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, A.L. Williams – My name is Alec Lee Williams, a trans #ownvoices artist. My pronouns are He/him/his. I have loved creating things ever since I can remember. My art is the visual and written expression of what is in my heart and mind. Show the world what social expectation and stigma it has created in regards to mental health. Mental illness and discrimination are a part of our history and it’s time the world sees it. The beautiful and the dirty
With my art, I want to show those who don’t have mental illness what it’s like. I want those that do have a mental illness, specifically queer POC, to relate and maybe even letting go of their trauma and triggers by seeing it displayed. I want them to know they are not alone. Now that I have decided to pursue writing my novels I hope will do the same.
Thanks so much, A.L., for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
A.L. Williams: My genre is hard to pin down. I kind of float somewhere between romance and other fiction. I don’t follow the “expectations” of romance and I’m too focus on the romance to be anything else. So, to put it simply there’s no one like me. I stand apart. The closest thing I can come to is I write K-drama’s without the K.
JSC: How long do you write each day?
ALW: I write from like 6am-8pm most days. My best output time is between 6am-noon.
JSC: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
ALW: It takes me anywhere from 3 weeks to a month. Never more unless something comes up.
JSC: Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
ALW: Well I represent my people first and foremost. Black people, especially black gay men, are still underrepresented in fiction in general and also usually incorrectly or in a white-washed type of way. The rise of BLM has started to change that, but who better than a black gay man to write about black gay men? #ownvoices.
I also represent different types of mental illness. Not just the common ones. One thing I want to make clear in my work is that romance doesn’t fix mental illness. I see it almost everywhere. Even if only implied.
“Oh, I’m in love so I can magically stop cutting.”
JSC: What is the most heartfelt thing a reader has said to you?
ALW: One thing I get told regularly is my books not only help, but also give the under represented a voice in romance.
JSC: What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had from an editor?
ALW: Elaborate. I am a very to the point person. One of my past editors guided me so that I could elaborate when needed, but still keep my to the point writing.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for this book?
ALW: So, I hate loved triangles. Every book that has ever been written with them, excluding Laurels K Hamilton’s novels, have had toxic and just plain annoying heroines that can’t make up their mind. They lead the guys on with excuse after excuse and then eventually picks the one that just popped out of nowhere and is creepy as hell. coughTwilightcough
Anyway, I wanted to write what should have happened or at least the healthy way to handle that kind of situations. There are consequences when you do stupid things and HEA isn’t one of them.
So, I made a note about it and then one day I was listening to the song “Treat you Better” by Shawn Mendes and the book came to mind. It started as a simple idea and enveloped into a beast with layers and complicated situations. That’s what I do best lol. Easy is boring.
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?
ALW: Oh my God, Isabel was a pin in the ass. Every time I made a plan to do something she would screw it up. She turned the book in a direction I didn’t expect it to go.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
ALW: I am writing 2 more books for this series, but one secondary character I want explore more is Larry and his past.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
ALW: Rashawn. The reason why I enjoyed writing him was because he is me in the way he deals with things.
And now for A.L.’s latest book: Enough:
He can go fuck himself…
Dexter spends his days in class and working. He has goals and a future to work for, but he can’t deny the loneliness. When he ran into Isabel he’s pulled into an emotional rollercoaster he didn’t ask for. One that involves an overprotective brute he wishes would go away. It’s not like he’s her boyfriend, so what’s his issue?
Then why this time?
Rashawn shouldn’t be surprised. Picking up random guys was Isabel’s MO. It was nothing new. However, why was this one so infuriating? He wasn’t anything special. Just some college guy who was probably after nothing other than sex. Once she gets her fill he’ll be old news and things would return to normal. Right?
Both men have been pulled into a triangle they didn’t ask for. They are forced to fight for what they want. There’s one problem. As time goes on neither of them is sure what that is anymore.
I need to get laid, I thought as the massive double doors of the lecture hall swung open. I massaged my temple, throwing the two unnecessarily heavy textbooks in my bag, the shrill ring of the bell, reverberating through the room directly into my head. Why did they always have to be so loud?
