- Tibby Armstrong
- Release Date
- August 2018
- Book 4 of Hollywood
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ
If reality imitated art, most of actor Kit Harris's life would litter the cutting room floor…
After actor Kit Harris tells the world he's gay, life isn't all cupcakes and rainbow flags. It's decidedly less tasty and a lot less colorful. Coming out might not have been the best thing for a Hollywood career or a high-profile love life.
Try as he might, rising star Jeremy Ash can't seem to stir Kit's interest long enough to heal his bruised ego or fragile heart. Complicating matters, a celebrity chef enters with plans to cook up a new angle on Kit's career.
Jeremy's worried Kit's going off half baked or, worse, turning up the heat on a new relationship. Either way, Jeremy knows the situation is a recipe for disaster if he and Kit can't come up with the ingredients to love.
NOTE: Outtakes is a previously published work, and is not substantially different from the original edition.
BOOK INTERVIEW on September 2013
Interview by J9
Hi Tibby, welcome once again to The Romance Reviews! We're here to talk about beloved characters from your series!
Q: This book features an established couple, Jeremy and Kit from Acting Out, a previous book in the series. What is it about that dynamic that captures your attention enough to continue their story?
Well-drawn characters are dynamic. They change in response to circumstance. I knew when I finished writing Acting Out that the fame-train was going to barrel through both Kit and Jeremy's lives, for good and for bad. Like readers, I was curious about the aftermath and what these guys and their relationship would look like after the collision.
Q: Sounds fascinating. Please tell us about Kit Harris and Jeremy Ash. How are they as persons, actors, friends?
In OUTTAKES, Kit and Jeremy swap places, so to speak, in the vulnerability department. Kit experiences self-doubt for the first time in his up-until-now successful life. Jeremy, who has always been confident about his sexuality, now incorporates that confidence into his job as an actor.
As actors, they are very much naturals, without forethought or invention. They drop into the characters they play and become them for the moment. While Kit grumbles about the business when he's not in front of the camera, he loves having the attention focused on him that he never received from his family. Jeremy, as well, receives the affirmation and security from acting—as well as the escape from real life—that he never got growing up. The profession is his lifeline to emotional and financial security.
As friends, Kit and Jeremy are fairly young in spirit. They play together like kids, enjoying a second childhood. They roughhouse, joke, and play video games. Kit cooks for Jeremy, nourishing him in ways neither of them experienced growing up. They have an unstated, and not-entirely consciously recognized bond, formed of common experience. Their histories are what drew them together, and what will keep them together as the years pass.
Q: How did Kit's coming out affect their relationship?
At first Kit's coming out made the relationship stronger. Jeremy's trust in Kit's love grew as a result of the gesture, and Kit experienced a surge in his sense of control over his own destiny. When things didn't work out professionally, and Jeremy's star rose as Kit's continued to wane, Kit blamed his coming out and the relationship suffered as a result of Kit's growing resentment and self-doubt.
Q: Kit's love of baking is a large part of this book. Where did you get the inspiration for his emotional baking?
The inspiration came from Acting Out actually. When I wrote the scene where Jeremy shows up unexpectedly at Kit's condo and Kit had powder on his mouth, originally the powder was going to be coke. When I tried to type this, Kit recoiled and emphatically said, "Dude! I do not do drugs!" For some reason Jeremy tasted the powder, and I realized it was confectioner's sugar.
Yeah. It's true. He really surprised me with that one! When I finished the scene, I realized he'd been baking as stress relief—as a way to create a home and cocoon for himself. He lost himself in the simple predictability of baking. So, when I asked myself what Kit would do if he couldn't act, I realized the answer was simple. He'd bake!
Q: How difficult was it to have these beloved characters develop deep challenges in their relationship?
The challenges were already there. I just had to exploit them to tell the story. I knew Kit needed a mentor. I didn't realize, however, that the mentor would turn out to be one of the challenges Kit faces! I usually outline my books before I write, but this was one of those left turns that sometimes happen, and I had to adjust the outline around it.
As for difficulties, there weren't any really. Not for me. This book told itself for the most part, as did Acting Out. One of the reasons I love the Hollywood series so much is that the story is very organic for me. The characters are so real to me that they guide the words. I'm just a scribe.
I always know there's going to be a happy ending, so I don't fret. I shake my head at their antics sometimes, but I know it'll all work out in the end even when I wonder how.
Q: Without spoiling too much, what is your favorite scene in this book?
My favorite scene in the book is also one of the more romantic. It occurs about halfway through, when things are the most upside down for Jeremy and Kit. They are forced to get along on a film set, cast in an indie production of Greg Falkner. The sex scene hasn't been going well, until Greg tells them to pull out all the stops. Here's a snippet:
When you look at me like that, I feel like a god, Kit wanted to say. It's been so long since you looked at me like that.
