laugh!

Otherwise, not a whole hell of a lot has been going on. Summer has firmly settled in here and we’ve been riding daily highs around the 100 degree mark. It had to come sometime, but the heat is almost unbearable to me. I even get sick when it gets around 100-105 (though we’ve been known to have days up to 115-120!). I get dizzy and sick to my stomach and I start feeling shivery. All are symptoms of heat sickness, if not worse going further into heat stroke.

One of these days I’ll never have to spend a summer in Oklahoma again…

Well, I’ll get to the updates, announcements, and info about this week. I hope everyone has a good one!

This Week’s Wrapup

Here are last week’s reviews:

My Reviews

Fear, Hope and Bread Pudding (Coda #7) by Marie Sexton – Really Liked It
Cairo Curse (Vampire’s Lair #2) by Geoffrey Knight – Pretty Good
Bully for You (2013 DSP Daily Dose) by Catt Ford – Really Liked It
Herbal Remedy by Megan Derr – Pretty Good
Beach Remedy by Sasha L Miller – Pretty Good
Tats of Honor by Vona Logan – Not Feelin’ It
Finding Master Right by LA Witt – Pretty Good

Nikyta’s Reviews

A Shot at Forgiveness (2013 DSP Daily Dose) by Cardeno C – Pretty Good
Running Away from Sunshine (2013 DSP Daily Dose) by Gwynn Marssen – So So
Riding the Board (2013 DSP Daily Dose) by Cate Ashwood – Really Liked It
Outcast by Alex Douglas – Pretty Good

Coming Up This Week – June 16-22

theartoftouchDominique Frost is stopping by on Tuesday the 18th as part of the Big Gay Wedding Tour to talk about her new release (on that day) from Loose Id, The Bitter Rednesses of Love. That is such a great title! **The cover on the left is from a previous novel by this author. Loose Id hasn’t release the cover pic for Bitter… yet.






GR_Say_EverythingGiveaways!

Gina A Rogers was really sweet to offer us an ebook to give away tomorrow with Sadonna’s review of Say Everything. Part of MLR’s Mixtape releases, these stories will take you back in time 🙂 The 80s! Be sure to visit tomorrow to comment for a win of this short story. The offer closes on Friday, June 21, so get in there early so you don’t miss your chance!

Open Giveaways! The giveaway of the two Paranormal Days stories by Megan Derr and Sasha L Miller, Beach Remedy and Herbal Remedy, is open until Tuesday, June 18. And be sure to check out Sasha’s guest post if you missed it — her interesting take on writing vampires 🙂 Comment there to win.


cakebluebdayThursday, June 20th is my birthday 🙂 I have a special post for you that day, which is my recipe for a perfect white cake and it’s what I make for birthdays (including my own!) every year. While I love it just as it is, it is rather a plain cake (though no cake of mine is plain!). Let’s just say that it’s a really good base recipe. It’s my Perfect Cake and you can customize it in a million ways. Trust me, you need this recipe. Because not only is it different from every other white cake I’ve made (in taste, texture, and technique), but you can make it into any cake you want with just a little improvisation and your favorite flavors.


LHNB-ImageAnd last, Saturday is going to be my first “Best of Love Has No Boundaries” review post, where I review a few of my favorites of the stories already posted in the Goodread’s M/M Romance Group’s Love Has No Boundaries event. I’m really looking forward to this, but choosing just a few from the tons of really good stories that have been posted so far is going to be difficult! But.. it’s a challenge I’m totally ready for 😉


Here is what we’re planning to review this week:

deepinthecountparkerGSW_Crocodile_Kevs_Merry-Go-RoundskyrunnersGR_Say_EverythingOutlasttheNightLGSJF_To_The_Other_SideKingsMateLGBornThisWayLGwerecattherearingContactSportLGblackdogbluesDamnedIfYouDo_500x750_0SLAM!72webPlayMeImYoursLGHeartoftheRaceLG

Announcements

The Tipsy Bibliophile pic:screenshotEveryone, please follow The Tipsy Bibliophile! My good friend, Laura (at Goodreads: Lauraadriana), one of the ladies (with Laddie) at The LL’s Word has opened her own/solo WordPress blog. Her reviews are wonderful and her first (of Harper Fox’s new Brothers of the Wild North Sea) as The Tipsy Reader is up 🙂 I guarantee you’ll enjoy her reviews!

