Today we’ve got the awesome Nessa L. Warin playing victim to the Random Interview. She talks about shifting priorities, her ideal worlds, and her once-a-year problem with chocolate, salty balls. Plus, she’s given us a great excerpt!- Reesa
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to write? What’s your latest release about? What have you read recently that knocked your socks off?
Wow. That’s a lot to put into one question. I’ll take them one at a time.
I am a fantasy-loving wine aficionado learning how to make reality as enjoyable as the fantasy worlds inside my head. Currently, I work in Corporate America, but I’m breaking out of that and changing my career so what I do better reflects who I am. Writing is part of that, obviously, and the rest of it is moving out of Corporate America into a job where I’m happy and appreciated. I collect faerie and dragon art (though I fail at putting it up on my walls), love dark chocolate, and would spend all year at Renaissance Festivals and fantasy conventions if I could.
It will thus come as no surprise to anyone that I love reading and writing fantasy stories. Most of my stories are fantasy or science fiction of some sort, and the novel that isn’t either is a contemporary romance set at Dragon*Con, a science fiction, fantasy, and pop culture convention. My passion is world building, and I’ve done that with all of my stories. In Sauntering Vaguely Downward the world was Dragon*Con, in The Stars are Brightly Shining, it was a spaceship and a Christmas Tree farm planet, and in Stamp of Fate it was the modern world as it would be with the existence of mythological gods.
That trend has continued with my latest release, To Dream, Perchance to Live. It is set in a world where there are people called as Dreamers who can enter and manipulate other people’s dreams. This is actually a mostly positive thing in this world as these people are known to exist and have jobs, etc. that use their abilities. There are also psychic bonds that form between people in a relationship and bonding is the equivalent of getting married, except without the divorce rate. One of these Dreamers, a guy named Wyatt, has been illegally owned by a corporation since he was 16, kept asleep and forced to participate in corporate espionage for them. Something goes wrong with one of his assignments, the person whose dream he’s in dies, and he’s left for dead. He’s found by Aidan, who takes him in, nurses him back to health with the help of some friends, and tries to figure out what happened to him. When he wakes up, they start to bond, and the story revolves around finding the people who had Wyatt and keeping him safe from them while Wyatt learns to function in the real world and Aidan and Wyatt fall in love.
I got to build two whole worlds writing To Dream, Perchance to Live—the real world and the dream world—and it was the most incredible experience to write. I spent months working on this, but the experience of world building was worth every bit of effort I put into it. The only other story I wrote that was as much fun (and as much work) as this one, was my story coming out in January/February, Storm Season. That’s another fantasy with an entirely new world built, and I’m so excited about it.
My favorite authors are people who excel at world building—Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Sharon Shinn, Dianna Wynne Jones, and David Eddings, to name a few. I really haven’t had much time to read lately between the Evil Day Job and the writing, but I can always pick up one of their books and know that I’ll be whisked away to someplace fantastic, and that’s what I look for in a story.
What would you tell yourself ten years in the FUTURE?
That’s a loaded question. I think I’d go with make sure you’re happy and don’t be afraid to take chances to get there if you’re not. As I mentioned above, I’m in the process of transitioning jobs, and a lot of that is because I realized I’m not happy with my current day job, and that stress has bled into the rest of my life. It’s taken time for me to understand I can’t live like that, and I would just remind my future self not to lose track of what’s important.
Do you cook or bake? What kind of food?
I make candy, actually. My specialty is buckeye balls, which are a regional candy treat. Most people who live outside of Ohio and the surrounding area have never heard of them, which is a complete loss for the rest of the world because they are phenomenal. Basically, they’re candied peanut butter rolled into a ball and dipped in dark chocolate to look like the nuts of a buckeye tree (http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Ohio/state-tree-ohio.html). I only make them at Christmas time because it’s so time consuming, everyone wants them, and I want to be able to enjoy peanut butter and chocolate for at least part of the year. After a day making buckeye balls, I have no desire to put any of them in my mouth.
Yes, there are a lot of ball jokes inherent in rolling 400 balls of peanut butter and dipping them into chocolate. Only making them once a year means the jokes don’t get old either. 😉
Have you ever eaten raw squid? Did you like it?
