My latest novel, New Sensation, hit the market this month. I call it a ''transition'' novel within my Love and Lush series, as I transition away from the storylines heavy with the character of Caesar Blue. Not because I don't love Caesar, but because he is, after all, not alive. He brought his friend Johnnie Vega together with Melanie. The two of them are very much in love, deeply loyal to one another, and new parents. I just didn't know where Caesar was going to fit in with any continued stories about the couple. Plus, I wanted the band to play again and how was I going to do that with no lead singer?
Then a guy on Instagram started following me. This guy was telling everyone he was Michael Hutchence's son, and he was asking people to donate money to him, so that he could go to court and prove it. He looked nothing like Michael, and honestly, he seemed like a scammer. Plus, if he really was Michael's son, wouldn't he know the story of his half-sister, Tiger, seeing very little of her father's money due to some swindler? But then I had an idea, and that idea became New Sensation, book three of Love and Lush.
Now where was this story going to go was the next thing I had to work out.
I created a brand-new character named Leonidas Alexander Gunderson or Leo. He's a naive idealist who comes to California with big dreams of making it big in the music business. I wanted him to be sweet and innocent, but at the same time he has a scandalous secret. I wanted him to also have had a difficult childhood, one that was anything but idyllic. And there would be family secrets revealed.
At one point, I thought about having him cause strife in Johnnie and Melanie's marriage to the point that they would break up. But that seemed out of character for Melanie. However, there are some problems that arise due to Leo's infatuation with her. Although Johnnie does play around being jealous, having Leo around make him feel a bit insecure. But Johnnie having been a child abuse survivor himself also empathizes with Leo and feels a need to help the young man out.
Some of the issues Leo deals with come directly from my own childhood experiences. What he learns about his mother and the disappointments she causes him are similar to what I faced with my own birth father. The ultra-religious upbringing that he has was inspired a bit by my own grandfather, who was a preacher, but not a righteous man.
There is a lot of two-year-old speak in this book. As much as Leo is a main character, so too, is Michael Angelo Vega, Johnnie and Melanie's feisty son. I loved writing him. He is front and center with Leo throughout most of the book and just as vital to the plot Some may get annoyed by his speech, but I'm hoping they stick around until the end to see how he and Leo bond. It's very special and sweet.
In chapter 22, there is an epic event that takes place. I knew right from the start this scene was going to happen. However, I wasn't sure how I was going to write it. Once I figured it out though, I could scarcely edit it without tearing up. It's heart wrenching. Even when I know the outcome. I loved that I made the cat a hero, since mostly it's dogs who get that role in books and movies.
This book was probably the hardest I've written. In the past things flowed very easy for me as I was writing. This one was difficult, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I wrote a lot last summer, then put it away for a few months. Then I figured out the problem. With all my male leads, I have a real life muse. One that inspires me and keeps me writing. I finally found my muse in Sam Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet. I listened to the band's music while I was writing, watched videos and that inspired me to keep plugging along. Sam is beautiful and talented just like my Leo. And because of one of the band's songs, I got an idea for another novel. So Sam will once again be my muse!
Although there are steamy scenes with Johnnie and Melanie, a love interest for Leo is only hinted at for now. The next book he'll feature more prominently as will his love life. New Sensation introduces many characters/storylines that could possibly come back to haunt Leo and trust me they will.
As for Caesar, remember he's great at saving the day, so I'm sure he'll appear again. In New Sensation he does tell Leo he's given a part of himself to the young man. I'll let the reader figure out what that is.
I hope the reader comes away loving Leo and that they look forward to a future with him amongst the others of the Love and Lush series.