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, C.J. Baty – CJ Baty dreamed of writing her own stories from a very young age. Time and life got in the way, but with the encouragement of her two grownup children, she began to follow that dream. She loves a mystery and when you mix in romance and hot men, you can bet there’s going to be a happily ever after.
Thanks so much, C.J., for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.
C.J. Baty: I have a manuscript that isn’t finished yet, which I hope to finish in 2019. It’s a ghost story about a 1920’s lumber camp in Townsend Tennessee. Of course, the camps are no longer there, partly because of the passage of time, but mostly because their location is now part of the Smoky Mountain National Park. I have visited their locations on several hiking trips with maps that outline what buildings and their locations. It’s very interesting to use your imagination to put the camps back together and visualize them as they were then. I’ve also visited the historical society there on several occasions looking at pictures and documents and buildings that were moved from the camps to be preserved. I can really get into this part of being a writer.
JSC: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
CJB: I retired in 2017 to become a full time writer but circumstances have forced me back into the work force on a part time basis. The biggest affect it has on my writing is making myself focus on my free time and making sure I use it to the best of my ability.
JSC: Do your books spring to life from a character first or an idea?
CJB: Oh I would definitely say “idea”. A location or a thought will get my attention and from there I see the story unfold in my mind.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
CJB: I do read my reviews. Good ones are always welcome and for the most part so are the bad ones. If a review is constructive and helps me be a better writer, than I don’t mind the bad ones. Sometimes it’s hard to swallow a review that didn’t give the story a chance to play out and the reader assumes something that really isn’t there after only reading the first few pages of a book.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
CJB: This entire series, The Knights Club, was an opportunity for me as a writer to write characters like I had never written before. I loved it. It stretched me and made me think. Book 4, “Coming Out” at first glance could be interrupted to be about a man who is just discovering he is gay, but there’s more to the story. It’s more about his questioning of his own internal conflicts and discovering that he could be attracted to a man. He really struggles to understand himself. I think I did achieve that in Malachi’s part of this book. There were no easy fix it answers. When you read the story, you’ll see that.
JSC: What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?
CJB: In this series, it was definitely Phillip, who happened to be the other lead in “Coming Out”. He kept wanting to push his way into an earlier book in the series and I just hadn’t planned on his story to be there. Looking back I did miss that his story affected every one of the other stories and even the final book, coming in February. He was right!
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
CJB: The whole idea behind the Knights Club series was to see gay life from many different perspectives and that we make our families from the people around us. Xavier Knight is sort of the patriarch of his group of friends that have become his family. They come from all walks of life and yes, most of them are gay but that doesn’t mean they don’t argue or have conflict just like any other family, blood related or not. It’s the people we chose to be our family that can play a bigger part in our world than those who are blood related.
The challenge was to bring diversity into my writing. To show all types of gay people and how they found love and lived their lives. Sure there are lots of great stories that follow the pattern- boy meets boy, boy loses boy and boy wins boy back- HEA. But real life has to play a part in there too! That’s what I wanted to bring to the Knights Club diverse, messy, wonderful life.
JSC: What do you like to read in your free time?
CJB: I seldom read anything but MM these days. Mostly because I love it. I will read a good mystery and most anything Dan Brown or Clive Cussler put out and the amazing Karen Marie Moning. Other than those three, I read in my genre.
JSC: Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
CJB: Definitely the past! I’d love to experience events that changed the world. See it from that point in time. To really know what the people were living through. Good or bad, it would still be amazing. The future isn’t written yet. It changes with every decision you make, or the world makes around you. Even if visited, it doesn’t mean that’s really what’s going to happen.
JSC: What am I working on now?
CJB:This is my favorite question Scott! I am doing the research for a paranormal twist on the myth of the Phoenix. I am so freaking excited about this. It’s still in the early stages and I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of research and learning so much. (My favorite part.) Taking notes, plotting ideas and locations. If you’ve read my stories, you know I put a lot of thought into the settings of my stories. As I said it’s a twist on the myth, so it won’t follow the legend exactly. I can say that it will definitely be MM and that I have ever hope for “The Rising Sun” to be out later in 2019.
Coming sooner the 5th and final book in the Knights Club Series, “Finding Forgiveness” will be available very early February.
Thanks for having me. I always enjoy my time with you.
