Jen: Today we welcome Carrie Lomax to Romancing the Book. Carrie, will you share a short bio with us?
Carrie: Carrie Lomax grew up in the Midwest and worked in France before moving to New York City for 15 years. She now lives in Maryland with two budding readers and her real-life romantic hero.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Carrie: Say You Need Me is the follow-up to Say You’ll Stay, featuring Janelle Carlisle. I’m not 100% sure where the poker & porn story idea came from. Writing the hero was an exercise in opposites: if you’ve read the first book about her sister Alyssa, you’ll know Janelle has a serious princess complex. I gave her a dark knight. His armor’s rusted tight, and she has to work hard to pry it open.
“Hmm? Janelle?” Her old roommate yawned into the phone.
“Are you sleeping?” Unlike her, real-life Rachel was decidedly not a morning person — but it was midafternoon, Florida time.
“It’s Saturday,” she yawned. “I was napping. With Caleb.”
Lovely. She’d interrupted their post-coital, blissed out haze. Janelle’s resolve hardened. “I need your help.”
There was a beat of silence, then a rustle, as if Rachel was getting out of bed. “Is everything okay?”
“I’m in Las Vegas and I did something stupid. I lost my wallet. I’ve canceled my debit card, but I don’t have an ID to get on the plane to come home. I have an old driver’s license in a box at my parents’ house. Can you get it and send it to me?”
“Um. Not exactly. I’m camping this weekend with Caleb.”
“Oh. How’s it going?”
“Fine, except I have to pee, and the bathroom is like a million miles away.” There was more rustling and the sound of a squeaky door opening, then slapping closed.
“Bathroom? It’s the woods. Can’t you pee on a tree?” Janelle demanded, fighting a surge of hopelessness. The longing to go home left a sour taste in her mouth.
Trent chose this moment to walk in. Janelle scrambled to take the phone off speaker.
“It’s a campground full of people, Janie, I’m not dropping trou—”
Janelle finally found the right button before Rachel described what she’d be revealing, and to whom.
“Who are you—? Oh.” The corners of Trent’s sexy mouth ticked up. The man was devastating when he smiled. He didn’t do it often.
“Janelle. Did I hear a guy in the background?” Rachel gasped.
“Don’t sound so shocked. It was just…someone walking by.”
Trent smirked and walked by again. Janelle almost missed her friend’s question.
“I don’t believe you for a second, Janelle Carlisle. Why can’t you ask your parents to find your ID, anyway?”
“Because they don’t know I’m here. I told them I was house sitting for a friend in Miami for a few days.” Among other reasons. Janelle kept her attention riveted on the notepad on the table, her face burning. She pressed one hand against her cheek to cool it.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Crystal’s ridiculousness about sugar buddies, does it?”
“Of course not,” Janelle replied a little too hastily. She’d correct her friend on the finer points of sugar daddies and sugar babies later.
“You’d never do that. You’re too…”
“Too what, Rach?”
A long beat of silence passed before her friend spoke. “Too uptight.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Janelle glared at the phone, then at Trent, who was still smirking.
“I mean, Janelle, you have to get over Ben. You haven’t been on a date in like a year. It’s as if you gave up. Just sleep with someone, and get it over with.”
“You do remember what happened last time I went on a date?” Janelle demanded. The horror at having this conversation in front of Trent made her skin prickle.
“You made out in the back of the car. You said it was a great night!” Rachel insisted.
Janelle rolled her eyes at the phone. “The guy texted me a dick pic two days later to show me what I was supposedly missing out on. Believe me, it wasn’t much.”
“Who’re you talking to, babe?” Trent asked over her shoulder, loudly.
“You’re totally with a guy!” Rachel shrieked.
“Gotta go. Enjoy camping!” Janelle disconnected the call and surrendered the phone. “If she calls back, don’t answer.”
He slid the phone into his pocket. “I dunno, you were getting into the good stuff. Maybe I should give your friend a call.”
