Today, I have author Ingrid Sterling in the interview chair. We’re discussing her debut release All the Way Out, a m/m contemporary romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. Hi, Ingrid. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Ingrid: Sure! I live in a small southern town, even though I grew up in the northeast and am still a Yankee through and through. I am verging on being a crazy cat lady with 4 cats, plus a 5th outdoor kitty that I feed every day. I love a good IPA or Scotch. I worked as a freelance musician for most of my professional career.
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page, and I see All the Way Out is your debut novel. Tell me, why did you choose to write a contemporary romance for your first book?
Ingrid: Personally, I love to read contemporary romance so it made sense to start there.
3. Can you tell me why you chose to write about an athlete and a rock star?
Ingrid: So Zach is an athlete and Liam is actually a classical music composer. (My next book includes a rock star, though!) I leaned heavily on my experience going to a school similar to Northwestern for college. I was a music student like Liam and our school had a massive football program, too. It was a world I felt pretty comfortable with!
I also really wanted to play with the typical trope of the jock and the musician – two people who should have no common ground but still fall for each other – but wanted to play around with those stereotypes, as well.
4. When first developing All the Way Out, did the plot come first or the characters?
Ingrid: The characters really influenced the plot, so they feel pretty linked. I borrowed the idea of an overseas team trip from something that happened to a college sports team I follow. Setting their meeting in Rome worked with the idea of the classical texts of Plato and Ovid that are interwoven.
5. The setting is Rome, one is a musician and the other is an athlete. What kind of research was involved?
Ingrid: The story starts in Rome, but then ends up at Northwestern University in suburban Chicago. There was definitely a good deal of research as far as locations etc but luckily I was able to rely on my own travel to most of these locations!
6. Let’s talk about the main character Zach. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Ingrid: I love Zach so much – he’s so self-aware, earnest and dedicated, but at the same time so fallible. I love that he speaks from his heart and the bravery he shows.
7. The same for Liam. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Ingrid: Liam was such a fun character to inhabit as he is much more uninhibited with his body and his attitude than I would ever be. He truly learns how to be a good partner and to look out for someone other than himself by the end.
8. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write and why?
Ingrid: My favorite scene to write was the press conference at the end. I’d had Zach’s speech in my head almost right from the beginning and it was so wonderful to finally give him that moment.
9. What makes All the Way Out different from other m/m contemporary romances?
Ingrid: ATWO is different because it tells a story of how the world should be. The lead characters aren’t what you’ll expect – they both have secrets that they’re hiding from the world but for different reasons. The love they find is so soft and welcome.
10. If a reader asked you why they should read All the Way Out, what would you tell them?
Ingrid: If they are looking for a book that will make you remember the good college days, remind you of travel, a book that will take you on a journey of bravery and fighting for what is right all while wrapped up in a beautiful love story, give it a read!
11. What can we expect from you in the future? Care to share about your current WIP?
Ingrid: My next project is a book currently called “Wow and Flutter.” It’s a throwback to my generation – starts in 1998! This is a story of 2nd chance love – maybe even 3rd chance – and transitions from NYC in 1998 to LA in 2004. It’s the story of Alex Murphy, a recent high school grad who is obsessed with the band The Key Frames and their lead singer Jesse Parker. On Alex’s birthday, he and Jesse start a whirlwind summer romance that is cut short when Jesse’s band gets their big break in LA. Young and unaware just how deep his feelings ran, Alex and Jesse break up when Jesse moves.
After college and with the band having seen a modicum of success, Alex finds himself working for a record label in LA, desperate to get Jesse Parker to leave his current label and join theirs. Hearing his first lover’s name after so many years jogs his memory of that perfect summer in New York and he reaches back out to Jesse. Jesse is a New Year’s eve kiss, the two men rekindle what they’d lost. But when the New Year dawns, Alex’s boss hears of his connection to Jesse Parker and orders him to use his relationship to coerce Jesse to their label.
At first, Alex refuses until the draw of working with Jesse and the possibility of his own success is too difficult to resist. But will Alex ever tell Jesse the true nature of their working relationship, even as their romantic relationship becomes even more intense? Will the pressures of the Hollywood biz break them apart or draw them closer together?
12. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Ingrid: I love the escape and the chance to live emotions and experiences that I might not through the characters.
13. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Ingrid: Grammar! 🙂
14. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
When Harry Met Sally, Princess Bride, The Social Network
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
A boring one for work!
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
The Lumineers, Bon Iver, Dave Matthews Band
- What song puts a smile on your face?
So many! Currently: Dynamite by BTS
15. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Ingrid: Nope, thank you so much!!!
Book Title: All the Way Out
Author: Ingrid Sterling
Publisher: Literary Wanderlust
Release Date: April 1, 2021
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, New Adult
Trope/s: One-night stand turned into true love; Forced proximity; Athlete with musician; closeted sports star
Themes: Self-acceptance, coming out publicly
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 79 000/263 pages
Blurb: Ever since Zach was 14 years old, he knew two things about himself:
1) He wanted to play football at the highest levels of college and pro ball.
2) He was gay.
