There are no guarantees when a reader takes a chance on a new author. The phrase “it was good for a first novel” gets thrown around a lot regardless of whether or not the reader actually liked the story. There are a few, however, that debut with such a strong book that the common phrase is useless because it is just a great book, be it an author’s first or last. I would put Dirty Kiss by Rhys Ford in this category.
Here is Rhys to talk behind the scenes of her debut series.
First off, I want to thank you all for hosting me here. I am very grateful you asked and hope I don’t shame myself into obscurity here. I’m really a horrible blogger as I tend to wander about aimlessly until I hit the end of the page and end my post. Bear with me. I ask that you be gentle. Or at least, don’t laugh when I dribble egg yolk down my shirt.
I’m new to the promo thing and talking about Dirty Secret seems strange since I’m already a good ways into Dirty Laundry. This means I have to go back and make sure I don’t post spoilers or talk about something that the reader shouldn’t know yet.
And that is oh so difficult.
Dirty Kiss was actually easier to write than Dirty Secret. For one thing, I had to keep track of Claudia’s family in Dirty Secret. What was I thinking giving her that many kids? And I did the same thing in Sinner’s Gin… but more on that at a different time.
Let me address some of the common questions that get tossed my way regarding the Dirty series. That’s probably a good place to start.
A big question is: Why did it take a year from Dirty Kiss to Dirty Secret?
Answer: Life sucked and it needed cleaning up. Much easier to write when life’s a bit cleaner. It was a horrendous year and my writing schedule and brain were shot to hell by it. Long story short, life’s much better and my brain’s kicking in a bit. It goes on vacation. And the internet is a horrible thing. It’s a distraction! Damned thing.
On the other hand, I find a lot of cat pictures that make me go aw and keep my sanity. Okay, and crime stories. Those make me go aw too.
Why did I make Jae Korean?
Jae actually wasn’t even planned. The whole cross-cultural thing wasn’t even supposed to happen between Cole and Jae. Originally, the conflict was internal. Cole was half-Japanese and half-Irish. He was to struggle between his own two cultures. There were several things wrong with this premise. One, it would be difficult to make such a character approachable to the reader in first person and I definitely wanted to write Cole’s voice in faux-noir. Secondly, it would be a clear picture of the conflict. The main character actually needed to be outside of the cultural comparison to fully grasp the differences between Occidental and Oriental*.
Making Jae Korean was important. I needed a culture that I knew fairly well and still held a firm anti-homosexual mindset. That’s not to say there are no gays in South Korea and that they aren’t making strides. They are. Over the past decade, South Korea has truly explored its homosexual leanings through films and literature. There is a lot of skinship between males on stage, even though much of it is fanservice for their fan base. But it’s accepted and sometimes even encouraged. Most recently, there are openly gay performers working in the South Korean entertainment industries. Are there still problems? Yes. Suicide rates among gay Koreans is still high and there is a lot of pressure for a gay man to marry and have children.
After all, the driving force of many Asian cultures is that you do not live for yourself. You live for the perpetuation of your family. I wanted to explore that and how it conflicts with the American societal mindset that each person is an individual.
Cole is a defined individual fighting to be accepted as he accepts himself. Jae struggles to define himself despite his gut telling him that he is first Korean and then gay. Each must choose their own sacrifice; the self or the lifestyle.
Firstly, Neko is actually one of my cats. She’s a five pound short hair fluffball of black terror that demands attention usually when I’m in the middle of a scene. Secondly, she represents Jae’s primal side. He truly is feral compared to most men Cole has met. He’s raised himself, sacrificing his own pride in order to survive. I haven’t touched on that a lot in Kiss and Secret but I’ll be exploring that more in Laundry. Keep in mind, he was selling himself for men’s pleasure since he was fourteen. He doesn’t value himself that much. Cole valuing him is confusing, especially since he doesn’t see himself as separate from his family. Neko represents that aloofness and fierce independence coupled with a driving need for affection and sadly, a co-dependency on others to feed her.
Is there sex in Dirty Secret?
Hell yes. Sex is a part of life. The boys like it. Cole really likes it. Especially with Jae. With that in mind, I’ll post an excerpt as I leave you.
