Author Name & Publisher: Dianne Hartsock (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 18, 2015 – 200 pgs
Betrayed by a lover, Jamie rents an isolated cabin on Lake Huron, wanting only to be left alone. Instead, he is pulled from his solitary existence as an artist and tumbles headlong into the legend of Saint Nicolas.
As a young man, Nicolas accidentally killed a man intent on murdering three children, only to have the man’s malicious spirit rise up against him. Fleeing through the centuries from the Krampus, the evil troll-like creature that dogs his steps, Nico finds refuge with the young artist who takes him into his home and bed. But Jamie has questions. Who is Nicolas, and why does the Krampus want to destroy him?
When the Krampus begins to torment and torture anyone Nico comes in contact with to punish him, Jamie’s life is put in danger. And Jamie isn’t sure whether he can help Nico defeat his nemesis or if he’s merely a pawn in the Krampus’s game.
Jamie startled awake. “What?”
He had trouble breathing, the crushing weight on his chest seeming to have followed him up from his dreams. But that couldn’t be right. He’d rented the cabin for its isolation. No one should be there. Did he still dream?
A warm breath brushed against his cheek, sending a shiver of dread and strange anticipation through him. “Easy, baby,” a silky voice whispered in the darkness. Sharp teeth nipped his earlobe and pleasure and pain sparked along his nerves. His eyes adjusted to the moonlight filtering through the sheer curtains, and he stared in amazement at the man gazing at him with wild green eyes, long pale hair, high cheekbones and a slender neck he craved to run his tongue along.
The stranger laid his weight on him, driving the air from his lungs and making Jamie struggle for every breath. Shifting position, the man sealed his full lips over Jamie’s, drawing a long groan from Jamie when an impossibly large cock slid against his. In sudden panic he reached to shove his unknown visitor away and touched hot skin and lean muscles. Of their own volition his hands roamed lower, following the curve of the stranger’s back to the rounded swell of his ass. He drew a quick breath and the man laughed into his mouth, pushed his tongue deep, thrusting inside to match the movement of his hips as he ground against Jamie’s aching dick.
Heat pooled in Jamie’s stomach. God, what was happening? The thing in his bed looked like a man, but his every instinct shouted otherwise. His skin was warm when it should have been cold from being outside. And how had he gotten in? All the windows and doors were locked tight against the winter storm. It was as if he’d just materialized in Jamie’s bed. “Who—”
He cried out when a hand pushed between them and grabbed their cocks, stroking them together until he lost the ability to think. So close! He grabbed onto the man’s firm ass and yanked him tighter against him, rising up to shove into his strong grip.
The triumphant hiss in his ear shot ice through his veins. “So naughty.”
“No!” Jamie struggled to sit up, scrambling back against the headboard. He blinked, finding himself alone in the room, only his ragged breaths disturbing the silence of the cabin. A forgotten anxiety knotted his stomach. Naughty.
He hated that word, tossed about by the boys he once knew in school. The ones he’d suck off behind the gym, desperate for a gentle hand in his hair, balm against his loneliness. He’d been terrified his parents would find out he was different, that he liked girl things and found boys much more exciting than he should. They would know he was gay and there would be hell to pay for their freak of a son.
He scrubbed a hand over his face. God, that had been ages ago. The last shreds of the dream dissipated, and he reached for the bedside light, fumbling in the darkness for the switch. Low light stung his eyes and he blinked at the empty bedroom, unable to believe the attack hadn’t been real.
He flung off the heavy quilts and slid to his feet, clinging to the post at the foot of the bed as a wave of dizziness struck him. Laughter from the other room jolted him. Heart pounding, he bolted for the door and it crashed into the wall as he flung it open. The reddish glow from the banked fire on the hearth lit the main room of the cabin, though the kitchen area remained in shadows.
Jamie’s gaze swept the rooms, focusing on the dark corners. No one jumped out at him. Nobody sat on the couch. His coffee cup remained undisturbed where he’d left it on the hearth. Of course. The cabin was isolated, miles from the nearest neighbor. Who would bother to come way out there, especially with the threat of another snowstorm on the way?
He ran a trembling hand through his hair, pushing the sweat-drenched bangs from his forehead. Christ, the dream had seemed so real. The cold of the great room finally registered, creeping up from the hardwood flooring. Shaking, he crossed to the fireplace and stirred up the coals, adding another log.
With a sigh, he sank into the cushions of the worn couch and pulled the woolen afghan around his bare shoulders. The log caught and the fire crackled, sparks dancing up the flue. Recalling his dream and the hard body against his, he shrugged when his cock perked up.
“It’s been a while,” he acknowledged, watching the flames lick at the oak log. He’d signed a year’s lease on the cabin, right after catching his boyfriend in the stairwell of their apartment building, making out with their neighbor. It hadn’t been the first time, either, though again Patrick had his apologies ready. That had been over six months ago, and since the cabin stood miles over rough terrain from the nearest town, he’d rarely seen another human being in all that time.
“Just the way I like it,” he told the indifferent fire burning its way through the wood. But the stranger’s lips in his dream had been soft, his thrusting tongue sweet in Jamie’s mouth. He hadn’t liked the violent aspect of the dream, but if that had been a lover in his bed? His dick pressed against his thigh, and Jamie reached under the heavy blanket, moaning when he took its heavy weight in his hand. Drawing lazy circles on his balls, he let the pleasure build slowly, lifting his cock while in his mind the stranger licked the glistening head, his pale gold hair a curtain of silk against Jamie’s sensitive skin. He moaned as the man slid his tongue down the thick vein on the underside of his cock.