JSC: Me too. 🙂
And now for C.J.’s new book: Coming Out:
Phillip Hapner was smart and good looking. He just had one problem. He liked to gamble, trouble was he wasn’t very good at it. Now, he was trying to stay alive and convince the leader of the underground gambling syndicate, that he didn’t know who was in charge. Well, he did have one other problem, Malachi Brady. The cop who was protecting him. Phillip wanted him, even though he knew the man was straight.
Malachi Brady had accepted that his brother was gay. He believed everyone was intitled to love whom they wanted. He knew he wasn’t gay, but he was feeling things for Phillip Hapner he’d never felt before. When he was assigned to protect Phillip, the sexual tension between them exploded. Could he figure out what was going on in his head and his body and who was behind the gambling syndicate in Atlanta.
The people who worked at the Knights Club are a family. And like any family, there are times when things just don’t go right.
“Come in,” Xavier called out.
Malachi stepped in just in time to see Phillip Hapner placing several locked bank bags in a safe behind the desk where Xavier Knight was sitting. He stood and offered a hand to Malachi.
“Malachi, what can I do for you?” Xavier asked.
“I’m here in an official capacity,” he answered, looking at Phillip. “Captain Dennehy would like to ask you some questions, downtown, Mr. Hapner.”
Malachi saw the color drain from Phillip Hapner’s face. He looked from Seb to Xavier and finally back to Malachi.
“He believes you may have some information about an illegal gambling ring that has been operating in the metro area. He just wants to talk to you,” Malachi gave the pat answer calmly. He could see the frightened look on the other man’s face.
“Is he under arrest?” Xavier asked stepping back to stand beside the younger man.
Looking at Phillip Hapner now, Malachi could see that he was young. Twenty-five or maybe twenty-six but not much older. All those blond curls framed a slender face and the light blue eyes popped in comparison to his tan. A thought flashed through Malachi’s mind, he wondered, was he tan all over? What the hell?
“No. Just some questions that’s all.”
“I’ll be all right Xavier,” Phillip assured his boss. “I’m sure I’ll be back in no time at all.”
Phillip Hapner did not look as self-assured as he tried to sound. Malachi figured it was a show for Xavier. He knew that Seb and Xavier were having some issues over the guy. He could see now what Seb had been talking about. Xavier seemed overly concerned about this employee. Phillip approached Malachi and waited.
“After you officer,” he said.
They walked back through the club. Malachi could see the questions on Seb’s face, but he didn’t stop to talk to him. He motioned for Steve and the three of them went to the squad car.
Back at the precinct, Malachi and Steve waited in the hall outside the interrogation room while Chief of Police, Matthew Courtland, and one of his aides questioned Hapner. Dennehy didn’t show up for the interview. Whatever was going down was coming from the top of the Atlanta PD. Malachi and Steve were street officers, not detectives or investigators. Neither one of them could figure out what they were doing here. Eventually the door opened, and Phillip Hapner came out first.
“These two officers will give you a ride back to the Knights Club, Mr. Hapner. You have my card. Please don’t hesitate to give me or Captain Dennehy a call if you remember anything else,” Matthew Courtland shook Phillip’s hand.
“Yes, sir. Thank you,” Phillip answered.
Malachi nor Steve asked Phillip any questions on the way back to the club and he was silent the whole way.
“Thank you.” It was the only thing he said as Steve opened the back door of the car and let him go. Seb came out almost as soon as Phillip went in.
“What the hell is going on?” Seb asked.
“We’re not really sure and even if we were, you know we couldn’t discuss it with you,” Steve said before Malachi could speak up.
“We haven’t been briefed. I’ll let you know what I can when we are,” Malachi said to his brother. “In the meantime, give him a break. And give me a call if you see or hear anything.”
CJ Baty dreamed of writing her own stories from a very young age. Time and life got in the way, but with the encouragement of her two grownup children, she began to follow that dream. She loves a mystery and when you mix in romance and hot men, you can bet there’s going to be a happily ever after. She brings her love of nature and the mountains of the Southern states into her stores too. Too many years spent in an office crunching numbers, left her with the desire to explore new places and experiences. Whenever, possible you can find her in Tennessee enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery. Her muse lives there so she visits often. She believes deeply that love is love and love is what binds us all.
CJ Baty lives with her very patient husband and two encouraging adult children. The recent move to include a second home in Tennessee has fulfilled one of her life long dreams. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.
The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to Fan Fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected. Publishing her own stories has been a highlight in her life.It just goes to prove, you are never too old to follow your dreams!