We're so happy to welcome back one of our blog favourites to Sinfully today. Mr John Inman has bravely agreed to join Macky on the couch for bit of a grilling about his thought provoking new book Payback, …which she absolutely loved. Plus we have the skinny on some of Johns upcoming projects.
Payback by John Inman
Author ~ John Inman
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 2nd February 2015
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Crime thriller.
When Tyler Powell's life is torn apart by an unspeakable crime, the need for vengeance takes over. Every moment of every day, as he tries to pull his shattered existence together again, it's all he can think about—revenge.
Will he give in to his rage and become the very thing he hates most? A killer?
Only with the help of Homicide Detective Christian Martin, the cop in charge of his case, does Tyler see the possibility of another life beginning—the astounding revelation of another love reaching out to him. A love he thought he would never know again.
Will he let that love into his life, or is he lost already? Is payback more important to Tyler than his own happiness? And the happiness of the man who loves him? Tyler is determined to find a way to exact his revenge without sacrificing all hope for a future with Christian, but it will be difficult—if not impossible—and in the end he might be forced to make an unbearable choice.
Oh my word, where do I start? I suppose starting with how within ten minutes into this book, my stomach was in knots, my heart was pounding, I felt helpless, and tears were running down my cheeks, will give you an idea of just how much of an emotional roller coaster this story was and why once again I've come away from reading a John Inman story even more in awe of this authors ability to surprise, thrill and wow me with his writing skills.
The opening is clever. An intensely passionate love scene, it introduces Tyler and Spence. A married couple who are obviously very much in love. Reading the scene I witnessed (and felt) their soul mate connection as they made love in a familiar, loving way. A smart way to set up the calm before the storm, I didn't realise just how powerful and important this particular segment of the book was until what followed not long after, cruelly ripped apart the feeling of euphoria; punching me right in the gut as it threw me into a world of grief and hurt right alongside Tyler, who in a matter of moments had his whole world taken away from him in a vicious, random act of violence.
Plunged into the depths of despair and grief, and barely surviving physically himself, everything becomes affected. His home life, work, health, mental state and of course his emotional well being. He goes through different stages of grief including shock and disbelief, guilt, denial, depression... but when anger enters the equation and thoughts of revenge start taking form in his mind; as much as it's something that I wouldn't normally condone, I found myself wondering, just how far would I be prepared to go to avenge someone I loved that unconditionally?!? How intense would that need be? What would I be capable of, if that sort of bone deep anger took over my psyche?
Having witnessed the stark brutality of the crime, when it looks like the police are getting nowhere and the investigation has gone cold, I felt his pain and understood Tyler's need to want to go out there, take matters into his own hands and dispense the punishment that only when administered, would hopefully bring him to the final stage of acceptance and closure. Looking at it all with a sensible head, would that be the right thing to do? No of course not. But then in the throws of all consuming anger, grief and loss; "sensible" would be the last emotion you'd be feeling.
The only person who seems to care is Chris Martin; the compassionate, sympathetic homicide detective who takes on his case. During the investigation he slowly begins to break through the emotional barriers Tyler's erected around himself, but it takes time and even though this gentle cop stirs feelings in him that he thought he'd never experience again, Tyler still can't get past the mind numbing fury of his loss. He wants retribution and this leads him to make decisions and take actions that would never even have crossed his mind under normal circumstances...however these are not normal circumstances, and he's certainly not the man he previously was.
It's hard to explain without letting important things slip, but as the plot thickens, something pivotal happens. Not exactly in the way that I surmised though. I thought I knew where it was going to go, but it took a bit of a surprising turn that made me take a step back and go "Wow, I never expected that!" and suddenly I was REALLY on pins because I couldn't see how anything was ever going to resolve itself. All I could see was it spiraling into an unholy mess that couldn't end any other way than badly for both of them. Everything about this poignant, compelling story is thought provoking. There are ethical issues to debate and questions about how soon is too soon for love to enter the equation again, especially considering the heinous circumstances bringing these two men together.
