Interview with Kayleigh Sky
How do you get an idea for your novel?
Good question! It’s a somewhat mysterious process for me. I don’t generally start out to tell a particular story though I might want to pursue a specific sub-genre or approach once I have the glimmer of an idea. Glimmer. I like that word—a faint or unsteady light. I rely on visions, or I guess you could call them flash images. They come very quickly. For Backbone, I saw my protagonist, Brey, naked and chained to a floor. Zoom! There and gone. Just a quick picture. For a book I recently placed with Pride Publishing, which will be released early next year, I saw a man being formally presented, almost like an offering, to another man. And for my WIP I saw a face in shadow. These images have to be compelling, have to make me want to grab on, and then I start to ask questions. For Brey, I wondered how he came to be chained. I asked him. “How did this happen?” “What were you doing before this?” “Where were you going?” “What do you want?” “What are you being kept from?” And a question important for the other hero of the book—“Who is going to save you?” With that latter question I was able to start to build out my other protagonist. Asking these questions sets my imagination free, and the story begins to grow.
What is your writing style? Do you just sit down and write or do you create?
It depends. I wrote a lit fic work under a different name that was completely seat of the pants. It also took me about ten years. Who has that kind of time?!! LOL. I plot now, but this is after I brainstorm and work out various scenarios. I might also have a particular sub-genre I might want to try out. Usually the vision dictates the sub-genre but not always. So I brainstorm, free associate, go crazy, and as I do this, I will start to see patterns. This will be the big picture. I like to have my beginning, a couple of scenes, and then a rough idea of my ending. From there I’ll either begin writing, or I will plot the story out scene by scene as I did for my WIP. With this approach, I end up with a tagline, short synopsis, long synopsis, character sheets (of about 10-15 pages for each character), a detailed outline, and short descriptions of each scene. I use Scrivener to keep everything together. Love Scrivener!
Who is the “Writing Muse” in your life? I.E. who gets your juices flowing?
Thankfully, I don’t have one. What would I do if my muse got hit by a bus?! Just joking. I fall totally in love with my bottom boys. My guys are never versatile (never say never, I guess, but… ). Always a top, always a bottom. I love my tops, but my bottoms are probably my “muses”. They tend to be the drivers of my stories. It’s their mysteries, their secrets and hopes and dreams, and especially their demons, that draw me in and keep me going until I can get them to their happy endings.
How many novels have you written including all works in progress?
Including works in progress, seven. I have the lit fic I mentioned earlier, and as Kayleigh, there’s Backbone, the book currently under contract with Pride Publishing, my actual WIP, and three others in various stages of “evolution”.
Who is your “writing idol”?
Wow. Tough question. In the genre, probably Josh Lanyon for simplicity of language and complexity of character. In my youth, I was greatly affected by Hermann Hesse. Partly for the homoerotic undertones, but also because I found the portrayals of personal and social alienation to mirror my own interior life at the time. I’m a huge Raymond Chandler fan. I can’t get enough of Marlowe’s dry, cynical humor. And for sheer, exquisite mastery of language—Hemingway.
What is your favorite plot line type?
My favorite plot line is the one I pretty much stick to in all my stories—something horrific happens or has happened to the hero. Brey was kidnapped, brutalized, and sold into slavery. His happiness and true love came after struggle and sacrifice. I love HEA endings, but they really don’t mean much to me unless they come after unhappiness. There has to be a struggle. The hero has to show that what he wants matters. That he’d do anything for it. And in the process of the struggle he needs to learn about himself, to grasp with conviction what is really important to him in life. He can’t be a passive player. He needs to choose and fight. So I like plot lines where the hero experiences some pretty terrible trials on his way to a HEA. And he must get the HEA!!
Is there any advice you can offer to anyone who would like to write?
Learn the craft. Buy all the books on craft. Read them, practice them, commit them to memory. Go to workshops. Take classes. Buy more books on craft. Never stop learning about story. Story is magic but a real and tangible thing too. You don’t pull it out of thin air. Ideas on the other hand—those you can pull out of thin air. Give your readers a magical but well-crafted story. And write. Write every day. You might not have time to write a lot but you can write 500 words every day. That’s about a half hour. Sit down. Write. Writing isn’t a job, it’s a vocation. It’s the air you breathe, the dreams you dream. Give it its due. Write. Every day.
A universal vaccine eradicates all known viruses from the human population, but in the wake of this miracle, a deadly new virus suddenly surfaces. As the death toll rises, people riot in panic and civilization collapses. Brey Jamieson, a convicted felon, is suddenly set loose in this violent new world. Desperate to reunite with his family, he sets out on a journey across the country but is captured by a brutal man who plans to sell him into slavery. Hank Kresnak is a cop in the new world. It is his job to preserve the law. But when he sees Brey, his belief in everything he has built his new life on begins to crumble. Memories of a dark and terrible time reawaken. He was the cop who arrested Brey, and with one look into Brey’s eyes, he knew his life would never be the same. He was a married man with two daughters, but he couldn’t forget a man he barely even knew. Now his wife and daughters are gone, and he must struggle to save the man of his dreams from a nightmare fate.
The man was bent over inside the gas station. Naked. Tied down.
