An Interview with Posy:
What are your characters’ biggest flaws?
In Spark, Hugo Thorson’s biggest flaw is that he doesn’t believe in his own value in romantic relationships. Some of that stems from the loss of his father as a teen, which has created this drive to be loved and accepted by men even if he has to sacrifice part of himself for it. The other component is that many men have treated him horribly over the years. Yet that devalued feeling doesn’t exist with women or even men who are his friends.
Kevin Magnus’s biggest flaw is his subservience to his father. While his dad, Peder Magnus, is a force to be reckoned with, Kevin folds and bends to him quite easily. He’s been conditioned to follow Peder’s rule since he was a small boy, and he craves fraternal approval and affection. Even as an adult, he carries a lot of these same feelings around and isn’t able to start shedding them until after Peder dies.
Without giving away too many spoilers, what was your favorite thing about your two MCs?
I love that Hugo goes from being very secretive about his sexuality in high school to being extremely open and honest about it as an adult. He’s proud. He’s even embraced his femme side and occasionally performs as a drag queen (Miss Cherrie Pop!), which he never would’ve considered as an option while in high school.
With Kevin, I love how he’s willing to take risks, despite his fear. That doesn’t mean he takes all the risks he should. But when he truly feels something is important, he finds a way to compromise or make things work.
Do you think your novel teaches us anything about life? If so, what?
More than anything, I think Spark shows how our own lies can hurt and change us. Yet a lot of people can’t be entirely truthful because they need to save face, jobs, relationships, reputations, and more. But it all comes at a personal cost, not to mention how it hurts those around us.
What are your MC’s pet peeves?
In high school, Hugo has a cowboy hang up. Spark is partially set in the mid 90s, and at that time in the Midwest, cowboys have a surge in popularity (line dancing and cowboy fashion). Hugo hates this, because the kids in his hometown of Austin, MN are not cowboys. He calls them counterfeit cowboys.
If we were to get into the Hugo’s psyche, we’d see what he truly dislikes about these “cowboys” is that they are hiding behind a façade, but he sees no need for them to hide. If they showed their true selves, they wouldn’t be harassed or hurt like he would if he let it slip that he was gay. As an adult he has somewhat changed his mind about cowboys, but he still has a pet peeve about counterfeit cowboys.
What was the most difficult thing to write?
I initially wrote Hugo’s dad’s last days and funeral scene in Spark in flashback because they hit too close to home. I eventually went back and fixed those scenes, but they were very difficult to face in my first, second, and even third drafts.
What lessons have you learned so far about the publishing world?
I’ve learned that there are a lot of people helping authors succeed. It’s pretty amazing to see and experience. I’ve also found out how valuable having other author friends can be. We help each other out a lot.
Do you revise?
I revise a ton. And then I revise some more. Even after I’ve submitted my manuscript and the publisher has picked it up, I continue to revise. Haha. Definitely!
What is your idea of a perfect meal?
I love soup, bread, and cheese. Mostly cheese. I mean, I really love cheese! And a dessert with cream cheese frosting to top it off would be lovely as well.
Do you do a lot of research for you novels?
I research a lot, and my browser history would be a puzzle to most people if they didn’t know I was a writer. I think it’s just been beaten into me to have facts as straight as possible. I blame graduate school, but I also enjoy research. The lovely thing about this book was that I also got to research the settings in person, so it wasn’t all just reading or virtually strolling through neighborhoods online. I got to actually walk on the trails Hugo and Kevin walked on and see where they first kissed.
What superpower would you like?
I think I’d like the power to heal minds. I went to school to be a therapist, but to be able to help people with their issues without them having to experience the mess that therapy often unravels would be nice. Of course, the struggle is part of how true healing takes place, so maybe I’d just keep having to use that superpower to heal those same minds over and over again because the people would never grow and change. I’m already rethinking my answer.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve been reading several things. King Mai by Edmond Manning, and I actually started to re-read his first book, King Perry. Also open on my e-reader is Jamie Fessenden’s Billy’s Bones as well as N.R. Walker’s Point of No Return. All great books.
Are you a plotter? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I’m a mix of both. I always have a rough outline of my book(s) and know where I’m headed, but if I plan too much, I find I get stuck. I love the moments I encounter while writing where I’m taken on a wonderful journey. If I planned each chapter out meticulously, I’d miss those opportunities and never go off to explore. Some great things come out of those little trips, but I’ve also cut some of those sections as well.
What is your new WIP about?
Right now I’m working on edits for Fusion and Flare, the second and third books in my North Star trilogy. It’s a continuation of Hugo and Kevin’s story in Spark. In Fusion (released in Nov 2013) Hugo and Kevin are trying to figure out how to combine their lives while being sensitive to Kevin’s children and their needs. After living his public life as a straight man, Kevin has to figure out how to come out as bisexual without risking losing custody of his kids as his divorce to Erin is finalized. When Erin shares some shocking news of her own, the entire world is turned upside down.
Here’s an excerpt from Spark, Chapter 4. Hugo and Kevin run into each other at a party and decide to catch up on a walk around the lake. You can also find Chapter 1 here.
Kevin laughed deep and warm in his chest and stopped walking, pulling Hugo to a stop with him. “God, Hugo. I missed you. You always did know what to say to make me feel better. How the heck did we ever lose track of each other after everything we discovered together?”
