Available in ebook format at Amazon!
🌟 Please join me in welcoming author T.L. Bradford to Stories That Make You Smile! T.L. is here today celebrating the release of her wonderful new book, Just Like Heaven. She’s kindly brought along an excerpt, giveaway, and trailer, and is taking the time to sit down with us to discuss her writing process and inspiration for her fabulous story! 🌟
Just Like Heaven by T.L. Bradford
What do you covet?
Cover Art: Photo by Neospot, design by T.L. Bradford
Release Date: September 4, 2019
Length: Long Novel / 181k words / 479 pages
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, opposites attract, friends to lovers, coming out, PTSD, revenge
It is a standalone book.
Noah Sinclair is best described as an egotistical, pompous, anal retentive, asshat. And those are his better qualities. Lately, Noah has lost touch with his playboy character “Jace” on the show Americana and can’t quite put his finger on why. The studio decides it is time to shake up his character by making him an offer he can’t refuse, literally. They will introduce a new love interest for his character “Jace.” Only this time, there’s a twist.
Josh Hill is up a creek and sinking fast. He’s got no job, no money, no credit and is about to be kicked out of his apartment. Opportunity comes in the form of a job offer from the show Americana. Everything should be perfect; only there is one hitch. He will be the new love interest for Noah Sinclair’s character on the beloved show.
So, opposites are supposed to attract, right? Not so fast. No one said life was that easy. Both actors find themselves in untested waters. Will they be able to play a same-sex couple with no prior experience authentically? Well, they say practice makes perfect.
Carefree, fun-loving Josh and uptight, overbearing Noah, realize they need to make the best of their bad situation and are forced to find common ground. Over time, their roles in each other’s lives become blurred. Is their attraction fake, or is it real? To top it off, Noah has a dark skeleton in his closet that can prevent them from ever moving forward.
Can they get on the same page and save both of their careers and their relationship?
Or will they end up yesterday’s tabloid fodder?
☆ Author Interview ☆
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?
Thank you! Just Like Heaven is about two actors who find themselves in the unlikely situation of having to play a couple in a same sex storyline despite the fact they consider themselves “straight.” Their unexpected attraction for each other leads to them blurring the lines between their characters and their real-life friendship. They both struggle with determining the boundaries of their relationship. One of the characters has an issue from his past that ends up creating emotional turmoil for the pair.
The overall story deals with the issues of first-time coming out, self-acceptance, PTSD, and fidelity.
My favorite aspect of the story is the unspoken communication between the two main characters. They are able to perceive each other on a whole other level that goes beyond the physical and mental. I loved coming up with ways for them to connect that when beyond the conventional.
I don’t have a single favorite character so much as I have two characters I fell in love with writing the dialogue between. Though I had originally conceived the character of Chloe to be mostly emotional phone support for Josh, I found that I so enjoyed writing their banter, that I had to make her character a part of the regular crew.
What was the inspiration for your latest story?
I was on YouTube during pride month and they had a bunch of coming out videos popping up on the homepage. I clicked on a few and was swept away by the heartfelt stories I heard. I became addicted, watching a ton of these videos. In the sidebar was a video with a handsome actor who starred in a very popular European soap opera. An interviewer was asking him how he responded when he found out that the show had suddenly changed his straight character to gay. He was very honest in saying that it was a complete shock for him. After all, he had been on the show for almost two years and was set up to be the new heartthrob for all the ladies.
He said he had to do some major soul searching to find the place in him that could authentically portray the character. What sealed the deal was the amazing comradery he had with the actor who would be portraying his partner on the show. It turns out it worked better than anyone expected, and the characters went on to have a long stable relationship. Their appeal went international. Viewers from all over the world so loved these characters that they would take just their clips from the show and translate them into multiple languages.
They had succeeded in creating a couple that was not singled out for their sexuality. They were like any other heterosexual couple on the show, with the same problems and challenges. It brought a level of acceptance and understanding to an audience that may have never conceived same-sex couples as being just like them.
Though the actors are not a couple in real life, they have a very close friendship to this day. I ran with that idea and changed the circumstances to what would happen if they ever had actual feelings for each other.
Did your story turn out as you’d originally planned, or did it veer off in another direction?
No, it did not. I always knew what the overarching story structure would contain, however I left it open-ended, thinking I would come up with a better ending than what I had originally conceived. About 65% of the way through writing, I still had no definitive ending. My first pass at the ending was lacking, so I decided to figure out why it was not satisfying. When I determined what the issue was, I had to suck it up and fix it. It came down to a character that I had to change. I had to re-structure over half what I had already written. Once I did, the story flowed better, there was more drama, emotion, and a satisfying ending.
