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, Nell Iris – Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along but let’s face it, she’s not Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!
Thanks so much, Nell, for joining me!
First, I want to say thank you to my lovely host for having me! I’m here to talk about my newest release Nobody Else’s and answer some questions so you all can get to know me better. I’m also giving away an ebook copy of my book Cinnamon Eyes (comment on this post for a chance to win). If you win it, you can enjoy the inspirational picture I used for Asher (below) when you read it 😊
J. Scott Coatsworth: What inspired you to write Nobody Else’s?
Nell Iris: I wasn’t going to write this story. My publisher, JMS Books, had a submission call out for astrology/horoscope themed stories, and at first, I wasn’t inspired, because I don’t believe in that stuff. But then questions started popping up in my head—the way all my books start, with a question. What if someone anonymously wrote corny, dirty, gay-themed horoscopes that clearly weren’t meant to be taken seriously, for an online LGBTQ+ magazine? How can I make that into a love story? Then I read a lot of serious horoscopes to get the feeling for how they are written, had two glasses of wine, and started writing the dirty ones for my story. It was so much fun. And that was how Nobody Else’s was conceived.
Here’s an example 😊
The fire signs are dominating the skies and you will find ample opportunities to satisfy your needs. Expect to be set on fire by someone close to you and make sure you have something to put it out with in case things get too heated. Something golden will work, if you’re into that. My chosen fire extinguisher is white, sticky, and salty and comes out of a hose. Get it?
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why?
NI: I do. When I first started writing, I kept it a secret from everyone except my husband and adult daughter. No one back home in Sweden knew. I needed to keep it private and not deal with the questions that would follow if I told them. I doubted myself enough and didn’t need the added pressure of constantly having to talk about it. And maybe I needed to be able to fail without everyone knowing about it. I didn’t tell them until recently.
It was difficult to choose a name, I identify strongly with my RL name. So I chose Nell because it’s a common nickname for my real first name, and Iris because it means “rainbow” in Latin, and I studied Latin in high school and because rainbow…duh 😊
JSC: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
NI: Stubbornness and tenacity, because writing is hard work and will make you want to quit. Curiosity, because answering the “what-if” questions is why I write. At least one very trusted beta who doesn’t blow smoke up your ass but tell it to you like it is. And for me personally: my fountain pens and notebooks with thick paper so the ink won’t bleed to the next page, because I write the old-school way. 😊
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
NI: Yes. Which is stupid because reviews are for readers, not for writers. But as a reader, I love reviews—especially the lower rated ones—so it makes it hard for me as a writer not to read them.
The good ones are easy; I giddily jump up and down and gush about them all over Twitter. The bad ones…well, I’d say there are two different kinds. First: the ones where the reader genuinely didn’t like my story because my kind of storytelling wasn’t their cup of tea. For example, I get a few “too sweet for my taste, I want some spice with my sugar” with each release and I totally understand. We all like different things and even Jane Austen has one-star reviews on Goodreads!
Second: the ones that write a negative review based on something that isn’t factually correct. That has happened to me, and I had to sit on my hands to not respond. I didn’t of course—I don’t want to be one of those writers 😊—so instead I turn to a trusted writer friend and rant. Because steam needs to be let out, but never ever to the reader.
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
NI: Like in the shower or late at night when I’m supposed to sleep but my brain isn’t on board with that plan? That happens all the time. The shower is my go-to place when I need to think. I’m always struck with a great idea or a solution to a problem I’ve got in the shower, and I finish up as soon as I can and rush out, dripping water all over the floor, and scribble it down. I really need a waterproof notebook! At night, if I’m in bed, I text myself the ideas so I won’t forget them. 😊
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
NI: I’ve learned that when that happens, it’s because something in my WIP isn’t working, so I take a step back and analyze what’s going on. And when I’ve figured it out, I try to fix the problem. Sometimes it’s easy and will only take me a few minutes to fix. Other times, it’s a major issue. Like for example, when I wrote Promise Me We’ll Be Okay, I originally had another love interest in mind for MC Jude, but after almost 10K words, I realized it wasn’t right for him. So I scrapped it all and started over. And then it worked.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
NI: I would kill someone you haven’t met yet, Sammy’s mother Laura in my upcoming short story Us Again(to be released October 2018). She did a terrible number on her son, and my betas hated her. Funny story: her first name (Laura) is the same as one of my writer friend betas real name, so my writer friend threatened to use myreal name for a villain in one of her books as retaliation. I can’t wait 😊
I’d marry Beckett from my new release Nobody Else’sbecause he’s a cuddly teddy bear who’s smart and loyal and nice and loves Harry Potter. Also, he’s bisexual—like me, yay for bi representation—so I’d actually have a chance with him 😊
I’d fuck Asher from Cinnamon Eyesbecause I modeled his looks after a Swedish rock star (Joakim Thåström) who I find insanely hot. Oh, and here’s a pic: *wipes drool off keyboard*
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
NI: Yes. My mom was very sick when I was little; she had very bad asthma and didn’t have the energy to play or do the “normal” stuff you do with your kid. Instead, she taught me how to read at an early age to keep me busy. I still remember the pride I felt when I read the first book out loud to her! I spent my childhood at the library; I was there so often that once when I got sick and had to stay home for two whole weeks, the lovely ladies at the local library thought I’d moved away. When I finally was well enough to go back, they all hugged me and said they’d missed me.
