After giving you teasers of the stories included in the Shades of Pink Charity Anthology in September, this month I'll tell you a little more about the authors involved. I interviewed them with questions about their contributions, their writing life, their works in progress...
Today, T. Hammond
Kallysten - First, thank you for contributing a story to this anthology. In the first emails we exchanged, you mentioned you would be writing in honor of a late friend. Would you like to tell us a little about her?
T. Hammond - My childhood friend, Teresa, was struck with Hodgkins disease when we were kids. I remembered her surgeries and chemical treatments really sapping away a lot of her energy. But she always had this loving heart and great smile that drew you in. As if beating childhood cancer wasn’t challenging enough, Teresa later developed breast cancer and went through a successful mastectomy surgery. She retained so much of her joy of life, doting on her two (wonderful!) children. Teresa succumbed to complications from an additional surgery, and died Sept 17, 2007, a month before her 46th birthday.
My character, Teresa, from the Team Red series, originally shared many of my friend’s attitudes, attributes, and physical characteristics; but the character is only modeled after her, and early in the series, the character developed her own personality no longer mirroring the original… well, except for the smile.
K - Your story takes us into the minds of two heroes, David and Bastian, who seem as different as night and day when it comes to love… and yet, they fall for the same woman. Was it fun to tell a bit of story from their point of view when the stories they are from are told from the heroine’s side of things?
TH - Telling the story from David and Bastian’s POV was crazy-fun! The two men are completely opposite each other in looks and personailty, yet their differences are what make their working relationship so great. They complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Since the full length books are from Teresa’s perspective, and she’s blind, it’s very limiting on how I tell the stories. All of her observations are through touch, sound, and hearing, for the most part. Doing POVs for the guys was very liberating.
K - Reading this, I’d never have guessed the overall series had paranormal elements to it... And yet! Do you want to tell us a little about that aspect?
TH - There are many traditional aspects to the Team Red story line: a love triangle, action, drama, crazy friends, and lots of laughing. The heroine, Teresa, receives a seeing eye/companion dog, called Red. Almost immediately, she realizes that she can hear his thoughts. Red is sarcastic, witty, and absolutely adorkable. The dog is completely unfiltered asking innocent questions, then sharing his observations about the things he sees. Teresa likened him to ‘a toddler channeling Einstein- there are flashes of brilliance, but the toddler is still driving the body.’ When Teresa started talking to the dog, I was pretty limited on the genre type. I either had to label the series as paranormal or schizophrenic. The later didn’t seem like a huge selling point. The series is a humorous laugh-out-loud (literally, I’ve had to apologize to people because they spit food and drinks during the reading of these novels), extra spicy romance with a touch of paranormal. The concept shouldn’t work, but the characters really flow together.
K - What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
TH - No matter where I am, or what I’m doing, I can still be creative! I absolutely love when I’m driving in my car, and I have to pull over because one of the characters is talking to me and I need to write stuff down in my notebook. I love when the books take an unexpected twist, and I have to argue with myself to let things go in a new direction or stay with the outline (I have yet to win an argument, so now I do an outline then throw it away)
K - Can you tell us about your current writing project or next release?
TH - At reader request, there are two concurrent Team Red series versions: “Blind” for adult readers preferring a spicier, adult-themed story, and “Red” series more suitable for New Adult readers.
While both series contain the same character names and a lot of shared dialogue, the Red series is stripped of graphic sex and language, the characters are younger, and story line is modified to what I believe is the equivalency of a PG movie (subjective, of course, other opinions may vary). The “Blind” version is written first. Afterward, protagonist ages are reduced to their twenties, and changes made to tone down adult themes and language, making the “Red” version a new story, with obvious mirrored elements of the original (such as the dialog).
I will be releasing Books 3 of both series in December. Blind Faith (adult) and Seeing Red (new adult) don’t have an official date yet, but I am hoping for the second week of December.
K - Would you care to share an excerpt from it?
TH - Excerpt from Blind Faith: Team Red, Book 3
Best pillow ever, I thought, inhaling the scent of cinnamon, and sandalwood. I came awake slowly, sprawled over David’s lax frame with my usual boneless abandon. He felt warmer than normal, but my sleepy brain attributed that to the contrasting chill at my back. I snuggled my face into his sternum, trailing my hand down over his ribs and belly to groin, and wrapped my fingers around his… “Holy Shit!” I sat up pushing away from the hot body splayed out under me, earning an ‘Oomph’ from Bastian as I used his stomach to lever myself to a sitting position. Putting some distance between me and his very impressive morning erection.
