Winter Oranges is one of my top reads for 2015. I contacted Marie Sexton and she agreed to answer some questions. Also keep reading for an excerpt from her upcoming novel Trailer Trash coming soon from Riptide Publishing.
Jason Walker is a child star turned teen heartthrob turned reluctant B-movie regular who’s sick of his failing career. So he gives up Hollywood for northern Idaho, far away from the press, the drama of LA, and the best friend he’s secretly been in love with for years.
There’s only one problem with his new life: a strange young man only he can see is haunting his guesthouse. Except Benjamin Ward isn’t a ghost. He’s a man caught out of time, trapped since the Civil War in a magical prison where he can only watch the lives of those around him. He’s also sweet, funny, and cute as hell, with an affinity for cheesy ’80s TV shows. And he’s thrilled to finally have someone to talk to.
But Jason quickly discovers that spending all his time with a man nobody else can see or hear isn’t without its problems—especially when the tabloids find him again and make him front-page news. The local sheriff thinks he’s on drugs, and his best friend thinks he’s crazy. But Jason knows he hasn’t lost his mind. Too bad he can’t say the same thing about his heart.
Twenty percent of the proceeds from this title will be donated to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center.
Founded in 1996, the GLBT National Help Center is a non-profit organization that provides vital peer-support, community connections and resource information to people with questions regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Utilizing a diverse group of GLBT volunteers, they operate two national hotlines, the GLBT National Hotline and the GLBT National Youth Talkline, as well as private, volunteer one-to-one online chat, that help both youth and adults with coming-out issues, safer-sex information, school bullying, family concerns, relationship problems and a lot more.
Winter Oranges is so magical, like a fairytale for adults. How in the world, did the idea for this story come to you?
I can’t take the credit, actually. I’d promised a holiday story to Riptide, but I wasn’t really sure what to write, so I asked for suggestions on Twitter. One person (@JenW2468) said she’d always wanted to read about somebody trapped in a snow globe. It seemed a bit crazy, but the more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea.
What is your favorite book from childhood?
I’d have to say The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald. I loved the entire series, and I think that’s where I developed my affinity for (possibly untrustworthy) first-person narrators.
Which authors have been the biggest influence on your writing?
Probably Lynn Flewelling, because it was her Nightrunner series that led me to gay romance, and it was reading gay romance that made me suddenly want to write.
If you could travel anywhere in the world (money was no object) describe the trip you would take.
Oh, man. That’s hard. I’d have to do tons of research, but the trip would definitely include:
A week or two in the Alsace region of France
Some time in Spain, drinking sangria
A stay at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi
Ending up at some lovely resort in Jamaica
If you had a time machine, would you go back in time or visit the future?
I’d go back in time and find out whether or not Lizzy Borden was guilty.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Paperbacks, all the way. I’ve just never adapted to ebooks. I own two Kindles, but I hardly ever use them. (My husband and daughter do, though.)
What book/s are you reading at present?
Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman
What projects are you working on for 2016?
Next up is Trailer Trash. I originally started this book way back in 2011, but I knew it was going to get super angsty, and I just wasn’t ready to go there. I’ve always known I’d end up finishing it eventually, though, so last November, I decided to tackle it as my unofficial NaNo project. I didn’t think it would take much to finish. Well, I wrote 50k on it in November, but that wasn’t enough. The book ended up being far more complicated than I anticipated, and it might be the angstiest thing I’ve ever written. The good news is, it’s done now, and I’m really excited about it.
Trailer Trash is a new adult novel about two high school seniors set in 1986 in small-town Wyoming. It’s available for pre-order now.
And for those who’d like a little less angst, I have Damned If You Do coming from Samhain in June. It’s a fun little romantic comedy about a slacker devil trying to claim the soul of a very devout young musician at a tent revival.
Pie– My late grandma’s homemade lemon meringue. Barring that, probably pumpkin.
Indoor activity– Eating
Purse– At the moment, this one! I made it a couple of weeks ago. (Sorry the picture is blurry!)
Genre to read– Right now, historical mysteries. I also read a lot of thrillers and horror.
Genre to write– Romance, of course. LOL. But I especially love the friends-to-lovers trope.
I’ll share a bit from Trailer Trash, but with the disclaimer that this is an unedited excerpt (the book is still in edits, because it took me AGES to finish).
Nate had told Cody he’d meet him after lunch, but he ended up going to the field right after he got out of bed. It was a bit after eleven when he arrived, and Cody was already there, a half-empty pack of cigarettes in his hand.
“Wind’s still blowing,” Nate said as he sat down.
“Welcome to Wyoming.”
He didn’t even glance Nate’s way. A brand new day, and somehow Nate knew he was starting fresh with Cody. Whatever camaraderie they’d shared the day before had been wiped away in the night.
“I hear it’s really nice up in the northern part of the state,” he said, in an attempt to make conversation.
Cody sighed and tapped a cigarette into his hand. “I hear that too. I wouldn’t know.” He tucked the rest of the pack into the upper pocket of his jean jacket and pulled out a lighter. Nate waited while he turned away, cupping his hand against the wind to get it lit.
“How long have you lived here?”
