Today, I have bestselling author Elouise East in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest release Life Support, book six in the Crush series, a m/m contemporary romance. Don’t forget to enter the King Sumo giveaway.
1. Hi, Elouise. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Elouise: Well, life has changed a little for me in the past year. I began my career as a full-time author when the kids went back to school in September and have enjoyed the process. I have loved every minute of it, although there still doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day! The kids have been in lockdown again at the moment, so my writing schedule has been completely reworked to fit in homeschooling my two kids. It’s certainly a balancing act for me, but since January 2020, I’ve actually found my best way of managing everything, so I’m more productive than ever.
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page (you’ve got quite the backlist). Can you tell me what drew you to writing m/m romance?
Elouise: I first started reading m/f romance, then several years ago, I got caught in the m/m world and have never looked back – well, I still read the occasion m/f, but m/m is my go-to genre. For me, m/m characters have a lot more depth and feeling to them, which in turn makes me feel their emotions more. I love being able to play the story like a movie in my head.
3. At your Goodreads page, you touch on “friendships being integral to each character’s experience” for every novel. Why is this important to you?
Elouise: Friendships are important in every aspect of someone’s life, so I want to bring that to my stories. There is something about having the support of friends that means the characters can find the courage to do anything they put their mind to. They may be put through hell, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
4. Your latest book is Life Support. Can you tell me why you chose to address sexual harassment in the workplace?
Elouise: It’s a subject that isn’t acknowledged very often in books, I believe, and even less so when it comes to LGBTQ+ genre. I wanted to be able to shine a small spotlight on a subject that can often be happening right before people’s eyes. All it takes is for the right questions to be asked or the right person to be there at the right time.
5. Can you share your writing process through Life Support? Did the plot come first or the characters?
Elouise: The characters came first, without a doubt. Casey had been a side character in Deep Down, which is book 4 in the series. Luke has not showed up much, so we get to see a lot more about him here. The more I thought about Casey, the more his story came to me, though it did take me a while to see how he would get through the ordeal. I knew Luke through his brother Trent, whose book is Primary Seduction, book 3, so I knew a little about their family life and how they acted around each other. The story itself was written within a month, the words just flowing out. I did change part of the story after a couple of the beta readers said a couple of sections didn’t work, but those scenes will be used as bonus scenes later. They worked as scenes, just not as part of the main storyline.
6. What inspired the novel’s title?
Elouise: I had been trying to think of titles for this story for weeks. I wanted something that related to not only Casey’s job, but what he and Luke meant to each other. Life Support is something you may need when your body is failing you, and it’s also something that a lot of people need when they’re going through a difficult time in their life. The final title seemed fitting.
7. Let’s talk about the main characters for Life Support. What do you love most about Casey and what makes you want to shake him?
Elouise: Casey is so confident at the beginning of the story, but he thinks he knows best and keeps secrets when he shouldn’t. He had someone who would’ve been able to help him had he talked to him, but he refused, not wanting to bring his family into it. This made me want to shake him because family should have your back, especially Casey’s family. It may not have made life any simpler for him, but it would have given him a sounding board.
8. The same for Luke. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Elouise: Luke is very insecure and doesn’t believe he is worthy of anyone’s attention. He’s unable to see how others view him, so misses out on so many interactions because he withdraws. I love how loyal and protective he is. If anyone needs anything, he’s there without question.
9. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write for Life Support and why?
Elouise: I loved the scene where Luke had a very enlightening conversation with his brother Carter. This was a moment when Luke finally began to believe what people had been telling him over the years.
10. What makes Life Support different from the other books you’ve written?
Elouise: It tackles another difficult subject, but I believe it has made my writing better. I have taken a lot of feedback on board and taken craft courses and read books to better my writing skills. This shows within my writing, I believe and can probably be seen when someone has read my first book to reading this one.
11. If a reader asked you why they should read Life Support, what would you tell them?
Elouise: I would tell them that the way the characters develop through the storyline gives a fantastic look at their lives and how the different moments have changed them for the better. It shows off the charts chemistry between Casey and Luke, and the love their have for their very large families.
12. You can only recommend one of your novels to a reader, which would you choose from the books you’ve written, and why?
Elouise: I would say Life Support for similar reasons to above. My writing is better in this story and I think it takes the reader deeper into each scene, so they can feel like they are actually there.
13. Which novel was your personal favourite to write, and why?
Elouise: I don’t actually have a favourite anymore. Before writing Life Support, I would’ve said Deep Down, which is another difficult subject I chose to write about. Now, though, I’m finding that every book I write, I find the same enjoyment in writing it. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m not enjoying writing the book, I shouldn’t publish it. The same has been the case for all the books since Deep Down. I’ve enjoyed each one for different reasons.
