Title: Rocking the Boat
Author: Christopher Koehler
Release Date: 02/28/11
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M, Contemporary/Romance/Erotic
Blurb: Nick Bedford, closeted coach of California Pacific College’s men’s rowing team, is struggling with professional ethics. He denies his attraction to Morgan Estrada, a rower on the crew, though the heated glances between them drive Nick wild. Then Morgan makes a move... and though Nick panics, Morgan gets what he wants: Nick.
Safely assured that he’s not preying on a younger man, Nick gives in to his feelings for Morgan. They take pleasure in sharing their daily routine, and the sex sets the sheets afire. Everything seems perfect until an anonymous complaint is filed against Nick right before the biggest race of the year. It’s exactly what Nick has feared most—and it may be enough to capsize the fledgling relationship.
Welcome to Sizzling Releases, Christopher. I’m so pleased you could join me today. What is your Sizzling Release?
Rocking the Boat
What is Rocking the Boat all about?
Rocking the Boat tells the story of Nick and Morgan, coach and athlete, from both men’s point of view, particularly Nick’s struggles with the ethics of his attraction for one of his rowers and Morgan’s uncertainty why an older, more sophisticated man would be interested in him.
That sounds intriguing. How did you come up with the idea?
I’ve rowed competitively myself for over a decade on the masters level (ignoring a short, inglorious collegiate rowing career) and even coached, and my club’s boathouse is next that of a collegiate crew.
Several years ago, one of the college men contacted me as he was coming to terms with his own orientation. I’ll state right here that while I’m a happily married and very much monogamous gay man, this strapping fellow gave me all kinds of ideas about what I’d like to do to him had I been single, emphasis very much on the subjuctive mood.
So there’s the relationship between coach and athlete. But this fellow was struggling, and even if I’d been single, it would’ve been immoral to take advantage of that. But that’s where the similarity ends, and from there, I let the characters tell me their stories.
I know this is book number one in the series The “Row”-mances of the CalPac Crew. Did you begin writing with a series in mind, or did your muse take over?
A bit of both. Publishing definitely favors writers who produce worlds people want to read, and the more you produce in a given world, the easier it is, I think. There’s a built-in fan base, if you will, a ready-made market.
That said, while I first set out to tell a single story, that of the Nick and Morgan, it became clear to me that there were more stories to tell.
This is your first published work, which must be very exciting for you. What was it like for you to write your first book and get published?
I’ve published a number of non-fiction articles, mostly in the history of science and medicine that were of little interest and no consequence. I’ve dreamed of writing books since I was a child, so the publication of Rocking the Boat was both the culmination of a dream and the start of what I hope proves to be a successful career as a novelist.
Congratulations on fulfilling that dream. What are you working on now?
I’m working on Tipping the Balance, the follow-up to Rocking the Boat. I suspect readers of Rocking the Boat will figure out whose story is told in Tipping the Balance. I wasn’t particularly subtle about the interest shown between two supporting characters. But if anyone’s unsure, they are more than welcome to email through the contact link on my webpage.
Do you have an evil day job? How do you find time to write?
I suppose it depends on how you define ‘evil’ and ‘job.’ I’m an at-home dad to an highly demanding ADHD-addled little boy, and that consumes the bulk of my time and attention. I also do some freelance proofreading and editing on the side.
Wow, that's a full time job all by itself, and a labor of love, I'm sure. Now I'm going to ask a question I hate answering when I do interviews! lol What is your creative process?
I try to have several projects in various stages at any given time. So for a while I was editing Rocking the Boat, writing Tipping the Balance, and doing a bit of pre-writing for Settling the Score, the third and final CalPac Row-mance.
In terms of the pre-writing, I create fairly detailed sketches of the main characters, anything from physical appearance to mannerisms to profession. I also just jot notes about plot and dialogue without too much concern for order, although if a sequence makes itself known to me, I don’t look away.
I follow a fairly formal plot structure, so a lot of my brainstorming at this point contributes to the highs and lows and the actiona and emotional arcs. Once I’ve got those nailed down, I’ll fill in with scenes that advance from point to point along the plot structure.
You are highly organized, and I am so, well, not! I admire people who are able to sit down and really plot out their stories. What does your family and friends think about you being a published author?
My friends are thrilled, although I have to wonder if some of my straight rowing teammates know how…uh ‘realistic’ the sex is. My husband is likewise overjoyed for me, and our son is happy for me, although he has only a vague idea of what I write. It’ll stay that way until he’s older, too.
This means, among other things, being careful with the recycled paper for the printer, because some of it contains very details accounts of just what Morgan and Nick get up to behind closed doors. There are things I’d rather not explain to a seven-year-old just yet.
Understandable. I have 12 children, all grown now, but I remember some touchy moments when they walked in the bedroom when they should've been sleeping! Now, it’s April and spring is here. What is your favorite season?