Fuck. A slave.
Hank gave a tug on Trixie’s reins and pushed on through scrubby brown hills. The sky was a high, flat blue and a dry, astringent smell filled the air. Hank breathed deeply, inhaling a faint tickle of dust. Below was a spit of a town—just a gas station and an unused diner.
His life now. But, fuck, he didn’t want to see this. He was a cop, for godsakes. He was supposed to break up fights and put bad guys away. In his old life, he knew the homeless man who rummaged in the alleyway behind the Thai Palace by name. He guarded a social worker named Joy who came to take a five-year-old in pink barrettes out of a crack house where her daddy knifed her mommy to death for forgetting to put ice in his Pepsi. He dodged a TV somebody tried to drop on his head out of a fifth floor window. He took complaints and made reports. He hauled in pimps, drug dealers and drunk and disorderlies. He went after bad guys.
Guys like Thom—who bounced and wobbled in the too-hot sun. Animated. A friendly salesman.
Laughter floated in the air.
Christ, he wanted to go get that naked man. Wanted to grab him and run off with him.
Like he couldn’t save anybody else.
He wanted his old life back. The life with the dance recitals, soccer, movies with Beth, game night with the girls, work, bills.
He liked that life. It was a good life.
Then a company called Bio-Gen Tech came out with a vaccine called Pox Vac and for only pennies a shot, almost all viruses—flu, colds, HIV—disappeared. Conspiracy theorists claimed that Pox Vac was really nanotechnology funded by corporations to control the purchasing habits of consumers. To them, that was the only way Pox Vac could make sense. Otherwise, it was un-American. There was no profit in cures. Hank scoffed at that. The girls got their shots. Beth too, but he didn’t. Lazy, he guessed.
It didn’t matter. Life went on—piano lessons, school plays, a trip to the Grand Canyon, work.
Then Beth’s affair.
He didn’t like to think about that, but it was a part of the end—like summer’s last barbecues and early twilights.
Then people began to die.
They called the new virus Eve. By spring, shell-shocked survivors scattered out of almost-empty cities. Now, three years later, he lived in a half-dead world with people like Thom Donnell, the bulbous, waddling former insurance salesman, because that’s what Thom was before—a salesman. Still a salesman. Gesticulating avidly to his customers between slaps to the naked man’s ass.
It made Hank’s blood boil.
Brey didn’t know where he was anymore. He thought he used to know. But now he wasn’t sure. His face scrunched up, but he didn’t feel it. All he felt was that bar under his belly, and he wanted to get away from it, but he couldn’t. His position confused him. He didn’t like it. He couldn’t get a good breath in, and his legs shook. He was hot, too.
Lemonade, he thought. That would be good. Under the veranda by the pool. A ball game on TV.
“Giants an’ Dodgers.”
He didn’t like that voice.
Fuck, that bar hurt.
Sweat stung his eyes, and he blinked grit away. There was concrete beneath him. A concrete floor. Oil stains. Oh yeah. A garage.
His legs shook again. Fuck. Fuck. “I have to go!”
Nobody looked at him, though. His voice wouldn’t come out. Only a raspy breath that he couldn’t quite catch. Noise rang in his ears—booming, raucous, shrill.
He struggled, metal bit into his wrists, and the pressure on his belly made his head swim. He was tired. Too tired for this. He didn’t want to do it anymore. Shame flooded him like hot water—itching, burning and stinging. Surreal. Out of nowhere. His memories of getting here swirled with images of swimming pools, orange and yellow leaves, a cell with bars, a blue strobe light, bare dry hills and a fat man smiling brightly.
He couldn’t remember coming here, undressing or bending over the bar. Panic fluttered inside him, and he began to pant again. Please God, please. I don’t want this. I don’t. But he wasn’t really sure of that anymore.
His breath rasped, and that laugh came again. High-pitched. Shrill. “Wakey-wakey.”
He thrashed. No!
One of the men grabbed onto him and slammed him against the bar. Pain burst inside, and his thoughts scattered again. He tried to grab on. Imagined a pool, lemonade, Goldy chasing tennis balls.
The drone of a TV.
Beautiful things like autumn leaves.
His breath exploded. Oh please, God. Please. I wanna go home! Please, please.
But all that came out was a rasp, a whisper—“Help me”—followed by a voice that grunted in his ear. “Who’s gonna help you, pretty boy?”
Him, he thought, painlessly now, floating away again. Him.
AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | KOBO BOOKS | PRIDE PUBLISHING (TOTALLY ENTWINED GROUP LTD)
Kayeigh Sky is a m/m erotic romance writer.
Kayleigh’s stories are tales of struggle and pain, loss and despair. Love is won in the battle to rise out of the depths of darkness. Victory is in the sweet bliss of happily ever after.
Once upon a time Kayleigh hid out in a cold dark garage reading a book her parents forbid her to read. She was nine years old. The book? Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, a story of love between two men–well, actually the story was a little more complicated than that, but hey, she was nine.
In the dark of the garage, a light, a passion, a sheer joy for love in all its manifestations awoke.
And love between two men–Hot!
Kayleigh’s men are often broken, always brave, and always memorable.
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