After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.
He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap. For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.
Author Name: E E Montgomery
Book Name: Just The Way You Are
Series: Just Life
Book: Four; Can be read as a standalone, but there are elements in the other stories that will add depth to this one
Release Date: April 17, 2015
Pages or Words: 70,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.
The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.
At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him. Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan… Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.
He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him. The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.
The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.
Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.
A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.
The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.
“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.
Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground. Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body. The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing E E Montgomery author of Just the Way You Are.
Hi EE, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
I’m very lazy. I also like to achieve things. It took me some time but I finally worked out that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. I just have to work out the easy way of doing things for the best results. Organisation is the key. When I focus, I’m completely focused, so I try to achieve as much as I can during that time, because as soon as I stop, I stop completely and become distracted by anything that floats by. I’m currently trying to bring a little more organization into my writing because I think it’ll speed the process, but I have to be careful not to organize myself out of the chase. I write because I have to find out what happens. If I plot too carefully, I know how the story is going to end and I lose interest in it.
Part of liking to achieve things goes hand-in-hand with my constant need to know. That means I keep going back to school. I have four degrees—two undergrad and two post-grad—and I have numerous certificates that qualify me for various things (business administration, picture framing, therapeutic massage, plus others). I also take on part time jobs (on top of my usual full-time job) that will teach me something different. I did that several years ago when I wanted to learn about the jewellery industry and how jewellery was made. I ended up staying in that job for seven years.
It might sound cold, but I’ve used the same system when dating. I’ve dated people to learn about golf, sprinting, wine, theatrical performance, tax laws, and costuming among other things. My current partnership began because I wanted to learn about ballroom dancing. This one has stuck.
Writing is another way of fulfilling my need to know. When I get an idea, I have to find out what happens.=
Just the Way You Are is the fourth book in the Just Life series. When I started the series, I had no idea I was writing more than a short story with an unhappy ending, but every time I got to know the characters, and met a few more, I wanted to know their stories too. This last book is Jonathan’s story.
Jonathan has lived with Anthony for ten years. Anthony is selfish, dishonest and abusive and Jonathan hasn’t been happy for a long time. He stays because he feels responsible for Anthony being in a wheelchair, and he can’t see any alternative. At the end of the third book, Just in Time, Anthony attempts to kill Jonathan and then himself. It takes that violence for Jonathan to understand he has to make a different choice with his life, or die. The opening scene of Just the Way You Are is of Jonathan, only just out of hospital, moving out of the house he shared with Anthony. This is his journey from downtrodden, frightened abuse victim, to the man he once thought he could be.
- How do you develop your plots and characters?
My plotting methodology varies according to the length of the story and the number of sub-plots to be woven into it. Short stories and novellas are usually written fairly quickly with one major plot and little layering. They aren’t plotted anywhere except in my head scene by scene. If I’m writing short, I generally only work on that one project until I finish.
Plotting for my novels varies, but incorporates one, two or three of the following:
- I have a notebook where I write down thoughts, background, character descriptions, goal/motivation/conflict for characters, various plot points, descriptions of setting and minor characters and wildlife. Most of the time, by the time the book is finished, edited and submitted, more than half of those descriptions bear no resemblance to the finished product. Sometimes I write scenes in the book and print chapter summaries and stick them in there. I draw maps of the setting and put them in there as well. Anything that helps me build the world.
- I use index cards to record a scene map, where every scene is summarized in one or two sentences and then slotted into the place in the plot in which it belongs. I spread the cards out under specific headings (beginning, middle, end) to make sure the plot flows and has the right balance of highs and lows to keep the pace moving and interest high. This is really good when I’m writing a book by the scene rather than chronologically, because I know I’m not going to leave any glaring gaps in the plot.
- I use Scrivener for particularly problematic plots because I can move scenes from one place to another easily without disrupting the rest of the document. The program is particularly useful for those books I haven’t plotted at all (just written because it’s there and has to get out) and have structural problems. I’m beginning to rely on the features of Scrivener more and more as it does something similar to my notebook and index cards and keeps an electronic copy of it all. I still like having the book/cards in front of me while I’m working because flipping between screens on the computer, or dividing the screen so I can see everything (and making everything too small for comfort) irritates the socks off me. If I had a 2m wide screen, I’d be happy but I don’t have the wall space for it in my office.
