A big welcome to David C. Dawson as part of his blog tour with Other Worlds Ink for Heroes in Love from Boroughs Publishing.
What’s it all about?
The central character is a social worker and former actor called Billy Johnson. There’s a lot going on in Billy’s life. He hates his boss, he’s got a very grumpy client to care for, and his mum’s dying from cancer. Plus, he’s late for the appointment with his mum’s oncologist.
And it’s as he runs into the hospital lobby that he runs into Daniel Richards. And Billy’s life turns upside down. He falls in love with Daniel, he discovers the real story behind his grumpy client’s unhappiness, and rediscovers his own strengths.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
There are two inspirations. First, my boyfriend. He’s a music director who uses music as therapy, with clients aged from 0 to 90. In the book, Daniel Richards, the man Billy falls for, is a music therapist. My boyfriend comes home with so many uplifting stories about how music has transformed people’s lives. I wanted to include this truth in a story.
The second inspiration is a friend of mine who’s been with his husband for nearly fifty years. Of course, they could only marry when it became legal. And they spent many years hiding their love for each other, even after homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK. I wanted to contrast their experience with that of young lovers today.
What’s your core motivation in writing this book?
I wanted to write a romance. I’ve never done so before, I normally write thrillers. Even though romance is a new genre for me, there are still elements of mystery and suspense in Heroes in Love. But the genre has forced me to think far more about the emotions and the motivations of the characters. That’s been a good exercise for me. I’m finishing off writing the third book in The Delingpole Mysteries series at the moment, and I’m applying what I’ve learned with Heroes in Love to my writing. I think everyone should try writing a romance at some point. It forces you to look inside yourself and connect with your own emotions. There’s a lot of me in this book, far more than in my previous books.
Which secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
Maggie Ambler is a close friend of the music therapist Daniel Richards. She’s a film and theatre set designer. She’s a very resourceful woman, who designed a lot of Daniel’s small Victorian house and garden in south London, using “unwanted” props from film sets. She’s an apparently strong woman, very outspoken. But I know there’s been a great deal of sadness in her life, which she covers up with self-deprecating humour and perhaps a little too much drinking. Maggie understands people very well and is extremely generous. But, ten years ago, something terrible happened in her life, and she’s yet to come to terms with it. One day, I’ll write about it.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
There are no baddies in this book. Everyone is flawed, just like in real life. It meant I had to think long and hard inside the heads of my characters, and see the world from their point of view. All my books up until this one have been crammed full of plot – that’s what I enjoy writing! For this book I had to think much more about what makes people tick. In that way, it’s been the most satisfying piece of work I’ve ever written. But it was very difficult, and there were times when my characters became very frustrating. As the author, I wanted them to behave in a certain way to fulfil the needs of the plot. But they had their own views of the world, and to be true to them I had to accept they would make different decisions, behave in different ways. I hope as a result that the characters are much more alive for the readers.
Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes. What makes them tick?
Both Billy and Daniel want to be fathers, but they haven’t told each other yet. They both come from dysfunctional homes. Daniel’s parents were fundamentalist Christians who wanted to ‘cure’ him when he came out as gay. Billy’s father was abusive to both Billy and his mother. He was a poor role model, and Billy’s mother was forced to kick him out of the family home.
As Billy and Daniel don’t have children of their own yet, they satisfy their need to care by working in caring professions. Billy is a social worker and Daniel works in music therapy. Individually, they both believe they could be better fathers than their own. They don’t quite realise it themselves, but they’ve been looking for the right partner with whom they can have children together. Now, potentially, they have.
What was the weirdest thing you had to Google for your story?
I needed to find some visual inspiration for Maggie’s designs in Daniel’s garden. The most successful Google result was when I typed in “Tim Burton garden design”, which of course resulted in lots of astounding images for Edward Scissorhands. I’m afraid I spent much longer than I should have done flicking through the results! Some of the images were breath taking and gave me inspiration not only for the book, but also for my own garden.
Is there going to be a sequel?
Quite possibly. I want to wait to see what readers think of Billy and Daniel. But the book ends with a great opportunity to take them on a new journey in a different city. It’s a city I’ve always wanted to write about, so I’m hoping readers are going to love these two guys, so I can write about them again. There’s a lot more to reveal, and a lot more love to explore.
David C. Dawson has a new MM mystery romance book out: “Heroes in Love.”
Can forbidden love stand the test of time?
Will its strength inspire lasting love in today’s generation?
There are not only heroes, but unlikely heroes, who are determined to see love win.
Billy’s life changes in a single day when he meets Daniel, who becomes the love of his life.
Billy’s aging client Chuck has a dark and sad secret to reveal. As Billy and Daniel fight to help Chuck reunite with the love of his past, their own fledgling relationship is threatened.
Who will remain the heroes in love?
David is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:
Daniel’s kitchen was filled with a jumble of antiquated cooking gadgets accumulated from different eras in the social history of domesticity. An ancient, blackened stove stood in the chimney alcove. Next to it, an oversized American retro blender perched precariously on a mottled red Formica work surface, alongside a vintage 1930s toaster. A Victorian clothes dryer hung from the high ceiling above an antique pine table. The walls were cluttered with framed pictures, mostly collections of actors smiling from bygone West End productions. Every surface seemed cluttered with either elaborate culinary equipment or music manuscripts.
