Thursday, August 18, 2016

Author Of The Month - Lisa Henry - Week Three

Welcome to our third week of celebrating the fabulosity of 

In today's post, we will talk about the laugh out loud funny romance Adulting 101, Lisa's latest release available now, and, in sharp contrast to it, the rather dark When All The World Sleeps, and the historical novel Sweetwater. And we have excerpts from all three!

We'll also have a personal story Lisa has chosen to share, and of course, all the way at the bottom, there'll be another chance to win!

First up, Adulting 101


The struggle is real. 
Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty?

That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult.

Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely.

Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime.

This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up.


In which Jai gets into an awkward conversation with his mom about his not-relationship with Nick...

It’s midnight before Nick leaves.
Jai takes their glasses and the empty chip bowl up to the kitchen. Janice is pottering around in her dressing gown and slippers, eating ice cream from the carton.
“You’re not violating a child, are you?” she asks.
“He’s eighteen.” Jai sets the bowl and glasses in the sink.
“Jai, I saw him leave on a bike.”
“He’s still eighteen.”
“Good,” she says. “Because I am not selling this house to mount a legal defense for you.”
“Good to know, Mom.”
She jams the spoon in the ice cream. “So now we’ve established I raised you better than that, when do I get to meet him?”
“How about never?”
Janice raises her eyebrows.
He sighs. “Look, it’s nothing serious, okay? We’re just messing around until he goes to college and I go to Argentina.”
“So what? I don’t get to meet some boy you’re bringing back to the house? I’d like to say hello, Jai, not plan your damn wedding.”
“That was never going to happen anyway.”
“I know.” Janice holds out the ice cream. “You’re like your father. Happier alone.”
He freezes with his hand outstretched toward the draining rack, fingers twitching over a spoon. “What?”
She shrugs. “Oh, I don’t mean he was unhappy or we were living a lie or anything. Just that your dad was an introvert, you know? Like you.”
“I’m not an introvert.”
“An introvert isn’t the same as a shut-in,” she says. “An introvert is someone who recharges their batteries when they’re on their own, like you, not when they’re around other people, like me and your sister. I go mad when I don’t have anyone to talk to. You’re good on your own. You like it.”
Jai snags the spoon and then the ice cream. “I have plenty of friends, Mom.”
“You have plenty of friends for very short periods of time,” she points out. “Then you pack up and go somewhere else. There’s nothing wrong with it. You’re just wired differently. When the zombie apocalypse comes, you’ll be fine living in your mountaintop cabin with only the birds for company.”
The zombie apocalypse? Jesus. His mom and Nick would get along like a house on fire, wouldn’t they? That’s just the sort of random reference Nick would love. Jai’s not sure what worries him most: the fact he’s already noticing the things Nick would love, or that he’s apparently hooking up with the teenage-boy version of his mom. There’s not enough ice cream in the world to deal with a realization like that.
“And in the zombie apocalypse, you would . . .?”
“Die by shooting myself in the head as I was surrounded by a horde of revenants, sacrificing myself after creating a diversion so the rest of you could escape.”
“The fact you didn’t even have to think about that for a second is incredibly disturbing,” he tells her.
Janice shrugs. “The Walking Dead, Jai. How have you never watched it?”
“Is it on Netflix?”
“Ronny has it on DVD.”
“Maybe I’ll borrow it.”
“Maybe you should.” She drops her spoon in the sink. “And maybe next time your friend is over, you’ll introduce me.”
He knows when he’s beaten. “Okay, Mom.”
“Good night, Jai.” She smiles, and the wrinkles around the corners of her eyes deepen.
“Night, Mom.”

He finishes half the ice cream before he heads back downstairs to bed.

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Whereas Adulting 101 is a sweet, low-angst romance with some really hilarious dialogue (trust us, we've read it), this next one is a wee bit much darker.

When All the World Sleeps, written with JA Rock


Daniel Whitlock is terrified of going to sleep. And rightly so: he sleepwalks, with no awareness or memory of his actions. Including burning down Kenny Cooper’s house—with Kenny inside it—after Kenny brutally beat him for being gay. Back in the tiny town of Logan after serving his prison sentence, Daniel isolates himself in a cabin in the woods and chains himself to his bed at night.  
Like the rest of Logan, local cop Joe Belman doesn’t believe Daniel’s absurd defense. But when Bel saves Daniel from a retaliatory fire, he discovers that Daniel might not be what everyone thinks: killer, liar, tweaker, freak. Bel agrees to control Daniel at night—for the sake of the other townsfolk. Daniel’s fascinating, but Bel’s not going there.

