It is our Honor to have Ariel Tachna a Best Selling Author with us today here on
GGR-Review. Her newest book is Conquer the Flames it is Book 4 in the Lang Downs
Series. The Book is being released today so go to your favorite retailer and pick up a copy.
We had a few moments and she was kind enough to answer a few questions I had on the Book and the Series. I hope you enjoy our little discussion.
GGR: Ariel I don’t know if you know this or not, but you are the first Author I have the pleasure of interviewing.
Ariel Tachna: I’m honored! Thank you for hosting me today. I hope I live up to your expectations.
GGR: Conquer the Flames is your 4th installment in the Lang Downs Series. What was your inspiration to start such a great collection on a sheep station?
Ariel Tachna: Several years ago, two separate articles misattributed Australian citizenship to two actors whose work I follow. A friend who follows the same actors said, “I like the idea of them running off together to herd sheep.” Now anyone who knows me at all knows that my muses are slaves to Nicki’s whims, which meant a story of Australian sheepherders had to be told. It’s not two actors running off together to raise sheep, but she’s pleased with the results, and so am I.
GGR: We are introduced to Thorne in this installment. Can you give me your inspiration for the 2 main characters and maybe what celebrity look alike may have inspired them?
Ariel Tachna: Ian has been around in the background from the very beginning. He’s there when Caine arrives, when Caine saves Neil’s life, when Macklin stops the gay bashing that eventually brings Chris to the station. The only question was what brought Ian to Lang Downs in the first place. As you’ve surely realized, the men and women who stay on Lang Downs are the ones with pasts they want to escape. I didn’t have an image of Ian in my head going in to the series. He developed over the course of the story.
Thorne is a wounded warrior, and I could write volumes about why that archetype appeals so much. He lost his home and family at eighteen to a house fire. He entered the military because he didn’t know what else to do. Now, twenty years later, he’s back in civilian life and completely adrift. He comes to Lang Downs to protect it from grassfires, takes one look at it, and sees in it everything he lost and believes he’ll never have again. Of course you can guess how Caine reacts to that.
There’s just one problem: Ian saw him first.
GGR: The stories you tell are very different than other writers, from the locations, stories and your character development. Your stories are fresh and exciting, not in the bang bang your dead aspect but in the Life aspect. What was your inspiration for the story in Conquer the Flames?
Ariel Tachna: Thank you for the compliment. I try to make my stories as authentic as possible, both in the geographical and cultural details of the setting and in the emotions of the characters. Where my inspiration for Conquer the Flames is concerned, I read quite extensively, and last spring I read a beautiful (although still unfinished) online story that resonated with me, specifically with the image of the wounded warrior finding comfort in the arms of the one he loved. Her story was medieval fantasy, so her warrior has very little in common with mine with the exception of the need to rediscover life off the battlefield. Once I decided to take up that archetype, it was a question of setting. I could write a medieval fantasy. I’ve done it before, but that isn’t where my muses are right now, and if it was going to be a contemporary, where else would I send a man in need of a safe haven than to Lang Downs?
GGR: What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?
Ariel Tachna: Neil is always the most fun part of any Lang Downs story. His growth has been one of the unexpected joys of the series, and his interaction with Ian really drove home for me how far he’s come. The most challenging was to represent Thorne’s PTSD in a way that was both realistic and sympathetic. He struggles with blackouts, flashbacks, crowds, and anything unexpected, but he’s not unaware of the problem. He just thinks he’s managing, until he realizes he’s not.
GGR: If I may ask? What are your future plans for Lang Downs, are we going to see more from Caine and Macklins’ group of dare I say misfits or would you have a better description for the residents of Lang Downs?
Ariel Tachna: Old Man Lang’s Lost Boys. That’s how they’re described by the people in the area around Lang Downs, although I suppose now it would be Caine’s Lost Boys. And yes, I have one more book planned. Sam and Jeremy come back to the forefront of Cherish the Land along with a new couple. I’ve dropped some hints as to who that new couple will be in Conquer the Flames, so it will be interesting to see if people pick up on it.
GGR: How would you describe Conquer the Flames to someone who has not read any of your previous books?
