Common Law Series, Book 2
Small town—big problems. Jericho Crewe is back in Mosely, Montana, trying to deal with police corruption, interfering feds, his newly discovered family members, and, of course, Wade Granger.
He doesn’t really need a biker war on top of it all, but as the bodies start to pile up, it becomes pretty clear that’s what he’s got. Not only that, but Wade’s involved somehow, and as soon as Wade is a part of something, things that seemed clear become cloudy.
With the feds breathing down his neck, Jericho has to find his way through Wade’s maze of half truths and manipulations. It would all be so much easier if Jericho could think straight in the other man’s presence. So much easier if their passionate past could be forgotten, and if he could be sure he’s strong enough to resist the temptation of a passionate present.
Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/embers
Alpha Book Club Welcome’s Kate Sherwood in an exclusive Expose
What made you choose to set the Common Law series in Montana? Have you ever been there?
I’ve never been to Montana, but I’m kind of in love with it as an idea. I think A River Runs Through It, with the majestic beauty contrasted against the human tragedy, was an influence on me. I’ve spent enough time in eastern British Columbia to have a pretty good idea of the geography (at least of the northwestern chunk of the state, which is roughly where I set Mosely) but that’s it.
Do you remember when inspiration for the story or characters of Common Law first struck you? Can you give us some insight?
This was definitely a character-first series. I loved the idea of the childhood friends who ended up on opposite sides of the law–okay, this series was not meant as an homage to Brad Pitt, but do you remember the movie Sleepers? About the boys all abused by the same guards in childhood? I think there’s something in that relationship that I wanted to capture. I had an idea of the cop investigating a corrupt restaurateur (but I didn’t want to learn enough about restaurants to make that work) and a few other variations, but I finally settled on this one. I knew the relationship had to be a slow burn, so all the plot stuff was just invented to give something for the guys to be doing while their romance smoldered.
Did you base the characters or their personalities on anyone? Care to share who?
Well, the way things are going, I assume at least one of these guys will be based on Brad Pitt… no, not really. My characters usually come to me fairly well-formed, without a lot of conscious thought. So I assume Jericho and Wade are subconsciously connected to lots of other people or characters, but I have no idea who!
Did the stories and books come together quickly or was it a longer process to flush out the details and characters?
This series took me forever to write. I kept leaving it and coming back to it… it was always in my mind, but it was really hard to get it down on paper. I can write characters and dialogue in my sleep, but working out the plots for each book was a challenge for me.
Did you experience any surprises when writing? For example, did the story take a path you weren’t expecting when in the initial planning/outline phase?
I don’t really outline–well, I tried to for this one, because it’s a series and it’s pretty plotty, but… I left the outline behind after the first chapter. But I wouldn’t say I was exactly surprised by anything. I felt like things were growing pretty inexorably toward the resolution. So little surprises, maybe (Hockley ended up being much more interesting than I’d anticipated, Kayla’s dad’s plot came out of nowhere, etc.) but the main story seemed pretty obvious. It’s like some famous writer said about writing a book without an outline–it’s like driving a car at night; you can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
When writing a series, such as the Common Law series, is it hard to decide where to end each installment of the story? I know as a reader, we dread the cliffhangers because we want to know what happens next. How is the cliffhanger from an author perspective? Do you feel guilty ending a storyline in the middle?
For me, there weren’t really cliffhangers in this series–no, the romance isn’t “completed” in any of the earlier books, but the crime plot for each book is resolved tidily enough. So in terms of the romance I tried to end each book with the guys in a different place than they’d been at the start, and further along toward their eventual resolution, and that was enough to make them not feel like cliffhangers to me.
What made you pair a law enforcement character with a criminal?
There has to be a conflict in romance–readers have to believe the characters would be perfect together, but also have to believe there’s a really compelling reason why the characters can’t just be together. Cop vs Robber seemed like a pretty compelling reason.
I think there are also some pretty compelling parallels between criminals and police. Violence and danger and loyalty are a big part of both lifestyles, at least in the glorified fictional version. Different sides of the same coin, maybe? I like the idea of that for romantic leads.
Is there more to Wade Granger than his criminal persona? From reading the stories, I have to wonder if he is hiding a huge secret that will shock Jericho when revealed.
For me, the secret to Wade is how emotionally vulnerable he is, at least in some situations. All his machinations and smart-ass behaviours are essentially defense mechanisms… he’s working so hard to control the world because in the past when things got out of control, Wade got hurt. But I don`t think that`s a secret from Jericho. He might need to be reminded of it, but he certainly knows it on some level.
When writing a series, such as Common law, how do you make sure you keep the story alive over 4 books. Do you plot out the entire storyline/plot/conflicts/resolutions or do you just write and hope for the best?
I knew the basic romantic storyline–it`s pretty simple, really. But the subplots mostly came to me as I wrote, and then I went back and changed the earlier books so everything would match up. I really couldn`t have written this series if I`d started publishing before I was finished all the books… way too many things changed as I went.
Can you show us who you use as character representations for Jericho and Wade?
I don`t really have an image for Wade–well, I have one in my mind, but not a physical image. For Jericho, I was definitely inspired by:
Not that Jericho spends much time walking around with his shirt undone, but it`s a nice body-type, for sure!
If Jericho had never left, back when he was 18, would Wade and him have made a life together? Would Jericho have followed his family into crime?
