Title: Depending on You (Dating in Denver)
Author Name: J.E. Birk
Publication Date & Length: February 4, 2015 – 103 pgs
A prequel to The Twinkie Ignition
It all started with a diabetic kid who wouldn’t stop eating cookies. And a best friend who’d just announced his bisexuality and hit on everything that moved. And a kind pediatric nurse with an amazing rack, a lying ex-boyfriend, and a nasty case of the chicken pox.
But mostly, it started at table 42.
When Benjy Moreland almost collapses during his restaurant shift, Dr. Kyle Penners wants nothing more than to take care of him… but if there’s one thing former foster kid Benjy values, it’s his independence. A dying man and a sick little boy force Kyle and Benjy to work together, and both of them have to make some important choices about what it means to depend on someone.
This is a very sweet story about two men who both try very hard to care for the people around them. Birk has written complex characters who have to learn an awful lot about love before they’ll ever be able to be together.
The romance is slow and gentle. The sex is steamy without being graphic. Both men are sweet, kind and more than a little conflicted. They’re also hot. Who wouldn’t fall for a beautiful, benevolent pediatrician? I love the way both men start out needing to control situations for patients, friends and lovers and slowly learn to let go.
Benjy’s past is tragic and like so many interns and new graduates, he has to balance his personal passions with professional detachment. Birk never offers easy answers for his characters, making them both very human and very real.
Recommended for anyone who wants a gentle romance between two very enchanting men.
YEARS LATER, when people would ask Benjy and Kyle how they ended up together, Benjy would usually say this: “Oh, he came into my restaurant one night, and I thought he was cute, so I dumped beer all over him. Saw it in a romantic comedy once, so it seemed like a good idea.” People always laughed at that, and Kyle always rolled his eyes. And then they’d slyly smile at each other, and maybe Kyle would wink a little bit, because, as Benjy was fond of telling him, he liked winking way too much, and both of them would think about how there was so much more to the story than that.
Like a diabetic kid who wouldn’t stop eating cookies.
And a best friend who’d just announced his bisexuality and was intent on hitting on everything that moved.
And a kind pediatric nurse and her amazing rack.
And a lying ex-boyfriend.
And most of all, a nasty case of the chicken pox.
But before all that, it had started with Benjy dumping beer all over Kyle—and before that, it had really started with Benjy, a twenty-two-year old college senior, waking up with a horrible taste in his mouth.
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
I like to write in comfort. My favorite place is definitely this worn-in recliner in my living room; I’ve often joked that it’s completely molded to my body at this point. Ninety percent of the time I write in sweat pants with random music playing in the background. I often write early in the morning, before I leave for my day job, so I frequently write with the sun coming up next to me. It’s a beautiful way to start the day.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
I relate strongly to Kyle. I always want to help others, and sometimes I go overboard in doing so. We’re both very empathetic people…sometimes to a fault, and sometimes to our strength.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I’m also a teacher, which is a job I’m very passionate about. I’d love to write and teach simultaneously for the rest of my life.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
It’s all in the revisions, and the more revisions the better! That’s a lesson I’m still learning, because how and when you do revisions changes with every work.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
There are days when I wish I’d made Benjy slightly more likeable. I’ve had friends tell me that he’s too dark and angry. On the other hand, I certainly crafted Benjy for a reason: most of the people I know who need love the most are dark, often angry, and not always very loveable. So while I sometimes wonder if I should have written Benjy differently, if I were given the chance, I’m not sure I would.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
They come from all over! Dreams, people I see on the train, people I meet in supermarkets…you just never know when an idea is going to pop up. That’s one of my favorite parts of being a writer.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I like to stay busy, so I always have lots of projects in play! I’ve recently finished a draft of a manuscript tentatively titled The Worst Bad Thing. It’s probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever written. It’s too early to tell if it will see publication, but I’m hoping it will. I’m also doing some writing in the M/F genre, which is something I’ve wanted to try for quite some time. Love is such a fun thing to write about, whatever the gender, sexuality, or experiences of your characters.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in Colorado, where many of my books are set. I enjoy setting books in places I know well or have been, because you can do so much to make the setting its own character within the work.
The setting was less emphasized in Depending on You, but it’s very emphasized in The Worst Bad Thing, which is set in multiple cities across Europe. I wrote it write after I returned from my first visit to London and Paris.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
Because I’m a teacher, I spend a lot of time reading YA books. I’m very fond of that genre, and I’ve learned so much from reading across it.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter. If you’ve never tried it, I’m warning you now: you can’t stop once you open that jar.
J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5k she won’t end up running, or trying to figure out why a good strong housecleaning never lasts longer than two days.