Hi, I’m Kass Barrow and I’m thankful to Divine Magazine for offering me this opportunity to be the Friday Featured Author. I live in England, around 100 miles north of London, with my husband and our pet Labrador, Barney, who has travelled around the British Isles with us. Barney has been on a boat, a train, climbed mountains, taken the gondola up the Nevis mountain range in Scotland and ridden the funicular down the Caingorms. Lucky for us he’s never been one of those dogs who gets travel sick!
I describe myself as a ”British author of queer & quirky tales.” I write gay romance with a contemporary, speculative or science fiction theme. If you’re looking for some long-running saga to get lost in then I’m probably not the author for you. I tend to write standalones and I have a punchy style of writing, so I’m never going to write a great tome. Rather, my focus is on an entertaining plot that sweeps the reader along to find out what happens next. As well as angst and conflict, I inject humour into my storytelling whenever I can get away with it. I like a good laugh!
What do you love most about the writing process?
It occupies my mind, focuses it on something constructive, otherwise my head is full of random thoughts and concerns.
What’s the one thing that has really surprised you since you started writing?
How little money there is in it. Haha! My first actual surprise was hearing people discussing my characters as if they were real people. ”Why did he do this?” ”I wished he had done that.” It’s weird.
One food you don’t care if you never eat it again.
I’ve never eaten it but the smell of liver in the pan makes me puke. When I was around ten years old, I puked all over the school canteen table from the smell of someone opposite me eating liver.
Would you describe your humor as hilariously funny, oddly quirky, diabolically macabre, or non-existent?
Probably tongue-in-cheek, but I’ve had quite a few readers comments that they’ve laughed out loud at certain scenes.
Have you ever written a scene where it has reduced you to tears?
I’m not a crier. Except if I’ve had a drink. Then I might cry for no other reason than my ice melted away and left me without even saying goodbye. Sob!
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be original and deliver to readers something that they didn’t even know they wanted until they read it.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do whatever research the story requires, but I don’t do it before I start to write, I do it as part of the writing process. I don’t have everything plotted out in advance, I start writing and see where the story takes me. For instance, I had no intention of including an element of art history in Going Rogue when I started writing, but as that idea developed I stopped writing and went off and researched Leonardo da Vinci, even reading his will in its entirety.
I can spend several days researching any particular topic that crops up in the story and it might only make a couple of sentences in the book, but they’re the bits that add veracity and gravitas to the storytelling. Even though it’s fiction and I’ve probably skewed the facts to fit the story, the research helps make it a much more believable and entertaining journey. Plus I love learning new stuff as part of the process!
Having said that and despite all the research, at its core Going Rogue is still just a beautiful love story.
My new book and the lead characters
My latest release is Going Rogue. It has a pretty descriptive strapline which succinctly delivers the general gist of the story: ”He came to save mankind. Falling in love wasn’t part of the equation.” It’s really a fun and quirky tale of misunderstandings and what-ifs, and annoyingly there’s some impending doom that keeps getting in the way of the two guys’ attraction for each other.
Written mostly from the point of view of Blake, who is your typical everyman, Blake represents you and me and his purpose from the storytelling point of view is to react the way any normal person might to the outlandish events that befall him. He’s just minding his own business, getting through the daily grind, when fate intervenes in a way that will not only change Blake’s life forever, but the history of the whole of mankind.
Ray is the alien sent to Earth (London, to be precise) in human form to save mankind from an impending disaster. But no-one is aware of the problem yet, let alone the true cause, so Ray has his hands full when he tried to enlist Blake’s help. For starters, Blake doesn’t believe in aliens, any more than he believes in ghosts or goblins, and things get really complicated when an obvious attraction develops betweeen the two of of them.
We don’t get much insight into Ray’s point of view because I deliberately wanted to keep him as a mysterious character, so we discover things about him the same way and at the same time as Blake. There’s one short chapter where we’re allowed an insight into Ray’s thought processes and I think it makes it a more powerful scene because it’s the first time we can judge for ourselves who Ray really is inside and what his true intentions are.
Inside every human on this planet is a genetic time bomb that’s already started ticking. A gene planted inside of us seven million years ago by a being known as the Caretaker has mutated causing many of today’s common disorders, first in the brain and then in other less complex organs. Next it will spread to the reproductive system, leading to the eventual annihilation of mankind.
The only one who can save us is the Caretaker’s son.
From a race of near-immortal asexuals, the Caretaker’s son must adopt human form to fulfil his mission and save our race. Having studied humans from afar all of his life, the Caretaker’s son is excited at the prospect of his brief visit to Earth, but once in human form he is subjected to the full gamut of human emotions—something he is ill-equipped to cope with—and that’s when things start to unravel.
He isn’t meant to fall in love.
Especially not with a human male.
Blake Denby doesn’t believe in extra-terrestrials. He believes in hot sex and pizza, followed by more hot sex. When an intriguing stranger turns up at the hotel where he works as receptionist, all he can think about is sharing hot sex, pizza and more hot sex with the gorgeous boy with the piercing blue eyes.
They say be careful what you wish for, but never has it been more true. The Caretaker’s son can only maintain his transient human form for a limited time and then he must return home. As his and Blake’s lives become inexorably entangled, their growing attraction to each other can surely only lead to heartbreak and could ultimately affect the survival of the entire human race.
Can love find a way against such odds?
(Going Rogue contains some sexual content suitable only for an 18+ audience)
The hotel doors swoosh open and we exit onto the busy pavement. I hear my new friend gasp and then he stops in his tracks. I turn to look at him and now we’re causing an obstruction, forcing everyone to wind a route around us.
