It’s About The Book would like to welcome Tere Michaels! Thanks so much for coming to chat with us.
I feel like in the past year a lot of my favorite series have either ended or their authors have announced the ending is coming soon. As a reader it feels bittersweet. I’m sad I’m losing friends, (Yes, I know they aren’t real) but at the same time I’m happy the series are going out on a high. How does this feel as a writer? I imagine the Cerelli’s, Matt, and all their friends won’t be leaving your head.
It wasn’t a hard decision to make – it had to end at some point! – but at the same time, it took me awhile to find the right ending, the one that would satisfy me. So much of my series has been about what happens after the “happy ending” and so to find a final resting place, I wanted to examine the full circle all these characters have come. Who was Evan when this story started and who is he when it ends? What did he learn? Same with the other characters – did they get what they wanted? Are they satisfied? Because if the characters are, I think the audience will be as well. At least that’s what I’m hoping!
Matt and Evan’s books, Faith & Fidelity and Duty & Devotion, are frequently the standard for Gay For You stories. When people ask for Gay For You recommendations they tend to qualify the question with, “I’ve read Tere Michaels.” There is also a Straight For You sub-plot that runs throughout the series between Daisy and Bennett. How have readers reacted to Bennett?
I think after Matt and Evan, they didn’t even question Bennett’s decisions!
The “Gay For You” moniker is one I understand (and appreciate the recommendations and fans!) but I’m not sure I agree. Matt sleeps with another man while he and Evan are broken up. Evan’s feelings for his late wife and his feelings for Matt are very similar in that he has to feel emotional connection before he has a sexual attraction. So maybe I’d rechristen myself with a subtitle of: Gay for You (but really more like pansexual…). Think that’ll stick??
Evan is probably my favorite character from the series. He’s so overwhelmed by his own life. He was both very heartbreaking and frustrating to read. At times I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to feed him soup or yell at him. Was he difficult to write?
I love him, but Evan is exhausting to write. The biggest challenge in the entire series, hands down. I had to force myself to write from his POV because Matt (and Jim and Griffin) were so much easier! Evan is a man trapped inside his head and yes, overwhelmed by his own life. I think he has – for the majority of the series – coping mechanisms instead of healthy habits. For so long, he let Sherri be the emotional anchor of the relationship. Then suddenly, it was up to him and he couldn’t cope with the pressure, which of course horrified someone who is such a type A personality. Evan gets in his own way so many times – and part of the challenge of writing the final book was giving him one more epic test. Had he really changed his patterns? Is he ready to take full emotional control of his life and actions? It was interesting how much this book turned into the final Hero’s Journey of Evan Cerelli! He has the magic formula – now what does he do with it.
What was your inspiration for Matt and Evan? Why cops as opposed to firemen, or attorneys? How did they become the men they are now? (Yes, I know they aren’t real)
I was a police procedural junkie for many years. From “The Rookies” to “Law & Order” – I love them. So cops were the natural choice for me. Also New York City – my favorite place in the world, also a natural choice.
The origin of Evan was a dream I had. I was pregnant with my son – who is fourteen now, which tells you how long it took me to write this book! – and I had a dream that I died, leaving my husband to raise him alone. Now, my husband is the best person I know. He’s a great person, parent and spouse. But the emotional challenge of raising a child on his own? I knew that would be so, so difficult for him. And with this dream in mind, I started to formulate a NYC cop who is suddenly forced to raise his children when his wife dies unexpectedly. Then, because I’m a writer, I thought – what would be the most complicated situation for him to fall in love again? Boom – enter Matt!
Their story happened over time – I wrote this book slowly, in a writer’s group. Then it sat for a long time, unfinished. Finally, a friend reminded me of it, asking if I was going to finish it and I thought – why not? The rest is history I guess!
There is a whole book, Love & Loyalty, that isn’t about Matt and Evan at all! Do you ever feel Jim and Griffin get lost?
Yes, I do. I know their situation and their story is different, less angsty and dramatic and also not the “gay for you” trope. But gosh, I love them so much! I think their story is still about letting go of your past hurts and struggles, and creating a family with another person. They both let go of a lot of unhappiness by being together and while it’s not always easy, it’s always worth it.
“Love & Loyalty” is one of my favorite books that I’ve written. And writing Griffin and Jim within the rest of the series is a great joy of mine. Giving them a full circle was very rewarding to me – they deserved it!
How did you come up with the name of the series and the titles of the books? Did you have a master plan? Was it a charming and convenient coincidence?
So I have this blue leather notebook and on the front page is written:
Fide et Amore (Faith and Love)
Forte et Animus (Courage & Strength)
Amicus et Pietas (Friendship & Devotion)
Underneath is written: Would make a great series of titles! It’s pre-2000, I know that but I don’t remember where they came from or what made me write them down. But they’re the root of the titles! Most of them came fairly easy but “Truth & Tenderness” was the hardest times ten. Then of course when you have it, you look at the book and go – oh yeah, that’s exactly what it’s about.
You’ve got another series that is radically different than the Faith, Love, & Devotion series. The Vigilante series is set in a near future, post-apocalyptic New York and highlights wealth inequality, corruption, and government surveillance, among other things. What was the inspiration and when is the next one? Yes, I’m eager!
I am a superhero junkie. I love, love, love Avengers and Batman and Flash and Arrow and comic books and comic book movies. LOVE. The dramatic hero stories of that genre resonate so deeply with me – the idea to write one happened quite unexpectedly – I had a few pictures on my desktop, unrelated, and somehow, the idea of a vigilante meeting a hot model combined with a few quotes I had stuck up there and boom. Superhero series is born. And wow – it was a totally different experience writing “Who Knows the Storm!” than writing the Faith, Love and Devotion series. A great one but very different. For example – more plot. And complicated plot. And plots that seem all over the place because as we know in superhero lore, things are never what they seem and everything is connected, even if you don’t see how just yet. Writing action was also something new, and the concept of cliffhangers – I learned on the job, that’s for sure.
The next TWO in the series will be out by the end of the year. That’ll round out the origin story and then we’ll see what happens from there!
Once again I’d like to thank you so much for answering our questions. As much as I’m going to miss ALL the characters from Faith, Love, & Devotion please know I’m looking forward to what you’re going to bring us in the future.
Thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate your support since the beginning – the bloggers have meant so much to me.
It took thirty-six years of “research” and “life experience” and well… life… before her first book was published but there are no regrets (she doesn’t believe in them). Along the way, she had some interesting jobs in television, animation, arts education, PR and a national magazine—but she never stopped believing she would eventually earn her living writing stories about love.
She is a member of RWA, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Liberty States Fiction Writers. Her home base is a small town in New Jersey, very near NYC, a city she dearly loves. She shares her life with her husband, her teenaged son—who will just not stop growing—and two exceedingly spoiled cats. Her spare time is spent watching way too much sports programming, going to the movies and for long walks/runs in the park, reading her book club’s current selection, and volunteering.
Nothing makes her happier than knowing she made a reader laugh or smile or cry. It’s the purpose of sharing her work with people. She loves hearing from fans and fellow writers, and is always available for speaking engagements, visits and workshops. Send here a message through her contact page or connect with her on Twitter (@TereMichaels) and Facebook .