Even at that young age Zach knew that those two truths – all-star athlete and homosexual male – could not exist concurrently. So, he’d started dating Rebecca, his devoutly Catholic girlfriend who wants to wait to have sex until she’s married, during his junior year of high school and never looked back.
But on the last night of a team trip to Rome, on the cusp of his senior season at Northwestern University, a Heisman, a number 1 draft pick and a National Championship, Zach seeks out one last anonymous encounter. He opens Grindr and slips out into the Italian summer night to meet Liam – Liam who has a face that looks like it was carved from Carrara marble by one of the ancient greats and whose brazen facade becomes sheepish when he’s asked about his past in Paris. The night is intense, better than Zach could have imagined. But like all one-night stands, it comes to an end by morning’s light.
But what happens to Zach’s carefully manicured plans for a professional football career and a life in the closet when Liam shows up, not only on the Northwestern campus the first day of the fall semester, but in Zach’s upper-level Plato seminar, too?
Note: Is a standalone novel.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
“What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar?” Liam snapped.
“Um, I’m fulfilling my degree requirements,” Zach snapped back. “What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar? You live in Rome.”
“No, I was regrouping in Rome. I’d been going to school in Paris before that but—Wait, degree requirements? You’re a Classics major? Mr. Hotshot-starting-quarterback is a Classics major?” Liam’s voice came out shriller than he would have liked.
Zach set his hips back against the table, crossing his arms with a sudden smugness. “A Classics major focusing in Pax Romana philosophers with a 3.7 GPA, you mean? Yeah. I am. How do you think I recognized that ridiculous Metamorphoses quote on your Grindr profile?”
“I figured you Googled it like everyone else usually did.”
Zach’s face softened at Liam’s unintentional reveal. “Why didn’t you say anything about coming to school in the States that night?” Zach asked.
Liam leveled him with a look. “I don’t remember us doing an awful lot of talking.”
“We talked enough. You could have mentioned it.”
“I’d only decided to come here a week or so before we met,” Liam explained. “I barely knew anything about Northwestern aside from the fact that it has a pretty well-respected music program. Certainly not enough to know it has some big deal football team. And besides, what were the chances?”
“I’m not a betting man, but I definitely wouldn’t have taken these odds.” Doe-eyed panic lingered on Zach’s face even as he shifted to a more conversational tone. “So, the music school, huh? That’s cool. I remember you had music on your desk. What do you play?”
“Piano mostly, but I’m a composition major. I added a Classics minor ‘cause I can, here. My other school didn’t offer liberal arts courses.” Zach nodded, and Liam realized it was probably his turn to attempt conversation. “A jock with a brain, then. Color me impressed.”
Zach gave a bored lift of his shoulder. “It makes for a great human-interest story. I think every bad pun about Greek gods or Roman gladiators has been made about me at least once. The ESPN announcers think they are so fucking clever.”
Liam stared at him. “You keep saying these things thinking I know what they mean.”
“ESPN.” Zach gave him a patient grin. “It’s a cable sports network that shows games. You know, on the TV.”
“Yeah, alright.” Liam’s pursed lips morphed into an unbidden smile.
It was impossible not to note how the tension in the room had slipped away. The looks that passed between them carried a certain playfulness once they were forced to accept the inconceivable fact that they were both here in the same city, at the same school, and even in the same class. And into that ease slipped the feelings of attraction and memories of the intimacy they’d found on Liam’s mattress by the end of their night together. Liam had sought hidden parts of Zach’s body with his fingers. That small, insinuating touch, burned into his memory, had ignited such terrified want in Zach’s bright blue eyes that Liam had known that he would been allowed to feel Zach from the inside if only they’d had more time. One more night. One more hour, even. And now here Zach was, standing before him. It was as baffling as it was thrilling. Liam certainly wouldn’t mind if they wound up hooking up again.
“Look,” Zach started, “This is crazy that you’re here, and I hope you love your time at Northwestern as much as I have, but it’s probably for the best if we don’t interact.”
Liam was rendered mute.
“I mean, I know we’re in class together,” Zach continued. “We’ll have to interact, discussion grades and everything, but what I mean is, we shouldn’t be friendly.”
“Why not?” Liam asked after another stunned beat.
“It’s nothing personal. In fact, I think you’re—” Zach stopped. He pressed his eyes closed and shook his head sadly. He took another steadying breath before speaking again. “It would make things really difficult for me. Like I told you in Rome, no one knows about me. About me and…” He spoke the next word at a careful volume. “Men. In fact, you’re the only person on this entire campus who does.”
Zach’s sexuality was a secret that should have bound them. But instead, Zach was using it to put a wedge between them, between even the possibility of them. Liam didn’t think the conversation could get any more ridiculous.
I named myself “Ingrid” after a character in a story I started writing and will never finish.
I named myself “Sterling” after my dad’s boyhood dreams.
I’m a Yankee who has lived south of the Mason Dixon for a decade and I use ‘Y’all’ without irony. I dance in my kitchen. I vote. I love all the cats in the world and a good IPA. I will scream over college sports.
I write about love, with love, because #loveislove.
With two degrees in music performance, I strive to make my words sing. The rhythm and pacing of the prose are as important to me as my complicated, imperfect characters and my guaranteed happily-ever-afters.
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