1. Tell us about your newest release.
Enough is a gay romance novel that's about - being enough, really. On the surface, protagonist Jesse Dawkins has the start of a pretty perfect life going for him - he likes his job at the fire service, he finally has a boyfriend that might be around for the long haul, and that boyfriend, Ezra Pryce, is perfection in Jesse's eyes.
Jesse's flaw is that he doesn't think he's good enough for this gorgeous man he's managed to land, and his insecurity is aggravated by the rampant disapproval of Ezra's religiously conservative family, and the surfacing of an ex that could have modelled underwear and cologne at the same time. That ex-boyfriend, Liam Quesne, is far better than Jesse will ever be, and the only person who doesn't seem to know it is Ezra.
Jesse's conclusion - that their time together is running out - is shaken, however, when Ezra is involved in a car accident, and Jesse is finally given the evidence he needs to shake his own convictions about never being enough.
2. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your story?
How much I remember from being very young! Ezra Pryce is an ex-Catholic chemistry teacher, a label which applied to my father from the mid-1960s right up until his retirement in the 2000s. When writing Ezra and his family, I was surprised by how many things came bubbling up that I remembered from my childhood: my father complaining about the stupidity of some of his students despite being a wonderfully supportive teacher to their faces; the distant disapproval of his mother at our atheist upbringing and lifestyle - and even the much more vocal disapproval of his sister at our decidedly un-Catholic ways!
I think the biggest surprise was that I didn't realise just how closely Ezra's familial background mirrored my father's until the book was completed - although I suppose I ought to say at least my father never upset his own family quite as much as having a gay son would have done!
3. Do you have any interesting or quirks or rituals?
I'm not sure what counts as weird here...
The two that seem to surprise people the most is that I get home from work and slam out several thousand words no problem, but I can't write to save my life at weekends even if nothing else is going on. I need the focus, or the work zone. Or something? The other is that I'm not much of a reader, haven't been for years, and that always surprises people. In fact, even before I stopped actively reading a lot, I never read romance, despite writing it!
4. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
My biggest influence as a writer has been my best friend for the last eight years. She now operates as my soundboard for writing, and claims on occasion to be my PA as I'm so horribly disorganised! I create my plots out of rambling at her, and some of my most powerful scenes have been perfected by the aim of reducing her to speechless incoherency.
5. What does your family think about your career as a published author?
Oh, they think it's a strange quirk and it's never really discussed. My father actively discouraged it as a silly pipe dream and kept pushing for me to get a 'sensible degree' and a good job. He was then surprised he wasn't first to know when I got my first book deal!
It's mostly that I'm the only writer in the family - or remotely creative member of it, come to think of it - and so my immediate family just flat-out aren't interested in what I do on the side. It comes up in polite dinner conversation now and then, but we don't really discuss it any more than I ask about my father's trading hobby.
6. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?
My big one is travel - I've been all over the world and I'm itching to get back to it soon. I'm very outdoorsy when the British weather allows for it, and if it gets the adrenaline pumping ,then all the better! I'm currently saving for a short trip to Corsica, and a much bigger one to Canada or New Zealand in the next couple of years. (And my best friend is calling me crazy at the moment for looking at where I can go bungee-jumping near where I live now.) So who knows, maybe not every book will be set in England!
7. Can you tell us what is coming up next for you?
I've recently had another book, Some Mistakes, contracted with Breathless Press! This is an erotic gay romance about identity and knowing who you are. It also has a very sexy, difficult-to-control barista who is probably lying a good fifty percent of the time, and was loads of fun to write.
I've also recently finished a young adult novel, Our Private Lives, about growing up gay in a conservative military family. I do NaNoWriMo every year, and was persuaded this time to do one of the summer camps as well, and Our Private Lives was the result. This is in the heavy editing phase before I pitch it to anyone, which is my least favourite stage of the whole process.
In terms of writing, I'm still deciding which of the many project outlines to commit to. I have about twelve fully-formed ideas waiting to be written - and as I've written six books in two years, I see no reason to slow down now!
8. How can readers connect with you online?
News and little snippets go up on my blog at http://matthewjmetzger.wordpress.com, approximately whenever I feel like it. For more up-to-date stuff and actual chatting, I have a Twitter account (@MatthewJMetzger) and a Facebook profile that I lurk on during the evenings while I write - best way of getting my attention quickly, it has to be said! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and again I can be a little flaky with email, although on that score I blame my tablet for having a mutual feud going on with Outlook.
Jesse can do the math: Ezra's perfect, he isn't, and this relationship is doomed. Until the accident forces Jesse to recalculate.
Jesse has never had a real boyfriend before. He's a firefighter, and that's all that anyone's seen before—a quick and thrilling screw, and a story for the future. So when he lands Ezra Pryce, the most beautiful man in the whole of Brighton, Jesse can't quite understand why Ezra is still here eight months down the line.
Not that he's going to complain. Ezra's sexy, sarcastic, and doesn't treat Jesse like he's stupid, but Jesse can do the math. Ezra is nothing short of perfection; and Jesse falls a very way short of it. Jesse isn't going to be enough for someone like Ezra in the long run, and he is living—and loving—on borrowed time. When a disastrous weekend in Norwich introduces Jesse to the staunch disapproval of Ezra's family and the six-pack of his ex-boyfriend in one fell swoop, Jesse's fate is sealed. He cannot hope to live up to an ex who has every intention of getting Ezra back, and all the looks and charm to do it too. Jesse is not enough for Ezra and he's never going to be.
Until the accident forces Jesse to re-evaluate, and shows him exactly what he looks like through Ezra's eyes.
