Cate: Please welcome author Z.A. Maxfield will you please share a short bio with us?
Z.A.: It’s a pleasure to be here, I’m Z.A. Maxfield, author of gay romance novels including the books Crossing Borders, ePistols at Dawn, The Long Way Home, Notturno, Vigil, and the St. Nacho’s Series. I’m a suburban housewife and mother of four teenagers, who keep me busy shuttling them to and from activities like soccer, fencing, orchestra, choir, and academic decathlon. I find time to write by blowing off housework. Life is one big trade off. :D
Cate: I'm right there with you. :) Tell us about your latest release and where it's available.
Z.A.: My newest release is The Pharaoh’s Concubine, and it’s available through Samhain Publishing. It’s about a man in his late thirties who finds himself rethinking his priorities after he survives a brutal kidnap attempt.
Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Z.A.: Delighted to... Here’s the official blurb:
Beauty is only skin deep…until love reveals what lies beneath.
As mob boss Yvgeny Mosko’s open secret, Dylan Anderson is happy enough with a passionate, if loveless, arrangement that affords him a life of luxury. But at thirty-six he wonders how committed Mosko will be to an aging lover.
He finds out when a rival gang kidnaps him in a turf war everyone’s sure to lose. Mosko unleashes deadly force, leaving no one alive except for a young man whose dark eyes tug at Dylan’s heart—and the conscience he thought he’d excised long ago.
Though he tried to stop the kidnapping, William “Memo” Escobar knows Mosko will use what’s left of him to send a powerful message to his rivals. When Mosko’s pampered pretty boy risks everything to help him escape, he can’t believe his luck.
William figures he’s better suited to life off the grid, but as the days go by he begins to realize Dylan’s beauty is more than skin deep. And as Dylan coaxes more and more beguiling smiles from William, he yearns for things—like family ties—he’d thought were best forgotten.
Yet behind their newfound happiness lurks the certain knowledge that no matter how careful they are, Mosko will come for what’s his.
Warning: This book contains a mob boss, a kept man, and a reluctant kidnapper who will never have to hear the words, “Size doesn’t matter.”
And here’s a bit of the story, just for fun:
After fumbling in Lazlo’s pockets for the key to the shed, Dylan opened it quickly, starting a count inside his head, thinking that if he’d timed this correctly, he’d get the boy out and both of them away, and if he didn’t, he’d be joining Memo in that shed by morning.
He toggled the light switch. “Memo.”
Not a sound.
“Memo, it’s me.” Dylan made his way to the cot and put a gentle hand on the boy’s arm. “You have to come with me, there’s no time to waste.”
“My name is William.”
“Argue with me later. I figure we have about three minutes before neither of our names will matter except in the obituaries. Come with me.”
“I can’t, man. I can barely even move.”
“You have to. I didn’t do this to leave you here.”
“If I pick you up, it’s just going to hurt you more. Don’t make me do that.”
William tried to roll over and it was obviously agony for him. Dylan’s heart sank. “Here, let me help.”
William bit his lip. Dylan didn’t ask this time, he just took William’s arm, pulled it over his shoulder, gave him a moment to get used to that, then hauled him to his feet. “No time to be gentle. It’s either this or a fireman’s carry.”
“This.” William groaned. “You sadist.”
“Yeah, well.” Dylan didn’t disagree. Once they left the shed behind he hugged the perimeter, scraping his arms on the rough bushes where the ambient lighting from the street and the moon didn’t penetrate the shadows. “Next time kidnap a nicer guy.”
They made it unseen to the row of cars belonging to the guards. Dylan ducked behind the last one, Andreas’s nondescript Honda sedan. He held William steady, close and quiet, even though he stank like raw sewage. It took all of Dylan’s concentration to keep William from falling over onto the ground while he unlocked the car with the key to avoid illuminating the headlights. He helped William in and made his way around to the driver’s side, getting in quickly, praying the dome lights wouldn’t give them away.
“Now, we wait,” he told the boy.
“What are we waiting for?”
Dylan chewed his fingernail. Did he set it high enough? He’d scorched and burned microwave popcorn before, filling the house with acrid smoke when he wasn’t even trying. He’d been so sure that it would work, but as seconds ticked by he doubted himself, and his heart started to sink heavily. What if he just brought more suffering to the kid?
Nothing happened, and Dylan was ready to start the process of hauling the kid back when sirens filled the air and the front floodlights blinked to life, bathing the entire house in blinding white light.
In the commotion no one noticed that Andreas’s car started. Smoke had already begun to fill the first floor as the two remaining guards pulled the front doors open. Protocol required that Yves’s men search for him inside the house, while Andreas checked to make sure the fire department received the alarm. Andreas was supposed to open the gate for emergency vehicles when they arrived, but Dylan hoped he would be sleeping quietly, draped over his monitors, as blissfully unaware of everything as the three temazepam capsules Dylan had emptied into his coffee could make him.
His plan was for the two men inside the house to split up, one looking for him, and the other for Lazlo, to see why he hadn’t responded. That left Dylan and William with only a brief window of time to make it to the guardhouse, open the gate, and then leave without being seen.
