Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the stupendously talented
For our final post, we're going to talk about Motel.Pool., Housekeeping, and Pilgrimage, plus you'll see our Q&A with Kim, and get one more chance to win one of her books!
Let's start with Motel.Pool.:
In the mid-1950s, Jack Dayton flees his working-class prospects in Omaha and heads to Hollywood, convinced he’ll be the next James Dean. But sleazy casting couches don't earn him stardom, and despair leads to a series of poor decisions that ultimately find him at a cheap motel off Route 66, lifeless at the bottom of the pool.
Sixty years later, Tag Manning, feeling hopeless and empty, flees his most recent relationship mistake and takes to the open road. On a roundabout route to Las Vegas, he pulls over to rest at an isolated spot on Route 66. There’s no longer a motel or pool, but when Tag resumes his journey to Vegas, he finds he’s transporting a hitchhiking ghost. Jack and Tag come to find much-needed friends in each other, but one man is a phantom and the other is strangely cursed. Time is running out for each of them, and they must face the fact that a future together may not only be a gamble... it may not be in the cards.
“Fuck!” Tag shouted. He rolled down the car window and let the slipstream tear the postcard from his fingers. It disappeared into the darkness.
“That was littering,” said an accusing voice.
Tag whipped his head to the side—and saw a man grinning at him from the passenger seat. Tag screamed. The car swerved onto the shoulder. He overcorrected, turning sharply the other way, flying across the northbound lane and onto gravel, spinning sideways. For an eternal moment, the car was poised to roll, teetering like a tightrope walker on a windy day. Tag wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He took a breath and waited to die. Then the Camry found its balance and skidded to a halt.
Without even planning to move, Tag flung open his door and leapt out of the car. But then he stood there, breathing hard, every muscle in his body tensed. After several seconds, the passenger door opened. Someone got out—Tag couldn’t see details—and sauntered to the front of the car, where he was illuminated by the headlights.
He was a young man, twenty, maybe twenty-one years old. His sandy hair was short on the sides but longer on top, swept back in a sort of pompadour that probably required a lot of product. He was a couple of inches taller than Tag’s five eight. His plain white tee stretched over wide shoulders and a muscular chest and tucked into the trim waist of his blue jeans. He was smiling.
As Tag gaped, the man turned his back and perched his butt on the hood of the Camry. Tag didn’t see how the guy managed to produce a cigarette and lighter, but the flame flickered brightly, the guy exhaled noisily, and a cloud of smoke drifted through the headlight beams.
Tag stepped around his open door and walked in front of the car. The man looked relaxed, a little amused. “You almost killed yourself just now,” he observed.
“Who the fuck are you? And how the hell…?” Tag ran a shaky hand through his hair. Had he really been so preoccupied as not to notice someone sitting in his backseat when he left the park? He certainly would have noticed him climbing into the front. It wasn’t like the Camry was a big vehicle.
The guy took another puff and tapped ashes onto the ground. “My name’s Jack Dayton.” He tilted his head slightly. “Maybe you heard of me? I was in a couple of movies.”
Tag shook his head mutely, and Jack shrugged. “They weren’t very big parts.”
“But what the fuck…? How…?” Tag smoothed his hair back, as if that might help make sense of things—or at least enable him to utter a coherent sentence. But he remained incredibly confused, his heart beating wildly. Later he might decide that was a good thing; his heart hadn’t been beating much at all lately. But now he only felt like he needed a chair and a stiff drink.
Jack took a few more leisurely drags on his cigarette before grinding it out beneath his heel. He wore black leather boots that looked like they’d seen a lot of miles. “I hitched a ride. Didn’t think you’d mind.”
“Hitched? But… I locked my car. And I didn’t see you, not until just now.”
“Locks aren’t a problem for me. And as for the rest….” Jack blinked out of existence.
