By Meredith Russell (Guest Blogger)Firstly, thank you to Lisabet for inviting me, as a new author with Totally-Bound, over to her blog.
So, a little introduction. My name is Meredith Russell. I’m 32 years old, my favourite colour is purple, I have a goldfish called Romeo, I love cheese but hate tomatoes, and I live in Staffordshire in the UK with my husband whom I met at university. I have a degree in mathematics and was a teacher before opting for a change of career last summer. I now balance the two sides to my new job being both an author and also a cover artist.
Why I write.
I love stories. I love reading them or watching them unfold on the TV and through movies. Sometimes it’s exactly what we need – escapism from the real world. I like angst and drama and horror, but I also like happy endings. I like a love story and the whole idea that ‘love finds a way and conquers all’. My brain is full of random stuff and writing allows me to get those ideas down and beat them with a stick (with my editors help) into a story and something I believe is good enough to send into a publisher. I actually feel sometimes that I have to write otherwise I’ll go insane. I have all these snippets of ideas and voices (not in the crazy way) inside my head and I just need to get them down on paper. Writing makes me happy and I’m proud and feel privileged to have been given the opportunity from my publishers to have my stories out there for people to read.
Why I write gay romance is a question often asked by my curious friends on learning of my change in career. I find it hard to come up with some profound answer. It’s a genre I enjoy reading, I’ve always rooted for gay couples in TV shows and films and I guess that’s it – most gay relationships are shown as having to overcome greater odds and prejudice to get their happy ever afters. And though I’m all for equality of the sexes, it also puts both partners in a relationship on the same level. Plus, yeah I’m pretty shallow, two men kissing and in love makes me happy.
The ideas behind my stories are inspired by all sorts of things. It could be from something I’ve watched or read, a song, things my friends have said or people I’ve met. Little seeds of a scene or conversation that then bloom into characters and their stories. It’s crazy how the ideas grow and characters almost take on a life of their own as they play out this story inside my head. I’m still surprised sometimes at the directions their stories take and who they actually develop and become as a person in my books. But yeah, inspiration is everywhere.
Though I am a new author to Totally-Bound, I do have a handful of books already published elsewhere. They are all M/M and range in heat levels, some are straight forward love stories, others I have written based on my other love for horror and paranormal tales. Some of my stories are quite dark, but at the heart of them they are about bringing two men together and having them fall in love despite everything.
Latest Release and Giveaway
SavingMr Fox was released at the start of the month with Totally-Bound. For a chance to win yourself a copy, just leave a comment to this post with your email address and I’ll pick a winner at the end of Sunday.
How can you hope to find love if you cannot love yourself?
Eric Fox is an actor faced with his most difficult role yet—being himself. Seven years ago, on the way to his high school prom, an accident drove him from the arms of his young love, CJ. Eric ran away to LA, and CJ was left to pick up the pieces of his broken heart and broken life.
Guilt and regret has eaten away at Eric since that day, leading him to turn to the darker side of celebrity—to sex and alcohol. On a downward spiral and after a series of bad choices, Eric makes the difficult decision to return home. But returning home and having to spend two weeks with the man he left behind could be an obstacle Eric is nowhere near ready to face.
Can Eric find the strength to ask for CJ's forgiveness? And more importantly, can he find the courage to forgive himself?
There was a gentle knock on the stall, and Eric was surprised to hear CJ’s voice from the other side of the door.
“Are you okay?” CJ sounded concerned.
Eric didn’t say anything straight away. Instead, he sat on the washroom floor and stared at CJ’s shadow under the locked door. CJ wanted to know if he was he okay? He hadn’t been okay in a long time.
Getting to his feet, Eric flushed the toilet and wiped roughly at his face. The taste of the tuna salad he’d had for brunch lingered across his tongue.
You can do this.
Exiting the stall, he briefly met CJ’s eyes as he crossed to the sink and washed his hands. He could feel CJ watching him and he tried to remember the colour of his eyes.
“Eric, I…” It was clear neither of them knew what to say.
Turning off the water, Eric turned around and leaned back against the metal trough. He looked CJ up and down as he worried his lower lip. The man looked good. “I didn’t know you’d be here,” Eric said.
CJ folded his arms across his chest. He looked uncomfortable. “And if you had?”
If he had, he would have run in the opposite direction. “I don’t know,” Eric said, accompanied with a humourless laugh. “It was my agent’s idea. He thought getting involved with some voluntary work would… make me look less of a jerk,” he added honestly, though CJ didn’t seem to appreciate the gesture.
“You’re honestly telling me you had no idea?”
Eric shook his head. “My PA, Marcus, the guy outside, he printed this list and I just… I thought…” Fuck. This was a mess.
“You thought what?”
