Today, I have author Rebecca Raine in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest novel The Experiment, a m/m contemporary romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. Hi, Rebecca. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Rebecca: I live in Queensland, Australia with my very own hero husband, two quirky kids and a big black dog. When I’m not reading or writing, I can be found listening to loud music, drinking too much coffee, and thinking about writing. My hobbies (which I don’t get anywhere near enough time to indulge in) include singing, origami, playing my piano, and designing graphics for my Instagram feed.
2. I’ve been perusing your web site and see you write across the genres, from paranormal and contemporary to ménage and erotic romance. Why so many genres?
Rebecca: My backlist is a glimpse into my writing journey. When I first started writing, it never occurred to me I would ever write anything other than contemporary MF novels (some with paranormal elements and some without). It turned out my muse had other ideas. Suddenly, my head was full of all sorts of interesting characters. A woman who was desperately trying to resist fantasising about the gay men she worked for. The modern-day ‘princess’ who couldn’t resist the dirty gardener. The gay man who insisted I had to tell his lover’s story properly, instead of relegating it to a short story. For the most part, I write the stories of the characters who draw my attention. Sometimes it’s because they’re the loudest (I’m looking at you, Harrison!). Sometimes it’s because they are so desperately in need of a happy ending.
3. Your latest release is The Experiment. Can you tell me what inspired you to create this novel?
Rebecca: I was at home, minding my own business one day, when a new idea came to me in a flash of inspiration. I could see a straight man trying to psyche himself up to kiss another man, even though he really didn’t want to. I knew they were in a bar, and that he was doing it to satisfy a lost bet, but other than that I had no idea what was going on. Then the man turned to his friend, who was sitting beside him, and said, “You know, mate, this would be a hell of a lot easier if you’d quit laughing.” In that instant, I knew the friend was the man he would end up kissing, and he would be anything but reluctant by the end of it. I loved the idea so much I grabbed a notebook and pen and spent the next hour furiously scribbling down every detail I could come up with. That scene became the opening of The Experiment and that one line of dialogue is still there, exactly the way Patrick said it the first time.
4. Can you share your writing process through The Experiment? Did the plot come first or the characters?
Rebecca: This one was definitely characters first, though the experiment that’s detailed throughout the book quickly followed. I was in the middle of writing a different book at the time (Becoming Us) but I would spend time playing around with the idea for The Experiment whenever I had the chance. Then, inspiration hit again. One day, the entire plot for the book seemed to download into my brain and I knew everything that would happen (okay, there was some tweaking involved) from start to finished. It was an experience I’d never had before, but I really hope it happens again.
5. What do you think makes a great m/m contemporary romance?
Rebecca: As with any novel, I think great characters make great books. I love interesting characters who are loveable but flawed. My favourite books are the ones where the heroes are forced to face their own misbeliefs, and grow into stronger people, before they can achieve their happily ever after. Angst is a must, but so is humour!
6. Let’s talk about the main characters for The Experiment. What do you love most about Patrick and what makes you want to shake him?
Rebecca: I adore the eagerness of Patrick’s curiosity. When I began writing The Experiment, I knew Patrick would be questioning his identity as a straight man right from the start. I wanted him to be excited about that! He’s also incredibly frustrating because he’s so convinced he has to achieve this perfect level of self-awareness before he can commit to a serious relationship. It’s the only way to be sure you and your partner won’t grow apart, right? *face palm*
7. The same for Logan. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Rebecca: Logan is the protective type who would do anything for a friend. He’s kind and loyal, and really, really sexy. He’s also a steel trap when it comes to emotions. Every time Patrick tries to sidle closer, he turns tail and runs in the other direction. *heavy sigh*
8. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write for The Experiment?
Rebecca: Those opening chapters, that were the initial inspiration for the story, were so much fun to write. Just thinking about them brings a smile to my face.
9. What makes The Experiment different from other m/m contemporary romances?
Rebecca: One of the interesting quirks of this book is that it isn’t set out in chapters. Instead, it’s divided into the sections of a published research paper. Including the Research Question, Participants and Methodology, Data Gathering, etc all the way through to the Conclusion. It was an idea I had early in the planning, and it grabbed me from the start. The more I wrote the more the idea seemed to fit. By the end, I couldn’t imagine setting it out any other way.
