Pender Mackie is in the hot seat! She brings a hot m/m release set in Vegas, a rug that needs cleaning and a bacon hunk. Confused? You'll figure it out soon enough. The hot book cover for her latest release, Single Use Only, and the great excerpt are a perfect way to round out a fun interview!
Coffee, tea or…what’s your vice? Coffee, lots of coffee. Dark roast with cream, please. I drink a lot of sparkling mineral water too.
Favorite Movie: I don’t have just one favorite. I love action, sci-fi, cheesy B movies, film noir, you name it. Mel Brook’s High Anxiety, Sean of the Dead and the Fifth Element are a few of my favorites.
Favorite Color: Purple and green. I love both of them.
Favorite book/author: I’m a voracious reader so that’s impossible to answer. I know that sounds like a bit of a cop out, but I read mysteries, sci-fi, romance, young adult, graphic novels, whatever grabs my interest, so it’s hard to compare and pick just one book. I honestly don’t think I can.
How do you feel about bacon? Love the smell. Mmm, yummy. It’s pretty good if crispy, and I love it on burgers, but I’m not brave enough to try bacon ice cream yet. I think I have a bacon-themed picture you might like.
Yay! A hunk with BACON! I do LIKE!
The Real Questions!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hmm, let’s see. I have no sense of direction. I don’t like to eat meat, but I’m not really a vegetarian. I just don’t want to eat anything with skin, bones, or a shell still attached, so chicken wings, ribs and lobster are all out. Basically I’m lazy when it comes to eating. I love white wine and chocolate, though not together. I can pick stuff up off the floor with my toes—pens, pencils, my son’s dirty socks… It’s a very useful skill.
What’s under your bed?
My vacuum cleaner and a rolled up 8 x 10 Indian Dhurrie rug, which needs cleaned. (It’s needed to be cleaned for about 15 years.) One of these days I’ll get to that.
What comes first, plot or characters?
The character comes first. Typically I start out with a “what if” scenario. What if a big, shy guy had to be alone with his crush? (Wishful Thinking) What if a dancer in an all-male revue was closeted, but had the hots for the revue’s out and proud bartender? (Stage Fright) What if a man who thought he was perfectly happy on his own met someone who made him realize he wasn’t? (Single Use Only)
Pantser, plotter, or hybrid? Tell us about your writing process.
I used to be a pantser, but I found as a story developed I had to rewrite a lot of scenes and tweak the characters’ backstories, but if I write out a detailed plot I feel constrained. Now I’m more of a hybrid. I flesh out the character’s motivations and goals and develop a blueprint of the basic plot. That way I’m know where I’m going, but I still have room to change things up or come up with new plot ideas as I write. Does that make me a plantser?
Oddest thing on your desk?
I don’t actually have a desk. I write on a laptop, usually on the couch. I do toss all of my scribbled notes, outlines, receipts, pocket change and such on my dresser so I guess it doubles as a desk. The oddest thing on there right now is probably a padlock and key I took out of my gym bag a year or so ago. I guess I need to clean off my dresser.
What’s your most interesting writing quirk?
When I get stuck and need to figure out what happens next in a story, I take a long, hot shower. Something about standing there under the hot water helps me plot. The tough part is remembering my brand-new idea until I can dry off and write it down.
What’s your favorite thing about the genre you write in?
The m/m romance community. Thanks to social media there’s a lot of interaction amongst m/m authors. I’ve received tons of support and some great advice from other authors in this genre. Occasionally I’m even contacted by readers to let me know they liked something I wrote and that’s always a pleasure. Readers interact with each other too, doing buddy reads together, recommending stories to each other and of course if they choose to, readers can interact with authors. It’s not always sunshine and sparkles, but I’ve made so many good friends through reading and writing m/m romance.
What is the hardest thing about being an author?
Finishing a book. Somewhere in the middle of every book I run out of steam and my self-confidence takes a nosedive. I start to think I’ll never finish and I’ll want to chuck the whole thing in the little trashcan icon on my computer desktop. If I push through and keep going, I do get past that. I may have to rewrite a few scenes at a later date, but I do get my mojo back.
What’s the easiest thing about being an author?
Starting a new story. The beginning is easy because I’m full of enthusiasm, I haven’t discovered any gaping plot holes yet and my characters are still letting me tell them what to do. J I find editing easy too. There’s something immensely satisfying about polishing a story till it’s almost perfect. I say almost perfect because no writer is ever one hundred percent satisfied with his or her work, but at some point you have to let go and move on the next story.
