The story of these updates is that there are some updates that are happening right now. (Guess who’s been rewatching Parks and Rec)
So a thing that happened recently was that I lost my copy of Crush—this being one of my favourite collections, beloved to such an excessive degree that a fragment from ‘A Primer for the Small Weird Loves’ kicks off Pansies. Which is the sort of thing you have to write and ask someone for permission to do, and they can charge you for it, but in this case Richard Siken didn’t. Although my email was so delirious he probably just thought I was unwell and wanted to get as far away from me as possible. Anyway, anyway, I looked everywhere for the misplaced book, despaired, bought another one, and then found the original under my pillow. I have no idea what it was doing there—I can only assume Ducky hid it to torment me, or else I was reading in bed, and the book got shuffled under somehow.
Longish story short: I now have two copies of Crush and, as much as I love it, I only really need one. Hence the spontaneous giveaway. If you would like my spare (brand new) copy of Crush, alongside a bonus hard copy of Pansies, please do enter the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open internationally.
I’m super super super excited to announce that How to Bang a Billionaire is going to be released on audio, narrated by the insanely talented Joel Leslie. He’s narrated some of my favourite audiobooks, including Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price, and can do all the voices. Yes, all of them. So basically Ardy is in safe hands. Hopefully more news about this soon.
How To Blow it with A Billionaire
So, Blow is coming out on Tuesday 12th December. I’m doing a weekly countdown teaser every Tuesday so if you follow me on one of the eighty million social media platforms I half-arsedly use please do keep an eye out for those. And I understand it’s currently available as an ARC on Netgalley so if you’re a reviewing type person you can request it over there.
As the book is in the hands of at least some readers, I’d better do my usual “buyer’s guide” spiel. Again, my purpose here isn’t to spoil the book or, uh, dissuade anyone from buying it (please buy it if you want to) but my feeling is very much that readers have a right to be informed consumers and I’d rather people knew what they were getting going in rather than discovering halfway through they were in, fact, getting something else that they wouldn’t have wanted had they known what it was.
First off, I’m afraid I have some pretty serious trigger warnings for Blow, which cover I guess discussions of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. There’s no on page depictions, nor any graphic descriptions, but it’s still a very prevalent theme. So please do take care of yourself when deciding whether or not the book is for you. If you have any specific concerns about this content (or anything really) you can email me (ajhatquicunquevultdotcom) or Mary (maryatquicunquevultdotcom) and we’ll do our best to address them.
I will say that—to me at least, but your mileage may vary—the prologue (which you’ll be able to check out just by downloading a sample of the text when the book is available) is probably the section most likely to be triggering. It’s narrated by the man Caspian was (forgive the euphemistic language I’m about to use here but I’m trying to tread a line between what is obvious from the text itself and what could conceivably constitute a spoiler) with before Nathaniel, and illuminates some of the discussions that take place later in the book. But if you were at all worried about it, I think you could read Blow without it and still have enough information to function. Which, err, is not me telling you that I opened my book with something completely irrelevant to the story, it’s just that the prologues to both Bang and Blow (and the same will go for the third book) are meant to sort of interact with the text in abstract ways that I hope readers find interesting, especially when looking back on the book they’ve just read.
I should also probably address the romancelandia elephant in the room which is the fact Blow ends with the central couple not together. I know this is a highly non-ideal situation for a lot of readers, which I totally understand. And if it’s that a deal breaker for you, then that’s okay. But I’m just going to take an opportunity now to tell you a little bit about the ending and why I chose to do it this way—not, let me make it very clear, to change your mind or convince you that you’re wrong for not wanting to read the book just yet (or at all)—but because if you are thinking that you want to come on this journey with me I want to offer you what reassures I can. I don’t know how to put this less-dramatically so I’ll just say it: but I do believe that reader trust is a sacred thing. It’s gift you give me when you pick up one of my books and I genuinely cherish it. I wouldn’t want to do anything to compromise or damage that trust.
