Monday, August 12, 2013

Syrah by Nessa L. Warin

Literary Nymphs Interview

Title: Syrah
Author: Nessa L. Warin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay romance
Release Date: August 8, 2013

Do you write in more than one genre?
I do. This is actually only my second contemporary book, and it’s the first one that doesn’t involve fantasy in some way. My first book, Sauntering Vaguely Downward, is a contemporary story set at Dragon*Con, a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. My other books are fantasy, paranormal, and Sci-Fi. So, yeah, lots of different genres.

What if any, is the hardest part of writing for you?
At the moment, it’s focusing. I recently started to work from home, and instead of having lots of time to write like I thought I would, I find I get distracted easily and don’t get as much writing done. As far as what is the hardest for me to write, it’s sex. I rarely manage to write a sex scene that flows well. At the moment, in the sequel to Syrah, those two forces have conspired to have me stuck in the middle of a sex scene for weeks.

What inspired the story?
This story was inspired by my local wine shop, The Wine Merchant. It’s a great little shop that has tastings twice a month, and while I was at one of them, I had this idea of a guy coming into a wine shop a lot like it, meeting the owner, and there being an instant attraction. That’s actually the opening scene of Syrah.

All Shawn Neale is looking for when he stumbles into All Corked Up on Christmas Eve is some wine recommendations. What he finds is an instant attraction to Royce Wilkinson, the shop’s owner. After a few weeks of flirting during shopping and some semi-dates at Royce’s wine tastings, they decide on a real date. It goes well, but life isn’t that simple.

Shawn wants to buy Delicto, the local pub he manages. He’s been planning his life around this for years, but when the owner, who believes being gay is an illness, discovers Shawn went out with Royce, he gives Shawn an ultimatum: stop dating guys or he won’t get to buy Delicto. It’s a heartbreaking quandary: Can Royce and Shawn be happy with a secret relationship until Shawn buys Delicto or is Shawn going to have to choose between his dream job and his dream guy?

Three days later, Royce still hadn’t managed to stop replaying his conversation with Shawn, wondering how it could have gone differently. It wasn’t so bad that he couldn’t focus on anything else, but unless he was actively engaged in something that kept his mind occupied, he thought about what Shawn had said, and what Clint had said, and tried to twist things around in his mind until the conversation ended differently. He never quite managed the result he wanted because he didn’t know how Shawn would react to the changed flow, but he had done a lot of the store’s paperwork trying not to think about it.

He had just finished buying enough presents to give his niece and nephew on their next three birthdays when Clint rapped on the doorframe leaned into the office. “Hey, boss, can you—Why did you just buy a six-foot-tall stuffed giraffe?”

“For Ella, I bought a giant hippo for Kyler.”

“You bought your niece and nephew giant stuffed animals.” Clint shook his head as if to clear it as he stepped into the room. “Why?”

“They’ll like them!” Royce didn’t mention the Lego sets, books, art supplies, clothes, dolls, and trains he’d also bought. “I thought they’d make good birthday presents.”

“Kyler’s birthday is in April and Ella’s in September,” Clint said flatly. “It’s the end of January.”

He had a valid point, but anything that shipped fast enough would provide another distraction while Royce tried to figure out where to keep it for the next several months. “I know.”

“So why are you shopping now? I know you usually go overboard with their presents, but this is ridiculously early, especially for Ella. It’s almost like—Oh.” Clint looked at Royce shrewdly and the tiny spark of hope Royce had that he’d be able to fool Clint flickered and died. Clint was smarter than he let on and it was easy to forget sometimes. “You still haven’t called Shawn, have you?”

It was amazing how Clint could make Royce feel like a chastised child with just a look. He fought against the urge to look down and forced himself to meet Clint’s gaze. “No.”

Clint leaned against the desk. “Why not?”

Royce didn’t have a good answer for that. He’d thought about it several times while trying to rewrite the conversation in his head, but it had always been too late or too early or he’d upset himself too much and he’d never picked up the phone. “Haven’t gotten around to it,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant. “I’ve been busy.”

“You’ve been making yourself busy, you mean. If you have time to shop for stuffed animals, you have time to call Shawn.” Clint picked Royce’s phone up and handed it to him. “Go on.”

