Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.
Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.
Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.
Melanie Hansen Interview
Welcome Unquiet author Melanie Hansen!
Hi Melanie! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. Here are a few questions from Gay Book Review reviewers.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not really anything Id call a ritual, but with a husband and two boys, and a full-time job, writing time is really at a premium! What I love to do is get up around 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. so I can have a couple hours of alone time before I have to hit the ground running. I’ve come to cherish the dark, quiet mornings with my coffee and my laptop and that’s when I get some of my most productive writing done.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If yes, how do you get past it?
I do get writer’s block! I’s not much of an outliner, unfortunately, and sometimes I get deep into a story and then hit a wall. My main way of getting past it is just to step away for a while, and take long walks while listening to music. I do my best story planning that way, and most of the time I can work through the block, even if it takes a week or two. I’ve come to realize that creativity really does ebb and flow, and when it’s ebbing, instead of stressing about it, I just try to ride it out.
Do you listen to music while you write?
No, not while I write. It’s too distracting. Sometimes when the house is super noisy, like when my boys have their friends over or they’re screaming at their videogames, Ill put on one of those white noise machines. That helps, although I really prefer total silence when I’m actively writing, which is why I make myself get up at 3:30 a.m. when I’d rather be sleeping!
What inspired you to write your first book?
After spending my entire life steeped in military culture, first with my dad and now my husband, I knew I had to write a military story. I loved the idea of an intense experience helping to ignite a friendship and turn it to love, even when one man never dreamed it was possible for him to fall in love with another man. Combat relationships are as intense as it gets, just as intense as romances, and I wanted to explore what it might look like when that relationship, that friendship, caught fire. Carey (from Everything Changes) went through something life-changing, losing his leg in combat, and the man who saved his life, who was there for him in the aftermath, it just seemed natural that they would fall in love.
Did any songs inspire or play through your mind while writing Signs of Life?
Actually, there was one song I listened to obsessively while writing that story, and that’s No Air by Jordin Sparks. ‘Losing you is like living in a world with no air. Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air.’ When I was trying to channel Jeremy’s grief over losing his husband, Brent, that song absolutely spoke to me. It’s about a breakup, not death, but ‘It’s so hard for me to breathe. Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air’ is exactly how I expected Jeremy to feel, and this song helped me write that extremely difficult first chapter.
I was really struck by your blog post Who Would Jesus Loathe? Your Uncle David so beautifully expressed the disconnect between Jesus telling us to “Love One Another” and “Christian” evangelists telling gay youth they are better off dead than gay. Do you plan to use any of this in a future book?
I actually have this exact theme in my current WIP, which I’m about 70K into so far, a stepbrother romance. I come from an evangelical Christian background, and I wrote a whole post on this topic for my 2015 GRL blog tour. It’s a very long post, so I’m putting a link to my blog here, if anyone is interested in reading it! It explains a lot about me as a writer, and how I even came to be writing M/M romance.
Thank you so much, Gigi and Gay Book Reviews, for hosting me today! It’s always a pleasure!
Resilient Love Story Series
Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.