My favorite season is in fact fall. Where I live in northern California, although the leaves take forever to turn color (sometimes it’s close to Christmas before some of them do), the light in autumn takes on a soft, golden tone and the stifling heat of summer is only a memory.
I am from northern CA myself, Humboldt County and the mountains are covered with evergreens, so I know what you mean. Besides being springtime, April also means Easter. How do you celebrate?
By hiding eggs over and over again for our son. I’m no longer observant and my husband is wearingly vocal about his atheism, so Easter’s pretty much just cultural at this point.
Chocolate bunnies or Cadbury Eggs?
Cadbury Mini-Eggs are the vile and empty work of the devil, and I try to save civilization by devouring as many of them as possible to save the lot of you.
LOL You are to be commended for making that sacrifice for the sake of humanity! Thank you so much for being here. Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
Just that I’m humbled and grateful that people like my story, and I welcome their comments. So far, even the people with critiques have been quite polite about it, and I appreciate that. My response to rudeness and a lack of civility is simply not to engage, frankly. But then, the atmosphere in my house can be almost comical in terms of civility and deportment.
And before we go, can we get a juicy excerpt from Rocking the Boat?
Sure! I’ve edited it slightly for clarity.
NICK was at home, where he often spent his Saturday nights. Usually, he studied and read. But that night, he knew what was going on across town. He hadn’t even asked Drew where they were going. He didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to be tempted to interrupt. To fall to his knees at Morgan’s feet to confess his lie and beg for a chance.
But he knew that somewhere, the man he wanted to call his own was being wined and dined, and not by him, and he hated it. He’d never been so uncomfortable in his own skin. He felt twitchy and irritable, like he had an itch that couldn’t be scratched. He didn’t know what he feared more, that Drew and Morgan wouldn’t hit it off... or that they would. Whatever happened, Nick just knew it couldn’t end well, at least not for him. No, he thought, getting up from his desk to pace around his apartment again, this evening had regret written all over it.
Nick looked at the clock on the microwave in his kitchen. Nine p.m. “Damnation,” he said, knowing full well what he was about to do.
He stomped off to his bedroom, shedding his sweats as he went. Aspects was just getting going, and the best way to get over someone was to get under someone else. He kept telling himself that as he put on a shirt so tight it looked like he’d sprayed it on. That and jeans so low his pubic hair would’ve peeked over the top if he hadn’t trimmed it made it clear he had an eight-pack, that he’d earned his muscles through sport and fitness, not by haunting a gym. They also made it clear what he was looking for.
He sprang for a cab. He didn’t intend to be in fit state to drive home. Fifteen minutes later, he was at the bar, surveying the room through his first shot of tequila, the first of many.
“You drink like a man who’s serious about it,” a voice rumbled in his ear.
Nick glanced over, and next to him was a man he hadn’t noticed before, about his height, with close-cropped blond hair and ice-blue eyes.
“It passes the time,” Nick said.
“Maybe I can help you pass it better.”
Nick raked the man with his eyes and liked what he saw. He had the tightly leashed look of power Nick associated with military men, a man with a body to match his own and, with any luck, the will to use it and him. Oblivion was oblivion, wherever it came from.
Nick passed the bartender money to cover his liquid dinner and then some. Then he stood up and smiled. “Lead on.”
Nick’s quarry stood and smiled like a predator, and Nick smiled right back, already buzzing like a hornet’s nest. The man matched him inch for inch, muscle for muscle, and, Nick discovered on the dance floor, move for move.
They settled into the beat like they were made for it. Nick didn’t waste any time. When the man looked at him with ravenous eyes, Nick grinned right back and moved in closer.
When the man moved to unbutton his shirt, Nick let him. When the man ran his hands over his chest, Nick raised his arms overhead to give the man room to play. He closed his eyes and tried to lose himself.
People stared, but Nick didn’t care. Let them stare. He was nothing. His best friend was out there somewhere, romancing the man he wished was touching him, and nothing else mattered. When the beat changed and the muscular blond man turned him around to dance front to back, Nick wasted no time in making his wishes known. He ground his ass against the man’s crotch and felt the answering hardness press back.
This was what he wanted, Nick told himself. What he needed. So when the man’s hands found their way to the button fly of his jeans, he gyrated harder and let him pop the first few buttons.
Nick closed his eyes again, allowing himself to think that it was Morgan’s hands on him, that it was Morgan who reached around to take him in hand. Strong fingers wriggled their way to his cock, smooth palms sliding over taut flesh.
Nick’s eyes jerked open. Smooth palms. There were no calluses, no rough spots created by the friction of the oar handles. He was suddenly as cold and sober as if he’d taken a bucket of water to the face.
He pulled away and turned to face the man, frantically buttoning up. “I’m sorry. It’s just... you’re not him.”