Royce put the phone back down. He needed to call or forget all about Shawn, he knew that, but he wasn’t going to do either with Clint looming over him. “Later.”

“Now” Clint nudged the phone back toward Royce. “Before you chicken out”

“I’m not chickening out. Honest.”

Clint didn’t look like he believed Royce and, honestly, Royce couldn’t blame him. It did look like he was trying to avoid making the call, and in a way, he was. He had to be sure he actually wanted to make it before he picked up the phone.

“Sure looks like you are.” Clint hopped up to sit on Royce’s desk. “Do you need me to tell you you’re an idiot, or do you need another heart-to-heart? I can do either, though I have to tell you, heart-to-hearts are not in my job description. I might need a raise for this.”

“Yes, they are,” Royce countered with a smirk. “They’re ‘other duties as assigned by management’. I’m management.”

Clint snorted. “I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.”

“It means whatever I want it to. That’s the perk of being the boss. I get to pick these things.”

“Yeah, well, pick Brandy or Lisa the next time you need a heart-to-heart. Brandy loves gossip.”

Royce grimaced at the idea of sharing his personal life with his other employees. He liked Brandy, Lisa, and Jess on both personal and professional levels, but he wasn’t friends with them like he was with Clint. Clint had been Royce’s first employee, and they’d become true friends in those early days, before Royce could afford to employ anyone else. He’d barely been able to pay Clint some months, but Clint had stuck with him through it all and they’d bonded during long days and late nights when Royce’s personal life had fallen apart thanks to the time he had to spend on the shop. Without Clint, Royce doubted he would have made it through the first year he owned All Corked Up.

Clint had earned the right to pry in Royce’s personal life and granted Royce the same right in return. The others hadn’t.

“Yeah, no,” Royce said, vetoing Clint’s idea. “One of the other perks of being the boss is that I get to pick who I assign jobs to. You’re the lucky winner on this one.”

“Fantastic,” Clint said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “I get the best jobs.”

“One of the perks of being here the longest”

“Great.” Clint hopped off the desk and looked down at Royce. “Seriously Royce. Call him. The worst that’s going to happen is he doesn’t change his mind. Then you’re still right where you are now, only you’ll know if you could have done something.”

“I don’t want to get my hopes up,” Royce admitted softly. It was hard to say, even to Clint, but it was the real reason he hadn’t called. The situation right now sucked enough. He didn’t want to make himself more vulnerable by putting himself out there like that.

“So don’t. Apologize and see what happens. If nothing else, maybe you can save him as a customer.” Clint pushed the phone back toward Royce. “Just call him.”

“All right!” Royce picked up the phone, more because it would get Clint to leave than because he intended to call. “Get out so I can.”

Clint tossed off a sloppy salute and left. As soon as the door clicked shut behind him, Royce put the phone down and turned back to the computer, determined to find something else to distract him.

Nessa L. Warin lives in a fantasy world that’s mostly inside her head, though her physical address is in southwestern Ohio. Her two cats kindly play along with her fantasies and graciously let her pay all the bills, but they do require her to provide pampering on a regular basis. Nessa enjoys exploring the wonders of this world through travel—something her cats strongly disapprove of as it cuts into their pampering time—and can find whimsy in the most mundane places. When the real world becomes too much, Nessa enjoys dressing in costume and going to Renaissance Festivals and fantasy conventions. A short trip to either does wonders for her state of mind, so she makes sure to attend at least one of each a year. These trips help Nessa add to her collection of faerie and dragon art, and she swears she will frame and hang all the prints she’s collected some time soon.
When she’s not living in a fantasy world, Nessa enjoys tasting and learning about wine, particularly since it’s one of the few things she and the rest of her family agree on. She’s a regular at the wine tastings held by her local wine shop, and considers it a sin for her wine rack to have more empty spots than full ones. She’d prefer her wine rack to be filled with Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Syrah, but one of her favorite things about wine is the way it can always surprise her. More than once she’s been taken aback by which wine she likes best at a tasting, and she loves the way her wine rack illustrates the joys of trying new things.

Where can we find your website?
My website is still under construction, but I can be found on Facebook ( and Twitter (

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