My name is Jamie Atwood, and I’m an addict. I never thought I’d say such a thing. Never had a problem being overly-attached to anything in my life. I came from a perfectly middle-class family, made good grades, and had a hot cheerleader girlfriend... but the truth is, nothing ever really moved me. So how did a guy like me become an addict?
I met Michael Kage.
Kage is an MMA fighter. A famous one. I like to think I helped him get that way.
He’s charming as hell, with looks to rival any movie star and talent to back it up. So why did he need to hire me as an intern Publicist? Simple. He has a darkness in him– like a black hole so deep it could swallow him, and me, and everyone we know– and that’s not good for business.
The first time I met him, I felt the pull. I think the addiction began at that very moment. And even if I’d known then what I know now, I would have fallen for him. How could I not?
For me, Kage is everything.
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My name is Jamie Atwood, and I am an idiot. Against all odds, I got the attention of Michael Kage, the hottest MMA fighter on the planet. To say he rocked my world would be an understatement. He transformed me completely, made me depend on him, and made me love him. And the sex? Let me put it this way: I'd never been with a guy before I met Kage, but I'd gladly spend the rest of my life on my knees for him. He is my obsession and my addiction. But I did something stupid, and now I'm paying for it. I don't know if I'll ever see Kage again.
Being Michael Kage was never easy. Too many demons, too much anger, and not enough to live for. And then I met Jamie Atwood. He's got this innocence about him that speaks to something deep down inside me- in a place that's never been touched by anyone. He's beautiful, smart, and courageous, and he hasn't been tainted by the darkness that's ruled my life. I wanted him from the first second I laid eyes on him. It's selfish, I know. Because you can't bring an innocent thing into the darkness and not expect something to rub off.
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COMING OCTOBER 25th:
Round Three of the KAGE Trilogy continues with the story of Jamie Atwood & his MMA fighter boyfriend.
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Thank you, Maris, for being here today. Your new book Kage Unleashed is currently available! I’ve had the honor of reading it and it’s amazing. Book 1 left us panting and gasping with that cliffhanger. I was happy to see those crazy guys again. I’d love to ask you a few questions about this series.
Thanks for having me, Meredith. Ask away!
Now you’ve told us that it’s a trilogy. Do you see any prequels or even extending this series further?
When I began Kage, I essentially had the entire story arc planned out already. It came to me very quickly and nearly fully formed, and I knew it was going to be an involved story that would take three books to tell.
I’ve had a number of people suggesting that I do spin-off books for side characters. Cameron, Steve, & Jason all have all been requested. However, with as many projects as I have in the works at any given moment, it’s difficult to say if those spin-off books will ever see the light of day. SSU Boys in particular has to take precedence over everything, since that series has a loyal fan base impatiently waiting for the next installments. I wish there were two of me!
Kage is quite a complex character. I love how Jamie described him all rough and tough on the outside and soft on the inside, though I think that’s just for Jamie. What was the character breakdown like for Kage when you drew up his background?
Alright, I guess you’re about to have information I’ve only shared with my closest friend and my mother. The very first thing I came up with about Kage was his big secret. Ironically, it has only been hinted at so far and is the LAST significant thing to be revealed in the trilogy. Knowing this secret about him helped me to shape his personality from the very beginning.
Because of childhood trauma, he is emotionally closed off, angry, and antisocial. He exhibits symptoms of PTSD and uses controlled aggression to get relief-- both in the ring and in the bedroom. Inside, he is still that innocent little traumatized boy, and there are a few people who are able to catch glimpses of this deeper Kage: his long-time friend Vanessa, Enzo the chef, Steve the hotel clerk, Marco the trainer, and Jason the sparring partner. These people have spent enough time around Kage to know that he is not a hard person at his core, and they are rooting for him.
But Jamie is a different story altogether. He holds the distinct honor of being the only person Kage has ever wanted to have a relationship with. Kage is drawn to his innocence (which represents the innocence Kage himself lost at an early age), his boyish physical beauty, and his natural submission, though it’s notable that he is only submissive to Kage.
Besides being overwhelmingly physically attracted to him, Kage craves the normalcy that Jamie brings to his life. In his utter “averageness,” Jamie grounds Kage, and the promise of a picket-fence life with him is something that Kage hardly dares to imagine.
I actually was never a MMA fan. Hell, boxing, wrestling, all that has always been hard to watch for me. Did you do extensive research in MMA, or is there some personal knowledge of this sport for you?
I actually got interested in combat sports when I was doing wrestling research for my second book, Pinned (SSU Boys #1), though I suppose there must have been at least a seed of interest there already to prompt the story idea. I knew nothing about wrestling except what I watched of pro wrestling as a kid with my grandfather (Mr. Wrestling #2, Dusty Rhodes, Nature Boy Rick Flair…), so I hit Youtube in search of information, and soon I was hooked. Learning the moves and watching so many matches gave me an appreciation for the sport. It didn’t hurt that a graphic design client of mine turned out to be a lifelong wrestler whose son was a college wrestler competing on a national level. So I had a fantastic resource-- people who essentially WERE my characters in Pinned.
