*Flops down* Hello Tammy! Hello readers! This is Ashavan Doyon visiting to talk about my new release (or rather re-release) The King’s Mate. This is a second edition of the original story, which was written for the Make a Play daily dose anthology.
The King’s Mate
Sam's Café Romances: Book One
Russell Pine comes to Sam’s Café every morning to enjoy the best coffee in town and to chat with Sam Tesh, the owner, a loyal friend for the past twenty years. When Sam offers him a challenge, Russ reluctantly takes it on, acting as the master opponent in a chess tournament. As the days pass and the hopefuls fall to the chess mastermind one by one, Russ discovers that the contest isn’t the only game being played.
Russ finds himself the focus of a secret courtship through words and pictures left for him to discover each morning. Will a hint of cologne on the paper lead him to his admirer? In a café full of young and beautiful minds, who is looking at the graying chess master?
First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2013.
The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)
Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only
Guest Post with Author Ashavan Doyon...
This was my first professionally published piece of gay romance. I wrote it because I’d gotten a rejection on a novel length piece I’d written. I revised it and resubmitted it elsewhere, but I’d learned that the best defense against a crushing rejection of that novel was to have something else submitted and pending.
I’ve talked a little bit about how I brainstormed with my beta reader on what I should write, but they (meaning marketing folks) always tell us you (readers) want to know the inside details. Here’s something I’d never usually share. These are my quick notes for the best ideas I had for the Make a Play anthology, complete with some title ideas for The King’s Mate:
cute single dad meets his match when he goes back for his son's lost toy and finds... a janitor who lost a promising career to an injury and now cleans up the mess made by others during the games?
The Receipt portrait. or maybe the Chess Widower. Or.... King's Mate?
it's a challenge of epic proportions as a chess set abandoned at a cafe becomes a courtship... as a player leaves bits of poetry for his secret opponent...
the epic struggle of a geeky but hot college student to get recognition for the college Quidditch team
competitive darts thrower Jim Masters misses on the final throw. Is he losing his touch, or did he see true love out of the corner of his eye?
This is more of a skeleton than I usually have for a story, believe it or not. I tend to just start with a character. This was written for an open call, more importantly, an open call with a defined word count. I couldn’t take five thousand words to figure out what the conflict is… I only have 15,000 to work with. Also, because it was an open call, I was also measuring and considering ideas based on my perspective of what other people might submit. We’d been encouraged in the call to think outside the box, to look at people on the sidelines, at sports not often thought about. That was my thinking: The janitor, a chess match, Quidditch, darts. Not your usual suspects.
Obviously, I went with chess. I picked a café, because I live in a little town full of them. Sam’s Café isn’t based on any one of them, but instead is an amalgam of a few that have stuck in my mind. When I was a college student I remember the older barista, who was the owner, of one of the cafes talking to the college students. He was close to some of the regulars, closer than you’d expect. The place was a bit like a college version of Cheers. I thought about how that relationship between the barista and the students might mature over time. That’s what brought me to Sam.
When you live in a college town and you’re part of the gay community you can’t help but know a few guys like Russ. Enough older that no one pays any attention to the fact that they’re still smokin’ hot. Young enough to miss the scene. Always at the sidelines, watching. Helping. Yearning. Not in a creepy way (though sometimes that happens). I used the idea as the base for Russ, thinking about why he might be yearning. My title options shed some light on where I was going with that — the Chess Widower.
This was my first gay romance and despite the happy ending, there are places where it’s profoundly sad. It’s revealed pretty early on that Russ’s secret admirer is an abuse survivor. That puts some seriously heavy emotion into the story from the get go. But one of the pieces that you saw very little of in the original edition of the story was Russ’s grief. It was implied, and you saw it in some of his actions, but you only really see it once or twice. When he first talks about it to his admirer. Some hesitance when it comes up elsewhere.
This expanded edition picks up that gauntlet and really takes the reader through some of that grief, especially as Russ realizes that he is developing feelings. He gets to a point where he realizes he has to let go, and also realizes that he hasn’t. I’ve read this story a lot of times, and I know you’ll probably recognize this point in the story. It makes me cry. If I’ve done my job, you’ll feel some of that emotion too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek into my thought process writing and developing The King’s Mate. There’s just one stop left, the Dreamspinner Press blog, which I’ll be visiting tomorrow to talk about all three releases. In the meantime, I hope you find some love in the pages of a book.
For fifteen years, Ashavan Doyon worked with students in the student affairs office of a liberal arts college. He recently decided to shake things up a little, and is now working in the publications and communications office at the college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won't break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, but lavishes attention on his sole remaining fur child, a very elderly pug. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.
Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.
You can find me online at:
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