🌟 Please join me in welcoming author Mel Gough to Stories That Make You Smile! Mel is here today celebrating the rerelease of her fantastic novel, A World Apart. Mel kindly sat down to answer questions about her writing process, AND brought along Ben from A World Apart to answer a barrage of questions, too! 🌟
A World Apart by Mel Gough
Nothing matters but helping Donnie fight his demons. Can they carve a new life together out of the ashes?
Series: Loving Again (book #1)
Cover Artist: Black Jazz Design
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Length: Novel / 51,000 words / 197 pages
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
The first book in a series of three, but can be read as standalone.
Ben’s life appears perfect. He has a career to shine in and a beautiful family. But his marriage has broken down, and being a small-town cop is turning into a dead-end job. Hot-headed troublemaker Donnie is used to being side-eyed by the fuzz. Getting dragged into the station for a crime he didn’t commit is no big surprise – but a cop who gives a damn sure is. Ben has no clue how much a second encounter with the secretive redneck will shake up his life. Donnie’s sullen vulnerability arouses a passion Ben hasn’t felt for a long time. Soon, nothing matters but helping Donnie fight his demons. Can they carve a new life together out of the ashes?
☆ Interview with Ben from A World Apart ☆
What is your name? Do you have a nickname? If so, who calls you by it, and how did you get it?
My name is Ben Griers. I’m not aware that I have a nickname but I imagine that the bad guys and gals I’ve helped lock up sometimes call me pretty awful things.
What is your greatest fear?
That nobody needs me anymore. I like knowing that there’s someone who’s glad when I’m there for them and who hopes I’m on my way home to keep them company when they’re not feeling good.
What character trait do you most dislike in yourself?
I can be really dense about my feelings sometimes. I find it hard to admit that I have emotional needs, and that they aren’t being met. It’s hard enough to admit that I need my physical needs met, but with emotions I’m totally useless.
What character trait do you most dislike in others?
I detest people who intimidate and bully those that are weaker or smaller. I hate when people just take and take and don’t give anything back.
What is your greatest strength?
I’m loyal. I’ll be with the ones I love through thick and thin and I’ll love them even more in their weak moments. That’s when they need me, and I know that I’m good at it.
How would you describe yourself?
I guess I’d say I’m a nice guy. Happy, most of the time. But I’ve had some stuff going on in the past, and it took me a while to get over it. In the end, I think, it’s made me appreciate life more. I try any take pleasure in the little things, in my work, and in spending time with Donnie. I think he’s made me a better person. When I’m with him, I’m so impressed with how he manages a pretty shitty life really well.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Country, mostly. Donnie can’t stand it. [laughs] Especially when I put Garth Brooks on. I love his music, man.
Are you a leader or a follower?
I guess you could say I’m a leader. I like working with a team, but I enjoy being in charge. I’ve always been ambitious about my career as a a police officer. Maybe I’ll decide to do my detective exam soon.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
An optimist, definitely. You gotta be, in my job. You have to hope you catch the bad guys or you might as well give up. I think it’s helped me deal with the shit Donnie and I had happen recently.
What do you look for in a potential lover?
I want someone who has a passion, something they care about. I want to be able to talk to them about all kinds of things. I don’t mean book-smart, but interested, you know? And I admire people who work their way out from a bad situation and don’t become bitter or mean. Donnie’s like that. His life’s been so shit, but he’s the sweetest, gentlest guy. I admire that a lot.
☆ Interview with Mel Gough ☆
Welcome, and thank you for stopping by! Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.
I’ve been writing for near on five years now, if I count the first year in which I wrote exclusively fanfiction. The urge to write original stories came quickly, so I did everything I could to get a book published. A World Apart was accepted by an LGBT publisher in the US and came out in 2017. Ultimately the fit wasn’t great and I got my rights back. I’ve now fully embraced self-publishing and am quite excited that I’m able to bring this series out and share Ben and Donnie’s story with everyone. My writing goals beyond the series are to continue with the self-pub, but also to keep an open mind about traditional publishing. I’ve got one novel I’m currently shopping around to agents, so you never know!
Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?