He approached the guardhouse cautiously, pulling up right alongside it. If Andreas hadn’t drunk his coffee, or if the drugs hadn’t taken effect yet, there’d be hell to pay. If one of the guards looked out front or found Lazlo too soon…
Sick dread covered Dylan with sweat.
A quick glance found Andreas slumped in his chair. Dylan put the Honda in park and jumped out to activate the remote.
It seemed like the massive wrought-iron gate took hours to open, sliding slowly on the track while Dylan’s heart clattered in his throat. It wasn’t hard to imagine what punishment Yves would mete out to a lover who betrayed him. If he were spotted now, it would be nearly impossible to get away.
A low groan came from William, reminding him why he had to try.
“Fasten your seat belt, Memo.”
“William.” Awkwardly, the kid did as he was told.
“Remind me when we’re not about to die.”
When the gate finally opened enough for them to slip out, Dylan glanced in the rearview mirror.
I’m leaving. I’m really leaving Yves. There was no time for grief. If he thought about what he was doing, he’d surely freeze in his tracks. He punched the accelerator and worked the manual transmission.
William shifted to look behind. “No pressure, but we should probably go faster.”
“What?” Dylan sure felt pressured. He pelted out of his driveway and headed east. “What do you mean, no pressure?”
“I mean about my name. No pressure to remember.”
Dylan shook his head. “I’m lucky to remember my name right now. Much less how to drive a manual transmission. It’ll come back to me—like riding a bicycle.” Dylan winced when the transmission gears made a telltale grinding sound, then tried to shift again.
“I hope that means you know how to ride a bicycle…”
“Yeah.” Dylan made a sharp right turn and it threw Memo into him.
“What happens now?”
“I don’t know. I only thought this far ahead.”
William accepted this, or else he was in too much pain to argue.
Dylan’s heart stopped racing when he’d driven several miles and as far as he could tell no one followed them. He wet his dry lips and slowed down. They’d made it. He didn’t want to say it out loud, he didn’t have the nerve to count on it, but it was entirely possible he’d gotten away with it.
While they were stopped at a red light, he glanced over at William and allowed himself to hope. The kid looked like he’d been hit by a train. Dylan cursed. The real work—the hard part—was just beginning. He had to keep William safe until he healed, and that meant they needed a place to hide where Yves couldn’t find them.
If such a place existed.
Cate: Wonderful. Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Z.A.: The heroes of this novel come from diverse worlds, but they share some common values, hopes, and dreams.
Dylan is older, privileged, and a little distant, but he grew up in a happy family that turned him away when they found out he was gay. Now he doesn’t form attachments easily, and has a hard time trusting. William lived in poverty with his grandmother, but he’s grateful she took him away from his gangster father, and he’s heartbroken she died before he ever had the chance to pay her back.
William is angry and cynical, yet he yearns for a safe place he can call home.
Dylan is resourceful, kind, and compassionate in a way that first insults William and then captures his heart.
Cate: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Z.A.: If I had to choose one little thing that makes this fictional world different it’s that this story has its inception in a particularly brutal truth about organized religion. Sometimes, churches and the people in them are cruel. Sometimes people throw their children away because they believe them unredeemable. And yet I really wanted to show that you can’t always judge a religion by the people in it, and vice versa. Sometimes good people can surprise you.
Cate: What's next for you?
Z.A.: Right now I’m working on a screwball ghost story, a kind of Topper meets Emma meets… well. Me. :D
Cate: Sounds like fun! What inspired you to draft your first story?
Z.A.: I wrote my first novel on a dare from my kids. I was giving that “You can do anything you want if you work hard and your heart is in it, follow your bliss” talk that parents give and they turned the tables on me. Once they found out I always wanted to be a published author, the jig was up and I had to get off my butt and do something about it.
Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Z.A.: Because it’s the beginning of January, I’ve made some – not resolutions, necessarily – but changes to my schedule. I’ve decided to work on projects during the week and use the weekends for blogs, twittering, facebooking, and all the necessary promo things that can take up so much time. We’ll see how concentrating on work during the week and giving myself time off on the weekend works out for a while, I think.
Plus, I’ve got what Josh Lanyon’s character Steve in Fair Game calls writer’s ass. I need to get out more. Take a walk every now and again.
Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Z.A.: Anyone can get all the latest news at www.zamaxfield.com. I’m also Abstractrx at LiveJournal, here: http://abstractrx.livejournal.com/ and I’m ZAMaxfield at facebook and twitter. You can link to all those through my website, and even find a mini Amazon store where you can buy my books. I try to make things convenient.
Cate: Your web site’s very cool.
Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Z.A.: I love a little humor with everything. You’ll find it in my meet-cute scenes, my sex scenes, even the angsty bits of books that don’t seem to have the possibility of humor at all. Is there ever a time when you think it’s inappropriate to throw in a bit of humor? (outside of real tragedy or criminal behavior)
Cate: Readers, Z.A. is giving away a book to a random commenter... Yes! One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to win an ebook copy of The Pharaoh’s Concubine! Good Luck!
Thanks for being my guest, ZA! Best of luck to you.