14. What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love losing myself in the storyline and figuring out along the way how the characters are going to get their happily ever after. Sometimes, I wonder whether they will get it until I get near the end and then I realise what’s happening. There is freedom with writing that you can’t get with a lot of other jobs. With writing, I can take whatever is in my head and create whatever I want – with the characters permission, of course!
15. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Anything that is not writing, lol. The admin side of things I don’t like, but if we are talking just about writing itself, then I would say writing a whole novel and having no idea whether the betas are going to like it or not. My heart is in my throat every time I’ve written a 60, 70 or 80k novel when no one has seen it first. If no one likes it, that time has potentially been wasted. At least, that’s how it feels.
16. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
I can’t choose one, so here are a few: Equilibrium, Before Sunrise, Practical Magic, Speed and Step Up.
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
Recruitment by CJ Bishop
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
I don’t really have one. I love cheesy songs from the 90s – my favourite from that decade was Take That! – but there is no one in particular I listen to. When I’m writing, I listen to relaxing music, mainly to block out my kids!
- What song puts a smile on your face?
I Get To Love You by Ruelle.
17. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to let you know that Life Support is the first of a rapid release schedule that is happening. The final four books of the Crush series will be released every four weeks: Life Support releases March 11, Covert Strength releases April 8, Love Scene releases May 6 and Lawful Attraction releases June 3. It’s such an exciting and bittersweet moment to see all these stories in one place.
Book Title: Life Support
Series: Crush, #6
Author: Elouise East
Publisher: Elouise East
Release Date: March 11, 2021
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Friends to lovers, Hurt/comfort
Themes: Sexual harassment in the workplace
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 75 000 words
Secrets give others more power. Now is the time to fight back.
Blurb: What can they do when their safety and self-worth are compromised?
Casey’s usually bubbly, cheeky demeanour is diminished by sexual harassment from a colleague. When Casey becomes scared for his safety, he seeks out a trainer to teach him how to escape. Withholding the secret is stifling, but he sees no other option if he wants to keep his job. Spilling those secrets to an almost stranger changes his life in a way he never thought possible.
Luke spends his time training people in evasive tactics. He loves his job, but feels inferior to his more successful siblings. How can he compete with lawyers, police officers and teachers? When Casey comes to him for training, Luke knows he’s hiding a secret and wants to get to the source. Finally, Casey confides in him, and Luke sets his sights on helping.
Can they win the fight against people who bring them down?
Note: It is a standalone story, although characters from other books in the series do appear throughout.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
“How are things going with Marcus?” Chloe asked as they packed up the equipment, ready to drive back to the hospital. “Still in the lovey-dovey stage?” She grinned, nudging his shoulder.
He shoved her back, good-naturedly. “Yes, as a matter of fact. Everything is going great.”
Casey had met Marcus four months ago and had persuaded him to bring a friend along for a double date with Casey’s best friend, Alex. So far, as he’d told Chloe, everything was working out well despite his shift patterns. Or maybe because of his shift patterns. Twelve-hour stints, two days, two nights, four days on, four days off. The hours were crap, but it was part of his job, so he couldn’t complain about it. He’d known the times before he agreed to the role.
They climbed into the ambulance, Chloe in the driver’s seat. Casey didn’t mind driving, but most of his colleagues preferred being in control of the ambulance, so he let them have it. He was happy to navigate instead. The engine’s loud rumble reverberated beneath his feet and ass while he clicked his seat belt into place.
“Who was the guy I saw you with earlier today?” Chloe asked, pulling out onto the road.
Casey frowned, then smiled. “Oh, outside the deli? That was Craig.” His heart felt heavy when he thought of the guy. “He’s been through a lot, and I’ve spoken with him a few times at the hospital.” He wasn’t about to divulge Craig’s personal details despite Chloe being bound by the same confidentiality rules. “He knows Alex, too. I was inviting him to meet some friends. I thought it might help him to socialise a bit more, rather than exist in his own little bubble.”
“That’s nice of you. Everyone needs friends. I’m not sure where I’d be without mine.”
Chloe had also been through a difficult time. Eight months ago, her husband had left her with two young children. It had taken a lot of organising for her to be able to come back to work. Casey glanced at her, seeing her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail; pale, blemish-free skin; dainty nose and rosebud lips. Her blue eyes sparkled all the time—except for the first few months after her husband took off—and she thoroughly enjoyed her job. If Casey had been heterosexual, he would’ve flirted with her. He did flirt with her, but they both knew that was the extent of it.
“How are the munchkins?” Casey asked with a grin, turning the subject to something he knew raised her spirits.