She might just poach all of you loyal readers from me 😦

Ha! … loyal readers… :-\


blog_updateIn blog update news: I’m still planning on moving the blog… eventually… if I can ever figure out how to do it and have some time. But, while I’m waiting and figuring all of that out, I’m trying to make TAR’s current home a bit more hospitable.

First up, I’m finishing creating the tabs and drop-down menu at the top of the screen. In particular, I’m first organizing the reviews so that you can browse instead of having to use the search bar to find a past review. Right now, I’ve finished the Author Name page, which you can find through this link, or by hovering over the Reviews link at the top of your page and then clicking on Author Name (the drop down menu if you hover on Author Name gives you a list to search by last names in groups, i.e. “Authors A-C”). The Author Name page gives you a list of all the authors that have been reviewed or guest posted on The Armchair Reader since it’s inception a year ago and links to every post they’re tagged in. It is also alphabetized by their last name first, which I always find is easier, because last names of authors tend to stick in my mind better 🙂

Next up, I’ll be updating the browsing options by publisher, major genres and events.

Coming Soon!

This week’s releases I’m excited about:

BornThisWayLGMountainPreyLGChildrenoftheKnightLGPurposeLGAuPairAffair-The72lgcover6PaintingRainac_the_plain_of_bitter_honey__52261

deadmanrestlessspiritsLou Harper Week is next week (June 22-28)! I’ll be interviewing Lou and reviewing her whole backlist, which has been fun, I tell you. I love her writing. I’m also reviewing her new book, coming out next week (June 25), called Dead Man and the Restless Spirits, about Denton, the secondary character from Spirit Sanguine that has a thing for Gabe and can see ghosts. It’s a good read, so make sure to check it out, regardless whether you have read Spirit Sanguine or not — it stands on it’s own very well.




nor_iron_bars_final

Click the Cover to read this AMAZING book!

And, I’m ready to announce the next author I’ve chosen to profile — Kaje Harper!! Kaje has agreed and offered to participate in an interview. No firm dates have been chosen, but it will most likely be around the turn of August to September, around the time of the projected release of the eagerly awaited fourth Life Lessons book, Learning Curve.


savethedate

Congrats to

Gigi

for winning the copy of the Save the Date by Kate McMurray. I’ve already emailed Gigi, so she should already have received my email, but if not, please email me at armchairreader[dot]coleriann[at]gmail[dot]com so you can get your book. Thanks for playing everyone and thank you all for stopping by and commenting on my interview with Kate McMurray! and all of my posts during Kate McMurray Week!

Buy Link: http://www.loose-id.com/save-the-date.html


walkinthedarkmcmurrayleadusnotindecemberhalloweenhowl

*Click the covers to be taken to the story/purchase info. Further info at the bottom of the post.
**”On the Stoop”, the DSP Halloween Howl story, is currently unavailable.

When I decided to review Kate McMurray’s backlist, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget any shorts. And while there aren’t many, when I did start making my list of the books I needed to read and to re-read, I decided that I’d go ahead and just do all of them. There are a very short list of short stories, most of them free. So, at the very least this is a good place for someone unfamiliar with this author to decide if they like her style and writing.

Also, I find it interesting to read short stories written by this author, who is definitely more well known for her novels. Both Kindling Fire for Snow and her newest, Save the Date, are shorter than most (the first at around 20k and the latter at around 33k words), but they aren’t really short stories either, which is a completely different style of writing in some ways. Some authors are terrible at writing shorts but write completely incredible novels, and vice versa. Of course, that’s mostly in the literary genre because short stories are much more valued there, but I always find it interesting to see how an m/m author I like transitions to writing shorts. And even though I’d read quite a few of Kate’s books, I had surprisingly read none of her short stories.

