Shy and awkward since childhood, Aidan Degas is now a man lost. His twin—Aidan’s other half, Nadia—died tragically young, leaving him with nothing to get him through his days but his job at the prestigious Grand Heights Luxury Apartments and the flowers he lays upon her grave. When Aidan is assaulted on the job by a tenant, it’s the graveyard he turns to for strength and solace.
Patrick loves being assistant groundskeeper at the sprawling cemetery where he tends graves and offers a bit of comfort to mourners. When he sees a sad young man lingering over an old grave, his curiosity is strangely piqued for reasons he doesn’t understand. He’s never done this—struck up a friendship with a mourner. But soon that friendship blossoms into a romance.
It’s not going to be easy for the pair. Aidan is so damaged, like petals crushed in an angry fist, and even with Patrick’s warm heart and Irish charm, it might not be enough to bring him back from the edge.
Pages or Words: 67,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
About the authors:
DEBBIE MCGOWAN is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven, realist fiction, celebrating life, love and relationships. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at 17, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At 25, she went back to college to study social science— tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieMcGowanAuthor and http://www.facebook.com/beatentrackpublishing
RAINE O’TIERNEY lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow author, Siôn O'Tierney. When she's not writing, she's either playing video games or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers! Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on gay romance) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you're interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!
LGBT Author Interviews: http://raineotierneyhatparty.blogspot.com/
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25176624-leaving-flowers
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
1. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
DM: Pantser all the way! With Leaving Flowers, Raine and I would start a chapter and say, “OK, in this chapter, this is what’s going to happen…” and then the characters would just run off with the story. For example, there’s a chapter that happens around Christmastime, and my idea was to write their first Christmas together, romantic gifts, dinner with family, etc. However, Patrick and Aidan decided there were many, many more ways to celebrate Christmas than opening presents.
RO: A no-pants, pantser? ;)
2. Do you have an image in your mind of your characters before you start? Do you use photos or character interviews? How do you bring them to life?
DM: We actually did start off by discussing what the characters looked like, and we found photos to show each other how we were seeing them, but I think during the writing the characters become distinct from the original image. Their personality and traits fill out the two-dimensional representation and they become unique. I love seeing the character grow in the story, watching them change, show their true colours.
RO: I really like to draw my characters…but I’m generally too embarrassed to then share the pictures with the world. Sometimes. If you beg. And I really, really like the picture. But usually it’s just something for me. Like Debs said, we started out with images of Patrick and Aidan but I think they were quickly discarded… And I never did draw them. Hmm, I’ll have to get on that!
3. What's the process of your writing?
DM: With the collaboration, it was high octane fun all the way. We’d send each other chapters, and because of the time difference I’d usually wake up to new writing from Raine; I’m a morning person, so I’d write my bit pretty much straight away, tweak and refine it and send it back. We also edited each other as we worked – especially useful as one character was from the US, the other from Ireland. It really helped with polishing dialogue. But getting that bit of story every morning? It was like a gift just for me. That’s a wonderful start to any day!
RO: Jesus, what a high! To receive each new chapter like a little gift every single day AND to get gushing feedback on the chapters you send? There’s nothing like collaboration. It absolutely took over everything… Unfortunately, it took over everything! So we had to slow down a little bit to get some other obligations finished!
4. How do you fit in writing in such a busy life?
DM: I have an espresso machine. J
RO: I just cry a lot. ^_^;
5. What are your strengths as a writer?
DM: I have no idea. Raine, on the other hand…she has so many. Versatility is one of her major strengths. I’ve read all but one of her stories, and her characters are all unique. She can write contemporary, historical, metaphysical, fantasy, comedy, young adult, psychological…and her research is impeccable. Her descriptions are out of this world and she is one of the only authors who had reduced me to inconsolable sobbing with the sad moments, then had me crying with laughter at the comedy. She is, in one word, brilliant.