The story is very dear to me because AWA was my first ever novel. It started as fanfiction and has seen a truly astonishing transformation as I worked with editors to make it better. I love my two guys. Donnie is such a sweet guy to write, with so much love in his heart, but I think Ben is my favourite because he’s caring and conscientious and a really, really good guy. But they’re flawed, and it’s those flaws that make them so relatable and their story worth telling.
Are you a planner or a pantser? How much do you know about your story before you start writing? How often does your plan change? Why does this work best for you?
I’ve had quite the transformation from pantsing to planning. This series was a total pantsing exercise since I wrote one chapter at a time that I then published to the fanfic archive AO3. Back then, I just didn’t know any better. It worked well enough, but if I were to write this story today it’d be quite different. I plot meticulously now, also because my stories have become more complex. I don’t write much straight-up romance anymore. There’s always something else going on – either it’s historical fiction, or there’s a murder mystery. I’m currently writing a mystery and have a dystopia planned next, and I couldn’t really write those without a clear roadmap. Otherwise I’d end up writing myself into a corner, and nothing is harder than reversing out of those! I never find that it hinders my creativity though. Just because I know certain milestones of the story there’s still so much to discover when writing: backstory, motivation, characters I had no idea were lurking. It’s like planning an exciting vacation: You get your vaccinations and your passport, and you book your hotels along the way and write down all the sights you want to see. But you still have surprises every day. You meet the people and you make changes as and when you arrive at each place because you never know everything there is to know from TripAdvisor and Google!
What are your favorite genres when it comes to your own pleasure reading? Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?
Like a lot of people, I go through phases. Some constants are mystery and dystopia, and new books of authors I already love (like Stephen King, Josh Lanyon, Val McDermid; if they bring out a new book I usually buy it). Right now I’m quite deep into true crime and it’s actually helpful to read that while I’m working on my mystery novel. It’s not even inspiration or facts, exactly, though sometimes it helps reading about what law enforcement people are like. But it’s useful to surround myself with the atmosphere. I can feel my detective brain switch on and it makes my story better and the mystery more elaborate.
I like ebooks because they’re easier to consume, cheaper and good for the environment. But I still have a lot of print books and sometimes that’s useful, like when I need to read for research. I can scribble all over them and don’t have to write out everything on a separate piece of paper.
What is the best money you ever spent as an author?
Everything to do with my Mac AirBook. I love writing on it, I don’t even know why. The screen is kind of small and it was expensive. But it’s so quiet and so fast, and I can lug it around with me without getting a back ache. And there’s Vellum, which is simply the best book formatting software out there for self-publishing, so I find it indispensable.
Does your research lead to bizarre internet searches? If so, tell us about some of your wackier searches, or ones that would make you nervous if your computer were ever confiscated by law enforcement.
All the time! I’m currently researching the FBI which makes me nervous. And there’s a lot about sex positions in my search history. I follow some gay porn stars on social media which can be instructive, pleasurable and distracting all at once! I also research a lot of medical topics because I love hurting my characters (I always make them better by the end though). So it’s a real hodge-podge on my browser. I had to read about aversion therapy for my last book, that wasn’t so nice.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Selecting the names is my favourite bit! I don’t like people giving me a lot of feedback on the names and I usually ignore comments because it’s so subjective. I only renamed a character once because several people got confused.
The names come to me in a very unscientific way, often in the shower or while walking. Sometimes they’re meaningful and I’ll adjust a character to fit the name (like, when it’s a typical name for a particular group then the character will have that group in his back story – my current example would be Irish American). I love names that can be used as both first and last names. In book 3 of the Ben and Donnie series there’s a character called Parker, and in another book I had someone’s last name be Thomas. It’s so much fun thinking up names!
What were your goals for this book? Did you achieve them?
My goal was to get Ben and Donnie’s entire story out there, and I’m finally close. It’s a story like I’ll never write again (because of how the idea started and how it was created) so just making sure I did well by it and gave it a platform I feel like I’ve reached my goal. It’s not the same goal as I have for other books, but yes, this one’s a success!
Meet the Author
Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.
If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.
Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.
In her day job, Mel works as PA and office manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.