I started with the two that I already had: A Walk in the Dark (part of the 2011 Dreamspinner Advent Calendar) and Lead Us Not (one of the M/M Romance Group’s 2012 Love is Always Write stories). And… I can’t believe it but I loved them both. In fact, I think that this might be where Kate’s background in literature and literary fiction (mostly as a reader, as she said in her interview with me two days ago).

A Walk in the Dark tells the story of Jared’s unrequited love for his best friend and roommate’s boyfriend Brandon. Rex, Jared’s roommate, is a bit of a player, but in the way only best friends can still loves him and sees his good qualities no matter how much he hates seeing the guy he loves being dicked around and very possibly cheated on. I thought that the story did what it really needed to without giving us too much more, which is one of my biggest problems with short stories — when they try to be novels in disguise. The characters came through for me in a real way because of the awkward position they’re in and the story is good for the season, a sweet HEA for Christmas. I give it a Pretty Good.

Lead Us Not was really the surprise for me. I remember seeing the prompt that Kate chose and looking forward to reading the story, but somewhere in there I missed it and haven’t thought much about it since then. The prompt asks for a story about two actors and boyfriends who’ve moved to NYC to pursue their dreams and the temptations they face in order to get to their HEA. The story Kate gave us was simply beautiful, in emotion and in craft. Written in alternating first person between Sam and Jess, they each tell us about their own lives in NYC and how they’ve grown and moved from the naive boyfriends who moved there several years ago, two of them against the world. They recount how their lives have started to diverge and how no matter how much each still loves the other, how much doubt can harm a relationship. The temptations offered are in the form of two other guys, catalysts who seem to be a sounding board for all of their doubts about themselves, each other and their careers, which for both are going in directions they never really expected. The beauty of the story is how Kate shows us such a sweet love story without pulling punches. It’s a much more true to real life story than many sugarcoated fantasies in the romance genre and that gave it a real ring of authenticity that makes their hard-won HEA really worth it. I’ve only given Kate one 5-star review in the past, for Out in the Field, but this is my second. I Loved It. And it’s free!

The remaining two stories are both free stories. “In December My Heart’s Full of Spring” is currently available for download and read here, on Kate’s website. “On the Stoop”, the story that was released in October as part of the Dreamspinner Halloween Howls, is currently unavailable from their website, but is also up for download at Kate’s website.

Both stories are much shorter than the previous two. “On the Stoop” is the story of a recent transplant to NYC from St. Louis, a man who seeing the differences between Halloween celebrations in New York are different from his childhood in the suburbs in the midwest feels that they only reflect how out of place he feels. When he meets a cute guy sitting on his stoop in his neighborhood handing out candy to passing kids, he sits and talks and finally feels like he’s made a friend, or something more that could give him hope that he could call the city home. This was a cute, no-sex story. It’s quite short and doesn’t have a whole lot going on, but I still felt like Adrian was developed well for a story of this length. Because there isn’t a whole lot going on, I couldn’t really love it, though it was a nice read. So this one gets a cute So So 😉

And lastly, “In December My Heart’s Full of Spring” is the story of two men who meet at the top of the Empire State building on a lonely Christmas Eve. Both are at low points in their lives and seeing an old friend who they hadn’t seen in years gives them the energy to get through the night together when they thought they’d have to spend it alone and depressed. That night leads to a bonding between the two of them and eventually, more… I felt similarly about this story as I felt about “On the Stoop”, though where that story had less actual plot, I felt like this story actually had quite a bit going on. If Goodreads is right and this was made available (in whatever form) in 2009, that makes this one of Kate’s first public stories. I could see some of that in the writing. Perhaps the meeting atop the Empire State Building is a bit cliché, but the story quickly moves on and developed two really good characters, which showed me that Kate has a natural talent for writing realistic characters, even if her writing might have improved some over the intervening years. This one gets a So So as well.

For anyone interested, Dreamspinner recently published a free sequel short about Four Corner characters Jake and Adam’s anniversary on the DSP Blog, called “Shortstop.” I talked a bit about it (it’s cute!) in my review of Four Corners the other day. Here’s the link for anyone interested in read it.

