Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Sarah Hadley Brook – Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go.
Thanks so much, Sarah, for joining me!
Hi. I’m so excited to be here talking about my newest release,Gateway to Love (Part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love Series), answer some questions, and give away an ebook!
So let’s get started!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why?
Sarah Hadley Brook: I do use a pseudonym for privacy reasons. It seems a lot of people think authors only use pseudonyms if they are embarrassed or ashamed and for me, nothing could be further than the truth. I realize I am not writing the great American novel, but I am proud of my stories—I love creating characters that fall in love and find their happily ever after. And yes, some of those stories have erotica. In my day job, I have worked hard to get to the position I am in and I take pride in that job as well. I count myself lucky to look forward to my job almost every day. It’s important to me to keep both lives separate: Executive Director by day, Author by night! However, because there is erotica, there is the chance someone would take offense, so the board president knows my pseudonym and has been nothing short of supportive, cheering me on with each story.
I chose to honor my grandmothers by using a combination of full and partial maiden names, because they were both LGBTQ supporters when I was a child and they both shaped my life in immeasurable ways.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
SHB: As a native Missourian writing about a road trip through the state, I found myself wanting to include more information than was necessary. It was very difficult to narrow down the great cities in Missouri I wanted my characters to stop in!
JSC: What do you read in your free time?
SHB: I read a lot. Of course, I read the genre I write, LGBTQ romance, but I also read science fiction, historical romance, mystery, and political thrillers. I often alternate between reading fiction and nonfiction, or read several books at once, jumping around for a couple of days. I particularly like archeological, historical, science, and political when it comes to nonfiction.
JSC: Do your books spring to life from a character first or an idea?
SHB: Honestly, both!
JSC: How do you deal with rejection letters?
SHB: The first rejection letter I received, I cried. Not ugly crying, but yeah, there were tears. I wondered if that meant I wasn’t good enough. Could I really do this? But I allow myself to wallow a few minutes (or the rest of the day) then I kick it out of my mind and work on making the story better. Now I look at it as a chance to learn and grow and strengthen my writing.
JSC: Do you have any pets?
SHB: I have two cats, Tiger and Mimi, who are my furry children! I’ve also been lucky to have two of the most wonderful dogs in the world. Both Scooter and Toby have passed on in the last three years, but they were amazing animals and I still miss them. I know at some point I will adopt another dog when the time is right.
JSC: If you were stuck on an island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
SHB: That is a hard one for me! I want to say my cell phone, but what good would it be without wifi and electricity? So I would have to say a huge blank journal with a pen, a flashlight with lifetime batteries, and pictures of my sons.
JSC: What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing your books?
SHB: I’m always surprised at how close I get to my characters! They become living, breathing people to me and I want to see them happy in the end.
JSC: Who did your cover?
SHB: Brooke Albrecht designed the cover and I am highly impressed with it! She did a beautiful job. I was asked for input and mentioned the possibility of the St. Louis Arch, but what she did with it blew me away.
JSC:As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
SHB: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to write. I even wrote little stories for my dolls and stuffed animals. There were times I had other dreams as well. In second grade I wanted to be a nurse—until I realized needles were often involved! I also had the dream of being an astronaut—but I got sick on roller coasters, so that dream went up in smoke fairly quickly.
And now for Sarah’s new book: Gateway to Love:
Ten days to finally make the leap from friends to lovers….
Craig and Mitchell have been friends for years, but each of them reached a point where that camaraderie became… more. Mitchell’s kept his feelings close to his chest. So has Craig, but now that they’ve graduated from UMKC, he knows it’s his last chance to show Mitchell they’re meant to be before their careers take them to opposite sides of the country.
He insists they can’t leave Missouri behind without one last adventure. Mitchell agrees to a road trip to visit all the touristy spots and say goodbye to their home state.
As they spend their days and nights together, buried feelings rise to the surface and hope blossoms. When their journey ends with a dance beneath the Branson stars, will they find love and a future together at the end of the road?
THE SOUND of a horn jolted Mitch from a sound sleep, and he blinked his eyes for a moment, staring out the window at the busy highway.
