Author Name & Publisher: Charley Descoteaux (Samhain Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: February 23, 2016 –
Sometimes letting things get complicated is the best way to figure it all out.
Mick Randall is on the run, from the biker culture he grew up in and his impossible vision of love. Alaska should be far enough to escape his old life—until he rolls into a wrecking yard and gets lost in a pair of pale, bottle-green eyes.
Scotty Bell has spent years learning to channel his fiery temper into the heat of a welding torch. His sexual heat has always been slower to ignite, but one look at Mick rouses confusion alongside desire. In all his life, he’s only been attracted to one other person—his best friend, Mercy Taylor.
Mick lands a temporary job at the yard, and finds an uneasy crash pad at Scotty’s place…where the ragged ends of his emotions get tangled up in Scotty and Mercy’s relationship.
But when Mick hears a Harley engine from his past bearing down on him, his first instinct is to go back to the half-life he’d been living. Lest his secrets destroy the only two people who’ve ever made him feel whole.
Warning: Contains references to abuse, subversive ideas about sexual identity and gender expression, and a free-range bisexual on a mission.
Mick slept on the couch for two weeks before Scott let him get dinner. Mick brought a pizza, hot wings and a six-pack. When he offered Scott a beer, Mick thought for a second he was about to get decked.
“No thanks, I don’t drink. But you go ahead.”
Mick put five bottles in the fridge and popped the top on the sixth. The long pull of rich beer felt like cool water after he’d been walking for weeks in the desert.
“Nope. I got enough of that before I was even born, I don’t need any more.”
It only took half a beer for Mick to get past the uncomfortable feeling he should’ve asked Scott to tell him more, or that he should’ve switched to Mountain Dew. Scott rented an On Demand movie, something forgettable with vampires, and they sat in their places on the couch and divided their attention between the movie and the pizza for the next two hours. Tom camped out in his usual spot between their thighs, graciously accepting all the chicken and pepperoni tributes offered to him.
After the movie was over they watched another one on HBO, but didn’t pay much attention to it.
Mick had a nice buzz going and was happy to sit back and listen to Scott talk about his project—the VW Microbus he was converting into a flatbed. A warm, fuzzy feeling Mick almost didn’t recognize as happiness set up camp in his gut, and life was good.
He thought, more than once or twice, that Scott leaned toward him in a way that was a little more than friendly, but it had to be the beer.
Mick jerked in surprise when he realized he’d started to lean toward Scott. He had no right to be “more than friendly” to Scott. None at all.
Scott reached out to grasp his shoulder. “You okay, Mick?”
“Are you ready for bed?” Scott kneaded his shoulder, sending a current through his body.
“The movie isn’t over.”
“It’s not very good. If you don’t want to finish it, that’s okay with me.” Scott smiled and sat back against the couch, releasing Mick’s shoulder.
He couldn’t help himself, he leaned forward. Only a little bit. He didn’t want to lose Scott’s touch. In that moment, he couldn’t think of anything more important than Scott touching him, not even self-preservation.
Mick Randall wasn’t a stranger to self-medicating with alcohol but before he found Bell’s he hadn’t had a lot of money to spare, and lately he hadn’t had the time. Together, those circumstances had turned him into a lightweight. That had to be the explanation for why he saw a come-on in every glance and heard innuendo where surely Scott didn’t mean any. He’d have to be a lightweight to want so badly to respond to Scott’s touch with an embrace.
Maybe I should quit drinking.
Mick wasn’t capable of walking in a straight line by the time he hit the can, but it didn’t matter.
Four beers was plenty and he’d take the other two out of Scott’s fridge the next day and remember not to bring more. If he wanted a drink, he wouldn’t have to drive far. When he left the bathroom his thoughts centered on that warm, happy feeling, and what he could get up to the next day. Before he knew what was happening, Scott had him backed against the wall, both hands spread across his chest.
