Theodore and his cousin Rickey inherited their aunt’s flower shop, Starflowers. They decide to run and improve it with their families’ financial support. Starflowers gives Theodore’s life meaning after a depressing breakup. Focusing on work is easy when he’s absolutely sure there’s no space for a man in his life. If he did allow for a boyfriend, it would be someone boring and every day. Someone unlike the exotic Attila. He’d have a cubicle job, wear a cheap suit, and drive a Kia.
Sam Grey is a professional gambler who got caught counting cards one too many times, and consequences can be severe. He got beaten up, robbed, injured, and ends up homeless in Pittsburgh, living out of his Porsche. His temporary job helping with the Valentine’s Day craze makes him yearn not only for the perky florist but for a slower, friendlier way of life. When the shop runs into financial trouble, Sam’s dangerous and exotic skills might be just the thing to help Theodore and show him he’s not just a deadbeat moocher who’s “just passing through.”
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Lucky Starflowers Interview
- What inspired Lucky Star flowers ?
Whenever I look around myself, I see characters, and stories, and what-ifs. One well-known writer and mentor of younger writers makes no secret of having lived homeless out of a Porsche in his younger years. The incongruity of it captured my imagination. I also have relatives who gamble and are good enough at it to pay their bills. Thus, Sam was born. The concept of a book that revolves around a flower shop came to me while I had worked for a florist, and since I’d been writing out of a coffee shop, I decided to rearrange the neighborhood a little bit and place the shop just up the street from my favorite hangout, Espresso a Mano.
The initial impetus to write this story came out of a desire to give Theo a happy ending. Theodore used to be serious about Attila Keleman, the handsome horse trainer from Wild Horses, Broken Gait, and Sire. Even though they weren’t compatible in the long-run, Theo was a good person, and he kept hanging out in the outskirts of my consciousness, suffering and sighing and begging for some sort of a resolution.
- So Sam & Samantha Huh? How did you come up with having a male MC with a female side?
I am not sure. Ideas just pop up, like bubbles. Some stick, others burst. The really good ones burst into lots of other bubbles, and creating Sam was just like that. He is my final try at coming up with a romantic match for Theo. I’ve discarded the barista (sorry, Brandon,) the visiting salesman, the tough biker. All of them felt contrived, and none of them stuck. I only remember thinking that the new facial recognition software is making life hard for card counters at casinos, and I’ve been watching YouTube theater makeup videos with my daughter. An idea of a disguise was born, and then a what-if. This was right before a very cold Halloween. “Wouldn’t it suck to have to live out of a Porsche just now,” I remember thinking.
Sam ends up embracing his feminine side just for fun, but only on special occasions. He isn’t trans, nor a drag queen, but he likes his easy-to-pack satin underwear. You have to travel light in a Porsche.
- There was so much detail to the flower business and to gambling, how much research did you do?
My florist research comes from having worked at Pittsburgh’s Flowerama. The work his hard and never-ending, but very satisfying. It has entirely changed my perspective on the floral business. I owe what I know to Patti-the-owner and Angie-the-manager, who were generous teachers, and who even suggested the occasional mishap that can derail a business in their trade. Floristry is more than “playing with flowers,” and a ton work goes into running a shop and keeping up with new techniques and trends.
I’m horrible at playing cards. When it comes to gambling, I did a lot of reading, studied instructional videos, and talked to people. I even visited a casino, which I found to be quite creepy in its distracting and shiny way. Watching people play poker is like watching grass grow. Researching poker was the hardest thing ever. Sam’s good at it, though, and so is my step-brother and my uncle. I’m fascinated by their minds, and the way they can run the odds and make betting decisions.
- What was the weirdest thing your Googled while researching this book?
Manties! You know, sexy panties for men? It was a “thing” in my circle of FaceBook friends for a while, and I visited many websites to look at men’s exotic underwear, drag underpinnings, and the like. This is before I discovered “private browsing,” and thus I’d received some very interesting e-mail offers!
- What chapter was the toughest to write?
The poker-playing chapters were the toughest. I had to keep referring to my notes and saved links, which was messing with my flow something fierce.
- What chapter was your favorite?
When Sam sleeps over in the empty apartment downstairs! I can’t tell you much because of spoilers, but Sam’s sleep got disturbed, and Theo raced to his rescue, and… go find out!
- Did you consider any alternate endings?
Not really, no. I’m a big believer in happy endings, even though I make the guys work for it.
- What got left out in the final draft?
My false starts. This book got started several times, and it never felt quite right. I dumped about 30K words before Sam came on the scene and winked at me.
- What challenges did you face in the production of this book?
That would be the book covers, definitely. I’ve learned a bit of Photoshop, and between that and InDesign, I was feeling very cocky. I created a cover that didn’t convey the genre. Once I realized that, I added two cute, half-naked guys. Kevin Chandler, my narrator, must’ve been pretty appalled, because he sent me a sleek, modern cover of his own. Alas, that one didn’t really fit either, so I turned to a pro and had one made. Now everybody’s happy. Being indie and knowing how to do things doesn’t mean I should.
- What is your writing schedule like?
