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Monday, September 15, 2014

The return of Gin and Jazz

Thanks for having me here today and letting me talk about the final installment of the Gin & Jazz series. I have an exclusive excerpt to share with you as well. The books all take place during the Roaring Twenties and feature the exploits of several men who trudge their way through the pitfalls and decadence of Hollywood. This one can be read as a standalone as it tells the complete love story of two men from the series who haven’t been able to find their HEA yet. Poor guys…

Writing a series is a unique challenge. Unlike a standalone novel or short story, you have to get back into the ‘zone’ of that world. Since I was writing a contemporary men in uniform series concurrently with Gin & Jazz, not only did I have to switch between storylines, but time period and etymology as well. One of my men in uniform might say ‘that’s fucking awesome!’, but my 1920’s character would be more inclined to say ‘Jeez, that’s really swell!’.

In addition to that, when you have recurring characters, you have to remain consistent with who they are as people – their reactions, characteristics, personality quirks. Nothing can ruin a story for a reader of a series quicker than not honoring the truth of each character. In Play Acting, it’s time to tell Roman’s story. Love him or hate him in the earlier books – he’s larger than life and fills the room. He was actually my favorite character to write in the series because he’s such a mess. He’s snarky, bitchy, sexy, wounded, cruel, and unreservedly giving and loving – for the right man. The following scene gives playwright Max’s POV during his initial encounter with the overwhelmingly intense actor.

Former screen idol, Roman Pasquale, struggles to survive in Hollywood as the silent film era comes to a close. But a fresh new playwright is in town and he wants Roman to be more than just his star.

Exclusive Excerpt from Play Acting (Gin & Jazz 7)