All that fuzzy warm happiness disappeared, replaced by a tiny shiver of panic mixed with a side of relief. The relief tangled with a mix of “fucking finally” and “what the fuck” that made Mick dizzy. Or maybe that’s just the beer.
“Scott. Maybe I should sleep somewhere else tonight.”
“Yeah. Like in my bed with me.”
“I was thinking like my car, or a motel.”
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
That’s a hard one! I have an hour commute, each way, so I do a lot of writing and plotting (which looks suspiciously like daydreaming at times) on the train. I have way too many notebooks and am a sucker for the stationery section of any store.
At home I write sitting in my favorite chair in the living room, or at my desk in my bedroom.
Neither are very fancy—I’m no decorator and tend to live in small, cluttered spaces. My desk usually resembles an archaeological dig of the last few stories I’ve written—random notes and pictures and all kinds of little things (mostly toys) that call out to me. One of my favorite new tools is a chalkboard hanging on the wall over my printer. It replaced a small whiteboard I hardly used and at the moment is half full with my upcoming deadlines and the other half with snippets of dialogue or a keyword to remind me of a scene I need to write.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
In Torque, Mick is the most like me. He spent most of his life trying to hide half of himself.
That’s a hard way to live and as someone who’s always known they were bisexual, I relate. I found out early that it wasn’t “normal” to have crushes on girls as well as boys, so I hid that part of myself. When I grew up and tried to stop doing that it was very hard. Not only due to my own habits, but because people kept trying to shove me back into the closet. It’s easy to say you’ll avoid or cut toxic people out of your life but much more difficult in practice. Mick took that to a whole new level—at least new for me. I’ve never fled the state to try and start over like he did.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
If my stories weren’t published I would still write. But that’s not really an answer. If for some reason I couldn’t continue writing I would probably spend all my free time knitting or volunteering. Or both, those two things intersect nicely!
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
That there’s really no such thing as the finish line. Every time I meet one goal another one pops up that I want to try for. Maybe this knowledge would have led to a more realistic outlook toward my writing career but probably not. I’ve always been a dreamer.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
LOL Of course! I think most writers could keep tinkering with their stories forever. Torque is probably the story I would change the least but that doesn’t mean I think it’s perfect. Not by a longshot. If I could take it back and work on it for another month or so, I think I would give Mercy her say on the page. That would mean adding another 50-100 pages, though, so I think I’ll spend that time on a new story instead.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
Ideas are the easy part. I have way more ideas than I could ever write in my lifetime, and new ones keep coming. The key is coming up with good ideas. If I knew how to do more of that, I’d bottle and sell the formula!
I guess the answer is that I don’t really know. They come from the same place characters do, I think. The same object can cross my path every day for a month, and then on the 31st day it will inspire a story. I never know what will cause that kind of spark so I try to keep this Henry James quote in mind: “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!”
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I have two big deadlines coming up for stories in my Buchanan House series, and then I’m going to slow down a little and write something else that challenges the boundaries of LGBTQ+ Romance. Not sure what it will be yet but I have a few ideas I’m considering, mostly focusing on genderqueer and/or bisexual main characters.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in the Portland Metro Area in Northwest Oregon. I’ve lived in this general area for over half my life now, in small towns and the suburbs, and it definitely influences my writing.
Portland is a city with a high population of transplants so we have a real mixed bag of people here. The variety of people and the changing landscape of the city and the outlying areas has been an enormous influence on me and my writing.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I love SciFi. I was nine when I saw my first Star Trek episode: “The Trouble With Tribbles”. In reruns, I’m not THAT old. I fell hard for the show, the genre, and Captain Kirk. It’s exciting how the genre has exploded in the past decade or so—so many great books out there!
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Diet Mt. Dew and Frye boots! I have my eye on a pair of black harness boots.
Charley Descoteaux misspent a large chunk of her youth on the back of a Harley, meeting people and having adventures that sometimes pop up in her fiction. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. Charley has survived earthquakes, tornadoes and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.