Welcome Ellen Holiday to the Hot Seat Today :-)
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 34 years old, working in Washington D.C. and living just outside the city in Northern Virginia with my husband. I’ve been writing since I was 5, writing romances since I was 8, and writing m/m romance since I discovered it existed. A healthy dose of Japan love and the discovery of boys’ love and yaoi comics helped jump-start me in that direction – I lived in Japan for a year teaching English at a private language school. Besides my husband and Japan, my loves are politics, singing, and the wonderful world of fandom.
What made you write ‘Inside the Beltway’ ?
I fell in love with politics almost immediately upon moving to the D.C. area. The closer I got to it the more it fascinated me – not just campaigns but the way Congress works, the way a scandal breaks down, how the media works and how public and private lives can intersect. I wanted to explore that, and I wanted to tell a story with the beautiful backdrop of Washington. And when Senator Davis Hudson appeared in my mind, I knew exactly the kind of story I wanted to tell for him. It may seem weird, but I’m awfully proud of him and the growth he experiences through this book. It really is like watching your child grow up.
Describe a typical day’s writing for us
I do my best writing anywhere but inside my apartment. Sometimes I go up into our loft with my iPod and lean back in the chair, but most of the time I’m on my porch looking out at the pond or, if the weather’s nice, by the pool. Lately I find that when if I hit a block, a few laps clears my mind again. I like to have music, have life moving around me. I also have a long commute to work, so I’m able to do a lot of writing on the Metro. I touch-type and write with my eyes closed, so I’ve occasionally gotten some strange looks!
What inspires you to write?
I get a lot of inspiration from images, or slices of life that I see go by. I just got an iPad, and I’ve downloaded an app that lets me keep index cards of characters, so I have a bunch of pretty faces sitting on my iPad waiting for names and stories to be attached to them. Music helps the words flow, but it has to be instrumental music, as I get caught up too much in lyrics. I have a lot of anime soundtracks from the ‘90s that speak to me emotionally and help me take my characters to vulnerable places.
What could not do without when you’re writing?
The universe. I don’t write in solitude, though sometimes my husband will take one look at me and know I’m “in the zone” and not to be disturbed! But I prefer life to be happening around me, even if it’s just the birds flying or the wind moving. I have to feel connected to the world in order to write about it.
What words of wisdom do you have for the aspiring authors out there?
I’m still at the stage where I need the words of wisdom! But what I’ve learned so far is: just do it. Write it, edit it, and send it out. You’ll probably get rejection letters. Don’t let them stop you. Just keep putting your vision out there, make it the best you possibly can, and then let your baby leave the nest. You’ll be surprised by how well she flies.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I have many, but whenever I’m asked, I blank. I’m fond of Emerson, who has a number of quotes that speak to me personally and as a writer. Most notably, this one:
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Oh, all the time. There are times I think I know exactly what to do and then get to my computer and nothing happens. There are times the only words that come out are horribly boring. It’s so frustrating. I try to switch out my environments, put on music, take off music, look at pictures, anything to get it all flowing again. If worse comes to worst, I just take a break.
H.C. Trust me, reading through your manuscript works wonders :-)
What other books can your readers look forward to?
I’m working on another vaguely politically themed book, this one about a talk radio host. This time he’s a libertarian, which is far from my political viewpoint, so it’s a bit harder to write him, but it’s also super-interesting to try and write someone with a fundamentally different worldview. I also have about twenty tons of story ideas in various stages of development, and I’m also working on a joint project with Nessa Warin (author of Sauntering Vaguely Downward) that’s moving slowly but will surely be done someday.
Can you share an excerpt with us?
Here’s an excerpt from Inside the Beltway that hasn’t been shared anywhere else yet. A bit steamy!
H.C. My readers like it to melt their computer screens. LOL :-)
“And that’s why I feel so strongly about these trade pacts. They’re good for America, they’re good for the global economy, and they’re going to create thousands of jobs if we can have the fortitude to push forward and make sure they get approved.”
Davis paused and took a sip of water. A wrinkled old man was staring at him from the front row as though Davis was a three-headed talking monkey. The woman next to him looked like she’d like to wring his neck. This was the reception he’d expected from the Cato Institute, which was generally known for its libertarian ideology. For every business supporter who agreed with him in the audience, there were four isolationists who thought he was selling them all out to the Chinese.
But Alex was giving him a thumbs-up from the back of the auditorium, and the C-SPAN cameras were rolling. And he was sure he’d seen at least a dozen press passes on his way in. He was getting covered, and that was a damn good thing no matter which way he intended to go with his ambitions. It was worth the chilly stares.
