Today, I have author Morgan Brice in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest release Haven, a m/m paranormal romance. Don’t forget to check out the excerpt.
1. First off, you are known for writing series titles. Why a standalone this time?
Morgan: Because it’s not really a standalone! Haven is part of the Magic Emporium multi-author shared prompt series, and each of those books is standalone to the others within the Emporium series. But we were free to set our books in our own series as long as someone could read them without prior knowledge. So Haven takes place in the Adirondacks in the real town of Saranac Lake, which is not far from the fictional town of Fox Hollow, where one of my series is set. In the course of the story, connections to Fox Hollow come to light, and some familiar characters show up. So while Haven isn’t a sequel to Huntsman, it is set in the same area with crossover characters.
2. Why write about a sanitarium?
Morgan: Short answer—they’re spooky and fascinating. Longer answer: We’ve forgotten that hundreds of sanitariums were built from the mid-1800s into the early 1900s, many of which are now repurposed or defunct. They were beautiful buildings and their designers had some noble ideals, but in so many cases those were subverted by bad people and by fear and prejudice about anyone who was different in any way. Most of those patients’ stories haven’t been told or remembered. That haunts me. The facilities back then offered treatment—and provided erasure. (Let me be clear that I’m not talking about modern mental health treatment.) Also, the Adirondacks were known for their ‘good air’ and a lot of tuberculosis sanitariums operated in that area until a treatment was discovered. I just mingled the two threads.
3. I noticed one trope that appears throughout your many novels—hurt/comfort. What draws you to explore characters who are hurt and comfort each other?
Morgan: Hurt/comfort has always been my favorite trope since my very first stories back in high school. I love the urgency and the high stakes, and the way that we gain clarity in desperate moments about what’s important and overcome fears.
4. Your theme for Haven, your latest release, is age gap. Why did you choose to have an age gap between the two main characters?
Morgan: In a lot of my other books, the characters are pretty close in age. There isn’t a huge gap in Haven (six years), but it’s more than usual for me. It also allowed for Austin to have had some more life experiences and be at a different point in his career than Jamie, who recently finished grad school and is just starting out.
5. Let’s talk about Austin Williams. Why did he become a private detective?
Morgan: Austin was a cop, and then a detective. He has some psychic abilities, which he kept secret, but which helped him solve cases—and gave him a stellar close rate. Other cops got jealous and started ugly rumors. Since he couldn’t tell them about his abilities, he quit and put his skills to use as a PI.
6. Jamie Miller is temporarily running the local historical association. What drew him to apply for this job?
Morgan: He wanted to get out of his hometown of Rochester, where he grew up and went to school. Even though the job in Saranac Lake was temporary, it was a better use of his skills than what he had been doing, and would look good on his resumes.
7. How much research went into Haven since you are writing about a sanitarium with long-buried secrets?
Morgan: I’ve used old-school sanitariums in several books set in a variety of time periods, so it’s something I’ve been researching for a while. Every now and then a news report surfaces about real places that have covered up bad things which finally came to light. There’s something powerful to me in having the truth come out and finding a level of justice or at least overdue acknowledgement for people who were hurt.
8. What do you think readers will love most about Haven?
Morgan: The chemistry between Austin and Jamie and the flashes of humor that still sneak into the story despite the danger.
9. What do you think will surprise readers about Haven?
Morgan: I’m hoping that some hidden connections that surface toward the end come as a welcome surprise.
10. What are you currently working on now?
Morgan: I’m working on Legacy, the next book in the Deadly Curiosities series, which is written under my Gail Z. Martin name. While that isn’t a romance series, it touches all of my other modern series written both as Gail and Morgan. The main character, Cassidy, is the cousin of the main character in Badlands, and the most recent Witchbane Book (Unholy) took place in Charleston with Cassidy and her crew helping out. After that, I’ll be working on Blink, the next Treasure Trail novel.
11. Here is some “this or that” writing-related, but you must share why you chose the answer that you did:
- Selecting a Book Title or Character Names
Book title—I liked that the concept of a ‘haven’ could mean so many different things.
- Description or Dialogue
Both—it depends on how best to move the action and plot forward in that moment.
- Drafting or Editing
Drafting. Editing is essential but painful!
- Sex Scenes or Argument Scenes
Sex scenes. I hate argument scenes!
