Thank you for having me on your blog today. It’s an absolute joy to be here. I’m racing through the blog tour like there is no tomorrow. I sometimes forget how tiring releases can be.
But it is here, and today You Are the Reason has been released. It’s my sixth novel, which means I should be a little more mature about these things, but no. My best friend still writes in her diary which days are going to be “Freak Out Friday”s – in other words, release day for me.
I thought I would give you a little more insight into my writing today – the why, the how and the is-there-gonna-be-more?
I am unashamedly Australian. Yes – from that land Down Under where we have kangaroos, emus, spiders, snakes and sharks. (Side note: why are people always so scared of our wildlife???) Australia is a land that is comparable in size to the US, but we have a fraction of their population. We have a very different political history from any other English-speaking nation, plus the uniqueness of our environment (the land and weather) has meant we have grown into a nation like no other.
And I love to celebrate that.
At the core of most Australians is an ability to mock themselves. So we are often the harshest critics of ourselves. We find ourselves names and labels, that may seem cruel, but to us, we’re loving ourselves.
The WHY for why do I write what I write, is a three-fold answer.
- To amuse.
I believe there is too much sadness out there in our world. We need happiness to brighten our day. I know that by reading a humorous book, I will go through my day smiling. Of course there is nothing wrong with angst, as long as we balance it out.
My aim when writing a book is to amuse my audience and leave them with a smile. And the way many Australians entertain, is to poke fun of themselves.
In You Are the Reason, Davo is pretty much a d*ck when it comes to feminine men. He is scared of them. Scared that the femme will rub off on him. He makes it into a joke to cover his insecurity. But he can laugh at himself too. One of my favourite passages in the book:
So I became a Melbourne Football Club fan, and thus I hadn’t seen a premiership flag. Yet. I was hopeful. At the core of every Australian is the inability to give up on your footy team. So what if I’d followed them for fifteen years and never seen a flag? They’d once won three premierships back-to-back.
In the ’50s.
“Who’s winning?” I asked Charlie.
“Freo,” he replied with a small smile.
“Not a Freo fan, then?” she asked as I took in her outfit. It was all black-and-white-patterned checkerboard with a red belt and red bows on her shoulders. The dress was cinched at the waist, flared to her knees, and had probably been in fashion the last time my team won a premiership. I stared at her painted toenails, visible through the toe holes of her dainty red shoes.
She wrinkled her nose and said with a hint of a smile, “My commiserations, then.”
I chuckled in spite of myself. A fan who can’t laugh at their own team when they can’t find their way off the bottom of the ladder needs serious money for the alcohol and drugs they require in order to cope with the humiliation.
- To foster acceptance of LGBTI people, and to help people accept themselves.
As an isolated teen growing up, books were my lifeline. This was before the internet, and my neighbours were quite a distance away. My mother was happily living in the 50’s, so she knew little about the world her daughters were growing up in. Books covered my education – yes, my sex education too. Between pages of writing, I discovered the world and different people in it.
I hope that my books serve to help someone who is struggling with the LGBTI issue. Whether they feel that they are queer, or if their child is queer, or if they just don’t know how to react when they see their male colleague kiss their husband goodbye. I hope to demystify the whole “gay love” thing and make it seem everyday.
Gay people are just people.
This is a lesson that Davo needs to learn. He’s steeled himself against anything girly, and has told himself that gay men don’t get to do that emotion-marriage-family thing:
I was shocked. “What? Children? You want children? Aren’t you gay?”
His answering smile was disbelieving and a little sad. “That teacher certainly did do a number on you, didn’t he?”
“What do you mean?” I was tired. I was confused.
“I mean, gay men are still capable of raising children. They are allowed to have children, you know. Aren’t Jake and Patrick a gay couple? With a baby?”
“Yes,” I said, “But that was an accident. Sort of. The baby was there, and Jake….”
I trailed off. Holy shit. Jake was a gay man with a baby. I was a gay man who could….
