Today, I have author Brigham Vaughn in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest release Full Balance, book two in the Peachtree series, a m/m May/December romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. Hi, Brigham. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you but what about the every day? Can you share about your personal life?
Brigham: Hi, readers! Thanks for having me here today. I am a full-time author. I am single (divorced) with no kids and I live with my parents. Not exactly where I pictured being at the age of 38, but it’s actually been a really great experience for me.
I moved in with my parents after my divorce/when I quit my day job to write full time and it’s been a really unique opportunity to get to know them as adults and to pursue making a living as an author without the pressure of paying for rent, etc. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate.
Long term, I am working toward the goal of not just moving out but moving to Ireland! I have a lot of work to do before that happens but I’m hopeful and I’ve made great progress in the past six months or so that has me feeling really encouraged that I can achieve that.
In my free time, I love to cook, do yoga, run, hike, paint, sew, and do other crafty things. I love live theater, museums, and travel as well but since those are all on hold at the moment because of the pandemic, I’ve been focusing on some other things. Picking up painting again after years of not doing it has been really enjoyable.
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page and see you are drawn to m/m romance. Why this genre?
Brigham: I’m bisexual and from the very first story I ever wrote (in the fanfiction community!) about a bisexual woman, I’ve loved exploring stories that haven’t been told before.
Through so much of history, the stories that were told about LGBTQ people ended in tragedy so the opportunity to write about gay people falling in love and finding their happily ever after has been very rewarding. The response I’ve gotten from people at Pride Events where I’ve sold paperbacks was truly astonishing. People need to see themselves reflected in stories and the more positive representation the better.
I actually enjoy writing f/f just as much, I simply haven’t found as large of readership and so I’m sticking with m/m for now until my career is a little more established and I can branch out and do some other projects.
3. Your latest release is Full Balance, book three in the Peachtree series. Can you tell me what inspired you to create this series, and why a May/December romance?
Brigham: I actually originally wrote the first book 2014 so details are a little fuzzy but I do remember I had an idea about a young man slipping on spilled coffee and an older man coming to his rescue. It was just supposed to be a single novella, but it has now become a full three-book series with a spin off story so it just goes to show that you can never predict which characters will talk to you and where they’ll ultimately take you.
In general, I have quite a few May/December books available and I really can’t tell you exactly why I’m drawn to that trope. I don’t tend to date people who are significantly older/younger than me so I think it’s just that those are the characters who talk to me the most!
4. Can you share your writing process through Full Balance?
Brigham: Before I started Full Balance, I went through the previous stories in the series. There were originally four novellas (Equals, Partners, Family, Husbands) that became two novels (Off-Balance, and Love in the Balance). I meshed the stories together, added a good chunk of new content, re-edited, re-covered, and just generally polished the whole thing.
Russ and Stephen were fresh in my mind and I had always wanted to explore their relationship moving forward/them adopting a kid so it was fairly easy to plot out the rough plan for Full Balance. In general, when I begin a new book, I have a rough outline of where I want the characters to start, where I want them to end up, and generally, what they’ll need to go through to get there. Recently, I have been using software called Plottr to plan my books. I consider myself a hybrid of a plotter/pantser. Flying by the seat of my pants has been stressful but plotting too intricately seems to cause more problems because the characters often go rogue.
Lately though, I’ve found a sweet spot where I enter that rough outline into Plottr on scene cards and then build the story as I go. As ideas pop in my head, I’ll enter them/write them. At most, I usually plot a couple of chapters ahead but sometimes I’ll get an idea for a scene, write it, then add it to the software. But having it there in a concrete format helps me to keep track of plot threads and keep pacing tighter.
My goal is generally to write about 3k/day, 6 day/week. Some days I hit a brick wall. Some days I do more but generally having that goal and some fellow authors to sprint with really keeps me on track. I did the first draft of Full Balance in about 9 weeks. It was a 108k book and I am astonished I was able to do it in that time. I have NEVER written a long book that quickly.
Russ and Stephen have always been very easy for me to write though and the combination of daily writing goals, sprint partners, and Plotter seems to really be working for me.
5. Which novel is your personal favourite in the Peachtree series, and why?
Brigham: Oh gosh, that’s a very difficult question to answer. Hmm. I will always love the final 1/3 of Off-Balance, I think. In it, Stephen goes home to his hometown to bury his estranged father and even after five years.