I don’t think I’ve eaten raw squid. I cooked squid is one of my favorite foods, when it’s prepared correctly, though, so I’d be willing to try it raw if I was confident it had been prepared right. Actually, there isn’t much food I won’t take at least two bites (just one doesn’t always give a fair assessment of the food) of so long as I’m confident it was prepared safely. Raw squid definitely falls into the category of willing to try. I love sushi and I love cooked squid, so I’d say chances are fairly high that I’d like raw squid.
Do you prefer tv or movies? What’s your favourite?
I don’t really know that I can pick between them. I watch more television simply because it’s more accessible, but I love going to the movies as well and appreciate both for what they are. Both movies and television are visual media, but the formats are different and they both offer different strengths. There are stories that work better when told in a serial fashion like television, and stories that work better when told all at once (or perhaps broken up into just a few pieces) like movies, and more than anything else, I’d like the story to fit the method in which it’s being told. What I can say is that I prefer the stories to be continuous stories rather than a procedural type show that has a new story every episode.
How do you come up with people or place names to use in your writing?
Name generators on the internet, mostly, and occasionally from friends on Twitter or Facebook. I am terrible at naming things, which sucks because I can’t write until I have character names and I have literally spent hours agonizing about it before. Places are easier, mostly because they don’t matter as much to me, and I can often use a placeholder until I pick a name and come back to it. People, though, I need to name before I write them unless it’s a truly minor character that doesn’t necessarily need a name, like a server at a restaurant the main characters won’t be going back to. I used to write a lot of fanfiction and I still occasionally dabble in it, and I often say the best thing about it is that everything is named already. I’m pretty sure I’d get a lot more written if I didn’t have to agonize over names, so if anyone has a way around that, please tell me.
Check out the blurb from Nessa’s latest book, and an excerpt under the jump!
Wyatt Mettler is a Dreamer. While asleep, he can insert himself into people’s dreams and manipulate them, watch their fantasies, steal their secrets, and change their minds—all without their knowledge. For eleven years he’s been Lumoinnovations’ secret weapon, illegally enslaved, all in the name of the bottom line. But when an assignment goes awry and results in the death of the subject, Wyatt’s handlers leave him for dead.
When Aidan Donecoff stumbles across Wyatt’s unconscious body in an alley, he is struggling to get over a failed relationship and has almost given up hope of forging a true Bond with anyone. He has known Dreamers in the past, but none like Wyatt. When Wyatt truly wakes up for the first time since he was a child, it is Aidan who helps him find his way in the world. They grow close as Wyatt gains confidence, and life is good… until Wyatt’s handlers discover he is still alive and decide they want him back.
To Dream, Perchance to Live by Nessa L. Warin (2012, Dreamspinner Press)
“Leave it alone,” Aidan said two days later as he took Wyatt’s left hand in his right, lacing their fingers together and squeezing gently. He told himself it was only to keep Wyatt from picking at the gauze wrapped around his right wrist, but when Wyatt squeezed back, he thought of all the things they’d done in dreams but had thus far avoided in reality.
Wyatt sighed dramatically and held his right arm up, examining the gauze with critical eyes. “It itches. And hurts. And I think it’s almost time to change the gauze anyway.”
“Kyler will be here in an hour or so.”
“We could go to him.”
“I don’t think—”
“Never mind.” Wyatt huffed and pulled his hand free of Aidan’s. “Don’t worry,” he said in response to Aidan’s surprised look, “I won’t pick at anything. I wouldn’t want to damage myself any more.”
“What?” Aidan sat up straighter and looked at Wyatt with wide, surprised eyes. That was not the response he’d been expecting. “What the hell do you mean by that?”
Wyatt held up his bandaged wrist again, this time looking at it in disgust. “I don’t know why you bothered to take this off me.”
“Because you don’t belong to them,” Aidan said in a dubious tone. He was beginning to feel as though he and Wyatt were having two completely different conversations. “You don’t belong to anybody.”
“I don’t? Are you sure?”
“Yes?” Aidan had no idea what Wyatt was getting at, but he didn’t like how agitated he was getting.
“Really?” Wyatt sprang to his feet and paced to the other side of the room. His steps were surer now, but he leaned against the wall for support when he got there, his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed as he glared back at Aidan. “It doesn’t seem that way.”
Now Aidan was completely lost. “It doesn’t?”
“I’m as much a prisoner here as I was—” He paused, waved his hand around. “There. At least they didn’t pretend.”