Billy looked around him in awe. The house was narrow, but extended a long way back. There seemed to be so much space. “Can I ask a cheeky question?”
“You mean, how can I afford this?” replied Daniel. “I know. I’m very lucky. My grandfather left it for me when he died. This was where I ran to when I left my parents and came to London. Grandpa Bob was the world to me. He was my mum’s father, and the dad I never had.”
“It must be worth a fortune now.”
“Three bedroom terrace house in desirable Battersea?” Daniel turned to the worktop, and opened a cupboard in front of him. “I suppose it is. But it means more to me that this was Grandpa Bob’s home. Lots of the things I have here were actually his.”
He turned back to Billy.
“I said coffee, but would you prefer tea?”
Daniel crossed to the stove, picked up a large whistling kettle, and carried it to the sink.
“Have you got mint tea?” asked Billy.
“Ooh, there’s fancy,” replied Daniel as he filled the kettle. “Give me a second and I’ll gather some leaves from the garden. Peppermint or spearmint?”
“Now it’s my turn to say ‘ooh, there’s fancy,’” replied Billy. “I’ve got no idea, but probably peppermint.”
Daniel set the kettle down on the stove and lit the gas. He picked up a pair of scissors from the dresser, crossed to the backdoor, and undid two heavy bolts.
“Come and have a look at the outside space Maggie created for me,” he said.
Daniel swung open the door. Billy could see a hazy glow of twinkling lights beckon him into the mysterious space beyond the threshold. Leading away from the kitchen door he saw an avenue of sculpted shrubs, each festooned with tiny lanterns. The pathway seemed to be endless, disappearing into the far distance. On either side of the doorway were two Victorian lampposts. A flickering yellow light illuminated huge glass globes on top of the wrought iron posts.
Billy stepped across the threshold into the garden. The ground felt soft beneath his feet. He squatted down and gently brushed the palm of his hand over its mossy surface. His nostrils were filled with the scent of chamomile. Billy looked back over his shoulder. Daniel stood smiling in the doorway.
“This is how I keep sane in this city of madness.”
Billy stood and walked farther into the garden. After a few yards he came across a break in the avenue of shrubs. It revealed a small, half-walled patio lit by two more wrought iron lanterns. They spilled yellow flickering light onto two chairs and a neat, glass-topped table. Suspended on the walls around the patio were earthenware pots in which grew many different types of herbs.
Daniel appeared at Billy’s side with the scissors in his hand.
“I’ve come to get you your tea.”
Billy felt as if he had been transported into a film set. Every one of his five senses was overwhelmed by the magic of Daniel’s west London wonderland.
“It’s beautiful,” said Billy. “It’s so – tranquil. Surely this must have cost a fortune to build?”
Daniel bent down to the chamomile lawn.
“I’m afraid it’s mostly fake, but it’s very realistic.”
He walked across to the wall of herbs, and harvested a handful of mint leaves.
“I haven’t switched on the mist,” said Daniel. “The pump needs some fixing. If I did, the romance here would’ve been overpowering.”
Billy turned as Daniel stopped behind him. He held a handful of mint leaves to Billy’s nose, and Billy inhaled deeply.
“Peppermint,” said Daniel. “I hope I made the right choice.”
He lowered his arm, hooked it around Billy’s waist, and pulled him closer. He leaned forward and kissed Billy slowly on the mouth. Daniel’s lips parted as he said quietly:
He dropped his arm from Billy’s waist, reached into his front pocket, and pulled out the scissors.
“I wasn’t planning on giving myself a circumcision tonight.”
Daniel let the scissors and the handful of mint fall to the ground. He wrapped his arms around Billy, and pulled him close. Suddenly they were kissing, wildly, passionately. Daniel placed his hand on the back of Billy’s neck, holding the two men close as their tongues hungrily explored each other’s mouths. He wrapped his arm tight around Billy’s waist, and slipped his hand down to push their groins closer together.
Billy had never felt such immediate connection with a man before. Daniel was both passionate and tender. So many men he had met simply behaved like sexual animals. Encounters with them would start promisingly, but soon they would slip into clichéd actions copied from a badly made porn movie.
But Daniel was different. One moment he was kissing Billy with a passionate urgency. His raw aggression filled Billy with a sense of sexual danger. The next moment Daniel was gently sliding his tongue across Billy’s stubble, or tenderly kissing him on his forehead, on his eyes, or his nose.
Finally, Daniel slipped his hands onto Billy’s shoulders, and the two men stood with their foreheads touching. Their eyes locked on each other in an unblinking gaze.
“Do you still want that mint tea?”
“Maybe I’ll have a coffee after all,” said Billy. “I’d like to stay awake tonight.”
David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers featuring gay men in love. He’s an award winning author, journalist and documentary maker.
His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won Bronze for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. The second in the series is The Deadly Lies. His third book For the Love of Luke came out in October 2018.
David lives in London, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.
Author Website: www.davidcdawson.co.uk
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