Today I am so pleased to welcome Renae Kaye and Sean Kennedy to Joyfully Jay. Renae and Sean have come to talk to us about their new series, On a Night Like This. They have also brought along books to give away! Please join me in giving them a big welcome!
What happens when two writers from Perth, Western Australia get together to do a series? On a Night Like This is the result.
Borrowing song titles from Kylie Minogue, the Australia pop princess and a huge gay icon, Renae and Sean have created seven couples. Their stories take place over the months prior to a special night in November 2017 – the Perth Pride parade. Each couple will be there on that night, and you get to experience their falling in love of each as they make their journey to be there on the night.
Some of them are performing to the crowds, some participating in the parade, and some just watching, but they will all be there.
The characters are loosely related to one another, and the first six of the stories can be read as a standalone or in any order. We suggest you read them all before starting the final story though.
Below we’ve gathered together to share some questions and answers about the series.
What made you want to do a series with the other writer?
Renae: I was hoping that he’d do all the work and I’d get all the money…
LOL. No – seriously? I’ve seen a lot of other authors do collaborations and wondered who I would collaborate with. Sean Kennedy was always number one on that list. I think I have a very unusual style of writing and Sean is one of the few authors that has a similar style. Maybe it’s the Aussie-ness?
I also wanted to showcase the best of my city – Perth. And who better to do it with than another Perth writer? Another brilliant Perth writer.
What about you Sean?
Sean: Renae kidnapped one of my cats and refused to let it go until I turned in a first draft of my first novella. What else could I do?
So whose idea was it?
Sean: Renae’s, when she kidnapped my poor cat, obviously.
Renae: Ignore him! See what I had to put up with?
I had thought of writing a series with Sean, but I think it was he who first voiced it. He came up with an idea for a series and I had to nix it because it was too close to some of my other work. So then we spent around nine months tossing around other ideas.
You may not know this, but Sean really likes paranormal storylines and I’ve never tried paranormal, so we discussed a lot of stuff before committing to this series. Sean had the idea and took the lead on the Kylie theme. (He’s a HUGE Kylie fan so be careful of what you say to him about her…)
Sean: I’ll fight you.
What was the hardest part about collaboration?
Sean: The updates Renae sent about my cat via text, and telling me to hurry up. When I sent off my draft and met her at the drop off point, I looked her in the eye and said, “You’ll get your books. But if you ever take one of my cats again, I will hunt you down, I will find you, and I will take one of your arms as payment.” It’s really hard to seem threatening when you’re really just relieved to see your cat is safe.
Renae: Shut up! Jeez, we’re trying to do an interview here and you’re going on about the catnapping?
Sean: I’ll NEVER forget about the catnapping. Besides being a catnapper, Renae is also really bossy. Really bossy. But hey, that’s only a minor fault compared to the whole catnapping thing.
Renae: Uhhh…The hardest part about collaboration I think would have to be… author temperament? **pointed look in Sean’s direction regarding the catnapping stuff**
We’re both extremely busy people with lives other than writing, and other projects in the fire. It always seemed that when I was busy, Sean wanted my input or needed me to read over something. So I would find the time, get it back to him, and by that time something else had pulled HIS attention and he was unavailable!
Sean will say that I was bossy, but one of us had to be. I’m just glad he still loves me despite of my tendency to keep everything in strict order—
Sean? You seem to be choking over there? Are you okay?
Sean: I’ll admit to being completely disorganised. But I didn’t try to chain me to the computer under pretext of having coffee.
Who is your favourite character from all the books?
Renae: You are making me choose between my babies???
I think Ed from Confide in Me probably is my favourite character. He’s a bit of a drama queen at times. He falls desperately for Callum, but when Callum tells him there’s nothing going to be between them, he rages and cries and pulls his hair out… then comes back calmly and says, “Okay. If you feel that way.”
Callum could seem to some as a bit heartless, because he rejects Ed but still wants to be his friend. But I think that some people need time. Lots of people fall in love immediately. Some people take years. I love that Ed gives Callum time, and that he’s happy to be a friend, even though in the back of his mind he always wanted to be something else.
What about you Sean? Who was your favourite character?
Sean: That’s like asking who your favourite Hemsworth is (Liam, obviously).
Sean: **slaps a hand over Renae’s mouth** Liam! Your turn to shut up while I do some talking.
Sean. Ignore her. I do that a lot. What was the question? Oh, yeah. Favourite.
