Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.
By Heidi Cullinan
Love doesn't come with a syllabus.
Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn't so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.
Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.
Walter Lucas doesn't believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.
As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.
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What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Cracking open new facts is very much an experience I have for each novel I write. In a book I’m currently drafting the characters took this hard right turn into wine country, and in the span of three hours I learned more about wine than I ever thought I could know. That was for one scene, so I’m sure I have more of that coming. For Dirty Laundry I had to research OCD to a painfully intimate level. For Double Blind I learned how to play poker and read tells. And how to ride a motorcycle. For Love Lessons it was philosophy. I always know twenty times what ends up in the book. Then I forget everything the second I’m done. I’ve pulled out Double Blind to play poker if Poker for Dummies wasn’t handier.
So I’m sure I’ve learned some crazy stuff--and immediately forgotten it.
Which of your characters are you most like? Least like?
Randy Jansen from Double Blind. And Walter Lucas from Love Lessons. Honestly, I’m in all my characters, and none of them are a full self-insert, but the way Randy and Walter snark on the surface while quietly slaying dragons for those they love? Me. Don’t try to get in the way of someone I care about. Anybody they want can walk over me, I’ll just snark and make jokes. Take on my daughter, husband, friends? It’s on.
If I’m least like anyone, it’s Adam from Dirty Laundry. I don’t have anxiety. My response to danger is to KILL IT and figure out if it was actually a threat while I examine the corpse. But I live with two people who have chronic anxiety, so his mental landscape isn’t entirely a foreign country.
Do you have a particular writing habit?
I used to, but it’s work now, so I do whatever I need to in order to get the job done. Coffee, music, change of venue—whatever it takes. The one thing that’s non-negotiable is I will be drafting in Scrivener and on a Mac. Everything else is insanity and I won’t do it.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
My mentor no question was Jennifer Crusie. Yes, we were friends too and it was a two-way street on a lot of levels, but she never let my head live too high in the clouds, was frank as hell when I needed it, and bloodied my manuscripts until I learned how to open them up myself. Sometimes I learned by defiance, but mostly in the end I have to admit she was right. The only amendment I have to make is that it’s not always “the antagonist, stupid.” Sometimes it’s “the antagonism, stupid.” But when you get to the point you have to be told that, the stupid part is very much a given.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
The authors I’m interested in right now aren’t new, but they’re new to me. I’m in love with Vivian Arend and Tessa Dare. In both cases my insta-love meant I bought a pile of their books and am now trying not to read them because once I do I’ll run out and it will be very sad.
What is the hardest part of your writing?
The hardest part has been my health. At this particular second it seems I have maybe, possibly found something magic that helps, but I refuse to get excited about it until it’s been six months, and it’s been four weeks. I write through a lot of brain fog and chronic pain.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I forget who said it first, but I stand by the adage, “If you can stop writing, you should.” If it’s about money, there are a million easier, more reliable ways to get it. If it’s about fame or attention, ditto. If you imagine yourself not writing and you feel happiness and relief, stop writing immediately. If thinking of writing makes you angry or exhausted, if it’s a drain on your system, at least take a break and let ceasing be an option. Everything else? Everything from loving the challenge to gritty determination to climb this mountain to a sense of soul-sucking darkness if you stop? Come on in. The water’s abysmal, but you don’t have much choice so you might as well.
Describe yourself in three words.
World’s crappiest memory.
I know characters are like children but if you could chose, who’s your favorite from your books? Of all time?
Characters aren’t children to me. I do like all of them, even the villains. Favorites are Charles Perry of the Etsey series and Randy Jansen of the Special Delivery series for different reasons. Though they and Walter Lucas are all the same archetype spun out different ways, and they’re all the closest to me, so this is basically me saying I love myself. But ALL of them are me, even the villains, so that was inevitable.
Any song or songs that could basically sum up the overall mood of your writing?
Well, I pretty much only listen to music while I’m writing or thinking about writing, and the top three songs on my iTunes are “Our Love” by Paul Cardall, “Somewhere” by the Scissor Sisters, and “Define Dancing” by Thomas Newman. Which probably says everything right there, if you listen to the trifecta.
Do you plot out your books or just freely write them and let the characters tell you what to do next?
It’s a combination. I plot and outline, but I only write linearly, and it never goes the way I think it will. I very much subscribe to the idea that I write to find out how it ends, because even when my outline is semi-accurate, the arrival is never quite as I pictured it.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider the biggest influence in your writing?
A mashup of Hans Christian Andersen, Walt Disney, and the Bible. I read fairy tales voraciously as a child and watched Disney movies and picture books religiously and was taken regularly to Lutheran Sunday school. When I couldn’t sleep at night (which was often) I put myself to sleep reading one of the three. I don’t think I always got out of the Bible what many wanted me to. Frequently I was angry at the unfairness and contradiction, and the older I got, the more I was encouraged to explore those contradictions. The same was true in Andersen and Disney—sometimes I felt sheltered and safe, sometimes I felt things were very unfair. I can’t say exactly how these things molded me, but as the diet of my formative years, I know without question they did.
What are your current projects? Can you share a little of your current work with us?
At this particular second I’m working on Fever Pitch, the sequel to Love Lessons. Here’s a random bit from the cute meet:
Aaron really liked this Giles guy.
He was kind of lanky and goofy-looking, with ears that stuck out and a faux-hawk he should really give up on, and he had this sharp way of looking at everything like he wasn’t sure if he should run from it or attack it or just watch it in case it attacked. His voice was a little sharp, a little nasal, and a lot of lispy. But he was funny, and he had this way of taking charge that made Aaron breathe a little easier. Also, he was the only person tonight interested in doing something Aaron wanted to do.
Most importantly, when Giles looked at Aaron, he smiled. That was nice, that smile.
About the Author
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state's LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.
You can stalk, I mean find Heidi here: