Building the Cafe — (A Wounded Promise)

March 4, 2015


Hello! Ashavan Doyon here, still talking about my newest release, A Wounded Promise.

I’ve mentioned that A Wounded Promise is a sequel, and I wanted to talk a little bit about the original story, and how I got to the new one. A Wounded Promise is book two of the Sam’s Café Romances. When I started emailing with Dreamspinner about the sequel, one of the things I had to do is name the series. They give that a fancy name, but really, it means boiling down the essence of the story.

The process drove me nuts. Ok, so I was already there… let’s just pretend for a moment that I’m not a crazy man obsessed with my characters, shall we? This is the sequel to a story titled The King’s Mate — based around a chess competition in a college town café. I’d already gone through agony deciding whether or not to carry through the chess theme in the title, and now I had to name the series? Ultimately I decided the central thing that brought the two lovers together wasn’t a chess match, but rather the café itself, and the significance of the café to both of them. I confess there’s a mercenary bent to this too. If readers are enjoying the café, this gives me room to please both those who want more of our lovers from the story, and those who might want other characters explored. Naming the series for the café gives me a little more freedom. Also, there were some folks who felt chess wasn’t as central to the story in The King’s Mate as they might have preferred, so I wanted to honor that and not have people feeling hoodwinked.

I’m very proud of The King’s Mate. Oh, I got some middling reviews. And I was new, so I did the unthinkable and I READ THOSE REVIEWS. After I was done gouging my eyes out with a spoon and crying for days, I found some better reviews, and some worse ones. And then I got the good advice from a friend: only read the reviews the publisher sends you — they only send you the good ones. And I try to do that (and fail, frequently). But I also got a review that made my heart soar, and that kept me writing. I still go back to that review now and then, when I’m feeling in the dumps. It was from GayList book reviews and said, in part: “This story felt new. Beautiful. All of the men in this story made me ache.”

In writing A Wounded Promise, I’ve tried to keep up to that standard, and I hope Russ still makes readers ache, in that beautiful yearning way that keeps us turning pages. I get criticized sometimes for my characters being angsty. I don’t apologize for that. I like angsty. I think the angst and struggle and desperate wanting is where the best parts of romance is. It’s that stuff, the heartache and despair and surety of pain that make the reward worth it in the end. When I see characters go through hell, whether emotional or physical or traumatic, and see them somehow still come together, it gives me hope.

This is a progression from The King’s Mate — where we see a sweet exploration and a bit of mystery and a hint of pain lingering in the background – to A Wounded Promise where we see that hint suddenly so brutally clear that there is no longer a choice. They have to face it. Because the promises they’ve made to love each other are wounded.

And we’ll talk more about that later. In the meantime, a question, because I still want those comments (and someone still has to win that copy of The King’s Mate!) I based both stories around a café – loosely based around a couple of similar places in the town where I grew up. Is there a similar sort of place where you go to get a coffee? Do homework? Write? What does café mean to you?

You haven’t bought A Wounded Promise? What are you waiting for!

What’s that? You can’t without buying The King’s Mate too! EXCELLENT (can I do that with a Mr. Burns style tenting of the hands?) Here’s the link for that, just in case!


7 Responses to “Building the Cafe — (A Wounded Promise)”

  1. Angela says:

    It’s different in the Netherlands (Europe) where i live. We don’t often go out for coffee or homework we do that mostly at home. I drink a lot of coffee it’s the first thing i need in the morning :) mostly i drink it when i’m visiting with friends or family or as i said in my own home.

    A Café in Dutch is what you call a bar it’s a place where although you can order coffee most people order a beer or some other alcoholic drink :) It’s a place to hang out with friends and enjoy yourself.

  2. H.B. says:

    I’m…ummmm..sort of a homebody. I don’t leave the house for much except to get the essentials, doctor visits, banking needs and work. i don’t drink coffee so there’s never been a need to go to a cafe.

  3. Angela: That is very different. We don’t really drink much coffee at home. My husband is a Dunkin’ Donuts man, so he usually gets it when he goes out in the morning, or makes it at his office. He’s rather grumpy until he’s had it, but I leave the house right as he’s getting up, so mostly I don’t have to deal with the grumpy part.

  4. H.B.: I don’t drink coffee either, but going to local cafes was a thing when I was in college, so I spent a lot of time reduced to drinking Italian sodas (that’s as close to a Coke as they got!)

  5. JJ says:

    Cafe sounds cozy and more intimate to me to get together with friends and family. I’m not a person to hang out for hours at a Starbucks holding down a table by myself to read or use my laptop, etc.

  6. JJ: I don’t usually hold a table to write unless I’m meeting other people to do that in a group.

  7. danielle says:

    Angela you live in the Netherlands? Me Too!!
    and yes we drink coffee at home :)

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