I’m talking to Amelia C. Gormley today whose debut book Inertia (Impulse #1) is garnering great reviews. We’re chatting about her book, her future plans, her next book in the series, and her goal of aiding the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit.
Inertia (Impulse #1) is the story of Derrick Chance, a man who lost his heart once and isn’t willing to risk it again. (But you know that never works out, no matter how much we try.)
B: One of the first things that struck me about your MC, Derrick, is that he felt like an old soul, and was not a fashionista, which I find all too (stereotypically) often in M/M romance. Externally he appears quite comfortable with his life, but internally…that’s a different story. How did you develop his character?
A.C. When I developed Derrick, I was looking to create a character who was really untouched by a world where so often we’re just inundated with and assailed by drama and histrionics from the people around us, the media, everything. I wanted someone who had the sort of inner calm and serenity we see all too rarely and frequently covet. I wanted someone who was remarkable only by his lack of remarkability, a very common-sense, salt-of-the-earth, working-class guy who knows quite well who he is and what he’s about, who is comfortable with being ordinary. I wanted someone whose ambition is simple peace. Not idealistically, for the world at large, but for himself.
But then the flip side of that is, at what point does that sort of detachment from the drama and histrionics of the world become withdrawal from the vibrancy and activity of life? What sort of history would prompt a character to seek peace and serenity at the trade-off of actually living. What gave him such a terrible sense of being responsible for fixing everything — not only in the literal sense with his job — but in a much more figurative sense, that he’d be willing to eschew connections with other people rather than weigh himself down with that sort of obligation?
B: I think that one of the other things that I liked about Derrick (and this was because of its all-too-often realism within the gay community) was how he fell into a routine, and how that routine, though solitary, became how he defined his life rather than actually living it. Was something you planned, or did the story simply develop that way?
A.C. I’m not sure I planned his life to be as regimented as it turned out to be, but I knew from the start that Derrick was a creature of habit, a person who is most comfortable and happiest when things are orderly and familiar. As I continued to develop Derrick, however, what emerged was a deep-seated need to predict and control outcomes wherever possible. On the surface he seems laid-back and willing to roll with whatever comes his way, but underneath he’s the worst sort of control freak. Because of the pain in his past, he’s come to fear entropy so much that everything has to be planned and organized to eliminate unpredictable outcomes.
B: When is the next book in the series coming out and what should we expect? (SEE BELOW for a bonus excerpt.)
A.C. If everything goes well with my editor, I hope to release Acceleration at the end of November, early December at the latest.
Acceleration will deal with the deepening of Derrick and Gavin’s relationship. Inertia was about them finding a way to bridge the gap between one another, to overcome their individual hurts and fears enough to be willing to give a relationship a chance. Acceleration deals with them settling into that relationship, both sexually and emotionally.
Author Leta Blake wrote a wonderful analysis of Inertia in which she called Derrick out on his emotional withholding and the fact that, while he’s entered into this relationship, he’s not returning the level of trust Gavin has displayed in him. Gavin made himself very deeply vulnerable, and Derrick hasn’t done that. He’s not even sure how to begin doing that, and that’s what he needs to learn. Because after his previous experience, Gavin is learning to rebuild his boundaries with regard to how he’s willing to allow himself to be treated. His antennae for potential mistreatment are a little hypersensitive just now. He’s on alert for potential imbalances which can once again send him into another abusive dynamic, so Derrick’s inability to be open and vulnerable with him is going to hit some triggers.
So Acceleration is going to be about learning to trust, learning to give and take, learning to let go of the past enough to actually work toward the future even when it means letting of some of that obsessive need for control of all the outcomes. It’s going to be about realizing that finding someone you love doesn’t guarantee a happy ending, unless you’re willing to put some effort into it. In fact, in that regard, I commit at least one act of romance-genre blasphemy in Acceleration.
B: We spoke briefly behind the scenes and you told me that once book sales cover costs one of your goals was to start donating some of your proceeds to theRuthEllisCenter inDetroit. Why there and what brought you to that decision?
