Saturday, August 8, 2015

You Are The Reason by Renae Kaye - Blog tour with Author Post, Review, and Scavenger Hunt


Davo’s a pretty average guy. He has a decent job, owns his own home, and spends his weekends at the pub. He fully accepts that he’s gay, but doesn’t want to be one of those gays, who are femme and girly. He likes football and other masculine pursuits, and firmly avoids anything that could be seen as femme—including relationships that last beyond fifteen minutes.

Then Davo’s friend and gay idol not only gets a boyfriend, but also adopts a baby girl. Davo is seriously spooked and scuttles down to the pub in fright. That’s where he meets Lee, who is cute from her cherry-red hair, to her pretty little dress and pointy red shoes. Davo is charmed—but how is that possible? He’s gay. Isn’t he? Then Lee tells him he’s actually a guy—he just likes to wear women’s dresses occasionally. Thoroughly confused about an attraction that’s out of character for him, Davo begins the long journey to where he can accept himself without caring what everyone else thinks.

You Are the Reason releases Friday, 7th of August.  It is available from all leading outlets, including:

4.5 out of 5 stars

You Are The Reason is the second book in The Tav series by Renae Kaye. I recommend reading Blinding Light before you pick up this one, as the couple from that book feature prominently in this one, even though it's a different couple's romance. 

That being said, I started out the book thinking Davo was an ass. Here's a man who's gay but isn't 'one of THOSE gays' as he tells himself repeatedly. He won't allow himself to accept himself because he's set all these invisible walls that stop him from feeling or doing anything that might show he's gay. By the end of the book my impression of him had changed completely. His way of thinking had been brought about totally by being the victim of a teacher who was a bully when he was a young boy. 

Dave's own fears color his start with Lee, which makes things difficult but not insurmountable between them. Granted there were times that I had doubts but Dave came through in the end. Watching Dave change his perception for Lee, and his niece, and just as he realized he could be gay and that was okay was a wonderful bonus in this very well written story. I seriously loved the interactions with Davo and Lee from the start. His panic that he's falling for a woman! To Lee telling him that, nope I am a gay man who just likes dresses sometimes, to accepting Lee as a major part of his life shows so much growth and strength within the character. 

The first time that Dave had to watch baby Maxine made me laugh so hard I was snorting. Here's this big dude freaking out at baby poo. Granted it was a nasty new baby formula poo but still, it was hilarious. That he got Lee involved to help him change her was even better. Any time Dave is within view of Maxine, he's a ball of squishy cuteness. That little girl has him wrapped around her teeny tiny pinkie finger even at just a few weeks/months old. I'd love to see how bad it gets when she's older. 

At the core of this book is the bullying that Dave faced as a young child from a school teacher. One who even encouraged the others to pick on the kids they saw as weaker than themselves. Before this, Dave was a sweet young boy that loved footie, but loved his My Little Pony collection just as much and he even would play Barbies with his sisters without a care. After the bullying started he closed himself off, threw away his MLPs, and refused to like anything that might make him even look gay, let alone BE gay. Obviously he overcame aspects of what was done and was able to have random hook ups but never would break down and have a relationship until he met Lee. And Dave fights his feelings from the start but when he finally falls you'll just want to cheer him and Lee on with a huge smile on your face. 

This is one book you must pick up for pure enjoyment of a good story, fantastic characters, and a love story that will make you exceedingly happy. 


Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back.  She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since.  After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted.  It hasn’t stopped her though.  She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever.  So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.

Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden.  She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.

How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye

Creating characters

I write books.  So do a lot of people.

But I happen to write romance books that feature gay people.  Gay people in love.  (Not all authors do that.)

I write character driven books, where characters grow.  Where characters learn.  Where characters reveal their crazy-arsed souls to the reader and ask the reader to sympathise with them.  (Sadly, not all authors do that either.)

Personal growth.  It’s a big thing.  The person who says that they have learned all there is to know, doesn’t realise how little that actually do know.  We are growing each day.  I know that I am not the same person that I was two years ago.  Or even six months ago.
This year, my former classmates from my high school promised (ie threatened) to have a 20-year reunion.  (Do me a favour, don’t do the maths on that one please.)  I looked at the FB post about it and immediately said, “Nope.  No way.”  My BFF was excited, and begged and pleaded with me to go with her.  I said, “Nope.  No way.”  Then my other friend from high school, sent me a message and asked for my support if she was to go.  I caved.  Since she is trans, and hasn’t had much of a welcome to the news from our old school mates, I told her I’d go and proudly stand at her side.

The biggest thing I hate about the idea of a reunion, is the fact that none of us are who we used to be.  We’ve grown.  We’ve all changed.  For some, they’ve changed gender.  For others, they have changed from a poverty-stricken immigrant with a strong accent, to a powerful corporate worker who spends $600 on a pair of shoes.

I don’t particularly like the person I used to be.  I was hiding a lot.  I was confused.  I was trying to be someone else.  My journey of self-discovery has been 20 years in the making, and I don’t want to be judged and treated like the person I used to be.

It’s the same type of self-discovery that I adore in books – and hence the type of books I like to write.  I find it hard to write blurbs or synopses for my books, because there isn’t a lot that happens in the story – it’s more like:  Liam meets a guy on the train and questions whether he’s gay.  And it took me 60,000 words to write that.  The events are not important, only that they assisted the self-discovery.

For my latest release, You Are the Reason, which came out yesterday, the story is about Davo’s self-discovery.  He has a phobia against anything that can be construed as “girly” or “femme” and it takes about 80,000 words for him to get over it.

