We are thrilled to welcome Kelly Jensen to Sinfully today, as she celebrates the release of her new book Block and Strike.
Writing Kids and Family
Block and Strike is the first book I’ve written where kids and family play an important role. Previously, my characters had all been somewhat estranged from their families for various reasons—apocalypse, disaster, aliens, differences of opinion and the drift of age. It didn’t seem odd to me that most of my characters were somewhat solitary and disconnected, though, until Jake arrived on the page with a daughter, a best friend, a large extended family and a job with a boss he actually liked and admired. Who was this man? And why did he want to complicate my story with so many extra people?
Jake being very social is an important facet of the story. In the simplest instance, his relationship with his family and friends shows just how lonely and disconnected Max is. Having a good and loving family doesn’t necessarily make Jake’s life any easier, however. He has more people to disappoint and more critics when he makes mistakes. Letting down the people you love is probably one of the most difficult instances to recover from.
I didn’t have to look far for inspiration when it came to writing Max and Jake’s disparate experiences with family. For Max, I drew a lot on my experience with my mother. She was a very distant person, due largely to the fact she struggled with mental illness. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to please a person who doesn’t have a clear picture of what makes them happy. Max tried for years to be what his father needed him to be—and failed. Yet, even after he moved to the city, he still held himself to the same impossible standards. I can only hope that, like me, he will eventually come to terms with the fact that perfection is being who you want to be—not what others think you should be.
For Jake, I shared my love for my father. Jake’s weekly visits to Doylestown to visit his folks? That’s me riding out to my dad’s place every weekend to hang out. He and his wife always provided good food, good company and a safe space where I could either just be myself, or bring my friends. Or both. So often, I would end up staying the entire weekend, traveling back to the city with my father on Monday. Even in my forties, I enjoy visiting my dad. Sadly, now that we live on different continents, those visits are rare. That doesn’t mean we do something special every time we hang out, though. Sometimes we just do nothing and while I enjoy all our road trips and special outings, just sitting on the couch to watch a really bad disaster movie is good too.
Just because I am close with my father doesn’t mean he approves of everything I do. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and some of my unhappiest memories are of having to admit them to him. Writing Jake with his family helped me appreciate the fact that even though he’d made mistakes—some quite shocking—good family stands by. They provide censure and their teasing can cut like no other, but after the air clears, they’re still there.
Jake’s daughter doesn’t get a lot of page time, but she’s so often in his thoughts, and is, really, his driving purpose in this book. As a mother, I didn’t have to look far for the inspiration for that story line. J I was worried about putting a kid in a book as it can be difficult to balance such an important ‘third character’ when writing a love story. I loved the writing Jake as a father so much, however, that I immediately wrote another book featuring a dad with a teenage daughter, and as I write this post, I’m plotting a book with a dad and son. You could say I’m hooked.
Block and Strike
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 6th January 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
::: JANE’S REVIEW :::
Meet Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. Two winners will each receive $25 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.
Question: Romances with kids and family, yes or no? (Do all those ‘extras’ annoy you?)