“I haven’t left this apartment since you brought me here, Aidan!” Wyatt waved his arms wildly, nearly hitting the television with one particularly wild swing. “I’ve spent more time than I care to think about in that damn bed, and now I can’t even go see the doctor you have treating me. I have to wait for him to come here! What else am I supposed to think but that I’m not allowed to go out?”
Aidan sprang to his feet, his teeth clenched and his hands balled into fists at his sides. “I’m trying to help you get healthy so you can go out, Wyatt!” he spat. “You were practically dead when I found you. You still can’t stand or walk for long. You wouldn’t make it to the end of the block without collapsing, and then what?”
“We could drive somewhere.” Wyatt crossed his arms again and leaned more heavily against the wall while trying to look like he was just affecting a casual pose. Aidan was right about his strength, but that didn’t mean Wyatt was going to admit it.
“Not today we can’t.” Aidan smiled ruefully and held up a hand when Wyatt opened his mouth to protest. “Kyler has my car. I let him borrow it ’cause his is in the shop and he needed to spend some time at the clinic before he came back here to check on you. I didn’t realize you’d want to go out yet.”
“Can we go somewhere when he gets here?”
“I don’t know.” When Wyatt’s mouth gaped open again, Aidan crossed the distance between them and rested his hands on Wyatt’s crossed arms. “We’ll talk to Kyler, okay? I don’t want to do something that will set back your recovery. And I don’t know how safe it is.”
Wyatt blinked, trying to wrap his brain around this new twist. Every time Aidan cleared up one thing, he said something else that made no sense, and Wyatt’s head was swimming. “What do you mean?”
“The people who had you could probably tell when Kyler removed your bracelet,” Aidan said softly. “They’re not designed to be removed, and the ones that the government issues have alarms built in to keep people from getting them cut off. There’s no reason to think that yours didn’t. If there is an alarm and it went off, they’ll know you’re alive.” He slid his hand along Wyatt’s arm until his fingers brushed the edge of the gauze. “There aren’t many things that leave a wound like this, and I can’t imagine that there are many people who recently had permanent slave bracelets removed walking around the city. They’re rare, and the courts don’t just release someone who was sentenced to wear one. If someone powerful is looking for one….”
He didn’t have to finish the sentence. Wyatt shivered and nodded. “Okay. Sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Aidan pressed his lips to Wyatt’s ear. “Once you’re healed enough, I promise, we’ll go out. I’ll show you around the city, we’ll get your favorite food, get your hair cut, buy you some clothes that fit… whatever you want.”
Wyatt grinned at Aidan. “Pants that actually come down to my ankles?”
“Yep.” Aidan returned the smile. “Long-sleeve shirts that come down to your wrists too. And real shoes and a jacket for the winter.”
“Sounds great.” Wyatt’s smile faded and he let his head fall forward again. “How am I supposed to pay for that, though?” Aidan’s shirt muffled his voice, but the worry in it came through just fine.
“I’ll pay for it.”
“And then what?” When Wyatt looked up, his eyes were brimming with tears. “I come back here and live in your apartment and eat your food and wear clothes you paid for and do what—keep the place for you while you work? I don’t have any money, and I don’t have any way to get any, either.”
“Yes, you do.”
Wyatt snorted and closed his eyes. “Aidan, I’ve been asleep since I was sixteen years old. I don’t have any marketable skills. The only thing I know how to do is dream.”
“So dream. I’m serious.” Aidan waited until Wyatt opened his eyes, curiosity sparking within them. “Look, my best friend from when I was a kid and her Bondmate, they’re both Dreamers, and they use their ability to support themselves. If they can, so can you. I can ask them to help you, if you want.”
“They’re out of town right now, but if you’re feeling up to it when they get back, I’ll introduce you. I’m sure they’ll have ideas to help you find a job. And until then”—Aidan stretched up onto his toes and leaned forward until his lips were only inches from Wyatt’s—“I am happy to help you out.”
Wyatt uncrossed his arms and slipped them around Aidan’s waist, pulling Aidan closer, which forced Aidan’s hands up to his shoulders. “Oh? And what’s in it for you?”
“I get to keep you around.”
“Really?” Wyatt lifted his eyebrows teasingly. “Why would you want that?”