“Don’t. You. Dare.” He was teasing. At least, she hoped he was teasing. “That wasn’t cool, Trent. I’m trying to keep this fiasco quiet.”
Trent laughed. “Apart from catching up with your girlfriends, any progress getting home?”
“Until now, I was kicking ass.” Janelle read from her notes. “My bank card is being overnighted. It’ll arrive at the hotel on Monday morning. The government won’t send a replacement ID, so that’s a dead end, but I can probably get past airport security with the card on Monday afternoon. I also called the phone company. Records show it hasn’t been used since the Rich Jerk stole it, and I’ve temporarily disabled service.”
Trent cupped her chin in his palm. She resisted the impulse to nuzzle, and let him tip her face up.
“Nice work, Janie.”
The approval she read in his expression sent a flare down her midsection. Or it might be the rough warmth of his fingers against her skin. Or both. Trent Mason knew how to push every button she possessed, and a few she didn’t know she had.
No shit he does. He dated a porn actress.
She was deluding herself. Trent was a genuinely kind person who’d gone out of his way to help a stranger. Above and beyond. And she’d kissed him, then insulted him. She had no idea how to smooth things over. The situation was awkward times infinity. “Do you ever miss it? Playing poker?”
“No.” Discussion over.
“Why not?” She couldn’t resist prying. Nothing about this man made any sense. Janelle’s curiosity was a living, tentacled creature. It wanted to wrap around Trent and suck the information out of him.
Or maybe what she felt wasn’t pure curiosity. Maybe it was something else entirely. Rachel’s order to get laid echoed in her mind.
Trent’s blue eyes bored into her as if he’d read her thoughts. “Ready?”
Janelle blinked. Oh, right. Lunch.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Carrie: Whatever it takes to get the job done. If a scene is alive in my head, I try to get it down fast and slot it in later. But I always know where I’m starting from and where I’m trying to get to by the end before I start writing. Every project has its own rhythm.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Carrie: I often don’t. I trust that there will be more good ideas. But if it’s an “aha!” moment, I’ll lunge for the nearest pen and capture that idea on any scrap I can find, or even the back of my hand in a pinch. Occasionally I remember to use the Notes function on my phone.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Carrie: Mystery. I love a good thriller. Sue Grafton’s passing was tragic for many readers, including me, for whom the unfinished series is a devastating disappointment on top of the loss of a lovely author. Nevada Barr and Carol O’Connell are two other favorites. I’ve been picking away at a dystopian horror project for a while. It may never see the light of day, though. ☺
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Carrie: I watched a few live poker games, researched the rules (and bent a few) for participation, and read up on copyright and revenge porn. For details about the adult film industry, I relied on Stoya’s articles for Vice. They’re quite graphic and not altogether sexy reading, but very informative. But the huge sticking point that I spent the most time researching – like way too much time, I was so in the weeds – was whether or not you could get onto an airplane after losing your wallet on vacation. The answer depends on whether the guards at the security checkpoint is following TSA rules accurately or not. So, a qualified yes.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Carrie: My TBR (to-be-read) stack is always longer than I can keep up with. My go-to authors include Helena Hunting, Sarah MacLean, Avery Flynn, Amy Andrews, Victoria Dahl, Elizabeth Hoyt, Tessa Dare, Eloisa James, Loretta Chase…maybe I should list what I don’t read instead! I’m behind the times in discovering the Beyond series by Kit Rocha, but I did recently and I’m totally hooked. Helena Hunting’s Hooking Up is one of my favorite reads ever.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Carrie: I’m an avid reader of course, a moderately dedicated distance runner, and I think I’d like sleeping if I ever got to do it. As a mom with young kids and a day job, free time is scarce.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Carrie: Good question! I’m in contract for my first historical single title with Champagne Book Group, out in June. I’m reading at Lady Jane’s Salon in New York City this June, so if you can make it I’d love to see readers there. Sometime next summer I’m planning to launch a new contemporary series. Or maybe fall.