His face is tilted up towards the heavens, his eyes closed and his mouth drawn wide by a smile that’s full of wonderment. “Wow!” he drawls on a breathy sigh. “So this is what the sun’s rays feel like on human skin.”
I respond with my usual pithy sarcasm. “You don’t get out much, do you?”
“Never,” he replies with such heart-wrenching honesty that I believe him.
“So, are you going to tell me your name, now that we’re friends?”
He opens his eyes and looks straight at me, hesitating a fraction too long before replying. “Ray. My name is Ray.”
I smile to myself, knowing he just made that up. I gesture for him to turn to his right and I slip in alongside him as we set off in the direction of the coffee shop.
“Ray,” I repeat in a mocking tone. “As in ray of sunlight?”
He gives me a sideways glance. “Ray of hope.”
I grunt. “Hope?”
“Yes. Hope for a better future.”
“Are you one of those green campaigners who wants to save the planet?”
He huffs. “That is surprisingly close to the mark. You impress me, friend Blake. But it is mankind I wish to save, rather than the planet.”
I snort out a laugh. “You want to save mankind? Who do you think you are, some kind of superhero? Have you been smoking something?”
“Popping pills, then?”
“So what do you think you’re saving mankind from, exactly?”
“I am not supposed to say.”
“Seriously? I thought we’d got beyond the ‘I’m not supposed to tell you’ crap.”
“From the killer within,” he mutters.
“Oooh! That sounds very cryptic.”
“That wasn’t a compliment. I was hoping you’d expand.”
“As I have already indicated, I am not supposed to say.”
“But it’s okay to tell me you’re a superhero?” I scoff.
He halts in his tracks and turns to face me, scanning my eyes with a shuddering intensity. “I did not say superhero. That is your description. A word you use to mock me.”
I gaze into those beautiful blue eyes and my groin twitches. I try to ignore it, hoping it doesn’t develop into a noticeable bulge. I can’t help my gaze dropping to his mouth, to those begging-to-be-kissed lips, and I curse my luck that this crazy, beautiful boy isn’t interested in kissing other boys.
I know he’s waiting for a response but right now I have no words.
“Why do you mock me?” he asks, tilting his head to the side.
I shake my head slowly. “I…er…sorry.” I completely lose my train of thought and then the stupidest words fall out of my mouth. “Will you be saving mankind before or after breakfast?”
Now his gaze drops to my mouth. I watch as a sexy smile trips across his lips before he reins it back in. All my nerve endings light up like a starry map of my body and my skin prickles with desire.
“I think we have time for coffee, at least,” he replies on a heavenly whisper.
We stand like that, staring at each other’s mouths for an uncomfortably long time until I’m utterly convinced he wants me to kiss him. Maybe he swings both ways. I’ve no idea what’s brought this on, but if he’s offering, I’m accepting. After all, how could anyone resist those lips?
Tentatively, I lean in. Closer. Closer. But just when our lips are about to touch, he turns away and carries on walking without me. I’m left standing there, feeling like someone just ripped the blanket off me on a cold winter’s night, leaving me naked and exposed.
He disappears from sight, melting into the crowd, and I have to scurry to catch up with him.
“Is it far?” he asks, as I fall into step beside him. His voice is calm and steady, as if he’s totally unaffected by what just occurred.
Did I just imagine he looked at me that way?
He repeats the question. “The coffee place, is it far?”
“Um, no, not far. Just keep walking in this direction.”
“And after coffee, will you help me find a suitable female?”
“Don’t worry, you’re not going to be short of admirers,” I mutter. “Although, we might need to get hold of some duct tape before you bump into the next one.”
“Tape?” He throws me a look of surprise. “Are we going to restrain her?”
I huff. “Don’t go getting any ideas, crazy boy. It’s to tape up your mouth. We can’t have you spouting off about ejaculations and ovulations. You’re going to put her right off.”
“But if you cover my mouth, how will I kiss her?”
I ignore his protestations, not wishing to entertain the thought of his mouth exchanging saliva with anyone else’s.
Anyone else’s but mine.
I’m pleased to note my favourite table is vacant in the front courtyard of Vivaldi’s, so I quickly claim it, shrugging off my suit jacket and wrapping it around the back of one of the seats. While Ray seats himself, I unbutton my shirt at the neck and cuffs and roll up my sleeves. It’s table service at Vivaldi’s and the waiter is always very keen, so I immediately grab the menu and hand it to Ray.
“I’m having a double espresso,” I inform him. “It comes either hot or iced, but I always prefer my coffee hot. The full range of coffees is on the first two pages, or you can have tea and cake, or—”
Before I have a chance to finish, he sets the menu down without even looking at it, his decision already made. “I shall have whatever you are having.”
The waiter turns up on cue. I order two double espressos and once he’s out of earshot I turn my attention back to Ray.
“Why do you talk like someone off an old black-and-white newsreel?”
He scowls at me. “I do not understand.”
“Don’t understand,” I correct him. “Nobody talks like that anymore. It’s not natural.”
“Oh, I see. You wish me to employ elision in my speech so it is—I mean, it’s—more fitting to the vernacular of this period.”
“I’ve no idea what you just said. Why can’t you just talk like a normal person, instead of sounding like you’ve got a silver spoon shoved up your anus.”
He chuckles. “I have spent too much time absorbed in bygone eras when language was more formal. I really must try to update my skillsets. Thank you for pointing that out.”
“You’re welcome! So, you’re a history student, huh? What era do you cover?”
He shrugs. “All of it.”
Buy Link: mybook.to/GoingRogue
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