Z.A. Maxfield is a mother of four and still has time to write. She's here today to tell us about her new release, The Pharaoh’s Concubine. Let's give Z.A. Maxfield a warm welcome.
Why don't your start by telling us about yourself.
I’m a suburban housewife and mom with four kids. I always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until my kids challenged me to try it that I really gave it a shot. When your kids are watching you and you want to be a role mode there are no excuses. You have to practice what you preach. And I preach the philosophy that if you follow your heart and work hard, success is within your grasp.
What’s funny is that since I picked gay erotic romance as a genre, and used a mix-up of my sons names as an pseudonym, I’ve become this odd neighborhood mom my kids are proud of in a way I doubt they would be if I wrote standard genre romance.
Your new release is The Pharaoh’s Concubine. Without giving too much away, tell us about the story and the turf wars and the gangs involved.
The book begins with Dylan being kidnapped by a clique led by William Escobar’s older brother on their father’s behalf. Their father, who runs them from the penitentiary, is looking to start a full scale war with Mosko over the drug trade in Vegas.
Tell us about the pampered Dylan Anderson. How did he end up with Mosko? What kind of man is he? What does he look like? What’s his first impression when he meets William? What does he like about William? What doesn’t he like?
Dylan was raised in a Mormon household, and he’s used to people having high expectations. He’s used to doing what others want and seeing to their needs before his own, and he sees that kind of self-sacrifice as a truly worthwhile principle. When he meets William, he gets it in his head that if he can somehow change the path William is on, the suffering he’s experienced at the hands of the kidnappers will be meaningful. He’s reminded of the person he used to be before he allowed Mosko’s money and the easy life he’s got with the mobster to change him.
Tell us about William “Memo” Escobar. What kind of man is he? What does he look like? What is his first impression when he meets Dylan? What does he like about Dylan? What does he not like?
When William meets Dylan, his first impression is that he’s soft. William is the product of a tough environment, and he sees Dylan as the type of guy who has everything handed to him. It isn’t until they get to the resort and Dylan starts doing odd jobs to pay for their room and board that William realizes there’s more to Dylan than meets the eye. He likes Dylan’s work ethic, and how he relates to people. He’s mistrustful because of Dylan’s looks and his former lifestyle.
You write erotica romances between men. What inspired you to write for this genre?
I guess I just like writing male characters. I wanted to write romance and mystery featuring same sex couples and men were an obvious choice for me because I often find myself gravitating to romance novels where there’s a particularly strong male pov. I think of Laura Kinsale’s early novels, The Prince of Midnight and The Shadow And the Star. When I was reading those I didn’t realize that what attracted me was the hero’s POV… Of course, she’s a damned good writer. I’d read anything of hers.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Writing is such a personal thing. The reward is in the process. Finding a sentence that sings to me, or getting a contract. There are tough things as well, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
What are your current projects and works in progress?
I have three projects in the works, St. Nacho’s 4, All Stirred Up (the sequel to Stirring Up Trouble), and one I’m tentatively calling Fitz’s Story (which has ghosts…)
Tell the readers where they can find you:
You can always find me at www.zamaxfield.com. My email addy is firstname.lastname@example.org. My books are available all fine booksellers everywhere (LOL, but you’ll probably have to special order them in your local independent book store.)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?
I just want to say thanks again for the support you’ve given me as an author. I’m so grateful that people take the time to read the books. I’ll keep writing as long as you want to read them! Thanks a bunch!
After fumbling in Lazlo’s pockets for the key to the shed, Dylan opened it quickly, starting a count inside his head, thinking that if he’d timed this correctly, he’d get the boy out and both of them away, and if he didn’t, he’d be joining Memo in that shed by morning.
He toggled the light switch. “Memo.”
Not a sound.
“Memo, it’s me.” Dylan made his way to the cot and put a gentle hand on the boy’s arm. “You have to come with me, there’s no time to waste.”
“My name is William.”
“Argue with me later. I figure we have about three minutes before neither of our names will matter except in the obituaries. Come with me.”
“I can’t, man. I can barely even move.”
“You have to. I didn’t do this to leave you here.”
“If I pick you up, it’s just going to hurt you more. Don’t make me do that.”
William tried to roll over and it was obviously agony for him. Dylan’s heart sank. “Here, let me help.”
