Today, I have author Patrick Benjamin in the interview chair. We’re discussing his latest release The Good Ship Lollipop, a m/m contemporary romance. Don’t forget to check out the excerpt.
1. Hi, Patrick. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you but what about the every day? Can you share about your personal life?
Patrick: Every day me is rather dull, I assure you. Mostly I hang out at home with my husband and my dog, half-watching a movie while simultaneously reading or writing.
The one part of my life that is pretty interesting or out of the ordinary is, I’m also a Drag performer. I’ve been performing as Tequila Mockingbird for almost twenty years. I have had the privilege of being featured in shows with some the best Queens in North America; Bianca Del Rio, Shangela, Latrice Royale, Miss Fame—to name a few.
I am also very active with volunteer work. I serve on the board of a non-profit organization (The Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose) that has been actively supporting the LGBTQ2S+ community for 45 years.
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page and see you are drawn to contemporary m/m romance. Tell us why you enjoy writing a contemporary setting.
Patrick: The best advice anyone ever gave me regarding writing was to always “write what you know.” If you make stuff up or get the facts wrong, people will call you on it. So for me, writing contemporary makes the most sense.
Periodically, I’ll enjoy a historical novel or one that takes place in some dystopian future. I find them fascinating to read, but I can’t relate to them enough to feel comfortable writing one. Maybe one day I’ll surprise myself and give it a go. Until then, I think there is still so much about the present day that is fascinating and worth exploring.
3. Your latest release is The Good Ship Lollipop. Can you tell me what inspired you to write this novel?
Patrick: This novel was inspired, in many ways, by my wedding. My husband and I married four years ago, on a Caribbean cruise, very similar to the one my characters find themselves on. So, right away, I knew I wanted that to be my setting. There’s something about being on vacation that makes food taste better, and colours feel more vibrant, and life feels full of endless possibilities. Often people are open to doing things on vacation that they wouldn’t normally do or behaving in ways that they wouldn’t normally behave. So, I immediately thought it would be the perfect place for Kyle to rediscover love and himself.
4. The Good Ship Lollipop explores betrayal. Can you share why you chose this subject.
Patrick: Betrayal is not the book’s main focus, but I think it is a universal feeling and its essential to explore it. We’ve all experienced it on some level, and most of us have been guilty of it at least once. In the book, several characters commit acts of betrayal at multiple points through the story – both against each other and themselves. Through The Good Ship Lollipop, I sought out to explore the questions:
a) Is it ok for someone to do the wrong thing for the right reason?
b) Is it ok for someone to do the right thing for the wrong reasons?
And my personal favourite question:
c) Is a breach of trust only considered a betrayal when the outcome is bad?
5. The novel also explores a love triangle. Why did you choose a love triangle instead of having Dustin and Kyle stuck together on the ship without a third party?
Patrick: I considered that option. I did. When I was planning the book, I played with the idea of Kyle and Dustin being trapped on the ship together, maybe even having them forced to share a room and then falling back in love. Yet, when I thought about it some more, it sounded like the plot point of a book I’d already read, and I wanted to do something a little different.
6. Let’s talk about the main characters. What do you love most about Kyle and what makes you want to shake him?
Patrick: Kyle turned out a little different than I intended. I set out to write a witty and sarcastic character. Someone who was laugh-out-loud funny – and I feel like I accomplished that. So Kyle’s quick wit is definitely what I love most about him. Still, there were certain traits that I hadn’t planned. They presented themselves while I was writing, and they caught me completely off guard. The most surprising quality for me was how self-involved Kyle turned out to be. He has a hard time accepting that the world is not The Kyle Blackwood Show every moment of the day. Thankfully, Kyle isn’t vain or arrogant. There’s a level of self-depreciation to the character that I hope keeps him likeable. Still, he does struggle to see himself and his behaviour clearly. That was a frustrating discovery for me, and I considered rewriting him. Then I realized it made him more human. Flawed, but human.
