Today, we hear from Drew Doyle of J.M. Kelley's Drew in Blue. Kelley and I met on Twitter around the time I was welcomed into the Lazy Day Publishing family. We've quickly become great supporters of each other and I can't wait for you to read the interview with Drew. But first, a little bit about him.
Drew Doyle’s done a lot of stupid things in his life, but his biggest mistake by far was not paying attention to the 2% failure rate listed on the back of the condom box. Now saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life, Drew is in over his head. The River’s View, Pennsylvania gossip mill is watching each misstep as he juggles a price-gouging babysitter, a major case of artist’s block, and a best friend with an opinion to share on every bungled choice he makes. Drew’s feelings for lifelong pal and one-time high school sweetheart Kristina Moser intensify as he witnesses her growing bond with his son and he finally realizes where he belongs. Now all he has to do is convince Kris he’s right … and she’s just not buying it.
- Drew, please tell me about your previous relationship with Kris?
What, you want pictures? Kidding. I don’t know where I stored them, anyway. We’ve always been friends, me and Kris. Since we were kids, you know? She taught me how to French kiss. Well, she tried. Nobody told us tongue was involved. Then puberty hit, and suddenly I realized my best friend had boobs, and man, I really liked them.
We ended up dating in high school. Real hot and heavy. Back seat of a car kind of hormone explosions. But I had the attention span of a gnat, and I was an idiot. I dumped her and took this cheerleader chick to the Senior Prom. Kris hated me for it.
Yeah, I was a jerk. Believe me, I’ve heard it a lot over the last couple decades or so. But I was a kid, you know? I didn’t get it. I didn’t get that she was good for me. So I blew it. Never had a relationship with another woman that compared, that’s for sure.
2. How was it different as you grew?
We didn’t speak for a while, right after the break up. She went to college, and I hung around close to home, trying to earn a decent wage to live on. I missed her. Not so much dating Kris, as best friend Kris. It’s probably safe to say she left a pretty big hole in my life. Luckily, in time, she forgave me for being a putz, and when she moved back to town, we learned how to be friends again.
Listen, I’m not going to lie. Kris is easy on the eyes. She’s pretty. She’s got curves to die for. I never got over being hot for her. But she’s my friend, and that’s something I’d never want to screw up. I’ve always needed her around. We work as friends. She keeps my ass in line. She makes me own up to my decisions when I try to buck responsibility for things.
It’s the only honest relationship I’ve ever had, I think. I respect her. She respects me. We’re honest with each other. She became my family. The only thing I have on Earth that I can call my own with no strings attached. That probably sounds cheesy and contrived, but it’s the truth. My life isn’t my life without her in it, no matter what role she plays.
3. Did your shared love of art keep you together?
I think it did. It’s this huge connection we share that nobody else we know can touch.
Granted, if you want me to be straight, I think Kris is the one who’s always loved it. Like really loved it. For me, it’s always been this thing I can do, so I do it. An accident. I suck at practically everything else, but it’s the one thing I’m good at, so it would be stupid to turn my back on it.
But she makes me love it. She gets so worked up about it. Art makes her angry. It makes her sad. It makes her deliriously happy. She’s got this endless passion for it, and I want to be that passionate about it, too.
Plus, she challenges me. And she claims I challenge her. We criticize each others’ work. We celebrate when one or both of us puts out something that’s just killer. It’s like we’re rivals and equals all at the same time.
And it’s ours. It’s like this secret club we belong to, all exclusive and elite. I don’t think I’d ever want to share it with anybody but her.
4. How has your life changed since you got custody of Nick? What made you decide to take on that responsibility?
It might be easier to list what’s stayed the same. Actually, there’d be nothing to report. Everything is different. I don’t get to do anything on the spur of the moment anymore. I don’t get to eat, sleep, paint, shop, or get any quality private-time in the bathroom because every freaking move I make centers on Nick.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter about it. Now. Man, I didn’t like it one bit though, when he first got here. How could this little kid, who couldn’t even hold his head up on his own, exert so much control over my life? It was stifling. I nearly gave up several times.
