1. Tell us about your new release.
Strings Attached is a holiday-themed gay romance set in Hawaii. My husband and I visited Hawaii years ago and loved it. When I get tired of the cold Midwest winters, I often joke that we should go to Hawaii for Christmas. The basis for Strings Attached came from that thought, and a what-if question that popped into my head randomly: What if a straitlaced guy won a dream vacation, and ended up traveling with his total opposite?
2. How long have you been writing gay erotic romance?
My first story was published in October 2006. I started writing it on a whim that summer, after seeing an advertisement for a writing contest. The prize was publication. I never could have dreamed my story (then called Batboy and the Wolfman) would be selected as one of the winners. I actually thought my husband was playing a joke on me when he woke me up to tell me about the acceptance phone call.
That publisher is long gone now, but my love for writing gay romance continues.
3. What types of books do you like to read?
I like to read a little of everything. Of course, I love gay romance in pretty much any genre. I’ll read paranormal, contemporary, historical, fantasy, you name it. As a teacher, I read a lot of young adult literature. Right now I’m reading Insurgent, the second book in a popular YA series. I’m also part of a book club whose members have eclectic (mostly non-romance) tastes ranging from thrillers and mysteries to historical fiction.
4. Many writers draw inspiration from areas like music, books, and life in general. So here’s the traditional question: where do you get your ideas?
I get ideas from everywhere. Sometimes I am inspired by songs. Sometimes I see people in real life and wonder what their stories might be. Usually, though, it’s random ideas and questions that pop into my head, seemingly from nowhere.
James Hastings is having a bad week. All he wants to do is buy a six-pack and spend an evening moping. Instead, he wins a weeklong trip to Hawaii, thanks to a young man at the liquor store. Tattoo and piercing artist Travis Barton is surprised when the cute guy he helped out wins a trip and invites him to come along. Still, he’s not about to pass up a free trip to Hawaii. Travis’s idea of a no-strings fling goes against James’s nature, but it seems like a great way to make the trip even better. Then their hot, uninhibited nights together start to blur into something more, and James starts to imagine Christmas ever after — Travis, with strings attached.
“I left my wallet in the car. Can you hold on to this for a second, and I’ll go get it?”
“Here, take this.”
A ten-dollar bill appeared on the counter. He turned to see the same guy from the beer case. “Thanks. I’ll pay you back in a minute.”
The young man shrugged, not seeming too worried about it. “It’s almost Christmas. This can be one of my good deeds to get off Santa’s naughty list.”
The guy really was cute—and nice enough to help a total stranger. James felt a little frisson of attraction. He tried to think of something clever to say.
Before he could think of anything, a man approached, holding a microphone. “You’ve just won a weeklong holiday getaway to Hawaii, courtesy of 103.1 The Edge, Fantasies Resorts, and Lancaster’s Liquor and Spirits.”
His mouth dropped open. “What?”
“You bought the winning beer, dude.” The man with the microphone gestured toward James’s beer. Following the man’s motion, he noticed a large 103.1 The Edge sticker on the side of the six-pack.
James looked from the sticker to the man and back again. “I won a trip to Hawaii?” He frowned. “Is this a joke?”
The man laughed. “Nope, and you’re on the air right now. I’m D.C., a DJ at The Edge. What’s your name?”
“James.” Peering around the large front area of the store, he noticed a big table with sound equipment emblazoned with the radio station’s logo. Apparently this wasn’t a joke.
“Well, James, come on over to my table, and I’ll get you set up for your trip. But first, what radio station gives the best prizes?” D.C. held the microphone under his mouth.
“Um, 103.1 The Edge?” The guy who’d given him money snickered behind him. As D.C. drew him toward the radio station’s table, James threw a glance over his shoulder and met the guy’s too-blue gaze. He suddenly didn’t want to let the young man get away without talking to him again. “Hey, wait a minute, okay?”
James didn’t really expect the guy to wait, but he did want to pay him back at least. The odds of anything else happening were pretty slim, especially with the week he was having.
By the time he finished talking to D.C. and his sound girl at the table, signed some forms, and took the paperwork they gave him, he figured the young man in the peacoat would be long gone. A quick glance around the store showed the man was no longer there, so he headed for the door.
Just outside the doorway, the guy fell into step with him. “Hey.”
He found himself grinning, though he wasn’t sure why. “You waited.”
A shrug and a smile greeted his statement. “You asked me to.”
James looked down at the beer and paperwork he clutched in his right hand. “I want to pay you back. You should have won the trip, not me. We were both going for the same six-pack, and you gave me the money to buy it.” He frowned. “Besides, the trip is for two. I just got dumped today. I don’t even have anyone to take.”
The young man stopped on the sidewalk and turned to James. “It’s cool. I wouldn’t have anyone to take either. I’ve been single for a couple of months now.” He grinned again, wider this time. “A trip to Hawaii would have been awesome, though. Maybe you should take me with you.”
From his grin and tone of voice, James could tell the man wasn’t serious. The idea was crazy. He opened his mouth to make a joke, but what came out was, “Okay.” He froze, astonished. Had he just invited a total stranger to go to Hawaii with him for a week?
Pierced eyebrow raised, the other man stared at him. “You’re kidding. Right?”
Was he kidding? He considered and then shook his head. “No, I’m serious. This trip is just as much yours as it is mine. If I’d been a few seconds later, you would have won.”
The guy stuck out a long, slender hand. “Travis Barton.”
He shook Travis’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Travis. I’m James Hastings.”
One corner of Travis’s mouth turned up, revealing a dimple in his cheek. “Okay, James. When do we leave?”
Copyright © Cassandra Gold
Visit Cassandra at www.cassandragold.com