Today I am so pleased to welcome J.C. Lillis to Joyfully Jay. She has come to chat with us to celebrate the paperback release of her book, How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. You may remember I went totally crazy for this one when it first came out so if you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it enough. And now paperback! Today J.C. is going to be doing a little interview with the awesome Brandon and Abel. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


JCL: Let’s start with a fun road-trippy question: Since it’s August and people might be taking late-summer RV trips this month, do you have any tips on how to pack effectively?

BRANDON: Oh…wow.

ABEL: He’s sweating already.

BRANDON: I mean…if your trip’s this month and you haven’t even started packing yet, I–kinda don’t know what to say.

ABEL: Let me take this one.

BRANDON: Guys. Don’t listen to him.

ABEL: Trust me: you always need less than you think to get by. Open your closet and grab the first ten things that make you smile. Anything else you can buy on the road.

BRANDON: He used this philosophy as an excuse to buy an I GOT LUCKY IN VEGAS baseball cap. And eighteen novelty belt buckles.

ABEL: Excuse you, have you not heard of souvenirs?

BRANDON: I will say, you probably don’t need to pack two different irons. And you can probably squeak by with ten pairs of cargo shorts instead of twelve.

ABEL: See how loose he is now, guys?

BRANDON: Also, don’t forget to pack noise-canceling headphones if your travel companion loves endless chatter and cheeseball electropop.



JCL: Did you guys know from the outset that this was going to be a Road Trip of Love like you see in books?

ABEL: I for one always had Ulterior Motives.

BRANDON: I guess Chicken Tattoo Boyfriend was just an elaborate smokescreen?

ABEL: A) He was an unfortunate detour, B) it was a PHOENIX, not a chicken, and C) can we talk about YOUR fake boyfriend?

BRANDON: We cannot.

ABEL: What was his name?…Zane…Zachariah…?

BRANDON: Zander.

ABEL: You would write amazing porn if you put your mind to it.

BRANDON: To answer your original question, nah: I guess I was a little attracted to him, but I really never thought we’d end up–

ABEL: Bullshit! I call so much bull! He had a crush the size of Castaway Planet.

BRANDON: Maybe, but I never thought I’d act on it!

ABEL: What is the point of a road trip if not to smooch your secret love in hotel elevators and church carnivals?

BRANDON: (grinning) Next question!


JCL: Besides the obvious (the Castaway Ball and aftermath), what was your favorite part of the trip?


ABEL: Hot hot hot. Scorching.

BRANDON: He won a hundred bucks at Circus Circus and we got a hotel room…

ABEL: There was a round bed, guys.

BRANDON: And a mirrored ceiling.

ABEL: (wagging finger at me) I can’t believe you edited that part out.

JCL: It was too hot for YA.

ABEL: Whatever. The least you could do is give them a deleted scene.


JCL: Speaking of sex—Brandon, you struggled a lot to reconcile your sexuality with your Catholic upbringing. Did you ever get frustrated with yourself on the trip?

BRANDON: For sure, yeah. It was just such a big part of who I was at the time. I’m in a much better place now.

ABEL: I’m like, so happy for him.


JCL: Do you still go to church? By the end of your trip it seemed like you were open to a wide range of possibilities.

BRANDON: Well, I’ve kinda been…exploring unexpected new avenues for my spirituality.

ABEL: (whispering) He’s a Unitarian now.

BRANDON: (laughs) That’s the less pretentious answer, yeah. Mom and Dad don’t know what to think, but I’m pretty happy with it.


JCL: What else are you guys up to now?

ABEL: Still mourning Castaway Planet.

BRANDON: When they killed off Cadmus in the finale, he used up my entire box of tissues.

ABEL: He shed a tear, too! Multiple tears. We made a Cadmus-Sim tribute video and they actually showed it at CastieCon in Philly this summer.


JCL: You guys are such Cadsim shippers.

ABEL: RIGHT? Who would’ve thought?


JCL: How’s college so far?

BRANDON: I’m at Loyola…I thought I was going to major in Communications, but after a lot of thought–

ABEL: He made a PROs and CONs spreadsheet.

BRANDON: –I switched to Psych this year.

ABEL: He can finally tell me what’s wrong with me.

BRANDON: It’s my fall research project.

ABEL: Oh, oh, tell them about the music thing!

BRANDON: Oh yeah–I was in the a cappella group at college for a couple years, and my buddy Matt and I are thinking of co-founding a queer youth cabaret here in Baltimore.

ABEL: I asked to be the emcee, but they thought I would just “take over”…like how is that possible?


JCL: What about you, Abel? What’s next for you?

ABEL: I dunno! I switched majors like three times. I’m thinking maybe I want to do like, blogging or social media for a big company. Or be a hang-gliding instructor. Or write some m/m romance for Dreamspinners or something. The world’s wide open.


JCL: One last thing: What’s the status of your relationship?

[They look at each other]

ABEL: You told us not to tell!

JCL: Oh, right.


(Brandon and Abel will have a subplot in my next book, an f/f romance set ten years after How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. It’s coming in 2016, if you’re Team Abandon and want to catch up with the boys.)

Thanks so much to my gracious host for putting up with Brandon, Abel, and me on Joyfully Jay today!


mechanical heartEighteen-year-old Castaway Planet fans Brandon and Abel hate bad fan fiction—especially when it pairs their number-one TV crushes of all time, dashing space captain Cadmus and dapper android Sim. As co-runners of the Internet’s third most popular Castaway Planet vlog, they love to spar with the “Cadsim” fangirls who think Cadmus will melt Sim’s mechanical heart by the Season 5 finale. This summer, Brandon and Abel have a mission: hit the road in an RV to follow the traveling Castaway Planet convention, interview the actors and showrunner, and uncover proof that a legit Cadsim romance will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

A Brandon and Abel romance: also not happening. Brandon’s sick of his struggle to make “gay and Catholic” compute, so it’s safer to love a TV android. Plus Abel’s got a hot new boyfriend with a phoenix tattoo, and how can Brandon compete with that? But when mysterious messages about them start popping up in the fan community, they make a shocking discovery that slowly forces their real feelings to the surface. Before they get to the last Castaway Planet convention, Brandon’s going to find out the truth: can a mechanical heart be reprogrammed, or will his first shot at love be a full system failure?


J.C. has brought a paperback copy of How to Repair a Mechanical Heart to give away to one lucky reader (ebook for International folks). Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Saturday, August 8th at 11:59 pm EST.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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