A warm love bytes welcome to author Bradley Lloyd joining us today to talk about his new release “Shadow Fray”.
Bradley talks to us about fighting and romance , shares an exclusive excerpt and there is a giveaway you can participate in!
Welcome Bradley 🙂
Bradley Lloyd is a Chicago-born author who studied Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was raised in a conservative religious household but became aware of his sexuality at a very young age—about the same age he learned of his ancestry to Hans Christian Andersen. Inspired by this knowledge, writing became an outlet that helped him cope with inner conflicts and bullying.
Of course, he was no angel and occasionally used his storytelling powers for evil. He once convinced the neighborhood children that gnomes had been real before all being turned into lawn ornaments.
Later, these experiences lead him to work with middle-school students. Now a teacher in the inner city, he shares his love of writing with a captive audience of kids, who are thrilled with true(ish) tales of their haunted school building.
Interestingly, his favorite UFC fighter and former world champion was a student at his school, and when Brad is not reading or writing, you might find him hosting the next UFC pay-per-view event party. His dreams of becoming an ultimate fighter are realized vicariously through his stories and video games.
Brad is happily married to a wonderful husband. Their tenth anniversary was also the day same-sex marriage became legal, and they were couple number seven at the courthouse.
You can read more of Brad’s (free) tales on his website BradleyLloyd.com, check him out on Medium, follow IMBradleyLloyd on Facebook and Twitter, or e-mail him directly at IMBradleyLloyd@BradleyLloyd.com
Shadow Fray Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska
Family is worth fighting for—and family doesn’t always mean blood.
No one knows what calamity poisoned the earth and decimated the human population, but living close to the toxic ground means illness and death. Justin is determined to keep his twin sister and younger brother from that fate—no matter what he has to do. To earn enough to keep his family safe in a high-rise, Justin enlists in a deadly sport called Shadow Fray. He quickly finds himself in over his head, especially when he is scheduled to face the most dangerous player.
Hale—who competes as Black Jim—knows he won’t be on top forever, despite his skills. He fights for a better life for his daughter, but his time is running out as Shadow Fray becomes increasingly lethal. Something about the newest fighter intrigues him, but does he dare defy his masters to investigate? Justin and Hale will clash in the ring, while beyond it the powerful elite and the crumbling world seem determined to keep them apart. If they can find common ground, they might have a chance to fight for their futures.
Shadow Fray: A Fighting Chance
Romance and fighting, while not complete opposites, do make for strange bedfellows, don’t they? And yet I wrote Shadow Fray, a dystopian romance featuring mixed martial arts. Violence is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not mine either. I haven’t been in a fight since I was nine years old and got into a slapping, hair-pulling, 10-second bout with the older neighbor girl. That brief melee ended with me holding a few strands of her hair in my fist while tears streamed down my (very slightly) bruised face. I needed to run home to my mom and cry in her lap for five minutes to regain my composure.
The next day we were friends again.
I’ve always loved fighting video games, though. I have a thing for women who kick butt, so I’m a Chun-Li expert in Street Fighter 2 Turbo and every Street Fighter game since the Super Nes. Even so, when the UFC and mixed martial arts came onto the scene, I was not a fan.
My first exposure to mixed martial arts was seeing matches in the background at random sports bars for after-work get-togethers or a grubby evening meal. I thought the fighting was kind of gross, something for people not of my ilk.
But, I wasn’t really paying attention. After a bit more exposure, the matches moved from the background to something that I began to attend to more closely…because, hot guys.
Like, really hot guys.
While blood happens occasionally, there’s a lot more going on in these fights. I’m convinced that anyone who likes hot guys and fan-fiction can like the UFC, because homoerotic lines are blurred constantly for those with vivid imaginations (and I think that’s all of us).
While my fantasies can run wild, and hot guys were my gateway into the sport, it’s a lot more than that for me now. This isn’t just a blood sport—it’s a true sport with tremendous athletes from around the world who utilize training and strategy, working for months to fight a mere 15 minutes in the octagon. The reason I view them as attractive now is not only because of their chiseled physiques but because they are talented and work hard. Many of the fighters are former Olympic athletes. The skill is the core of the sport for me now. The other stuff is just a bonus.
I’ve been to several UFC events in person, and the energy in the arena is partly what inspired me to write Shadow Fray. These athletes deserve respect and it’s amazing to be surrounded by fans cheering them on. I should also add that while watching the action up close, I enjoy taking snapshots of fighters in compromising situations. My phone is usually dead before I get to the final match. I mean, check out Conor McGregor’s photos from ESPN the Magazine’s “Body Issue,” and perhaps you’ll see the appeal.
And it’s not just the men, because the women are fierce. Women have exploded onto the scene and now headline the big pay-per-view events. In fact, for a while a woman was the top draw in all of the UFC. I find that beyond awesome, and a clear indicator that my earliest perceptions about the sport were dead wrong. How can you not love a sport where a woman literally kicks butt? I’ll take Ronda Rousey over Chun-Li in Street Fighter any day.