Ariel Tachna: It’s a story of redemption, recovery, and romance. It’s very intense on the emotional level but not terribly explicit on the physical side of things. Thorne and Ian do get a little more physical than Sam and Jeremy in Outlast the Night, but their issues keep things pretty slow between them.
GGR: Do you have a nervous habit while writing or are you pretty calm and relaxed?
AT: I drink tea like crazy when I’m writing. I can go through a full pot in an hour if I’m not paying attention.
GGR: What would you like readers to take away from your novels?
Ariel Tachna: f they take only one thing away from my books, I would want it to be that the couples in my books are just like any other couple they know, only they happen to be two men instead of a man and a woman. Most of the time, my books don’t deal with men coming to terms with their sexuality but rather with men finding the person they want to spend their lives with. Being gay isn’t the issue. Finding love is. Some people have called that unrealistic. I prefer to say it’s idealistic. By creating characters who are comfortable with who they are in societies that accept them as they are, I’m doing my small part to make that normal, as it should be. I’d like to believe that someone who reads my books will look at the next gay couple they see with more understanding eyes.
GGR: Let’s say you’re walking down the street and someone recognizes you, they are shy and have never read anything in the M/M genre before. What book of yours would you recommend that they start with?
Ariel Tachna: It very much depends on what they like to read already. If they love fantasy, I’m going to suggest my Partnership in Blood series. If they love historicals, I’d say Checkmate. If they want suspense, then it’s Under the Skin. If they don’t have a preference or are especially nervous about the m/m aspect, I’d suggest Her Two Dads or Inherit the Sky. Inherit the Sky has more sex in it than Her Two Dads, but it seems to resonate with readers in a way that defies my explanation.
GGR: Give us a couple “Everyone wants to know” facts about yourself.
Ariel Tachna: I’m bilingual, which I don’t think is a surprise to anyone who’s read many of my books. I have two kids, ages six and eight, who are the light of my life. I live outside of Houston, Texas, and I’m a compulsive Lord of the Rings fan.
GGR: I’ll wrap this up because I know you are very busy on this Tour so my last question is; How was your trip to Peru?
Ariel Tachna: Peru was amazing! I don’t think there are enough words in my vocabulary to describe the majesty of the mountains, the warmth of the people, or the incredibly spiritual experience of watching the sun rise of Machu Picchu, but I’m going to try anyway. My current project is set in Peru on the Inca Trail. *grin*
Ariel I want to thank you for taking the time to stop by and have a chat. I look forward to catching up again, maybe on the Inca Trail.
Thorne walked into the canteen to find the room already half full of men and an unfamiliar woman behind the buffet serving the men as they came in.
“Ma’am,” he said politely as he reached her.
“You must be Thorne,” she said. “Kami told me about you last night.” She looked at him critically and put a second scoop of scrambled eggs on his plate. “You look like you’ve missed a few meals, son, but don’t worry. We’ll feed you up in no time.”
“Thank you, Mrs….”
“Lang,” she said, “but everyone calls me Sarah.” She handed him a plate.
“Lang like Lang Downs? I thought Neiheisel owned the place.”
“He and Macklin do,” Mrs. Lang said, “but Caine’s great-uncle took my husband in when he had nowhere else to go.” She glanced back toward the kitchen, where Thorne could see Kami washing dishes. “He changed his name to Lang years ago in tribute to the man who saved so many lives by never turning anyone away, even an aboriginal boy with only the clothes on his back to call his own. Fortunately for all of us, his nephew has followed his example. Coffee’s against the wall, or there’s tea if you prefer that. Anything else you need, you just let me know.”
“Ma’am,” he said again as he took his food and looked around for a table. Her revelation only made him more determined to protect this place and the people who lived on it. It was obviously too special to lose. Emery waved him over, so he joined the foreman, his wife, and several other jackaroos.
“Do you know everyone?” Emery asked when Thorne took his seat with his back to the wall. “I can’t remember who I introduced you to yesterday.”
“Mrs. Emery,” Thorne said with a smile, “and I met…. Simms, was it?” The young man nodded. “But I don’t know the others. Thorne Lachlan, RFS.”
“Jesse Harris, Kyle Jones, and Patrick Thompson,” Emery said. “Patrick’s our head mechanic. Kyle has been here almost as long as I have, and Jesse and Chris showed up at the same time about six years ago. We haven’t been able to get rid of them yet.”