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When Nicky Hauser walks in on his restaurant-owner boyfriend having sex with a waiter, Nicky loses his lover, his job, and his home all in one night. Although he’s nearly thirty, he’s never settled on a true career, and he has nothing to show for his years with Tom. Depressed and unable to find work, Nicky ends up couch-surfing with friends until he lands a house-sitting gig for a wealthy family.
When Nicky’s clients discover that he loves to clean, demand for his services skyrockets. Word of mouth leads him to Spencer Cartwright, a busy computer consultant and a slob. Spencer and his wife divorced when he came out, but he’s never found the time or courage to settle down with a man. As Nicky sets Spencer’s house to rights, the two men find friendship. But Nicky’s past experiences make him wary of risking everything on love.
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Fiscal analyst Mike Carlson is good with spreadsheets and baseball stats. He doesn’t believe in fate, true love, or fantasy. But then a fertility goddess whisks him away to another world. A promise has been broken, and if Mike is ever to return to California—and his comfortable if lonely life—he must complete a pilgrimage to the shrines of a death goddess.
A humiliating event convinces Mike to hire a guard to accompany him, and hunky Goran is handy enough with a sword, if a little too liberal with his ale. A man with no home and no family, Goran is deeper than he first appears. As Mike learns more about Goran, his disbelief wavers and his goals become less clear. Contending with feuding gods, the challenges of the journey, and his growing attraction to Goran, Mike faces a puzzle far harder to solve than simple rows of numbers.
It was time to hit the road. He waited for the hostess or one of her family members to approach his table. Maybe they could tell him how far away Kutina was and how to get there. Instead, one of the other customers rose from his seat, strolled across the room, and collapsed onto the bench across from Mike.
When Mike was in third grade, his mother had dragged him along to his sister’s gymnastic lessons. While Marie tumbled and bent and leapt, Mike was supposed to do his homework as his mother read. But as he sat next to her, he’d sneak glances at her book covers: hunky, bare-chested men with long hair flowing in the wind, usually clutching half-dressed women in their bulging arms. Mike had been too young at the time to understand why these covers fascinated him so deeply. In retrospect, Ethan Hawke had not been the first hint that he was gay.
The man who now sat across from him looked exactly like a cover model from one of those books, assuming the cover model had been drinking heavily and hadn’t bathed in a while. This guy had thick dark hair, biceps and pecs that bunched under a too-tight tunic, and a lush patch of chest hair at the open neck of his garment. His eyes were green—and red, due to the drink—his nose was straight, his chin firm. When he smiled at Mike, he had dimples. Mike couldn’t help noticing that a scabbarded sword and a sheathed dagger were strapped around his hips.
“Hello,” said the man.
“I’m Goran. You?”
Goran scratched his head. “Strange name.”
“I guess. Look, nice to meet you, but I have to—” Mike stood and started to leave, but Goran grabbed his arm.
“We should talk,” Goran said.
Those were possibly the three most toxic words in the world—in any world. His father had said them when he’d called to tell Mike of his diagnosis. Benny had said them right before admitting he’d been fucking someone else for weeks and didn’t want to see Mike anymore. Agata had said them before dragging Mike into a crappy alternate dimension where he wouldn’t have any shoes. He didn’t want to hear whatever this Goran guy had to say.
But Goran had a very strong grip, and although he was still smiling broadly, he looked resolved. Mike sat back down. “What?”
Goran let go of Mike’s arm and waved at the landlady. “More ale!” he called.
Mike didn’t want more ale. He wanted to leave the Bearded Hare. But he waited as the landlady refilled their tankards. She demanded something called a leeka in payment. To Mike’s surprise, Goran dug a coin out of his tunic and handed it to her. Then Goran took a very long swallow of his drink and belched loudly. “Gets the innards going, it does,” he said with a grin.
“Look. I really have to hit the road, so if there’s something you want to say—”
Another long swallow. “I said, hire me. You’re on your way to Alina’s shrine, yes?”
How the hell did Goran know that? Mike nodded carefully.“So I can be your guide. I’ve been there before, lots of times. Know all the places where you’re supposed to stop along the way and even a few shortcuts.” Goran winked.
