Hello all! Please welcome the fabulous Roan Parrish who’s here today to answer a few questions on writing, guilty pleasures, pets, and more!
What was the most challenging part of writing this story?
Stopping. As a reader, I really like long books, and I love series. (Also, I think being a longtime sci-fi and fantasy reader really primed me for length.) I love knowing tons of details about everything and will happily read pages-long descriptions of what someone’s house looks like. It’s just part of the incredible joy of getting to inhabit a world other than my own. But, of course, not everyone’s quite so keen on such things—and, no, there are no such descriptions in my book. So I kept having to tell myself not to write another scene of Rex and Daniel talking over dinner or not to describe Ginger’s tattoo shop in even more detail. As it stands, I guess In the Middle of Somewhere is a bit long for the genre, maybe? But not for me. Give me 500 pages of great character development, descriptions of stuff I’m interested in, and a little smooching, and I’m basically in heaven. J
Is there a genre you haven’t written in that you would love to write?
Oh, totally: mystery. I really enjoy mysteries but find the prospect of writing one pretty daunting. When I watch mysteries in the form of movies or TV, I definitely do the whole look for clues and try to solve the mystery thing. Strangely, though, when I’m reading mysteries, I don’t do that. I don’t try to solve the mystery at all, really. I think perhaps it’s just different training for those different media. Watching a movie is pure consumption, so I have lots of mental energy left to put the puzzle together. With reading, I kind of luxuriate in all the bits that have nothing to do with the mystery—prose style and characters’ thoughts and all—because that’s what I’m used to doing as a reader. For that reason, writing a mystery seems really difficult because I’m not trained to read that way. Of course, I say this, but I am actually writing a series that is sort of . . . mystery-adjacent? I think I’m refusing to say they’re mysteries to try and trick myself into not stressing about it.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Gymnastics movies. Well, okay, I’m not actually guilty about it but people always seem slightly embarrassed for me when I bring up. I have no real interest in sports, but I do like sports narratives a lot. They are intrinsically dramatic, have ensemble casts, follow a built-in structure of episodes with escalating stakes. Good stuff. But gymnastics has the added delight of being both an individual and a team sport, so there’s this tricky desire to both beat your teammates and collaborate with them. And gymnastics movies usually revolve around some major competition so there are heroes and villains and . . . sparkly outfits! Besides, gymnastics is such a psychological sport that inevitably the characters are attempting to work through personal issues alongside their gymnastics issues. Delightful. What’s that? My favorite one? It’s a tie between a movie and a TV show.
Movie: definitely Stick It. This movie is legit wacky, with weird almost absurdist bits of humor, strange music video-esque graphics sequences, and Jeff Bridges. There are a few truly cringe-worthy moments, but it has lines like, “It’s not called gym-nice-tics,” and there is a political action against the gymnastics federation that attempts to control the gymnasts, so there you go. If anyone needs to borrow it, I definitely do not own the DVD (which has great bonus features).
TV show: Make It or Break It. Y’all. This show. It got cancelled midway through the third season, I think perhaps in a panic because the real Olympics were about to collide with the fictional Olympics in the show? Not sure. This show is terribly dramatic, includes a character who is evil incarnate, and also features Candace Cameron (strangely, she is not the evil incarnate).
Do you have any pets? If not, and you were given the choice to have any pet (fictional or real), what type of pet would you choose and why?
Oh, jeez, an invitation to talk about my cat? *Grabs it with both hands and hugs it!* I do: I have a lovely cat called Dorian Gray. She is very large and very gray and extremely soft and fluffy. I actually was never an animal person growing up. I didn’t hate them or anything, I was just indifferent. Then, during grad school (yes, I blame the intellectual alienation of grad school for turning me into a softie), all my friends had cats, somehow, and I got very jealous. I was really apprehensive about getting one, since I had no experience with pets, really, and was concerned I might hate sharing my space with this weird little thing that just wandered around touching all my stuff. But then I went to the shelter and all the other cats were either playing or trying to get my attention, but this one cat was just . . . kind of sitting there watching. I now know that Dorian’s just chill; at the time, though, I was convinced that she’d, like, given up all hope of finding a home and was resigned to eternal loneliness, so . . . I adopted her.