“I’m hoping that this is as good while we’re awake as it is while we’re asleep,” Aidan whispered before sliding a hand up to tangle in Wyatt’s hair and moving the last few inches to push their lips together in a gentle kiss.
It was. Wyatt’s lips were soft and pliant under Aidan’s, parting easily when Aidan slid his tongue across them. When they were dreaming, Aidan never noticed how Wyatt tasted, but here, now, Wyatt tasted of chocolate and the hazelnut coffee he had drunk with breakfast.
Wyatt slipped his tongue into Aidan’s mouth, sliding over the roof and sending a shiver down Aidan’s spine. His arm tightened around Aidan’s waist and shifted his hips in a way that sent all of Aidan’s blood rushing straight to his groin. Aidan moaned, his breath puffing into Wyatt’s mouth as he shifted further, rubbing their hard lengths together through layers of cotton and denim. Aidan’s world narrowed to Wyatt’s mouth on his, Wyatt’s body pressed against him, Wyatt’s hands digging into his hips. He couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t do anything but lose himself in the soft warmth of Wyatt’s embrace.
Too soon, Wyatt pulled back and looked at Aidan through hooded eyes. “Damn, Aidan. I was having trouble standing before you did that.”
“Does that mean you want me to stop?”
Wyatt’s eyes darkened and he leaned forward, catching Aidan’s bottom lip between his teeth. “Hell no.”
Their first kiss had been mind-blowing, but this one was all-consuming. Aidan moaned deeply and desperately delved into the depths of Wyatt’s mouth.
Wyatt brushed his hands over Aidan’s back, one hand coming up to cup the back of his head, the other slipping under his waistband, one teasing finger sliding under his underwear into the cleft of his ass. Aidan gasped into Wyatt’s mouth and rocked his hips, urging additional contact. He stroked down Wyatt’s arms then up under his shirt, his fingernails scraping down Wyatt’s sides, his thumbs gliding over Wyatt’s chest and brushing over sensitive nipples.
“How did you learn to kiss like that?” Aidan asked in a breathy voice as he pulled back to gasp for air, his lips brushing against Wyatt’s. There was no way someone who had been asleep since he was sixteen should be able to make Aidan feel like that.
Wyatt sucked Aidan’s bottom lip into his mouth. “Dreams can be very explicit.” He kissed his way down Aidan’s neck, across his collar, and back up to his mouth. “I learned all sorts of things dreaming with people.”
Aidan growled, rode the surge of jealousy that flooded him at the thought of anyone else dreaming about kissing Wyatt, and shoved his mouth against Wyatt’s. Their teeth clashed as Aidan thrust his tongue deep into Wyatt’s mouth, determined to touch every spot, to claim him.
Wyatt reciprocated, rolling his hips forward as they battled for control. His hand slid further under Aidan’s waistband, warm and soft against Aidan’s ass.
“God, Wyatt.” Aidan was going to come in his pants if they didn’t stop, and it didn’t look like Wyatt was much farther behind. He pushed his hips forward, rubbing hard and fast against Wyatt’s groin as Wyatt squeezed his ass and rocked his hips, increasing the friction between them. Aidan came hard, gasping and yelling into Wyatt’s mouth, and Wyatt followed, his whole body shaking as Aidan pressed him tight against the wall.
Wyatt sagged when he was done, his head once again resting on Aidan’s shoulder, his arms tight around Aidan’s waist. “Fuck.”
“Yeah.” Aidan carefully slid his hands between Wyatt and the wall. “You think you can make it back to your bedroom? We should, uh, change before Kyler gets here.”
“I don’t think I can move,” Wyatt groaned, but he managed to stand a little straighter.
“Come on,” Aidan said, slipping easily under Wyatt’s arm and looping his fingers into the belt loops of Wyatt’s borrowed pants. They wove down the hall, both a little weak in the knees, their steps unsteady as they maneuvered around the television and bookcases before stumbling down the hall and collapsing onto the unmade bed in Wyatt’s room, arms and legs tangled together.
“We should move,” Wyatt said after a minute, and Aidan nodded, though if they were going to be found tangled together with come inside their pants, the bed was a much better place than on the floor of the living room, where it would have looked like they were horny teenagers who had come hard from making out.
They weren’t teenagers, and thirty-one was far too old to lose control from rubbing and kissing against a wall.
Too bad Aidan desperately wanted to do it again.