So from my perspective (and yours may be different, and that’s okay), I don’t feel the ending of Blow is a cliff-hanger exactly. It’s a cliff-hanger in the sense that there is obviously more story to come, but the same was true of book 1 (Caspian and Ardy were, admittedly, in a better place but clearly the compromises they’d made and the peace they’d found at that point were short-term fixes to deeper issues) but not in the sense of suspense or uncertainty. There is absolutely no question about whether Ardy and Caspian will get their happy ending. It is, I promise you, 100% guaranteed.
I also did my very best to leave our Ardy in a strong place for moving forward. I mean, obviously he’s sad, but he’s not broken on the floor with his life in pieces or anything. And, to me, that’s actually important enough to risk the couple being apart at the end of the second book. Obviously romance novels centralise love and that’s a wonderful thing to do, but for me (as a reader and a writer) I don’t believe that centralising love means diminishing everything else. It’s why I try (how successfully is up to you to judge) to give my characters a world to inhabit beyond their romantic relationships: I want falling in love with someone to be part of a character’s rich, satisfying, meaningful life. Not the only thing that matters to them.
And the Arden St Ives series is a sort of combination bildom / bildungsroman (bildomsroman – and I’m going to keep that using that terrible punmanteau until it happens, dammit) so it is as necessary for him to find a place in the world where he can thrive and be valued, as figure things out with his billionaire boyfriend. Ideally, of course, he would (and will) do both. But, right now, he needs to show himself (and the reader) that he doesn’t need Caspian’s wealth, power and belief in him to succeed. He can do it on his own. And, even putting aside Ardy’s personal circumstances, it’s sort of a requirement of the genre that your protagonist proves this: after all, while you could theoretically write a book where somebody solves all their personal and circumstantial problems by dating a billionaire, that’s not really the sort of thing most people want to read.
Of course, I could have shuffled things around so that the inevitable breakup section of the bildom trilogy happened another time and didn’t leave readers slightly in the lurch but, well, I honestly believe this is the right and time place for it. I mean, most bildom trilogies I’ve read (and, oh boy, have I read a lot) have the couple break up at the end of the first book and I did play with that structure originally but I decided against it in the end. One of the problems with writing a trilogy of any genre is making book two feel relevant to the overall arc, instead of just passing time until the exciting thing you’re waiting for happens. And I can’t really say if I’ve managed to do that, but, I’ve definitely managed to avoid the situation where book two is just waiting for the couple to get back together.
Except that now begs the question: will book three be just waiting for the couple to get back together? And I answer firmly: ummmm…I hope not? There’s a teaser for book three at the end of Blow and Caspian is back on page, and in the same room as Ardy, by chapter three. They’re not fixing things at that point (that would make the end of book 2 a bit like those episodes of Alias where you’re left being all like, oh noes, the heroine is falling off a cliff in a runaway minecart that’s on fire, how can she possibly survive and next episode they’re like wait, she wasn’t in the minecart at all, and is, in fact, totally fine in Prague!) but they will be strongly present in each other’s lives. So no random extended absences of the love interest which (despite having written a couple of such sequences, eek) are not my favourite romancelandia plot arcs.
All of which is to say: if you aren’t up for the main couple not being together at the end of the second book, that’s absolutely fine. I get it. If you’re okay to stick with me, thank you from the bottom of your heart for your trust. I hope by the time you get to the end of the book two, and you see why Ardy and Caspian aren’t ready to be together, where I have left them, and how their future story is likely to unfold, you will feel that trust has not been misplaced. If you do … oh God, I’m really sorry.
Release Run Up Stuff
There’ll be various things happening as we approach release day for both audio-Bang and text-Blow, including giveaways, teasers, deleted scenes, games, Q&As and other extras. I’ll try not to saturate my feeds in an annoying way but I’ll do my best to keep folks in the loop. Obviously you can opt-in or opt-out entirely freely, though probably my infamous newsletter is the best one-stop shop for significant updates—I only send a few out of these out a year, so you won’t be spammed.