I am in fangirl mode today, y’all. Avril Ashton is one of my very favorite M/M authors. Her Brooklyn Sinners series is incredible. These men are larger than life and broken and hard and searching and HOT! I squeed all through an email to her after I read the first one and haven’t stopped hanging on every word she writes or says since… If you have not read this series, go, do it as soon as you get done reading the interview below, or so help me…
1. I know I’ve asked before, however, please talk again about how you came up with the Sinners series…
I was listening to Rihanna’s Man Down. In it she talks about shooting a man, in public, taking his life. A scene flashed before my eyes of that shooting. Two men. One gets shot. Who did it and why? What’s the story? I based Love the Sinner (Brooklyn Sinners #1) on that premise and worked backward, exploring the characters and their motivation. I’m a huge fan of conflict, of gray areas, of the anti-hero, so I thought well, hell, why don’t we have two men fall in love? Why don’t we make it a cop falling in love with a gang leader, the same gang leader he’s trying to arrest? The same one who shoots him? Eh? Eh? I loved it! I’d only planned to do that one book, but as supporting characters popped up I had to change that train of thought fast. It appeared everyone had secrets, everyone wanted love, and they all wanted me to tell their story.
2. Do you have a favorite set of characters in the Sinners books? They make you laugh, cry, get all kinds of HOT… Are any of them more favored in your mind?
I love them all. Clichéd, but man, so true. They’re all damaged, all so completely taken the instant they meet that one special person. They offer no excuses about the life they lead, just state the facts and let you make your judgments. I love that about the men of the Brooklyn Sinners. Cop and Angel do it for me, they always will, because they were the first, they broke the mole. JP and Shane hold me captive because of how broken Pablo was, how much losing Angel hurt him. Shane comes in and bumrushes his life, twists him into a freaking emo-pretzel, and forces him to choose between the life he led and the one he wanted. Syren and Kane. Ho boy. Another beast, but the most personal. The subject matter, especially Syren’s personal demons, are mine, so I relived some pretty heavy stuff while writing A Sinner Born. I still love Syren and Kane because no one could’ve handled Syren, but Kane.
3. Which comes first…the music or the book idea?
Both at the same time. Really. Sometimes hearing a song sparks a scene. Just like Melanie Fiona’s “4 A.M” sparked that fierce, brutal love scene with Angelo and Cop in LtS in Coney Island the night of Angel’s birthday party. I heard that song and the scene was there, all I had to do was write it down. And that was before I’d even written page one of chapter one. Other times, the story comes then a song suddenly makes sense, and fits beautifully. Like Lupe Fiasco’s Battle Scars. That song made so much sense while I was writing A Sinner Born. It fit both Syren’s physical and emotional state.
4. Pantser or Plotter? Panster. I sit down to start a new WIP with the book title, my characters name, and at least one scene in my head that I know just has to be included. How, when or why, I never know.
5. You need your coffee as much as I need mine, so… Dark, Medium, or Light roasts? Cream? Sugar? Syrup? How big is your favorite mug? How many times do you refill your favorite mug each day? What is your favorite drink from Starbucks?
Believe or not, I’ve never tasted Starbucks. Regular coffee mug, refills about twice if I make it. Sometimes I buy from the Dunkin Donuts three doors down from me. I’m not one for any kind of fancy mess. Folgers. Light and sweet. Cream and sugar. Easy peasy. I’m a New Yorker. Don’t need anything more than that.
6. And cake… You like cake. What is your hands down favorite cake?
Cake! In the West Indies we have a cake called Black Cake. It’s basically a cake infused with rum and wine. Dark food coloring gives it its name, it is black and soft and hmm. I’m freaking drooling right now. My sister-inlaw makes them with peanuts and dried fruits. It’s so good. Usually it’s only made in West Indian households at Christmas time. Depending on the amount of liquor involved, one slice can get you drunk. The last time she made it for us, ‘cause I don’t bake, I ate one all by myself, in about one hour. I murdered that cake. R.I.P. Now I need to go beg her to make me one. Thanks very much.
7. What’s the best compliment you’ve gotten on one of your books?
That someone likes it. That alone makes my day. I’m easy to please.
8. How did you get started writing?
I’ve always been into it, but I lost my way for while. It took me getting with Mr. A, and him being all kinds of awesome and creative, to give me the impetus to finally say, this is what I love, this is what I want to do. I began writing in summer ’09 and here I am.
9. Who is your favorite all-time author, book, characters?
Can’t pull anyone off top, but the book that sticks in my mind is Mary Lynn Baxter’s Like Silk. I was reading it at the EDJ one day, crying my eyes out and thinking, this is what I want, to make someone cry while reading my book.
10. Will Mr. A ever appear in a book as a secondary character?
LOL Every one of my characters are influenced by Mr. A. He’s the original Brooklyn Sinner and my own personal anti-hero. He’s all over those books, son.
A Sinner Born
Book three in the Brooklyn Sinners series.
One man buried in secrets. Another still grieving the love he lost. Their worlds collide in a battle between memories, old and new, while trust hangs by a fragile thread.
Syren Rua is at war. He battles painful childhood demons and his intense need for the first person who makes him feel. As Faro, Syren makes deals with the worst while taking the steps necessary to bring his family’s killer to justice. He isn’t one to indulge in selfish needs, but he’ll make the time in this instance. Syren has been watching Kane Ashby, craving the grieving man for his own. He’s always stayed away from temptation, but that’s about to change.