Hugo shrugged, not knowing how to answer after their gradual drift from talking on a regular basis during their first month in college to nothing by the time winter break came. Hugo’s mom and sister had moved to the Twin Cities mere months after Hugo left for college, and that certainly hadn’t helped matters. But it was more, he realized.
“We just had different lives, I think,” Hugo said with a shrug. “We went our separate ways after I said good-bye to you in your driveway.”
“I still regret not kissing you that day. I should have just said ‘screw it’ and kissed you like I wanted to, even if my dad was right there.”
Hugo looked up the few inches to meet Kevin’s gray eyes and tried to smile, but it probably came across more as sadness than a smile. He couldn’t believe Kevin still thought of that day too. He wondered if Kevin’s mind ever drifted to the kiss in the wooded meadow when he was bored in a meeting or like Hugo’s had that very afternoon in the car. Slowly, he felt the corner of his mouth turn into something akin to flirty, and he asked, “Oh?”
“Yes,” Kevin said as his warm thumb trailed across Hugo’s jaw toward his chin. “I’ve thought about that day a lot, about our last kiss and how I wish it never would’ve ended. Damn the rain. Would you mind if I showed you how I’ve always imagined that moment in the driveway would’ve happened? Or are you with someone?”
“No. I mean, yes, you can show me,” Hugo stammered, his heart beating hard against his chest.
Kevin’s smile lit up his face, and he looked so young just then, the careworn lines that had appeared between his brows while talking about his father smoothing.
“Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly like I would have said things back then, but this is how I wish I would’ve done it. Ready?”
Hugo nodded and licked his lips, drawing Kevin’s attention to his mouth.
“So pretend we’re standing next to my open trunk,” Kevin directed as he led Hugo near the tail end of a car parked in a driveway close to the roadside. Kevin tilted his head left and right, shaking his hands out loosely next to his body as if trying to get into character.
“Hugo,” he started, somehow pulling youthful nervousness into his voice, “we should plan on getting together in a few weeks.”
“Sure,” Hugo answered, ready to play along with the conversation he barely remembered. He recalled the feelings he’d had, though: excitement about leaving Austin but sadness about leaving Kevin. “I can get a ride down to St. Peter, or you can come up to Minneapolis. It’s not that far.”
That drive never ended up happening for either of them because Hugo auditioned for a play in the U’s theater department and got a lead role as a freshman, something unheard of. He had no time to get together on weekends because he had homework to do and lines to memorize and blocking to learn and sets to help build.
“Seventy miles or so.”
That’s where Hugo vaguely remembered Kevin’s dad clapping his big hands and telling Kevin he’d better hit the road. Now there was just the sound of far-off waves and traffic from the highway on the other side of the trees peppered with exploding fireworks.
“I’d love that,” Hugo said, regretful he hadn’t taken the time to find a ride and just go. “I’ll make it happen,” he promised, and he wished he’d kept it.
Kevin looked at Hugo with such intensity; even in the darkness surrounding them, Hugo could see how blown Kevin’s pupils were.
“It’ll happen this time,” Kevin whispered against Hugo’s mouth, lazily closing his eyes as he spoke.
Hugo tasted Kevin’s breath on his tongue, remembering it, even with the faint scent of lemon lingering. A silvery thread of his memory seemed to actually weave this moment to the moments in his past, pushing Hugo back into that world, filling him with all those emotions he had for Kevin when they were just boys. Kevin was the only man Hugo had really and truly been in love with. He was the ruler every single boyfriend since had to unwittingly measure himself against. And none, not a single one, had ever gotten anywhere near.
Hugo took in a quick breath and pushed forward, capturing Kevin’s mouth with his own as his fingers threaded through thick blond waves and shorter razor-cut strands; his hands landed on Kevin’s neck. Hugo thumbed over Kevin’s ears, allowing the pads of his fingers to tease the fine hair along his earlobes.
They fused their mouths, opening and closing with lips caressing, teeth nipping, and tongues pushing against each other in an attempt to taste the familiarity that was new again.
Kevin trailed his hands down Hugo’s back, kneading his fingers against Hugo’s ass once he got there, then pulling them closer. Hugo felt Kevin starting to firm up beneath the thin material of his shorts, and he wanted so badly to thrust. He barely restrained himself.
They stood on a darkened road and kissed how they both wished they would have years ago, giving to each other more than they took away. But by doing it that way, Hugo felt more content than he had in years.
“Come back to my place?” Kevin panted against Hugo’s temple. “Please, Hugh?”
Hugo nodded as he tried to catch his breath and then nodded again.
BLURB for Spark:
In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.
By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.
When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.
Posy Roberts lives in the land of 10,000 lakes (plus a few thousand more). But even with more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, Minnesota has snow—lots of it—and the six months of winter makes us “hearty folk,” or so the locals say. The rest of the year is heat and humidity with a little bit of cool weather we call spring and autumn, which lasts about a week.
She loves a clean house, even if she can’t keep up with her daughter’s messes, and prefers foods that are enriched with meat, noodles, and cheese, or as we call it in Minnesota, hotdish. She also loves people, even though she has to spend considerable amounts of time away from them after helping to solve their interpersonal problems at her day job.
Posy is married to a wonderful man who makes sure she eats while she documents the lives of her characters. She also has a remarkable daughter who helps her come up with character names. When she’s not writing, she enjoys karaoke, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.
Read more at http://posyroberts.com