#BlogTour • Zane Riley • With or Without You (Go Your Own Way) + Interview & Giveaway
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Zane Riley - author of With or Without You.
Hi Zane, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi! I’m Zane, and I’m a queer transgender writer from northern Virginia. Currently, I’m in the process of packing up to move to Washington state, so I’m pretty busy at the moment, but also very excited. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, although I didn’t get truly serious about it until college when I switched my major to Creative Writing.
With or Without You is my second novel and a sequel to my first. It continues Will and Lennox’s story as they finish up their senior year of high school. As they begin to learn how to navigate their growing relationship, Will plans for his future in college while Lennox struggles to accept that his future is more than surviving until the next day. They each begin to forge their own paths only to realize that the futures they each want may lead them away from each other.
1) How do you develop your plots and characters? I tend to start with characters and develop plots around their lives and the circles and worlds they live in. For me, most characters are just little sparks of personality at first. A sharp comment in my head or me seeing something or hearing something someone says and thinking, “Man, that would be fun to write.” Most of my characters are also born from what I call queerness, in that all of my main characters are LGBTQIA in some way because that’s what I want to see more of in the world.
2) Who doesn’t love a good hero? Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real life inspiration behind them? I don’t know that there was ever any real life inspiration for Lennox. If there was I don’t remember it anymore. He’s always been around in my head it seems, in one variation or another, his strong, distinct voice has been with me for years. It’s definitely grown more callus over time, but I think some core root of him comes from how much I struggled with confidence as a kid. Lennox does as well, but he wears that mask. He’s sharp and witty and for a long time, that’s all he was. As I started to write him more and consider ideas for him and his life, he turned darker. More callus, sometimes cruel, wrought from steel forged in the fire pit of a rough childhood.
3) What real-life inspirations do you use when world building? I get so much inspiration from friends and coworkers and the conversations I hear all around me. Listening is probably the biggest strength you can have as a writer if you want to have well-built and consistent worlds. Listen to all the differences in the world, read about them, understand them, ask questions, and always always listen to what people are saying. I have gained so much from the stories people in my life have shared with me. Little bits of understanding of how different people react to situations or how they view the world or others. People around you are the greatest tool available to understanding how worlds function because they create the one we live in.
4) Did you learn anything from this book and what was it? My biggest take away from With or Without You was the knowledge and the confidence in knowing that I can write a solid story without a crutch. With the first book in this series, Go Your Own Way, I leaned heavily (almost too heavily sometimes) on the original version of that story. I was nervous about straying too far from the original plot and journey those boys took. With this second book, I learned very quickly that I couldn’t rely on that old manuscript anymore. This new version was a different story, even if the heart of the plot was the same. I couldn’t keep Will and Lennox caged by someone else’s journey, and so I set that old manuscript aside and let them guide me.
Sometimes it’s hard to trust your characters with a story you’ve known for a long time, but it’s always the best option.
5) It’s your last meal on earth. What do you choose? If I picked anything besides pizza I’d be betraying myself.
Thank you, Zane for stopping by today.
Author Name: Zane Riley
Book Name: With or Without You
Sequel to ‘Go Your Own Way’
Should be read in order to appreciate the books
Release Date: July 21, 2016
In the much-anticipated sequel to Go Your Own Way, high school seniors Lennox McAvoy and Will Osborne pick up right where they left off—navigating the tumultuous waters of a new relationship and dealing with Will’s disapproving father.
When a violent incident forces Lennox to give up his independent ways, he must come to terms with his past just as Will is grappling with his future. As Will’s college plans become reality, will Lennox have the courage to go after the opportunities he doesn’t think he deserves? Add to Goodreads
The band room was empty when he pushed the door open, but the piano was set up like it was almost every afternoon these days. Only Mr. Robinette and a music stand littered with sheet music was absent.
The silence struck Lennox as odd, but as he sat down he also realized how strange it was to announce himself. So much had changed since the first time he'd snuck in here to play on his own. Now he was auditioning for some college he still couldn't fathom.
To make Will happy. And maybe a little bit for himself.
"Ah, I wondered if you were going to show up."
Mr. Robinette was behind him, the door to his office now wide open. He'd taken off his tie and undone a few buttons on his shirt like he did most afternoons when they practiced.
"You just want to play it through a few times or mess around with something else?"
Lennox took a seat at the piano, but didn't both opening his bag. He'd memorized the piece he was playing by Valentine's Day and now, almost two weeks later, he could write it out measure for measure on blank sheet music. But playing it was becoming repetitive. For two hours, three times a week, almost nonstop with the same four pages and nothing else.
"I'd rather try something new. That piece is getting a little old."
Mr. Robinette smiled and pulled a chair up beside him. "I had a nightmare the other night and it was the theme song while I ran around a haunted house Scooby Doo style."
"You didn't catch a ride in the Mystery Machine, did you? I've always wanted that van."
"I've got a lunch box version of it. It doesn't fit much though because it's too narrow. Anyway, play what you want. I'll be here until about four-thirty, so it's all yours."
As Mr. Robinette returned to his office, Lennox pulled what had become his music notebook out of his bag and opened it to the latest page. He'd taken to composing during class when he should have been taking notes, especially calculus where he had no reason to pay attention anyway.
The latest page was a tune he'd come up with while the other kids had been tapping their pencils and erasing answers. Every moment of his life carried a rhythm, a melody, and an emotion he could create with, and his notebook was becoming a testament to that. He played through everything he'd jotted down over the past few days, but after several rounds he kept coming back to one. It was a piano version he'd tried—and mostly failed—to create of one of the songs Will had played on a loop a few weeks ago.
"I'm getting ready to lock up!"
Mr. Robinette's voice carried out of the office and into the band room. A few minutes and several jingles of Mr. Robinette's keys later, the office door was shut and Lennox was closing the cover on the keys.
"That last piece you were playing, was it a cover?"
Lennox shrugged as they headed for the door.
"It was supposed to be. Didn't sound much like the song."
"Well, the others did. They were all really good, even the ones that weren't covers."
Lennox watched him at the door to the parking lot for a moment. He'd been a great help over the last month—all year if Lennox was honest. Mr. Robinette had believed in him in his own way since school had begun, and thanks to him he had a decent shot at this audition.
"Thanks for… all of this. I actually feel like—just thanks. Mr. Robinette gave him a genuine smile and patted him on the shoulder.
"You're very welcome. Let me know how it goes when you get back, okay? I'm rooting for you. Got all of my fingers and limbs crossed. You deserve the chance. Don't doubt that or yourself."
It was funny to have so many people believing in him after so long. Happiness was a strange feeling as well. Until he'd let Will into his life he couldn't remember how to capture such a feeling in his chest and keep it there.
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Meet the author
Zane Riley is a transgender writer who wrote his first work of fan fiction in the fourth grade. He is a recent transplant to Vancouver, Washington where he spends his time watching long distance baseball games, hiking, and exploring the musical depths of the internet. His first novel, Go Your Own Way, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.
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