Yet as he’s drawn further into Daniel’s dark world, Bel finds that he likes being in charge. And submitting to Bel gives Daniel the only peace he’s ever known. But Daniel’s demons won’t leave him alone, and he’ll need Bel’s help to slay them once and for all—assuming Bel is willing to risk everything to stand by him.


This is definitely one of our darker stories, though it still has a HEA. In this opening scene Bel, a cop, has a run in with Daniel, who has spent time in prison for killing a guy, which he claimed happened when he was sleepwalking.  

“Hey, Harnee’s kid,” Daniel Whitlock said, and the smile lit up his whole face.
Bel resisted the urge to plant his fist in it. “Officer Belman to you, Whitlock.” He took his flashlight from his belt and shone the beam in Whitlock’s eyes. The guy’s pupils had almost swallowed his hazel irises entirely. “What’d you take?”
Whitlock turned from Bel and shoved his hands in his pockets, pulling his jeans tight across his ass. “I’m going home. You coming with me?”
They were in the parking lot of Greenducks, a rundown bar wedged between a former beauty salon and a mortgage firm. You had to go down a flight of half-rotted wooden stairs, and then you were in a basement full of cocksuckers. And not the kind you saw in gay bars in movies. No tanned and toned bodies, no goddamn angel wings or leather shorts. These guys stank, and they smoked, and they’d do anything for drugs. Bel only went into Greenducks when he was desperate enough to pretend not to notice the exchanges that went on.
“I ain’t going nowhere with you,” Bel told Whitlock.
Fucker. Goddamn filthy tweaker head case.
Everyone in Logan, South Carolina, knew who Daniel Whitlock was—what he was. But what made Bel doubly uncomfortable right now was that unlike most everyone in Logan, Bel had noticed Daniel Whitlock long before he’d been in the papers.
Before he got his badge, Bel had worked a night shift twice a week at Harnee’s Convenience Store, and Whitlock used to come in Thursdays around 1 or 2 a.m. to buy a Twix and a bottle of Mountain Dew. Always went through Bel’s line.
“That stuff’ll keep you up all night,” Bel had said once, nodding at the Mountain Dew. Whitlock hadn’t answered, and that was the first and last time Bel said anything to him beyond “Have a good night.” But he’d noted the strong, easy slope of Whitlock’s chest under his T-shirts. When it got colder, Whitlock had worn plaid flannel like all the other guys in Logan. But in the summer his T-shirts had been just a little too tight. Close-cropped hair the same linty brown as his faded sneakers. Beautifully defined features, almost too sharp.
“He don’t want to join us, Danny,” a voice said.
Bel hadn’t noticed Jake Kebbler standing behind Daniel in the shadow of the bar. If Bel’d had to pick any of the Greenducks crowd for looks alone—besides Whitlock—he’d have picked Jake. Unfortunately, every queer in Logan had already picked Jake, over and over again. “Looks like a gnat-bit curl of pork rind,” Matt Lister had said once about Jake’s dick.
Whitlock grinned. He pushed Jake against the side of the building. Kissed him. Risky—Greenducks gave queers a place to meet, but it sure as fuck didn’t fly the rainbow flag. You came to Greenducks because it was the closest to safe you were gonna get if you liked restroom blowjobs—not because you were welcome there. And once you were outside, well, you were in hetero territory.
Jake tipped his head back then slowly collapsed. It was oddly graceful, like a dancer’s swoon. Whitlock tried to catch him, failed, and lowered himself on top of Jake. Kissed him again, or maybe whispered something—Bel couldn’t tell. Then he got up and walked over to his car, leaving Jake on the ground.
Nice, Bel thought. Your date passes out, so you’re just gonna call it a night? Not that Jake seemed to care. Hell, he probably wouldn’t even remember what had happened when the sun woke him in the morning with a face full of asphalt. Jake didn’t have a brain cell left he wasn’t bent on destroying with meth. And was that . . . yeah, Bel could just about make out the glow of a burning cigarette in Jake’s hand. Stupid asshole.
Bel walked over to Jake. Wasn’t like he could leave a man to burn to death. Which made him the only one. Whitlock was still standing by his sedan, staring at nothing.
“You stay right there,” Bel called as he bent to check on Jake. Still breathing. Bel plucked the cigarette out from between Jake’s skinny fingers and crushed it under his boot. When he turned around, Whitlock had taken a step closer. “I told you to stay there.”
“Need something so bad.” Whitlock sighed. He slid his fingers into the waistband of his jeans, like he was going to tug them down right there in the parking lot. “You wanna fuck me, Harnee’s kid? Can use my car.”
Bel had been a cop for three years now, and he’d been propositioned more times than he could remember. It was never like those letters in skin mags though. Usually it was some toothless skank old enough to be his grandma, giggling drunken high school girls, or narrow-eyed truckers who would nod to the side of the road in silent invitation like Bel was dumb enough or desperate enough for that. Might as well just roll around in the filthy bathrooms at the truck stop on US 601, pick up his diseases that way and take out the middleman.
And now, Daniel Whitlock. Who might have been Dear readers, I never thought it would happen to me material back when he was in high school—Bel, still in middle school, had noticed him right about the same time as he’d noticed those weird tingly feelings that made his dick hard—but doing it with a fucking murderer was never going to happen. And Bel was pretty damn insulted that Whitlock even thought he had a chance.
“Get your ass home,” he said, curling his lip.
Whitlock reached for his car door.
“You ain’t driving tonight,” Bel told him. “Ain’t you killed enough folk in this town?”