I wake up before six, shower and dress, and stumble downstairs to see my teen off to school and coordinate our schedules. I say hi to the dog, get coffee and water, and I waste a lot of precious time on social media. Then I write for a while. When my husband emerges, we have breakfast, and then I write some more. If I have 2K by lunch, I feel pretty accomplished. Since my hip injury doesn’t allow me to sit for a long time at a stretch, I get up more often than I used to. I take breaks gardening, doing household tasks, walking the dog. My daily goal is three thousand words, plus the endless editing and publishing tasks. I used to write every day without fail, but I find I’m happier if I stay away from the computer for one day over the weekend.
- Anyone you’d like to say a special thanks to?
Every book is improved by a team effort. My writer friends and I beta-read for each other, and this book is a lot better for the suggestions of Jackie Keswick and Pd Singer. Jonathan Penn was a meticulous proofreader, and Emma from HardCandiesPublishing made the final cover. I’d like to thank Espresso a Mano for letting me use their name in the book and for making delicious and beautiful lattes for me, and Brendan for agreeing to appear in it – as long as I make him look like Brad Pitt. Patti and Angie at Flowerama have my gratitude for their teaching and good humor. This book is special, because it’s my first work that has been narrated as an audiobook, and Kevin Chandler knocked it out of the park! I miss getting his new chapter updates, his voice is so pleasant and he brings my guys to life, snark and all. It will be out on Audible and iTunes in a week or so.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank my family for supporting my quirky writing ambitions, and I’d like to embrace my readers for their support and enthusiasm. Without you, my efforts would be meaningless.
Kate Pavelle learned to use a gas mask in first grade, fired her first VZ50 in her sixth-grade civil defense class and her dog was a wolf hybrid stolen from the Czechoslovak border guard. Her eccentric father blew out the windows of their house with a stun grenade.
Her high-stakes childhood leaves Kate searching for the next exciting thing: martial arts, horses, toxic mushrooms.
Her quests resonate through her suspense, thrillers, and romances. Kate once knew the hunger of being a political refugee and the terror of being pursued by government agents. She imbues her characters with her own struggle for survival, excellence, and world domination.
Only the dead bodies are imaginary.
- How did you start writing?
Poorly at first, just like everybody else. My first effort was a fruit of frustration at work. I needed something that was all mine, a place where I’d have all control. We were on a business trip in Ireland at the time, and I went to the hotel lobby and powered up my laptop. The book that resulted took seven months for the first draft and was 250,000 words long. It was one giant, incoherent word vomit. After several failed rewrite attempts, I got into fan fiction, which proved to be great training wheels! Three years later, “Wild Horses” came out with Dreamspinner Press, and I just never stopped writing.
- Why gay romance?
I’m married, and there are certain differences between men and women that cannot, and should not, be overlooked. A relationship is a pleasure, but it’s also works.Often times, I’ve wondered how things would be if both partners were the same size, possessed the same physical strength, and worked under similar societal and family expectations. If two guys can open a jar of tomato sauce with equal ease, and if they have the same macho attitude, how will they help each other when going gets tough?
- What do you like to do for fun?
My interests are pretty broad. I knit and garden, I like to paint and tell stories to live audiences. Being out in the woods and foraging for wild mushrooms is fun, and so is horseback riding. Studying martial arts has always been a constant in my life. I’ve trained in several styles for several decades, which made writing the “Fall Trilogy” pretty easy.
- How did you research “Lucky Starflowers” material?
I have worked in a florist shop for a while. They needed help right before Valentine’s Day, and that experience was a real eye-opener. Learning flower-arranging was fun, sure, but most of my day had consisted of a never-ending parade of mundane tasks that are required to keep a shop running. It’s hard work, although I’d found it very satisfying. Theo is the florist. Sam, his love interest, is an itinerant gambler who lives out of his car, a Porsche, which he won in a poker game. I’ve slept in a car before, so I can tell you Sam was exceedingly grateful when Theo offered him a place to crash.
- I hear you made an audio book.
Yes. To be accurate, a narrator in LA made an audiobook through Audible’s royalty-split program, and he put a lot of work into it. Now that it’s finished, I’m almost sad, because I really enjoyed getting an e-mail from Kevin every few days with a new chapter. I listened to the narration for the usual quality-control purposes, but soon I got sucked into the story, and now it’s over. The good news? The audio book will be available for purchase by the end of May.
- What are you writing now?
Presently I’m finishing Book 3 of the SwimBikeRun Trilogy, and even though the book is going well, I still haven’t decided on the title. It has to consist of two words and it has to refer to running (to match with “Treading Water,” the swim part, and “Hard Climb,” the cycling part.) Let me know if you have any suggestions! Tell you what, suggest a title, and the winner gets a signed paper copy.
- The SwimBikeRun Trilogy is about triathlons, right?
Yes. I started writing it in 2011 to help me through triathlon training. When I was swimming in the pool, doing countless laps, I kept thinking of plot, and I pretended the characters were my training buddies. Fessing up to having imaginary friends feels extremely awkward right now, but back then it really helped. Doing the triathlon with author Venona Keys was a lot of fun, too! She is very fit, and she ran through the finish line twice, first on her own and then with me, which encouraged me not to just walk it.
- What’s the most important thing in your life?
My family. Watching my daughters grow into competent young adults is like bittersweet chocolate: it’s satisfying, but it has that bite of knowing life isn’t just fluff anymore. And, of course, my husband. He’s a wonderfully supportive and loving man. I’d be lost without them.