Since my Solitude co-writer, Tia Fielding, has another book out soon, I feel now is a good time to revisit this one!
I’ve known Tia for a long time, since our shared beginnings in fan fiction. That probably makes it over six years, though as far as I’m aware, neither of us are counting. We’ve always been able to do this thing where we bounce ideas back and forth at a rapid speed, shamelessly and unselfishly taking each others ideas and expanding on them. Our brains work along similar lines. I scream “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” at her far too often!
I know I approached Tia with the idea for Solitude, only because it came out of the list of very random notes I keep in a spreadsheet. (Always a spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets). I’d heard of a town called Solitude in Utah and it had always appealed to me, this idea of ‘what sort of person would run away to a town called Solitude?’. Another one of my notes was ‘Porn stars in love’. It took crashing the two ideas together to come up with the plot.
The answer to ‘what sort of person runs away to a town called Solitude’ is obviously a dramatic little twink. Bitchy, theatrical, heart-of-gold Liam. If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind—yes, I wrote Liam! I knew exactly what I wanted him to be: life-toughened, cynical, yet so very young and naïve.
And I doubt anyone who has read our other works questioned the fact that Tia wrote Gael. That incredibly strong character, calm and solid, with Finnish roots could only be a Tia Fielding creation! Although I became very familiar with Gael when we were writing, I’ve always felt like he ‘belonged’ to Tia. She was able to build that character in a way I never could.
Though ‘Porn Stars’ is a well-worn trope in gay romance, I really wanted to push at the edges and see if we could do something a little different, without undermining the dangers and realities of such a career. I think both Tia and I were inspired by the CockyBoys site when we came up with Woodspring—from what I’ve seen, CockyBoys take pride in taking care of the performers they work with. We knew from the start that our fictional porn studio wasn’t going to be predatory and grim, and our performers weren’t going to be human-trafficked tragedies.
That’s not to say that Liam doesn’t have issues…
“You could get a real job,” he said with a little smile.
“Fuck that,” I said emphatically. “Anyway, doing what? I’ve got a high school diploma from years ago and no employment history whatsoever. If I got an interview for McDonald’s, what am I supposed to tell them? My idea of interpersonal skills is taking two dicks at the same time.”
… which kind of shows how his life is changed by his career choices. Liam has no revulsion towards his job—as far as he’s concerned, it’s just sex—and it provided him with the opportunity to build his own life on his own terms.
I think the most controversial part of the story is the ending (spoilers ahead!) when Liam continues to work do sex work after he settles into his relationship with Gael. Gael doesn’t approve, but he’s supportive of Liam’s decisions. This was actually a really important part of the story for me. I didn’t want Liam to be “saved” from porn and prostitution. Like I said before, it was a big part of him being able to be independent and start a life on his own terms, and to take that away from him just because he found a loving relationship.
One of the best parts of Solitude was getting to write with Tia, something that’s definitely on the cards again for the future. I think she’d agree, we’re both just waiting for the stars to align and the right project to come along!
In the meantime, Tia’s next novel is currently on the Coming Soon page over at Dreamspinner Press and you can pre-order it now… go check it out.
Thanks for stopping by on this little nostalgia-fest!