7. The same for Dustin. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Patrick: Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say I wanted to shake Dustin a lot more than I wanted to hug him. He’s not a bad guy. He has some great qualities. Dustin is fiercely devoted to his family, he genuinely wants to be a good person, and he loves Kyle. What makes me want to shake Dustin is his ongoing struggle with humility and self-awareness. He’s a smart guy with endless potential, but he sometimes makes deplorable decisions. He acts without thinking, and it gets him in trouble.
8. And we can’t forget Jax. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Patrick: Jax is a very relaxed Character. Very little fazes him. He’s not the type to fight with people online or to let petty arguments ruin his day. Honestly, I could learn a lot from Jax. Yet the thing I love most about him is also the thing I find the most frustrating. His strength is also his weakness. Because he’s so easy going, he’s a complicated character to get to know. He’s very one-note, and that makes him difficult to read.
9. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write and why?
Patrick: There’s a moment towards the end of the book when Kyle is flying home with his friend Ruby, and you get to a side of Ruby that she rarely shares with the world. Ruby is a powerful and brassy character, and she was so much fun to write. That scene, however, finally shows the tenderness and vulnerability that her more colourful traits often mask. It was like discovering something new about an old friend. I really enjoyed it.
10. What makes The Good Ship Lollipop different from other love triangle romances?
Patrick: The truth is, its not a love triangle. It’s more like a love pentagon. Yes, the primary romance is between Kyle and the other two men, but there’s so much more than that. There’s the love between Kyle and Sapphire, between Kyle and Ruby, and also Kyle and himself. Love is everywhere in this book, just like in life.
11. If a reader asked you why they should read The Good Ship Lollipop, what would you tell them?
Patrick: The Good Ship Lollipop is, I hope, is hilarious fun with a message woven in. If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh AND think, then hopefully this is the one for you.
12. What can we expect from you in the future?
Patrick: Currently, I’m working on two different books—throwing ideas to the wall and seeing which one sticks so-to-speak. The first is another contemporary romantic comedy, featuring a drag queen. The other is a suspense novel—which is very different for me, but also quite exciting.
13. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Patrick: I find writing to be very therapeutic, almost like journaling. It helps me to sort through all the chaos that accumulates in my head throughout the day. This year specifically, writing has been a lifeline. Some days it the only thing that helped get me through this pandemic.
14. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Patrick: I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. I get an idea and expect the words to flow through me without any thought, and I want them to be brilliant. That very rarely happens to even the most experienced writers. When I’m unmotivated or uninspired, I immediately worry that I might never write again. I don’t know, maybe that’s normal? lol
15. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
The Devil Wears Prada.
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
Starting Over by Rob Browatzke
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
It changes all the time. Right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Maddie and Tae.
- What song puts a smile on your face?
My dog. His tongue is always sticking out, and it’s super adorable.
15. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Patrick: Thank you for hosting me! I hope you enjoyed the book. 😊
Book Title: The Good Ship Lollipop
Author: Patrick Benjamin
Publisher: KDP Publishing
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Comedy
Trope/s: Love triangles, Frenemies
Themes: Moving on, learning to love again
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 140 000 words/430 pages
Kyle must choose between the love of his past and the man he could love in the future.
Blurb:For fifteen years, Kyle and Dustin seemed like the perfect couple. That was until Kyle came home to discover Dustin in bed with a yoga instructor half his age and twice his flexibility. Two years and countless therapy hours later, Kyle has almost put the incident behind him. Being nearly forty and single makes a man bitter, but he’s making do.
Yet, when Kyle’s best friend asks him to be her Man of Honor, on her ten-day Caribbean wedding cruise, Kyle finds himself in a most uncomfortable situation. He ends up trapped on a seafaring vessel for ten days with the man who practically destroyed him.
Face to face with Dustin for the first time since the breakup, unresolved feelings float to the surface, and Kyle and Dustin both begin to wonder if their story is as over as it seems.
While navigating unchartered waters with Dustin, Kyle also meets Jax, a sexy Australian who likes to cruise in more ways than one. Kyle is more than happy to let Jax distract him for ten days. Still, when Jax suggests that he might want more than just a few days of fun, Kyle must choose between the love of his past or the man he could love in the future.
