Title: There You Are (Wild and Precious #2)
Author Name & Publisher: CJane Elliott (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 23, 2015 – 33,000 Words
Bisexual musician Cody Bellstrom is a free spirit, easygoing and unattached. On a cross-country trip, Cody befriends young Sandy Nixon and gets him safely to Portland and his uncle, Phineas MacDonald. Beautiful Phineas turns Cody’s life upside down, and Cody learns he’s not as unattached as he aspires to be. With the hard-won knowledge of what lies underneath his need to be free, Cody wins a chance at real freedom and true love.
Ever since his longtime lover Allen died, Phineas MacDonald has lived a circumscribed life. He stopped performing as fierce drag queen Phanny Hill and works part-time in a bookstore. Phineas never expected to find love again. But when sexy and caring Cody Bellstrom turns up, Phineas feels his orderly life slipping out of his control. Cody brings him alive again, but now Phineas must find the courage to let go of his grief over Allen and give love a second chance.
I liked Cody already from the previous story, so I knew I would love getting to know him better. He’s a well-rounded character, and of course, I always like to see good bi characters–especially if they’re in the spotlight.
Phineas is terrific,both as himself and as Phanny. I could easily see why Cody went googly-eyes for him right from the start. He’s wonderful, and their relationship is so sweet.
There’s not a lot of drama, tension, or angst here. This is pretty much a gooey, sweet love story, start to finish. Short enough to read in an afternoon, this one’s perfect for a cozy, rainy day read.
“YOU SURE about this?” Bette’s pointed glance packed a world of meaning as she maneuvered the car through the DC traffic and Union Station came into view.
Cody shifted, touching the door handle to ready his escape. “Yes, I’m sure. Didn’t we go over this?” In excruciating detail, he added silently but didn’t dare say aloud. Not with the mood Bette was in.
“I’m giving you one more chance to come to your senses.” Bette pulled up outside the train station, frowning, and turned off the engine.
She looked so unhappy, Cody wanted to change his mind. I can’t, he thought.
Won’t, you mean, said the Bette in his head. He reached over and laid his hand on top of hers. “You’ll get along fine without me.”
“That’s not the point.” She nailed him with a baleful scowl. “We don’t want to get along without you. Dang you, Cody Bellstrom, you have no idea who you are to us.” At his puzzled expression, she turned away and stared stonily through the windshield.
“Well… I guess this is it.” Cody waited, but she didn’t respond. “I love you, girl, you know that, right? You and Aurora.” He meant it. He, Bette, and Aurora had been friends since they were college freshmen ten and a half years ago. Cody sometimes found it hard to believe that he’d known them since before Bette and Aurora had become a couple. It seemed like they’d been together forever.
A barely perceptible nod.
“Come on, Bette, don’t be mad. I’ll be back. I swear.”
“Sure you will.” She sighed and turned a softer face toward him. “Goddammit, you better. We love you. If you gotta do this, of course we can’t stop you. All we want is for you to be happy.”
A car honked behind them, and a uniformed officer motioned them to get moving.
“Shoot,” Bette muttered. “All right, babe. Get outta here.”
Cody leaned over and planted a kiss on her cheek. “I’ll text. And call. And Skype.”
“Okay. Send us a postcard from every stop, and take a picture of yourself in Powell’s Books when you get to Portland.”
Cody opened the door and unfurled himself from the passenger seat, then hauled out his luggage, such as it was. He traveled light; always had. A knapsack, one rolling suitcase, and his guitar, and he was good to go.
He stood on the curb and waved as Bette pulled away, then strode into the station, his spirits lifting, while Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” played on a loop in his mind.
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
At the moment, I have several writing environments, all inside my house. I find it helps for me to go from one to the other when I start to feel restless. I’ll describe one of my favorites: sitting on the couch in my living room. Our living room has a twenty-foot ceiling and large windows that look out onto lots of trees. The couch sits next to a big stone fireplace and during the winter months there’s usually a fire going. During weekends, my musician son is apt to be walking around strumming his guitar (in fact, he’s doing that right now!) and my husband the amateur chef is in the kitchen trying out another recipe. Music plays on the stereo. Oh, and there I am, on the couch with my laptop, writing.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
Let me talk about the women characters that appear in my m/m romances. I love them and relate to all of them. Most of the younger ones (in their 20s) are a lot more confident than I was at that age and they don’t take much crap from guys. These are characters such as Cleo in Serpentine Walls and Morocco and Myesha from Sex, Love, and Videogames. Also, though a bit older, Bette and Aurora in the Wild and Precious series. The older women in my stories vary. Some of them are caught in their religious or gender roles and don’t escape, like Sandy’s mother Darcy Nixon from There You Are and the next story coming out in the spring, Sand-Man’s Family. But others grow and become stronger, and finally offload the men who are keeping them down, like Cecilia Emery in Aidan’s Journey. And then there are the stone-cold bitches, again from Aidan’s Journey, like Tish Walter and Victoria Hawes. These ladies are going to get what they want, no matter the price.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I’ve already done it, as I didn’t become an author until mid-life. I’m a hospice social worker and before that I worked as a course leader for an international company.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
I’ve learned that finishing a first draft is way more important than having that first draft be any good. It’s allowed me to speed up my writing because I’m no longer editing as I go along. I know I’ll edit after I’m finished with the story.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
I love There You Are and I wouldn’t make any major changes. I ran into something minor while writing the sequel, Sand-Man’s Family, and wished I could have changed the way Sandy’s parents find out he’s sexually active. It’s something Sandy tells Cody when they first meet on the train and my editor pointed out it didn’t quite make sense. But too late now!
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
I wrote the first book in the series, Wild and Precious, as a stand-alone and it was in fact a re-imagining of a movie, Kissing Jessica Stein. The idea to write There You Are came from reader interest in the character of Cody Bellstrom. But the plot and the characters of Phineas and his nephew Sandy just kind of came to me, as do most of my ideas. I usually write in my journal, starting the sentences with “What if?” And then let things flow from my right brain or wherever that well of ideas is located.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
Finishing the 3rd book in the Wild and Precious series, Sand-Man’s Family. Writing a novel for Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun Desire category romance line. Writing a story set in Virginia that will feature an Appalachian mountain man and a yuppie do-gooder from Northern Virginia. Then either a 4th Wild and Precious story or another novel in the Serpentine Series.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I generally write the places I know and I’ve had the good fortune to have lived in several interesting areas. I grew up in the WDC area (Northern Virginia), lived in San Francisco for several years, and now reside in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Eugene, Oregon. I’ve set stories in all these places.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
Mystery. I love the cleverness of the plots.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Coffee all the way. Only I don’t call it a vice, I call it a necessity!
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.
In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.