Title: Wild and Precious
Author Name: CJane Elliott
Publication Date & Length: December 31, 2014 – 80 pgs
Aspiring writer Brent Granger has good friends and a great job at an arts magazine in DC, but he’s batting zero in the arena of love. Brent begins to get a clue why things aren’t working with women from his strong attraction to his gorgeous, gay, and already attached boss, Graham Stoneford. When he sees a personal ad from a man that quotes his favorite poet, Brent decides to do something wild and answer.
Enter Cody Bellstrom, easygoing bisexual musician, who is happy to initiate Brent in the ways of gay sex. Brent now has a new problem: he realizes he’s gay and no one in his life knows it. Cody tires of hiding their relationship, but Brent finds it challenging to come out to family, friends, and especially to Graham. In the end, Brent must confront the truth of where—and with whom—his heart lies.
This quick, one-sitting read was sweet and fun. I enjoyed watching Brent unfold and become comfortable with himself and who he was, and I loved the way the relationship with Graham unfolded slowly.
My only regret is that I wish the author hadn’t put any of the story in Cody’s point of view. Cody ended up feeling to me like a throwaway. It seemed like he was falling for Brent, and I didn’t really feel like there was closure with him. Maybe the author will tell his story some other time.
As Brent sat cross-legged on a pillow, tearing pieces off the rubbery bread and dipping them into various dishes he couldn’t identify, he realized he was having more fun than he’d had in ages. Along with being thoughtful and smart, Graham was one of the most hilarious people he’d ever met, and Brent was in stitches for most of their lunch.
“If only my dates could be like this,” Brent said, after another bout of laughter between them, then widened his eyes. “Oh, wow, man, that sounded dumb.”
Graham didn’t seem fazed. “They’re not? But why? You’re so fun to talk to. Any woman would be nuts not to appreciate you.”
“Uh, well, tell them that. But I guess I don’t really appreciate them either. I don’t know, it’s like, awkward and boring most of the time. Whatever. Ari keeps trying to set me up, but…. Anyway, how did this get into talking about my love life, or lack thereof?”
Graham regarded him, warmth in his eyes, and said softly, “You’ll find it, Brent. Everyone deserves to have love in their life. You’re young. You’ll find it.”
Graham’s words touched Brent, but the intensity of the moment made him uncomfortable. Even worse, he noticed he was getting aroused.
He shifted on his pillow with a weak laugh. “Hey, no more of this ‘young’ crap, okay? You’re not that much older than I am.”
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of gay equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.
In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
- Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like? I write in different places, but most often it is sitting on my blue loveseat in my bedroom (which I’m doing right now). I have a candle lit and from where I sit I look out windows onto a green and grey world of trees and ferns. I usually have my iPod on and listen to music (my current favorite is George Michael). I have a writing desk on my lap (a cushion with a small desk top) on which perches either my computer or paper. I used to write all my first drafts in longhand and then type them into the computer, but lately I’ve been doing most of my writing on the computer.
- Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why? I relate to Pete, the main character in Serpentine Walls, because I had him go through what I went through regarding my parents getting divorced my first year in college. Pete’s pain and anger, the weirdness of holidays without his father, how devastated his mother is – all of that is reflective of my own experience. The other similarity is how scared Pete is of falling in love, which he covers up with cynicism. I was scared of it for a long time, because of the experience of my parents splitting up.
- In Wild and Precious, I relate most closely to Brent who is a few years out of college and trying to figure out what his life is about. He’s not a flashy character and he doubts his attractiveness and talent, but he keeps taking steps outside of his comfort zone to express who he really is. I did the same thing with my life starting as a 22-year old and I was just as scared about it as Brent is in the story. I’ve never regretted going for what I wanted, and I don’t think Brent will either.
- If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead? I didn’t start being an author until I was in my forties, so I’ve already done my other dream, which was to be a counselor. Currently I work as a medical social worker. But if I had another life to live, I would become a dancer.
- Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand? I’m constantly learning about writing. In the case of Wild and Precious, I had written a version of that story several years earlier. Coming to it after having written several more books, I could see the overuse of adverbs, too much passive voice, and not enough “meat” to the story. It was satisfying to make the original version into something I think is much better.
- Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out? It’s too late now! With Dreamspinner Press, you generally get three edits and then the book goes to galleys. I find the third edit nervewracking because I know it’s my last chance to do any substantive changes. Every time I re-read one of my stories I can pick out a sentence that could have been written better or a word choice that could be changed. But to answer your question, no, I wouldn’t change anything major about Wild and Precious. I’m happy with the story and especially the sweet ending.
- How do you come up with new ideas for your story? A lot of my writing draws on my own past experiences of places, people, and situations. Some of it comes from wanting to address a certain issue. For instance, the story I’m currently writing includes a transgender character and the transphobia she encounters. Some of it comes from a character in a previous book demanding their own story. Aidan’s Journey, which is the second novel in my Serpentine Series of books set at University of Virginia, came out of wanting to know why Aidan in Serpentine Walls, who is a handsome, talented young man, would get himself involved in a sketchy relationship with a professor. The other way I come up with ideas is by brainstorming with someone else. I find it very helpful to talk about my story ideas with others, especially when I get stuck.
- What’s next for you as a writer? I’m writing the third novel in the Serpentine Series featuring Jed from Serpentine Walls. It should be out this summer and I plan on completing a fourth novel in that series by the end of 2015.
- Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write? Absolutely. I use my experience of having lived in certain places for the settings of my stories. I’ve been living in Oregon for the past nine years, and you get to see some of the Pacific Northwest in my novella Mercury In Retrograde, which features a river rafting trip at an Oregon Most of my stories are placed in the DC area and Virginia, because I grew up there. I lived in San Francisco for four years and my story Stay Right Here is placed there.
- What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why? Mystery stories. I find them fascinating, especially those that are psychological studies along with the whodunit aspect. I’m in awe of people who can write mysteries well.
- Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc? Hmm. Coffee is a necessity, not a vice! If I had more money, I’d probably have far more vices. My only shopping vice is pens. I’m addicted to nice pens and they have to be just right – black gel, not too thin and not too thick.