Instead he held his tongue. Closed his eyes and summoned his power. When "Action" was called, Kit knew what to do. How to tilt his head so the camera caught his expression and artifice became art. He was no longer just another purposeless pretty face. He became part of something larger than himself. He existed. The only other times he remembered feeling so grounded, so real and worthwhile, were in Jeremy's arms and elbows-deep in pastry dough.
His lover stood across from him, swathed in light and shadow, head thrown back, his corded limbs and deep chest a living canvas. Under orders to make love to Jeremy, Kit approached him now without the guilt he'd worn like a second skin for the past month. Acting didn't require thought, only total immersion in the moment. No past. No future. Just now. Kit inhaled deep and felt his universe expand to the infinite and the finite. Just the essentials. Just Jeremy.
Jeremy met Kit halfway, his hand already grasping for Kit's. Molding against heated flesh. The pulse in Jeremy's neck jumped in time to the thudding rhythm of his heart. Steady and sure. Just like the man.
"How is this unnatural?" The hush on set covered them both, magnifying Jeremy's hoarse whisper.
Lights created a bright white target on the fullest point of Jeremy's bottom lip. Kit dipped toward that soft landing spot. Sliding one palm from the sway just above Jeremy's naked ass to his nape, Kit moved in close. Closer. Jeremy's eyes remained open and searching. On a sigh, Kit joined their lips and made a tentative foray with his tongue. He drank from the cup of sensual delight and forbidden pleasure as if for the first time.
Disbelief suspended, and time spun backward, carrying Kit to that place where fantasy and reality melded. Until he believed this was his first time with this, his first man. Bathed in newness and wonder, he breathed in Jeremy's essence—the underlying taste of innocence like autumn rain and freshly grated nutmeg. Warmth turned to heat, heat to passion, until blood thrummed in his ears, hammered at the door of his heart, and sent him crashing into his lover with hungry desperation. Fingers grasped. Teeth scraped. Tongues thrust. Somehow he and Jeremy stuck to the choreography. Greg never called cut, just let it all play out.
The character Kit portrayed, so unsure of his sexuality in the boardroom, discovered himself in the bedroom. Here he became more than a cardboard cutout. More than a man working for a paycheck and a respectable place in society. He discovered the core of his connection with humanity in the loving arms of another man. From there, he found he could soar. Pleasure given became pleasure received. Jeremy slid down Kit's length and undid his zipper to bare his cock. Cameras moved around them, capturing every angle, becoming part of the intimate dance.
Fingers laced in Jeremy's curls, Kit tugged just hard enough to give his lover pleasure. To make him feel anchored and owned. Just the way he liked it. Hands skimming the inside of Kit's calves, Jeremy worked his way lower on Kit's cock. Pressing the flat of his tongue to Kit's shaft and sucking him down, Jeremy strummed Kit's body like an instrument he'd been born to play.
"God. Jesus." Kit forgot himself and uttered lines never intended for the script, but in character nonetheless.
Fearing he'd spill, that they'd already gone way past decent and into the land of the dreaded skin flick, Kit tugged harder on Jeremy's hair. Compelled him to his feet. Jeremy stood and licked his lips. Dipped for a kiss that tasted of musk and salt, sweat and the tang of sex.
Q: Whew! *fans self* Romantic, yet hot. I really don't know how you do it. *shakes head* What scene was most difficult to write, either because of its emotional intensity or level of technical difficulty?
The resolution chapters at the end of the book were the most difficult. There were a lot of feelings and unresolved tension to break open and tie up. It was tough getting these guys to open up to one another and trust one another with some pretty deep stuff. At some point Greg said, "Get the hell out of the way. If you can't do this, I can." He appeared on the page to figuratively knock Kit and Jeremy's heads together, and it was much easier (though not easy!) after he showed up.
Q: The capricious glamour of the Hollywood setting is so well done it's nearly a third character. Did you do research, imagination or a bit of both to write this great setting? Please share some interesting tidbits from your research or experience.
I've always been interested in the entertainment industry. My friends tease me because entertainment news seems to sink into my brain by osmosis. I absorb things from tabloids and magazines just by walking down supermarket checkout aisles. Because I've studied this industry all my life, and even been on the acting end (I had a New York actor's agent at age 19), I can't tell you exactly where I got my insights from.
I did far more research on film and film school, though most of that doesn't make it into the books.
Probably what makes it into the books the most is the information I've heard from friends in the industry who have told me how difficult it is for an out actor to find work. This bit of information got me thinking about how to frame Kit's story for OUTTAKES in particular.
Q: Please share future plans for this series. Can you give us a sneak peek?
I intend to write another story about Kit and Jeremy, and am working on a very sexy novella currently about Greg and Aaron's intimate games. Readers asked to see behind-the-scenes of their D/s counting game, and that inspired the idea for Numbers Game. Each chapter (one through ten) is devoted to a different sexual predicament Greg finds himself in with Aaron. It also covers the time of the script writing (pre-production), filming (production), and editing (post-production) of Kit and Jeremy's manga/anime project. The manga/anime project timeline will also be covered from Kit and Jeremy's point of view in their next novella, as yet untitled.