10. If a reader asked you why they should read The Experiment, what would you tell them?
Rebecca: At its core, The Experiment is a story of self-awareness. It’s the push and pull between what we believe to be true about ourselves, and the subconscious parts of us that lurk deep beneath the surface. What would you do if you uncovered a part of yourself—an intensely vibrant part—that you had no idea was there? Would you want to learn more? If the answer is yes, then The Experiment is a book you’ll probably enjoy. There’s also the hot guy-on-guy action. That’s always a big draw for me. *wink*
11. You can only recommend one of your novels to a reader, which would you choose from the books you’ve written so far, and why?
Rebecca: I would choose The Experiment. In many ways, I feel like this is my best work. It began with a spark that grew into a creative fire. It follows the journey of two beautiful men, who work so hard to overcome the mistakes and traumas of their pasts. It has a great cast of supporting characters. It’s funny, romantic, and sexy—with just enough angst to coax a lump into your throat.
12. Which novel was your personal favourite to write, and why?
Rebecca: All the Broken Pieces holds a very special place in my heart. It’s the story of Jeremy, a man who has learned the hard way that he needs to stay away from damaged people, and Harrison, the survivor who is shattered from the inside out. This was the book Harrison insisted I write. Not for himself, but because he wanted Jeremy’s story to be told properly. It got really noisy in my head while he was trying to convince me. Writing All the Broken Pieces required digging deep into my own past struggles with depression, which was difficult but worthwhile. It’s not all darkness and angst, of course. There’s plenty of fun to be had along the way as Jeremy finds ways to give Harrison back his smile. Plus, Jeremy is a total geek, so it’s brimming with pop culture references. Always a plus.
13. What can we expect from you in the future?
Rebecca: I’m settling in for a good, long stay in MM Romance. I’ve started another standalone novel. Then, next year, I’m planning to start a new series.
14. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Rebecca: I love the part where I have a basic draft of a scene written and I get to rewrite it over and over until it shines. Playing with phrases, getting bits of dialogue just right, making myself laugh, cry or sigh with pleasure. For me, those are the magical moments of writing.
15. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Rebecca: Line edits. Looking at every instance of words like that, was and just in the book to see if they can be cut or reworded is the most boring task in existence.
16. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
A Room with a View
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
I’m re-reading one of my favourites. Riven by Roan Parrish.
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
Hands like Houses
- What song puts a smile on your face?
Hold on Forever by Rob Thomas. It’s Jeremy and Harrison’s end-of-book theme song (All the Broken Pieces) and I cannot resist singing along. Hearing it makes me so happy!
- What’s your favourite movie?
17. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Rebecca: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it!
Book Title: The Experiment
Author: Rebecca Raine
Cover Artist: Bec Rivers
Release Date: Tuesday, 18 August (AEST)
Genre/s: Contemporary MM Romance Trope/s: Friends-to-Lovers, Gay for You, First-time Gay
Themes: Friendship, Self-discovery, Self-experimentation
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 85 000 words/ approx. 210 pages
When a single kiss calls your sexuality into question, there’s only one sure path to a reliable answer: further research.
I like to think I know myself outside and in. As a developmental psychologist, I’ve spent years exploring the true foundations of my identity. So, when losing a bet means kissing my best friend, Logan, I already know I’m going to hate every second of it. All the relevant questions regarding my sexuality were asked and answered years ago. The results were conclusive: despite the odd same-sex attraction, I dislike being touched by men.
That is, it seems, until Logan is the man doing the touching. The intense desire aroused by his kiss contradicts all my expectations and I have no idea how to integrate the new information. Thankfully, I know exactly how to uncover the truth about myself—once and for all.
I’ve put a lot of effort into keeping Patrick out of my fantasies and in the friend-zone. Our recent lip-lock may have unleashed my feelings for him temporarily, but I’ll get them back on their platonic track in no time. Falling for a friend, especially a sexually ambivalent friend, is a one-way ticket to heartache.
But, when the unforeseen impact of our kiss inspires Patrick to conduct an experiment into the extent of his bisexuality, I can’t resist volunteering to help. If any man is going to join Patrick on his journey of self-discovery, it’s sure as hell going to be me.
