I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with author Aly Hayden, who was gracious enough to answer a few questions...
AUTHOR NAME: Aly Hayden
Tell us about yourself and your writing?
Aly Hayden has loved writing ever since she learned to pick up a pencil. As a child, she used to write short stories, then progressed to novels of various genres, none of which were ever published – for good reason. She started writing fanfiction in 2011, publishing on Archive of Our Own. After finding M/M romance in 2012, she fell in love and made it her mission to write one of her own one day. When Aly isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her lovable Yorkie and watching old reruns of House Hunters.
Tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
~ The book is called Exposure, and it’s a romance between the manager of a coffee and tea shop and a photographer. The manager, Sam, has been lying to his parents and telling them he has a boyfriend. When his parents demand he bring the boyfriend to the upcoming family reunion, his friends step in and convince Ben, a photographer and regular at the cafe, to pose as his boyfriend. Of course, what they don’t realize is that their feelings for each other aren’t as unrequited as they think.
I’ve always loved the fake boyfriend trope and wanted to give it a shot. I’d also just finished binge watching Gilmore Girls, so I was in the mindset of a small town in Connecticut and I just kind of ran with it.
How did you come up with the title?
~Since Ben is a photographer, and the series is based around art, I the title to have something to do with photography. And since there’s a huge risk that Ben and Sam’s fake relationship is going to be exposed, I thought Exposure was a pretty appropriate title. Plus it’s short, snappy, and to the point.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
~Writing the last third. Around that time, I start worrying that everything I’ve written so far is crap and no one’s going to enjoy it and why am I even writing in the first place? I have to take a step back, turn to the people who know me best, and have them talk some sense into me.
Are there any characters that you write, that are based on you, or people you know?
~In some ways, all of my characters have bits of me, but Ben and Sam are definitely, 100% based on people I know in real life. Loosely, for sure. The real-life Sam doesn’t have a rich family or a vacation home in the Hamptons, but I had someone in mind while I was writing him.
Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about them?
~It depends on the story. The characters for Exposure just came to me, and the plot followed soon after. The sequel I’m finding a bit more difficult to tackle.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
~Definitely a plotter. I do chapter outlines of each book, and then I have story ideas in their own separate notebook. I would be lost without them.
Do you write often? Is it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like it?
~I do my best to write every single day, at least a couple of thousand words. Any less than that and I feel like I’m slacking. I have an everyday job that eats into my writing time, but for the most part, I’m able to write or plot every single day.
When is your next book coming out, and what’s it about?
~Right now I’m working on the second book in the series. It follows a reclusive artist who’s mentioned in Exposure and a down on his luck journalist who moves back to town. I’m hoping to have it out sometime next month!
If you could go anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go, who would you take with you, if anyone, and why?
~I would go to a little rowhouse in Surbiton, England with my friend and former housemate. I lived there for two years, and it was the best two years of my life. I miss the people like crazy, and would do just about anything to go back.
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Can you tell us about your pets?
~ Both. I adore cats and dogs. Growing up, I couldn’t have cats, because my mom was allergic and our outside cats would disappear (we blame the coyotes) so I had dogs all growing up, and I still have one now - a Yorkie named Kendall. If I had to pick, I would say dogs, but I really do love both.
Cover Artist: Aria from Resplendent Media
Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: 61,000 words/150 pages approx.
The first book in the Drawn Together series.
Each book follows a different couple, so there's a HEA and no cliffhanger.
Sam Hayward's parents think he has a boyfriend. And he does... in his dreams. But when they insist Sam bring his partner to the annual Labor Day family reunion, his options are to either admit it was all a lie or find a stand-in in a hurry. The trouble is that his lies have all been based on one very real man. Ben Matheny has been hurt before. When he's bribed into playing a part by his friends, he fleshes out Sam's dreams, but it's like flying too close to the sun. He's always had a crush on Sam, and now they're going to the Hamptons to spend a week pretending they're lovers, everything is getting harder. When Ben uncovers another lie Sam has told - that Ben is every bit as rich as Sam is - things begin to unravel. If Sam isn't happy with who Ben is, Ben can't stick around to get burned again. With their hearts on the line, the two must fight for their dreams as the pressure mounts. It would be so easy to admit that it was all a sham, but some dreams are worth the risk.