Check that. I did give up. Multiple times.
But I adjusted. You don’t really see it coming, that time when you realize this little crap-puke-and-snot factory is important to you. But it happened. He’s my son. That’s huge. I have a son. I have this huge link to the mortal coil now. I have brought forth life. It’s mind-boggling.
I’m responsible for something now. I have a job, and it’s the most important job in the world, at least in my own deluded mind. He depends on me. He needs me to protect him, to nurture him, and to get him to adulthood in one piece. It still scares the crap out of me, but it feels good.
I think the big change is this: I learned how to love somebody. Not because he could give me something in return. I fell in love with him. He was mine. I was his. I get it now. Love doesn’t have conditions or limits. Real love just is.
5. What role has Kris played in Nick’s life?
She’s everything to that kid. She opened up to him and let him in her heart the moment she laid eyes on him. I’m jealous of this maternal instinct she tapped into so easily. Why do women get that ability? Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s that whole bringer of life, Earth mother instinct thing. But I’m jealous of it. I wish I had that when he first came into my life. I had to work for it. She had it hard-wired into her system.
She’s his mother, his auntie, his friend, his nurse, his pillow, his jungle gym. She flips a switch and becomes whatever he needs her to be. They’re so connected. I mean, I’m his biological father, and sometimes I wonder how in the world I’m supposed to figure out what my own flesh and blood wants. But she walks into the room, sniffs the breeze, and she knows. The bond between them, they should construct bomb shelters out of that stuff. It’s rock-solid. Nothing can break through and weaken it.
6. Has this surprised you?
Yes. No. Both? Kris is an enigma to me. Sometimes she seems so completely out of touch with reality. She can barely make it through a check-out line without making an enemy of the cashier. People don’t always get her, and that includes me. Sometimes I wonder if she was raised by wolves. Her social skills are deplorable. She could be the next Ted Kazinski. Yeah, she’d make a great paranoid hermit.
But when she decides something or someone is worthy of her love and attention, watch out. She will run through the fires of hell for them. So seeing her so devoted to Nick isn’t a surprise. But the surprise is seeing how good she is at it. How natural it all is for her. She’s in her element and she shines. She’s a mother. She was meant to be a mother. I never realized that about her until I saw her with Nick.
7. How has your relationship changed now that Nick is in the picture?
I think it’s matured. Of course that means that now I feel like a fourteen year old instead of an eight year old. But that’s still progress, right? I think there’s more give and take. More of a sense of partnership. Not so much romantically, though. Like we both have the same goal of doing what’s best for Nick. We know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and we play off them to get the best results. It’s that whole family thing. We’re not just friends anymore. We’re a family. It’s no longer about looking out for number one.
7 . Now please, tell me how you’re going to fight for her.
I was hoping to win her over with my rugged good looks and my winsome charm.
I think maybe the key this time is not to fight. I mean, I have to tell her what she means to me, and how much I need her, for me and for the kid. I need to show her that I’m in it for keeps, and for the first time in my life, for keeps doesn’t scare the holy hell out of me. I’m used to grasping at straws. I’m used to Hail Mary passes. I’m good at grandiose gestures. But they never got me anywhere, not in the long run. This time, I need to sit still. Let her know how much I love her. So much so that I’ll let her go if I’m not what she needs. I want her to be happy. More than I want it for myself. That’s gotta count for something. Right?
J.M. Kelley is the debut author of Drew in Blue, a contemporary romance. At 35, she is a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, and has been known to wander local festivals and street fairs with a camera and a notepad, looking for inspiration for the next story. And she usually finds it, unless somebody distracts her with a fresh, piping-hot funnel cake. When she isn't working on her next novel, J.M. can be found cursing her temperamental camera, splattered in paint, or covered in charcoal dust as she flits from one artistic outlet to another.