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 nerdy, chaotic-good, gamer geek by trade, DJ calls the Northwest corner of the United States home. She lives with her spouse, teenage minions, and two adorable Yorkies. When she’s not banging her head against the keyboard or trying to stay focused on her next book, DJ spends her time sewing & crafting with friends, picking out new hair colors, taking long baths, reading, or her personal favorite – gaming (tabletop, RPG’s, TCG’s, & video games – she’s not really picky).
DJ’s stories have been described as medium angst with a heavy dose of fluff. They are full of action, romance, and snark while including a diverse cast of queer, fantastical characters that excel at doing mundane things in new and unique ways. While she believes the plot is paramount and the world must always be saved, you can always count on a happily ever after in any DJ Gainer story.
Thanks so much, DJ, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
DJ Gainer: I use my own initials and last name in my writing. I’m grateful to have the full support of my family and bosses, so have no reason to place my writing behind a pseudonym.
JSC: How do you approach covers for your indie stories?
DJG: I’m a stickler for the characters on my covers actually matching the characters inside my books. So, I started with scouring stock photo sites until I found the perfect models for Ben and Ollie. I already knew their relationship would take them through the first three books in the series, so I wanted one or both of them on each cover. After that, I put together rough ideas myself and then found someone to make a professional version for me.
JSC: What’s your writer cave-like? Photos?
DJG: I have a corner desk in my living room that my family calls my Command Station. Some days, I marvel at how large the space is. Other days I think, “I could use a bigger writing space.” Most of the time, though, I wish I had a door that allowed me to shut out the rest of the house and write without interruption.
JSC: What book is currently on your bedside table?
DJG: It’s a YAOI Manga: Volume 1 of The Black Cat and the Vampire by Nikke Taino.
What was the weirdest thing you had to research for your Shrouded Alliance?
DJG: I had to google about the proper way to draw, store, and warm up blood to keep it fresh the longest. Thankfully, I have a friend who works with this type of medical equipment; he provided a wealth of information on blood bags and warmers, and didn’t even flinch at my plethora of questions.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
DJG: Yes, I was that child who would stay up all night with a flashlight under the covers so I could keep reading. Oh wait, I still do that!
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
DJ Gainer: Lilo & Jojo are my two 12 and 14lb Yorkies. Lilo is only two years old and is definitely more needy. She makes her way up on my lap and my keyboard more often than Jojo. He’s my sweet old man and is usually content to sleep on his bed behind my chair.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
DJG: Well, since I kill my MC Ben off at the beginning of the story (to turn him into a vampire—don’t be mad), I will go with killing him.
I’d like to fuck Alain and Kamael. They’re a package deal, so they count as one, right?
And I would absolutely marry Vincenza without a second’s hesitation. She’s been a part of my heart for over thirty years now. I couldn’t give her up, even if I wanted too.
JSC: What’s your drink of choice?
DJG: I frequently have three drinks on my desk at any given time. 1) There’s always a bottle of water. 2) Some sort of tea, depending on the time of day – Earl Grey with cream in the morning or ginger peach, green tea the rest of the day. 3) And finally, I will either have a cranberry juice/water mix or Kraken spiced rum mixed with ginger ale.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
DJG: I am working on two stories at the moment.
One is the second book in the Seattle Triumvirate series where Ben and Ollie continue their search for the people behind the vicious experiments. Book two, Troubled Alliance, should be out sometime in 2024.
The other is a sweet short story in the same universe between a grumpy gargoyle with a soft heart and a techno-mage who’d rather play with electronics than other people. It will make its debut in a Valentine’s Day Anthology due out in February 2024
And now for DJ’s forthcoming book (Dec 2023): Shrouded Alliance:
Benjiro “Ben” Ito is thrust into a world he never knew existed. A world where things that go bump in the night are now his everyday reality. As a kit, a newly reborn vampire, he’s the most vulnerable of them all. Being assigned a bodyguard wasn’t how he expected his afterlife to play out, but he could do worse than Ollie. Oliver Paxton, the six-foot-something wall of mouthwatering, well-muscled werewolf with the scent to absolutely die for.