Coffee or tea?
COFFEE! Nuf said. Okay, actually, one more thing to say. In addition to drinking coffee, I love love love cooking with coffee. Recently, I’ve been making a rub of unbrewed coffee grounds, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper for salmon and it’s pretty awesome.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the third book in the In the Middle of Somewhere series right now.
I’m also writing a series that’s linked to Edgar Allan Poe’s detective stories. It’s set in 19th century New York and features a Poe expert who gets caught up in the investigation of a murder that the police think might be Poe-related. The Poe expert and the detective in charge of the case are simultaneously irritated by and attracted to each other, and they have some adventures, romantic and otherwise. So, yeah, as I mentioned above: mystery-adjacent.
Why did you decide to write M/M Romance?
My favorite part of reading has always been, uh, having feelings, I guess? And falling in all kinds of love with all kinds of characters. And romance, as a genre or a frame, unapologetically puts characters and feelings in the foreground of the story. So, even when it intersects with another genre—mystery or horror—the focus on characters and feelings is still there rather than being viewed as something that detracts from the work. I think I wanted to write under that banner because of this focus. So that, even if I write a series of Edgar Allan Poe-related mysteries (er, mysteries-adjacent), a reader will know that the characters and their feelingzzz will be featured, rather than incidental. I mean, romance novels are often dismissed for precisely this focus—as happens with nearly any media form that gets culturally associated with women—but for those of us who are all about characters and feelings, declaring something a romance serves as a kind of beacon for the reader that assures them they can have their horror or mystery stories and retain their romance too.
What did you enjoy most about writing this story?
Well, my favorite part about writing in general is that there’s always a story going on that I get to participate in. So, if I’m walking around or on the subway or eating a bagel, there are always bits that make me think about my story, or bits that make their way into the story. It’s like getting to live in two worlds at once.
In terms of this story in particular, I think in terms of pure enjoyment the conversations between Daniel and Ginger (his best friend) were up there. As a reader, I really like a strong cast of secondary characters—both for themselves and for the way they make the main characters prismatic—so those were super fun to write.
What are you finding to be the most challenging part of being a published author?
Gosh, well, I know I’m the nine-millionth person to say this, but the hardest thing is the moment when the potential energy of the book kind of transmutes into kinetic energy and I don’t have control over it anymore. Of course, that’s also the really cool part—especially when it means hearing from people who’ve really enjoyed the book or to whom it’s meant something. Oh, and social media. Social media is hard.
Which of your characters is most like you?
Well, at the risk of sounding like a raging egomaniac I think all of the major characters have elements of me in them. I mean, okay, Daniel from In the Middle of Somewhere and I share certain . . . propensities. Toward over-thinking and over-analysis, for example. Toward expecting the worst and being suspicious of anything that isn’t. Being bad at accepting help. And, of course, Rex and I share our superhero physiques. J
Title: In the Middle of Somewhere (In the Middle of Somewhere, #1)
Author: Roan Parrish
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: July 10, 2015
Word Count: 138,000 words
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DANIEL MULLIGAN is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.
REX VALE clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.
When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.
Can a scrappy professor, an intense carpenter, and a stray dog make a go of it in their cabin in the woods? Sometimes, you have to go to the middle of nowhere to end up exactly where you want to be.
About the Author:
ROAN PARRISH grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, but is always a few minutes away from deciding to move. A former academic, she’s used to writing things that no one reads. She still loves to geek out about books, movies, TV, and music—now, though, she’s excited to be writing the kind of romantic, angsty stories that she loves to escape into.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, wandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese.
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goodreads book page: http://bit.ly/1QIoRjm