When I first wrote this story it was as a prompt for a free writing event on Goodreads’ M/M Romance Group.
The prompt included a “Dear Author” letter, setting out the outline of the prompt, and a picture, or in this case a gif to help get the creative juices flowing. Well, this gif certainly had a great many juices flowing. Credit has to go to the designer underwear brand whose delightful commercial provided the exquisite snippet, and of course to Amy Spector who wrote the prompt.
If you would like to see the original prompt and perhaps read the prompt thread, which, I warn you, contains spoilers, then follow the link provided at the bottom of this post.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to the two main characters, human characters that is, in my new novel, Eagle Man and Mr Hawk.
First meet Ethan.
Remember that picture prompt I told you about? Well, this is a still from that prompt gif. I’ve cropped it, not to spare your blushes, but because the whole picture might be considered a bit of a spoiler.
Ethan Shaw wears a great many hats (and sometimes very little else, as you can see), all of them animal related, and some of them even animal shaped. Primarily he is an animal handler. He trains animals for performance in the TV and movie industry. He is very good at his job and makes a lot of money from it, but this is only a part of what he does. His entire life revolves around animals and their welfare and he works closely with a few local animal welfare charities and organisations. He owns quite a few exotic and domestic pets, and he dedicates a great deal of his time to projects that don’t make him any money at all, in fact, many of the projects he’s involved in take up not only his time but his money as well.
When Ethan first meets Alex, it is in his capacity as animal handler and he’s not exactly wearing his Sunday best. He does not make the best first impression. He rarely does, since most of the time people initially think he is a bit of a crackpot. He relies on the fact that his job is so interesting, once people get past the initial craziness, they end up eating out of his hand, sometimes quite literally. Alex is a man that Ethan really wants to get to know much better.
Ethan is never backwards in coming forwards. He’s confident, and bold. He has a bit of a past, and did not do very well at school. This was not entirely his fault, but it did result in him spending more time in trouble with his teachers, his parents and the police, than actually knuckling down and getting any work done.
What Ethan lacks in qualifications he makes up for with personality. He’s a Geordie lad through and through, with a big heart and a ready smile. He has a well-developed sense of fair play, and treats everyone the way he wishes to be treated himself, with respect and consideration.
If he has a fault at all, it’s that he hides behind his animals, relying heavily on them to pave the way for friendship and—other things. (Some people find animal handlers very sexy). When he discovers this won’t work with Alex and he is advised to just be himself, he is suddenly not such a confident, overly bold young man. He is filled with doubt that he will ever be good enough for the gorgeous, bookish, highly intelligent Alex.
(the photo prompt for Ethan is courtesy of ES brand underwear)
Now meet Alex
This was my photo inspiration for Alex. Pretty, huh? This is exactly how I imagined him, sitting in his reading cave (which is pretty much his entire cottage).
Alexander Hawking has just moved into a very remote, very beautiful and newly restored little cottage nestled in a valley in the wilds of the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland.
He is as far from his family and childhood home as he can get, and this is for good reason. He’s done with society and socialising and any kind of activity that involves interacting with anyone. He’s nursing a broken heart and a broken spirit and thinks he has found the perfect place for them to heal.
He just wants peace and quiet. He wants time to himself, to do what makes him happy, which is to read, restore old books and simply be. He has never had the opportunity to please himself until now, having always done as his parents wanted, despite not getting any acknowledgement for it. He has a Master’s degree in English Literature, but Alex doesn’t really think this is any sort of achievement since his parents never even attended his graduation.
Alex’s history is a little vague, since he doesn’t reveal much about himself, other than he needed to get away and does not want to think about the past. He wants a new start, on his own, in a new place.
Alex’s nearest neighbour is three miles away, and this suits him just fine. He simply wants to keep himself to himself and live the life of a slightly eccentric recluse with the occasional trip into the nearest town for supplies. He feels awkward in social situations and can cope better when those social interactions are limited and few and far between. He has found his comfort zone and is determined to stay well within its borders.
This is not really how his life pans out, since his nearest neighbour is a complete whacko, and Alex keeps bumping into him despite the distance between their houses. When they first meet, Alex thinks Ethan is completely crazy and nothing Ethan does on subsequent encounters, changes Alex’s mind. However, Alex cannot get the man out of his head because to top it all, Ethan is gorgeous to the point of wet dream material.
Part of him is screaming that he should run and hide and never see this man again. The other part of Alex finds he is willing to venture well outside his comfort zone again and again and again in order to meet this man.
Come back tomorrow and I’ll introduce you to some of Ethan’s crew.
To read about Ethan and Alex and their adventures in Northumberland, you can download Eagle Man and Mr Hawk for free from Beaten Track Publishing, Smashwords, All Romance ebooks. Amazon UK and Amazon.com. Eagle Man and Mr Hawk is also available in print, from Beaten Track.
To see what else is available from Beaten Track, click here.
As promised, here is the link to the original prompt for Eagle Man and Mr Hawk. Thanks and credit go to Amy Spector who provided the prompt and to all those who took part in the thread, giving support and encouragement. Original prompt link (warning: mega spoilers).