Along the way, Ben and Ollie must navigate painful truths, pasts coming back to haunt them, and… oh yeah, that pesky red thread of fate that’s tying them together. But time is running out. They must stop the real monsters hiding in the shadows before it’s too late. The alliance, humanity, and their budding relationship depend on it.Shrouded Alliance is the first book in an urban fantasy, queer romance series filled with suspense, snark, and several supernatural surprises. Follow Ben and Ollie’s relationship throughout the series as they tackle forced proximity, bed sharing, sweet puppy piles, and sensory overload, with a bit of mystery thrown in.
About the Series:
In the secret underworld of the Pacific Northwest, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures survive behind the protective shroud of an age-old Alliance – the Seattle Triumvirate. The Alliance members are sworn to keep their existence secret while guarding the fragile humans they have vowed to keep safe.
Unexpectedly thrust into the supernatural world when feral werewolves attack him, Ben finds support and a new family within the Alliance. When they discover the people behind the attacks have unusual ties to Ben’s estranged parents, it leaves them all wondering if Ben will be targeted next.
Enter Ollie, Ben’s new, insanely hot bodyguard.
Two intertwined souls plunged together amidst the chaos of the times. Join Ben, Ollie, and their Shrouded Alliance as they delve deeper into who’s behind the attacks, the horrific experiments being performed on their people, and the twisted reasons Ben’s parents are involved.
I swear my fantasy man just manifested right in front of me. He’s tall, well over six feet, judging by how he towers over Emily’s slight frame, with a neatly trimmed beard and mustache that would feel amazing to my newly awakened appreciation for tactile stimulation. And holy shit, his broad shoulders and chest stretch the fabric of his shirt to deliciously dangerous proportions. As he steps out from behind Emily, his focus zeroes in on me, and I let my eyes drift down his body, drinking him in. He has well-defined forearms, large hands, slender hips, and thick, muscular thighs, ticking every one of my yummy boxes.
If I’m not careful, I might end up drooling.
He’s dressed in rugged, utilitarian clothing in shades of browns and greens, with the simple black uwabaki on his feet. There’s a very real sidearm on his belt and a large, menacing-looking weapon slung over his rather impressive chest. The guns alone are enough to give me pause. Is he here to arrest someone? Defend against a full-on assault? Or… maybe he’s here to do a sexy strip tease for me. I’ve never had my own stripper before. And I’ve never wanted one of those for myself more than I do now. I wonder if lap dances will be on the table?
My eyes finally make their way back up his sinful body and lock with his. They are the most gorgeous shade of hazel I’ve ever seen, not quite green or golden, and I feel drawn into them. There’s something else there, too. Something I can’t quite put my finger on.
A gentle hand on my shoulder pulls me out of my stupor a moment before Vince steps in front of me, breaking our eye contact.
As soon as our connection is severed, there’s a loud growling sound, and I suddenly find myself shielded behind Vince, who’s taken a defensive stance to protect me. One minute, I’m trying not to drool over tall, hot, and dreamy, and the next, Emily has the guy face down, pinned to the floor, and entirely at her mercy.
Vince turns to me. “Benjiro, stay back until we can de-escalate his beast.”
“His what?! Who is that? What’s happening? Is he going to be okay?” My questions come in quick succession as I circle slowly around her, maintaining my distance.
I just need to see him.
“That is what I need to ascertain. This is very unlike our Oliver.” She moves closer and kneels in front of him, but his eyes are locked on mine, tracking my every movement.
“He doesn’t smell like us, but he doesn’t smell human either; he smells…” I inhale deeply and fight the moan that tries to break free at his incredible scent.
“Oliver is a werewolf.” Vince places a gentle hand under his chin, drawing his eyes away from me to look at her.
He doesn’t struggle or try to pull away. A pitiful whimper emanates from deep in his throat as his eyes disengage from mine. Oliver growls around those whimpers like he’s fighting an internal battle. And then Vince’s words sink in.
“Wait! A werewolf?”