It was very raw to explore what it was like to be a man growing up in rural Georgia and grappling with religion and homophobia and family rejection. I think it’s some of the most emotional writing I’ve ever done. I just connected with the character so well and I got so much backstory and real emotional depth from him. He kinda broke my heart to write but I am so proud of the work.
6. Let’s talk about the main characters for Full Balance. What do you love most about Russ and what makes you want to shake him?
Brigham: Russ was interesting to me. I love how independent he is. He’s strong, he wants to take care of himself, but that is also what makes me want to shake him. I think all of the things I love most about him are also what make him frustrating. Lol.
He’s very caring, very passionate but the flip side of that is that he can be hot-headed and stubborn. I think what I love most is his willingness to try though. He knows those things about himself but he’s always willing to work on them. He’s not afraid to grow as a person. But man, until he gets there he can be very frustrating to deal with!
7. The same for Stephen. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Brigham: Stephen can be a little old-fashioned, a little stuffy. I actually love that about him. He’s very sure of who he is and I love that too. It also means he’s a bit set in his ways though. He’s less flexible about growth at times than Russ, I think. But he is open-minded so he’s willing to learn from Russ too and change when he needs to.
8. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write for Full Balance?
Brigham: Probably the scene where Stephen, Russ, and Austin (their foster son) are out on the sailboat. Stephen thinks about his own turbulent family history and finds some peace with his past as he thinks about his own son and how he’s built a wonderful, loving family despite his hardships growing up.
It’s one of the first real emotional connection points for the three of them as a whole family. It made me cry as I wrote it and I think it perfectly encapsulates who Stephen is as a person.
9. What makes Full Balance different from other May/December romances?
Brigham: I am actually going to answer this in terms of the series as a whole. I don’t know of many May/December books or series that are quite this epic in length or scope of the relationship. It follows them across years and through some very massive changes in both their lives. It’s very emotionally depth and deals with some weighty issues.
And that is no insult to lighter, shorter reads. I’ve read them and written them and they absolutely have their place too. I just think it makes the entire Peachtree Series a little different.
Full Balance in specific, I don’t know a ton of May/December books dealing with the foster system/adoption. They may exist but I’m not familiar with them.
10. If a reader asked you why they should read Full Balance, what would you tell them?
Brigham: Well, first of all, I’d check to make sure they read the previous books! Full Balance really doesn’t work as a standalone. But assuming they’ve read them, they should read it because it’s a really lovely look at what family means, at the need out there for foster parents, and at how transformative love can be in all its forms.
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?
Brigham: Oof. That’s a tough one. This sounds a little self-serving because it’s the series I’m currently promoting but I honestly would have to say Off-Balance. It’s the first in The Peachtree Series and it has a little humor, a lot of steaminess, plus real emotional depth. It has a little of everything and I think it would be a really good introduction to my work.
My tagline for my writing is “heartfelt, hard-won happily ever afters” and I think The Peachtree Series perfectly encapsulates that.
12. Which novel was your personal favourite to write, and why?
Brigham: Probably Trust the Connection. It’s a spin-off from The Peachtree Series featuring two side characters from it and I deeply love Evan and Jeremy’s story. They are both so broken and hurting and together they found so much peace and love and really became the men they were meant to be.
It was challenging to write about a man with physical disabilities (Jeremy was in a car accident prior to the story and is coping with lingering effects from that) and Evan was emotionally abused. Getting them to that place where they believed they deserved love and happiness was very rewarding.
13. What can we expect from you in the future?
Brigham: ALL of the books. *laughs* Honestly, I am writing a lot right now. I just finished a May/December holiday novel called Cabin Fever that I am excited about. It’ll be released in November.
I just started working on a secret winter project that will likely be a novella. After that, it’ll be a shorter, funnier BDSM story for Valentine’s Day that I’m excited about.
After that, it’s a little up in the air. I would like to finish my West Hills Series but the world is so very dark and heavy right now and so are the books in that series. In all likelihood, I will probably tackle a more fun series I’ve been wanting to do, which will be set in a small town in Michigan.
14. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Brigham: I love seeing characters come to life. It is so astonishing to me that the little people in my head who start talking (and never shut up) can wind up on a page for other people to read and love. It is such a joyful thing to tell their stories and I just love seeing it all come together. And when readers connect with that? It’s heaven.
15. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Brigham: Probably just the amount of balls I have to juggle to make this a career. I would rather do this than anything else but it can be quite mentally taxing to run a creative business. Writing is almost the easy part compared to the full scope of being an author.