Kane isn’t over the death of his long-time partner. He’s certainly not ready for a relationship, sexual or otherwise, but Syren isn’t a man who takes no for an answer. The unpredictable Syren offers nothing but secrets and brings with him memories so dark, they could wipe out any chance the two might ever have. Syren brings Kane’s heart back to life. But it is also Syren who could inflict the most damage.
Inside Scoop: One of our heroes has a panty fetish. And it’s hot. This book also contains brief references to rape and child abuse.
A Romantica® gay/lesbian erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
“Heard you were looking for me.”
Kane scowled at the man on his computer screen. “Really, it’s been days since I told Gabe to tell you to call me.”
The man now known as Rafe Soto-Ashby lifted his shoulder in a careless shrug. “I was busy.”
“Uh-huh.” Rafe did freelance architectural work out of the couple’s home in North Carolina, nothing major to bring attention to himself and Gabe, just enough to keep him out of Gabe’s hair and to keep Rafe busy and engaged in something he liked doing. “What are you working on?”
“Community center for at-risk teens.” Rafe’s face broke out in a grin. “Good stuff.”
With a spark in his eyes like that, Kane could understand how his brother fell in love with the former gunrunner. Now Kane only felt slightly guilty for wanting to shoot Rafe when he found the man in his brother’s kitchen naked except for a pair of tight black briefs. He was Angelo Pagan then and his body was nuts. Kane may have peeked a little.
Okay a lot, but he was entitled.
“What’s up?” Rafe asked.
Kane leaned forward on his elbow as he stared into the laptop he’d placed on the island in his kitchen. “In your former life you had dealings with a guy named Faro, right?”
For his part, Rafe didn’t so much as blink. “Is this an official question, Marshal?”
Kane glowered. “Of course not. This is me, your brother-in-law, asking you something I really hope you answer.”
Rafe crossed his arms. “Personal then?”
“Which response gets me an honest answer from you?” He took a sip from his coffee cup, watching over the top as Rafe leaned forward.
“You tell me what’s got you asking about Faro and I’ll tell you what I can.”
Kane sighed. “I know who he is because he told me. What I want to know is why he knows who I am. He helped me find a runner in New Orleans and he’s been, uh, calling me.” He looked away from the computer when he spoke the last part.
“Calling you, how? Threatening?”
He shook his head at Rafe’s sharp words. “No, nothing like that. The opposite really.” His face heated and he really didn’t want to talk about Faro anymore. “He says I intrigue him.” God, he embarrassed himself saying those words.
Rafe cocked his head to the side, his mouth open. “Intriguing, huh?” He barked a laugh. “Good one.”
Kane waved his words away. “I need to know how to make him go away. I don’t need a criminal calling me and compromising my job. I’m sure you have something I can use.”
Rafe’s eyebrow shot up. “Blackmail, Marshal?”
“He’s a smug little brat with too much time on his hands,” Kane said fiercely. “I want him gone.”
“Uh-huh. I hear you.” Rafe didn’t sound convinced. Not at all.
“Do you have anything I can use?” Pretty please.
“I have a lot of information on Faro. He trusts me and I trust him.” Rafe came in real close on the screen. “He was the one who helped me get out of Brooklyn. He was the one who watched out for your brother when I was locked up. He knows my secrets and I know…some of his.”
Kane stared at him. “What?”
“I’m not telling you shit to use against him, Kane. You can forget that.” Rafe got the saddest smile on his face. “I can tell you this. Faro is a man with many faces who wears a lot of hats. He’s a great number of things to a great number of people, none of them real. None of them true.”
“Talking riddles now, are we?” Kane gripped his coffee cup tighter. “Can’t you just tell me if I should stay away from him or not?”
“Do you want to stay away from him?” Rafe didn’t wait for a reply. “Faro is a lot like many men I know, he’s not all good nor is he all bad.”
“God, you’re no help at all.”
Rafe barked a laugh. “I think you like him, Marshal. Despite thinking you know who he is. Eerily familiar.”
“Yeah, whatever. Do you keep in contact with him?”
Rafe’s face morphed into a blank slate. “We speak. Do you want me to give him a message, warn him off?”
Hell no. “No, I’ll do it.”
God. Kane felt the blush wash over his face. “He, uh, I have his number.”
“I just bet you do.”
A Caribbean transplant, Avril now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y with a tolerant spousal equivalent. Together they raise an eccentric daughter who loves reading and school (not so much school anymore). Avril’s earliest memories of reading revolve around discussing the plot points of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with an equally book-minded mother.
Always in love with the written word, Avril finally decided to do the writing in August of ’09 and never looked back. Spicy love scenes, delicious heroes, and wicked women burn up the pages of Avril’s stories, but there’ll always be a happy ending; Av remains a believer of love in all its forms.
Addicted to cake, the ID Channel and the UFC, Avril writes Erotic and GLBT Romance for Ellora’s Cave, Evernight Publishing, eXtasy Books, Secret Cravings Publishing and Total-e-Bound.
Friend Avril: http://www.facebook.com/writeravrilashton
Yay, thanks for having me on!
This sounds great! Will have to put it on my TBB list!
Oh Susan, you would love her books… So raw and emotional and hot!
Great interview and excerpt!! 🙂