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Third in today's line-up is Sweetwater, set in the later part of the 19th century


Wyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.


MC Elijah is hearing impaired, and has fallen into an abusive relationship with the local saloon owner. Grady is a cattle rustler who’s taken an interest in the young man the rest of the town has long written off as a simpleton because of his affliction.

Elijah walked past the livery stables. He liked the smell of horses and hay. Even the manure didn’t bother him. He’d carried buckets of it home before, to dig into the garden. Not that he’d ever had luck with anything besides beans. He’d tried carrots once, but they never grew. Maybe they didn’t like the soil, or maybe Elijah was no gardener after all. He had better luck with chickens and pigs than vegetables.
Elijah started at the hand on his shoulder and twisted his head.
He didn’t recognize the cowboy at first. Close up, even in the gloom, he looked younger than Elijah had first thought. He might have still been in his twenties.
Where you walking to, kid?”
Elijah took a step back. “Home.”
Saw you at the Empire tonight,” the cowboy said at last.
Something about the way he pitched his voice, low and calm, meant that Elijah couldn’t escape his words.
He jerked his chin in a nod.You go there a lot?”
He shook his head.
Don’t talk much, do you?”
He lifted his gaze to the man’s eyes, to check if that slight smile was mocking or not. He couldn’t tell in the darkness, but it made no difference to his blush. “No, sir.”
The cowboy folded his arms over his chest. “I brought those mavericks into town for Dawson. Don’t think you saw me.”
I saw you.
His face burned again. He shoved his hands in his pockets. “What’s your name?”Elijah, sir.”Grady Mullins,” the cowboy said. “Most people call me Grady.”
Elijah didn’t know what to say to that, so he nodded again. “How long you worked for Dawson?”
Two years, sir.”Butchering’s a good trade.”Yes, sir.” Not that Dawson was learning him up to do anything more than sweep the floor and scrub the counters. All that Elijah knew about butchering he’d learned from
Grady smiled again. “I thought maybe you were working at the Empire now.”
Elijah formed his words carefully, trying to push down his rising panic. “I go there to drink, sir. I ain’t a bartender.”
Never thought you were, Elijah.”
His heart froze. He balled his trembling fingers into fists. “I go there to drink.”
Grady’s gaze held his in the gloom. “That all you do?” Grady knew.
Grady wanted it.
For a moment, Elijah wondered if he could let it happen. Grady was better looking than Crane, younger too.
Would it feel the same with another man? Would Grady’s callused fingers coax bruises from his skin? Would his cock taste different? Would it hurt so much going in? Would he pull Elijah’s hair and swear when he came? Would he tie Elijah’s hands and laugh as he squirmed, until he finally reached down and brought him off ?
Did Elijah even want different, or just more of the same?
A part of him wanted it. He wanted the cowboy to push him to his hands and knees, or up against a wall, or whatever would be hardest, fastest, whatever would make him hurt and take it all at once. But it was bad enough he’d let one man fuck him.
I gotta go home now, sir,” he said instead, knowing that he slurred the words.