When the final student exited, I picked up my backpack and slung it over my shoulder. After I waved at the instructor, I slipped out of the classroom and into the long hallway. Shoes squeaked as they moved along the shiny floor. The intense odor of floor cleaner mingled with air freshener drifted through the air as students rushed by.
I weaved through them, already winded. I don’t know why I put myself through college life. Well, I did know, but I was regretting it. I got my registered nurse degree. That should have been enough, but I had to keep going. My father demanded I become the first doctor in the family. I sighed and continued on my way, pushing the doors open and inhaling deeply as the fresh air hit me. The sun shone high in the sky and the city was alive. I could hear car horns and yelling. I removed my backpack, wiggling out of my jacket before I descended down the steps leading to the sidewalk.
I shoved my hands in my pockets, staring straight ahead as more students walked past me. I wondered if they even noticed I was there. Did anyone ever? I had always been a quiet guy, content to live in my own thoughts. It did get lonely at times. Maybe I just needed to get laid. That would lift some of this…
I shook off the thought and looked down at my feet, moving along the hot cement.
A warm body slammed into me and I grabbed at the person’s shoulders to steady them and myself. My hand landed on something soft and I jumped back when I realized. I had grabbed a breast. I gawked at the woman who was staring at me with her head cocked to the side.
She was stunning. She had a thin frame, but the curves were present due to the tightness of her black skirt and red satin blouse, that looked delicious against all that golden skin. My eyes trailed down to her chest with a single button open, revealing perfect breasts. “I’m up here,” she said.
I whipped my head up, my face warm. What the fuck was wrong with me? “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—”
She held up a well-manicured hand. “It’s fine. I know I’m sexy.” Her dark brown eyes danced with amusement. I must have looked like a fish, but I couldn’t help myself. Not only was this woman drop dead gorgeous, but she carried herself with a confidence that I envied.
“What’s your name?” she asked, inching closer. Her long dark brown curls swayed with her movements.
I glanced at a group of giggling girls that walked by and then turned back. “Dex,” I said.
A wide smile spread across her face. “I’m Isabel.”
She reached out and brushed my arm, sending goosebumps along it. I really needed to get laid. I was far too responsive to the woman. My cock was already taking notice. The last thing I needed was for her to see how desperate I was.
“Would you like to get coffee sometime?” she asked.
I blinked and bobbed my head, feeling like an idiot moments later. What was I twelve? “Yeah, that would be great.”
She smirked. “I’m glad.” She leaned in close, her lips only inches from mine. “I’m looking forward to it.” She looked up at me from below her long eyelashes. I swallowed.
“Izzy, what are you doing?” I jumped back startled by the male voice. A man with dark bronzed skin stocked over, his forehead creased and dark eyes flashing with anger. He glared down at me, towering over us both. He had to be at the least six foot three. I looked aside, unable to do much else under the intense presence. Who the fuck was this guy?
“Calm down, Rashawn. You’re scaring the poor guy,” Isabel said as if there wasn’t a giant before her, glaring daggers that would kill if allowed.
She moved back and wrapped her arms around his bicep which was far too large for its own good. I mean, come on, it had to be a size too small. Guys like this I knew well from high school. Big and tough with far too many muscles and a bad attitude. I wasn’t here for it. “I have to go. I have homework to do and then I have to get to work.” I said, taking a step back.
Isabel poked out her lip which would have made me laugh if it wasn’t for hulk in the shade of brown looking at me as if he wanted to strangle me. I shifted and swallowed around the dryness in my throat.
“We’re still on for coffee right?” she asked.
I want to say no, but I did need to get out more and do things with people. Who cared if this Rashawn guy was her…I don’t know…he definitely wasn’t her boyfriend or she wouldn’t have asked me out in such a proactive way. Not completely convinced I nodded, trying to ignore the giants hard eyes boring into me. I shifted again.
She reached in her shirt and pulled out a phone, unlocked the screen and handed it to me. “Great! Here put your number in my phone. We can meet at the student union tomorrow around four? I have classes all morning and homework to grade, but after that I will meet you there.”
“Okay.” I handed her phone back and glanced at Rashawn who had his arms crossed in front of his chest in a stance very similar to my father’s. He hadn’t said a word, but I could see the vein in his neck working. He wasn’t happy. Why? She was asking me out on a date. Which meant she was single. What was his problem?