I do like Dev from Come into My World because he has the patience I lack. But I do love Ari and Lee from Never Too Late because I think sometimes in this day and age a lot of people think coming out is easier, but it isn’t. The mind is a prison and for every person it’s different. Never underestimate the fear society has instilled in you from birth if you happen to be ‘different’.
And, lastly, Connor. Oh, Connor.
Renae: I’m cancelling our next coffee date.
Which character do you think is most like you?
Renae: Hard one! They’re all a bit like me. Probably I’m like Beau a lot. People confuse me and sometimes I think my consciousness is on a different plane from theirs. I always want more information. And I seem to read an article or a book and get a completely different set of information from than the normal people of our world.
Maybe it’s that Beau is my hero too. He’s not backwards in telling someone to fuck off. I would love to be like that.
Who do you think, Sean?
Sean: The most important character in the whole series: Kylie.
Renae: Oh. Whoops. Yeah. True. (See my above answer about Sean’s attachment to Kylie…)
The books loosely represents many of the section of the gay community – the drag queens, the bears, the twinks – who do you think is missing?
Sean: Many. The community is diverse and wonderful. We could have written eighty books, but Renae has already tapped all of my fears by catnapping my precious.
Renae: **mutters** I miss being serious about our writing?
Renae: Ignoring you!
When developing our stories, Sean and I were very conscious of wanting to show a range of characters. Wouldn’t Change a Thing is focused on the bears of the community, where Sean’s Wow! delves into the drag queens. We also wanted it to be… normal? Can I say that? These guys are just everyday people living their lives within our wider community. We have nurses and teachers and bankers. We have the newly outed Lee and the just came out today Steve.
I think the one element that is missing are the people who are not newly outed and have been out for years – like forty years. We rarely write about love in people over fifty. I’m not sure why. Is it because we assume their love in no longer new and exciting?
Sean: Now you’re making me want to write On Another Night Like This. Please don’t take my cats again.
Seven couples, all with a happy ending. Do you really think this is possible?
Renae: **gasp** Of course! Never suggest to a romance writer that a happy ending is not possible or believable!
Sean: **nodding** Romance is all about the impossible.
This question is for Sean. In Book #1, Mark is a weekend drag queen entertainer and his new boyfriend doesn’t know. What do you think your reaction would’ve been if you were Joel finding out that your new lover had a drag queen hiding in his closet?
Sean: I would have put on ABBA and sang into hairbrushes with him. I would be Frida, obviously.
Sean: Shut up! It was my question. See what I meant about bossy? I’m going to comment on all of your questions now.
So Renae, in Book #2, Ed was a bit of a doormat, just accepting that Callum didn’t want to take it further. Why do you think that is?
Renae: Not everyone is pushy. We often notice the pushy ones because they’re loud and in your face. I think there’s a lot of people out there who are quietly biding their time. I don’t think of Ed as a doormat. I really like Ed. He’s like a Jekyll and Hyde. He has his moments, then puts on his brave face and presents it to the world.
Sean: People might say that about Dev as well, but people like Dev and Ed can be really perceptive and see things in people that others may not. And they’re patient.
In Book #3, Steve is desperately closeted. The world has changed from ten years ago, twenty years ago, fifty years ago. Why do you think there are people who still hide and deny it?
Sean: Because it’s not easy. The world still isn’t all rainbow sprinkles and boxes full of puppies for gay people. Your family might be bigoted. You may be in a small community. You may not feel safe. And never underestimate the power society has to make you hate yourself, especially when you’ve grown up in a world without positive representation or reinforcement. Self-hatred is something a lot of gay people have to deal with, and I’m not fully immune to it even now.
What? No comment, Renae?
Renae: Nope. Because I completely agree with you there. You know that some of the time we can agree on things and be adult.
In Book #4, Carrick and Jordy work together. Carrick’s been crushing on Jordy for ages, but isn’t out at work. Do you think relationships started at a place of employment will stand the test?
Renae: I think there’s a lot of workplace relationships, just because we’re in the company of those people for a good portion of our day, so of course feelings will develop. I also think it’s interesting because my work persona tends to be different from my real persona – probably the stress. At work I’m busy, after work I’m more relaxed.
Sean: I wonder what you look like relaxed. I think I would be scared, like if I finally saw a ghost, because you’re not expecting it, and boom, what the hell is that?
