The King’s Mate
Sam’s Café Romances: Book One
Russell Pine comes to Sam’s Café every morning to enjoy the best coffee in town and to chat with Sam Tesh, the owner, a loyal friend for the past twenty years. When Sam offers him a challenge, Russ reluctantly takes it on, acting as the master opponent in a chess tournament. As the days pass and the hopefuls fall to the chess mastermind one by one, Russ discovers that the contest isn’t the only game being played.
Russ finds himself the focus of a secret courtship through words and pictures left for him to discover each morning. Will a hint of cologne on the paper lead him to his admirer? In a café full of young and beautiful minds, who is looking at the graying chess master?
First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2013.
Alpha Book Club Welcomes Ashavan Doyon!
I’m so happy to be here at Alpha Book Club to talk about my new release The Rodeo Knight. It’s being released at the same time as a re-release of my very first published piece of gay romance, The King’s Mate. It’s a lot of excitement for me all at once! There are three books in this series currently. The series is call the Sam’s Café Romances, because what links all the stories together is a location, the café. But these first three books, of which The Rodeo Knight is the third, are held together by something else also, and they’re being released together in print as The Chess Master Chronicles.
The books focus on two chess masters, Russell Pine, our protagonist in the first book, and Brian Stouten, from the third book. These two were lovers, partners, husbands in everything but the legal sense. But they got torn apart by an accident.
Book 1, The King’s Mate, was originally a Daily Dose story for the Make A Play anthology. That meant it was particularly short. It ended up making the love story feel a little rushed and incomplete, and my own inexperience showed in my insistence for realistic dialogue. It was realistic, but so broken in places that it was confusing and it turned off readers. That’s been really cleaned up and the story has been expanded from 14000 to 25000 words, so it’s almost twice as long as it was originally.
In The King’s Mate we get to see Russ at a point where he’s almost recovered from the accident where he lost Brian. He’s accepted the loss, even though it’s hard, and the tournament that Sam pushes his involvement in is exactly what he needs to push him past the last bit of harmful holding on that he’s doing for his lost partner.
Because the story was originally a short story, we didn’t get the same level of development for Russ and his love interest. I really think this second edition addresses that, giving Russ and Sam’s friendship some necessary attention, as well as doing some foreshadowing for the future books.
So what’s new? Beyond streamlining the dialogue, there are several entirely new scenes. It’s a May/December romance, so it was important for me given this opportunity to emphasize some of why that works. Russ’s love interest doesn’t come across as confident in the original story, and really he’s a very confident character. The problem in the original story is that we saw the character in only that one context, with Russ, in a budding relationship, so we never get to see that he’s a pretty together guy – it’s just that his age and his past make him seem younger in the context of a relationship. Russ was seeing more. Some readers couldn’t and that was my fault. I hope now they see the more complete picture Russ was seeing and it becomes more fulfilling for the reader. One reviewer described the original story as being beautifully layered… well, now there are even more layers.
Which brings us to the really complicated piece. I wrote The King’s Mate as a recovery piece. Russ recovering from the loss of Brian. His love interest recovering from a partner who took advantage of him and abused him. It was too much story for one novella, which is why The King’s Mate continues naturally from its happy ending to book 2, A Wounded Promise where the happy ending goes to really stick. And so we have one chess master’s story. But what about Brian?
That’s where The Rodeo Knight comes in. You can blame my husband for the root idea of the story, which was simply: what if Brian wasn’t really dead.
There are a couple of ways to write that idea. As someone who grew up watching soap operas I had a lot of choices. But I decided for the one that had really given me personally the most angst. I went to college with a friend who suffered complete retrograde amnesia. Like, for real lost all of his memories right down to his name. I remember him saying one thing above all others. He woke up and being gay was one of the only things he actually still knew about himself, even when he didn’t even know his name. So I thought about what might happen if he came from a wealthy family that didn’t want him to be gay. His past had been wiped out, would the family try to wipe that part of him away?
It’s an angsty place to start a story, with a character who struggles to remember anything of himself, who is living a life his parents constructed. The life they wanted for him. And he knows something’s wrong, but he can’t remember enough to prove it or escape.
The Rodeo Knight starts with his escape, but the struggle of his memory loss is a real one. I’ve brought a short excerpt from the story to share. In the story, Brian has escaped from his parents and the life they built for him, and has connected, with his brother’s help, with the couples therapist who worked with Brian and Russ when they were together.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my story The Rodeo Knight, due out on November 30. Also releasing the same day is a second edition of The King’s Mate, and an anthology compiling the first three Sam’s Café Romances into The Chess Master Chronicles (the anthology is print only).
For fifteen years, Ashavan Doyon worked with students in the student affairs office of a liberal arts college. He recently decided to shake things up a little, and is now working in the publications and communications office at the college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, but lavishes attention on his sole remaining fur child, a very elderly pug. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.
Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.
You can find me online at: