Zane Riley, author of With or Without You, has dropped by Love Bytes on their blog tour.
Thanks for coming over, Zane!
Author Name: Zane Riley
Book Name: With or Without You
Series: Sequel to ‘Go Your Own Way’ (Should be read in order to appreciate the books)
Release Date: July 21, 2016
Pages or Words: 348 pages
Publisher: Interlude Press
In the much-anticipated sequel to Go Your Own Way, high school seniors Lennox McAvoy and Will Osborne pick up right where they left off—navigating the tumultuous waters of a new relationship and dealing with Will’s disapproving father.
When a violent incident forces Lennox to give up his independent ways, he must come to terms with his past just as Will is grappling with his future. As Will’s college plans become reality, will Lennox have the courage to go after the opportunities he doesn’t think he deserves?
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult
Today I’m very happy to be interviewing Zane Riley author of With or Without You. Hi Zane, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi! I’m Zane, and I’m a queer transgender writer from northern Virginia. Currently, I’m in the process of packing up to move to Washington state, so I’m pretty busy at the moment, but also very excited. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, although I didn’t get truly serious about it until college when I switched my major to Creative Writing.
With or Without You is my second novel and a sequel to my first. It continues Will and Lennox’s story as they finish up their senior year of high school. As they begin to learn how to navigate their growing relationship, Will plans for his future in college while Lennox struggles to accept that his future is more than surviving until the next day. They each begin to forge their own paths only to realize that the futures they each want may lead them away from each other.
Where do you find your inspiration?
From the people around me. Whether I’m in a grocery store or among friends, I love to listen to their stories. Sometimes it’s about their own personal lives or something they witnessed while they were out to dinner. I love to listen and watch how and why people interact. It keeps my mind curious and constantly building new characters and interactions and struggles and problems people face.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Honestly, I still don’t entirely. I recognize that’s the correct word for what I do, but it feels odd to set the word “writer” on my shoulders. I always think of myself as a storyteller first. That’s what I really try to do is tell someone’s story more so than writing. My focus is the story and the characters’ stories more so than the language I’m using a lot of the time. Most of the language should come from the characters and their personal view of the world.
Do your characters become like real people to you?
Definitely. I’ve known this set of characters, in one form or another, for almost six years. They become best friends in some ways, because you spend so much time with them, learning them and finding out their fears, hopes, and dreams. You learn to trust your characters as well if you allow yourself to get to know them better. I usually don’t rely too heavily on outlines or plans when I write, especially for Lennox. I have some vague ideas of where we’re headed, but I let him lead the way. I take the journey with him.
If you weren’t a writer, what else would you like to have done?
I’d still like to be Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel. If that job ever becomes available, sign me up. I’d love to be a storm chaser or to study and focus on extreme weather.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
“It’s an elephant!” which makes no sense to anyone but me and a long-time friend. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant back in high school, and couldn’t agree about one of the pictures on the wall of a bunch of animals around a lake. I said it was an elephant, and he said a water buffalo. It’s been about ten years since and the artwork at the restaurant has changed so we’ll never know what it actually was. Neither of us will budge on our answer either.
The band room was empty when he pushed the door open, but the piano was set up like it was almost every afternoon these days. Only Mr. Robinette and a music stand littered with sheet music was absent.
The silence struck Lennox as odd, but as he sat down he also realized how strange it was to announce himself. So much had changed since the first time he’d snuck in here to play on his own. Now he was auditioning for some college he still couldn’t fathom.
To make Will happy. And maybe a little bit for himself.
“Ah, I wondered if you were going to show up.”
Mr. Robinette was behind him, the door to his office now wide open. He’d taken off his tie and undone a few buttons on his shirt like he did most afternoons when they practiced.
“You just want to play it through a few times or mess around with something else?”
Lennox took a seat at the piano, but didn’t both opening his bag. He’d memorized the piece he was playing by Valentine’s Day and now, almost two weeks later, he could write it out measure for measure on blank sheet music. But playing it was becoming repetitive. For two hours, three times a week, almost nonstop with the same four pages and nothing else.
“I’d rather try something new. That piece is getting a little old.”
Mr. Robinette smiled and pulled a chair up beside him. “I had a nightmare the other night and it was the theme song while I ran around a haunted house Scooby Doo style.”
“You didn’t catch a ride in the Mystery Machine, did you? I’ve always wanted that van.”
“I’ve got a lunch box version of it. It doesn’t fit much though because it’s too narrow. Anyway, play what you want. I’ll be here until about four-thirty, so it’s all yours.”
As Mr. Robinette returned to his office, Lennox pulled what had become his music notebook out of his bag and opened it to the latest page. He’d taken to composing during class when he should have been taking notes, especially calculus where he had no reason to pay attention anyway.
The latest page was a tune he’d come up with while the other kids had been tapping their pencils and erasing answers. Every moment of his life carried a rhythm, a melody, and an emotion he could create with, and his notebook was becoming a testament to that. He played through everything he’d jotted down over the past few days, but after several rounds he kept coming back to one. It was a piano version he’d tried—and mostly failed—to create of one of the songs Will had played on a loop a few weeks ago.
“I’m getting ready to lock up!”
Mr. Robinette’s voice carried out of the office and into the band room. A few minutes and several jingles of Mr. Robinette’s keys later, the office door was shut and Lennox was closing the cover on the keys.
“That last piece you were playing, was it a cover?”
Lennox shrugged as they headed for the door.
“It was supposed to be. Didn’t sound much like the song.”
“Well, the others did. They were all really good, even the ones that weren’t covers.”
Lennox watched him at the door to the parking lot for a moment. He’d been a great help over the last month—all year if Lennox was honest. Mr. Robinette had believed in him in his own way since school had begun, and thanks to him he had a decent shot at this audition.
“Thanks for… all of this. I actually feel like—just thanks.”
Mr. Robinette gave him a genuine smile and patted him on the shoulder.
“You’re very welcome. Let me know how it goes when you get back, okay? I’m rooting for you. Got all of my fingers and limbs crossed. You deserve the chance. Don’t doubt that or yourself.”
It was funny to have so many people believing in him after so long. Happiness was a strange feeling as well. Until he’d let Will into his life he couldn’t remember how to capture such a feeling in his chest and keep it there.
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Zane Riley is a transgender writer who wrote his first work of fan fiction in the fourth grade. He is a recent transplant to Vancouver, Washington where he spends his time watching long distance baseball games, hiking, and exploring the musical depths of the internet. His first novel, Go Your Own Way, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.
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Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card, 5 first prizes: e-Copy of ‘With Or Without You’ by Zane Riley