Back in 2017, my daughter was making plans to go away to college. Always the protective mama, I was in no way ready to let her go. I spent months preparing myself for the eventual day when we’d drop her off at college and say goodbye. I simply could not imagine my day to day life without her in it.
Why am I telling you all this? Who knows….guess I like the slow build. ;-)
Anyway, one day she came into my home office and said I just HAD to listen to this song by Chris Stapleton called “Either Way.” As she exited the room, she remarked, “You should really write a book about that song.”
I can’t recall how many days passed before I finally got around to listening to it, but when I did I was hooked. I listened to it over and over again, and suddenly the seed she planted began to grow and change in my mind.
Thus, “Heal Me” was born.
I’ve been candid about my writing struggles the past few years, so it’s no wonder it took almost five years for me to finally be ready to publish this book. It was slow-going even then, and at the time I felt the need to take it slow and steady so that the final work would be exactly what I’d imagined the first time I heard the song. I’m particularly enamored with my characters – Davis and Merrick – more so than I’ve ever been with any of my characters (I know we writers say that all the time, but in this instance it’s true). I’ve read the manuscript repeatedly and to date I’m still not tired of watching my sweet men find one another and fall in love.
I planned on releasing it in March, which I soon moved to April. And now I’m planning for June (June 7th, to be exact). I wish I could explain my hesitancy with publishing this book. I do want to release my work out into the world. I know this work is a change of pace from my other books. I’m well aware that I have friends and family members who will be shocked that I’m now writing gay romance. Frankly…if they have an issue with it, that’s their problem, not mine. I love writing stories of my sweet, tortured, sometimes hilarious men. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Okay…back to the story itself.
When I was dreaming up the idea for the book, and in my head sort-of outlining the story I wanted to tell, I knew I needed the perfect muse for each of main characters. At the time, the hubby and I were watching “Longmire”. Lo and behold I instantly found my Davis in actor Barry Sloane. He played a rather gruff and tormented cop named Zach, and in him I began to see Davis appear. He was a guy’s guy, a little rough around the edges too, just like Davis. Quiet, but sweet. He was Davis.
The muse for Merrick came much quicker to me. I think I was watching “Teen Wolf” with my daughter, if I recall correctly. And though I’d seen the actor, Ian Bohen, in other shows, his character really jumped off the screen (and directly into my book). In this case, physically he was exactly what I was looking for in Merrick. Classically handsome. Sweet smile. Sexy as hell. The British accent/background were all mine, though.
So, I finally had my two leading characters. Now, I just needed the perfect setting. In all the books I’ve written (some 25 or so), I’d only ever set one other book series in the city of Monterey, California (a favorite place to go and a mere 90 minutes away from my home). And once I decided that was where I wanted to set my story, I began researching the area. I’ve been there many, many times, so I do know my way around. But particulars, like neighborhoods and businesses where the guys might work, that took a little more time to investigate. I knew Davis had to be a blue collar guy, but he also couldn’t just be a mechanic or janitor, considering who he was married to (teaser!). He had to be someone who at heart was blue collar, but had worked his way up the ladder into management. Having him work at the local Mercedes dealership wasn’t exactly a stretch; we always drive by that same dealership whenever we’re in town. It felt like the perfect place for my guy to work.
For Merrick, I wanted him to be more refined. A professional. A healer, but not a physician per se. Having him “be” a physical therapist – and owning his own practice – seemed like the exact right fit for my handsome Brit.
The circle of friends that surround Davis and Merrick in the book have their own stories as well. I knew I wanted “Heal Me” to be a series and right away I knew that Merrick’s friend Gunner had to have his own story, as did Jack (although Jack is rarely seen in this book). But that’s a story for another day. Here they are, just in case you – like me – enjoy picturing a character in your head while you read:
When I was finalizing the book, I coerced my hubby to take a day trip to Monterey. I needed to make sure that I had all the little details correct. Because my hubs is such a great guy, he literally drove me around the city for hours so I could take pictures for reference, experience the traffic and influx of tourists, and generally submerse myself in my character’s world for an entire day. Here’s a funny side note: recently we spent a few days in Monterey for a much overdo mini-vacation. We stayed across the street from one of the parks that I mention in the book (see image below).
We took a walk down the path where Davis and Merrick would often run. And to show you all how nutty writers can be, I kept imagining my guys in this real world. I could see them running together. I could picture them sitting on the grass and having an intense conversation. And when we drove by the Mercedes dealership, I half-expected to see Davis’s truck in the parking lot.
Nutty, I know.
These two men have captivated me for five years now and I cannot wait to share them with you. Their story is one I HAD to tell, if for no other reason than my daughter suggested I should. It seems appropriate that I’ve chosen her birthday for it’s release.
One side note….I dedicated this book to my friend, Chance, who a few years ago walked into my house, sat down on the couch and stated in no uncertain terms that he was/is gay. His ability to know that our house was a safe space and to have no doubt that myself (and the rest of the family) would accept him as we always have, is why I write books like “Heal Me”. I hope there will eventually come a day when no one has to ‘come out’, and when we can all simply accept one another as equals.
“Heal Me” is a story about friendship. About loss. This is a story about finding love where you least expected it. It’s a story about family obligation, and how sometimes that sense of obligation can override ones need for happiness. This is a story about Davis, a married man, a grieving father. A man who had almost given up hope of ever being happy, until the day he met his next door neighbor and they became friends. It’s a story about Merrick, the kind man who practically bullies Davis into a friendship. It’s a story about a man desperately wanting someone to settle down with, and finding that someone in a man who is already promised to someone else. This is a story of a man who falls hard and fast, even though he knows he shouldn’t.
This is a story of a heart hardened by loss, healed by unexpected love.
I cannot wait to share it with all of you.