Welcome to the House of Taboo! I’m Luscious Lia Michaels, your host for all things naughty here at the club. Tonight is filled with special guests and fun for all. For those of you who’ve never been here on a Saturday, you’re in for a very special treat. Center Stage is going to be rockin’ tonight…literally… in honor of Taboo and my friend and fellow author Kendall McKenna. We’ve got her safely locked…err…hidden away backstage while we finish setting up her surprises for the night. Usually I have one or maybe two special surprises for my authors who agree to join me under the purple spotlight, but when the word went out that Kendall was going to be here once again, I was inundated with folks asking to be a part of the celebration.
First of all, put your hands together for the best damn bartender in any galaxy. You name it, he can whip it up for you. Tonight he’s outdone himself with the fountains of margaritas you see all around the club. He’s got not one, not two, not three, but six different flavors for you to choose from. Your servers will keep your glasses salted and full of his frozen concoctions. You like them better on the rocks? Tony has you covered! (Tony delivers six different pitchers of margaritas to the tables on stage with me, stopping only to give me a quick kiss on the cheek. Love that man!) Thank you darlin’! You do know me and our guests better than anyone.
Lia? Why didn’t you wake me up sooner? I wanted to be showered and ready to go before Kendall arrived. Now I have to rush around and will miss the look on her face when she first walks out—
Alex, your flight only got in a few hours ago. You needed to get some sleep before she got here so you’d be ready to go for the show and for the after party. You’ve got plenty of time. Now get backstage and change.
(He grabs one of the margaritas from the table where Tony was setting them up. He takes a big gulp and sighs before smiling to the crowd and ducking backstage once again.)
Shhhhh…don’t give the surprise away too soon. Kendall doesn’t have a clue who’s here tonight. The last time—
I just about made her piss her pants! (Karl Urban walks through the crowd to join me on stage. The crowd starts to cheer, but he quickly hushes them with a finger to his lips.) Shhhhh…it’s our secret for now.
I didn’t think you were going to make it this time. She didn’t stop talking about your last visit with us for well over a week.
How could I stay away? Besides being one of the few people who can keep up with us while drinking Tony’s margaritas, she pens some of the HOTTEST erotica around. Who doesn’t want to meet the woman behind The Recon Diaries?
My thoughts exactly! As you can see from the standing room only crowd tonight, the demand for her Marines is over the top, so much so that I’ve had to recruit a few extra hands to help Tony tend the bar. Come on out TK!
(Taylor Kitsch saunters out from behind the purple curtain with a tray of margaritas, serving the tables in front of the stage before coming to sit next to me for a moment.) Wow! This place is hoppin’ tonight! You weren’t kidding when you said Kendall would draw in the crowds.
That’s why you’re here, hot stuff! We need some man candy serving the minions while Kendall dishes about The Final Line and her smexy Marines.
OH! I always wanted to be a Marine. Do you think she could use me as a bit of sinspiration for one of her characters? I’ve got tats. Do you all wanna see? (a few girls in the crowd scream out for him to take it all off.)
Taylor! You promised you’d help me out tonight if I agreed to allow you to tag along with Kendall and the rest of her surprises. If you don’t put your shirt back on right now, you’ll have to stay behind. There’ll be plenty of time for showing off your tats. I promise. Well…okay you can keep the shirt off, but the rest has to stay on until the after party.
Honey, where do you want the band to set up all the gear? (One of the loves of my life and the sinspiration for my alter ego’s hero Jake Hartley in For the Love of Quinn and The Island takes control of the microphone on the Center Stage. Christian Kane never fails to make me a puddle when he calls me honey. Whew!) I want to be sure it’s all set up before we bring our girl out here. You know the band is chomping at the bit to perform for her…and for you my luscious one. (DAMN! There goes the thong.)
You know damn well what to do with your equipment…errr..the band’s gear, Mr. Kane. You’re just trying to unnerve me a bit more before Kendall takes the stage to tell us about Corey and Sean. And don’t think for one minute I didn’t notice you wore all black tonight…(he looks flippin’ hot in all black and he knows it! Poor Kendall isn’t gonna know what hit her)
Well, I wanted to help out a bit with security at the door before joining you all on stage. You know how I love to bust some heads.