But before I move onto a few hundred words of Dirty Secret, thank you again for having me along. Hope you enjoy the book and more importantly, know how much I appreciate your support. Truly, couldn’t have gotten to here without all of you.
* By the way, Oriental isn’t a dirty word. Many Asians really don’t care if you use it or not. And that saying that a rug is Oriental and a person is Asian is also bullshit. We’re from the East. Orient’s fine. Unless it’s a train in which case, get the fuck off ‘cause someone’s gonna kill you.
Dirty Secret Excerpt
THE pizza ended up on the floor.
Or maybe the stairs. I had high hopes that it landed right side up on the side table in the foyer. With my luck, the box toppled over and hit the cat, who now was plotting her revenge while covered with stringy cheese and spicy tomato sauce.
We’d made it as far as the front hall before Jae slid his hands up the back of my shirt. They were cold against my warm skin, and I yelped, hunching my shoulders forward to get away. He retaliated by shoving his fingers down the front of my waistband and yanking me toward him.
Surprisingly, my open mouth made an easy target for his hot tongue.
Jae was a sleek, long pleasure under my hands. The buttons on his 501s popped free with a simple push and tug of my fingers, and we both lost our shirts someplace on the stairs. I didn’t have to worry about shoes anymore. Having a Korean lover meant falling into the habit of leaving them by the front door. I was determined to some research to see if I could convince Jae his culture actually demanded all clothes be left at the door.
Then again, if that happened, I’d never leave the house.
Somehow we made it to the bedroom without falling down the stairs and breaking our necks. I shut the door, leaving the cat outside to either continue with her world domination or feast on upside down pizza until she puked.
Pushing Jae back onto the bed, I grabbed at the ankles of his jeans and tugged, yanking them off quickly. A few seconds later, I was staring down at one of the most beautiful men I’d ever seen, sprawled out on my bed linens wearing nothing but a pair of black briefs and a wistful smile.
The briefs came off faster than the jeans did.
“Agi.” He reached for me, but I shook my head, pushing his hands away.
“No, let me look at you,” I murmured. “Let me… taste you.”
Jae’s pale skin shone under the soft light. He was a contrast of cream and pearl against the dark green sheets, with splashes of darker rose on his chest, his nipples hardening as I watched. His slender cock glistened at its wet slit, already damp from need. I was torn between smearing his seed over the bulb and watching him writhe, or licking him clean so I could have him in my mouth as I kissed his body.
I licked him.
And held an explosion of stars on my tongue.
I didn’t want to swallow. Ever. But I did, knowing there’d be more. If I had my way, I’d die with Jae’s taste in my mouth. It was scary, how fast I was falling… how quickly I’d fallen.
Fuck, it was going to hurt when I hit the ground. And fuck me if I didn’t care.
I started at his thighs, hooking my thumbs under his knees so I could pull his legs apart. He resisted briefly, then let me in, with his shyness turning his face nearly as pink as his lips. There were times when he couldn’t watch me love him; then there were moments when he was bold and needy. Tonight, he looked away, closing his eyes so his dark lashes shadowed his cheekbones.
I knew this side of Jae. Vulnerable, a little scared to trust, and trembling under my questing mouth and fingers. Stroking his thighs as they parted, I laid a gentle kiss on the tender skin above both his knees. He squirmed, and I nipped him, growling softly to keep him still.
Then he giggled.
It was definitely a giggle. Hardly a manly chuckle or a hearty guffaw. No, it was a bubbling pop of laughter he cut off by biting his lip and staring down at me with a barely repressed smirk. The honey gold in his eyes flashed, and Jae dropped his head back onto the pillows, his body shaking with mirth.
My tongue on his balls ended that quickly.
Rhys Ford Blog and Nonsense: http://rhysford.com/
Dirty Secret can be purchased at Dreamspinner Press and other fine book establishments.
Direct Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3244
Rhys is offering up an e-book. To enter, comment below about how important culture plays in the stories you are reading. Are you a “immediate players only” reader or do you want the extended history, family, and/or culture in your couples’ relationship?
Open until Wednesday, October 3rd at 11:59 pm (PST). Winner will be selected and notified on Thursday.