“What the hell? Teresa, what’s wrong?” Bastian asked with alarm, spinning me to a place beside him, his posture alert, shielding me with his body from whatever had scared me.
I closed my eyes in relief, at least he’d still been asleep when I inadvertently groped him. Geez, how embarrassing was that? “Sorry, Bas. I woke up disoriented and I panicked.” Not a complete lie, I was panicked alright. How warped am I that I totally disregarded the body under me smelling completely different from David’s lime scent? Nope, that obvious hint didn’t trigger alarm until my hand wrapped around, well… you get the idea. Crap, I fleetingly wondered, how does that even fit?
“No problem Babe.” I felt movement in his arm and shoulder. “I must have dozed off right after you did. It’s four o’clock,” he yawned, swinging his body back around to his prior lounging position and dragged me over his hip and ribcage, draping me like I had been when I was so rudely startled awake. “We can probably get in a few more hours before Ken and Janey arrive for breakfast. You know what an early riser my sister is on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas, Teresa.” Bas reached over me to drag the throw blanket off the back of the couch, settling it around my shoulders as he leaned back, hugging me firmly in his arms.
I tensed to move away, but Bas shushed me and kissed the crown of my head. “Sleep, Babe.” His frame began to slacken, almost immediately, as he started to doze off again. I envied him his ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, just by closing his eyes.
I relaxed into his embrace, drawing the clean spicy aroma of his cologne into my nose. Mmm, it was the new one Janey bought him; it was nice. I started to drift back to sleep when what he said registered in my mind. “Merry Christmas to you too, Bastian,” I mumbled sleepily against his chest.
“Can we open presents now? I want to open my snack bones,” Red said excitedly. “Then I want to open the package of tennis balls Ken bought so Bastian and I can play fetch.”K - Thank you again for being a part of Shades of Pink. Any last word before I let you go back to your writing?
“We’re going to hide all your presents next year,” I grumbled at my dog, burrowing under the arm slung over my shoulder. I recognized Bas’ scent this time, so I was careful to keep my hands curled high up on his chest as I felt the rhythmic cadence of his breathing rising and falling under my cheek. In the hours since I first woke up, I had slid into the groove between his hip and the couch back. I wondered if Bas was precariously perched on the edge of the sofa.
“Oh cool, a treasure hunt!” My dog’s excitement rendering him completely oblivious to the implied threat of no presents under the tree for him to sniff at next year.
“Someone wants to open gifts already?” Bas asked, his voice a quiet rumble in my ear.
“It’s too early to get up,” I complained. I’m nice and comfy, I don’t want to move.” I covered a yawn by turning my face against his shoulder, too lazy to lift a hand to cover my mouth.
“Well, there are presents for you under the tree too,” Bas cajoled.
“Don’t care,” I wailed. Masking another yawn against his chest. I was still emotionally drained from our conversation last night. It would be nice to lay here for just a few minutes more and not face Christmas morning without David.
Bas’ chuckle rumbled through his chest. “Well, I’m perfectly fine with you staying there and continuing your hunt for gifts in my pants,” he teased.
I went completely still, mortified he knew I had fondled him earlier. Granted, I had been asleep, but it was definitely my hand wrapped around the thick column of his cock that woke me up in the early hours of the morning. David may be blessed in that department, but Bastian went beyond blessed, into the realm of pornographic. My mind, once again, briefly considered there was no way that could fit.
He took pity on me, hugging me and pressing his lips to my forehead. “I’m just razzing you, Babe. I know you were asleep. I was too, until I felt your fingers slide around me.”
“Crap, Bastian, why didn’t you say something last night?”
“You’re kidding, right? Gorgeous woman wakes me up with a hand job, and I’m gonna bitch about it?” He was laughing at me now. Bas-hole.
“What’s a hand job?” Red asked, ever curious.
There was absolutely nothing I could think of as a reply - to Bas or to Red.
TH - I am so excited and humbled to be part of this anthology. What better way to pay tribute to my friend, then to contribute a story to a great cause? Breast cancer has touched all of us in some way. We all know someone that has fought against this terrible disease. Readers, after you buy your own copy of the Shades of Pink Anthology, consider getting a second copy to gift to a friend. The proceeds go to a great cause, and books always make a wonderful gift.
Find Tina at http://www.facebook.com/pages/T-Hammond-Author-Team-Red-Series/324413914346772