A warm welcome to author Ashavan Doyon joining us today to talk about the rerelease of “Steven’s Heart”.
Ashavan talks about writing and characters that grow out of control.
Welcome Ashavan 🙂
Thank you so much, to Dani and everyone at Love Bytes Reviews for having me today! I know you must all be very busy with the anniversary celebration, so I’m grateful for the space you’ve given me to talk about Steven’s Heart. Just a note, this is a sequel, and so there are some spoilers for Loving Aidan in my discussion below!
When I wrote Loving Aidan, I was not prepared for how much people loved this character. Perhaps I should have been? Intentionally drawn as a reflection of Sammy, Steven was not meant to be a radically different character. Both Sammy and Steven were athletes. Both studied hard. Both were in the sciences. Both hid their sexuality in relationships with women that never seemed to last.
Sammy was drawn deliberately as dominant and possessive because those were traits that Aidan found attractive. Their formative meeting was one of Sammy acting to protect Aidan, and also of Sammy being utterly unconcerned over Aidan’s sexuality.
Of the two, Steven was portrayed as cheater, the womanizer, the untrustworthy one. He was the one who called Aidan names, who struggled with Aidan’s flamboyant expressiveness. At heart he was a gentle giant, a romantic, who struggled to let go of prejudices he grew up with.
Despite having written a clear preference for Sammy, it’s beyond doubt that the character of Steven lived more. He grew more. He demanded more. Written to provide contrast to Sammy, to provide a spark of jealousy, he instead provoked an intense response.
Readers loved him.
Adored him. Wrote me hate mail over Aidan choosing Sammy over him. More, readers loved the seriously cut down version of Steven that they got… I cut 12000 words from Loving Aidan, almost all of it romance between Aidan and Steven. Many scenes between them were entirely rewritten, including the first actual sex scene (they show restraint in the final book; they did not in the original) and the break up (if you think the one that made it into Loving Aidan makes you cry? OMG, I still bawl reading it and I wrote it!)
I promised readers I would make things right for Steven. Just months after the July 31 release date, I sat down at my computer and I started writing. Steven’s Heart starts at a familiar point for readers. While Aidan is experiencing the start of his happily ever after, getting everything he wants, Steven is falling apart. And the story starts there, before Loving Aidan is even over, with Steven waking up, staring into the mirror, and trying to figure out his place in the world. He has to do it without Aidan, who he relied on for all his support coming out. And he has to do it without Sammy—his best friend.
I think because Steven wasn’t the carefully planned character that Aidan and Sammy both were, he was able to surprise me more. He keeps surprising me.
I hope he’ll surprise you too.
A lot of readers hate Aidan. A fair number still can’t forgive Drew (who features in book 3!). They all adore Steven.
I will give out one copy of either Loving Aidan, Steven’s Heart or American Pride to one lucky commenter who has a question about the story, or the College Rose Romances Series, or about my writing, and can tell me about a time when someone really surprised them. (That’s two things, a real engaging question about any one of several things, and a personal story). Have at it!
When a love triangle breaks, Steven Everett is left alone to grieve over a boyfriend lost to someone else. Surrounded by friends too tied to Aidan’s new lover to give advice, Steven turns instead to a broken and beaten man, Aidan’s other ex, Michael Rossier, who also knows the pain of having loved and lost Aidan. Steven’s and Michael’s confessions grow deeper, each confiding in the other until neither can deny an attraction. But being with Michael feels like cheating, and Steven isn’t sure what to do. The connection get stronger every day, and Steven realizes he’s facing an impossible choice.
To make a relationship with Michael work, Steven needs to make peace with Michael’s troubled past. Even more terrifying, he’ll have to tell Michael the secret he’s never told anyone, not even Aidan. With Michael recovering from yet another surgery, Steven leaves to face the ghosts of the past. He has to be certain. This time, Steven knows, the decision means revealing the secrets of his heart and hoping their fragile feelings can survive.
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Ashavan Doyon may have been a yeti in a prior life or possibly part giant. Either that or Texan air seriously messes up child development. During the day he’s a quiet and unassuming assistant at a liberal arts college in New England. At lunch, in the evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, Ashavan writes—with keyboard sounds on, because typing should make noise, beautiful clicky-clacky noise. He grew up reading fantasy classics and science fiction stories, but loves most speculative fiction. Growing up there was no such thing as a happy gay love story, and Ashavan writes to put those stories, full of fragility, beauty, even terror sometimes, into the world.
Consumed outside of his writing by a life with his husband and their ancient pug, Ashavan lives in Massachusetts and frequently complains about the snow that he never saw growing up in Texas. He went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a degree in Russian and East European Studies with a focus in language and literature. Ashavan continues to adore speculative fiction and can often be found rereading the classics he grew up with in his spare time.
On the web at www.ashavandoyon.com
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/ashavandoyon.writer
On Twitter at @ashavandoyon