Alexa Land is another author that I met through the Over the Rainbow anthology. I really enjoyed her short story Oh Baby, it was both sweet and amusing, I’ve always loved reading stories that includes a little humor.
In addition to the interview Alexa has agreed to share with us an exclusive, never before seen, excerpt from her current work in progress.
So let’s meet Alexa Land!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what made you want to be an author.
I’ve always been passionate about writing. It’s incredibly fulfilling and a much-needed outlet for my creativity. But it’s so much more than that to me now. When my marriage ended after twenty years, writing went from a hobby to my fulltime career and the way I’m able to support myself and my son. I’m so grateful to get to do what I love for a living!
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming release? And what readers can expect when they open one of your books?
Right now, I’m working on the next book in my Firsts and Forever Series. It’s called Worlds Away, and it’s Sawyer and Alastair’s story. We’ve gotten to know them a bit in the last couple books in the series. Sawyer is ex-military and trying to figure out what to do with his life after the Army didn’t pan out. He’s also trying to move on from a relationship that left him reeling. Alastair, meanwhile, is an upper-class British college student whose future has been mapped out since birth. I love the chemistry between these two.
In this book, just like the rest of the series, readers can expect a sweet, character-driven love story sprinkled with humor, and two people overcoming every obstacle in their path to be together.
3. You write in the M/M romance genre. What drew you to that genre?
When I moved to San Francisco in the 1990s, I became best friends with a gay couple and watched their struggles. There were so many obstacles in their way, and their love story was so poignant. I was a newlywed at the time, and couldn’t help but compare the ease of my straight relationship to what they were going through. For example, both had been the victims of gay bashing, and they were afraid to even hold hands in public. At that time, they also weren’t able to legally marry, even though they were very much in love. When I decided to write romances, I knew I needed to tell stories like theirs.
4. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way, either growing up or as an adult?
Michael Chabon inspires me. I love his voice and the stories he tells. I’ve been a huge fan ever since his debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, published in 2005. He later went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and has written many other phenomenal books, including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Wonder Boys. His stories have gotten bigger and grander over the years, but I’m most influenced by his very first novel, when he was just beginning to stretch his wings and find his incredibly eloquent voice.
5. Does/has anything in real life influence your writing? (Life experiences, films, books, celebrities, music, places, etc.)
Traveling has always inspired me. So do random conversations I have with my readers. My Firsts and Forever Series was also influenced, in large part, by the years I lived in San Francisco. The city and its residents provided a lifetime of inspiration.
6. Of all your stories do you have a chapter, or scene, or character that you enjoyed writing the most?
My stories are told in the first person, and I completely immerse myself in that character and his world as I’m writing it. Right now, I’m telling Sawyer’s story. Seeing the world through his eyes and learning who he is as he reveals himself bit by bit is exhilarating. So, my answer to your question is this: the character I most enjoy writing is whoever I’m working on at that moment. Each was a unique experience. I remember how much I loved writing Chance’s story (Coming Home), and Christopher Robin’s (In Pieces), and Zachary’s (Who I Used to Be), and I look forward to whoever’s next!
For the first time anywhere, here’s a sneak peek at my work-in-progress, Worlds Away. It’s Sawyer and Alastair’s story, and it’ll be out right around the first of the year. This is the opening scene of Chapter One. Enjoy!
“You remind me of my pinky toe, because I know I’ll be banging you on my coffee table later tonight.”
“Oh my God.”
“No? Okay, how about: did you get those pants on sale? Because they’re a hundred percent off at my place.”
I grinned a little and said, “That’s even worse.”
“Then go with: I’m no weatherman, but you can expect a few inches tonight.” My new friend River smiled at me and wiggled his eyebrows.
“Those lines are going to get me a restraining order, not a date,” I said.
“He’ll be into it if he has a sense of humor, and if he doesn’t, you don’t want him anyway. What about this? There must be a mirror in your pants, because I can see myself in them.”
My grin got wider. “You need to stop.”
River exclaimed, “But I’m just getting warmed up! Hey, go over there and ask him: on a scale of one to America, how free are you tonight?”
I actually laughed at that one, despite myself, while River’s friend Yoshi groaned and asked him, “Have you ever actually gotten a phone number using any of those lines?”
“Absolutely,” River said.
Yoshi rolled his eyes. “You have not.”
River pushed his sun-streaked brown hair behind his shoulder and said, “Okay, not me personally. I don’t need pickup lines, because come on!” He held his arms out to the sides and shot him a cocky look. He really was cute, in a rumpled California surfer kind of way. “But our new pal Sawyer here and that blond, British guy across the room have been making eyes at each other all night, and he still hasn’t made a move. It’s my patriotic duty to help a member of our armed forces in his mission to invade Britain, again and again and again, all night long!”
“Former member of the armed forces,” I corrected.
Murphy joined me on the couch and handed me a beer as he asked, “Who’s invading Britain?”
“Sawyer, hopefully. He’s interested in that tall blond in the pink shirt on the dance floor,” Yoshi explained, “but River’s trying to make sure he strikes out by loading him up with sleazy pickup lines.”
“His name’s Alastair,” I said. “Do you know him, Murphy?”
He nodded. “Al’s a good guy. I’ve met him at a few parties.”
“He doesn’t really go by Al, does he?” I asked.