An honest, law abiding cop and an ordinary man who's been pushed to his limits, craving vengeance; with secrets that could end up breaking them both. How can that combination really work, as Detective Christian Martin is also placed in the untenable position of having to make decisions that could put his career in jeopardy because of his involvement with this emotionally conflicted man who he's falling in love with. Plus there's still the threat of real hands on danger, in the shape the hateful perpetrators of the original crime who are still at large, fueling Tyler's vengeful anger even more. Which reminds me...I mustn't forget to say, we still have our Inman signature doggie...only this time cutie Franklin's roll in the story is less comedic than usual. He's actually quite crucial to the plot in more ways than one, but you'll find out why when you read the book.
I loved how John took complex threads and knitted them together in a way that, for me, never felt contrived. Even though Spence was very much in the fore of Tyler's memory, the slow burn relationship that he formed with Chris over the course of the story was handled in such a sensitive, believable way, I never saw their coming together as wrong. In fact if anyone was the right fit for the grieving MC, it was the empathetic, sensitive detective. They form an emotional connection way before anything physical happens between them and that only occurs after it reaches its skillfully devised climax; which again leaves you pondering their actions but is completely satisfying for everyone involved, and that included me. In terms of right, wrong, good and evil, it's a drama where you can't make everything black and white. You have to look into the grey areas and at the end of the day this is fiction. So I looked into the grey and ultimately left it feeling pretty damn contented with its conclusion. The book starts with a love scene of critical importance and ends with a fulfilling one that's just as meaningful to the story and that also felt completely fitting.
I do love my humorous, quirky John Inman books but this serious side of him grips me just as much. In fact this one has just shot way high into my favourite John reads. Whatever he turns his hand too, I'm just drawn to his books. Another personal winner and I can't wait to see what he gives us next. Awesome, thoughtful read!
Macky Interviews John Inman
Macky: It's such a pleasure to have you back at Sinfully John, thanks for taking time to come and visit and answer some questions about Payback, your new novel. Which was amazing, BTW...I was totally gripped from start to finish. Really couldn't put it down. I suppose releasing any new book is stressful, so how are you feeling about this one?
John: Thanks for having me back. I’m feeling pretty good actually. I have enough books under my belt now that I don’t freak out too much any more when I have a new release. I spend most of my angst just praying it will do well. The same thing every writer does. Hunker down and hope for the best.
Macky: You've released quite a few books lately, 2014 was obviously a great year for your writing 'muse' lol...are you feeling positive for 2915. In fact do you ever suffer from writers block?
John: I doubt if I’ll be writing in 2915. Oh, wait, that was a typo. You mean 2015. God, I’m a wise ass. 2014 was a GREAT year. And I have five releases scheduled between January and September of this year. I really couldn’t be happier. And as for writer’s block, none yet--knock on wood!
Macky: **head desk** Hahaha...autocorrect strikes again!!! Well that's my excuse. LOL...anyway quickly diverting attention from my numptyness by trying to sound intellectual and all 'interviewy' again ..*Cough*
Because of its subject matter was this a hard book to write? Especially that opening chapter? OMG! I was in tears within minutes of reading it! It broke my heart. How did writing that particular scene affect you?
John: Yeah, it was kind of rough. Doing something that emotional for me is tricky. You don’t want to go overboard, but you want to get your point across too. Grief is a hard thing to write, I think. Maybe that’s because it’s also a hard thing to live through.
Macky: I love how you write 'funny'; the sense of humour in your books really fits mine, but I also love your darker side too. Do you find it easier to write one above the other and of the two which draws you as an author the most; Willow Man, your other recent release, is a brilliant horror story. Reminded me of my younger days, reading the early Steven King, Peter Straub and Robert MCGammon style stories. Are you going to be doing more m/m horror?
John: I have another DSP Publications horror story coming out in May. May 13th, I think. It’s titled The Boys on the Mountain. As for writing humor, it’s always fun. But when I’m writing from book to book, I try to mix it up a little. Drama, comedy, horror, romance. I’m afraid I’ll get bored if I try to do the same thing too much. For instance right now I’m writing a Christmas romance, mainly because I’ve never written a Christmas story before. It’s weird. To keep myself in the mood I still have my Christmas tree up in the living room. Afraid to take it down. Hell, it'll probably be up until March. Nothing OCD about me, huh?