I wrote the first 500 words of Numbers Game today, in fact. While there isn't anything sexy as yet in the scene, I can confide in you (provided you don't tell him) that Greg is about to be in for the surprise of his life.
Incidentally? Though this is the first two pages of the first chapter, the title of the chapter is "Four." For those of you who've read Acting Out closely, you will know what that means, and what Greg is in for!
Here's the snippet:
"Y'all are late."
Greg snapped his head around. The red digits on the microwave clock read 6:41. "Shit."
Swallowing adrenaline, he gripped his fountain pen a little harder and waited for Aaron's number.
"How's the screenplay coming?" Aaron settled his hip on the edge of the kitchen table and twisted to look at Greg's notebook. His tanned hand covered a portion of one white page.
Apparently no number was forthcoming.
Greg scowled at Aaron's hand. "You're going to smear the ink."
"Sorry." Aaron took his hand away. "Ready for dinner?"
"Yeah." Greg settled the black leather cover over the pages he'd been laboring to get right for the past two days.
"Car's still running, let's go." Aaron stood and Greg followed.
"Didn't we miss our reservation?" He studied Aaron warily for signs of anger or disappointment.
"When you didn't show, I changed the reservation time." Aaron opened the coat closet and grabbed a jacket on his way to the front door.
Greg glanced at the clock again. He had kept Aaron waiting for over forty minutes, and it wasn't like Aaron didn't know it. He inhaled, gathering breath to ask Aaron if he were forgetting something, then swallowed down his question. No sense waking the dragon. If Aaron had meant to give him a penalty, he would have.
"Greg?" Aaron arched one blond eyebrow. Though he would never be rude enough to actually say it, his tone asked, "This century please?"
Shaking off tendrils of confusion, Greg left the house as Aaron set the alarm and locked up.
Outside, the sun had just disappeared, its last red streaks across the Pacific melting to moonlit whitecaps along the visible slice of beach separating Aaron and Greg's house from the one next door.
Writer's brain clouded Greg's head, making everything unnaturally distant, as if he glimpsed the world from behind a veil. Even the scuff of his footsteps along the paved walk to Aaron's Audi seemed muffled. He had just enough contact with the terrestrial plane to note the top was down.
"I need my coat," he said, turning to go back inside.
Aaron chuckled. "It's in your hand, Greg. I gave it to you in the hall."
Greg looked down and noted the weight of the heavy leather draped from his fingertips. "Oh."
He bet Aaron had tried to call him on his phone too, and he hadn't noticed that either. In the zone, totally and completely, he wouldn't have registered anything less than a 7 point earthquake or the steady buzz of the kitchen timer…which Aaron had asked him to set.
Wincing internally, he opened the car door. It had been so long since he'd gotten this lost in a story, and he hadn't intended to make Aaron wait.
Q: Thanks for the peek! What's up next for you?
On October 22, 2013, I have a novel, titled Public Relations, coming out from Loose Id. Until then, I'll be working on Numbers Game and perhaps getting to work on a paranormal GLBT romance I've had on the back burner for a year or so.
The Public Relations blurb is below. I hope you enjoy it, and thank you so much for having me!
Public relations, private complications--it's all about to hit the front page.
Billionaire playboy Peter Wells pays for sex. His girlfriend-for-hire arrangements are tidy, simple, and not apt to land him with a palimony suit. When an anonymous gossip columnist reveals his predilections for escorts and control, Peter vows revenge.
Georgia Whitcomb is a lot of things--incognito journalist, aristocrat, and best friend to a sleep-deprived and slightly neurotic editor--but she isn't really girlfriend material. She's old money pretending to be no money, and has her independence to maintain.
When the paper won't name its source, Peter buys the business and dubs Georgia his personal assistant. Georgia is mortified to learn exactly what type of person Peter is--generous, compassionate, demanding. Peter is unprepared for the deep passion and commitment Georgia inspires from him.
As Peter's past comes to light, the walls around Georgia's heart erode and her lies begin to unravel. In the end, there seems to be no way to reveal her true self without destroying their fragile romance. With Peter's investigation peeling back the layers of her deception, only one thing is certain: the fallout from falling in love will be front page news.
Thank you for being here and giving us all these insights into Jeremy and Kit! It's a pleasure to have you with us!
Tibby Armstrong's reading tastes extend from biography to romance and science fiction/fantasy, but in her world no story is quite right without a love interest. In fact, her favorite books always feature edgy alpha heroes and the women or men who drive him to distraction.
Tibby holds a B.A. in English from The University of Connecticut and recently completed her Masters of Library Science. When not writing, she works toward defying librarian stereotypes; yet, she lives with four cats, two computers, and enough books to collapse a poorly engineered house.
She enjoys hearing from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also interact with her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter as Tibby Armstrong, or visit her web site at tibbyarmstrong.com.
Tibby is giving away 1 book giveaway of Acting Out (winner's choice of digital or print)! Thanks, Tibby!
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