We’re so pleased to welcome author Kelly Jensen to TNA today on the tour for the latest release in her This Time Forever series, Chasing Forever. Kelly’s giving us an exclusive peek behind the book and is also offering up a giveaway, so be sure to check out all the details below.
Behind the Book
Leading up to the release of Chasing Forever, I talked a lot about Brian’s role in the book, and why I wanted to write it for him. Briefly, he’s the cheating ex of Simon, one of the main characters in Building Forever, the first book of my series This Time Forever. Somewhere along the line, I started calling all the cheating exes of my main characters “Brian.” So I knew I needed to write Brian’s story one day in order to figure out why he couldn’t commit. It was a bit of a joke and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get around to it. Angsty books aren’t really my thing and I had a feeling Brian’s story would be just that. I also didn’t have a redemption angle for him. Then Building Forever turned into a series and I had to put some more thought into Brian’s story. I started with his opposite number, the other main character of Chasing Forever: Malcolm Montgomery.
Mal moved through a few evolutions before I finally decided who he would be, what he wanted, and what his journey would be like. At first, I envisioned someone even less able—a man confined to a wheelchair, living alone in an apartment surrounded by cats and a thick layer of depression.
It was November 2017, cold outside, and I’d just returned from the fourth of four funerals I attended last year. I was fighting a thick layer of depression myself.
I figured Brian owned the building and that he had his nephew living with him, and the nephew had broken into Mal’s apartment on a dare. When he found Mal inside (Mal was called Victor in this version of the book, by the way) (no, I don’t know why) he immediately felt bad for the guy who was stuck inside all day and so made it his mission to befriend him.
Brian would get drawn into the picture—first of all summoned to remove his nephew. Then to pick up where his nephew had left off—caring for and about Mal, encouraging him to come out into the light.
As anyone who has read Chasing Forever will know that is not the story I wrote. I abandoned this idea for a number of reasons, the most important being that it was too dark. I would like to write a story like that one day. One of my favorite Annabeth Albert books is Connection Error, and hero Ryan Orson. Without spoiling the book for you, Ryan is a Navy SEAL with serious injuries and I absolutely adored the way Annabeth handled both the physical challenges of his character, and his mental fortitude. I want to write a character like that one day. When I do, though, I want the book to be for that character, and Chasing Forever had to be for Brian.
Still, I wanted Mal to have his own story, and for him to be as important as a main character as he would be to Brian’s story, so I sketched out something new. I decided he’d been in a hit and run accident, leaving him with one leg broken in three places, the other with enough torn ligaments to require surgery. He begins the story on crutches, with a mild case of depression, but already with the attitude that he can beat this. He’s down, but not out. I liked this much better because not only would I be writing a character with a lighter aspect, but as I fleshed out Mal’s character a little more, I really grew fond of him. He’s a former football star—and built to match. But he’s sweet and gentle, shy and awkward. I love writing personalities that don’t quite fit first physical impressions because human beings come in all sorts of packages and I think one of the biggest mistakes we can make upon meeting someone is to assume we know who they are because of what they look like.
And this is the very approach I take with the romance between Brian and Mal. Mal makes a lot of not quite correct assumptions about Brian, based on what he’s seen of the guy, and a bit of local gossip. So he thinks he knows Brian, but during the course of the book, he finds out exactly how much he doesn’t know, and that proved to be a wonderful way of redeeming Brian for readers of the series—who also thought they knew Brian.
I loved writing this book for a number of reasons. I think I did a great job of making Brian likeable. Loveable, even. I also felt as though I had managed to redeem Brian in his own eyes—by showing him who he could be. A lot of that was due to the appearance of his nephew, Josh. I enjoyed writing another teenager, and another story I’d like to write at some point is a follow up for Josh.
So I enjoyed creating Mal and introducing him to all of my other characters. Having him fall for and help redeem Brian. He might be on the quiet side, but he’s a force of strength in this book, and throughout the story, he learns to be a little bit louder.
Mostly, though, I enjoyed capping a series. I felt as though I got a chance to draw all three stories to a close here, having the other two couples make brief appearances, and in having Simon and Brian finally come to terms. And the happy ever after at the end of this book is one that felt particularly resonant because it was for more than two people this time. It was for Brian, as a person. For Mal as a person. For Brian and Mal as a couple, for them and Josh as a family. But it was also for their community, their friends and family, all of whom had come together to create a safe space for their children. Really, it was the culmination of a lot of ideas and I’m particularly proud of this one.
About the Book
Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.
About This Time Forever
Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.
About the Author
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
To celebrate the release of Chasing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 15, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!