Jackie's was a loud cross between a bar and a club, with a sticky dance floor populated by both straight and gay couples, and a tiny LGBTQ flag above the bar with a sign declaring it to be a "safe space." Jesse had no idea what that meant, but he grasped that it was okay to be gay in here, and slid an arm around Ezra's waist at the bar.
"You're clingy," Ezra said lightly, but tucked his head briefly against Jesse's neck in a kind of half-hug pose. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Jesse said, and slapped Ezra's hand down. "I'll get this round. I want you to get tipsy, and you'll never do that if you stick to your bloody lager."
"Mr. Dawkins, are you trying to get me drunk?"
"Yes," Jesse said, handing over a twenty to the bored bartender. In the pause as the guy wrestled with the till, he twisted to kiss Ezra soundly, transmitting his exact intentions with his tongue and his hand possessively low on Ezra's hip.
"Mm," Ezra hummed as he pulled back, and his eyes were just a little darker. "Maybe I'll get a little bit drunk."
"You do that," Jesse said, and pressed the glass into his hand.
Jackie's livened up a little as the bar slowly filled and the money kept changing hands. Jesse kept Ezra on the vodka, relishing the chance to be able to get him drunk. Ezra didn't like to get drunk if Jesse couldn't, and Jesse often couldn't drink because of the risk of being called to an emergency at work, so it was nice to get to let go a little, to drink a bit more than the two-pint maximum, to feel the first fuzzy edges of poor coordination and disjointed thinking take over his brain. The music was kind of shitty – late nineties stuff he hadn't heard in years – and the bartender was stingy with the doubles, but it was fairly cheap and it was nasty enough to work, and when that wide, beautiful smile bloomed across Ezra's face when a tiny little lesbian and her girlfriend dragged him to dance with them, insisting they knew him as insistently as he said that they didn't, Jesse felt happy. Despite Mrs. Pryce, despite Audrey Hepburn being a lesbian, despite the crucifix on the gatepost, he felt happy.
He drained his glass and went to the bathroom, relieving himself clumsily in a definitely nasty bathroom with the telltale streaks of sticky white powder on the counter that said that at least one part of the sex, drugs and rock and roll was going down in here on your average evening. Rinsing his hands off, he wondered if another round was called for, or another bar. Obviously they'd keep going a bit longer. He could still think, for one. And thinking was counterproductive for later, when he'd get Ezra's long legs wrapped around his waist and try and suck all the alcohol back out through his mouth. Or his neck. Or other places.
Then he left the bathroom, and saw him.
Ezra had escaped the tiny lesbians, and was leaning very precariously against the bar, a fresh drink in hand, and smiling—beaming—at a man who was just offensively good-looking. He looked like one of those underwear models or something. Tall in a too-tight-T-shirt, with spiky dark hair in a style that could have been achieved with an electric razor but he'd probably paid fifty quid for at a salon aimed at women. A waxed chest, judging by the naked v of skin that was visible below his neck. He was flashing a chiseled, perfect, cologne-ad smile at Ezra. People could model cologne and underwear, right? Because this guy definitely did.
Jesse hesitated at the bathroom door, and felt a shaky warmth bubbling up in his stomach as the underwear model reached into his back pocket and passed Ezra a thin bit of card. His number, maybe? Why the hell was some underwear-cologne model giving Ezra his number?
Why the hell was Ezra putting it in his pocket?
Ezra turned from the bar, eyes scanning the room, and that placid, drink-smudged smile widened when he locked eyes with Jesse. He leaned back against the sticky wood, weight on his elbows, and beckoned with one long finger, and it was like an invisible rope reeling Jesse in. The underwear model glanced Jesse's way and melted back into the crowd on the dance floor and Jesse's anger went with him. He planted his hands on either side of Ezra's waist, bracing himself against the bar, and crowded Ezra against it to kiss him and taste the drunken want on his tongue.
"You ran away," Ezra accused, tugging on Jesse's hair lightly.
"You started talking to other guys," Jesse murmured, and yet with Ezra's hand playing with his ear and the wide, blissfully peaceful expression he wore when he was drunk, it somehow didn't matter.
"Only because you ran away," Ezra teased, and bumped his nose against Jesse's clumsily.
"Can we go?" Jesse whispered, dropping a hand to slide it around Ezra's hip and down to the top of his leg, rubbing against the denim of his jeans lightly. "Back to the hotel? I have designs."
"On you and the bed and being bendy."
Ezra grinned, and downed the rest of his glass in one expert motion, his back and neck flexing like liquid in suspension. "I knew you got me drunk," he accused, and Jesse laughed, putting a hand into Ezra's back pocket to hook him in and guide him out. The night air was cold after the heat of the bar, and the underwear model had vanished like an ugly, sexy mirage.
"You shouldn't talk to underwear models," he blurted out, and Ezra laughed too loudly in the street.
"I only talk to your underwear," he retorted, and then all the sense of it was slipping away, and Jesse simply forgot in favor of other things.
For the moment.
Matthew J. Metzger is the front for a twenty-three-year-old British author writing on the side of a demanding day job, and not wishing to be fully out of the closet just yet. Matthew is as much a creation as the characters in his books, and was invented in time for the release of his debut young adult novel, Our Last Summer.
Since then, Matthew has contracted four more novels in the gay romance and young adult genres, with his work focusing on the grittier contemporary issues such as disability, illness, mental health, domestic violence and conflict in relationships. His trilogy on music and depression, beginning with Vivaldi in the Dark in December 2013, has been billed as both heartbreaking and intense. His fifth novel, published here at Breathless Press, is by far the most light-hearted so far.
When he's not writing, Matthew is sleeping or working. Most of his time is spent thinking about writing or actually doing it. He can be stalked on Twitter and Facebook, as well as his Wordpress blog, and welcomes contact from readers and fellow authors alike.