A.C. Though I now live in Portland,Oregon, I grew up only about an hour north of where Derrick and Gavin live, just south of Flint, Michigan. One thing I wanted to be sure to do when setting a story in Detroit was not to white-wash it entirely. I almost made Derrick a person of color. I wanted to, but it just didn’t work for him as a character. He was actually very insistent in my head about that whenever I considered it. His background and perspective were different and he wouldn’t let me write him because I was trying to make him someone he wasn’t. Making Derrick’s best friend, Devon, an African American was how I compromised on that front.
I also wanted to acknowledge the issues of poverty and homelessness in Detroit, particularly for young people, which is why Devon is a social worker in an organization that works to get homeless youth off the streets. Devon’s organization doesn’t focus specifically on LGBT youth because again, it was an issue of what worked for the character. Coming from his background as an orphan and a product of the foster-care system and being straight, Devon wouldn’t have that sort of focus. Otherwise, I would have specified that Devon worked for the Ruth Ellis Center.
When I was trying to decide on a charitable organization with which I wanted to become involved, two choices really stood out for me. One was Outside-In here in Portland, which is a wonderful organization and I can’t speak highly enough about it, and the other was the Ruth Ellis Center. Honestly, I chose the REC because it needs the help more. The Pacific NW has a lot more resources for people under the rainbow than Detroit. So that was a simple decision.
B: Outstanding! Amelia has been generous enough to give us a little teaser for book #2 below . (Sorry, but I made her give me a SFW snippet.) You can also find links to her website, social sites, and places to purchase her novel below.
Impulse, Book Two
by Amelia C. Gormley
GAVIN HAYES IS EVERYTHING DERRICK COULD ASK FOR IN A LOVER. Gorgeous. Passionate. Great in bed. Derrick finds it very easy to just let himself go, to let Gavin guide him and teach him all the things he missed during a decade of celibacy. In the course of a single weekend, Derrick’s routine is transformed, his mornings and evenings filled with sex. Sweet, seductive, wild or raunchy, Gavin offers to him all the pleasure he’s denied himself for so long.
But learning how to be a lover in bed is one thing. Learning to be one out of bed is another. For Derrick, being alone has become habit. Sharing his confidences doesn’t come nearly as readily as sharing his bed. And after so many losses, the last thing Derrick wants is to become dependent upon another person who might not always be there.
And Gavin always being there is far from certain. With an ex-lover lurking in the background, and the question of Gavin’s future health still outstanding, neither Gavin nor Derrick feel capable of asking for anything more than right now. But neither will Gavin be kept on the fringes of Derrick’s life. Can Derrick let someone in, before the opportunity passes him by?
Cocky, self-satisfied, post-coital Gavin was another one to add to his list, Derrick mused as he glanced at Gavin across the table at dinner. Their nooner had pushed away the morning’s awkwardness. The raw clamor inside Derrick’s head had quieted. Watching Gavin banter and laugh with Devon and Hannah, he could relax and enjoy what the moment offered.
Gavin paused at the end of an anecdote about his sister’s bat mitzvah to take a drink of his beer, and looked at Derrick across the table. His gaze was warm, his eyes dancing, the color on his freckled cheeks high. Derrick thought he might do just about anything to keep that look in Gavin’s eyes. Something in Gavin had relaxed since he’d blocked Lukas from sending him any more text messages at the end of September. If Lukas had tried to contact him any other way, Gavin didn’t talk about it, and Derrick no longer came upon him looking wounded and harassed at odd moments.
The evening seemed to be going well, until Gavin excused himself to go to outside for a cigarette. Derrick watched him walk away, unconcerned for once with whether or not he wore his preoccupation with Gavin on his sleeve.
Until Devon cleared his throat. “Listen, bro. We gotta talk.”
Derrick felt his shoulders tighten, as he turned back to face Devon, who looked like he’d rather be anywhere else at that moment. Hannah’s mouth tightened into a grim, displeased line.
“About what?” Derrick asked carefully, the easy relaxation of just moments before giving way to a chilly tension.
“You should know some of the guys from the hockey league are saying it would be better if you didn’t come back this season.”