Tell us about your latest release!
Single Use Only, is my second full-length novel. It’s set in modern-day Las Vegas as was my first novel, Stage Fright. Many of the characters are in both stories, though each novel features a different couple.
Single Use Only is a May December romance. It tells the story of Mike, who secretly yearns to be loved though at his age he doesn’t think that’s likely to happen, and Chris, a bisexual who’s never had much luck with men.
Here’s the blurb:
Mike Strenton is tired of the hook-up scene. All the men he meets in the Las Vegas gay bars are interested in one thing only and only one night. Been there done that. About to turn thirty-eight, Mike avoids casual sex until his need for contact is too great to ignore. He secretly longs to meet someone who sees beyond his laugh lines and broad shoulders to the sensitive lover underneath. A man who will choose him over the early morning walk of shame.
Twenty-something Chris Bennington has never even been to a gay bar though he’s into men as well as women. He sees the funny side of just about everything, including his first time with Mike. Chris wants a lover who doesn’t have a problem with his quirky sense of humor, his inability to cook or his bisexuality and he thinks Mike fits the bill. All he has to do is convince the big guy he’s not just sticking around for breakfast.
Excerpt from Single Use Only...
Chris opened the trunk of his car and checked his watch. He’d lost track of time and most likely missed seeing any dancers. The show was only a few hours away. Ah, well. He lugged the box through the hotel complex. Up ahead was the theater; he could see the giant posters for the Erogenous Zone from here. Chris paused in front of a life-size photo. They must have updated the posters, because he didn’t see Jesse.
Wait, there he was, hands on his hips and a big-assed grin, looking like he fit right in. Weird how all the dancers seemed so similar when oiled and shirtless, a cookie-cutter idea of what a sexy man should look like. Even the beefier ones or the guy with longish hair didn’t stand out from the others.
There had to be an admin office. He looked around, checking for a hallway or some kind of signage. He’d never been to the theater before, but he’d thought about coming down to watch rehearsal, see what Jesse did for a living. Jesse had invited him, but the idea of watching his roommate bump and grind felt kind of weird.
He found the office, but it was closed.
Now what? He shifted the box. It wasn’t heavy, just awkward. Maybe he could leave it with someone.
From around a corner a young guy appeared. Dress pants, dress shirt, a black vest with a name tag. Perfect.
“Hey,” Chris called, “you work here?”
The guy, tall, blond, and with one of those faces that was all cheekbones and eyes, stopped and scowled. “Why?”
Great. The only employee around, and it had to be one with an attitude. Chris half held out the box. “I wanted to drop this off. It’s a bunch of costumes.”
Mr. Attitude—Devon, according to his name tag—deliberately folded his arms. “Do I look like a stripper?”
“I don’t know.” Chris looked Devon up and down, taking his time. If the guy was going to be an asshat, he deserved to be messed with. “Do you?”
“Puh-lease.” Devon rolled his eyes. “I’m the bartender.”
Huh. This was the guy who had replaced Val? Chris hoped the cranky bartender didn’t depend on tips to make ends meet. “So can I leave this with you?”
“No. I have to get the bar stocked, ready to open. You’ll have to come back later.”
Devon stared at him, a smug little smile playing around his mouth. It was clear he expected Chris to do some groveling or maybe argue, but that was so not happening. Chris didn’t say anything, just waited him out patiently. In his line of work as a blackjack dealer, he met a lot of people with overinflated egos, and it took more than a bartender with a chip on his shoulder to get a rise out of him.
Devon gave a long-suffering sigh. “I guess I could find someone for you. Wait here.”
He turned and headed back the way he’d come.
Chris set the box down and slouched against the wall. Five minutes later he was starting to think the bartender had had the last laugh. He’d have to try again another day. What a pain in the ass.
“You’ve got a delivery?”
Chris straightened. From farther down the hall, a man wearing jeans and a T-shirt strode toward him. The guy was a few years older and big. Broad shoulders, powerful arms, dark blond hair pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail. Sexy little goatee that was more stubble than beard. Nice.
Chris bent and picked up the box. He waited as the man came closer. Striking blue eyes full of good-natured intelligence, a few threads of silver shot through that dark blond hair. Very nice.
“Devon said you had a delivery.”
Chris mentally cursed out the bartender. What an airhead. “Not exactly.”
He explained about Jesse’s old costumes. When he mentioned Jesse’s name, the man’s face lit up, but he waited for Chris to finish speaking. “…but the office was closed, and that bartender wasn’t the most helpful guy.” Or the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
“Yeah, Devon’s kind of self-obsessed.” The man’s tone said Devon was old news. “So how do you know Jesse?” he asked with more animation.
