I've copied the interview below too:
Can you tell us about Heat Wave Astoria, please?
It’s a shamelessly romantic opposites attract story set in Astoria. Brad doesn’t do relationships, he prefers to keep things to one night. British IT programmer James is very introverted and doesn’t really do relationships with people, never mind boyfriends. They meet for one night and it kind of develops from there.
Where did you draw your inspiration for Brad and James?
Brad has parts of a few friends who are perpetually single and happy that way. He is also little snippets of things I’ve been told about men other friends have met on the gay scene. He’s not a judgement about whether sleeping around is a good or bad thing, it’s just the way he likes to live his life. Because no human being is all bad or all good, I wanted to give Brad a human gentle touch too. His relationship with his flatmate Rory and his friendships with the other residents of Astoria too. He’s very kind to the elderly residents of Astoria. As I said, Brad’s not meant to be bad or good, he’s simply an expression of a lifestyle many gay men choose.
James kind of sprang up from the total opposite of Brad. At the time I was writing the story, I’d just bought a new laptop to replace my old Windows XP one. The new laptop had Windows 7 on it (and still does, no thank you very much to Windows 10…) and the concept of a man working on an operating system kind of presented itself to me. I’d watched a film called Her, about a man who falls in love with his computer’s operating system (the film was a bit meh, in my opinion, but the concept itself I found interesting). I know some computery people and in my experience they tend to prefer the certainty of binary numbers than the messy complicated uncertainties of human beings. And pretty soon BOOM, I had James’ character worked out on paper.
What significance did the secondary characters have for the story?
Because it’s a novella and the maximum word count for the submission call was 40,000, it meant I couldn’t have lots of sub-plots and secondary characters. I had to keep the story to the two main characters and their burgeoning romance. However, nobody – even an introvert who prefers his own company than others, like James – has no-one to talk to. James has his colleagues at the IT software company, but his real confidante is his brother. I thought it was more likely he’d open up to a relative than a friend, plus James’ brother understands James and his ways and can provide gentle counsel to him when James is confused amid a sea of Brad’s and his emotions.
Conversely, Brad is very extrovert and basically knows everyone in Astoria. His house mate Rory has known him for a long time, knows what Brad is like and provides, I hope a second sensible opinion for Brad as he finds himself going down a path he never thought he’d tread.
In a novella of this length, the secondary characters are important to provide colour and variety to the story, but they all need to reflect additional parts of the main characters’ personality. It would have been lovely to write scenes with Rory and her life, and have them discussing her problems, but this novella isn’t about that story, it’s about Brad and James’ story and I hope you enjoy it.
Why did you set it in Astoria, which is unlikely to have a heat wave?
During 2012 the BF and I went to the Pacific North West of America and Vancouver, Canada on holiday to avoid the Olympics in London. Yes, really! We drive through Seattle, Portland and spent a delightful few days in Astoria. It was on the way between the bigger cities we planned to visit and when I found out it was where they’d made some of my favourite films, I just had to visit. I was utterly charmed by its small town atmosphere. There were quilting and antique shops everywhere and everyone seemed to know all the locals when we ate in the restaurants.
I also remember noticing it seemed pretty gay friendly – two men started talking to the BF and me in a restaurant, asking us how our ‘vacation’ was going and did we like Astoria? As a massive Gilmore Girls fan, it kind of reminded me of Stars Hollow!
I wanted to combine all those factors of the setting into Heat Wave Astoria. The story was for a submission call and it had to be set around a heat wave. Honestly, I didn’t even think about whether there could be a heat wave in Astoria, but I did want the heat wave and the town itself to be a significant part of the story. I saw Astoria and the heat wave as almost like another character that would force Brad and James together, but also keep them apart because they may not end up together…
Happy reading, Liam Livings xx