I think when Jericho says he had to leave Mosely, he`s absolutely right. If he`d stayed, he`d have self-destructed. Gotten too wild, too reckless, too much. I think he and Wade would have stayed together for a while, but probably not forever–Wade loved Jericho too much to be able to watch him fall apart like I think he would have.
What are some songs that would be on a Common Law Playlist?
Huh. Whenever I think about songs for stories, I always end up with Springsteen – Highway Patrolman, maybe? Well, most of the Nebraska album, probably! And maybe songs from The Ghost of Tom Joad as well… that moody, simmering vibe, with the sense that things could boil over any second? That’d work. And of course Adam Raised a Cain… “with the same hot blood burning in our veins,” and the idea of the son returning and the town trying to slot him into place. And for a little Canadian content, probably Long Time Running from the Tragically Hip… “It’s been a long time coming/ It’s been a long, long, long time running/ It’s well worth the wait.”
If Jericho and Wade, could put all differences aside for a day, and not worry about anything but each other..what would they do?
Well, if it was just one day, I doubt they’d make it out of bed. But if they had some extra time? I think they really do both love the mountains and the forest and spending time in nature. I can see them hiking and camping, maybe fishing… they hunted when they were younger, but I’m not sure they would anymore. They’ve both probably seen enough blood for a while.
When writing a story about criminal organizations, how do you research that aspect?
There’s a weird element of “truthiness”, in Stephen Colbert’s words, to writing about some topics. Like, in truth, most police work is incredibly tedious, most medical work is routine, most teachers go their entire career without sleeping with a coworker (or student!) and… most criminals are sleazy losers. But we have conventions in fiction, built up over generations and across various media, that readers come to think of as truth, even when they aren’t all that connected to reality. So I did consult the real world for some of my ideas–I looked at crime stats and read articles on biker gangs and militias and serial killers. But I also relied on the “truthiness” of popular culture. Some of my criminals aren’t much like real criminals, but they’ll feel realistic enough to people who’ve been immersed in the same pop culture I have.
What are your writing habits? Do you have specific daily goals or planning processes?
I used to be way more methodical. I’d wake up and write a thousand words before my day started, then go to work and do all that, then come home and do at least another thousand… but my job got more demanding and I started having more demands related to editing and promo and all the non-writing parts of being a writer, and I had to remind myself that writing isn’t my job; it’s my hobby. Sure, I want to make money from it and I hope to someday make it my job, but I can’t make myself miserable in the meantime. So I gave myself permission to relax a little and make sure I’m enjoying my writing time rather than grinding through it. Not great for productivity, but vital for sanity.
What is your favorite trope or tropes to write?
Hmmm – I definitely enjoyed the reunited childhood friends aspect of this story. I also love tough guys with hearts of gold, damaged guys fighting to get or keep themselves together… tests of loyalty… unexpected types of strength…
Who are some of you author influences that sparked your need to write?
SE Hinton and Anne McCaffrey were both huge parts of my childhood. They’ve both said some fairly wonky things that make me less enthusiastic about their personas, but their stories? I think they were definitely influential. Hinton especially, probably, with all those romantic, parentless boys just searching for love…
What’s the best thing and worst thing about being an author?
Best thing is probably getting to live so many different lives. Even if I’m not writing in first person, I’m still living the character’s stories.
Worst thing – hmmm. Editing, probably. Once I’ve gone through a story the first time, I’m pretty well done with it. I know what happens, now, so why would I want to go back and nitpick at things? I’m more of a storyteller than a wordsmith, for sure, so once the story’s told, my interest fades fast.
What is coming next after Common Law is finished?
I’ve got the fourth and final instalment in the Shelter series coming, hopefully in May, and a couple projects under my other pen name (Cate Cameron, writing YA and m/f romance) and I have some books with rights returned to me that I want to get published, but in terms of brand-new writing? I’ve been playing with a contemporary monster-hunters story for a few years now, trying to figure out how to frame it, and for quite a while I was going with an androgynous female MC, but I’m thinking of switching it to an androgynous male MC and keeping it in the m/m area. Not sure, though. But I definitely want to get that story written, one way or another!
What were some of your favorite books you read in 2016?
That sounds like a question for… Goodreads! Let me go check!
Hmmm… well, for the last couple months of 2016 I was on a definite Georgette Heyer kick. (I’m trying to find good books on Kindle Unlimited, and there’s a lot of Heyer on there). I haven’t loved all of it, but some of her books are really fun. Earlier in the year I was gobbling up all the KJ Charles I could get my hands on – Rag and Bone, Society of Gentlemen, etc. In non-fiction I love listening to Jon Ronson’s books–light and interesting and perfect for my daily commute.
Do you have any plans to attend book signings this year? If so, which?
No… I’ve never been to any conferences or signings or anything. I’m not shy, exactly, but… I like keeping my writing life strictly online, at least for now.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
Hardly any–I crunch those bad boys as soon as physically possible!
Do you listen to music while writing?
Not usually. If there are lyrics I get distracted, and if there aren’t lyrics I get bored. So… not much point!
About Kate Sherwood
Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!
Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!
Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?
Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.
After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.
To celebrate the release of all four books in the Common Law series, we’re giving away one four-tour-wide GRAND PRIZE of $100 in Riptide credit! Enter at each stop on each tour (once they go live) to maximize your chances to win! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 8, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the Embers tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!