Choosing from among your own stories, who is your favorite character? Why?
I love all of my characters like children, but one stands out as great to write for, Sarita Chan. Sarita is brash, bawdy and outspoken. She is the opposite of me. She gives me an outlet to be this ballsy character I would never be.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Don’t ever listen to people who are not there to support your dreams. I mentioned to a good friend of mine years ago when I was very young that I wanted to be a writer. This friend told me I had very little chance of ever making a decent living at it and that it was a ridiculous idea.
Initially, I paid no attention and continued on my path to writing, but by the time I went to college and got my first taste of what living with no money was like, her voice started creeping back into my head. I was anxious about my ability as a writer and changed my major from Journalism to Business.
I was a financial analyst for 15 years and hated every day of it. To this day, I regret ever doubting myself because I wasted so much time before finally doing what I really loved, which was writing.
How do you select the names of your characters?
If I ever had children, I knew I wanted to have two boys. I wanted their names to be Noah and Joshua. I did get to use one of the names, Noah, for my dog, a Doggo Argentino. I’m saving the other name just in case I ever have a little boy. 😊
What were your goals for this book? Did you achieve them?
When I’ve read epic romance novels, they are always about a male/female couple. The characters are fully fleshed out and have adventures, complications, and situations that are spun into these beautiful time honored stories, like Doctor Zhivago.
It seemed to me that the level of depth in many same-sex stories is not as prevalent. Most tend to be solely focused on their sexuality. I wanted to tell a story that had the characters dealing with issues outside of their own relationship and how they deal with problems and arise from the natural course of being a regular couple.
I hope I achieved them. I wanted my characters to have lots of small intimate moments together. It was also important that they be allowed to have a full range of emotions and experiences that shape their characters. It takes longer to tell those types of stories, hence the length of the book. I think same-sex couples deserve timeless love stories as well as any other coupling.
Do you put together a playlist and/or soundtrack for your books (or for particular scenes from your books)?
Absolutely! I have entire scenes in my book that were based on songs I remember as a kid. For whatever reason, I had imagined these millennial characters being very attached to all things 1980s. They are obsessed with it; the music, the phrases, the clothes, etc.
I had almost the entire book written and had no title. I was starting to stress a little about it. One day, I randomly started streaming the Galore album by The Cure. I had not heard it in a long time and realized what an awesome and unique sound they had all over again. Then the song Just Like Heaven came on and I was done. The name came out and bit me like a snake. I stuck with the music theme and used titles from the album throughout the book. My book trailer uses 80s synth pop sounds as well.
Do you ever say dialogue passages aloud as you write them, or make the facial expressions or actions you’re describing?
What a great question! I have my characters exchange in quite a bit of witty banter. There is nothing I love more than a good snarky comeback. I have a couple of characters in my book that excel at this feat. Those passages are my favorite to re-read. I can hear the timing and delivery in my head and I sit back and smile every time, I swear.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be? Why?
Oddly enough my husband and I have had lengthy conversations about this very topic. We are both agreed that the single best superpower to have would be inter-dimensional teleportation, where we could cross time and space. Why you ask? Here is why. Unlike flying where it takes time to reach your destination, with teleportation you would be there in an instant. Time would be irrelevant you could be in the past, present or future. If a dinosaur tries to eat you, simply pop into the future. In a crashing plane? Teleport back to the ground. Problem solved.
Meet the Author
T.L. always hated math, so it was a good thing she had a way with words. Since she was a shy and quirky kid; words were her best friends. She would imagine entire worlds in her head and talk to herself endlessly. Her mother wondered if she was speaking with ghosts for a while.
Her older sister was a voracious reader of trashy romance novels and would pass them down to her after she had finished them. T.L. was the only 10-year-old kid sitting in class reading “The Stud” by Jackie Collins during reading time. Oddly enough, she never got called out on it.
As she grew older, her tastes evolved, but one thing held fast; her undying attachment to love stories. One day out of the blue, she decided to write the love stories she always wanted to read instead of searching for her story. Since then, writing has been a dream fulfilled for her and she could not be happier.
She enjoys writing about love, regardless of gender and is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community.
T.L. calls the Pacific Northwest her home and enjoys the quiet rural life of her little oceanside home with her playful/crazy husband and their giant dog Noah.