|Surfeit for the Senses|
Talya Andor, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Surfeit for the Senses.
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Cover artist: Aisha Akeju
Heat rating: Red Savina Habanero – 400,000 Scoville units. (Explicit sex.)
Tagline: Where the recipe for love mixes up equal parts rivalry and the determination to come out on top!
Blurb: With the buzz and drama of competition behind them, Alex is determined to focus on the one thing that matters most: his budding relationship with Nik. All the pieces seem to be finally falling into place, as he settles into his new living arrangements and gets back into the rhythm of the kitchen, while he and Nik spend all their precious free time together.
Life never stays smooth for long, however. The combined weight of family tragedy, television fame, and new, unexpected responsibilities strain the bonds of Alex and Nik's partnership, and conflict between them demands they settle the question of equality once and for all. Pulled in so many directions, it may be more than a new relationship can take.
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Alex Koch is twenty-two, and a chef who has been graduated for nearly a year from the Culinary Institute of America. Nik Schulze is the same age, and also a chef.
Weighing the keys in his hand, Alex turned away from the high windows that provided a view of the busy street below. The realtor was gone and the condo was empty with a resounding echo that cried to Alex for completion. The place had been furnished with a frugal hand but also an eye for basic comforts, and Alex's few belongings had already been transferred from his former apartment. It wasn't the presence of new furniture that was lacking—it was someone beside him, sharing the moment.
Alex kept trying to convince himself not so much had changed in the few months that had passed since the end of the Five Stars competition. Life had been busy as he resumed working at Schulze's and threw himself into the search for a new place with his parents' expert guidance. He had used a part of his winnings from Five Stars to put his down payment on the condo and banked the rest. Dietrich and Emma had only been able to stay for so long, and between working, condo-shopping, and catching a few sights and fabulous meals with his parents while they were still in
New York City,
Alex had barely gotten enough sleep.
Everything was coming together, in so many ways. The show would be premiering the next day, and both Schulze's and Collette's had been packed due to the advance buzz generated by constant television commercials and the billboards that had gone up around the city over the past weeks.
A chirp from his pocket made Alex lift his head. He pulled his phone out, grinning at the message displayed on his new smart phone.
Wish I could be there too, see you tonight?
Alex tapped a quick definitely as his response, pocketed his phone and keys, and grabbed his knife kit on the way out.
Despite his attempts at convincing himself that not much had changed, the truth was that everything had changed. Dieter had ended the moratorium on Alex's access to Koch family money, even going so far as to apologize for the oversight, clapping Alex on the back and laughing that he hadn't realized how poorly line chefs, even sous chefs, were paid. Alex and Nik were officially dating, and Alex had a place of his own. He had quite a bit of money left, enough he could have bought a car, but he had chosen to put the remainder in a savings account. His father and Johann had both advised him to invest the money, put it into something that would make even more money down the road, but for now, Alex was enjoying a return to the lifestyle to which he was more accustomed. He hadn't splurged on many extra frills, knowing most of his time would still be sunk into the restaurant, but after splurging on a new knife kit and the basics to refresh his wardrobe, he'd made sure to get a top of the line television ... and the best bed on the market, long enough for Alex's lanky height and more than large enough for two.
The empty spaces cried out for Nik's presence, and Alex was looking forward to bringing him over. Nik had seen the place before, of course, but that had been prior to escrow. The last of the furniture had been delivered that morning, the bed for which Alex had been eagerly waiting, and he could not wait for Nik to finally see his place and banish the last of the emptiness.
Alex headed for the subway with a spring in his step, bubbling over with happiness over his new place, his gorgeous boyfriend, that fact that he had the best job in the world, and how winning Five Stars had worked out for both of them.
Everything in his life was shiny and new; or felt that way, in the case of returning to his sous chef position at Schulze's. It was so good, and showing off his furnished place to Nik that evening would be the crowning touch.
How did you get your start in the industry?
Around the time my grandfather died, I made a blog entry about how he had always, always encouraged me in my writing, and every time he saw me he asked how that was coming and whether he'd get to read something I'd published, and one of my regrets was not having gotten to that point before he passed away. I was invited by Less Than Three Press to submit manuscripts for their consideration—so I took the chance! I submitted three, and happily they were accepted. I'm proud to say that one of my first novels was dedicated to my grandfather and his memory.