RO: Well, Debbie writes insanely good sex (sensual and hot without being porn for porn’s sake—I think subtle and sensual are really good descriptors, though there was a rimming scene in Checking Him Out for the Holidays that made my entire face go ATOMIC RED!) as well as pacing that makes me jealous. Give me your pacing abilities! Rror! J
6. Do you find the sex scenes easy or hard to write?
RO: Oh, quite easy, I just make Debbie write them. :p
DM: LOL, she does too! Nah, just kidding. I find sex scenes really difficult to write, because of the disparity between what we say and think about sex and how sex actually works for real. It’s often messy and clumsy and we get it wrong, or we we’re stressed out so it doesn’t work quite as it should. In fiction it can sometimes be too perfect to ring true, so for me it’s about trying to strike a balance whilst also being true to the characters.
7. Is there a couple or character from another book you would love to have appear in one of your stories?
DM: I NEED Owl and Rell from Bowl Full of Cherries, not just in my stories, but in my life. Especially Rell. Sigh. He’s so cool. I may have to pen a sneaky fanfic…Owl and Rell visit the UK meet up with…
RO: I maybe…stole…some charas…from Ruminations…and am writing them in an all new book. Possibly. *shifty eyes*
8. Which of the characters in your books did you have the most fun writing?
DM: With Leaving Flowers, I think the character I really loved was Patrick’s older brother, Seamus. He’s a big guy and a typical big brother. The way Patrick changes in his presence is fascinating, plus…two handsome Irish brothers together!
RO: Dood. Seamus. I’d love to see a whole story about Seamus. I also really enjoyed Lily and… Oh, I shouldn’t give spoilers! *wicked grin*
9. What are you working on next?
DM: A few things, including Don’t Read in the Closet 2015, sequels to Checking Him Out and the ongoing story of Hiding Behind The Couch. But we’re also working on another collaboration! It’s sooooo different to Leaving Flowers, which, romance aside, is quite a serious story, dealing with grief and learning to live again. The story we’re working on (currently 35k) is a lighthearted adventure and there are lots of comical moments. The characters are both hilarious and gorgeous.
RO: Finishing up another collab (or two!) with Debbie and working on the sequel for Bowl Full of Cherries, my Christmas story from last year. And I’m a terrible person and had to ask for an extension on my Don’t Read in the Closet 2015 story… So I’m currently working on that right now. (But by the time this goes to print, I hopefully won’t be!)
“Quit then. It sounds a horrible place.”
“I can’t quit.” Aidan closed his eyes and left them closed, letting out a long, low breath. “The Grand Heights is all I have.”
He felt Patrick move, felt as he shifted across the center console, close into Aidan’s space, but he did not open his eyes. He was expecting the hug—longed for it even—and as Patrick’s arms wrapped around him, Aidan melted into the feel and warmth and smell of Patrick. Then he felt Patrick’s lips on his neck, so gentle he almost wasn’t certain he felt it at all. He was tenderly kissing the spot where Mrs. Wright had left such an ugly mark.
“I wish I could make it disappear.” Patrick’s voice was hypnotizing, the sound of rain on a tin roof. Aidan turned his face, just a little, so that Patrick’s lips caressed his cheek.
“All of it.”
Their lips met and Aidan died a little, right there, in the parking garage. It was nothing at all like when he’d awkwardly kissed his prom date goodnight, his teeth knocking against hers. Nor was it like Ms. Ashmore and her almost suffocating kisses. And it sure as hell wasn’t Mrs. Wright clawing into him, sucking on his neck like a vampire with a blood-soaked appetizer.
“I’m sorry,” Patrick murmured against his lips. “I don’t know what I’m thinkin’, kissing you like this. I just can’t stand to see you sufferin’, Aidan Degas.”
“Oh.” Idiot, Aidan berated himself as he pulled back. He inhaled deeply and let it out on a chuckle he hoped sounded natural and not hurt. He’s feeling sorry for you. God, you always read so much into everything. “Well, I am feeling much better now.”
Patrick didn’t look convinced.
“I promise,” Aidan said, way too brightly, and turned back to the window. “I wonder if we’re ever getting out of this garage.”
Beaten Track Publishing (Paperback): http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=leavingflowers
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