Hi guys! Today I am very happy to welcome author M.J. O’Shea to the blog. M.J. is here to talk to us about the newest book in her Rock Bay series, Finding Shelter. She has a great post along with an excerpt from the story. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
For me as a writer, one of the most important things I do before I start a story is set up the feeling of the book, the way I want readers to feel when they’re done reading the book — is it dramatic, comforting, homey, angsty, and for me the musical background is a big part of that even if most of the time the readers never hear a single song.
Rock Bay for me is all about comfort and home and falling in love. These aren’t big angsty drama fests, more like love in a small town. The music I picked for the background became part of the setting for me, it’s warm, comforting, a little quirky, and because a lot these bands are and were the background of my life growing up in Washington, they seemed right for Rock Bay as well. So here are a few songs from Washington artists that I used to inspire me when I was creating Rock Bay and especially when I was writing Finding Shelter:
Hey Marseilles — Heart Beats
The Posies — Matinee
Death Cab for Cutie — Stay Young Go Dancing
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning, when one of the main characters, Justin, is on his way to town, escaping and abusive family home and hoping for the best in a new place:
Justin didn’t know much about Rock Bay. He’d never been there—his family didn’t have the time or money for travel. It didn’t matter. Anywhere was better than living with his dad. He’d met his mom’s sister and his cousin Travis the couple of times they’d visited the east side. He liked his aunt, and he liked Travis even more. They weren’t close, but they’d stayed in touch through Facebook and, lately, texting. It was nice to know there would be a friendly face waiting for him on the other side, even if it wasn’t all that familiar. The miles melted away, but they couldn’t go fast enough. Justin kept looking out the window, sure that his dad’s rusty old red pickup would pull up next to his bus on the highway, that his dad would cut the bus off, make it pull over, drag him out and beat him the whole way home like he had that day when Justin had dared to go to school with a black eye. His dad was all about control and image. It would kill him that Justin had taken charge of things. He’d hate it when people in town talked about Justin being gone. And word would get around town… at least whispers would. They always did.
Transferring buses wasn’t nearly as big a deal as Justin had thought it would be. He was glad to stand after hours hunched in his seat, waiting for disaster to strike. He got a few searching looks from the drifters who hung around the city terminal, but not enough to worry him. Justin mostly looked for his father, who had to know by then that he was gone. It had been daylight for at least three hours, and his dad was an early riser. Justin checked his phone. Other than a few texts from Travis, there was nothing.
In an odd way, it was disappointing. Maybe not disappointing, but anticlimactic. He almost wanted the opportunity to fight, to bite back—at least from a safe distance. Justin told himself not to be an idiot. Standing up to his father was stupid and caused nothing but trouble. It was best to simply disappear.
The scenery was better on the west side of the mountains. No more seas of dry grass and rock. Instead there were trees and cities and water, and everything was so, so green. Justin had seen pictures before, lots of them, but it still didn’t prepare him for the strangeness. It was probably him who was strange, anyway. Who gets to nineteen and hasn’t ever left their pathetic hometown even once? Justin shook it off and stared out the window some more. The bus had passed through the city of Seattle and then the smaller city of Tacoma, headed south for the place where it would turn toward the coast and Justin’s new home—at least for the time being. He’d memorized the route, traced it with his finger on a map so many times. Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, then second turn to the right and straight on till morning.
Idiot. Rock Bay isn’t some sort of fantasyland. You’ll be lucky if you don’t get your ass beat on a daily basis there too.
Sometimes it helped to not expect much. That way it was harder to be disappointed.
Justin Foster has nineteen years of nothing but trouble behind him. After escaping his abusive father, he finds himself in Rock Bay, Washington, with his cousin Travis. Justin is bruised and has a hard time trusting, but with the help of his family and the small town, he might be able to heal.
Logan O’Brien is also new in town, hoping he can finally get away from his past and the memories of the girlfriend who shattered his heart. It doesn’t take him long to realize Rock Bay can be more than safe harbor: it can also be home. And for the first time in his life, he finds himself captivated by a man—by Justin.
Justin is attracted to Logan too, but he’s also wary. Physically, Logan reminds him a bit too much of the closeted jerks who used to beat him up after school. But after one awkwardly amazing kiss, he’s smitten, despite how his past and insecurities continue to haunt him. Logan’s love, faith, and stubbornness are just what Justin needs to believe their love is worth fighting for.