“We were roommates.”
The big man examined him. Under that curious gaze a tendril of heat unfurled in Chris’s gut, like the first wisps of smoke from a fire. Down, boy.
Chris looked up at him from under his lashes. “That’s me. And you are…?”
Oh, God. He held his breath. Please don’t be Chaz. Don’t let me be warm for that asshole dance captain.
“Mike Strenton.” Mike offered his hand. “I’m a friend of Jesse’s.”
Damn, this was Mike? Chris’s preconceived idea of Mike didn’t mesh with the hot guy standing in front of him. Why had he never been lucky enough to be at home when Jesse brought Mike around?
“Chris Bennington.” He juggled the box to shake hands and made a quick save as the cardboard slid toward the floor.
“Whoa.” Mike grabbed for the box too, fingertips brushing Chris’s and causing that tendril of heat to twist and curl.
Chris relinquished his hold. “You’re the props manager, right?”
“Uh-huh.” Mike smiled as if pleased that he knew.
Chris had a sudden urge to finger comb his shaggy hair into submission. He stuffed his hands in his back pockets instead and rocked back on his heels. “So can any of the stri—dancers use that stuff?”
Mike grinned at his automatic correction. “Most of this will probably fit Tyson, and he’ll be glad to get the clothes. His washing machine chewed up a pair of jeans just last week.”
“Uh, he doesn’t wear that stuff at home, does he? Call me crazy, but I’d hate to walk down the street in pants someone could rip right off me with one good tug.”
Though the idea of being undressed by this guy flitted pleasantly through his mind.
Mike laughed. “No, but the guys are responsible for maintaining and washing their own costumes.”
“Right. I knew that,” Chris said. Way to make a good impression.
Their gazes met, and Mike’s smile grew smaller but didn’t fade altogether. There was speculation in those eyes. Maybe a question. Chris let his interest show for a couple of seconds before he lost his nerve and dropped his gaze. Chickenshit.
“I’ll put this in the locker room. I don’t have a lot of time right now, or I’d show you around.” Mike glanced at the box. “Thanks for bringing this down.”
“No problem. I should have done it sooner.”
Mike leaned in a little. “I could show you around another time, or maybe meet for coffee? Catch up on what Jesse’s been doing in New York.”
Chris hesitated. Which one of them was supposed to catch up? He’d talked to Jesse just last week. About to say so, he paused. Maybe Mike and Jesse didn’t keep in touch, or more likely Mike was hitting on him. Did Chris want him to? God, he was crap at this stuff.
He jumped as a man appeared at his elbow as if from nowhere. He’d been so focused on the big blond he hadn’t heard the other guy’s approach.
The man called out a greeting as he passed. “Hey, Mike. How’s it going?”
The guy kept walking, waggling his hand from side to side. “Same old, same old.”
Chris allowed himself the briefest of glances at that muscular, denim-clad ass. Was he one of the dancers? He carried a gym bag slung over one shoulder and was built like someone who’d look good naked, not all pale skin and jutting hip bones. Chris’s gaze flicked to Mike. Had he seen him sneak a peek? Hard to say.
Mike jerked his chin toward the man’s receding back. “That’s Brad. He’s one of our senior dancers.”
“Oh…great,” Chris said, which was totally lame.
Mike discreetly checked his watch, and Chris straightened, recognizing he’d been dismissed. Well, no wonder. He sucked at normal-sounding chitchat. “I guess I should let you get back to work.”
Mike smiled, laugh lines appearing around his blue eyes. “Anytime you want to get together, just let me know.”
“Thanks.” Chris swallowed. Maybe he was imagining the flirtatious tone, but he couldn’t stop thinking of their sweaty bodies heaving together. He shook his head to clear it.
“It was nice meeting you, Chris,” Mike said.
Chris liked hearing Mike say his name. For the first time he realized if he dropped the R, his name sounded like kiss. “Same here,” he murmured.
Chris left, aware the other man was watching him walk away. He wondered if that sharp gaze had slipped to his ass. His gait stiffened as he tried to minimize any wiggle of his hips.
Had he just been cruised, or was Mike simply looking for an update on Jesse? He honestly couldn’t tell. He really was crap at this stuff.
Buy Links for Single Use Only
Pender Mackie’s Author Links
Thanks for having me, Mia. You asked some tough questions, but I had fun answering them.