For the entire meal, Max had been worried that he might behave inappropriately in some way. There was something about Roman that threw him off guard. As taken as he’d been watching Roman in AndrĂ©’s film, the actor in person was stunning. His long, lean form hinted at what Max knew was a lightly muscled frame—he’d seen his body in a couple of his adventure films when he’d been more scantily dressed. But his large dark eyes were captivating—almost feminine. Then there was the thin moustache crowning beautifully sensual lips, along with the strong nose and jawline that reinforced Roman’s potent masculinity.
Max no longer had any doubts that Roman would be perfect for his play. Yet what really gnawed at him was the realization that he wished to be in Roman’s bed too. He knew it was ludicrous to entertain the idea that the great Roman Pasquale would ever want him, but it didn’t make Max any less attracted. Still, one never knew. As his thoughts tempted him, he reminded himself how important his career was and all that it meant to him. Engaging in what would certainly be a tempestuous affair—given Roman’s reputation—would be a horribly misguided move on his part.
Max watched, almost hypnotized, as Roman finished up lunch, dabbed at the corners of his mouth with the linen napkin, then set it down. He reached in the inside pocket of his suit coat and retrieved a silver cigarette case that boasted his jeweled initials on it. Every movement Roman made was languid, smooth. He popped open the case and held it out to Max, arching one eyebrow as he did, a small curl at the corner of his mouth.
“T-thank you.”
Max plucked one of the sticks from the elegant holder. He didn’t smoke often, usually only when he stayed up late at night working on a play, but Roman had offered to share something with him and he’d been oddly compelled to accept it. He placed the smoke between his lips, conscious of the fact that Roman stared at him the entire time. Roman struck the lighter he’d removed from his other pocket and held it out. He didn’t reach for Max, instead staying still, forcing Max to lean toward Roman in order to get to the flame.
He sucked in until the end glowed, overly aware of Roman’s gaze. Once the cigarette was successfully lit, he exhaled and leaned back in actual relief, the strong tobacco jarring him somewhat. He needed to remember that he was the one who had called the meeting, that he was the one who could offer Roman something that would benefit Roman as much as it would him. Shaking his head, he needed to keep the inner confusion from getting the better of him.
“Everything all right, my dear Max?”
He had to chuckle. Working with Roman would most definitely be a challenge. Just not in the way he’d anticipated. Meeting Roman’s eyes without hesitation, he grinned at him.
“Quite wonderful, actually. I’m so glad we were able to get together today. Shall we order some espresso and discuss the details surrounding the production of my play?”
Roman quirked his eyebrows. “That sounds splendid. I’m anxious to hear all about it.”
Max waved the waiter over and ordered their drinks.
“Did Maude fill you in on anything in regards to the appointment we had?”
“She was rather unhelpful concerning any specifics. The most that I know is that it will entail eight separate performances each week, is that correct?”
Roman took a long drag on his cigarette, never taking his eyes off Max the entire time. It was going to take every ounce of his will to remain alert working around the incredibly intense actor.
“Yes, that’s the typical theatrical schedule. But the nice thing is that you only have to put in about half the time you would if you were working on a film set.” Max frowned as he thought it over. “Other than the weekends, of course. Oh, and rehearsals. Those can become lengthy depending whether or not the scenes and characterizations are melding properly.”
Roman turned his head to the side and blew out a long trail of smoke. He hooded his eyes a fraction as he faced Max again. “Mmm. Melding. Sounds…involved.”
Max could feel sweat forming on his upper lip. AndrĂ© had already warned him that Roman didn’t take The Method seriously.
“I’ll admit, it can be. But anything we did together would be for the greater good of the play, and ultimately to help you shine as a performer.”
“You find me dull then?”
“Good God, no. I didn’t mean—”
Roman reached across the table and patted his hand lightly before pulling it quickly away.
“I’m teasing you, my dear Max.”
Roman reclined in the booth, stretching his arm across the back in Max’s direction. He was tantalizingly close, yet far enough away that it would still be considered appropriate.
“Oh…uh…of course.” He’d stammered somewhat. “I just wanted to assure you that I would take your needs and feelings quite seriously and will do whatever I can to make your experience working with me as fulfilling as possible.”
Max frowned. He needed to mind his big mouth. It was disconcerting to suddenly wonder what alternate meanings might be attached to his words. One of the most important aspects of utilizing The Method in a performance was the need for freedom and honesty of expression. Double entendre would be a disaster between a director and actor.
 He couldn’t tell what was happening between them. It seemed unfathomable that Roman was entertaining any thoughts of becoming intimate with him—Max didn’t believe he was up to a screen idol’s standards. And Max was fairly certain he’d never been anywhere or done anything that would indicate to Roman that Max was a lover of men. Even though Roman’s homosexual affairs were legendary amongst those in the know in Hollywood, Max had always been more discreet and careful. Yet he somehow had the sense that Roman was flirting with him. Of course, it might not matter to a man as desirable as Roman whether his quarry was gay or not.
He allowed his eyes to lift to Roman’s. The man had a distinctly amused expression on his face.
“You’re making your offer to work with me impossible to resist.” Roman leaned toward him, close enough that he could drop his voice almost to a whisper. “Especially if you can assure that I will be fulfilled by you.”
Oh dear sweet Jesus.
“Um, Roman, I think I need to make one thing very clear—”
“Oh?” Roman reclined once more, the slight curl at the corners of his mouth still very much in evidence.
“Yes.” Max yanked at his collar. He was sure his fucking bow tie was trying to strangle him. “This play, my play, is incredibly important to me. A man who is for all intents and purposes a complete stranger to me has offered me a large sum of money so that I might see it produced on the stage here in Los Angeles. If all goes well, then my career as a playwright and director is almost assured. If I fail, however…”
He dropped his gaze, grimacing before he could stop himself. That possibility was too horrible to contemplate. There was no choice but for him to succeed. He started at the soft voice next to his ear.
“Then I will endeavor to do all that I can to help make sure your play is a success. You have me to do with as you will, Max Vogel.”

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Twitter: @morticiaknight

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