We are happy to welcome A.E. Wasp on her first visit to Sinfully to talk about her latest release, Bronze Star, book three in her Veterans Affairs series. Check out her post and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an Amazon gift card!
The Challenge of Writing Chris and Jay-Cee
Right from the beginning, I knew Bronze Star, the sixth entry and third full-length novel in my Veterans Affair series, was going to be different that anything I had written before. Everything about the characters took me by surprise.
For starters, the two main characters were background characters from the previous novel, Paper Hearts. Chris was the best friend of Benny, one of the main characters in Paper Hearts, and Jay-Cee was their boss. They were never meant for to be a couple. Jay-Cee and Chris are twenty years apart, in a boss/employee relationship, and outside of one scene, they barely interact in Paper Hearts.
But, oh, that scene. They don’t speak to each other, but the body language says it all. After re-reading that scene, it hit me like a brick to the head: there had been something going on, unnoticed by anyone, between Jay-Cee and Chris the entire time.
After Paper Hearts released, readers emailed me to ask when they could read Jay-Cee and Chris’s story. So I knew I wasn’t the only one seeing something there. It has been said so often that it almost sounds like a cliché that writers don’t really create characters as much as the characters find the writer and demand their stories be told. It was never as true to me as it was with Chris and Jay-Cee. They came down to me whole-cloth and told me how it had to be.
And, man, were they tricky characters. Both of them are so rigidly repressed emotionally in their own ways, despite both being artists and Chris’s outwardly flamboyant personality. They couldn’t be honest with themselves and it took a lot of digging and pushing for me to figure them out. The May/December aspect turned out to not be a problem. The physical and intellectual attraction between them was undeniable and understandable.
It was the emotional connection that would make or break them.
One key component of both their personalities was a need for control. They expressed it differently, and what they needed control of and for was different, but it was a major part of both their psyches. And that need for control expressed itself when they got together sexually for the first time. There were serious D/s overtones to how they interacted. Oh boy. Just what I needed: kink.
I knew very little about the dynamics of D/s beyond being able to recognize it when I saw (wrote?) it. I knew it was critical that I get the mental and emotional parts of the relationship right or the book would fall apart.
So I did what I always do, I turned to my writer friend. And they gave me intimate details into the mindset of both sides of the D/s equation. They pushed me to go deeper into the minds of my characters and to get out of my comfort zone. I had two amazing Beta readers who challenged me by calling me out on my avoidance of hard conversations and telling me when they guys had crossed the line from troubled to unlikable.
The hardest, part by far, was writing a dysfunctional D/s relationship that readers would embrace; one in which characters who should know better made bad decisions, there was poor communication, and what one friend referred to as ‘enthusiastic but under-negotiated consent.’
I needed to write all of that and still have the reader not only accept those choices but empathize with the characters and understand why they did what they did. Good communication is essential for the trust that is at the heart of the D/s relationship. But honest communication between people first requires that each person be honest with themselves. And that is something that neither Chris nor Jay-Cee had done the entire. But no one was getting out of this book without admitting their true flaws and deepest desires.
After forcing them to bare their souls to me, I had to go back to earlier scenes and make explicit feelings and emotions that the characters had been hiding. Jay-Cee’s realization that he has fallen in love with Chris comes much earlier in the book than it had the first draft. He and I both had to see the trip through to its end before we could locate the beginning.
I hope you enjoy reading Bronze Star and find Jay-Cee and Chris as captivating and complicated as I did. It was hard letting go of them and the end of the book. Please send me an email or contact me on Facebook with any thoughts, feedback, or questions.
Series ~ Veterans Affairs #3
Release Date ~ 27th March 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Chris Dobbs is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants now is his boss.
Everything about the dangerously handsome enigmatic older man drives him to his knees in more ways than one, ways Chris is realizing he’s always craved.
Giving Jay-Cee his body is as simple as breathing, but when Chris smashes through all of Jay-Cee’s hard earned control, he learns Jay-Cee demands more than just his obedience. He wants things Chris can’t give him - his heart, his soul, and his trust.
But the deep connection between them isn’t easily severed, and it promises to heal them both of the scars of their pasts. If they are to build a sanctuary from the rubble of their broken hearts, they’re going to have to risk everything.
Connect with A.E. Wasp
To celebrate the release of Bronze Star, A.E. Wasp is offering one winner a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card. Just leave a comment along with your email address for your chance to win!