Well, sadly that ends Kate McMurray Week 😦 I hope all of you enjoyed taking a tour through her books with me and also enjoyed our interview on Thursday. Remember, comment on the interview before Midnight, Tuesday June 11th for a chance to win a copy of her book, Save the Date!

Next Up: I do the same with Lou Harper the last week of June. I’ll be reviewing her entire backlist and interviewing her as well as talking about her upcoming book, Dead Man and the Restless Spirits, about Denton from Spirit Sanguine, available on June 25th. I hope you’ll join me for that!


KM_TheBoyNextDoor_coverlgTitle: The Boy Next Door
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 61,221 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Re-Reads, Closeted, Coming Out, Second Chances, Childhood Friends, Baseball, Kids, Divorce, Nasty Exes, Small Town America, Neighbors, Caregiver
Rating: So So

BLURB

When Lowell moves back to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother, the last person he expects to see living in the house next door is his childhood friend Jase, grown up now and more attractive than ever. Jase had starred in many of Lowell’s teenage fantasies, but Lowell is convinced Jase is straight. And yet, as they rekindle their friendship, it begins to look like Jase might not be so straight after all.

Jase has problems of his own: his troubled ex-wife has allowed him full custody of their daughter on one condition: he never exposes her to his affairs with other men. The arrangement works just fine until he starts falling for Lowell and a whole new world of possibilities opens up for him. But how can he have a relationship with a man and still keep his daughter?

REVIEW

I tried to read this book once before. It wasn’t too long after I first read Kindling Fire with Snow, which I really liked. And… I couldn’t make it through the book. Ultimately, I DNFed it and went on. I think, though I remember little of the reason now, I didn’t have any real hangups with the book, I just couldn’t get into it. And now that I’ve read all of Kate’s backlist, I was eager to try it again. Chances are I was just not in the mood the first time around. In fact, that’s how it seemed as I started reading this again. By the midway point, though (which is where I stopped the first time), I started to remember the reasons I had a hard time reading it. This time around, it bothered me less. Still, I’d probably say that this is my least favorite book from Kate McMurray.

Lowell moves back to his hometown after the death of his abusive alcoholic father to care for his mother and unknowingly moves into the house next door from his childhood best friend and crush, Jase. They’ve both grown up quite a lot in the intervening years. Lowell, the first out gay student at their high school, flew the nest at the first opportunity for the city, where he created a life for himself at NYU and then as a graphic designer. Jase, the popular baseball jock in high school, followed his sport to college where he met his ex-wife and ultimately fathered a little girl. But Layla was the only kind thing during those years. Jase, calling himself a coward, married Karen even though he knew he was gay and went on to try to live the perfect suburban life. It didn’t work out. They divorced when he came out to her just two years ago from the start of the book. Again, his six year old daughter Layla is the best thing that ever happened to him, but her mother is an absentee parent leaving him with sole custody but a mother who drops into town every few months giving her daughter false hope of a real relationship. And besides her own problems with alcohol, her bouts of outspoken homophobia to Jase are mostly a plea for a return to how things used to be an an unwillingness to move on without blaming everything on Jase.

My real frustration with this book are Jase and Karen. For the most part, I feel like their actions and choices are based in solid history in the story, so I at least understand why they make the choices they do. Still, I have a hard time watching them play out when it seemed to create a bit of extra angst that I had a hard time with. I think mostly, though, I wished there were a better balance in this story between the despair that Jase feels toward just about every area of his life with the hope that I needed to make the story feel not to angsty. I recognize that this is a matter of personal taste, so I have no qualms saying outright that it was just me that had a hard time here. I just couldn’t get close to Jase. Even though I understood that he was willing to sacrifice his happiness for his daughter, there are time where he seems hell bent on sacrificing his own happiness just because of his own guilt (not divorce/broken-family guilt, but like, childhood Catholic guilt) and I didn’t feel like I understood how he was raised enough to make that picture clear for me. This is what made Four Corners work better for me. In that book, the flashbacks give a really accurate portrayal of their childhoods, and I felt like that was missing here. I just couldn’t always justify Jase’s choices and I’d find myself getting angry with him. On the other hand, I felt a love/hate relationship with the character of Karen. Partly I feel like I understood the way she was but then she’d say some things that took it a little over the top for me and I’d realize that I just wasn’t sure if I didn’t know enough about her or if she was still a bit of an archetypical villain. I couldn’t make up my mind.