“And you won’t, either,” Emery’s wife scolded. “So stop with the ribbing.”
“Molly’s protective of her ‘brood’,” Emery said. “She won’t let me have any fun.”
“I don’t trust you not to say something stupid in the guise of a joke,” Molly said. “Some things aren’t funny.”
“She lost her sense of humor where certain things were concerned about the same time she found out she was pregnant,” Jesse confided.
That explained Emery’s insistence the day before that his wife leave the station. “What things? I wouldn’t want to end up on her bad side.” He’d watched her bop her husband on the head more than once the night before.
“Anything that might make Chris or me uncomfortable,” Jesse replied. That didn’t help Thorne at all, but before he could ask for clarification, Neil lifted a hand and waved another jackaroo over to them.
“Look what the cat dragged in,” Neil teased.
Thorne froze in his seat. He was sure the man coming toward them hadn’t been at dinner the night before. Thorne would have noticed him for sure. Like the other jackaroos, he was lean and weathered, his skin wind-burned and covered in freckles, but something about this man called to Thorne in a way he could not explain. He grabbed his coffee and took a sip to cover his reaction.
“I’m not the last one here,” the newcomer retorted. “I don’t see Sam and Jeremy anywhere.”
Neil moaned at that and clapped his hands over his ears. “Not listening.”
“I’m sure there’s a perfectly innocent reason why they’re late,” the man continued. “I’m sure the noises I heard when I walked past their house weren’t anything like that.”
“Not listening,” Neil repeated. “Not listening, not listening, not listening.”
“I thought you said you wouldn’t put up with comments like that,” Thorne said.
“I won’t,” Neil replied, “but that doesn’t mean I want to think about my brother having sex. That’s not homophobic. That’s self-preservation. Just… no.”
“How many couples are there on Lang Downs?” Thorne asked before he could stop himself.
“Eight,” Neil replied. “Caine and Macklin, Patrick and Carley, Chris and Jesse, Sam and Jeremy, Sarah and Kami, Kyle and Linda, Andrew and Elizabeth, and Molly and me.”
“And you all have houses of your own?”
“Yes,” Neil said, “and so does Ian. Ian, did you meet Thorne last night?”
“No,” the man Thorne was trying not to stare at answered.
“Thorne Lachlan, this is Ian Duncan. Ian, Thorne’s one of the Firies. He’s here to help us prepare for the fires.”
“Cheers, mate,” Ian said, holding out his hand. Thorne took it, ignoring the way the contact sent tingles up his arm. Ian snatched his hand back as if burned, though, so Thorne pushed his interest aside. “So what’s the plan for today?”
“Get the firebreak built on the south side of the valley,” Thorne said.
“Patrick’s going to start outfitting the utes with the water tanks,” Neil added. “Jesse will probably stay and help him. You can work here in the station or you can help with the firebreaks. Did you get the last of the mob brought in last night?”
“I’m not convinced I got all of them,” Ian said, “but I’m not sure it’s the best use of manpower to search for the strays. Not until the valley is secure, anyway. The fires will drive them this way as it is.”
“So what’ll it be, then?” Neil asked. “Firebreaks or prepping the utes?”
“You’ll never let me hear the end of it if I stay and work on the utes,” Ian said, “so firebreaks it is.”
Thorne didn’t pretend to understand the undercurrents between the two men, but all the banter was clearly in good fun. No one else seemed bothered by it, so Thorne resisted the urge to jump to Ian’s defense. He didn’t have the right, not really, and the defense wouldn’t be appreciated.
“Did you boys get enough to eat?”
Thorne started at the sound of Mrs. Lang’s voice. He was halfway out of his seat before he realized he’d begun to react, but he forced himself back into the seat. Mrs. Lang didn’t deserve his anger.
“I’ll take another piece of bacon, if you’ve got any, Sarah,” Ian said. She served him and patted his shoulder as she moved on down the table. She stopped again where Caine and Macklin were sitting.
“Does she mother everyone?” Thorne asked.
“Pretty much,” Neil said. “She didn’t see Macklin for thirty years. She’s been making up for it ever since she got here, and none of us escape it completely.”
“As long as she doesn’t walk up behind me, I’ll live with the mothering,” Thorne said.