His mind flitted over the question of whether the guy would fuck him or want it the other way around. Didn’t matter to him. He liked it both ways. Rolling to his back, Jamie continued to stroke himself while he tugged his tight balls, then pressed a finger against his hole. He remembered the lube in the nightstand drawer by the bed, but he wasn’t about to stop, and hissed when he pushed the finger inside. The man’s cock had been huge in his dream. What would it feel like as it stretched him open? Would it be enough to fill all the empty spaces inside him?
It was a moment before the tolling of a bell outside the cabin registered. What the fuck? Jamie sat up, trying to hear past the pounding of his pulse in his ears. His cock throbbed and he groaned in frustration, knowing he couldn’t chase his pleasure until he found out what was going on at the dock. The only one to boat in was the man who dropped off his monthly supplies, and he’d been and gone two days ago. Who else would be using the dock? Jamie had been isolated for months without anything disturbing his peace. But this night he’d had a wildly erotic dream and now this. What made tonight so special?
First off, I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to answer these questions so me and my readers can get to know a little bit more about you!
Happy to do it! As you can see, I’m a little excited about my new release, NICOLAS. Thank you so much for hosting me today.
Now for the hard part:
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
Of course. Both my kids are grown and moved out of the house, so we’ve converted one room into a guest bedroom, and I’ve taken over the other for my very own writing space. It has a large picture window overlooking the front yard and flower garden, and faces west so I get to watch the sunset, which here in Oregon, is pretty rare in the winter. I have beautiful prints and artwork on the walls with bookcases lining one wall stuffed with books by favorite authors. I have a large desk on which to spread out my papers, and nothing gets moved unless I want it to! There’s a nice CD player, but I’m one of those odd authors who needs absolute quiet when I’m working on a scene. Music is a distraction and interruptions are grounds for divorce.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
I can’t say there’s any one character I relate to more than others. I think I put a little of myself into each one. When someone is sad, I pull up those memories to describe the feeling. Love, hate, anguish joy, everything comes from inside me or how I’ve observed these feelings in others. Same with the situations they find themselves in. I may not have had to deal with the exact same things, but ones similar enough to make them sound authentic.
I guess if I had to choose, it would be Alex Elson from my psychological thriller, ALEX, put out several years ago. Alex is shy, introverted, a young man simply trying to make a decent life for himself in a world that doesn’t always understand him. If often feel this way. I can also relate to Nico from this story, NICOLAS. He only wants a simple life with the man he loves, but life seems to conspire against him.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I work as a floral designer for my day job, which I thoroughly enjoy. There’s something very satisfying in creating a beautiful bouquet of flowers for someone to take home or give to a loved one. But I’ve always wanted to take some oil painting classes and to sketch in charcoals. If I couldn’t write, I think I’d explore this creative outlet, see if I have a hidden talent for it. I do like the tactile pleasure of sketching and the vibrant color of oil paints. I think I could be very happy working in these mediums.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
I wish with all my heart that I could learn to take better notes! I write along, jotting notes down as I go. Character traits, looks, eye color, etc., all go down. As well as locations and times of day and day of the week. The problem, is that when I need to go back to my notes for reference, they’re such a jumble of disjointed sentences I have a hard time finding what I need. I try to do better with each story, but apparently old habits are hard to break.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
I really can’t think of anything. I told the story I wanted to and had amazing editors to help me polish it into a story I can be proud of.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
Ideas come at me from all directions. It can be a bit of a song or a conversation I hear at work. A couple walking down the street, an advertisement on the television. Almost anything can spark an idea and I’ll mull it over until it bursts into the outline of a story. A lot of times I’ll see a picture of a person or see them in a crowd, and suddenly ache to write a story around them. I want to know everything about them and begin to weave a fantasy about their life. Sometimes these people become the hero in a story. Other times, they’re supporting characters. My stories are always romances, but I have fun putting these characters into challenging situations and see what they do.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
Currently, I have a crime/drama novel subbed and am working on a contemporary romance with characters I absolutely love. After that, I’ll polish up a fantasy I wrote several years ago, and am also thinking of expanding a short story I wrote into a full blown novel. I’m always busy!
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon, but I’m originally from Southern California and lived ten years in Colorado. I don’t think any of these places have influenced my writing. It’s been more of the experiences I’ve had during my life. Though three of my novels take place in Colorado and another in Portland, Oregon. I think that’s mostly because I knew these areas really well and so can easily write about them. This novel, NICOLAS, takes place in a town and area of the country I’ve never visited, but that’s where research comes in.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I love fantasy novels, especially those by C.J. Cherryh and Ursula K. LeGuin. They take me outside the real world into ones of magic and wonder, where impossible things become probable. I love the escapism, with characters so real I wish I could know them. I’ve written a few fantasy novels, but they still need work. Don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied with them.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Carmel Macchiato and peppermint mochas. Also chips and salsa and guacamole and really dark beer. And staying up way too late at night reading really good books.
Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions. I wish you much success as a writer!!
Thank you again for having me! Happy Holidays.
Dianne grew up in one of the older homes in the middle of Los Angeles, a place of hardwood floors and secret closets and back staircases. A house where ghosts lurk in the basement and the faces in the paintings watch you walk up the front stairs. Rooms where you keep the closet doors closed tight at night. It’s where her love of the mysterious and wonderful came from.
Dianne now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination.
Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.