I can push through blocks with my writing. Keeping track of covers/promotions/taxes, etc on top of that is challenging. I’m getting better at it! But it’s a lot sometimes.
16. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
This is going to sound funny but The Emperor’s New Groove is way up there. It never stops being hilarious and if I’m having a bad day it’s guaranteed to make me laugh.
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
I am actually reading a non m/m series by C.S. Harris called the Sebastian St. Cyr series. It’s a thriller/mystery series set in Regency England. It’s a nice break from thinking about contemporary m/m books. I think I’m currently on book 10 and there are 16 books out.
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
It changes from day to day almost but I have been on a huge Anderson East kick for the past month or so. The lyrics are gorgeous and he has an amazing voice.
- What song puts a smile on your face?
Fitz and the Tantrums The Walkers. It’s very upbeat and hopeful sounding and it always makes me want to move my butt!
17. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Brigham: Thank you for having me here today! This was really fun to do!
Book Title: Full Balance
Series: The Peachtree Series, Book 3
Author: Brigham Vaughn
Publisher: Two Peninsulas Press
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope/s: May/December, age gap, hurt comfort, workplace romance, found family,
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 108 000 words
Love doesn’t always look like you expect.
Blurb: Russ Bishop and Stephen Parker have settled into wedded bliss.
They’ve moved into a spacious new condo, found professional success, and their connection in the bedroom is as sizzling as ever.
Neither of them ever expected to become parents but when their volunteer work at the Open Doors Shelter makes them realize how many LGBTQ youth are in desperate need of a home, they begin to reconsider.
After a snarky teenager named Austin comes into their lives, their future together will never be the same.
Russ let out a contented sigh.
“I swear it just gets better with time,” Stephen said.
Russ kissed him. “Me too. I had no idea married sex would be so good. If I did, I might have been more eager to get married when I was younger.”
“This is going to change, won’t it?”
Stephen slipped an arm around his waist, pulling him even closer as he studied his face. Russ’s expression was soft but there was a little edge of worry in his gaze.
“It will,” Stephen said, knowing he was talking about how becoming parents would change their sex life. He ran his thumb across Russ’s cheek. “We’ll have additional responsibilities and stressors. Much less privacy. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’ll be tougher but that doesn’t mean we can’t find some benefits along the way.”
“Like what?” Russ gave him a curious, inquisitive look.
“Like … it may bring us even closer.” He took Russ’s hand and brought his palm to his lips. “It may deepen our relationship further.”
“I like that.” Russ pulled him closer.
“I think going into this with our eyes wide open is our best chance of success. We need our relationship to stay solid so we can give whoever we bring into our lives the best, most stable home we can. Which means working together to solve problems.”
“Agreed,” Russ said.
“No running away.”
Russ gave him a wry grin. “Got it.”
“Hey that’s not just a reminder for you,” Stephen said gently. “I’ve pushed you away at times too. And I think this will probably bring up a lot of baggage we both have about the ways we were raised.”
“True.” Russ’s expression turned serious.
“So we can’t let that overwhelm us. Or come between us.”
“Absolutely.” Russ hesitated. “Are you excited about this at all though?”
“About the idea of becoming parents? Yeah, I am,” Stephen said. “I remember how satisfying it was to see Evan grow into himself and he was an adult and only with us for a month and a half. The idea of being able to watch that growth over years in someone who needs it even more … well that’s a challenge I never expected to take on. But I am excited about it.”
“Me too.” Russ grinned. “I am really looking forward to calling my sister and telling her she’ll be Aunt Addie.”
Stephen chuckled. “I look forward to that as well. Jeremy is going to be shocked. That should be fun.”
“We have a lot to look forward to, don’t we?”
“We do.” Russ pulled him in for a kiss and Stephen went willingly. “Thank you for making this a very happy Valentine’s Day.”
“You know, if someone had asked me five years ago how I’d feel about making the person I’m married to a father, I would have kindly assured them they were very, very confused,” Stephen said drily.
Russ’s laugh was loud and genuine. “I would imagine.”
“And yet …” Stephen couldn’t quite finish the thought. His heart was too full.
Russ smiled as if he understood. So Stephen leaned in to kiss him again. They had the whole night ahead of them to celebrate this happiness. Why not take the time while they had it?
Their lives were about to change in a very big way.
Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time author. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.
Her books range from short stories to novellas to novels. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.
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