Note: This is a standalone book.
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
“No, absolutely not!” I nearly choked on a spinach leaf.
“You have to come,” Sapphire insisted. “I want you to be my Man of Honor.”
“A) That’s not a thing. B) The answer is still no.”
“I can’t get married without you.”
“Sure, you can. There’s no law against it. People do it all the time.”
When Sapphire offered to take me to lunch, I should have suspected something treacherous was afoot. Sapphire and I were like sisters. Sisters of different races and one of them with a penis, but sisters, nonetheless. Our relationship was something enormous and incomprehensible to most people. On paper, we had nothing in common. We had completely different backgrounds and cultural experiences that cultivated entirely different perspectives of the world around us. Despite those differences, we had found each other.
As close as we were, the girl had never offered to buy lunch. She seldom volunteered to pay for anything. That should have been warning number one. When she suggested my favorite Italian restaurant, Armando’s, that should have been warning number two. When she volunteered to foot the bill to attend her destination wedding cruise, I should have known to prepare myself for the Armageddon of bad news.
“You spent fifteen years with the man. What are ten more days?” She spoke with her hands. A piece of chicken flung off her fork and onto the table beside us. The senior couple, who were trying to enjoy their eighteen-dollar salads, glared at us like we each had two heads.
“I’m so sorry,” I mouthed to them.
“I can’t believe you would miss your best friend’s wedding over a tiny, little, uncomfortable inconvenience like this.”
“A cockroach infestation is a tiny inconvenience. Gonorrhea is uncomfortable. What you’re asking me to do is far worse.”
“Don’t be dramatic,” Sapphire said, waving her hand. “Dustin is not that bad.”
“Isn’t he?” He was too tall, too fit, too classically pretty, and all too aware of the fact. He was narcissistic and untrustworthy, but he was also charming and exceptionally good at putting on an innocent act. He could flash his white teeth and his dimples and get people to believe anything he wanted. Still, if you looked into his eyes, you could tell he was soulless.
“Why would you want everyone to join you on your honeymoon, anyway?” I shifted focus. “I hate to tell you this, but if you can’t stand to be alone with Justin for ten days, you probably shouldn’t marry him.”
“Very funny,” she said dryly. “I want everyone there because I want my wedding to be an experience. An amazing memory we can all look back on together.”
“I am not spending ten days, on a tiny boat, in the middle of the Caribbean, with him.”
“It’s a cruise ship,” she corrected. “Besides, you won’t be with Dustin. You’ll be with me.”
“Lies!” I wasn’t buying any of it. “I know exactly what will happen. You and Justin will be too busy enjoying your Caribbean honeymoon to spend any time with me. Then I’ll be trapped, in the middle of the ocean, with no one to talk to except Beelzebub’s concubine.”
“He’s not going to be the only other person there, you know. Several other people will be in our group. You can make one of them your wingman. My father loves you. You can hang-out with him.”
“Honey, don’t take this the wrong way. If I’m on an exotic vacation, and the only man who wants to spend time with me is your sixty-five-year-old arthritic father, I might drown myself in a bathtub.”
“Don’t be silly,” Sapphire dismissed. “You’ll be surrounded by water. There’d be no need to draw a bath.”
I did not look amused.
“I can’t believe you’re still so angry. It’s been over a year.” It had been eighteen months since the breakup, and yes, I was still harboring, hurting, and hating.
I hadn’t seen or spoken to Dustin since the incident. As instructed, he had been gone when I returned to the apartment. With Sapphire’s help and some very strategic planning, I had avoided him throughout the entire decoupling process.
I left yellow Post-it Notes on everything he could take and was extremely vindictive about it. He could have the Blu-ray player, but not the discs or the TV. He could take the kitchen table, but not the chairs. I even kept the Keurig, though I permitted him to take his pods. What kind of monster drank decaf anyway? I also instructed Sapphire to guard the jazz record collection with her life. I detested jazz music, and we both knew it. I planned to pawn or destroy the albums later.