- Em Dashes or Ellipses
Both—they do different things!
- Regular Comma or Oxford Comma
I generally draft with regular comma and then get Oxfordized in editing.
11. And I can’t forget my random questions:
- What is your favourite chocolate bar?
Anything with caramel.
- What was the last movie you watched?
We just rewatched all of the Marvel movies in their canon-chronological order, so Avengers—Endgame.
- What is your favourite meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Dinner, unless we’re traveling, and then it’s an indulgence to have a luxurious breakfast!
- What time do you usually go to bed?
Usually around 1 a.m.
12. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: Keep an eye out for Fables Retold, a collection of full-length books that retell classic faerie tales with an MM romance twist—including Gruff, my take on the Three Billy Goats Gruff which has a goat shifter love story! It’s available for pre-order now and comes out April 26!
Book Title: Haven
Author: Morgan Brice
Release Date: April 8, 2021
Genre/s: MM paranormal romance/mystery
Trope/s: Action, mystery, hurt/comfort, geeks in love, supernatural secrets, a brave historian and a lovelorn private detective, plus a guaranteed HEA. Old secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.
Themes: Age gap, starting over, friends to lovers,
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 60 000 words/200 pages
Old secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.
Blurb: A series of long-ago disappearances leads cold case private detective Austin Williams to investigate a troubled sanitarium. Jamie Miller is new in town, temporarily running the local historical association, and he willingly signs on to help solve Austin’s mystery. Sparks fly between them as they dig into the hospital’s troubled past. But someone wants the past to stay buried—and is willing to bury Austin and Jamie to keep it that way.
Note: Haven is part of the Magic Emporium series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains explicit scenes, action, mystery, hurt/comfort, geeks in love, supernatural secrets, a brave historian and a lovelorn private detective, plus a guaranteed HEA. It is loosely connected to my Fox Hollow series.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
The handsome stranger looked a bit pole-axed, staring at Jamie in surprised recognition although he didn’t seem familiar.
“We’ll be closing at five, but we open tomorrow at nine,” he offered, wondering if the man was lost.
The newcomer smiled, and Jamie’s heart sped up. Short, dark blond hair, pretty brown eyes, and broad shoulders got his attention right away. So did the toned chest that tapered to narrow hips beneath the man’s sweater and jacket. He definitely caught Jamie’s notice, something that hadn’t happened often since he’d moved to Saranac Lake.
“I realize it’s close to quitting time, but I wondered if I could meet the archivist? Then we can pick up in the morning.”
Jamie chuckled. “That would be me. Temporary archivist Jamie Miller, at your service.”
Hmm…I wouldn’t mind “servicing” him. Guys like that don’t wander in places like this every day.
The newcomer smiled and stepped close enough to shake hands. “Austin Williams. I’m doing some genealogical research, and I’m hoping you can help me. It’s a bit like solving a mystery—I’ve got bits and pieces, but I need to find the glue to hold them together.”
Austin’s hand was warm and the palm more calloused than Jamie had expected. His first guess had been that the man was a professor or researcher, but the callouses suggested a more hands-on vocation. Maybe I can get some answers while I’m helping him with his “bits and pieces.”
Jamie almost felt guilty about lusting after the man, but he’d had a long dry spell, and Austin was the best thing to come along in quite a while.
“We’re still open for twenty minutes. Tell me what you’re looking for, and that way I can think about it overnight so we can get a jumpstart tomorrow.” Jamie waived Austin toward a seat at a study table.
Jamie listened as Austin talked about his great-uncle’s disappearance and his grandmother’s desire for answers. He asked a few questions, most of which Austin said he didn’t know the answers to. When Austin fell silent, Jamie leaned back in his chair, sad to find that they only had a few minutes left before he needed to close up.
“I’m happy to help you, but the kind of records that might help you find your great-uncle would be at the county courthouse or the library,” Jamie said. “Especially if he wasn’t from a local family, I don’t think anything we’d have here will be what you need.”
Austin hesitated like he was trying to decide whether he should confide in Jamie. “I think he might have been a patient at Havenwood,” he said quietly. “I thought the archive might be able to shed some light on the hospital in that period.”
“Oh.” Jamie had only been at the archive for a month, but he’d already heard plenty of whispers about Havenwood, the creepy old abandoned hospital on the edge of town. “That’s a bit of a touchy subject. What are you hoping to find?”