Grady nodded. “Take care, Elijah.”
Elijah didn’t look back.

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A Personal Story

I always get a little nervous when someone asks me to share a personal story – mostly because I think I’m quite a boring person with nothing very interesting going on at all, and then I remember I have to buy bananas on the way home from work this afternoon so that Scrappy the possum has something to eat when he breaks into my house tonight and realise that no, that’s not normal at all.

But the story I would like to share actually has nothing to do with possums. Instead, it’s a story about becoming a writer. It’s also a story about my dad, who died when I was in my early twenties.

When I was little, my dad was my best friend. When we were living in Papua New Guinea and I was too small for school, I used to go on road trips with my dad for work. He worked for a bank, and I’m not exactly sure why he had to go around and visit all the local towns and villages, but I used to go with him, sitting in the Jeep, bouncing along the potholed roads that twisted and turned through the jungle. I was small enough that I don’t remember many place names, but I remember odd things like the curve in the road on the way to Kieta, and how if I looked out on the right I’d see that one hut that seemed to be built in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny patch of clearing hacked out of the bush. It felt like we’d drive forever some days, braking suddenly for pigs, before we’d reach a village. And then dad would do whatever it was he did, and I’d play with the village kids until it was time to go.

When I got older, my dad wasn’t my best friend anymore. We were more like strangers inhabiting the same house. Suddenly I was a teenager, with dramas, and a whole lot of I didn’t ask to be born! It got particularly bad when I was fourteen and we moved yet again. When you’re fourteen your friends are your life, and I hated my parents for relocating us again for my dad’s work. It was a particularly rough move because my sister wasn’t coming with us. She was going to university instead, so this time I was on my own. Let’s just say I wrote a lot of angry, terrible poetry around that time.

Writing was always something I’d loved doing. My mother and sister encouraged it. My dad didn’t see the point. And if there wasn’t a point to a thing, if it wasn’t practical, then he didn’t see the value in it and thought it was a waste of time. It was one of the many things we clashed on at that time. Just another damned thing he didn’t get about me. Not that I was falling over myself to understand his interests, of course. One thing we had in common was our stubbornness and our ability to hold a grudge.

Before the move, I’d entered a statewide creative writing competition. Knowing that we were moving, I’d put my address down care of my dad’s bank in our new city. I sent the story off and pretty much forgot about it, concentrating instead on hating my parents, my life, and the entire universe.

Turns out I won the competition. The letter came to the bank, and because my dad and I shared the same first initial, he opened it.

When I got home from school that day, the letter and the cheque were sitting on my desk. And (showing my age here) so was the brand new electronic typewriter my dad had gone out and bought for me.

My dad was not the most emotionally demonstrable person in the world. But there it was, proof that, okay, he still didn’t know why the hell I was spending all my time inside imaginary worlds, but just because he didn’t see any value in it, didn’t mean that others couldn’t. And it didn’t mean he didn’t see any value in me. Maybe he had no idea what the hell I was doing, but he made sure I had the tools to keep trying.

My dad died before I became a published author. We were on our way to repairing our relationship at that time, but we weren’t quite there yet. I think we would have got there in the end. Sometimes I like to imagine the look on his face if I could have shown him the sort of books I write, but I like to think he would have secretly got a kick out of it. Or maybe he would have done the same thing he did when I was fourteen: looked at me like he was wondering what the hell was going on inside my head, then gone out and bought another typewriter.

More about Lisa:

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn't know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she's too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.



Thanks for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of Lisa's books, our Q&A, and another chance to win.

Until then, happy reading!!


  1. Angela:
    Thank you Lisa for sharing your personal story, it wasn't boring at all and i enjoyed reading about (a bit of) your childhood and your relationship with your father.

  2. Thanks for this post!!


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