Canadian author Cate Ashwood of Dreamspinner Press never imagined her debut novel “Keeping Sweets” ending up so well received by readers. Reaching #3 on the Amazon Bestseller Gay and Lesbian category, Ashwood said she is grateful and humbled by her good fortune. Ashwood’s sister described her as a “fucking awesome sexy beast,” but Ashwood prefered to think of herself as a “redhead super nerd.”
The Sweet Premise
Ashwood elaborated on the premise of “Keeping Sweets” via an email interview.
“Days away from high school graduation, with hardly a penny to his name, Evan Lowry needs to earn money for college,” she said. “When he comes across an ad for modeling, he thinks his luck has changed—until he learns he’s interviewing for an adult film and will be expected to have sex. On camera. With other men.”
And then enter Brandon Court, stage right. Ashwood continued.
“For gay porn star Brandon Court, the shine has worn off of regular shoots,” she said. “He and his producer, Les, decide to try something new: a reality-show porno set at a beach house. When he meets wide-eyed and naïve Evan for the first time, Brandon isn’t sure if he wants the kid to get lost or get naked. Naked wins.”
What can possibly go wrong? Ashwood provided the details.
“On set, Brandon takes Evan under his wing, and over the next month, they are thrown together in every intimate way conceivable—except emotionally. Both Brandon and Evan are terrified of trying for anything deeper, and insecurities and doubts wear on their hopes, but the chemistry between them won’t let them slow things down.”
The Sweet Beginning
Ashwood claimed she never pictured herself as a writer. In her life away from writing about sexy boys, she’s studying phlebotomy. Despite cramming on biology, she talked about what led her to writing.
“As for writing, there wasn’t really a process to it,” she said. “I just started writing one night. Every once in a while after that I would get the urge to write a little more so I would sit down with my laptop and pound it out. Eventually I had something that resembled a novel.”
Did she ever pick up a method to her “just writing?” Ashwood answered.
“I have learned so much about writing since I finished the first book, that now I actually have a process instead of just winging it,” she said.
Ashwood confessed to having hesitation and had severe “feet dragging” before sending “Keeping Sweets” to Dreamspinner Press. She gave her reason why.
“At first, no one knew I was writing except my husband and sister because I didn’t want people to know in case I failed horribly at it,” she said.
But when her contract arrived? Ashwood related her big “glamorous” moment.
“I was walking across the parking lot to the grocery store when my phone buzzed that I had a new email,” she said. “I think I may have squealed and jumped up and down, just a little.”
Sweet “Accidental” Promo
Ashwood said she had “mixed feelings” about the overall success of her blog tour. She has plans on revising her strategy for future tours. One thing she said that she never expected was “Keeping Sweets” being namedropped along with the likes of J.R. Ward, author of the nationally bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Ashwood talked about her feelings of the surprise.
“I was absolutely thrilled to see that people were mentioning my book, and it was even more exciting to see it mentioned next to some of my favorite author’s names,” she said. “It was a little surreal actually.”
Unexpected Sweet Favorites
Ashwood’s readers have cried out for a “Keeping Sweets” sequel starring the supporting character, Colt, who became a fan favorite. Is Ashwood planning it? She shared the details.
“Originally when I wrote Keeping Sweets, I had no idea whether or not it would ever be published, so I didn’t think much beyond what I had written,” she said. “Colt was one of my favourite characters to write, though, so the idea of giving him his own book appealed to me.”
But Ashwood revealed it’s not a direct sequel. Instead, it’s a spin-off that takes place six years after “Keeping Sweets.”
“I started writing it this month—although with the craziness in my life, I haven’t gotten very far with it—but so far I am really enjoying it,” she said. “We do see a bit of Evan and Bran, but for the most part, the only carryover from Sweets is Colt. We follow Colt to Colorado where he takes on a temporary teaching job.”
A Sweet June Daily Dose
With this summer heating up, Ashwood has her own sexy offering in the Dreamspinner Press 2013 June Daily Dose Anthology called
“Make a Play.” Her story, “Riding the Board” is a tale of synchronized divers.
Ashwood explained the story is not without it’s misadventures.
“It’s about two synchronized divers who don’t get along very well,” she said. “Their coach goes to some extreme measures to force them to work together.”
Ashwood said she drew inspiration from London Olympics and the diving teams led her to the story.
“I knew absolutely nothing about diving when I started writing it,” she said. “There isn’t too much technical content in the story, but I did learn quite a bit while writing it. And I watched my fill of pretty boys diving on YouTube too.”
Sweet Times Ahead At GayRomLit
Ashwood has confirmed she will be attending GayRomLit in Atlanta this October. It will be her first time going to any conference as an author, but she said it’s not without apprehension.
“I am so freaking excited to be going to GRL this year,” she said. “Excited and a little apprehensive. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, and frankly strangers scare me, but I am trying to adopt my mom’s mantra of ‘strangers are friends you haven’t met yet’.”
Ashwood said her mother is like “Martha Stewart on steroids,” and she has helped Ashwood with swag ideas.
“I’m not one hundred percent sure yet about what I plan to do for giveaways for GRL,” she said. “I have a bunch of ideas and now I just need to narrow it down. If I had unlimited funds, I would love to give away Kindles.”
She elaborated on conferences she’d like to attend in the future.
“The DSP conference is going to be high up on my list for next year, as well as possibly RT [Romantic Times] or the Rainbow Book Fair,” she said.
A Sweet Future
Determined to keep writing as long as there’s still readers, Ashwood talked about her project in the works, a trilogy called “Hope Cove.”
“Book 1 follows Oliver who is a chef living in Seattle,” she said. “One day he comes home to find Mack, a cop, sitting on his doorstep. Mack tells him his sister has died, which is news to Oliver who didn’t know he had a sister. Oliver has inherited everything from her, so goes with Mack to Hope Cove, Maine to try to get to know the sister he lost.”
And now with an introduction to the world of “Hope Cove,” Ashwood gave the premise of the second book.
“Book 2 is about Lucas and Declan,” she said. “Declan is a deputy of Mack’s, and is called to the dock one morning to find Lucas who had been badly beaten by the guys he used to work on a lobster boat with. Declan feels an odd connection to the man because of things that had happened in his past. He takes Lucas in with him to heal after he is discharged from the hospital.”
And rounding out the trilogy is the tale of Haydn and Trevor.
“In Book 3, Haydn meets Trevor at a club just outside of Hope Cove,” she said. “They spend the night together and Haydn never expects to see him again, but months later, he walks into his business and Haydn discovers that Trevor was not who he had made himself out to be.”
Where to Buy
Curious about “Keeping Sweets” or “Riding the Board?” You can find them on the Dreamspinner Press website under Ashwood’s author page HERE and you can preorder the “Make a Play” June Daily Dose. Stories will be sold individually after June 1.