Yeah I know. That’s why you loved playing Elliott…but tonight isn’t about you, Christian. It’s about Kendall. It’s just about time to bring her out. So go on and finish setting up the stage for your number and I’ll check on Alex.
I’m just about ready. Do you want me on stage with you now, or should I wait and come out after she’s already on stage with you and Karl?
How about you wait until Karl introduces you to come out and read the blurb for her.
Ohhhhh…that will be perfect. I’ll get to see her reactions as I read the summary of her fabulous story.
Perfect! Well, I’d say let’s get the show on the road. Karl? Would you please do the honors?
It would be my pleasure. 😉 Her name is Kendall McKenna and in case you haven’t heard, she writes M/M erotic romance novels and novellas. Today we’re going to have a hell of a lot of fun, much of which is going to be a complete surprise to her. Today you get to learn a bit about her and the two heroes of The Final Line. So without further adieu, put your hands together and get to your feet to welcome to Taboo the one and only Kendall McKenna!
(Kendall walks out onto the stage a bit tentative at first. I’m guessing after hearing Karl’s voice introduce her, she knows she’s in for a wild night. He stands to greet her, meeting her halfway to our seats and grabs her into a bear hug. She’s smiling from ear to ear and so am I. She’s wearing the special purple leather House of Taboo jacket I sent to her as well as the purple dog tag covers. Man, she looks HOT!)
Lia! You are just plain evil! LOL! You didn’t tell me Karl was going to be here again tonight.
Of course not! It wouldn’t have been a surprise if I did and you know me better than that.
I’m just happy we pulled it off again. You’re not easy to sneak up on. Trying to keep my filming schedule a secret so I could get away without you suspecting anything was a huge challenge. I nearly spilled the beans when we talked last week about your return visit to Taboo.
Well, both of you are forgiven for now…unless you have something else up that leather bustier of yours.
You’ll find out soon enough, darlin’ but how about we get down to business.
Okay, but I’m keeping both eyes on you now, luscious one!
Hehehehe. What inspires you to write?
Real life. Things that happen in the world often make me ask, ‘what if’. My stories explore those thoughts. I also have journeys that I want to take a character on, also based on real life issues. I tend to combine those two and come up with a story.
Are you a plotter or panster or a little of both?
I’m a panster. I learned early on that if I do too much early planning, and if I try to force a story to conform to a pre-plan, I end up struggling with the story, or end up with writer’s block.
Do your stories tend to be character driven or plot driven?
Very character driven. I tend to write the plot around the journey I want the character(s) to take.
What are the recurring core issues in your stories? Why do you think you are drawn to these types of characters/plots again and again?
Because I write about US Marines, I keep touching on issues that US armed forces are facing after twelve years of war. I also have to keep dealing with emotionally reserved men, lingering issues linked to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and being in a relationship with someone who is constantly in the line of fire.
Yes! I love this book. I really grew to love Corey Yarwood as I was writing this story. I absolutely adore the relationship between Corey and Sean.
Well, how about we bring out another surprise for you. He flew in just a few hours ago so that he could be here for you tonight. Lia’s asked him to do the honors of reading the audience the blurb. Everyone turn your attention to the right stage and join us in welcoming Mr. Alexander Skarsgard.
Staff Sergeant Corey Yarwood is an instructor at the Basic Reconnaissance Course. His last deployment ended in horror, but he can’t remember those events. Battling severe PTSD, Corey’s drinking is growing out of control.
Sean Chandler walks into a dive bar, and into Corey’s life. An actor and a musician, Sean has the empathy and compassion to sooth Corey’s pain, and the strength to support him as he struggles to heal.
Corey’s lost memories are pivotal to a civilian murder, and a military investigation. Remembering could mean salvation, or destruction. Will the truth be too much for Sean to handle?
