Heat Wave Astoria
If you'd like to win an ebook from any one of Liam's published stories, please comment below in response to this question: To what extent do you think opposites really do attract when it comes to romance?
Giveaway finishes 21st August at 9am GMT
Giveaway finishes 21st August at 9am GMT
What is the story behind the story? What was your inspiration for writing this story?
JMS books had a submission call for authors already published with them for this heat wave story. It had to be set in a real American city, it had to be contemporary so no supernatural or magical powers, and it had to be a certain word count, which I felt wouldn't be too long to try out a story set in America. I tend to write my stories set in the UK, as I'm British and it's a setting I know about and am comfortable writing about. However, there was something about this submission call that really got my creative juices flowing.
If we wind back the clock a few years, the BF and I went to Canada and the Pacific North West in summer 2012 to avoid the Olympics. We would have had to travel through the Olympics to get to work, and after endless scare stories of how terrible the travel in London would be, how it would be filled with every tourist in the known world, and journey times would be doubled – making it a 2hr trip each way for work - we both decided to flee the capital and do tour of America and Canada instead. One of the BF's best friends left the flat he shared with the BF for Canada and set up home with a girlfriend and two wonderful boys, one of whom is the BF's godson. The friend is a software engineer who used to work for Nokia, and he told me how to set up my Liam Livings website, how to buy a URL and the whole shebang. Way back then I didn't have any of those things, only a Liam Livings gmail account!
While on holiday I wished I'd laminated a piece of paper with answers to the three questions we were asked by everyone when we told them we lived in London:
1. Yes, we've just left London and are missing the Olympics.
2. Why, because our journeys to work would have been a two hour nightmare, and we wanted to avoid that.
3. No, we're not that bothered about missing the Olympics, that's why we're on holiday in America / Canada, and in fact we'll probably not watch them on the TV while we're here.
We did a rail trip and road trip in a circuit including Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Lake Quinault, and a few nights in Astoria. When we confirmed we were going to Oregon I made sure our road trip part went through Astoria. I'd read a few things online about the pretty little city as it had been used to film parts of some of my favourite childhood films: Short Circuit, The Goonies, Free Willy among many more. I took plenty of pictures, wrote loads about our 4 nights in Astoria and we'd pretty much done all the tourist things – except I realised seeing the actual house used in The Goonies, which is on googlemaps, but I think 2012 was pre 3G internet on our phones, so we were limping along with only wifi way back then.
So when this submission call came in I quickly knew which city I'd choose, and with some internet research I topped up my physical knowledge of Astoria with more details. I really wanted to make Astoria feel like another character in the story, just like New York is in Sex And The City. Doing this research made me really want to return next time we visit the BF's friend and family. I wanted to create a friendly, everyone knows everyone, small town feel, like Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls. It's Brad's city and he wants to enjoy showing it to James.
What was your inspiration behind the characters of the story?
I wanted to make the story about two guys who are opposites, but who somehow, just work. I think I'm pretty different from the BF and I know lots of other gay couples who on paper don't make any sense, but when I see them together they perfectly fit together, like two adjacent pieces in a jig saw puzzle.
I had recently upgraded my laptop from Windows XP to Windows 7, and the research I'd done for this, combined with the BF's software engineer friend gave me an idea for James, the quiet, British software engineer. My dad was a software engineer and he really did prefer the company of computers to people, and I know quite a few other shy, and dazzlingly intelligent but unassuming men who work in that sort of industry. Of course James had to grow up in Hampshire, because, that's a place I know well. I began to imagine his little flat in a village in Hampshire, and how it would all be perfectly neat and tidy, hardly touched by human hands. And with a few more thoughts on his background, I scribbled it all down and I had James' biography, ready for the story. I wanted James to be a bit wide-eyed and like a fish out of water, away from his comfort zone of his flat in his village in his home country.
Brad, on the other hand, I wanted to be very much at home in is city, in his country, with lots of shared history with that area. Because of James' technical skills I knew Brad had to be much more creative, cheeky, fun-loving. Mum's recently got into quilting and she often shows me the new fabrics she's bought, and tries to explain how she'll sew it all together into a quilt. Most of it does go over my head, and to be honest I'd have a hard job sewing a button onto a shirt, -to my shame- but we won't dwell on that. I know and am friends with plenty of guys who are, in their words an unashamed slut, and to be honest, if your heart and head can handle it, and you're looking after yourself and playing safe, then why not?
Heat Wave Astoria by Liam Livings
Brad's shop is known as the most popular tourist attraction for certain men in his home town, Astoria. Brad doesn't do relationships - why would he? Brad is an unashamed slut, and he loves it.
British IT programmer, James is much happier working with software and computers than people. He finds escape in his encyclopaedic knowledge of childhood films like The Goonies & Short Circuit.
When James walks into a quilting shop in Astoria, he decides he'll take his brother's advice and talk to the stranger. That stranger is Brad, melting slowly behind the counter during the longest heat wave America's had in years.
Can a man who thinks in binary code and always plans things to the finest degree, cope with the twists and turns of emotions? Can someone who never thinks before he leaps allow himself to leap into the biggest unknown, a relationship? And how will they cope with James' impending return to England?
Can two men who never to meet learn to embrace the whole messy relationship that love brings into their lives?
About Liam Livings
Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.
He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.
You can connect with Liam