DANIEL MULLIGAN is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.
REX VALE clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, making custom furniture, and perfecting his recipes. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the solitude and quiet of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.
When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.
Can a scrappy professor, an intense carpenter, and a stray dog make a go of it in their cabin in thewoods? Sometimes, you have to go to the middle of nowhere to end up exactly where you want to be.
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Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a . . . plantser? I make an outline of the whole book so I don’t feel like I’m writing into the void. It also helps me with pacing: I can look at what still has to happen and say, “Dude, you don’t have time to add another scene there.” Once I have a general idea of the arc of the book, though, I’m a total pantser. I’ll add some little detail and a whole plot line will unfold because of it, or I’ll be writing dialogue and one character will make a joke and I’ll think, “Ooh, that should actually happen!” And sometimes I’ll be on the subway or making dinner and I’ll wonder what would happen if . . . something. And then everything will change. That’s a big part of the fun for me, though—the excitement of feeling like there are things I get to discover as I work on the book.
Are you tempted to write in other genres?
I love love love genre fiction. I’ve always been kind of obsessed with the idea of genre—this loose category of characteristics that arrange our expectations or upend them. So, yeah, I kind of want to write all the genres! The M/M community is so incredibly supportive and I feel lucky to be a part of it. One of the things that excites me the most, though, is that I can write M/M, which I love, and still explore all those genres. I’d love to write a mystery some day; I’d love to write horror; I’d love to write a historical. Let’s just say a project with a little of all three are currently on the back burner.
Do you have an image in your mind of your character before you start?
I’m really visual, so I have images of everything in my mind before I start: characters, settings, clothes, hairstyles, food. Sometimes, I can see them so clearly I forget to actually write them into the book! Then I get an email from my amazing reader, saying things like “must know what this looks like!” As a reader, I really love knowing details about characters’ appearances, clothes, and spaces because it makes the world feel so rich and real for me. As a writer, then, I try hard to build in those moments of description—in ways that feel organic, though. That’s always one of the things that impresses me most when writers do it well: giving you a sense of how things look, feel, sound, taste, smell, without description dumping.
Do you find sex scenes easy or hard to write?
I find them pretty easy to write when I’m doing them right. If I start on one and it isn’t really working, it’s usually because it’s just . . . sex. And for me, a good sex scene is always also about something other than sex. It reveals something about a character, sets up a conflict, shows a change in the dynamic between characters, amps up the emotional stakes, etc. Of course, while I wrote my very first sex scene I was mostly giggling and saying things like, “Tee hee, I totally just wrote that,” to my cat.
Is there a character in any of your books that you didn’t plan on—a character who forced their way into the story?
Yes! Leo, from In the Middle of Somewhere, is a character like that. My friend was reading the book as I wrote it and I told her that she could always make requests for things she wanted to see in the book. It felt fun and kind of choose-your-own-adventurey for me. One day she emailed me and said that she loved the scenes where Daniel, my main character, interacted with people in town, and wouldn’t it be funny if there was a skater kid who glommed onto Daniel and kind of hero-worshipped him. I loved that idea so I wrote the scene where we meet Leo. Then I liked him so much that I kept writing him into scenes. Now, he’s going to be the main character in the third book in the series!
Are your friends and family supportive of your writing?
Incredibly. I’ve always written, but I was a little anxious, to be honest, when I mentioned to my parents that I was writing a romance novel. It was just so different from anything I’d ever shown them, and I felt a little awkward because, you know, sex scenes . . . . But they were amazingly supportive. And I’ve been very lucky because my mom, my sister, and a number of my friends have read the book and given me feedback on it. A lot of my friends are not romance readers, so it meant a lot to me that they were willing to give my book a try. And it was really useful to get feedback from readers outside the genre. Having people read my book who’d never read a romance novel before . . . it was really interesting: they didn’t automatically expect or accept the same things that readers familiar with romance might. Actually, my dad read it, which I kind of wasn’t expecting, and he liked it! So, now I text him all the time with sports questions about the book I’m working on. J
What are you working on next?
Well, I’m just finishing the second in the In the Middle of Somewhere series and starting on the third! The second book is about a different set of characters (I won’t say who for now—you’ll have to read book one and take a guess!) but Daniel and Rex definitely show up. It’s darker than the first book and I’ve really enjoyed shifting gears and wallowing in a bit of angst. And I’ve just started working on the third book in the series, which features Leo, the character I added at the request of my reader. Leo’s a super smart, geeky townie in love with Will, an older guy who thinks of Leo as a kid. But Leo’s definitely not easily dismissed, and it turns out Will is a bit more smitten than he’d like to admit . . .
About the Author:
ROAN PARRISH grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, but is always a few minutes away from deciding to move. A former academic, she’s used to writing things that no one reads. She still loves to geek out about books, movies, TV, and music—now, though, she’s excited to be writing the kind of romantic, angsty stories that she loves to escape into.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, wandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese.
Roan's media links:
goodreads page for the book
In the Middle of Somewhere (In the Middle of Somewhere, #1) Excerpt
He comes crashing through the trees and, from my current position on the ground, he looks even bigger and more imposing than I remember.
He practically skids to a stop when he sees me.
The dog barks once at Rex and then sits down next to me, one paw on my knee.
My head is swimming, and it’s not from being knocked over. He’s here. He’s really here. If I’m being honest, I’ve thought about him so much more than I even admitted to Ginger. In the six months since I got back from Michigan, I’ve imagined him a thousand times. What he might be doing, what he would say to me if he were there—even though I have no idea what he would say, since I don’t know him. I’ve told myself that a hundred times too. I even got Gaslight from the library and watched it on my computer, pretending he was sitting next to me on my crappy couch in Philadelphia. Then I took my computer to bed and watched it a second time, pretending he was there all over again.
I don’t do this. This isn’t what I do. I don’t moon over guys. I don’t pine. I don’t wonder what they’re doing. I never have. I mean, sure, I’ve had crushes. Usually, though, I just show up and if someone’s appealing, I go for it. It’s always been just sex, except for my monumentally stupid time with Richard.
But now I’m sitting here on the ground like an idiot because the man I’ve fantasized about, dreamt of, and jerked off to is finally standing in front of me and I do not have a clue what to say.
He leans toward me, quizzical.
“Daniel?” He sounds shocked.
“Hi,” I say.
We’re staring at each other. It’s really dark, so he mostly looks like shoulders and hair. He’s wearing jeans and a dark T-shirt with a tear in the neck that’s stretched tight over his muscular frame. He reaches down a hand, but rather than help me up, he pats the dog on the head.
Now he reaches one huge hand down to me, his biceps stretching that poor T-shirt even more. His hand is warm, just like I remember it. He pulls me easily to my feet; so easily that he has to grab me by the shoulders to keep me from slamming into him. In this position, I can’t help but think of the last time he held me like this. Up against his kitchen wall, seconds before he kissed me.
He drops his hands and looks down.
“What are you doing here?” He doesn’t sound very pleased.
“Well, I got that job,” I say.
“Congratulations.” He’s looking at the dog, not me.
“Oh, yeah, thanks.” I look down too. “Oh shit.” My book is lying in the dirt. It must’ve fallen out of my pocket when I fell. I scoop it up and brush it off, but the cover is torn and there’s mud ground into the last twenty pages or so. “Shoot.”
“I hope you know how it ends,” Rex says, looking at the muddied book.
“Yeah, I’ve read it before,” I say, but I feel like I’ve injured a friend. I’ve had this copy for ten years, read its corners round. I put it in my back pocket and try to shake it off. I’m not usually sentimental about shit like this. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t have the heart to check whether my iPod survived the fall; I just stuff my earphones in my hip pocket alongside it.
“Look,” I say, “I wanted to thank you. That night… I was a mess. I’m not usually like that, I want you to know. So, thank you for helping me. And—” I laugh nervously. “Also, I want to apologize. I… was kind of all over you and I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable or anything. I mean, it was so cool of you to let me stay and then I just kind of jumped on you and—anyway. So, I’m sorry.”
I force myself to look up, plastering what I hope is an unconcerned expression on my face; an it-was-casual, no-problem, I’m-not-mortified expression. But the second I look into his eyes, I feel it slide off my face. He looks stern, serious. Like I’ve disappointed him in some way. Or I’m about to.
But beneath the stern expression is heat. It’s dark and, okay, I can’t see him that well, but I can feel his eyes drinking me in, sliding over my face and my body like he owns them. Me. Like there’s not a force in the world that could stop him from taking whatever he wants from me. And I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t let him.
When he speaks, though, his voice is calm, controlled, giving away nothing.
“I kissed you, Daniel. Don’t you remember?”
“Hell yeah,” I say softly. My eyes are glued to his mouth.
“I think maybe you want me to kiss you again.” He takes a step toward me. Ninety-eight percent of me is desperate for exactly that. But the other two percent is all of a sudden terrified. Terrified in a way I’ve never been before when it’s come to guys or sex. Terrified because it feels like this may be the most important decision I ever make. More important than deciding to go to college when all my teachers thought I was trouble. More important than sticking my hand down Corey Appleton’s pants in seventh grade, proving to myself that I was gay and I would fuck up anyone who gave me shit about it. More important than applying to grad school or taking this job. I can feel it in my gut.
I feel myself nodding, but I can’t feel anything else. I can’t smell the trees anymore, can’t hear the irritating chirrup of cicadas that’s been buzzing at my nerves all week. He’s taken up all my senses. Every nerve in my body is tuned to his frequency, every bit of my attention focused on the man in front of me.
He takes another step forward, pushing me backward with his huge body. But instead of falling, one step puts my back up against a tree. Rex’s chest is right against mine. With every breath he takes, his chest expands, pushing me against the rough bark behind me. He is heat and power and the air between us is electric.
As if in slow motion, he raises his hand. He places it at my neck, stroking my skin gently with his thumb, then in one powerful movement, he puts pressure on my jaw, tilting my head back and my mouth open and then his mouth is on mine and I’m dissolving into his kiss.
I moan when he deepens the kiss. He tastes like nighttime, something dark and fathomless and necessary. Then he pulls back. I blink quickly, trying to figure out what made him stop. He’s looking at me, his mouth only a breath away from mine.
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