It’s pretty different reading this, though, on the other side of having read and enjoyed all of Kate’s other work. I can see, especially from this book, where she’s really grown as an author. So, please, take this review as one of the many out there because I know there are readers who really liked this book and where the things that bothered me weren’t even an issue for them.


FourCornersLGTitle: Four Corners
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 72,033 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Friends to Lovers, Straight/Gay Male Friendships, Best Friends, Childhood Friends, Baseball, Sports, Flashbacks, High School, Second Chances, Chicago
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Since childhood, Jake, Adam, Kyle, and Brendan have been teammates, best friends, brothers. Then one day, when they were twenty-five, Adam disappeared without a word, devastating his friends—none more so than Jake, who had secretly loved Adam since they were teenagers.

Now, five years later, Adam is back, and he has his mind set on Jake. But those years of anger, hurt, and confusion are a lot to overcome, and Jake doesn’t find it easy to forgive. He isn’t sure they’ll ever fit together the way they did. Jake, Kyle, and Brendan have moved on with their lives, but Adam’s high-profile career keeps him in the closet—the same place he’s been for years. Still, his apologies seem sincere, and the attraction is still there. Jake desperately wants to give him a chance. But first he has to find out why Adam left and if he’s really back for good.

REVIEW

Whew, this was a doozy for me — an intensely personal read and one that’s particularly difficult for me to review. The basis of the story is a bit of a Big Chill setup. Four childhood friends (the Four Corners because of the bases they all played on their high school baseball team) are split up when one of then, Adam, disappears for 5 years. Jake has been in love with Adam since they were in their early teens. Actually, probably before that but he didn’t know what his feelings meant. Though he knows that Adam is gay as well, it’s something they don’t speak of. When they all leave to go their separate ways for college, Jake is free to move on from his feelings for Adam and explore his sexuality.

But when Adam leaves, it destroys their close family. A new dynamic emerges over Adam’s five year absence. Brendan and Kyle become the ones Jake is closest to, and though they’re both straight (well, Kyle is a question mark!), they’re fiercely protective of him. It’s obvious that in all these years no one has claimed the feelings that Jake still harbors for Adam. But now those feelings are tainted with anger at Adams absence and confusion over what Jake did to make him leave.

When Adam turns up, almost as if nothing ever happened, their new dynamic as three best friends are thrown out of whack. But Jake can’t stay away from Adam. And when Adam starts doing whatever he can to make up his absence to Jake, it throws all of their relationships in turmoil. Why did Adam leave, refusing contact all those years? And can he ever really come to terms with being gay and out?

As I said, this was an intensely personal read for me. I have a feeling that some readers might have a hard time understanding Adam and why he did what he did. Make no mistake — despite my feelings, I felt like Kate McMurray did a remarkable job explaining his emotional turmoil and what he was going through to make him take such drastic action as to leave everyone behind. But, without going into too many details… I’ve been in that position before and so I could really understand what makes someone want to flee and the intense betrayal that causes.

I admired the writing in this story. I can’t say that it’s my favorite of Kate’s novels, but that’s only because I love Out in the Field so much that this book would have to be absolutely extraordinary to top that. But, this is really a grown up romance novel. Not to say that any kind of book with sex in it is childish! But… I think that this story is given care to represent a situation and real emotion in a way that isn’t sugarcoated. The characters aren’t written to be liked, but to simply play out their emotions, through which they make you like them. In fact, my feelings about both Adam and Jake were ambiguous until over halfway through the story when I felt like they both, at the same time, were starting to be accountable for their actions.

I rarely say this, but my favorite part of this book were the flashbacks. They aren’t classic flashbacks, more Jake’s memories depending on where he is in the story and what he’s thinking. But they tie the past and present perfectly together, framing the similarities and differences between the past Adam and Jake and the present Adam and Jake and showing the drastic dynamic change between the group of friends. It’s this atmosphere and mood of joy and solidarity created by the flashbacks that just how Adam’s disappearance messed up their group.