(After his reading, Alex walks over to Kendall and dips her backwards, nibbling on her neck. The crowd goes wild as he slowly brings her back upright. Yep. She’s stunned. Alex pours her another drink before helping himself to another.)
I’d say the we succeeded in surprising the hell out of her.
LOL! The neck biting was a bit over the top but perfect. Thank you for joining us tonight. I understand you’ve read this book and can answer a few of the questions we have for Kendall. It’s a good thing too. I think she’s still in a bit of shock. Why don’t you give us the core premise behind her story.
Corey Yarwood has a bad case of PTS and memory loss. The event he has no memory of is under investigation, and he’s at the center of it. He is falling in love with Sean Chandler, but he’s afraid his PTS keeps getting in the way.
When and where does your book take place?
It takes place aboard Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California and it’s about 2 minutes in the future.
Who is hero #1?
I can handle it from here, Alex honey. Staff Sergeant Corey Yarwood, USMC, has just been promoted and assigned to Basic Recon School as an instructor.
What drives him?
Corey wants to be a good man and a good Marine. He has served with a strong and vivid role model, and he strives to emulate this fellow Marine. He believes in duty, honor, loyalty and honesty.
What is he running away from (literally or figuratively)?
Corey is running from himself. He got his heart broken when he was young, so he ran away and joined the Marines. He crushed hard on a fellow Marine, but that Marine has only ever loved one person. Corey responds by earning special training after special training, trying to become the same kind of man his crush could fall in love with. He came back from Afghanistan with PTS and memory loss, and he hides from his nightmares with alcohol. Even after he meets Sean, Corey keeps trying to use his PTS as an excuse for why they can’t get closer to each other.
What obstacles will he encounter in this story?
Poor Corey has to overcome the nightmares of his PTS. He has to stop self-medicating with alcohol. He’s faced with an investigation into the event in Afghanistan that caused his memory loss. He needs to regain his memory but he fears what he’ll learn about himself. A fellow Marine who served with Corey in Afghanistan gets himself into some legal trouble, and he sucks Corey in again his will. There are legal and emotional obstacles that Corey has to overcome in order to move on with both his career and his romance with Sean.
What draws him to the hero #2 in this story? What gives him that push away from him?
Corey is initially drawn to Sean out of pure sexual attraction. Despite Corey’s resistance, he finds himself calling Sean whenever Corey has a nightmare. He hates appearing weak in Sean’s eyes, but Sean is sympathetic and an active listener. He doesn’t judge Corey in any way. Corey believes his PTS makes a relationship impossible, but Sean’s understanding and open acceptance keeps Corey coming back.
What does he need to learn to make the happy ending possible?
Corey has the greatest learning curve of any character I’ve written so far. He has to learn that he’s got to deal with his PTS and not run from it, and that his tough guy act isn’t going to fly. He has to learn that leaning on Sean for support doesn’t make him weak. Mostly, Corey has to learn that duty, honor, and loyalty aren’t words and that sometimes, living those words is difficult.
What about him will make readers sympathetic to him?
Reader will love Corey because he is so humble and earnest. He wants so very much to be a good man and a good Marine, but he’s sure he’s failing miserably. He wants to very much to love, and be loved by Sean, but he’s sure he’s too damaged to be worthy of anyone like Sean. He fights so hard to conquer his PTS and to cooperate fully with the legal investigation, but he keeps having anxiety attacks and flashbacks. The reader experiences these things along with Corey, and I think it makes him immensely sympathetic.
Hey, I’d like to get in on this interview if you don’t mind. (The crowd cheers as Taylor makes his way back up to the stage.)
TK! How the hell did you get here?
I flew in with Karl. You really didn’t think I’d miss your return to Taboo did you?
I think I’m gonna need another drink. Lia, how about you pass the pomegranite pitcher this way.
Let’s get back to the interview, woman! Who is hero #2?
That would be Sean Chandler. He’s a fairly successful actor who is also a singer and a songwriter.
What drives him?
His ambition and his love of acting drives him professionally. His creativity fuels his music. His respect and admiration of Corey, Corey’s profession, and the things Corey has endured drive him to fight for their relationship. He’s also just stubborn enough to keep fighting for a relationship with Corey, when Corey uses his PTS as an excuse to pull away.
