The other story spawned by that trip is decidedly lighter, though, and that's the one I want to talk about now: my newest release, Finding Master Right. (I just noticed that both titles begin with the letter 'F'. That is purely coincidence.) So if the first book was the result of some brain-wanderings while standing on a train platform, where in the world did this one come from?
Glad you asked.
It all started on my last night in town. Sarah Frantz and James Buchanan suggested going to the International Mister Leather convention, which just so happened to be going on the same weekend. They wanted to check out the vendor fair on Sunday. Now, I had planned to drive home on Sunday, but decided this was an interesting opportunity. So I let my husband know I'd be staying an extra day, and followed James and Sarah to the hotel where IML was being held. Much of that story can be found in this blog post, written shortly after the experience. And there are photos!
So we wandered down the crowded aisles, checking out everything from floggers to books to devices I'm still not entirely certain I understand. We watched demonstrations that made me understand why we had to sign a waiver (two, actually) stating we understood there would be explicit sexual content and we wouldn't be offended by it. At every turn, I was fascinated. I saw bootblackers, furries, people in head-to-toe vinyl or leather, people in almost nothing, bullwhip demonstrations, and a guy in a gladiator costume with a really wicked cool Centurion-style helmet that I regret not photographing.
I watched a man get into a vacuum box, and when all the air was sucked out, the sides clung to him and he was completely unable to move except for his head. People rolled the box over, turned him this way and that, and there wasn't a thing he could do about it.
A lot of things I saw were very much out of my comfort zone, but still interesting to watch. Mind you, I wasn't looking at any of this with a judgmental eye. Even the things I found amusing were amusing in a "that's not my thing, but you enjoy it, so more power to you" kind of way. It's difficult to convey being intrigued and at times amused without making it sound like I thought I was walking through a freak show. That's absolutely not the case. It was interesting, enlightening in a number of ways, and certainly got the plot bunnies stirring inside my skull. But let's face it: it's difficult not to chuckle when you're watching someone get rolled around in a vacuum box, or when listening to a frank discussion about the texture versus aesthetic properties of a blown glass dildo.
As a side note, they say the sense of smell is the sense most likely to be tied to memories. That made the first half hour or so of the convention a little odd for me. Why? Because there was a lot of leather. A LOT of leather. Which is awesome, right? Totally. Except it also brought about some incredibly incongruous déjà vu relating to my horse show days. For me, the smell of leather, much like that of beauty bark or carnival food, will forever be tied to horse shows, and there are times when that sensory connection is...well, enough to short circuit my brain. Seriously, it's a very bizarre experience to take a breath and have your brain filled with images from horse shows, and then have someone walk past you in assless chaps and nothing else. Now I'm almost afraid to go to a horse show.
Eventually, though, I got used to the smell, and my brain stopped trying to conjure up horses and saddles. Good thing, too; that would have been really weird when we got to the booth selling toys molded from horse penises. No, I'm not making that up, and no, I did not take any pictures.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. The book. So I'm wandering down all these aisles with Sarah and James, and I'm in a perpetual state of sensory overload. Not just from the leather smell, but just seeing all the different products available, the huge variety of people, and the demos. At some point, I said to James and Sarah, "I am so going to write a book about this."
Okay, I say that a lot. And sometimes the experience or whatever is inspiring me at the moment gets tucked into the back of my brain, and it may or may not ever resurface in the form of fiction. Other times, it becomes a book, or at least a piece of a book (like the scene that inspired From Out in the Cold).
This one, though, stuck with me. Part of that has to do with Sarah informing me that yes, I would write a book about it if I knew what was good for me (she didn't word it exactly like that), but part of it was just the fact that everything about IML stuck with me. There was a story there. There had to be.
When I left Chicago and headed home just hours later, with nothing but my thoughts and a dying iPod to keep me company through the endless landscape of cornfields and truck stops, I kept thinking about the convention. And I kept thinking, "What if?"
What if a couple of guys met there?
Better yet, what if they knew each other already?
What if they both wanted each other, but couldn't have each other, and were somehow stuck together during a convention like that?
What if they want each other, can't have each other, and are rooming together?
Somewhere around Walcott, IA (the biggest truck stop in the world), I realized they were close friends who'd met through a local dungeon. Between Walcott and Des Moines, I figured out that Chase was a Dom who wanted to top Derek so bad he could taste it. And along the way, as I-80 took me through the unchanging scenery--have you ever driven through Iowa? It's like watching paint dry--toward Nebraska, everything else began to crystallize. The ex-boyfriend who's also at the conference. The other man Derek covets as his Dom. The pair of bears who rock Derek's--and, unexpectedly, Chase's--world at a leather bar one night. A bondage demonstration that seems like a good idea until it actually starts. All of that set against the backdrop of a leather convention (and the leather bar that James, Sarah, and I went to the night before IML).
By the time I had to stop for the night at some motel in the middle of nowhere, the story had almost entirely come together. I was too exhausted to drive another mile, but sat on the rock hard motel bed and wrote in my notebook until every scrap of the story was on paper. In my horrible, Mayan hieroglyph handwriting that even I struggle to decipher, but on paper nonetheless.
And across the top of the first page, in decidedly clearer printing, I wrote the title: Finding Master Right.
And here we are.
It's all fun and games until somebody falls in love.
Chase has just arrived at a much anticipated leather convention, and he’s about to lose his mind. Not only is his ex attending, but Chase is also rooming with Derek, a submissive he’s been dying to top. Although Derek is in search of a Dom, he made it painfully clear when the two of them hooked up for a very hot—but very vanilla—night just before the convention that he wasn’t interested in submitting to Chase.
Derek isn’t stupid. No matter how desperate he is to submit to Chase, he wants no part of a rebound relationship. As long as Chase is still pining after the sub who broke his heart a few months ago, Derek’s keeping him at arm’s length. Besides, there’s another Dom at this convention, the gorgeous Master Raul, who Derek is determined to attract.
But when Chase and Derek are confronted with all their kinks, from ropes to leather, bondage to flogging—not to mention each other—they can only ignore their mutual attraction for so long.Finding Master Right will be available June 17th from Riptide Publishing, and if you pre-order it, you can download it at midnight on June 14th!