Today I am interviewing Taylor Brooke, author of the new Contemporary Romance, Fortitude Smashed.
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DJ: Hey Brooke! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Taylor Brooke: Thank you for having me! Well, I’m a Queer author and I write for teens as well as adults. I grew up in Southern California, but I currently live in Central Oregon. I’m a Special Effects Makeup Artist, a tea lover, and a traveler. If I’m not scheduled at the little metaphysical shop I work at, I’m usually planning my next adventure. I’ll be in Cambodia in January which is super exciting.
DJ: What is Fortitude Smashed about?
Taylor : Fortitude Smashed is a Contemporary Romance with a little bit of science fiction flare. It’s about a reckless, young art thief named Aiden Maar, and the Detective who tries to catch him, Shannon Wurther. In the reimagined modern world that I built, the Camellia Clock – a timer implanted under the thumbnail of every infant at birth – counts down to the moment someone will meet their soulmate/soulpartners. When Aiden Maar and Shannon Wurther come face to face with the startling fact that they’re fated, they have to learn how to deal with one another.
The story is extremely character driven and unpacks some heavy issues, but is tender at heart. High emotional stakes, introspective conflict and lots of kissing.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Fortitude Smashed?
Taylor : I wanted to write an original take on the soulmate trope for a long time, but I hadn’t fleshed anything out. After I moved to Central Oregon, I really, really missed Laguna Beach. That’s what started Fortitude Smashed. I put Aiden and Shannon together in the right setting and the story poured out of me.
I also wanted to write a Contemporary Romance that featured a m/m couple without the oversaturated conflict or love triangles. A sweet, raw, real romance that would feel authentic to the reader. I hope I pulled it off.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? (aka What makes them compelling?)
Taylor : Both the main characters, Aiden and Shannon, have their own issues that they handle in the book. Aiden deals with a chronic form of depression called dysthymia. He has anxiety and dissociative episodes that make life, love and growth a bit harder for him than he’d like. Shannon is stubborn and complex – he constantly finds himself in the middle of change without meaning to and is regularly shocked by it. Bringing two characters who are complete opposites to life on the page was exciting and super fun. I can’t wait for readers to meet these guys.
DJ: What is your reimagined Laguna Beach in Fortitude Smashed like?
Taylor : Laguna Beach will always have such a huge piece of my heart. I grew up about fifteen minutes from the beach, and I spent an entire summer bouncing around Laguna when I was eighteen. I think those memories are to thank for Laguna’s heartbeat in Fortitude Smashed. It’s a lovely little beach city with boutiques and art galleries, theaters and cafes. Time seems to slow down there, somehow. The sunsets are breathtaking, the water is warm and the vibe is free.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Fortitude Smashed?
Taylor : I wrote the book scene by scene, but I think my favorite part of the process was writing the heavy, intense emotional scenes. The spaces where Aiden and Shannon are learning each other, and how they fall in love backward so to speak. These two men suddenly find out that they’re each other’s futures and that exposes pieces of themselves that they aren’t ready to see or deal with. Giving them the time and breathing room to deconstruct love was an amazing experience as a writer.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Taylor : I can’t say for sure. I think they’ll talk about Aiden. He’s quite a character. And I think they’ll hope. That’s what I wanted more than anything – to inspire hope in those who feel hopeless. I want readers to come away believing in something, whether it’s themselves or someone else, love or fate. The characters are raw. They’re open and expressive, and I think readers will see a lot of themselves in the cast.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing Fortitude Smashed? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Taylor : I already mentioned that I hope the story inspires hope, but I think there’s more to it than that. Fortitude Smashed unpacks some heavy issues, especially concerning mental illness. I want readers to see themselves as worthy when they step onto the pages. I’m hoping that after they finish the book it’ll leave them wanting, excited, warmed, but not in disbelief. The love story is written in a way that reflects real life – two men who fall in love against their will and learn to navigate each other. That tends to be messy, but messes aren’t always a bad thing. I guess I want readers to feel accepted and understood, and to know that love may not be able to fix them, but that they deserve it nonetheless.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Fortitude Smashed that you can share with us?
Taylor : I can share a little bit with you!
“All the time he’d spent wondering what it would be like to be wanted by Shannon, all the weeks he’d convinced himself it would hurt, and in the end it was this: fingertips on his face and proclamations of beauty, secrets that weren’t secrets, and fears that weren’t fears, in the hours when Laguna Beach slept, but they didn’t.”
DJ: Now that Fortitude Smashed is released, what is next for you?
Taylor : I can’t talk about it a lot, but I will say there is a f/f sequel in the works. I’m also working on a few more projects, a couple YA books and the third Camellia Clock Cycle book.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Fortitude-Smashed-Camellia-Clock-Cycle/dp/1945053364/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Fortitude Smashed that we haven’t talked about yet?
Taylor: Fortitude Smashed is a book crafted for readers in search of a hopeful, raw, eclectic look into love. It came from a very deep place inside me and I sometimes think I don’t have enough distance from it to promote it properly, but if it’s anything at all, it’s lovingly written from the bottom of my heart.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Taylor: Fortitude Smashed is currently available for pre-order! If you pre-order a copy from any retailer, forward me the receipt and I’ll send you some beachy goodies!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Fortitude Smashed is published by Interlude Press and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate.
Fate is now a calculation.
But loving someone isn’t.
When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.
“Handcuffed by fate, this cop-and-robber duo will steal hearts; a strong start to a promising series.”
“Fortitude Smashed is a pleasant read that will pull on the heartstrings of readers and make them reevaluate what love truly means.”
-RT Book Reviews
Taylor Brooke is a traveling story-teller, believer in magic, and a science fiction junkie.
Probably a tea snob. Definitely a beer snob. Bisexual, but pansexual, but bisexual – one of the two. Can have lengthy, in-depth conversations about an atomic lizard and his radioactive moth friend. Yearns for a life in the city, but dreams of founding an animal sanctuary. Future tiny house owner. Future tiny library owner, because her book collection won’t fit in one tiny house.
She proudly writes inclusive Queer novels for teens and adults.