What is he running away from (literally or figuratively)?
It’s very subtle, but we eventually learn that Sean is running from shallow relationships with men who can’t see past his looks. He’s running from men who resent the long hours and travel his career requires.
My turn now boys. What obstacles will he encounter in this story?
Sean’s biggest obstacle is Corey! He has to work overtime to help Corey to see that Sean doesn’t consider him weak because of his PTS, and he doesn’t consider Corey a monster, because of things he’s had to do in combat.
What draws him to hero #1 in this story? What gives him that push away from him?
Sean is immediately drawn to Corey because he’s big, strong, and competent, but he’s got a soft heart. Corey could be a bully, but instead he’s very kind. Sean continues to be drawn to Corey because Corey is genuinely interested in Sean’s talent and his career, and seems oblivious to his looks. It’s Corey that pushes Sean away. Sean’s not having it, though. He digs in and fights.
What does he need to learn to make the happy ending possible?
Sean has to learn to deal with Corey’s emotional reserve and his hesitance to talk about himself or his feelings. He has to learn that he can’t give Corey his ‘space’. Sean has to learn to push Corey, make him talk, and lay it all out. It’s very counterintuitive for someone as artistic and creative as Sean. He has to learn to set aside his ‘sensitivity’ and get a little aggressive.
My turn! (Christian saunters onto Center Stage and the lone spotlight illuminates him. Damn, that boy is FINE!) What makes this hero hot and lovable?
OMG, Lia! Are you trying to give me a flippin’ heart attack? (Kendall gulps down some of her drink before she answers the question)From the very beginning, Sean actively seeks information about PTS and how to deal with someone who suffers from it. It’s subtle, but readers quickly learn that Sean is determined to do what’s best for Corey, so he’s out there seeking information. He accepts Corey unconditionally, from the very first moment. Even when he teases Corey, he does it in a charming and loving way.
Is the oppositional force in this story more external or internal or a little of both?
It’s both. Internally, Corey is battling PTS and memory loss. He’s had his heart broken, so he’s hesitant about relationships. As a Marine, he’s immensely confident, but as a man, he’s so very unsure. Externally, Corey’s involved in a military investigation. A fellow Marine sucks him into a criminal investigation that he has nothing to do with. He’s also battling a Marine Corps culture that discourages him from seeking help for his PTS. Corey and Sean have some serious oppositional forces going on!
Is there a villain? What motivates him/her to cause oppositional force to the characters? Without giving any spoilers, can you give a hint as to what sort of opposition he/she gives to the main characters?
There are two villains. One is a faceless specter, the other is a Marine who committed a crime and keeps dragging Corey into the mess, despite the fact he’s got nothing to do with the crime. The faceless specter is the truth. Corey is very afraid of what he’ll learn about himself when he regains his memories of the event in Afghanistan. The Marine in legal trouble is a threat to Corey’s career and his relationship with Sean.
What is the theme at the heart of your story?
That’s a fabulous question, Karl! Good people, honorable people, do not victimize those who are weaker than they are, simply because they can. Strong, honorable people do not blame others for their faults and their mistakes. Sometimes, even the strong need help, and that doesn’t make them weak.
What message do you hope readers take away from this story?
Well, Alex PTS and Traumatic Brain Injury are often debilitating. They cannot be seen, but they are very real. We need to be aware of the millions of vets who have returned with these conditions. We must be sympathetic and encourage them to seek help. We also need to take steps to ensure help is readily available and affordable.
Is this book a part of a series?
Yes it is, TK. It is Book #3 of The Recon Diaries.
As Lia already knows, the series is open ended. All of the characters show up in other books from time to time. Kellan and Jonah are supporting characters this time around, but they’re the lead characters in books 1 and 2. One of the supporting characters in books 2 and 3 will show up in book 4, and will be a main character in book 5. I don’t think there’s an overall theme, but each book does take a serious look at issues facing our armed services personnel.
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