This is definitely a recommended read. And no matter how personal of a read it was for me, it wasn’t particularly angst-filled. Kate seems to have a knack, now that I realize I’ve said something similar in most of my reviews of her books this week, for allowing the characters their emotional turmoil but not taking things too far. The epilogue is sweet and gives this story a firm HEA. There’s also a free short sequel called “Shortstop” that was posted recently on the Dreamspinner Facebook page. I can’t find the link and I can’t find it on the Dreamspinner FB page (thought I didn’t have long to look), but I know it’s there from a google search. So, if you can find it, it’s really cute and shows Jake and Adam as a couple two years after the end of the novel.

Edit: Here’s the link to the free sequel short, “Shortstop”: http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/2013/05/24/sexy-anniversary-short-shortstop-by-kate-mcmurray/

Make sure to read my interview with Kate McMurray today!


katemcmurrayofficialpicHello everyone! If you have even seen one of my posts this week then it will not have escaped your noticed that this week is Kate McMurray Week! I’ve been devoting the whole week to the author who charmed me with Out in the Field, by reviewing her backlist. Today, I’ll share with you my interview with Kate, where we talk about her new release, Save the Date, living in New York City, her love of baseball, and of course, her writing process.

In addition, Kate has offered one commenter a copy of Save the Date, so look below for details and don’t forget to comment, ask questions and share your opinions, please!


Bold – Me
Purple – Kate

Hi Kate! First off, thanks for visiting today. Since I’ve been reading all your books over the last few weeks I’ve got a lot of questions for you!

Thank you very much for doing this, Cole. I am happy to be here.

savethedateSo, you have a new book out. Save the Date came out on Tuesday from Loose Id. First, tell us a little about the book?

Save the Date is a romantic comedy novella styled somewhat after every Julia Roberts movie you’ve ever seen, about a guy who needs a date for his ex’s wedding. Lots of funny things happen on his way to the wedding.

I found it to be a really perfect book for summer. Maybe it’s the whole June Wedding thing, which is now the Gay June Wedding thing 😉 How did the idea for the book come about?

The seed started when, no joke, I got an invitation to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding. I joked on Twitter that if my life were a romance novel, I’d go to the wedding and meet the love of my life. A few of my friends were like, “So you’re totally going to write that story, right?” So I ran with that.

gaywedding:justmarriedI wanted to ask you something specific about Save the Date, that’s really just for my own curiosity. I finished the book feeling like I didn’t quite know Darren that well, or even as much as Stuart, and that I would have liked to have seen how their relationship progresses into their life together after the story ends. Did you specifically write the book as a more personal journey for Tris? Or did the story just organically progress the way it did because of the whole setup of the story, which has Tris in such an awkward place?

The story is really Tris’s journey. He thinks he’s fine until he gets that wedding invitation, which both brings up a lot of what he calls “emotional sludge” that he hadn’t dealt with when he and Stuart broke up, but also it sort of highlights how not fine he has been all along. I also didn’t want Darren to cure him, but instead for Tris to do the work to heal himself on his own. That’s really important I think, or else Tris could just keep repeating the same patterns. So the crucial part of the story is really when Tris arrives in Boston and has to confront his past head-on. Only then can he prepare for his future.

In the book, Tris is quite a funny character and the book has rather a lot of humor. It got me thinking about types of characters that authors tend to write and I realized that I haven’t really found a “type” that you write. Like your books, you seem to have a rather diverse group of them. Looking back over what you’ve written, have you found that you tend to be a character-driven author or a plot-based one? Does one come before the other in your writing process?