“Sorry. Some idiot guy almost hit us. I had to lay on the horn,” Craig explained.
Mitch straightened himself in his seat and rubbed his eyes. “No worries. Sorry I fell asleep.”
Craig grinned at him. “You should be. I’ve had to listen to your snoring for almost two hours.”
“Hey, I don’t snore. You do, but I don’t,” Mitch said emphatically.
Craig snorted. “Whatever. I can hear you through the wall at night.”
“I don’t snore,” Mitch reiterated, and frowned when Craig chuckled. Then he started feeling bad about sleeping so long. “Want me to take a turn at the wheel?”
“Nah. Maybe when we stop for lunch? Although, we’ll probably be in Hannibal before then. We’ve only got about an hour and forty-five minutes left, give or take.”
Mitch nodded and checked his phone, but he couldn’t help watching his best friend out of the corner of his eye. Even after knowing him for four years, Mitch was still blown away by the reaction he felt whenever he looked at Craig. He’d certainly never forgotten the first day they met. It was imprinted on his brain forever.
That first day at Longview Community College had been brutal. He’d had to spend two hours in the admissions office because when he’d shown up for his first class, the professor didn’t have him listed. By the time his schedule was corrected, he’d missed two classes and was nearly late to his third.
He’d slid into an empty seat near the door just as the teacher turned around from the whiteboard. Someone next to him giggled and he glanced over to see the cutest boy he’d ever laid eyes on. Mitch had felt dumbstruck as his cheeks heated in reaction.
“Close call,” the kid had whispered with a nod toward the teacher. “I heard she doesn’t put up with latecomers.”
Mitch pulled himself together and smiled.
It wasn’t until class was over that they were able to talk.
“I’m Mitchell Moon,” he’d offered, as the guy rose from his desk. “Everyone calls me Mitch, though.”
Craig had beamed at him, his blue eyes sparkling a little as he leaned down until their faces were only inches apart. “Hi, Mitchell,” he said with a wink. “My name’s Craig Pruitt.”
And that was that—they became instant friends, bonding over video games, movies, and their love of Star Trek. It was the kind of friendship only found once in a lifetime. Mitch had come out to Craig within the first week of meeting him and his friend hadn’t even blinked.
There was only one problem with their friendship—Mitch had never been able to shake the attraction he felt for Craig. And over the years, as they earned their associate’s degrees from Longview and moved on to UMKC, their bond grew and his feelings for Craig only strengthened.
When Craig had confided in him that he thought he was bisexual their sophomore year, Mitch’s hopes had been raised, but by that time he was firmly planted in the friend zone. So he did what a best friend should—he supported Craig as he came to terms with things and accepted who he was. He’d admitted that he’d had a crush on a guy in high school, but it ran its course and he never acted on it. As far as Mitch knew, Craig had only dated two guys since then, nothing panning out toward a full-time relationship, though. But he’d had his share of casual hookups with men. Craig had gone a little wild when he’d first come out as bisexual, but had calmed down over the years. In fact, Mitch couldn’t remember him even going on a date during their senior year.
He’d seen the types of men Craig seemed to be attracted to, and they were nothing like Mitch, so he’d tucked his feelings away again and told himself not to go there anymore. It was an ongoing internal battle, but most of the time, he had a handle on it.
This last year of college, they’d found a cheap two-bedroom apartment near campus and moved in that summer. Sharing a small space with the man of his dreams had been hard. Especially when Craig often walked around their place wearing only a pair of boxers.
Mitch was honest enough to admit he’d fantasized about Craig too many times to count and would probably continue to do so long after he’d moved. Maybe that’s how it always was with a first love or major crush.
In his heart, he knew being apart would be good for them. Well, at least it would be for Mitch. Maybe he could finally go out with someone without constantly comparing him to Craig. But in the meantime, he continued to fight the attraction. The desire. The love. Because that’s what it had turned into. Love. Over the years, the longing, the emotional connection he felt with Craig, it had all turned to love. He wasn’t even sure when it had happened, but there was no denying Mitch was in love with his best friend.