JSC: What do you like to read in your free time?
NI: I read a lot of M/M romance because I believe the most important thing for writers is to read, read, and read some more. Right now, I also read a lot of children’s books (middle-grade age) because one day I want to write books for kids. Children’s books are pure magic and can literally save lives. For example: read this article (http://www.upworthy.com/jk-rowling-found-out-her-books-helped-save-this-babys-life-her-response-was-magic) about a tiny baby girl, born 16 weeks too early, who wasn’t expected to survive. But when her dad held her and read Harry Potter to her, her vital signs strengthened, and when he stopped, they plummeted. I dare you to read it without crying! *Wipes tears off my face*
I want to do that. Not write Harry Potter, but create magic like that.
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
NI: Star Trek!! I’m a proud Trekkie! My favorite captain is Picard or Janeway. I love the remake movies, but I haven’t watched all the Discovery episodes because I haven’t gotten used to the Klingons’ new look. Kai Winn (from DS9) is my favorite villain. Chain of Command parts 1&2(TNG) are my favorite episodes because of Patrick Stewart’s brilliant acting! I’d be an Andorian if I was a ST alien—I want cute blue antennas—but my writing buddy Kris T. Bethke tells me I’m an emotional Vulcan: logical and rational, but with feelings. I’ll take it 😊
I love the universe created by Gene Roddenberry because the idea of peace and unity among mankind is irresistible, even if it seems farther away than ever today. LLAP.
And now for Nell’s new book: Nobody Else’s:
Mars enters Pisces, giving Beckett Cooper the opportunity to assert himself when it comes to a secret infatuation; his best friend’s younger brother Levi. But can Beckett trust what’s in front of him and be brave enough to take what he wants?
With Venus in Virgo, people usually become more reserved, but Levi Byrne always takes the opposite road of what’s expected of him. So, instead of pulling back, he reaches out for a man he’s been interested in for years; Beckett Cooper.
Is it the celestial bodies aligning to bring together two people destined for each other? Or is it a simple tale of boy meets boy, boy likes boy, and boy wants to kiss boy? Do Beckett and Levi even care, or are they too busy getting to know each other…and falling in love?
The voice made my stomach jump and the corners of my mouth turn up even though I was so tired I’d thought I’d never smile again just a moment ago.
“Levi. Hi!” Stubble covered his face and he approached me with a spring in his step and a happy grin that made my heart pitter-patter in my chest. Oh gawd, he was cuter than ever. “What are you doing here?” I asked.
He threw his arm around my neck in a quick, one-armed hug. The heat of his body penetrated my cold soul, but before I had time to hug him back, he let go of me and stepped back. I missed his warmth instantly. I wanted more. I wanted to bury my nose in the crook of his neck and just stay there until this crappy day was gone and forgotten. Feel his hands on my back and his soothing breaths in my ear.
Shit. I swallowed around a lump that appeared in my throat. I had it bad.
“I’m here to get some celebratory ice cream. I finished my project on time, so I thought I’d treat myself.”
“Great job. Congratulations!”
“Thanks!” His eyes sparkled at me. “Are you getting ice cream, too?”
“No. I was trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. I can’t decide what sounds the least disgusting,” I said and picked up two depressing looking boxes. “Lasagna or pepperoni pizza?”
Levi drew his eyebrows together and then took both from me and threw them back into the freezer. “You can’t eat crap like that. It’s no good for you.”
“I know,” I sighed. “But my fridge is empty and I’m too tired to both shop for groceries and cook.”
He looked at me then, swept his gaze from head to toe. “You look exhausted. I’m sorry I didn’t notice earlier.”
With an unconvinced look on his face, he asked, “Are you all right?”
“Yeah. Just tired. I had a terrible day at work.”
“I know all about those.” He sucked his lower lip into his mouth, letting his eyes flick over my face, taking in what I was sure was tired lines around my eyes and a mouth trying its best to smile. “I have an idea,” he said after a few moments. “What if I make you dinner? I’d need to borrow your kitchen of course, but if you feel like a homecooked meal … I’m your guy.”
I drew a breath and held it. Blinked. “Are you serious?” I asked in a whooshing exhale.
“But what about your ice cream celebration?”
“It can wait.”
His kindness coupled with my fatigue choked me up. Half a second from bursting into tears, I asked, “Why?”
“Because you look like you need someone to take care of you.”
I couldn’t help it then. A tear escaped. I turned my face away and squeezed my eyes shut. A part of me wanted to turn and run away, hide my stupid sensitivity from him and not be the guy who cries in the grocery store aisle. But another part knew he could be trusted and even if I broke down completely here, he wouldn’t make fun of me.
“Then yes. Thank you,” I choked out.
Gentle fingers plucked the shopping basket from my grip. His other hand found it’s way to my nape and caressed me for a second. It was just a brief touch, but it gave me the strength to wipe away the tear and look at him again.
“Let’s go. I know just the thing.”
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along but let’s face it, she’s not Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a 40-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, where she spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her lifelong dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, and wants to write diverse and different characters.
Facebook page www.facebook.com/nellirisauthor
Facebook profile www.facebook.com/nell.iris.12
QueeRomance Ink https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/nell-iris/