It varies. I usually come up with a premise first and build the story out from there. The premise is usually pretty basic, a vague idea or a trope I want to play around with. Out in the Field, for example, happened primarily because I read an old baseball romance (with a het couple) that kind of offended me as a fan of the sport and I thought, “I want to write a gay baseball romance” and then I was off to the races. Plot and character go so hand-in-hand that they sort of develop at the same time. I think character informs plot significantly, especially in stories with a lot of internal conflict, because a character’s personality can affect the decisions he makes, which can change the whole arc of a story. Matt in Out in the Field is cautious and doesn’t like change, he doesn’t want to rock the boat or bring attention to himself, so he wouldn’t be the guy who would choose to come out while still an active player. His behavior in that regard affects the trajectory of his relationship with Iggy. And so on.

brooklyn1895I know that you live in New York City, and I’ve wondered before if that’s why I always found your books to be really firmly rooted in setting, like in Across the East River Bridge where Brooklyn is like a third character in Finn and Troy’s relationship, or in Kindling Fire with Snow where Prospect Park comes across so perfectly in the snow. Is pride in your city just part of being a New Yorker and that’s why the city always seems to come across so strong in your books? Or is it something that you don’t think about at all and just seems to come through naturally?

I really love books that are firmly rooted in setting. I love lots of nitty gritty details. I love Faulkner and Toni Morrison, and both of those writers set many of their stories in fictional regions based on real places, and those settings are so vivid they become another character. So writing vivid settings is a conscious choice. And New York is easy, since I live in the middle of it, and it’s such a robust setting. That was one of the fun things about writing Across the East River Bridge, which really is a love letter to Brooklyn. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for seven years now and it’s so interesting and beautiful that I’m surprised more stories aren’t set here. I also wanted to write New York in the way I’ve experienced it, which I don’t see represented in books or TV or movies that often.

But even when I’m not writing about New York, I like having a strong setting. Four Corners is set mostly in Chicago, for example. I have a lot of family in Chicago, so I’ve been there many times, but I don’t have a native’s sense of the city, so I found a couple of beta readers in Chicago and ran the book by them first, just so I didn’t get anything egregiously wrong. I hate to say it, but I have often gotten yanked right out of a story set in New York when an author gets some little detail absolutely wrong. So I research like a crazy person—I even research New York—because I want the story to be accurate.

What was your first published book? What made you decide to write, or write m/m romance? Why did you decide to publish?

KMcM_InHotPursuit_coverlgI’ve been writing since forever. I honestly can’t even say what the first thing I wrote was. But it took a while to figure out my voice. I spent a lot of my twenties writing literary fiction that didn’t really go anywhere and probably wasn’t very good, and then, maybe six years ago, I heard this story on NPR about the Romance Writers of America convention and it kind of rekindled my interest in reading romance. (I read a lot of romance as a teenager, but then I went off to college and got an English lit degree and was kind of a pretentious literary snob for a while. I got over that, thank goodness!) After that, I devoured romance novels like I was starving. I can’t remember how I found m/m, exactly—probably Suzanne Brockmann and Adrien English figured prominently in that discovery—but once I found it, I wanted to read more stories like that. When I couldn’t really find any, I wrote my own, a romantic suspense novel about a closeted gay cop. A friend read it and thought it was pretty good, so I submitted it to Loose Id because they were publishing most of the gay romance I was reading. That book became In Hot Pursuit.

We were speaking of NYC before… Will you list both 3 things you love about the city and three things you hate about it?

Three things I love: There is always something to do or see; it’s nearly impossible to ever be bored. I love walking around the city and that I don’t need a car; everything I need is available via foot or subway. And I love the weird history hidden in New York; NYC is a very forward-looking city that is forever tearing down beautiful old buildings to build ugly monolithic skyscrapers, but there are lots of hidden corners of the city that are like walking into the past.

Three things I hate: I could definitely do without the crowds, particularly when people line up for things. The subway in the summertime is the worst—hot and smelly and terrible. And everything is so expensive, in a way you never quite adjust to.

How about reading? What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading a couple of books on the history of England for no real reason beyond that I’m interested in the subject. Well, I read a bunch of Regency romances in a row in May and now I kind of want to write one, but we’ll see about that. Maybe sometime in the future. (Regency romances are my candy. Even when they’re all kind of the same, I still love them.) I have picked up a staggering number of books in the last month, at RT and then BEA last week, and I kind of want to read all of them right now. It’s an odd mix of romance and nonfiction, which is most of what I read these days.

Music?

