Guyliner: Inspiration All Around with j. leigh bailey + Giveaway

October 21, 2016

Inspiration All Around with j. leigh bailey

Hey, all! My name is j. leigh bailey and I’m really excited to be here today talking about my recent release GUYLINER, which came out on October 17. I’m an office drone by day, but when I’m not stuck behind my cubical, I write male/male Young Adult and New Adult Romance. There’s just something about helping my guys discover the world of acceptance, relationships, and romance that keeps me coming back to my computer.

Every author has that one book they wrote that means the most to them, or that holds a special place in their hearts. For me, GUYLINER is the one. Despite being the fifth book I’ve released, this was the first book I wrote. It was the first story that called to me so much I couldn’t put it away, no matter how much I struggled to put the thoughts and experiences of my characters into words.

I can’t even explain what it means to me to see this book out in the world. There are no words. Part of that is because of Taco Bell Guy.

Whenever someone asks me about where I find my inspiration, my answer is usually pretty random. You know, a word or a phrase, an idea, something like that. Rarely can I actually say that I was inspired by an individual. That’s not the case for GUYLINER.

For this book, I found my inspiration at Taco Bell.

I blame fate. Maybe blame is the wrong word. I credit fate.

As a single woman who spent a lot of time driving for work, and to and from work, and to and from different organizations’ meetings and events, I spent an embarrassing amount of time (and money) at fast food restaurants. One night I broke habit and actually went inside my local Taco Bell. A couple things are significant here: first, 99.9% of the time, I specifically chose restaurants that had drive-thrus. Second, it was raining the proverbial cats and dogs, so I had total incentive to stay in my car. But for some reason, I chose to eat inside.

My cashier was a young guy—probably fifteen or so. He had shaggy black hair that hung in his face, and he didn’t look up at me once during the ordering process. Normally I’d have been upset by this—I’ve worked enough customer service jobs that I tend to be a pretty harsh critic when people don’t at least try to appear friendly and open. But I’d noticed he had some pretty severe burn scars and skin grafts on his arm, from his wrist and up over his elbow. I figured he was probably shy, and maybe a little self-conscious, so I decided not to be too judgey.

When I’d paid and gotten my receipt, I said, “thank you.” It was then that he looked up. This kid, this shy, self-effacing kid was wearing thick black eyeliner that showed off bright blue eyes. The combination intrigued me. I’d seen guys in eyeliner before, but the ones I’d see rarely seemed so shy and withdrawn. Added to this dichotomy were the burn scars.

Man, my imagination went crazy. I wanted to know everything about this kid. I wanted to know how he’d gotten burned, why he wore eyeliner, what he was like when he wasn’t manning a register at a fast food restaurant, everything. I couldn’t ask him, though. Not only would it be awkward, but it was none of my business and I didn’t want to be completely rude or invasive. So I let my imagination tell the story.

I ended up spending a very uncomfortable hour sitting at a table in that Taco Bell with my brain creating a character and a plot, the story prompted by this kid. In my head, Graham (the eyeliner-wearing character in GUYLINER) was going to be a bit of a loner, a little bit moody.

Let’s just say that Graham evolved a lot from this first incarnation. But neither he, nor this book, would have been written if it hadn’t been for Taco Bell Guy.

To this day, I have no idea who this kid is, or his background, or where he is now. But I seriously owe him (and maybe fate) a huge hug for his role in bringing GUYLINER to life.


GIVEAWAY—I want to hear from you! Have you ever made a spontaneous decision and it ended up being the absolutely right choice? For me, it was skipping the drive-thru and going inside for a change, which led to meeting the perfect inspiration. Which, in turn, ultimately ignited my writing career. Does anyone have any similar stories? Tell me one, and a random winner will receive their choice of a book from my backlist (Do-Gooder or an anthology).


For more about me, my books, or upcoming appearances, check out my website ( or subscribe to my (very infrequent) newsletter. I can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+

Check out Guyliner today!

Guyliner by j. leigh bailey


Seventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.

As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.


 j. leigh bailey


j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.

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9 Responses to “Guyliner: Inspiration All Around with j. leigh bailey + Giveaway”

  1. Ami says:

    On my first job interview after I graduated, I was offered two options. One more fitting with my education, the other one was not but more challenging. I decided to take the 2nd option despite not having the “right” education for it. And ended up as the field of job I have been doing for the past 15 years and I have no regrets :)

  2. Rylee says:

    My spontaneous decision was way back in 6th grade. I was excelling in my math and language arts classes so my teachers brought me into a meeting to ask me if I wanted to take 7th classes instead of my 6th grade classes. I immediately said ‘NO!” I was shy and nervous and didn’t want to be with older kids. For awhile I regretted that decision, since my classes were too easy for me, but when I entered 7th grade…that’s when I saw him. Sitting in the back of my math class. My future husband. We never would have met if I took those advanced classes. I definitely don’t have any regrets now.

  3. Ami–That sounds a lot like how I decided which university to attend… the one everyone expected me to go to, and the one that I took a tour of on a whim… I picked the whim, and it changed the direction of my life, my friendships, etc. :)

  4. Rylee–
    I LOVE THAT STORY!!! Literally had an “aww…” smile when I read it. :)

  5. Debra Guyette says:

    I did do something on a whim and met my husband.

  6. Angela says:

    Congrats on the release of Guyliner i love the blurb and the story behind the book.
    A spontaneous decision i made was when i was about twelve and went to the library to look for books and asked the librarian if she needed some help and i volunteered. This decision gave me my love for books and reading :) I look back on some great memories made in the library.

  7. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    I worked at a telephone exchange and we were being made redundant soon, I happened to be walking down the main corridor and someone shouted do you have a minute I turned round and they said come this way and before I knew I was having an interview for a job in the same exchange doing office work at the end of the interview I was asked did I want the job and I said yes. Then I left the room in a kind of daze I now had a new job for more money and it was a great job which I loved. I always wonder what would of happened if I hadn’t turned round and had the interview.

  8. Angela–I never “officially” volunteered at my local library, but I could be seen many an hour putting books away for them, just ’cause. :) Recently, I had someone mention that my “how to” speech in middle school on the Dewey Decimal System was something they remember still, and even used occasionally. :)

  9. Shirley Ann–Nice! I love it when the unplanned becomes instrumental in things. Especially when the timing works out so well! :)

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