What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
Put myself out there, really. Before, I was always afraid to submit anything, because I feared rejection. Now, I think I could take that to move forward and become stronger. I wrote several novel-length manuscripts before I ever had the courage to send anything out for submission—about nine? Maybe more? The most important thing was to stop holding onto those for "some day" and make now that day. Finish, work with my own pre-readers to get them as polished as possible, and submit for publisher consideration, then go from there.
What is your work ethic when it comes to writing?
I get really focused, sometimes to the point where my friends will urge me to take things easy, take a day off once in a while. From my perspective, I take too much time off—there's so many projects, I want to write everything while the ideas are fresh and flowing! I tend to shoot for a goal of 2,000 – 3,000 words a day, putting it in consistently, and that gives me decent turnout without sacrificing quality. That allows me to pace myself and still have good output. Even then, sometimes I feel like I'm going too slow. It took me about three months to finish my latest novel, and I feel like I should have had it done in a month and a half, tops. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to relax and take things as they occur. I have burned out before, overreaching myself.
How do you cope with stress as an author?
Sangria o'clock! Just kidding. Speaking candidly, I try to pace myself. It's important to strike a work/life balance. In my case, I basically have two jobs: the day job, and the author job. I make sure to keep up with my hobbies as well, and my exercise regimen, and that keeps me not only grounded, but prevents me from sinking too far into one manuscript or another. It can get really hectic at times—this week I had to put together a blog tour, I got a print copy to approve, there was a daily word count to meet, I got feedback on a manuscript, and things were super busy both at home and at work—but I also made time for down time. I watched a couple of my favorite shows, exercised daily, and had date night on Friday. It's a juggling act! And I seize every moment of it.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
I think it's impossible not to be influenced by that, for sure, but I don't think my friends or family would recognize themselves in any of my characters. I don't build my characters with my own friends or family in mind, either—I construct them to their own individual specifications.
Which of your books would you recommend to someone who doesn't normally read your genre, and why?
Appetite, for starters! I know it may not necessarily be everyone's cup of tea, with such an intense focus on food and fine dining, but Alex goes through a character arc that I really enjoyed constructing, and seeing Nik through his eyes was challenging and rewarding.
What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your own writing?
M/m fiction primarily, though I currently have some books on my pile by Brandon Sanderson and Melanie Rawn. I'm a bit eclectic, I read everything from contemporary to high fantasy to sci fi, and I tend to follow writers across genres. That reflects a bit in my own writing; I always love to try new things.
Imagine you get to go on a dream vacation, but you have only one hour to pack and leave, and it starts as soon as you finish this interview. What will you take with you and where will you go?
My dream vacation would be a tour through Europe, culminating in a Mediterranean cruise, ideally with a flight to
at the end that would give me some time in Tokyo before I returned to the States. I could
be ready to go in an hour! I'd throw a variety of clothes in a suitcase, stuff my
laptop in its case, and I've already got international calling enabled on my cell
phone and my passport in my purse. I'd take my Kindle and iPod for the airplane,
and bring it on.
What do you like to do when you're bored?
This is a rare state for me! I am really busy on a fairly regular basis, between writing projects, that work/life balance, and being as lazy as possible at every possible opportunity. I keep myself so occupied I can't remember the last time I had leisure to be bored. I'll bet I played Sudoku, or read a book, or started up a video game I hadn't played in a long time. Even now, I'm itching to finish my second playthrough of Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword but I haven't had the time.
If your life became a movie, who would you want to play you?
Drew Barrymore, for sure. Because she's wacky enough, but also tough, smart, and all-around fun, yet she's got a serious work ethic. She's well-rounded and (possibly only in my head) we bear a passing resemblance to one another.
Signal to Noise and From the Inside Out
Books Coming Soon
The Fall Guide, coming December 4, 2013, and The More Plausible Evil, not yet scheduled for release.
Do you like cooking, or being cooked for? A night in with a good meal, or a table at a fine dining establishment? Tell me about your favorite kind of meal in the comments—I'd love to hear from you! And it would be nice to hear what you think about the entry, too. All commenters will be entered in a randomly-selected draw for a free copy of Surfeit for the Senses in the electronic format of your choice. You can also check out my author blog for additional chances to win a copy of the novel (and copies of the first two) and see the other stops on my Tour de Foodie this week.
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