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“You can do your experiment with me.”
My heart pounds, as I wait for him to respond to my offer. The part of me that’s sure he’ll say yes is already weak with relief that he won’t go out looking for anyone else. I don’t want other men touching Patrick. If he’s only ever going to do this experiment with one man, I want that man to be me.
“I thought you wanted to go back to the way things were.” His gaze is wary, and he has yet to move a muscle. “We’re friends, nothing more. That’s what you said.”
“Yes, and it’s still true,” I assure him. “I do want to go back to being friends. But we can do it after the experiment.”
His breath has quickened and, when he speaks again, his voice is rough. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“It’s the best viable solution,” I tell him, as if coating my possessiveness with a thick layer of pragmatism will make it less obvious. “Don’t forget, it was my kiss that breathed life into your queerness.” My body reacts to the idea of doing it again… and again… and again. However many times he needs to be satisfied. I make a show of licking my lips, enjoying the way he watches with rapt attention. “How much do you want to bet I can get more than a boner out of you?”
With a start, his eyes narrow and he points a finger at me. “No more bets.”
Laughing out loud, I nod. “That’s right. How could I forget?”
He runs a hand over the back of his neck as he looks around the bar, before returning his gaze to me. “I’ll admit, when I decided to do this, my first instinct was to come to you.” He gestures at me with an impatient hand. “You’re the only guy I’ve ever enjoyed kissing and it totally blew my mind. Why do you think I’m doing this in the first place?” he growls, his frustration coming through. “It’s not just because of what happened when we kissed. It’s the fact I can’t stop thinking about it.”
He’s not the only one. I’ve rubbed my cock raw in remembrance. The urge to shove him back against the nearby wall washes over me. I want to give him something new to think about. Ignoring the impulse, I swallow hard and speak in a low voice. “When you’re thinking about it, are these analytical thoughts about what it all means? Or are they wanking thoughts?”
He glances away, trying to appear nonchalant. “Both.”
My muscles tighten at the thought of him with his hand wrapped around his throbbing dick, fantasising about kissing me while he pants and moans his way to orgasm. I want to know what he looks like when he comes. What he sounds like. How he feels.
“But,” he says, with emphasis, interrupting the lustfest going on in my head, “I decided against it because I know you don’t—” The words cut off and his eyes close briefly. “I don’t want us to stop being friends.”
“I don’t want that either but, Patrick, you’re playing with fire here and assuming no one will steal the matches. I’m the only one I trust to do this right.”
He’s still reluctant. I can feel the force of his doubts. But he hasn’t said no.
“Patrick, listen to me.” I slide a hand around the back of his neck, urging him to meet my gaze. “You need someone you can trust to stop when you say stop, no matter what’s happening when you say it. Someone who won’t get pissed at you and accuse you of being a tease when you leave them with blue balls.” Releasing him, I grin. “Besides, you tried looking for someone else to kiss. It didn’t work. You chose me and now you’re stuck with me for the duration.”
He huffs out an indignant sound. “I could find someone else to kiss,” he blusters, “if I looked really hard… for about ten years.”
I laugh out loud, knowing I almost have him convinced. “Yeah, but even if you did, it wouldn’t matter.”
“Why is that?” He leans closer, as if he’s looking forward to my response.
In that instant, I realise how badly I want this—him. I want to tug on every thread of his sexuality, freeing each strand for thorough inspection. I want to tie him in knots, before making him unravel for me. And I want him to know, every second along the way, I’m the one who is doing this to him. That I’m the only man to ever make him feel this way.
Licking my lips, I take a step closer and bring my face in next to his. “Because even if you did hit your limit with someone else, you’d always wonder how much further I could have taken you.” I lower my head, so he can feel my breath against his neck as I go in for the kill. “Patrick, my friend, I’m going to drag your arse so far down my end of the spectrum, you’ll have to claw your way straight.”
Rebecca is a long-time lover of all things romance. Whether it’s a book, movie, or real life, she will always have more fun if there’s a love interest thrown into the mix. She lives in Queensland, Australia with her very own hero husband, two quirky kids and one big, black dog. Other than reading and writing books, her favourite things include loud music, enjoying a glass of wine on the patio, organising everything in existence, and spending too much time on the Internet.
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