So, I wrote Shadow Fray not about fighting per se, but incorporating fighting, where the fight was part of my main characters’ struggle and sexuality. And even though it’s m/m, I didn’t leave out the women that kick ass and hold their own.
I’m not trying to convert you to the sport, but encouraging you to keep an open mind. The next time you’re at a bar or you’re flipping channels and there’s a match on, maybe check it out. Open that door a crack. Use your imagination, and it might be a gateway into a brand new, exciting arena.
Shadow Fray is waiting for you.
Exclusive Excerpt (edited for spoilers)
Every good fighter needs someone in their corner. Justin, however, has always tried to go it alone. When he and his little brother Charlie visit their elderly friend “Griz” Mays, Justin discovers his friend may have always known more than he let on. And, Griz has a wish for Justin that gives a hint of things to come.
“I know a whole lot more than you think I do,” Griz said, meeting his eyes. “A whole lot more than I ever let on.” Griz paused, taking a few breaths. Regrouping.
When he continued, there was a distinct sadness to his voice. “I had to go to Denver. Things weren’t safe for me here anymore. The only reason I come back was because the folks that wanted me finally decided it was crueler to let me suffer by allowing me to live. I paid a price so I could come back here. Come home. I always had friends here though. I always had eyes on you. I wish I coulda made it easier for you, but I did what I could.”
“I know, Mr. Mays,” Justin said. He and Gin and Charlie had a lot to be thankful for. For the unit fees Griz had paid for two years after their mother died. For getting Ray to give Gin and him a job. For getting Charlie into the Catholic school down the street. But he simply said, “Thanks.”
“Some say I’m lucky to have such a big family. And I feel it. But I’m only one man, and nothin’s been harder than some of the choices I’ve had to make. With a big family, you can’t help everyone.” His eyes glistened. “With a big family, you have to do some stuff. But I know you know how that goes.”
Justin was calm. All along, his whole life maybe, Griz had known more than he let on. Justin hadn’t given it much thought before. Whether he had been in denial until now, or just preoccupied, he wasn’t sure. He had never asked Mr. Mays for help, but he had taken the help he could get. Justin didn’t have friends—except for Griz. So it made sense his one friend saw more than Justin thought he did.
“So you know about Shadow Fray,” Justin said finally.
Griz nodded. “I know more than to tell you to get out, because you can’t get out no more, but I’m thinkin’ you know that. There’s big money on those fights, and when they look at you, they see dollar signs, and you’re not out until they bleed you dry. I can’t tell you what to do, because I don’t know. I’ll just… I’ll do what I can. And you’ll be smart. Careful. I needed to tell you. You can do this, Just.”
It would be appropriate to match his friend’s emotion, to have a tear drop down his cheek, or at the very least be concerned that someone knew his secrets. But in place of emotion were the simple facts. He had a job to do. He would do it. They would survive.
“Hey, Charlie,” Griz began in a lighter tone. “You know what I need your help in doing? We gotta get your brother someone. A friend.”
Charlie raised his eyebrows as if considering. Then, agreeing, he nodded emphatically.
“You need someone, Just. You got us, but you deserve more. You need someone who’s yours and yours alone.”
“You trying to play matchmaker now, Mr. Mays?” Justin shook his head, not believing what they were trying to pull. “You got someone in mind?”
Mr. Mays laughed, that spark returning to his eyes. “I didn’t say that. I didn’t say it had to be a woman. Just a friend. A man’s gotta have friends. And that goes for you too, Charlie. Do me a favor and before I die, let someone else in, the each of ya.”
“Ain’t that easy, Mr. Mays.”
Griz shook his head. “Certainly not. Sometimes lettin’ people in hurts an awful lot. But it sure is worth it. Take your mama for instance. If I didn’t come to love her, look at all I woulda missed out on. You remember her at all, Charlie?”
Charlie frowned and shook his head but then thought. He gave a hand signal that meant “Sort of.” Justin slept next to Charlie enough to know that he dreamed of their mother sometimes, enough to know that Charlie could talk.
“Your mama, she was way too young for me, but I loved her nonetheless. You know why? Because she loved. She loved people something fierce. Her patients, myself included, but you especially, of course. That can be a rare quality today. Too many people in it for themselves. I was in that bad way for a long time. Hard. But that’s survival for you, isn’t it? My own mama died when I was young, but I remember her enough to know that’s not how she raised me. She didn’t go until after the third flu came around, and after that, that’s when I got hard. And they used me like a tool, used that hard edge. Hungry for food. Hungry for blood. But it was people like your mama helped me come back to myself again. Best for you both if you never lose yourself to begin with. Life’s too short to lose all them years.”
Silence fell over them again for a minute. Justin was almost relieved. He forgot how much Mr. Mays liked to talk, and this was plenty to think about.
Griz’s eyelids drooped. Finally the guy was exhausted. Justin supposed he and Charlie would just hang out, listening to music. He wasn’t willing to leave the old man alone until Devin came back.
“Best to find someone,” Mr. Mays mumbled. A few moments later, he began a soft snore that let Justin know he truly was asleep.
Sure. Best to find someone. But easier said than done.
Best to find someone. But who?
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