For me, to create a character takes a number of weeks to think over him.  I remember thinking about Shawn from Shawn’s Law and creating his personality while gardening.  For Shawn, his physical appearance came first.  I saw a guy at the local pools and he was instantly Shawn to me.  He had these geeky black glasses, and black hair.  He was kinda tubby – but it was more jeez-I-wanna-hug-you tubby to me. 

From there I started to create his childhood/teen years.  Those years are what shape us as adults.  I started to think about his family – and how did they react to the gay bit?  Did that shape his life?  Siblings?  How do they get along?

Then I started looking at his adult life – what does he do for a job?  Where does he live – house, apartment, sharing, renting?  Then hobbies – what does he like doing after work.  Who are his friends?

Then (which I think is a very important bit to creating characters, and often authors forget this step) I give him a flaw.  It could be physical, it could be personality.  But it’s our flaws that make us human, and our flaws that help readers connect with the character.

For example, Hank from The Shearing Gun loses his temper a lot.  And when he does, he strikes out with his fists.  It’s not an attractive flaw.  It’s not something he is proud of.  And it gets him into trouble a lot – but it makes him human.

It is very interesting, but I’ve read a number of articles recently on the benefits of reading.  One thing that pops up frequently, is that readers are found to be more empathetic than non-readers.  To understand this, think of it this way:  you’re reading a book about a twenty-year-old guy who’s gay, and he’s just come out to his parents, and they called him bad names before throwing him out on the street in the snow...  I have never been in this situation.  I’m not a guy, I’m not gay, and more importantly, I’ve seen snow once in my life.  I don’t KNOW how this feels, but I can place myself in his position and THINK I know how he feels.  I can empathise – I can imagine the cold, the fear, the despair.

A funny thing is, my husband and mother-in-law are very non-empathetic people.  I’m not saying they’re not caring, but often they can’t see a situation from another person’s point of view.  They can’t see that perhaps there was a series of events leading up to someone losing their temper.  They just focus on the fact that someone shouted, and that was wrong.  They are unable to see the other person’s POV, and saying, “Yes, we realise that you’ve had a bad day, and you’re not well, and you saw this, and someone had told you falsely about that, and you tried to help, and it fell apart which made you yell.”  It frustrates me that they are unable to put themselves in someone else’s POV and imagine how they would feel.  And the funny bit about it, is my husband is a non-reader, and my MIL only reads autobiographies.

So is it the chicken or the egg?  Are they non-empathetic because they don’t read, or do they not read fiction because they are non-empathetic and it means little to them?

Me?  I’m a reader from the first time I could pick up a book.  I read so many books.  I find it easy to “place myself inside a character” and feel their emotions.  So yes – my characters “speak” to me.  I mentally explore their personality, then think about how they would feel and react to a certain situation.

In You Are the Reason, Davo is spooked.  He doesn’t think there is anything wrong with the way he lives his masculine gay life.  He shuns the femme stuff – including emotions – and gets on with it.  His closest gay friend, Jake is the same.  Jake doesn’t do femme either, and they are both single.  If Jake does it, then it’s okay.  In the space of nine months, his friend’s life turns upside down – he falls in love, he moves in with his lover and they take responsibility for a newborn baby girl.  To Dave, it’s like someone just announced Christmas would come each year in July from now on.

For each step of the story, I stop and imagine what I would do if I was Davo?  Would I be happy for my friend?  Would I break off the friendship?  Would I talk him out of the adoption?
Then I throw obstacles in poor Davo’s path – an attraction to a woman, when he has never been attracted to one before.  At each step of the way, I imagine myself as Davo, and what would I do?

It’s probably why I write in first-person a lot.

“No man is an island.”  I like this saying.  It says to me that no person is without history.  No person is without environmental influences.  Decisions we make in life are dictated not only by our personalities, but by our experiences.  Davo’s decisions are the same.  His experience is that girly-guys get beat up.  His father took the news over his homosexuality by stewing over it for a couple of days, before declaring he was okay with it, because at least he didn’t have a sissy for a son.  His father’s attitude reinforced Davo’s belief that femme-gay was wrong.  Dave believed that as long as he is still masculine (like his Dad) that everything in his world is okay.
In real life we often make decisions based on what has happened to us in the past, or what our friends and family want/think/feel.

To me, creating a character is more than physical.  You need the personality, you need the strengths/weaknesses, you need the back story, you need the family.  You need to have your character do everyday things, like wash the dishes and ring his mother, in order for them to feel fully dimensional.  You need them to live their lives between the pages – work, friends, family, pets.

And, at the end of the day, if the reader can finish a book and just think, “Wow – good story” then I’ve done my job.  A character should feel seamless.  A reader doesn’t need to know I stressed over him, or researched his job, or poured over internet pictures so I could describe his house properly.  The character that seems real, is a character well written.

I hope you all enjoy the story of Davo’s self-discovery.  He is a bit of an ignorant so-and-so in the beginning, but give him time to warm up to Lee.  Because once those two get it on, they sizzle.

In order to celebrate my release of You Are the Reason, I’ve organised a scavenger hunt.  I will be releasing ONE WORD as the hunt item on several stops of my blog tour.  In order to WIN an eBook copy of the book, follow along the blog tour and find a minimum of FIVE unique words.  Email the five words to me at before August 16th to be in the draw.

Today’s word is:  PERSONALITY

I look forward to hearing from you.

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