Havenwood had been closed for decades, but plenty of people in town had worked there, and many of those former employees were still alive. Jamie had overheard some heated arguments between long-time residents over the rumors that still circulated about the old mental institution. He had steered clear since he was just filling in until a permanent archivist could be found. Still, he figured that both sides probably had a bit of truth to them. A place that big with such a long history dealing with vulnerable people was bound to have some heroes and villains.
Which made him wonder what Austin was really hoping to find.
The alarm on Jamie’s phone went off, telling him it was time to lock up. “I have to close on time,” Jamie said, sorry to bring the conversation to an end. “Our insurance company won’t let me stay open beyond the posted times or have anyone inside after we’re closed.”
Austin rose. “I understand. Thanks for listening. I’ll be glad for any help.” He paused. “One more question—where’s a good place to get a bite to eat?” he asked with a slightly shy smile that sent a surge of heat to Jamie’s groin.
“Do you like pizza? Moosehead Inn is a locals’ joint that serves great food. I was going to head over once I lock up—you’re welcome to join me if you don’t have other plans,” Jamie offered, trying to sound nonchalant.
Did I just ask him out? Holy shit. I haven’t done that in…forever.
Austin brightened, and his smile grew broader. “I’d like that. I’ll wait outside. Can we walk there? I didn’t bring my car.”
Jamie nodded, still a little surprised at his own boldness. “Sure. See you in a few minutes.”
He ushered Austin out the door and locked it behind him. Fortunately, Jamie had gotten a head start on the lock-up checklist before the sexy stranger arrived. He powered down the computer and started flipping off light switches as he made his way toward the back door.
This was the part he really disliked. Once he turned on the alarm system, the security lights would come on. But on the way to the back door, the old house got darker, and the shadows stretched longer with every switch he flicked.
I thought I knew what I was getting into when I took the job. But it’s just temporary, and I’m still sending out applications for something better, he reminded himself.
An old house like this was likely to have ghosts, even without being turned into a museum of sorts. Bring together the personal belongings of hundreds of people, bits of local history, journals, and letters, and it didn’t surprise Jamie that the place was haunted. Even if no one else seemed to believe it.
Click, click, click. He turned off the lights in the foyer and the former sitting room and dining room. Jamie had closed up the upstairs rooms early since it was a slow day. It held a storage area, a library of books written by local authors and books about the Saranac Lake area, as well as a conference room and a small classroom for lectures. The attic and basement were storage areas that weren’t open to the public, which made Jamie very happy since both gave him the creeps.
Click. The lights in the old parlor went dark, and Jamie braced himself. On the nights the ghosts felt frisky, this was when the shenanigans started.
A cool breeze out of nowhere made the hair on the back of Jamie’s neck rise. He heard the glissando of crystal pendants gently bumping together, the decorative dangles on a vintage oil lamp in the parlor that shouldn’t have any reason to move.
Jamie resolutely ignored the shadow gliding just at the edge of his peripheral vision as he hurried down the hallway. The kitchen doubled as the staff room and was the least haunted place in the building. Jamie heard footsteps on the stairs and forced himself to breathe. He knew there was no one else in the old house—at least, no one living.
In the room to his left by the back door, the former sewing room for the ladies of the house, he glimpsed a familiar gray figure and heard the swish of crinoline and linen. To his right, in the small office that was once the cook’s room, a rocking chair creaked.
Jamie’s hand shook as he set the alarm. The ghosts didn’t act up every night, and some evenings they were more riled than others. So far, none of them had tried to hurt him. As unsettling as the ghostly manifestations were, Jamie couldn’t object to spirits wanting to stay in a place that meant something to them. He didn’t mess with them, and he really hoped that meant they would return the favor.
The alarm beeped, and the security lights came on, dim but enough to send the shadows scurrying. The sounds stopped, and the house grew quiet. Jamie slipped out the back door and checked the lock, then let out a long breath. The halogen light above the door made the area around the steps almost as bright as day. He shook off the weirdness and smiled, excited about dinner with Austin.
It’s not a date. But I wish it was. Maybe…
This could be a pleasant diversion, Jamie told himself. Austin was just in town to look up some family history, and Jamie’s role with the archive was temporary. Nothing said they couldn’t have a little fun while their paths crossed.
Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.
On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.
Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!