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Free reads by Kim Fielding:
Our Q&A with Kim:
- What inspires you? What gets you writing?
I can be inspired by almost anything—a song, a bit of conversation, something I catch sight of, an article I read. One of my novellas, Grown-up, started out during a trip to Home Depot to buy lightbulbs and fertilizer! The thing that inspires me the most often and the most deeply, though, is travel. Lots of my books had their start while I was visiting somewhere. Rattlesnake, for example, happened during a family road trip through the Mojave and later a weekend in a former gold-rush town. Venetian Masks started out during a week in Venice, of course. The Bones series began during visits to my brother and sister-in-law’s farm (which, as far as I know, does not really house a werewolf or water spirit). I think a lot of authors have magpie minds, storing bits and pieces of things as we come across them.
- What’s your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes. Complex spreadsheets?
I’m pretty much a pantser. I begin with a general idea of what a book is going to be about, and that’s about it. I find that as I write, I get to know my characters, and then the story unfolds. Sometimes my characters surprise me; often they piss me off. I’ve tried more detailed outlining, but it doesn’t work well for me. I’m pretty sure it’s because my muse is stubborn and contrary.
- Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
This is a tough one. I’d have to say that Brute is one of my most beloved. One thing I love about him is that he’s proof that a romance hero doesn’t have to be handsome. I like how he overcomes his very difficult background without ever wallowing in self-pity and how he sees the good in everyone he meets.
- Which character is your least favorite, and why?
I like all my characters at least a little bit, even the villains. But I will say it took me a while to warm up to William in The Tin Box. I knew why he had a stick so far up his ass and why he wasn’t very pleasant to bubbly Colby, but I still wanted to shake him hard. But as the story progressed, I ended up falling in love with William too—so much that I missed him desperately when I finished writing.
- If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
I tend to look forward to the next book (or books) I want to write, rather than worrying about the ones I’ve already written. So for the most part, I’m happy with what I have. However, my first three novels—the Ennek trilogy—were self-published, but this year DSP Publications will release second editions of the entire series. We’re adding several layers of professional editing, and I’ll be cleaning up a few things that can be improved with the benefits of several more years of writing experience. The first book, Stasis, comes out in May with a gorgeous new cover by Reese Dante.
The other thing I’d love to meddle with is a short story I wrote called “Corruption,” which appears in the Of Heaven and Hell anthology. Imagine Ray Bradbury wrote dark m/m romance, and you’ll get an idea of the feel of the story. I would love to expand on that little tale, perhaps by writing more shorts set in the same universe.
- What’s next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
I’m always keeping busy! As I said, the Ennek trilogy will be rereleased this year. I just finished a novella for Contact, the 5th Gothika anthology. This time we have aliens! I’m also finishing a short story involving a 19th century gold prospector and St. George (as in, the guy who killed the dragon). I recently completed an angsty novel about an urban park ranger and an ex-junkie. So my current in-progress novels are a book about a blind runner—I’m working with Venona Keyes on that one—and a very dark slave novel.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
I want to give my audiobooks an extra plug! I’ve been lucky enough to have my books read by some extremely talented narrators, such as K.C. Kelly (Rattlesnake, Brute, The Tin Box, and Housekeeping) and Nick J. Russo (Good Bones). If you haven’t already, give them a try. I listen to audiobooks for about an hour daily, while I take my daily walk, and they really keep me stepping lively.
More about the author:
Kim Fielding lives in California and travels as often as she can manage. A professor by day, at night she rushes into a phonebooth to change into her author costume (which involves comfy clothes instead of Spandex and is, sadly, lacking a cape). Her superpowers include the ability to write nearly anywhere, often while simultaneously doling out homework assistance to her children. Her favorite word to describe herself is "eclectic" and she finally got that third tattoo.
Thanks for joining us all month to celebrate Kim Fielding. We hope you found a few new books to add to your TBR, and enjoyed finding out more about this fabulous author.
Until next time, happy reading!