To celebrate the publication of Staying Home, I’m going to give away e-copies of all three books in the series so far. To enter all you need to do is comment below or retweet the post on twitter.
About the series
I’d written two and a half of the stories in this series before I realised what they had in common. The first story, originally called There’s No Place Like Home didn’t become part of the series - it seems older men aren’t the thing. But I got permission to rewrite and I’m hoping to find a new home for Phil and Sion’s story – but I digress.
Choosing Home started life as a Torchwood fanfiction, which I planned but didn’t write. I had the idea for a story with an ex footballer driving down the A1M from Northumberland. Why is it that ideas always come when you’re driving or in bed? Luckily, I had someone to write down my thoughts and, by the time we got home, I had the characters and a basic story. It’s why Seth is Welsh and Zac Scottish. I decided to set the story in one of my favourite parts of the world, on the Moray coast, and there is an old, now empty house, on the coast that provided the perfect inspiration for the hotel Zac owns.
I chose football for two reasons. Firstly, I’m a lifelong fan of the beautiful game and secondly, I’d watched a documentary about the lack of out gay footballers made by Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin Fashanu, and the daughter of John Fashanu, both footballers. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bncfg
For those of you who don’t know, Justin Fashanu came out while playing, but ended up committing suicide. With this background, it’s hardly surprising no footballer has come out while playing since, especially when you consider the speculation around some players. In that documentary, the only current footballer who agreed to speak to her was Joey Barton, who, for all his faults, has always been a someone who’s supported LGBT in sport. Another documentary is coming out soon made by Stephen Byrne for Irish television, and again it appears people were reluctant to talk to him. https://www.joe.ie/sport/stephen-byrnes-playing-straight-documentary/567333
The idea for Zac’s experience came from the first documentary. His coming out, and helping Seth deal with his own issues around self-worth and guilt, not to mention dealing with his physical issues, form the core of their story.
Returning Home started as a separate story, based on a photograph showing a thin, bare-chested, tattooed man, holding a big, long haired cat up in his hands while lying in a bed, with flowery covers and tiny trolls and gonks on the window sill. I wrote a turning point scene at midnight, one day, and didn’t go back to it for a while. Originally, I intended to place it in another part of Scotland and then, having been asked for a series, worked out how I could move it and link the main characters in this story - who became Darach and Brice - to the first story. The link is admittedly tentative for that reason. Darach was always going to be a policeman, and had a sister who ran a café. He’d returned home after breaking up with his boyfriend, and the story was set near Plockton, in Hamish Macbeth country. Now, moved to the Moray coast, this is where Bryce parks to watch the seals.
Brice’s mysterious back story came out of that scene. I needed him to be flawed. I needed him to be in danger, but not merely a victim. Writing someone who uses a wheelchair, but is independent, was challenging. Although, I have some understanding of physical limitation, and have had to use a chair myself in hospital, I did have to do more research. I discovered there were pottery wheels specifically made for people in wheelchairs as well as discovering more about spinal injuries. This story was always going to have a death, as Brice’s danger had to be real. The link to the third story only came after the story had been completed. I had to write in more about Sam Carmichael, in the redraft.
It was when I’d finished this second story, that the fact they dealt with men coming home struck me, as well as the tag line, that even if you tried to escape, you brought your baggage with you – hence you couldn’t escape from yourself.
Staying Home features Sam Carmichael, the middle of the five
brothers who is a Church of Scotland minister. I took a risk writing about
someone who is closeted and religious. Religion fascinates me. I’m not a
believer myself, but I love religious history, and was head of Religious
education. I wanted to show how the Church in Scotland has been forward
thinking – they have had women ministers since the 1960s and this year voted to
allow same-sex marriages for ministers. Sam’s belief is central to his
character and his experience. He derives strength from his God. As well as that,
he threw me a huge curve ball I wasn’t sure I could tackle in the middle of one
night. His choice not mine. Tosh was simpler, but again I worried about writing
a romance for someone who had lost his husband in tragic circumstances. I know
some people won’t like this, but life goes on, and I like to think Harry, Tosh’s
husband, would have approved.
Will there be a fourth book? I have an idea for Hamish and Cameron so we’ll see.
So, my giveaway. I have a set of all three stories to give away in PDF or EPuB. All you need to do to enter the competition is comment below. Only those who comment on this blog or retweet my blog post tweet, will be included.
I hope you enjoy the series and, if you don’t win, give the stories a try. Thanks to everyone who have already bought, read and commented, whatever your view.