Today I’m interviewing S A Laybourn to celebrate her new release! Her book, Christopher’s Medal is a contemporary romance and was released on 22 November.
Hey S A thanks for visiting!
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Anyone who loves a romance with angst, handsome Army officers and racehorses. As to why people should read my book – I’m a starving author out to earn a crust. No, really, if they want a behind the scenes glance at horseracing in Britain, this is a good place to start.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t deliberately set out to put any messages across, but if the story makes readers more aware of the debilitating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then I’ll be happy.
Describe the genre of this particular title. Is it the only genre you write in?
This is a het romance, I usually write gay romance. I’d actually started writing het romances before I stumbled into the m/m genre.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I belong to a writer’s forum called ‘Absolute Write’. I made some good friends on there and it was another member who suggested ‘Christopher’s Medal’. The original title was ‘A Poppy for Christopher’. ‘Christopher’s Medal’ actually gave me a little something to add to the plot.
When did you start writing toward publication?
I started writing back in 2009. I was living in Arizona at the time, it was a miserable hot July day and I wanted nothing more than to be back in England. Eva Cassidy’s version of ‘Fields of Gold’ came on the radio and I had an idea to write a romance set in England during the First World War. It failed dismally when it came to generating any interest from agents. Probably because they’d all fallen asleep three or four pages in. ‘Christopher’s Medal’ is that story, dragged into a contemporary setting.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series.
There are quite a few glimpses into what it’s like to work in a British racing yard. I have my own in-house expert-my husband. Plus, I’d helped out in one of the yards we lived in, so I managed to pick up a little practical experience. The yard we lived in is the setting for ‘Christopher’s Medal’.
Why have you become a published author?
I have wanted to be a ‘proper’ author for ages. I just got lucky!
Do you have any rejection stories to share?
My first published novel ‘Stolen Summer’ was submitted to another e-pub. The editor asked for a revise and resubmit and gave me some excellent pointers on what I could do to make the story better. I revised it, submitted it and was rejected. It occurred to me that subbing a very British story to an US publisher was not the brightest of ideas. So I subbed it to Totally Bound and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is your writing routine like?
When I’m writing, I think about the story all the time, even when I’m not writing. I usually write in the evenings for three or four hours and all weekend. Unfortunately, I’m not in a writing frame of mind at the moment because of an illness in the family, but I’m beginning to get promising little twinges, which makes me think I may write again very soon.
What sort of promo do you do? Do you have help?
I’m very stiff upper lip and British and promotion worries me. I don’t want to be all in your face, but then again, I don’t want to do nothing. Instead, I rely on the kindness of friends who’ll let me muck up their blog for a day.
Are you a member of any writing organizations and, if so, have they helped?
No organisations. I can never afford the fees. I will say that if it wasn’t for ‘Absolute Write’, I probably wouldn’t be published.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Read, read, read. Write. And when you’re not writing, think about what you’re going to write. Make sure you have beta readers you can rely on, not friends who or family members. They won’t want to upset you and they’ll tell you everything is lovely, when it isn’t. Grow a thick skin. Not everyone will love your book as much as you do. Don’t take criticism personally, learn from it. Never, ever tell yourself that you know everything there is to know about writing. A good writer will always be learning, always evolving.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so, do you have any tips on how to overcome it?
Yes. I am not sure if it’s writer’s block as much as it is being easily distracted by the internet, or just being plain lazy. At the moment, it’s just an inability to write because there’s just too much uncertainty in my life.
Do you have a critique partner? Can you tell us a bit about them?
I have several beta readers who very kindly agree to read my stories. I love them all for their sharp eyes and their honesty and their insight.
Which famous person would you like to meet and why?
That’s a tough one. At the moment it would be Daniel Craig. But I can’t imagine that, if I met him, I’d do anything more than gawp at him.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stay away from chocolate, don’t be so bloody desperate and gullible.
Who or what inspires you?
My family. They’re the centre of my world.
Now you’ve made me all emotional, S A!!! 🙂
Can you share two/three fun facts about yourself?
(1) I used to be a radio DJ;
(2) I am addicted to sherbet lemons
(3) I make really good machaca burritos (enchilada style).
What’s next for you?
A good night’s sleep!
Grace Webb trains racehorses for a living. It’s a career she’s happy to focus on when her fiancé, Christopher Beaumont, is deployed to Afghanistan. At a time when racing yards are losing horses because of the bad economy, a promising horse like Allonby could be the salvation of her father’s yard. Grace welcomes the chance to focus on Allonby in attempt to stop fretting about Christopher’s growing despondency and the frustration of lousy internet connections.
When Christopher comes home with horrific leg wounds and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Grace is determined to help him heal. While she fights Christopher’s nightmares, depression and rage, she also faces a battle to save Allonby’s career before it’s had a chance to blossom.
Christopher, feeling that he’s giving Grace more grief than love, leaves her. Grace couldn’t heal Christopher, but she can help Allonby and keep her father’s yard running. When Christopher returns, seeking forgiveness and a second chance, Grace gives him that chance. This time she won’t let Christopher surrender to his demons. On the eve of the biggest race of Allonby’s career, Grace faces down her worse nightmare – saving Christopher from himself.
Grace watched the horses file over the gravel toward the horse walk. There was still half an hour to kill before she needed to be on the other side of town to watch them work. She wondered what she was going to do with her guests. Her mother wouldn’t be ready for visitors, so a coffee or tea from her was out of the question until breakfast was ready.
The scent of manure wafted up from Grace’s shirt, reminding her that she ought to change into something clean. She needed caffeine and tried to remember if her cottage was tidy enough for guests. “It’ll be a while before they’ll get over to the Bury side. We might as well get a cuppa.”
She led them across the yard to her house, trying to remember if she’d left knickers drying on the radiator or unwashed dishes in the sink. Given that her supper the night before had been a bag of chips, she decided she was probably safe. The kitchen was too small for three people to be standing around waiting for a kettle to boil so she shooed them into the living room. She noticed that the General immediately sank down onto the settee and made himself comfortable, picking up a copy of Horse and Hound to read while Christopher wandered around the room, hands in pockets while he studied the photographs hanging on the walls.
Oh, Christ…not that one, shit.
Grace’s cheeks burnt when Christopher paused before a picture taken at her graduation party, the day she’d picked up her useless history degree. Knickers on the radiator would’ve been preferable to that photograph, the one where she was wearing an ex-boyfriend’s boxers and a T-shirt with the words ‘old slapper’ scrawled across the front. A paper cocktail umbrella was stuck in her hair…bloody hell. What was worse was that Christopher looked at it for an agonizingly long time, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
She served the coffee then disappeared into her bedroom to find a clean shirt—one that was neither smeared with horse shit nor emblazoned with a dubious slogan.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
S A Laybourn lives in Wiltshire and loves it. She’s partial to gin and tonic, loves to cook and watches cookery programmes when she’s not working, writing or reading. She writes m/m erotic romance as S A Meade.
You can buy Christopher’s Medal at Totally Bound.
Check out S A Laybourn at:
Thanks for visiting, S A !
M/M books by S A Meade:
Lord of Endersley