Derrick blinked once. He took his time answering, studying the small bubbles as they rose through his golden beer.
“Any particular reason?” he asked, his voice calm and neutral.
“Come on, man.” Devon gave him an impatient look. “You know what their reasons are.”
“No, I don’t think I do.” He lifted his eyes to look at Devon. “I think I need to hear just what it is that makes this season any different than the last seven I’ve played with them.”
Devon groaned. “What, you want me to say they don’t want you around now they know you’re gay? Fine. I’ll say it.”
“Is that what they’re saying? Because if they are, I’d like to point them in the direction of the You Can Play Project. Sports organizations all over the US and Canada have signed on to support gay athletes, starting in with some members of the NHL. Or haven’t they heard of GForce? Or the Cutting Edges? Hell, gay hockey teams are popping up everywhere these days.”
“It’s not gonna matter to them, bro.”
“Because the excuse they’re usin’ is it’s not a no-contact league. They’re sayin’ they’re worried you might get injured, start bleedin’ on the ice.”
Fury pierced his careful calm like a lance of ice. “And why would they be worried about that? What, just because I’m dating a man I must be— Wait.” He swallowed. His cold, measured anger melted in the face of panicked outrage, circumspection forgotten. “Wait. Do they think they know something? Has that douchebag Lukas been—?”
He cut himself off as Devon’s dark skin turned slightly gray and Hannah drew in a sharp gasp.
“Derrick.” Hannah dropped her voice to a discreet hiss while Devon’s mouth fell open. “Is Gavin—?”
“No.” He barely managed to keep his voice to an emphatic whisper, leaning in close to be heard over table.
“Then just what is it you think your boyfriend’s ex is telling people?” Devon demanded, leaning back with his arms crossed over his chest.
Derrick mirrored him, his jaw flexing as he glowered.
“Knock it off, both of you,” Hannah demanded, staring them each down in turn.
Silence fell around the table until Devon murmured, “You lost your mind, bro? What the fuck are you thinking?”
Hannah dug her fingernails into his wrist. “Devon—”
“Well, right now I’m thinking you better watch your tone, especially when you’re asking me questions about something that’s none of your damn business.”
“You are my business. Aside from Hannah, man, you and me, we’re the only family we got. If you’re putting yourself at risk—”
“You know what I deal with at work.”
“Yeah, I know. And I’m telling you, whatever it is you’re thinking, you’re wrong.”
“Then what the hell you gettin’ so defensive about, huh? If the guys on the league are full of shit, why you actin’ like someone been spillin’ state secrets?”
“For God’s sake, Devon, will you shut up?” Hannah groaned.
“You just told me they’re trying to railroad me off the team using something that, even if it was true, would be no one’s business but mine.”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t until you thought someone’s spreadin’ rumors about your boyfriend that you got pissed off.”
Derrick rubbed his forehead. “So help me God, Devon, you call him my boyfriend in that snide tone one more time, I will shut you up.”
“Tell me you’re not takin’ any chances.”
“I don’t have to tell you a thing, and I damn sure don’t have to justify what I do or don’t do to satisfy a few dickheads on the team.”
Devon groaned. “Now you’re just bein’ stubborn. All you have to do is tell me you’re bein’ careful.”
“Why don’t you tell me first just what gives you the right to ask? Have I ever asked you to justify your sex life with Hannah?”
“No, of course not, but we’re not—”
“Not what?” Derrick lifted his eyebrows challengingly.
Devon shut his mouth with a snap, looking uncomfortable and irate.
Derrick let him stew for a moment, then asked, “Why isn’t the fact I’ve already said I’m not at risk good enough for you? Because at this point it seems to me what you really want is details about things that are private and I’m sorry, but no one gets that from me. Not even you.”
“Shit.” Devon growled, closing his eyes with a look of annoyed disgust. “Fine. Fine. Whatever, man. I was just tryin’ to make sure you’re okay.”
“I am.” Derrick made himself relax by degrees as Hannah released Devon’s wrist, looking troubled. Derrick mustered a smile as Gavin passed the table, smelling of cloves, and headed for the men’s room. “We never had this conversation. What Gav and I do, that’s our business. Not yours, not anyone else’s.”