“It’s scary, isn’t it?” Lee said. “The possibilities are endless when you accept that there are no set limits, no set rules. That you can do anything you want and stuff the rest of the world.”
- To write for Australians, and people outside Australia.
It’s no secret that the Australian publishing industry is tiny compared to other countries. We just don’t have the population to support it, or the sales. It means that Australians writing Australian stories have to work harder to be accepted and to grow their audience. I mean this with no disrespect. But readers often prefer to read a book set in a place which is familiar to them – I know I do. Reading a book set in Australia is like a comfy old slipper. If the biggest readership of gay romance is from the US, then they are probably going to prefer US stories.
So writing Australian is, for me, writing for Australians. BUT I also have the added bonus of introducing my wonderful homeland to non-Aussies. I get to use Australian slang and tell non-Aussies all about our wonderful beaches, weather and culture. I often feel the Australian Tourist Board should be paying me a fee. And yes, I even snuck “shrimp on the barbie” scene in – but in Australia we say a prawn on the BBQ.
I promised to show him and drove to his house to pick him up at six o’clock. Howard answered the door.
“Davo. Great to see you again. Come on in and out the back. I’m barbequing steaks and things for Charlotte. Lee only this minute called out he’s not quite ready.”
I stuck my head in the kitchen on the way past and politely greeted Mrs. Brennan. Then Howard led me to “the back” and put me to work at the gas hotplate.
The back of the house was an entertainer’s dream. Decking and shade sails. Outdoor chairs and lounges. A barbecue, swimming pool, spa, and sauna. Tasteful, elegant plants in pots, and decorative lights and pebbles strewn in strategic corners for decoration.
Things I could never afford, even after working for fifty years.
“Here,” said Howard, and he handed me two slabs of meat. “Get this cooking while I brush off the chairs. Now tell me, does your company do pipe shoes?”
Ten minutes later, we were still chatting when Charlotte brought out a platter of prawns on skewers that were to be cooked. I placed them on the barbecue and returned to my conversation with Howard. It was another ten minutes after that, and we were discussing the Chinese influence on the mining industry when Lee appeared with three beers. He handed his father one and brought one over to me.
“Thanks,” I said as I turned the prawns. “You look nice. You have a hot date or something?” I winked at him, then turned red. Sometimes, although people theoretically know you’re gay, they don’t want to hear about it or see it. I glanced at Howard and found him laughing with delight.
Lee looked at me with accusing eyes. “Were you talking business with my dad again?”
I tried for my most innocent look. “You weren’t ready. What was I supposed to do? Discuss the weather for twenty minutes?”
“Yes.” There was a stubborn look in Lee’s eyes that made me chuckle.
The HOW do I write what I write.
I don’t mean technically (which really involves opening up a Word document on my computer and going for it), but I mean how do I create characters that are Australian and so diverse?
I listen and watch.
I try to create believable characters that will entertain, but are realistic. Sometimes they are based on people I know. Sometimes they are based on people I’ve met. Sometimes on people I’ve seen. I pick and choose characteristics from those I know and mash them together to make my guys.
The settings of my books are all places I’ve lived in, visited, or know. The houses, the cars, the buses, the trains – they all make up my everyday life, and it’s just a matter of placing them on the page for the reader. At the same time, I have to be aware of the cultural differences so that I know when to explain things.
For example, one of the things I mention in Safe in His Arms is the Fremantle Doctor. No – this is not a medical person, and not even a person. The Freo Doctor is the sea breeze that comes in the afternoon on most summer days, bringing cooler temperatures. The word “breeze” is also a misnomer – as some would describe it as a gale. But in the summer, we bake during the day, and endlessly look out the window, watching for the sea breeze to arrive. Only one who has lived through a Perth summer would understand its importance.
Or how important football is to us. As Perth becomes more racially diverse, the football popularity wanes. But it’s still the most watched game on TV. And teasing someone about their team is the biggest sign of friendship there is.
