Today it is my absolute privilege to host an interview with Taylin Clavelli about her amazing book Dakota Skies. If you've ever watched a Western and liked it, this is the book for you. It's full of wide open skies and sexy men on horses. What more could you want? A great story? Boy you're hard to please. Luckily you'll get that too. I asked Taylin a little more about the really important things we all want to know, so here goes...
Let’s start by telling us, in ten words, or less, what you’re book’s about.
Sheriff, outlaws, Indians, love, action, adventure, danger, humour, horses, surviving.
What was it that led you to write in the genre(s) you write?
I grew up with westerns, both in movies and TV. My daughter and I were talking about them in the car and we played with some ‘what if’ scenario’s. That’s when we came up with the idea of twins running a town. As I’d not long started writing in the M/M genre, the idea of one being gay soon followed along with him having an Annie Oakley style sister. Didn’t want anything of mine to be compared to Broke Back Mountain though, so any thoughts of a ranch setting were soon thrown out. Other scenes spawned from there.
Are your books character led or plot led, or both?
Some of both, but mostly plot. I’ll think of a scene, but how that pan out depends on the characters. Other times, there’ll be a personal issue for the character which I want to highlight. Then the plot revolves around bring that issue or emotion to the fore.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
I love it when I’m about half way through the story. That’s when the characters and where I’m going with the plot are established, and I can truly immerse myself into their world. I get up in the morning and it feels like I’m vacating the house and becoming another person. I love to put myself into the shoes of the character I’m writing.
What is your least favourite part of the writing process?
The first chapter. I’ve re-written many chapter one’s because I know it is the hook that snares the reader. I want to be able to entice the reader with the story without giving plot secrets away. It’s also the time when a reader will love or hate your main character. So much rides on that first chapter that I don’t want to cock it up.
Where do you get your inspiration for your characters?
80% of the time from the plot, which can be inspired from just about anything on the planet. A scenario will come to mind and the character develops from there. The remaining 20% comes from various sources. Sometimes it can be an emotion which takes on a face and body. I like to people watch too; not so much individuals, but characteristics in people and a personality morphs.
Tell us a little about the characters in your book and their story. You can use more than twenty words this time.
The character list in Dakota Skies reads like a soap. It’s not just a tale about the boys, it’s an ensemble cast who’s lives merge to make a world the reader can sink into. The list isn’t huge, but your readers may take longer than expected to get to the end of the interview. So, I’ll give you the top four.
There’s Jay our sheriff. He’s a strong man who believe in the letter of the law. But, he’s also confused as to why he’s not attracted to any of the women in Blackrock. He becomes a bounty hunter to sort out his issues without the hassle of everyday life.
Anna his sister is a gun totin beauty, who refuses to abide by society laws regarding women and their role in 19th century life. She is fast on the draw, and occasionally, has a mouth a sailor would be proud of. She has no problem showing the masses what a woman is capable of.
Kit is our outlaw with a story I won’t give away now as it is a major part of the plot. What I will say is that he’s a skilled man who can survive in the wild. He is also sensitive and more than wary of what can happen if he ever acts on his feelings.
Houston is Jay’s horse. He is an equine with a few tricks and personality traits you will hopefully love. He’s one hell of a trail companion.
If you could have one wish what would it be?
I have so many, this is impossible to answer. I’m not going to give the beauty queen answer and say world peace, despite it being most needed. My answer to this will probably change every time I’m asked, but for now, I’d the people of the world to have the ability to be able to see through another’s eyes. It is not until one has walked in another’s shoes or seen through their eyes that a person can truly appreciate their outlook on life, their feelings, hopes and fears. That alone would educate and hopefully eradicate much of the intolerance we see and experience.
What's your deepest fear?
If I came to dinner what would you feed me?
Lasagne with a side salad and wine, lemon mousse for dessert and some chocolate concrete to take home with you as and when.
Which of your characters would you like to be sharing the dinner table with us?
Mason – he’s one of the older characters in the story. He’s a card shark and sharp shooter who has a wealth of knowledge and experience. He also has a wicked sense of humour and isn’t adverse to living a little dangerously.
What would your characters say, in their own words, about themselves, and their story that will make us want to read about it?
Dang it, bein’ a bounty hunter was one hell of a ride. The people on my posters had already been judged and I had to believe in the verdict. I had to be quicker, smarter, shoot straighter and at times be more ruthless than them all, to survive. At times the air was full of bullets. At others it was lonely. Thank God I had Houston. I left town ‘cos I wasn’t comfortable with advances from the women of Blackrock, especially Lila, but that’s another story again. Anyhow, I got me a plan and intended to stick to it, until I met Kit. Damn, the man turned my world upside down. Everything I’d faced up to meeting him seemed like child’s play to what happened after. And don’t get me started on Anna. That woman’s a law unto herself.