The West Grove Sports for Kids Project was the fourth one down on the first page of the printed list. The description was brief—encouraging and enabling kids of all ages to take part in sport, from track to soccer, from the fun of a sack race to serious competitions. If anyone asked, Eric was ready to claim how he needed to stay busy and active. What better way to stay busy than burying himself in entertaining a bunch of school kids on Spring Break? Obviously, that wasn’t quite the whole story. He just figured where he had failed CJ, maybe he could help another teenager realise his dream and sporting potential.
CJ shook his head impatiently. “This isn’t a game, Eric. I need to know if I can count on you.”
“Of course,” Eric said quickly. “I just want a chance.” There was doubt and concern in CJ’s hazel eyes. He obviously wondered if he could trust Eric.
“Anything. I’ll do anything.”
“You really want to do this?”
“Yes.” He did. Or at least he thought he did. His knees felt weak and he thought he was going to vomit again, but he was pretty sure he wanted to give it a go at the centre.
“You screw this up—”
CJ was clearly hesitant to accept Eric’s offer of help. “You turn up on time and you do exactly what I or my staff say. You get involved in everything.”
“Of course,” Eric agreed. He needed to get involved. His body and his mind needed to be kept occupied if he had any chance of not going completely insane. He looked at CJ. Could he really be near this guy every day for the next two weeks?
“I don’t know what exactly happened in LA, and I don’t care. Those are your issues. But you don’t bring them here. So, no drink, no drugs, no screwing my staff, and no cursing in front of the children, regardless of what comes out of their mouths. You are professional, and you pretend you’re having fun and enjoying spending time with these kids even if you hate every single moment.”
Eric could think of nothing to do other than simply nod. Wow, CJ had certainly laid it all out there for him.
“Okay. I suggest you go home and prepare yourself for a day’s work tomorrow. I need to run it by the parents and speak to Ned about running a check.”
“Ned?” Eric laughed. “He still down at the station?”
CJ nodded. “Yeah, he’s due to retire next year. He still has the moustache and smells like cabbage. Remember?”
“Homemade soup,” they said together and laughed, and suddenly the atmosphere between them seemed a lot lighter.
“Is there anything I should know before I have him run a check on you? It’s kids, after all.”
Eric understood. “No. No record. No debt. No anything.” Sure, he felt like a criminal half the time and he’d dabbled in drugs. But nothing he’d ever been caught or brought up on charges for. Hell, not even a speeding ticket.
“Okay.” CJ leaned back against the stall partition. “Be here for eight. Bring some kit and a change of clothes.”
“Oh, and I suggest you do your best to avoid Jodie. She’s still pissed at you.”
“And you’re not?” CJ had every right to be mad. Eric had been prepared for shouting, screaming, hitting, and kicking. But CJ was unnervingly calm.
For a moment, CJ seemed to think about the question and then shook his head. “It’s been seven years. Getting mad at you isn’t going to change a damn thing, is it?”
Guilt hit Eric hard in the chest, and all he wanted to do was to crawl on hand and knee and beg for CJ to say the words he needed to hear. Could CJ ever forgive him?
“It was an accident and we have to live with that.”
CJ raised a hand, stopping Eric from saying anything more. “I don’t want to hear your excuses. The car, the rain, the dumb animal in the road—it was all an accident. But what happened after, that was all you. And you have to live with what you did. I’ve had to, so do you.” He met Eric’s eyes. It was as if he wanted to say more, but he just couldn’t bring himself to. “Tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” And with that, he left the bathroom.
Taking a deep breath, Eric closed his eyes and gently rubbed the top of his stomach. Was he strong enough? He pressed his lips in a line and dared to imagine the taste of whiskey. Was he now allowed to give up with this hopeless attempt to change? He’d tried. He really had. But everything was too hard, and now CJ was in his life, complicating his already twisted world. There was a knock on the door and Eric opened his eyes to find Marcus hovering in the entrance.
“I thought I’d check you were okay.” He looked worried as fuck and equally pale. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t even think. I mean, what were the chances, right?” He laughed nervously as he rubbed his palms together.
What were the chances? If asked an hour ago, he’d have said unlikely. As it was, he was about to embark on a venture with his ex. Not exactly how he had imagined his day going. It was his own fault. A project situated in a small town, all about sport and giving back to the community—he should have seen it coming.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Marcus asked. “There’s no shame in changing your mind. You’re at the start of something and I don’t want to see you fail.” God love Marcus and his to-the-point attitude.
Thank you. “I’ll be fine. Was just a bit of a shock.” He seemed to appease Marcus a little.
“Okay. But don’t do anything stupid. If you aren’t coping tell me.”
Eric flashed his most convincing smile. “It’s fine. I’m fine. You’ll see.”
Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.
Email: meredithrussell66 [at] gmail.com