The moderator opened the floor for questions, and a man in a suit strolled to the microphone. “Senator Hudson,” he said, and cleared his throat. “What’s your position on the import tariffs? There’s been a push from your party’s left flank to hike them up.”
“I respectfully disagree with my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus on that point,” Davis said. Alex wrinkled her nose at him, and Davis hastily added, “Which is to say, I think it’s a lousy idea.”
A smattering of laughter lifted from the audience. Davis glanced at Alex, who gave him the thumbs-up.
“Not that we don’t need to address the debt, and we do,” he went on, “but when we’re talking about importing Chinese goods, we should keep in mind that they’re holding our debt, and there’s only so much of their money we can ask them to spend before they change their mind about us spending their money too. That is a politically tricky path, and as much as we have to hold our noses to recognize it, we have to hold our noses and recognize it until we work our way out of debt in this country.”
“Some would say, though, that what you’re really doing is protecting our own corporations from paying their fair share.”
Davis looked up with a start. That had been a very familiar voice.
Kurt made his way up to the microphone. “After all, if Pratco has a factory in China, but their headquarters are here and their goods are sold here, how much of that is Chinese money?” he said casually. “How much of it is a corporate tax break that you’re just not willing to let go because of the influence of the business lobby?”
Davis took a sip of his water, tried to calm the racing of his heart. A smile slipped onto his face. “Well, aren’t you left-wing,” he said. “How did they ever let you in here?”
Kurt’s eyes met Davis’s. “I told them I was related to you,” he quipped. The audience laughed. Davis felt his whole heart drop right into his pants. When Kurt’s eyebrows quirked upward and he gave a soft wink in Davis’s direction, Davis was sure he’d never be able to walk out from behind the podium without immediate embarrassment. He turned and offered a wan smile to Mr. and Mrs. Pruneface just to calm down.
“Related to me, huh?” he hissed into Kurt’s ear. “Let me guess. Long-lost cousin?”
“I thought brother would be awkward,” came the chuckle and reply, but a moan broke from the end of it, and Davis smiled around the lobe of Kurt’s ear as he nipped it. Kurt’s hands were pressed into his shoulder blades, holding fast there, and in the dimness and silence of the office, his shallow breaths echoed around them.
“Kurt,” Davis moaned, the sound so much more desperate than he knew he could make, “I told them I’d be back in five minutes—”
“What, do they have a stopwatch?” Kurt’s hands were at work at Davis’s belt, loosening and unbuckling it to the rhythm of their fevered breaths. “Six minutes? Seven?”
“Not—” Davis broke off, a huffing sigh coming from his mouth as Kurt reached inside his pants to stroke him. “—not twenty.”
“Point taken, then. Not twenty.” And Kurt slid down his body, dropping to his knees far easier than Davis ever expected he would, certainly far easier than in any of their more leisurely trysts. Davis groaned and leaned back against the wall, fists cinching hard around Kurt’s shoulders.
“Not nineteen, either—ah!” His eyes jammed shut as Kurt’s mouth encompassed him, as suction and liquid took over every nerve in his body.
“Mm-hm” was the only noise Kurt could make through his tight mouth, and it rolled, vibrating, into Davis’s core, weakening his knees, making him tremble and shudder against the wall where he was uncomfortably bracing himself. There was a chuckle too, in the back of Kurt’s throat at the end of those words, and Davis felt every single tremor and vibration of his vocal cords, thought he would pass out from that much sensation radiating up and through him. He gritted his teeth and held on for dear life.
Kurt was far too good at this—he was far too good every time he touched Davis—and Davis was lost in a heart-pounding pure-white wave of pleasure, pleasure magnified with excitement and fear of discovery and the knowledge that he was cutting it as close as a man possibly could, far closer than a man in his position ever should. But it had been a few weeks now since they started this madness, and Davis was completely addicted. He couldn’t break things off now if he wanted, and God help him, he didn’t want. He only wanted this wonderful feeling to go on forever.
He looked down with tenderness at the man below him, his eyes soft, and drew gentle fingers against the lines of Kurt’s cheeks even as he thrust forward and groaned and lost his mind.
I have a blog at ellenholiday.wordpress.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @ellen_holiday. It’s wonderful to be part of this community, and I thank you for giving me such a warm welcome!
H.C. Thanks for joining me today. I hope you come back and tell us more about your new releases :-)