Which other fictional character(s) would you like to be present at the dinner party?
All the hobbits. Love everything about them. They are a roaring laugh and get stuck in – my kinda guests.
What do you prefer writing. A one off novel, a series or short stories?
I can’t honestly say. I like writing short stories because they often take one particular element of a person’s life, and it is explored and dealt with. It’s like popping in to a good restaurant and enjoying a sumptuous dinner which melts in the mouth. A novel, however, is like going on holiday. It takes more planning, but I get to immerse myself in another life, another culture, and another era, the memories of which stay with me a lifetime.
What kind of books do you read (if you have time to read)?
When I have the time I like to read sword and sorcery stories with a good dose of nookie. I also like action with angst.
Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in 5 years time?
Oh, hahaha, what I’d like and what will most likely happen are two different things. My imagination would like me to be a world recognized author of gay romance, capable of writing in many genre’s.
Professionally, I’d like to still be writing and have a reputation for producing quality stories. Unless a film studio takes up the rights to make DS into a movie I can’t see my habits changing there much.
Personally, I don’t know as my kids are at the age where they will soon leave home. Though, I’d be happy if they stayed. I’ll definitely be in the same house, and will have probably changed the colour scheme a time or two. My garden is going through some changes too, so my husband and I will, in all likelihood be working on that. All between answering those calls from the children saying Mom, help.
Do you have any other projects in the offing we should look out for?
Yes, hopefully, if they get accepted, I’ll have a couple of short stories published in Wayward Ink Publishing, Anthologies. The short stories published in Bollocks and Love Loss Laughter Lust will be going on individual release soon. Also, I am currently writing a ghost story called Secret Of The Manor.
Born in the wrong time…
In 1875 Dakota, Sheriff Jamie Carter has to hide his interest in men, even from his gutsy twin sister, Anna. On a good day, the truth can mean a bullet between the eyes, and on a bad, one in the back.
A man on a mission…
Jamie leaves Anna in charge of Blackrock and he hits the bounty hunting trail, along with his faithful equine companion, Houston. Five territories, scores of ‘Wanted’ posters, and many bullets later, his path unexpectedly converges with that of enigmatic loner, Kit Brooks.
Two men with one soul…
Will the smoldering fire between them rage into an inferno and break down protective barriers, allowing them to find love? Or will it separate and kill them?
Beneath Dakota skies…
Jamie and Kit’s story is a sweeping saga of cowboys, Indians, persistent broads, and vengeful villains, where the cowboys aren’t always the good guys, and love can’t be taken for granted.
About the author:
Taylin Clavelli lives in the United Kingdom, about 15 miles south of Birmingham, and a short journey from the world famous Cadbury’s Chocolate factory. She’s married with children and loves her family with all her heart.
Her love of books has been a long standing affair, with Taylin liking nothing better than to lose herself in an imaginary world.
Until she met Lily Velden, she never considered trying her hand at writing. However, after talking ideas, Lily encouraged her to put pen to paper—or rather, fingers to keyboard. Since, with a few virtual kicks in the right place, she hasn’t stopped. Her confidence eventually led to her writing an original work for submission.
Her first published work was Boys, Toys, and Carpet Fitters, developed for the Dreamspinner Press Anthology – Don’t Try This At Home.
Now she absolutely adores immersing herself into the characters she creates, and transferring the pictures in her brain to paper, finding it liberating, therapeutic, and wonderful.
Outside of writing, her interests include; martial arts (she’s a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwon-do), horse-riding, all of which facilitates her love of a wide variety of movies. Her action heroes include Jet Li and Tony Jaa—finding the dedication these men have for their art combined with their skill both amazing and a privilege to watch. If pressed, she’ll admit to thinking that the screen entrance of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl, and Shadowfax in LOTR, to be the greatest screen entrances ever. Her all-time favorite movies are Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
The simple things in life that make her day, putting a smile on her face are:
Laughter – especially that of her children.
The smell of lasagna cooking – it makes her mouth salivate.
The dawn chorus – no symphony ever written can beat the waking greetings of the birds.
Where can we find you?
Well, there you have it guys and gals. A ballsy story with vivid characters set on the trail under Dakota Skies, If you want it here's where to get it.