My characters also grow in a three-part process:
- I start writing with them, not knowing much about them at all. As I progress, I have to make decisions about appearance, job, background. I keep writing until I hit a wall, then…
- I write a character profile, sometimes more than one. I list physical characteristics, family background, education, work history. I interview the character using a set of standard questions. The character profile is changed and added to throughout the writing process. I keep versions of profiles in case I delete something then decide I want it back later. I keep versions with my writing too, for the same reason.
- I write a monologue, or scene with another person who might or might not be in the book, just to make sure I have the character’s voice.
- Who doesn’t love a good hero? Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real life inspiration behind them?
Jonathan grew out of the third book in the Just Life series. He was the man Anthony moved onto after he’d left Mark. Jonathan was very protected by his family and Anthony was the first person to treat Jonathan like an adult. He moved in with Anthony after their third date, and ended up stuck in a relationship that wasn’t healthy for him. His loyalty and guilt kept him there much longer than he should have stayed. Just the Way You Are follows Jonathan after he leaves Anthony and begins to build a new life for himself.
I have some experience with rebuilding my life after a long-term relationship. I know how difficult it can be to leave and how difficult it can be to stay out. It wasn’t difficult to show that with Jonathan. What was difficult was both recognizing and writing all the emotions that went with it. I hope I’ve done him justice.
- What real-life inspirations do you use when world building?
Settings: Anything and everything that works. Every world I operate in, even this current one, is different in every book. Some things are the same, eg oxygen to breathe, but a lot of things are different. The characters and the story dictate the kind of world I need to build, from an apartment in New Farm to a space ship in orbit around a planet. I look for the things I have in mind in places like Google maps or images, Flickr, Tumblr, all those *r places on line. If I can’t find something that will help me describe what I want, I describe the image in my head. I make it up.
Society: With contemporary stories, most things are the same. I just focus on one or two topical subjects and drop my people into an extreme situation (extreme for me, not necessarily others).
For SF, I generally choose from one to five things to make different to what most people would accept as normal. That’s usually enough difference for people to feel like it’s another world without it being so different they’re uncomfortable and don’t want to continue reading. At least one of those things will be taken to an extreme. Others will be subtle differences.
Characters and wildlife: The main characters have to be someone most readers would be able to identify with in some way. Other wildlife can be as weird and wonderful as I want it to be. In one book I’m editing at the moment, I have a lifeform that’s based on a smooth leafed cactus plant but it’s sentient and secretes very powerful digestive juices. (Cross The Day of the Triffids with a fly-catcher.)
- Did you learn anything from this book and what was it?
The most surprising thing I learned while writing Just the Way You Are was something I learned about myself. I was once in Jonathan’s situation—leaving a relationship and dealing with an ex who didn’t want the relationship to end. I’ve moved past it all now. I no longer feel the debilitating fear or total lack of ability to make simple decisions. The thing I learned is that I didn’t process the emotions I felt at that time. I was never even aware, at that time, of the myriad emotions I felt. Fear was there, always, but that was about it. The rest of the time I was an automaton, going through the motions because I knew I had to. I had to get through and out the other side. That’s all I focused on. While I was writing Jonathan’s journey, I became very aware of all the things I’d suppressed at the time. It was both a difficult and enlightening discovery.
- It’s your last meal on earth. What do you choose?
As I mentioned before, I’m very lazy. Most of my meals are cooked in one or two containers to minimize the cleaning up. If this is my last meal, someone else is going to cook it for me (someone who can really cook). It’ll be something totally different to what I’d normally cook for myself, like fresh Tasmanian salmon. I don’t cook fish because I don’t like the smell in the house and I try not to handle any animal flesh even though I’m no longer vegetarian. It’ll be fresh foods prepared in wonderfully imaginative ways with unusual flavor mixes. It’ll contain lots of vegetables and be organic because the last thing I’ll want on my last day is a migraine from additives.
And someone else will clean up afterwards.
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.
Where to find the author:
You can contact E E Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her web site: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and blog: http://www.eemontgomery.com/blog.
Tour Dates & Stops: April 20 – May 1, 2015
26-Oct Prism Book Alliance
2-Nov BFD Book Blog
9-Nov Emotion in Motion
16-Nov Inked Rainbow Reads
30-Nov Jessie G. Books