The whole situation was a bit surreal to Sam. He couldn’t quite believe that Ben was sitting on the love seat beside him playing Read My Lips with the family. When he was younger, it had been one of his favorite games to play. He had never imagined playing it with a boyfriend, though, and he had certainly never imagined playing it with Ben.
It was amazing just how well Ben fit in with his family. He knew how to handle Aunt Harper’s strange, drunken interactions, he got along well with the cousins, he knew when to brush off his parents’ remarks about their ‘little life’ in Wilmingson, and he had even gotten friendly with Matías. The reunion was going better than he had planned, and they still had another day and a half left.
They only had another day and a half left. Then it would be back to life as always. Ben would go back to his job at the Wechsler, he would go back to his job at the Press Room, and whatever had happened between them during the reunion would be gone.
Maybe not everything. After all, Ben had said they were friends. When this was all over, maybe he would head to the gallery and see some of Ben’s stuff. Now that he had established what their relationship was, Ben wouldn’t see it as crossing a line if he went to an opening reception or something. Sam knew he was good. Ben brought in some of his photographs every now and again.
“Hey.” Sam jumped as Ben nudged his shoulder. “You’re up.”
Right. The game.
He grabbed a card and looked over the phrases. Easy. Easy. Not too hard. Could be tricky. Easy. And then there was the last one. He couldn’t look away. That could not be the phrase Ben was going to have to guess. Ben talked about the universe and signs and stuff, well the universe was a piece of shit for handing this to him.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe he would land on Loose Lips, and everyone would get a chance to guess what he was trying to say. Or maybe he wouldn’t land on orange at all. Then he wouldn’t have to mouth the phrase and make Ben say it. He took a deep breath and spun.
My Team, My Lips. Three spaces. Right onto the orange lips. Fuck. There was nothing for it. Sam looked up at Ben, wet his lips with his tongue, and mouthed I love you.
He knew immediately that Ben knew what he had said. Ben’s eyes grew wide, and he shook his head almost imperceptibly. Sam’s heart sank. He knew that it wasn’t very likely that Ben felt that way, not that Sam was sure he loved Ben. But he had been forced to think about it more and more the past few days and he knew that, given the chance, he would absolutely fall in love with Ben. It would be as easy as breathing. As easy as making him his daily matcha ginger root beer.
It didn’t matter how easy falling in love with Ben would be, though, because Ben didn’t love him back; wouldn’t love him back. Sam wasn’t angry. That was just the reality of the situation. He couldn’t change the way Ben felt.
“Are you going to guess, Ben?” Ambra asked impatiently.
“Yeah. Um…” Ben squared his shoulders. “I love you.”
Buy Links Amazon US Amazon UK
Meet the Author Aly Hayden has loved writing ever since she learned to pick up a pencil. As a child, she used to write short stories, then progressed to novels of various genres, none of which were ever published – for good reason. She started writing fanfiction in 2011, publishing on Archive of Our Own. After finding M/M romance in 2012, she fell in love and made it her mission to write one of her own one day. When Aly isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her lovable Yorkie and watching old reruns of House Hunters.
Social Media Links
Facebook Author Page
Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway: WIN ONE OF THREE e-copies of Exposure
Release Blitz Schedule
Millsy Loves Books
The Way She Reads
Tangents and Tissues
Books Laid Bare Boys
Reviews by Crystal
Bayou Book Junkie
Top 2 Bottom Reviews and More
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
Making it Happen
My Fiction Nook
Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author
Megan's Media Melange
A Book Lover's Dream Book Blog
Drops of Ink
4 out of 5 stars
Exposure by Aly Hayden is a m/m contemporary romance featuring photographer Ben Metheny and coffee café manager Sam Hayward. The two men have been dancing around their mutual attraction for months, but the unlikely arrangement that catalyzes the start of a romantic relationship is based on a lie…and Ben hates lies after his experience with his ex. Sam strives to find a way to restore Ben’s faith, but some things may be impossible to forgive.
I enjoyed the slow burn between these two shy guys who have struggled to be accepted for who they are. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, they search for middle ground while trying to overcome the scars inflicted by those they had trusted. The author did a great job of creating personable characters and a believable conflict, and although there was a sense of the inevitable crash and burn looming, I still was invested in the story. I wasn’t quite sure I saw all of the issues with Sam’s parents and I would have liked to see Ben’s family, but I was happy to have read this story and would definitely look for other works by this author.
A copy of this title was provided to me for review