Today I am so pleased to welcome Taylor Brooke to Joyfully Jay. Taylor has come to talk to us about her latest release, Fortitude Smashed. She has also brought along an excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Fortitude Smashed came into existence by way of characters, meaning I met the characters before I had a world for them. After I had the characters, I needed to find a reason and a concrete setting for them to live in. It turned into a mashup of three different things coming together at the right time in the right place.
After I met the characters, I let them be for a while and worked on other projects. I sketched an outline for a book about soulmates, set that aside as well, and then finally packed up all my belongings and moved from Southern California to Central Oregon. Once I was there, I revisited my “incomplete” folder and started playing with certain ideas. It was snowing, I missed Laguna Beach, and I had a concept, characters, and a place, all wanting to make a home in me somehow. So, Fortitude Smashed turned into these characters I’d met years ago being stitched into the outline of my soulmate book and placed lovingly into Laguna Beach.
But why these characters, and this trope, and that place?
When I fleshed out Aiden Maar and Shannon Wurther, I knew they needed a catalyst. They needed a way to ignite. The soulmate trope gave me that. I know most of us are familiar with different romance tropes – coffee shops, meet-cutes, etc. But these two characters wouldn’t have flourished without emotionally charged, high stakes. The Camellia Clock provided an opportunity to explore what it might be like to fall in love backward, to meet the person you’re destined to fall in love with and move through the motions as strangers. I expected that when I got around to writing my soulmate book it would be fluffy and cute, which Fortitude Smashed is and isn’t. Aiden and Shannon can be sweet, but they’re also raw and gritty at points, misunderstood and brash. Despite the soulmate trope being inherently romantic, I wanted my version of it to be layered with conflicts – mental illness, trust issues, enemies to lovers, hesitation, because I wanted it to feel real. I wanted it to feel attainable. When it came to the characters and the concept, I had everything set in stone, but the real romantic aspect of the book manifested with the setting. Laguna Beach is lush and timeless, and as I started drafting, the tethered, hopeful, warm mood that most Contemporary Romance books are known for began to unfold within the science fiction concept I’d re-imagined.
Fortitude Smashed surprised me. I hadn’t intended to write a Contemporary Romance sprinkled with scifi, nor did I expect the soulmate trope to be as all-encompassing as it became. But Laguna Beach demanded a love story, and Aiden and Shannon were the perfect pair to give it to.
It was quiet except for Mercy’s chomps echoing from the kitchen. The blinds trembled against a breeze, and, far off in the distance, waves dragged against the sand. Their skin on the sheets, toes curling against the comforter, the mattress whining when either of them moved—Aiden had never noticed any of it. He’d never noticed how alone he’d been until he wasn’t.
Shannon’s thumb touched Aiden’s top lip. “I wish it’d been sooner. I wish I could’ve been there.”
Aiden narrowed his eyes. All at once he was an animal backed into a corner, unable to process what Shannon meant. Timing out as teenagers would’ve been the end of them. No. He meant something else. Aiden blinked, questioning.
“Our Clocks, I wish they’d timed out earlier in our lives,” Shannon said.
Honesty during the witching hours was not a beehive, Aiden decided. It was jet black arachnids with curved teeth and eight eyes, watching, and biting, and crawling.
“It wouldn’t have changed anything, Shannon.” Aiden nearly choked, but managed to get the words out. His mouth tightened. “My parents would have still gone to Big Bear. They would’ve still died coming home. I didn’t need you; I needed them.”
“Yeah, but maybe I needed you,” Shannon snapped. His face hardened, and his fingers stilled. He looked away, at the crumpled sheets. Two animals, Aiden realized, backed into opposite corners, hiding from the same spiders. Aiden’s mouth went dry. He should reach for him; he should apologize. “Look at us,” Shannon whispered bitterly, “already arguing over who needs who.”
After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.
But loving someone isn’t.
When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.
After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup professional, Taylor Brooke turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of tea, planning her next adventure, and fawning over baby animals. Connect with Taylor at taylorbrookewrites.org; on Twitter @taysalion; and on Facebook at facebook.com/taylorbrookewrites.
Taylor has brought a great set of prizes for her tour. Five winners receive eBook editions of “Fortitude Smashed” + Grand Prize winner receives $25 IP Web Store gift card. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter. The
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