Meredith Russell – Alter Ego
Why a series?
Alter Ego is the first book in the Knowles Brook series. The story of Alter Ego is in essence a standalone book, but as I started to build up the village setting and introduced supporting characters, I decided I wanted to write more stories within the world I was creating.
I’m a fan of the soaps Hollyoaks and Eastenders over here in the UK. Though I wouldn’t consider Knowles Brook particularly ‘soapy’ I have taken what I enjoy about the soaps I watch, the way various character’s lives intersect through shared friends/family or events, and the kind of real life issues that crop up and are often tackled in soaps amid the sensationalised storylines.
Currently, including Alter Ego I have five stories I’m looking to tie to the village, each a story and pairing in their own right, but also part of something more.
As a reader do you like series books?
Book 1 in the Knowles Brook Series
Jay James is the confident, outgoing, flirtatious, lead guitarist of a 70s tribute band. But appearances can be deceiving. Jay James isn’t real. ‘Jay’ was born out of necessity and a way for James Hall to deal with life at home after coming out. James is shy and awkward, and can’t escape the shadow of his strained relationship with his mother. As ‘Jay’, James feels indestructible, like nothing can touch him, and he can have any man he wants. But is that really enough?
Danny Ashton is stuck, or at least that’s how he feels sometimes. Five years ago, he dropped out of university to look after his sick mother. He was never prepared for the hand he was dealt—a house to run, bills to pay, and a teenage brother to support.
Together, Danny and James realise ignoring their problems will solve nothing, and if they are to stand any chance of happiness and living as the men they want to be, then they need to move forward. Can the two men face their demons? Or will they end up pushing one another away?
Contact Meredith Russell
Blowing into his hands, Danny rubbed his palms together as he stepped outside. His breath formed in clouds beneath the lights at the front of the social club. Maybe he’d been a bit presumptuous putting away his gloves and scarf already. It was the second week of February, and Sam broke up from school for half-term at the end of the week. It didn’t feel like five minutes ago that his brother had been on holiday for the Christmas period. Danny hated how time, his life had seemed to hit the fast forward button. Everything and everyone just kept moving, and he just wanted to hit stop and have a chance to catch up for once.
Cold air nipped at his cheeks, and he lifted the collar of his denim jacket to little effect. Walking the short path, he stepped out onto the pavement and looked up and down the street. He stopped as he spotted a figure on the opposite side of the road. It was a man, wrapped warmly in a large coat and hat. He was sitting on the railings running the length of the brook and was illuminated by the orange glow of one of the street lamps.
The man noticed him and got to his feet, checking back and forth before crossing the road.
“Hey,” the man said. “I was waiting for you.”
Danny relaxed as he realised who it was and looked Jay up and down. “Waiting for me?” he asked curiously.
“Yeah.” Jay shifted his weight from foot to foot, and Danny couldn’t decide if the guy was nervous and finding this situation as awkward as he was or if Jay was simply cold.
Stiffly, Danny rotated his shoulder. He wasn’t sure what Jay could possibly have to say to him that he really needed to hear, but what the hell, right? So he agreed, “Okay.”
Jay kept his head down, but Danny noted how the dark-coloured makeup from earlier had been wiped away. The overhead light cast shadows over Jay’s face, and without being able to truly see the man, Danny found it hard to believe him when he apologised.
“I’m sorry about earlier. I really am.” Jay cleared his throat. “I’d had too much to drink, and I didn’t mean to come on as heavy as I clearly did.”
As much as Danny enjoyed to see the man squirm, he did feel kind of bad for him. Maybe he wasn’t used to getting knocked back so easily. “Look, it’s not a problem. I’m flattered, really. It’s just I’m…”
“Not that kind of guy?” Jay ventured. He lifted his head, and for the first time Danny was able to properly see his eyes. The blue had darkened to a strange dirty orange because of the street light, but at least he could note the honesty that lay within them.
Danny shrugged. “Trust me, I’ve been that guy.”
I would like to give a great big Thank You to Meredith Russell and RJ Scott with Love Lane Books for letting us take place in this blog tour.