He slipped his shoes on, tied the laces, and said, overly casually, “Oh, and by the way? Sydney’s playing West Coast tonight, so there’s going to be no arguments about what channel the TV’s on, okay?”
I groaned in an exaggerated manner. “Oh, no. Are you one of those fans who thinks they know better than the coach and the umpires? You don’t scream at the TV do you?”
He laughed. “Of course not. I don’t think I know better, I know I know better. And the screaming will be kept to a minimum tonight because of Maxine. Unless it’s a close game. If it’s a close game, all bets and promises are off.”
I had to push my tongue to the top of my mouth to keep in the frustration. It was true I was a Melbourne fan, but if one of the teams wasn’t mine, then I would go for the Western Australian team over Sydney.
“Don’t worry,” Lee soothed me with a mocking tone. “It might show you what it feels like to win, because I don’t think you’ve known that feeling for a while this season.”
The is-there-gonna-be-more question to Renae.
Gosh, I hope so.
I write a lot slower than other authors out there, just because writing is secondary to my role as a mummy and wife. My time is not my own, and sick children, class assemblies and dirty washing come before writing time. So in April 2014, I released my first novel, Loving Jay. Readers almost instantly demanded a sequel.
I was pleased, but astonished. I’d never really considered it. I had already moved on to another story.
In July 2014, I released The Blinding Light, and readers again demanded more. More of Jake and Patrick. More of that story. I listened to them and went to work.
You Are the Reason is a spin-off from The Blinding Light. It starts 3 weeks after the first novel finishes. The first book concentrates on Jake and Patrick’s love. This book has Davo finding someone to love for himself, but also takes the reader into the next chapter of Jake’s and Patrick’s life. They are parents to a newborn, and their relationship has to change in order to cope with it.
“Davo bought us nappies as a gift,” he called to Jake. “And beer. I don’t know which is more important around here these days.”
Jake chuckled again. “Beer, Patti-cake. Definitely the beer. I took Maxine to the liquor store yesterday, intending to buy us something nice to share, and the looks I received from the staff and customers there had me scuttling out after grabbing the nearest bottle of wine I could find. Heck. You would’ve thought I was taking her to a sex shop or something. Do parents not get to drink?”
I’ve called the series The Tav, because the pub is central to both books. I’m really excited to be able to write more books that start under that roof.
But for now, I’m writing two books that I hope to publish soon: A spin-off to Safe in His Arms and a spin-off to Loving Jay. Looking forward to the day I’ve finished them.
Title: You Are the Reason by Renae Kaye
The Tav Series Book Two
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 240 pages
A Novel in The Tav series
Davo’s a pretty average guy. He has a decent job, owns his own home, and spends his weekends at the pub. He fully accepts that he’s gay, but doesn’t want to be one of those gays who are girly. He likes football and other masculine pursuits, and firmly avoids anything that could be seen as femme—including relationships that last beyond fifteen minutes.
Then Davo’s friend and gay idol not only gets a boyfriend, but also adopts a baby girl. Davo is seriously spooked and scuttles down to the pub. That’s where he meets Lee, cute from her cherry-red hair to her pretty little dress and pointy red shoes. Davo is charmed—but how is that possible? He’s gay. Isn’t he? Then Lee tells him he’s actually a guy—he just likes to wear women’s dresses occasionally. Thoroughly confused about an attraction that’s out of character for him, Davo begins the long journey to where he can accept himself without caring what everyone else thinks.
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Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
In order to celebrate my release of You Are the Reason, I’ve organised a scavenger hunt. I will be releasing ONE WORD as the hunt item on several stops of my blog tour. In order to WIN an eBook copy of the book, follow along the blog tour and find a minimum of FIVE unique words. Email the five words to me at firstname.lastname@example.org before August 16th to be in the draw.
Today’s word is: PRAWN
I look forward to hearing from you.
Follow the rest of the tour HERE.