Cody blew smoke, his other hand clenching around his lighter. “My whole fucking life.”
“Well, you graduate this year, right? Then you can leave. Maybe go to college—“
“Ha!” Cody shook his head, leaning forward to put his elbows on his knees. “Yeah, right. College.”
Nate wasn’t sure what that meant. Maybe his grades weren’t good enough, or—
“There’s no leaving this town. Didn’t I tell you it’s the black hole of modern civilization? I meant it, man. There’s no escape. You’re born here, you knock up some chick, then you die here. That’s how it goes.”
“Uh…” Nate had no idea how to tackle that happy thought. “You’re planning on knocking somebody up?”
Cody laughed without much humor and contemplated the smoldering cigarette between his fingers. “Pretty sure nobody actually plans that. Don’t change anything, though. Gotta have money to leave, and by the time you’ve got it, it’s too late.”
“I don’t care what you say. I’m leaving, as soon as I can. Packing up my car the night before graduation and leaving five minutes after they put that diploma in my hand.”
“And going where?”
“Home, I guess, for the summer at least. Then I’m moving to Chicago.” Cody frowned at him, and Nate hurried to elaborate. “My aunt lives there. She’s a real estate agent, and she owns a bunch of houses and apartments. She has one she said I could use while I go to school.”
Cody ground out the last of his cigarette against the side of the wagon and tossed the butt angrily into the wind. “Lucky you.”
Nate studied him for a moment, taking in the holes in the knees of his jeans, and the way they ended a bit short of his ankles. The arms of his denim jacket left his bony wrists exposed. His tennis shoes had holes in both toes.
A small knot of shame formed in Nate’s stomach as he finally realized it wasn’t grades standing between Cody and college. He thought about Warren — windblown streets lined with lifeless, dusty buildings. No flowers. No joy. No jobs. Even the houses seemed to droop in defeat. The people he’d seen didn’t look much better. Dead-eyed women not much older than him dragging their screaming kids through the grocery store. The line of rusty pickup trucks parked outside the shitty, seedy bar on the far side of town, no matter what time of day it was.
Maybe Cody was right. Maybe there was no escape.
Nate cleared my throat, trying to think of something that hinted at hope. “My mom always says, ‘Despair is anger with no place to go.’”
Cody chuckled and put his head down. He ran his hands through his straight black hair. “I guess that makes me Despair, then.”
“My mom also says, ‘When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.’”
“Oh yeah? Well, my mom says, ‘If the world didn’t suck, we’d fall off.’”
Nate laughed. He wasn’t sure if Cody had intended it as a joke or not, but either way, Nate couldn’t help it. Cody looked over at him in surprise. “Well,” Nate said, still laughing a bit, “at least I know where you get your cheery disposition.”
Cody blinked at him once as he tried to decide how to take that comment, but then he gave Nate a grudging smile. “And I guess I know where you get yours.”
“Yeah.” Now it was Nate’s turn to duck his head in hopes of hiding his expression. It was true his mother had always been happy and upbeat. Right up until May, when she’d walked into Nate’s bedroom and casually told him she was leaving his dad.
“Your mom sounds like some kind of brainiac or something.”
“She’s an English teacher.”
“Will she be teaching at the high school?”
“No.” Nate couldn’t look at him. He twisted the class ring on his finger, watching the way the sun glinted off the light blue stone. “She didn’t move here with us. She’s still back in Austin.”
Cody didn’t respond right away, and when Nate finally glanced up, he found Cody looking at him with more compassion then he’d seen from him before. “That sucks.”
“You have no idea.” As soon as Nate said the words, he realized maybe he shouldn’t have. He didn’t know anything about Cody’s family situation. It was possible Cody knew exactly how Nate felt. He wondered if he should apologize, but Cody didn’t seem bothered.
“When I was a kid, it seemed like I was the only one whose parents were split.” Cody looked toward the distant motion of the highway again, as if it held some kind of answer. “People were always asking me why my last name was different from my mom’s. Used to piss me off. But the older I get, the more it seems like the norm, you know? I don’t know if there really are more divorces now, or if it’s just because I’m more aware of it.”
Nate had always been vaguely aware of the idea of divorce, but somehow he’d always assumed it only happened to kids with fucked up home lives. Somehow, he’d assumed the “broken home” came first, and the divorce second. He hadn’t quite realized that the divorce was often what made it “broken.”
“I guess I thought it couldn’t happen to me,” he said.
He hated it. Hated his life and his parents and the fact that he was now on of those kids. He hated coming home to a house where his mother’s music wasn’t playing. He hated having to do his own laundry and the fact that there was never a pot of soup on the stove or a batch of cookies in the oven, and the fact that he never, ever woke up to pancakes and bacon for breakfast. He hated knowing he’d taken those things for granted for so many years. And more than anything, he fucking hated Wyoming.
“Hey,” Cody said, and when Nate looked over at him, Cody smiled. “When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.”
Nate tried to smile back, but failed. “I only see the dark.”
“Me too.” Cody nudged Nate’s knee with his own, and this time, Nate did manage to smile a little. “Guess it gives us a reason to keep looking up.”
About the Author
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along.
Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
Connect with Marie:
MORE BOOKS FROM THIS AUTHOR