Chloe blew a hair out of her face. “Growing up too quickly. I know I have to give them time because of what’s happened, but Gemma is a nightmare.” Chloe shook her head and sighed. “She refuses to sleep in her own bed, which means I rarely get a good night’s sleep—not that I’m complaining, I’d prefer her to be happy and settled. It’s difficult. As for Jerome, he’s carrying on as if nothing happened.” A frown crossed her face.
“They’ll process it in different ways, you know that. Just be there for them and ask for help when you need it. Don’t do this alone, Chloe.” He reached over and squeezed her leg gently, hoping to convey how much she meant to him.
“I know, and I do ask. I hate having to rely on so many people.”
“I understand that. It’s nice to be independent, but sometimes, it’s just not possible.” He looked at his watch. “Almost dinner time. I’m starving.” As if his words reminded his body, his stomach growled.
Chloe snorted and flicked her gaze to him briefly. “You’re always starving. If I remember right, you were starving half an hour after the deli.”
“What can I say? I have a fast metabolism.”
They both laughed, the sound echoing around the small cab. Their Terrafix Responder chimed with a new incident, and Casey checked the details, relaying the information to Chloe, who sped up as Casey flicked on the sirens and lights. He brought up the route they’d need and directed Chloe to the house.
Two hours later, at the end of their shift, they finally managed to grab some food from the hospital restaurant. It was one of the downsides to the job, but if he didn’t eat while he had a spare minute, he might not get to eat
for hours. A paramedic’s schedule is based around people’s bumps and bruises, not around when it’s lunchtime or dinnertime.
Slumping at the table, his body and mind felt drained, and they sat in silence. Once he’d devoured his shepherd’s pie, he clapped Chloe on the shoulder and said goodnight, heading straight for the staff locker room. He’d checked his phone as he was eating and had seen a message from Marcus, asking if Casey could visit him that night. Normally, Casey would have agreed, but he was exhausted. He hadn’t replied yet because he’d wanted to see whether he felt better after eating. He didn’t.
The staff locker room was a large space with individual lockers for each member of staff. They weren’t particularly big lockers, but with the amount of staff at the hospital, they’d need a whole floor just for them if they made them any larger. The room also housed several showers, toilets and a couple of changing rooms. As it was a gender-neutral zone, all people used it.
Casey moved to his locker, quickly opening it and grabbing his bag, the need for sleep dragging at his movements. Usually, he’d have a shower, but tonight he wanted to get home.
“Have you had a good shift, Casey?” Dr Simon Acker’s voice made him flinch, and goosebumps rose on his arms as his muscles tensed.
Casey glanced out of the corner of his eye and hurried his movements, his heart rate increasing. “Yes, thanks.”
“Word on the grapevine is you’ve managed to keep hold of your boy toy.” Acker’s voice practically growled the last two words despite the smile on his face that didn’t seem to reach his eyes.
“Yep, still with him.” His voice was strained, each word pushing out with the effort and the hope of dispelling any other comments but to no avail. His whole body stiffened when Acker stepped closer.
“Looking good, Casey,” the doctor whispered, and he squeezed Casey’s shoulder, sliding his hand across his upper back too slowly for Casey’s liking. Acker left the locker room, and Casey leaned against the metal boxes, blowing out a breath, his muscles relaxing enough to send him to the floor if he allowed it.
“That guy gives me the creeps. If he hadn’t got a wife, I’d say he was gay.”
Casey spun around, piercing the other paramedic with his gaze, annoyance flowing out of him. “Really, Kinton? And there’s no way he
could be bisexual, is there?” Casey glared at him and slammed his locker shut, the sound loud in the narrow space.
“I didn’t mean… He could… Shit. I didn’t think, Casey,” Kinton stammered, his face flushing, and his eyes widening.
Casey deflated, sighing and shaking his head. “Nah, it’s okay. I’m feeling shitty. Sorry, man.” Casey gave a half-hearted smile and exited, keeping his eyes peeled for the doctor who gave him some seriously weird vibes. Acker had made similar comments to Casey since Acker had started working there about a year ago. To begin with, it had been nothing more than nice words about how well he did his job, which Casey had appreciated, but they had become steadily more personal as time went on. There was nothing he could do about it, so he carried on with his job and tried to avoid the man where possible.
I am a bestselling author of contemporary MM romance. I write a variety of themes: sweet and fluffy to high angst to taboo, but friendships are integral to each character’s experience. I write books that are emotionally realistic, even if liberties are taken with other aspects of my stories.
Reading and writing have always been a part of my life, although my debut book wasn’t published until July 2019. My experience has come from reading thousands of books over the years and being a perfectionist when it comes to trying to make things right. I live in the centre of the UK with my two children, who make life worth living, keep me (in)sane and make me laugh every single day.
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