Macky: Yay! More books on the horizon! Lol...as for the Christmas tree, we do Christmas in July on the blog so you're in good company John.
Okay, back to Payback. How did Tyler's story actually evolve?
John: I’m not really sure how any of my stories actually evolve. They just kind of ... grow. With Payback, however, I did know I wanted to explore loss. One lover losing another to violence. From that, the story just sort of branched out into anger and then the need for revenge. Then after enough time has passed and enough problems are resolved, the story works itself back to love again, because to be a romance, of course, no matter how angsty the story is you have to find a way to create a happy ending. I was pleased with the way Payback resolved itself. It’s funny, but sometimes those resolutions creep up on the page and suddenly, when you think you might not know where you’re going at all with the plotting, the answers are all there, staring you in the face.
Macky: Honestly, I just loved how the story played out from the moment it began to its exciting end. Without giving too much away, at the finish of the book both Tyler and Detective Chris Martin will have to live with the decisions they've taken, and made, in the book. You've written the story, (which is fiction of course) but do you actually agree with the actions both your characters make.
John: I don’t agree with some of the things Tyler did, but I do understand why he did them. The same goes for the detective. They are finding ways to cope with an impossible situation, and trying to leave themselves with a life that’s livable at the end of it. I think they did that very well. And if they hurt a few people along the way, you have to remember what those people did to them first.
Macky: Payback is very much a "Would I do the same thing if I was in that position?" type of story. Certainly thought provoking, with moral dilemma's to ponder, so are you worried about how readers will react to its plot twists?
John: I always worry about how readers will react. I don’t want to offend anybody, and I don’t want to write a story that goes too far outside the bounds of reality. But I do want my characters to make choices that seem right for them. If they jerk a few chains along the way, that’s just the way life is. Everybody jerks a few chains now and then.
Macky: Yeah, that's true. Going slightly off tack, I've heard that there's going to possibly be a third Belladonna Arms story (just doing a happy dance). What is it about those characters that have inspired you to make it into a series, when generally you tend to write standalone books. Not that I'm complaining, hahaha. I could read about that apartment building and it's fantastic inhabitants forever!
John: I never thought I could write a series either. That’s because of what I said earlier about getting bored if I write the same kind of story too often. But there’s something about the Belladonna Arms stories that really do appeal to me. It’s also proven to be kind of nice to bring certain characters back from a previous story. Like Arthur, in the Belladonna Arms books. I really fell in love with that guy. He is such a good hearted character. So full of love. So outrageous. It’s hard not to love him. And yeah, I just signed the contract for the third Belladonna Arms book. It’s titled Coming Back, and it’s scheduled for an August release. I have some ideas for a fourth installment too, but I haven’t started writing it yet. Unlike some of the other romance writers, I can only work on one thing at a time. I’m not organized enough to do it any other way.
Macky: Is it August yet? <Grins> That's fabulous news, I know there's lots of Belladonna Arms fans out there, myself included, it's so made my day knowing there's more to come from Arthur and the gang. Love those guys!
Well, it's been lovely chatting to you again John, thank you so much for popping over to Sinfully HQ. We just love having you here...there's always a space on the Sinfully sofa for Mr Inman! Hope you'll come back soon. Hugs from all the gang here. And I hope everyone has as great a reading experience with Payback as I did. I thought it was amazing.
John: Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed Payback. Your opinion means a lot to me. And it’s always fun being here. Thanks again for having me.
Meet John Inman
John Inman has been writing fiction since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He and his partner live in beautiful San Diego, California. Together, they share a passion for theater, books, hiking and biking along the trails and canyons of San Diego or, if the mood strikes, simply kicking back with a beer and a movie. John's advice for anyone who wishes to be a writer? "Set time aside to write every day and do it. Don't be afraid to share what you've written. Feedback is important. When a rejection slip comes in, just tear it up and try again. Keep mailing stuff out. Keep writing and rewriting and then rewrite one more time. Every minute of the struggle is worth it in the end, so don't give up. Ever. Remember that publishers are a lot like lovers. Sometimes you have to look a long time to find the one that's right for you."
You can contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org
John is gifting to one lucky reader an e-copy of Payback. For your chance to win, all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.