I’ve been listening to the newish Tegan & Sara album Hearthrob on repeat a lot lately. I love them. I love Florence + the Machine. And I just bought the new Natalie Maines solo album; the Dixie Chicks are basically the one country band I ever liked. (I like strong female vocalists and singer/songwriters, basically, although I listen to pretty much everything. Opera and jazz have figured highly into the soundtracks for several of my writing projects recently, for example.)

Food? Oh yeah, food is an important one 🙂 Do you have a favorite restaurant in the city?

geidobrooklynI do enjoy food. 🙂 Asian food in particular; that’s another thing I love about New York is that I can get pad thai delivered pretty much whenever I want it. Choosing a favorite restaurant is hard. The two places in my neighborhood I eat at most often are probably this sushi place called Geido—I actually brought Damon Suede there once; it’s got one wall covered completely in graffiti left by customers, but also the food is affordable and super tasty—and a Mexican place called Chavela’s that has the best mole I’ve ever had.

Are you a sports person? You better tell me all about your love of baseball! If you don’t it will completely ruin my love of Out in the Field 😉 Have you always been a baseball person or is there a specific reason? And do you like any other sports?

yankeestadiumoriginalFear not; I am a life-long Yankees fan. My dad is a huge sports fan, and he brought me and my brothers to Yankees games every summer starting when I was about 12, so that’s where the baseball fanaticism started. I try to make it to Yankee Stadium at least once a summer and I yell at my TV a lot during the playoffs. I really love the sport—it’s not aggressive in the way football and hockey are, and baseball has a fascinating, rich history. I’d probably watch more sports if I had the time; I’ll get into college basketball if my alma mater is having a good season, for example, and some winters I follow football. Sports are just fun; I like getting caught up in a good nail-biter of a game.

I know you have several works planned for the rest of the year. Will you tell us what you have coming up?

Well, speaking of baseball, I’m contributing a novella to a baseball anthology due out from Dreamspinner this fall, hopefully in time for GayRomLit. I collaborated with Shae Connor, Marguerite Labbe, and Kerry Freeman to put the whole anthology together. The story is my first foray into historical romance; it takes place in New York in 1927 during the height of the Jazz Age, and it’s a romance between a flamboyant sports reporter and a reticent rookie player for the New York Giants. It’s called “One Man to Remember.” The working title for the anthology is Playing Ball.

But first, I have a story coming out this summer (July, I think) called “What There Is” that is a simple romance about a former pro baseball player—and I swear, all this baseball in 2013 is a coincidence—who moves into a new apartment with a statistics nerd for a roommate. Now that he can’t play baseball anymore due to injury, he wants to find something to fill that void in his life.

And then I have a novel coming out this fall—again, hopefully in time for GRL—called The Stars that Tremble that is an opposites-attract romance between a man who used to be one of the greatest living male opera singers until a vocal injury ended his career and a humble construction worker who has had a lot of tragedy in his life. The novel is about love and music and recovering from loss. I am so, so excited for this book to be published.

Tell us where we can find you online?

My website is http://www.katemcmurray.com. I can also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/katemcmwriter and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/katemcmurraywriter

Thank you so much Kate! It’s been wonderful having you and you don’t know how much I enjoyed reading all your books and putting together the reviews for all of them. Rarely have I enjoyed reading so many of one authors books back to back and not found it a chore.

Thank you!


Save the Date, Kate’s new book is available now from Loose Id!

Tomorrow is the last novel review of Kate’s backlist, with The Boy Next Door. Then, Saturday ends Kate McMurray Week with a review of Kate’s four available shorts: Lead Us Not, from the 2012 M/M Romance Goodreads Group’s “Love is Always Write” event; “On the Stoop”, a free Halloween story previously published by Dreamspinner in 2012 for their Halloween Howl event (and no longer available there); A Walk in the Dark, published by Dreamspinner in the 2011 Advent Calendar; and last, a free short from Kate’s website called “In December My Heart’s Full of Spring”.


GIVEAWAY RULES

Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Save the Date by Kate McMurray. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Tuesday, June 11. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to Kate so the winner can receive their ebook!

Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.

Thank you and good luck! And thanks for visiting today and this week for Kate McMurray Week!