But something interesting happened to me while I was researching wrestling. I kept stumbling across MMA videos on Youtube, and I got fascinated with it. Fast forward one year, and I’m a paying member of UFC.tv, buying every pay-per-view event they put out and screaming at my television like a crazy person. And my teenage son is taking MMA classes and aspiring to be a fighter (UGH!).
So, while I’m not thrilled with the idea of my son getting beat on, I am a huge fan of the sport and as knowledgeable about it as anyone you’ll probably ever meet. But I do realize that most of my readers are NOT fans of the sport, know very little about it, and probably don’t WANT to know any more than is necessary. My goal is to provide enough authenticity that the reader gets the sense of being immersed in the experience rather than bogged down in the technical aspects, since it’s a romance story first and foremost.
When can we expect book three Kage Unmasked to release?
KAGE Unmasked is already on pre-order at Amazon with a release date of October 25th. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/KAGE-Unmasked-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B014E2FLMG
Do you have celebrities, that you picture when you see Kage and Jamie? If so, who are they?
Scott Gardner is my Jamie, and Chad White is my Kage. Of course no one ever fits my vision perfectly. For instance, I picture Kage’s hair long enough on top to pull into a topknot. Chad White usually wears his too short for that, though in some of the pictures it’s close.
Another note on character descriptions: I try to use enough description for a reader to get an idea of what the character looks like, but I also try to leave enough room for them to bring their own interpretation and tastes.
I’m sure your time is pretty filled but what books are you currently reading, or at least have read recently?
Well, right now I have Lynn Kelling’s third Twin Ties book just waiting for me. Been looking forward to that one for some time. Hang on, let me look at my Kindle… My friends Lisa Wilde and Z.B. Heller just released their first M/M books, so I’ve got their betas on there. And before that was Roan Parrish’s “In the Middle of Somewhere,” and Heidi Cullinan’s audiobook “Nowhere Ranch”. Hmmm… the titles on those last two. I’m noticing a thematic pattern. :-)
I’ve also been listening to my own audiobooks. They all just came out recently, and since they’re done by Audible Studios, I had to wait just like everyone else to listen to them. Because of the book release, I haven’t even had time to get through them all. It seems crazy to me that there are tons of people who have heard my audiobooks before me!
How do you celebrate a book release?
A bottle of Dom, and an all-night sex romp with my husband. Just kidding, I’ve never even tried Dom Perignon. Things I enjoy celebrating with: my kids, a Blue Moon with orange, a nice restaurant, something sweet, and I ALWAYS go to Best Buy and get some electronic gadget. I’m just geeky that way. Oh, and a sex romp, though it doesn’t actually last all night. I do stay up all night on release night just because I get an adrenaline high that won’t quit. It takes me days to recover after a release.
Do you have any writing rituals you do before or during the creation of one of your books?
#1 - Coffee. Lots of coffee.
#2 - I like to listen to certain songs to create the mood for each book or scene, but I can’t listen to them while I’m actively writing. I end up writing random words that don’t fit, or adding “ing” to a word for no reason-- stuff like that. It’s hilarious. When I read back over my writing, I can tell if I was listening to music or not. However, I don’t know if their effect is real or placebo, but binaural beats seem to help me concentrate and get creative. Sometimes I will lie down in the bed and listen on my headphones in the dark, and soon I have full scenes playing out like a movie behind my eyes, WITH the accompanying narrative. The bad part is that my memory isn’t up to the task of remembering all of it, so many good scenes get lost. Believe me, when someone comes up with a device to translate words directly from the imagination to the page, I will be the first in line to buy it. Some of my best work is rattling around in my head somewhere, inaccessible for the most part.
#3 - I also like to do short character interviews randomly during the writing process to get inside a character’s head. A sample question might be, “Kage, what did you think of Jamie the first time you met him?” Usually, I will start with this as a prompt, begin writing as if the character is in a real interview, and eventually I look up and the interview has turned into part of the novel, some scene involving another character and dialogue. It’s amazing how that happens, and it thrills me to death. At that point, I edit the interview out, but I do keep the original for myself.
Aside from Kage 3, what else are you currently working on, or what’s on the docket so to speak?
SSU Boys has to come next. First there will be Dual Threat, which is the continuation of the short “Initiation.” Then Sammy’s and Seth’s stories. Lots of people are waiting for those, especially Seth’s, because he’s been a fixture in the series since the beginning.
I also have some standalones planned, one in particular that makes me cry thinking about it. Gonna be a real tear jerker. I also have a series planned that will be more along the lines of cop stories, though I don’t want to get specific at this time. And then I have a series about Nashville and the music business. I’ve already written parts of two of those books. Too much stuff in the works, too little time.
How can your fans follow you through social media, website etc…?
Mailing list/website: MarisBlack.com.
Mailing list/website: MarisBlack.com.
If you want to see what I’m doing day-to-day and interact, obviously Facebook is it. If you just want to get an email when something is coming out, the mailing list is the way to go. I’m also dying for people to follow me on Twitter, though I’m really just getting the hang of the tweeting stuff. So if you want to help my ego by increasing my number of followers, follow me on Twitter. #preciateit
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