“Nah, but he should. Alastair is kind of a mouthful.”
“Aw see,” River said, “Sawyer here would love to find out whether Alastair’s a mouthful, but none of you are helping! Murphy, what’s your best pick-up line?”
“Now, do I look like I need pickup lines?” He really didn’t. Murphy was a big, handsome African-American guy with dreads, tattoos, and glasses (which I always found sexy). He probably had men falling all over him, despite his inexplicable fondness for bad pun T-shirts. He’d worn a nice dress shirt to our friends’ wedding ceremony earlier that day, but for the reception, he’d unbuttoned it to reveal a tee with a drawing of two bucks rubbing noses, along with the caption ‘deerly beloved’. Apparently the shirts were a thing with him.
“Sawyer doesn’t need them, either.” Yosh turned to me and said, “Dude, you’re hot as hell! If you take your sexy, muscle-bound self over there and just say hello to that guy, he’ll probably dissolve into a puddle.”
“I’m no good at the whole flirting thing,” I said. “Plus, I already know he’s not interested in me. We met a few months ago at Kai and Jessie’s wedding, and he didn’t give me the time of day.”
Murphy told me, “That’s because he was crushing on Zachary back then, but that was before my man TJ came along and sealed the deal. Alastair’s moved on.”
I glanced over my shoulder and across the crowded living room, and spotted my friend Zachary dancing with TJ, his husband of about eight hours. They’d gotten married in a simple but beautiful ceremony at City Hall, and after that, we’d moved on to an informal reception. It was in a Russian Hill Edwardian that belonged to Trevor and Vincent, TJ’s son and son-in-law.
The grooms looked perfectly happy and in love, and so did my best friend Kai. He was slow-dancing with his husband Jessie right beside the newlyweds (even though Ash, the lavender-haired DJ, was playing upbeat dance music). Meanwhile, Alastair was pretending it was 1975 and doing what looked vaguely like the hustle. His partner was a guy with overgrown dark hair, thick Clark Kent glasses, and a T-shirt printed to look like a tuxedo. They were both terrible dancers, but I admired their enthusiasm and commitment to partying with abandon. “I think Alastair’s here with a date,” I said as I turned back to my companions, “so it’d be tacky to hit on him.”
Murphy waved his hand dismissively. “That’s not a date, that’s Rollie. They go to college together, and they’re just friends.”
“Are you sure?”
He nodded. “I’m sure about this, too: every time Alastair catches you looking at him, he gets all flustered. He’s interested, Sawyer. Make your move!”
A slender teenager named Darwin perched on the arm of the sofa next to me just then and said, “Hey, guys. What’s up?” He was cute, transgender, and possibly Goth, though the latter could have just been a byproduct of his jet black hair, pale skin, and tendency to wear dark colors. He always struck me as a bit self-conscious, too. At that moment, he was adjusting and readjusting the lapel of his black dress shirt.
I gave him a friendly smile. “River was just treating us to his horrifying collection of cheesy pickup lines. Do you have any?”
His hands stilled, and Darwin grinned a little as he said, “You mean like, damn boy, are you my appendix? Because this funny feeling in my stomach makes me want to take you out.”
The color rose in his cheeks when we all laughed, but he seemed pleased by our reaction. “Exactly like that,” River said.
Darwin asked, “Who’s trying to pick someone up?”
River pointed at me. “Sawyer wants to get busy with that British guy, Alastair, but for some reason he won’t make a move. I figured I’d help him out with some sure-fire opening lines.”
Darwin considered that for a moment, then said, “Or he could just go over there and say hi.”
“That’s the best suggestion so far, but I’m not trying to ‘get busy’, whatever that even means,” I said. “River just saw me looking and got me to admit I think Alastair’s attractive. Somehow, that led to a crash course in how to repel a guy in two sentences or less.”
Yosh turned to me and said, “You know he keeps looking over here, right?”
When I glanced over my shoulder at Alastair, we locked eyes and grinned at each other. He really was gorgeous. He was also flawlessly pulled-together, in a way that made me want to do something about it. As sexy as he was, I could just imagine how irresistible he’d look with tousled morning-after hair.
Alastair colored slightly, as if he could read my mind, before leaning in and saying something to Rollie. I turned back to my new friends and said, “We’re probably freaking him out with all our staring.”
“That look wasn’t freaked out, it was ‘do me now, big boy!’ I don’t get why you’re still sitting here,” River said.
“I’ll talk to him later, when I don’t have an audience,” I muttered. “It’s hard enough without worrying about you guys evaluating my performance.”
River considered that for a beat, then leaned back in his chair. “That’s a good call, actually. I would have recorded it on my phone, then come back at you with charts, diagrams, and an instant replay. Just out of love, you understand. I’m here to help, bro.”
He flashed me a smile, and I asked, “How many beers have you had?”
“All of them.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Alexa Land is an independent author of gay fiction and romance. Her character-driven books include the best-selling Firsts and Forever Series, set in present-day San Francisco, which is currently at twelve volumes and counting. She was born in Southern California and has been on a gradual northern migration ever since, having lived in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and now Oregon. Who I Used to Be is the most recent book in her series, and it’s available on Amazon and Smashwords. Next up is Worlds Away, which will be published right around the first of the year.
You can find Alexa:
On twitter: @AlexaLandWrites
And on her blog: http://alexalandwrites.blogspot.com/