William bit his lip. Dylan didn’t ask this time, he just took William’s arm, pulled it over his shoulder, gave him a moment to get used to that, then hauled him to his feet. “No time to be gentle. It’s either this or a fireman’s carry.”
“This.” William groaned. “You sadist.”
“Yeah, well.” Dylan didn’t disagree. Once they left the shed behind he hugged the perimeter, scraping his arms on the rough bushes where the ambient lighting from the street and the moon didn’t penetrate the shadows. “Next time kidnap a nicer guy.”
They made it unseen to the row of cars belonging to the guards. Dylan ducked behind the last one, Andreas’s nondescript Honda sedan. He held William steady, close and quiet, even though he stank like raw sewage. It took all of Dylan’s concentration to keep William from falling over onto the ground while he unlocked the car with the key to avoid illuminating the headlights. He helped William in and made his way around to the driver’s side, getting in quickly, praying the dome lights wouldn’t give them away.
“Now, we wait,” he told the boy.
“What are we waiting for?”
Dylan chewed his fingernail. Did he set it high enough? He’d scorched and burned microwave popcorn before, filling the house with acrid smoke when he wasn’t even trying. He’d been so sure that it would work, but as seconds ticked by he doubted himself, and his heart started to sink heavily. What if he just brought more suffering to the kid?
Nothing happened, and Dylan was ready to start the process of hauling the kid back when sirens filled the air and the front floodlights blinked to life, bathing the entire house in blinding white light.
In the commotion no one noticed that Andreas’s car started. Smoke had already begun to fill the first floor as the two remaining guards pulled the front doors open. Protocol required that Yves’s men search for him inside the house, while Andreas checked to make sure the fire department received the alarm. Andreas was supposed to open the gate for emergency vehicles when they arrived, but Dylan hoped he would be sleeping quietly, draped over his monitors, as blissfully unaware of everything as the three temazepam capsules Dylan had emptied into his coffee could make him.
His plan was for the two men inside the house to split up, one looking for him, and the other for Lazlo, to see why he hadn’t responded. That left Dylan and William with only a brief window of time to make it to the guardhouse, open the gate, and then leave without being seen.
He approached the guardhouse cautiously, pulling up right alongside it. If Andreas hadn’t drunk his coffee, or if the drugs hadn’t taken effect yet, there’d be hell to pay. If one of the guards looked out front or found Lazlo too soon…
Sick dread covered Dylan with sweat.
A quick glance found Andreas slumped in his chair. Dylan put the Honda in park and jumped out to activate the remote.
It seemed like the massive wrought-iron gate took hours to open, sliding slowly on the track while Dylan’s heart clattered in his throat. It wasn’t hard to imagine what punishment Yves would mete out to a lover who betrayed him. If he were spotted now, it would be nearly impossible to get away.
A low groan came from William, reminding him why he had to try.
“Fasten your seat belt, Memo.”
“William.” Awkwardly, the kid did as he was told.
“Remind me when we’re not about to die.”
When the gate finally opened enough for them to slip out, Dylan glanced in the rearview mirror.
I’m leaving. I’m really leaving Yves. There was no time for grief. If he thought about what he was doing, he’d surely freeze in his tracks. He punched the accelerator and worked the manual transmission.
William shifted to look behind. “No pressure, but we should probably go faster.”
“What?” Dylan sure felt pressured. He pelted out of his driveway and headed east. “What do you mean, no pressure?”
“I mean about my name. No pressure to remember.”
Dylan shook his head. “I’m lucky to remember my name right now. Much less how to drive a manual transmission. It’ll come back to me—like riding a bicycle.” Dylan winced when the transmission gears made a telltale grinding sound, then tried to shift again.
“I hope that means you know how to ride a bicycle…”
“Yeah.” Dylan made a sharp right turn and it threw Memo into him.
“What happens now?”
“I don’t know. I only thought this far ahead.”
William accepted this, or else he was in too much pain to argue.
Dylan’s heart stopped racing when he’d driven several miles and as far as he could tell no one followed them. He wet his dry lips and slowed down. They’d made it. He didn’t want to say it out loud, he didn’t have the nerve to count on it, but it was entirely possible he’d gotten away with it.
While they were stopped at a red light, he glanced over at William and allowed himself to hope. The kid looked like he’d been hit by a train. Dylan cursed. The real work—the hard part—was just beginning. He had to keep William safe until he healed, and that meant they needed a place to hide where Yves couldn’t find them.
If such a place existed.