“Right.” Devon nodded, uncrossing his arms and blowing out his breath in an explosive puff. “Sorry, man.”
Derrick dropped his gaze to his beer. He felt scoured raw and aching. Now he could never talk to Devon about his fears of what Gavin’s test results in December might bring, or anything that could follow. No matter how it ate at him, he had no one he could turn to and discuss it. He had to wait for it to play out alone.
“Don’t worry about it,” he sighed, draining his beer.
“What’re you gonna do about the team?”
“Fuck ‘em. They can quit if they want to, but there’s no way I will.”
“You’re askin’ for trouble, if they decide to get ugly about it.”
Derrick shrugged. “What choice do I have? Besides let them run me out?”
“Not much, I guess.” Devon sighed and offered Derrick his fist. “I got your back, man.”
“I know you do.” Derrick bumped it with his own, turning at the scent of cloves as Gavin laid a hand on his shoulder. He made to scoot into the booth, but Derrick shook his head.
“You know, I think I’m ready to call it a night.” He gave Devon and Hannah calm smile. “Thanks for inviting us out, but I’ve got an early job in the morning.”
He flicked a glance at Gavin, who gnawed on his bottom lip. Shit. He’d told Gavin he didn’t have a job in the morning already. Gavin said nothing, though. He grabbed his coat off the hook beside the booth and slipped into it as he murmured his goodbyes to Devon and Hannah.
“You want to tell me why we had to run out of there?” Gavin asked once they were back in Derrick’s truck.
The smile Derrick offered him required effort. “Maybe I just wanted to get you back to the house so I could have you to myself.”
“Well, I’ll never say no to that.” Gavin grinned back, but his eyes were a little too keen as he watched Derrick. Grateful for the distraction of driving, Derrick kept his eyes on traffic and worked on shaking off the tension of his argument with Devon. “You sure you’re all right?”
“Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?” He couldn’t tell Gavin, he thought, keeping his expression neutral as he navigated through traffic. Gavin had enough to worry about, without Derrick adding to his troubles. Worse, he might blame himself, or worry that being with him made too much trouble for Derrick.
No. It was better just to suck it up. Deal with it quietly, so Gavin wouldn’t have to worry.
“I don’t know,” Gavin murmured, turning to stare out the passenger window.
Something began to ache inside Derrick’s chest again, clenching in counterpoint to the drumming of a single thought over and over in his mind. As he had that morning, when Gavin had asked him about his music, he knew without a doubt that he had let Gavin down.
He just didn’t know how.
“Maybe I should go home,” Gavin said as they pulled into Derrick’s driveway. He opened the door of the truck before Derrick had even turned off the ignition. “I don’t think either of us is in a very good frame of mind tonight. I’ll go inside and get my things.”
The hollow, aching sense of failure transformed into a heart-racing jolt of panic. He followed Gavin quickly into the house.
“I really wish you wouldn’t.”
“Are you going to tell me what’s eating you?” Gavin demanded.
“I don’t know,” Derrick said with a frustrated shrug. “It’s not anything worth ruining our night over, that’s for certain. Just… don’t go. Please.”
He wasn’t sure just what his expression gave away, but something in Gavin softened. He reached out and drew Derrick close, and the sense of anxiety began to abate. Touching Gavin, being touched, even when everything else felt wrong, that was right.
He slid his hand along Gavin’s jaw, pulling him into a kiss that grew urgent and needful. He felt the overwhelming tide of emotion he’d fought to keep in check that morning begin to rise again, threatening to drown him. He pressed his forehead to Gavin’s, seeking something, anything, to say to hold it all at bay. Fear made his breath come short and fast as he cupped Gavin’s face and drew back to look at him.
“I love you,” he murmured, panic and elation fighting for room in the constricted confines of his chest. “That’s… that’s all. That’s what this is about.”
Gavin’s eyes widened, and Derrick cut off whatever response he was about to give with another kiss.
He didn’t have to talk again that night.
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