Renae: Fine. So I mainline coffee a lot. You secretly love me.
But starting a relationship at work is fraught with danger. What happens if things go sour? Will one of you have to leave? It’s also hard to be impartial to your partner. If your boyfriend is also your supervisor, how will you react if he has to admonish you for your work?
Luckily Carrick and Jordy have to work together but have separate roles. I like to think that they’re both professional enough to not let the lines blur from their work and home lives.
In Book #5, Lee dumped Ari because he was scared of coming out. Ari must’ve been so hurt. Do you think that love spans divides that deep?
Sean: If a person shows you they can change, or have changed, yes. For something like that, yes. But for kidnapping your cat? Never.
Renae: Will you quit the cat jokes? People are going to think you’re serious. Tell them why you hurt Ari. I’m not sure if I could’ve forgiven Lee after what he did.
Sean: The thing is, the hurt Ari felt was immense. But he saw the good parts of Lee, too, and he knew why Lee acted the way he did. That didn’t mean that he was expecting to get back with Lee in the future, he probably never thought that would happen. But once Lee started accepting himself, and Ari saw how he had repaired and maintained a good relationship with his ex-fiancee, he knew Lee was a changed man who could finally fully embrace a proper relationship.
In Book #6, Logan’s body image plays a big part of the story. He’s coming out of a long term relationship where he thinks he’s fat and unattractive, but to Travis he’s perfect. Do you think there’s someone for everyone?
Renae: Absolutely. We’re humans and we come in about a billion variations of height, size, colour and personality. A vast majority of us find love at some point in our lives, so I know there is not just one brand of attractiveness. Personality also plays a huge amount into the attraction between people, as well as something that we can’t see or hear – just feel. Chemical attraction is a real thing.
Haven’t we seen it over and over that some celebrity or infamous person is a total wanker? No matter how attractive a person is, their personality can ruin it all.
For me I’m bemused by some of society’s “rules” for beauty. Often I find that I’m attracted to the exact opposite of what the beauty magazines tell me I should be. So yes. There’s someone out there who will find you attractive – whether it be despite or because of what you consider a “flaw.” I’m just super glad to be able to bring you Travis and Logan’s story.
Sean – I’m guessing that Connor is your character since he featured so heavily in your books. In Book #7, we read about Connor-the-jerk. He was so mean to Mark at times, and even Steve and Dev. Was it hard to write about him? Was he redeemable?
Sean: I don’t think Connor was mean, just abrasive.
Renae: **mutters** Like some people we know.
Sean: AND he tended to tell the truth. It all came from a good place, and it took Mark a while to see that. So I never saw him as irredeemable.
It wasn’t hard to write him at all. I think it would be harder to write him happy and committed. I know he’s capable of it, but I liked Connor a little fucked up and finding happiness in the moment rather than long term. That made him fun to write.
Renae: True. Connor was a lot of fun.
Sean: And sexy AF. The cover picture is perfect for him.
So Beau must’ve been Renae’s character. You’ve already said he’s most like you. Was that hard to write?
Renae: Actually, Beau didn’t start out to have his own book. I wrote him to be the arsehole character that no one liked, but that Carrick could accept – bad temper and all. I really did like him on the page, but didn’t think he needed his own story. But Sean said otherwise. So I decided to torture Sean by making Connor fall in love with Beau. Catnapping is fun, but it does have its limitations.
Sean: That’s the fun about writing. Things take on a life of their own. Connor and Beau were only meant to be secondary characters but they demanded their own romantic story, and the whole series ended up hinging on them.
So what was the MOST fun about collaborating together?
Sean and Renae: COFFEE!
Seven couples. Seven stories. One night. A night for love.
RENAE KAYE is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years—and thousands of stories!—of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her, though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple—and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then, she is stuck with quirky, snarky, and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia, and writes in five-minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework, and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
Her first novel, Loving Jay, was voted the Best Book Debut 2014 by the member’s choice awards in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group.
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://renaekaye.weebly.com/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/renae.kaye.9
- Twitter: @renaekkaye
SEAN KENNEDY lives in the second-most isolated city in the world, thinks there are thylacines still out in the wild, and is a disciple in the cult of David Lynch.
- Website: http://www.seankennedybooks.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sean.kennedy.58511
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sean__kennedy
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kennsea/
Renae and Sean have brought a winner’s choice of book from the series for four lucky winners! Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, April 27th at 11:59 pm ET.
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