The first few weeks after the breakup, Dustin tried tirelessly to communicate with me. He sent me text messages that I didn’t answer and left voice mails that I refused to listen to. Dustin tried everything short of smoke signals. He even sent me an old-fashioned letter, which I didn’t open and burned immediately. I had nothing to say to him and had no desire to hear what he had to say to me. I had never been an incredibly trusting person, and his betrayal had reinforced all those walls that I had been trying, for years, to dismantle.
Being the forgiving person she was, Sapphire tried to convince me to give Dustin a second chance. Still, I refused, steadfast in my determination that he’d had his chance. Since then, she had been careful not to mention him. Even though I knew full well that she saw him regularly. He was her fiancé’s twin brother. She had to remain cordial. I did not and had no intention of ever being so.
“You simply have to come. We’re going to so many beautiful islands: Turks and Caicos, Bonaire, St. Thomas, and Aruba. You’ve always wanted to go to Aruba.”
That was true, but still, “If you put us on a ship together, I promise you, I will throw him overboard.”
She smiled wide, her teeth gleaming white against the contrast of her chocolate skin. “That’s fine! Just promise you’ll make it look like an accident.”
“Duh,” was the most mature response I could muster. “I don’t want to end up someone’s bitch in a Caribbean prison.”
“Don’t you, though?”
Dirty, prison sex would have been the most action I’d seen in a while. Thirty-nine may have been young by hetero standards, but in the queer world, I was practically a spinster. Being classified as an elder gay meant that my dating pool had been reduced to a few categories. First, those men who were so weird or creepy that nobody wanted them, or second, those who were so bitter and jaded by relationships past that dating them was like trying to build a house out of straw. I was a card-carrying member of category two.
Of course, there was always a third group. Younger men. They were excellent in theory, with their zero percent body fat and their permanent erections. However, too often, their perfect bodies and sexual appetites only camouflaged the fact that they lacked any real substance. If brains were dynamite, most of them couldn’t blow their nose. There were always exceptions. Old souls that knew how to converse about more than just Rhi-Rhi’s new album or T-Swizzle’s latest boyfriend. Those younger men wanted more than sugar daddies. Though, I still couldn’t imagine having enough in common with someone who hadn’t even been alive during the original run of Friends.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t get a date. Even close to forty, I was still cute. Not as attractive as I was at twenty, but I wasn’t a hunchback or anything. My deep green eyes matched my red hair, which I kept cropped short to avoid the bozo-clown-realness it would become if left to grow-out. I was tall and still decently shaped, a little thicker in some places than I’d prefer, but that came with age. At least, that’s what I told myself. I had a good understanding of where that put me in the queer hierarchy. Guys would still bang me; they just wouldn’t brag about it anymore.
Admittedly, the realization that I was no longer prime real estate took some getting used to. Before Dustin, I had been a penthouse in Manhattan, but after fifteen years in couple-town, I was shocked to discover I was now a brownstone in Queens. Next stop? Condemned building in Jersey!
That being said, I was optimistic about my life, even if it meant spending it alone.
“The ship is huge,” Sapphire was still talking. “You won’t even really have to see each other. There are also excursions at every port: zip-lining, snorkeling, hikes, surfing. Come on. You can orbit around each other for ten days without committing a violent felony.”
“Great, so I can spend the entire time by myself?”
“There’s going to be thousands of people on this ship. It’s a floating city. If you’re so worried about being by yourself, you could always try making friends.”
“You’ve known me for twenty years. Am I the type of person who makes friends?”
I was about to find out.
This is Patrick Benjamin’s second novel. He was excited to try his hand at something lighter and more humorous than his debut novel (The Road Between). Patrick can most often be found spending quiet evenings at home with his husband, Jarrett and his puppy, Dax. When he’s not writing, Patrick can often be seen performing on stage as his glamorous drag persona Tequila Mockingbird. He also volunteers on the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization that has proudly served the LGBTQ2S+ community for 45 years.
Find Patrick: Facebook