Happy Birthday to Aftercare

Cover of Aftercare by Tanya Chris shows a man in front of a NYC cityscape straightening his tie

Recognize this book?

Garrett’s Master (Russell) died three years ago. Garrett is a lawyer, once famous in the BDSM scene for what a pain slut he was. He works Pro Bono to fill up his time now, no interest in scene since his Master died. He’s approached by Matthew whose brother (Clayton) is a Dom who’s been arrested for killing his sub (Jamie), not in play accidentally. Jamie was murdered and they’re assuming it must be the guy who “beat him up” regularly. Matthew talks Garrett into helping, though he’s not a criminal lawyer, and Matthew becomes Garrett’s new Master. Clayton has a photo of Garrett and Russell and Garrett wants it back. Matthew isn’t a Dom, but they call to each other – Matthew had long seen this photo and wanted the man in it. Jamie was killed in an alley outside a gay bar known for BDSM elements. Matthew calls Garrett Rhett in play. “The way you wreck yourself is so beautiful.” Scene where Garrett is kneeling at Matthew’s feet, nuzzling into his crotch with his hands behind his back. He needs more than vanilla sex, needs to worship, wants to be restrained. He begs for it. Matthew sees the resemblance to the pose in the photo and asks where Garrett’s restraints are. 1st BDSM scene between them

A widowed lawyer, a murdered sub, an inexperienced Dom, a telltale photo—that’s Aftercare. But who are Matthew and Clayton? And when did that scene, or that quote, ever happen?

If you hang out with writers on Facebook or Twitter, you’re bound to hear the terms plotting and pantsing. Plotters outline their stories. Pantsers, like me, make up the story as they go. I’m three books into the Ever After series and that paragraph above is the sum total of what I knew when I started. And even that wasn’t accurate.

So how did Matthew become Aayan? Well, we can thank a friend of mine for that—a gay Muslim immigrant who writes M/M Romance and is one of my beta readers. It was just after the election, so things were rough for Muslims living in the US, not to mention that being gay and Muslim is always a dilemma.

I suggested my friend write himself into a book—give himself a happy ending. To which he said no thank you. He prefers to write pretty white boys, which is his choice and his right. So I said, “I’ll write one for you, but you have to be my sensitivity reader.”

And so just before I wrote the first words of Aftercare, Matthew became Aayan, and Clayton became Syed. If you’re thinking it would take more than a name change to turn Matthew into Aayan, then good! I certainly hope Aayan comes across as intrinsically himself, not a generic white dude with an exotic name. If I’d had an outline, I’d definitely have been shoehorning my new character into it, but because I pants, Aayan was Aayan right from the start. Who he was got baked into the plot.

The rest of the changes are just my normal I-won’t-know-until-I-get-there. Sometimes I think I have a genius idea for a scene, but I never arrive at that scene. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Sometimes aiming too hard for a specific scene will stop me from going anywhere at all. The joy is in the journey, and the characters are my starting point. Aftercare would never have been Aftercare without Aayan.

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