And just when he was close to being free, there they were. One last hurrah before moving out of state. One last adventure with Craig.
What was he going to do without him? He turned to stare out the window, his eyes blind to the passing scenery. All he could see was a future without Craig, and it was shrouded in gray. Mitch was so tired of fighting his feelings. He chuckled to himself. He was the stereotypical guy in love with his best friend. He knew it was useless, but if Craig had asked him to go to California with him, Mitch would have dropped everything and followed him out west. He knew how pathetic that sounded, but when it came to Craig, Mitch didn’t care what others might think.
About an hour later, Craig pulled over to a gas station to fuel up and grab some snacks. Mitch used the disgusting bathroom, holding his breath as he did his business, quickly washed up, and made his way into the convenience store.
Craig was at the counter paying and held up a bag of items.
“I’m just going to get a drink,” Mitch told him as he walked past Craig. His friend grabbed his arm, wrapping his fingers around his wrist.
“I already got you your Dr Pepper,” he told Mitch with a smile. “And your Kit Kat.”
Mitch wanted to respond. Wanted to say thank you. But all he could do was revel in the sensation of Craig’s touch. Electricity prickled his skin, skittering through him.
“Mitchell?” Craig’s voice was low. He sounded worried.
“Sorry. Just… forgot what I was going to say,” he lied, knowing he sounded lame. He noticed Craig hadn’t let go of his wrist and raised his eyes to meet his friend’s gaze. Mitch was surprised at the intensity. The large black pupils. The flushed cheeks. “I-I’m… fine. Thanks for grabbing some things for me.”
Craig studied him, looking like he wanted to say something, but finally let Mitch go and they walked back out to the car and settled in.
“Less than an hour left,” Craig announced.
Mitch tried to tamp down his excitement, but it was difficult. He’d always wanted to visit Hannibal. He’d read all of Mark Twain’s stories, and knowing he was from Missouri had encouraged him when he’d dreamed about becoming a writer.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English had put him closer to that dream. Being hired to work on a grassroots website devoted to getting people registered to vote had been exciting and he was looking forward to starting next month. He was less excited about the magazine internship. West Virginia tourism was definitely not something he remotely cared about. He’d only taken it because his sister, Samantha, lived in West Virginia, where the magazine was headquartered, and she had helped him get the interview. Plus he could stay with her until he got a feel for the area. Samantha was also providing him with apartment information, so he would have several to check out when he moved.
The magazine hadn’t been in his original plans. He’d wanted to stay in Kansas City after graduation and work on his writing. His dream was to become a published author. Mitch lived to write, creating fantasy worlds and bringing characters to life. Over the years, he’d managed to put some money away, through his work at the coffee shop. Add what he’d been given as graduation gifts from his mother, his sister, and various relatives, and he was confident he could afford to give the writing thing a try for a while—as long as he had a roommate and a part-time job.
When Craig announced he’d taken a job in California, working for a nonprofit that helped homeless teens, Mitch’s plans took a nosedive. While he’d been proud of Craig, the idea of staying in Kansas City without him was depressing. If he was going to start a new chapter in his life and really get over Craig, staying where he’d be constantly reminded of their times together was out of the question. Writing would have to take a back seat to making a living. Mitch was trying to be an adult and make responsible choices—decisions that would help him move forward.
Maybe a new start in a new city would help him finally find a man that he could be in a real relationship with.
He just had to survive this trip without telling his best friend the truth he’d hidden for years.
Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go.
When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have co-starred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity to live.
She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.
- The Great Pretender
- Matthew’s Present
- Caleb’s Choice
- The Promise of Hope Shelter
- Fate Heats Things Up
- Eggplant Highlights and Mustard Yellow Jeans
- Officer Charming and the Prince Who Wooed Him
- Holding On
- Home for Christmas
- Motorcycle Man
- Evan’s Fantasy
- A Love to Remember (Men of Wesley Lake #1)
- Everything He Wants (Men of Wesley Lake #2)
- In His Arms (July 2018)
- Courted (August 2018)