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All The Way Out by Ingrid Sterling :: Release Blitz :: Excerpt :: Author Interview :: Giveaway

Synopsis

Even at that young age Zach knew that those two truths – all-star athlete and homosexual male – could not exist concurrently. So, he’d started dating Rebecca, his devoutly Catholic girlfriend who wants to wait to have sex until she’s married, during his junior year of high school and never looked back.

But on the last night of a team trip to Rome, on the cusp of his senior season at Northwestern University, a Heisman, a number 1 draft pick and a National Championship, Zach seeks out one last anonymous encounter. He opens Grindr and slips out into the Italian summer night to meet Liam – Liam who has a face that looks like it was carved from Carrara marble by one of the ancient greats and whose brazen facade becomes sheepish when he’s asked about his past in Paris. The night is intense, better than Zach could have imagined. But like all one-night stands, it comes to an end by morning’s light.

But what happens to Zach’s carefully manicured plans for a professional football career and a life in the closet when Liam shows up, not only on the Northwestern campus the first day of the fall semester, but in Zach’s upper-level Plato seminar, too?

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Author Interview with Ingrid Sterling

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer? 

I’ve always written. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I wanted to take it to the next level.

 

How many books have you written? 

All the Way Out is my first published novel. But I’ve written countless short stories. I’m currently finishing up novel #2!

 

How long does it usually take you to write a book? 

It depends. When I was writing ATWO, I wasn’t working a full-time job during the day so had lots of free time. With my second novel it’s been slower thanks in part to a new job and Covid.

 

How did you come up with the idea for your book? 

I wanted to write something in college – it’s such a transformative time and I loved my college years. I also wanted to write something that would play with the jock/nerd tropes (they’re both kind of nerds, really!) and also let me share my love for Chicago, a place I spent a lot of time when I was in college.

 

Who are your favorite authors? 

I love Hemingway and Shakespeare the most!

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

I’m a very visual writer – I see the scenes almost like a movie. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of that choreography/dialogue and into a character’s headspace.

 

Where is your favorite place to write? 

In my pjs, under a blanket! Preferably with a cat nearby. 🙂

 

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

I know their general motivation, attitude but definitely get to know them moreas they unfold on the page.

 

What is the easiest thing about writing? 

Dialogue!

 

Do you use images to develop your character’s looks?

Yes, I usually “cast” the characters so I have a general look and sometimes even general mannerisms.

 

Are your characters based on people you know? 

Not in this novel, no.

 

Do you use your experiences in your books? 

Definitely! I was a music student, like Liam, and also went to a big university that has a big football program. All the excitement surrounding their team was something I could definitely relate to!

 

Do you ever get writer’s block? 

For sure! I often find the best solution is to re-read what I already have and get back into the mindset. Maybe put on some moody music, too.

 

What do you think makes a good story? 

For me, I think it’s important to feel what the characters are going through. So whether that is love or sadness or frustration, I want to be able to follow those feelings.

 

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author? 

Getting to meet people who are excited about this story has been so rewarding!

 

What do your friends and family think about you being a writer? 

They’re all really excited to read it! Since I’m using a pseudonym, not everyone in my life knows. But those closest to me and my family are super proud.

 

Do you like music or silence when your write? Do you outline or do you just write? 

It depends. If I’m really into getting the nuts and bolts of a scene, I prefer silence. When I’m outlining, it’s often nice to have music in the background so I get into the mood of the scene. I’m very much a “planner” so those outlines are really critical for my finished product!

 

What do you love best about your current book? 

I love the journey of the characters. I love that it’s multilingual. I love the references to Plato and other ancient texts which were such a big part of my college life. I love their love story! And I love all the music and the sports included.

 

What is your next project?

My next project is a book currently called “Wow and Flutter.” It’s a throwback to my generation – starts in 1998! This is a story of 2nd chance love – maybe even 3rd chance – and transitions from NYC in 1998 to LA in 2004. It’s the story of Alex Murphy, a recent high school grad who is obsessed with the band The Key Frames and their lead singer Jesse Parker. On Alex’s birthday, he and Jesse start a whirlwind summer romance that is cut short when Jesse’s band gets their big break in LA. Young and unaware just how deep his feelings ran, Alex and Jesse break up when Jesse moves.

After college and with the band having seen a modicum of success, Alex finds himself working for a record label in LA, desperate to get Jesse Parker to leave his current label and join theirs. Hearing his first lover’s name after so many years jogs his memory of that perfect summer in New York and he reaches back out to Jesse. Jesse is  a New Year’s eve kiss, the two men rekindle what they’d lost. But when the New Year dawns, Alex’s boss hears of his connection to Jesse Parker and orders him to use his relationship to coerce Jesse to their label.

At first, Alex refuses until the draw of working with Jesse and the possibility of his own success is too difficult to resist. But will Alex ever tell Jesse the true nature of their working relationship, even as their romantic relationship becomes even more intense? Will the pressures of the Hollywood biz break them apart or draw them closer together?

Excerpt

“What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar?” Liam snapped.

 

“Um, I’m fulfilling my degree requirements,” Zach snapped back. “What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar? You live in Rome.”

 

“No, I was regrouping in Rome. I’d been going to school in Paris before that but—Wait, degree requirements? You’re a Classics major? Mr. Hotshot-starting-quarterback is a Classics

major?” Liam’s voice came out shriller than he would have liked.

 

Zach set his hips back against the table, crossing his arms with a sudden smugness. “A Classics major focusing in Pax Romana philosophers with a 3.7 GPA, you mean? Yeah. I am. How do you think I recognized that ridiculous Metamorphoses quote on your Grindr profile?”

 

“I figured you Googled it like everyone else usually did.”

 

Zach’s face softened at Liam’s unintentional reveal. “Why didn’t you say anything about coming to school in the States that night?” Zach asked.

 

Liam leveled him with a look. “I don’t remember us doing an awful lot of talking.”

 

“We talked enough. You could have mentioned it.”

 

“I’d only decided to come here a week or so before we met,” Liam explained. “I barely knew anything about Northwestern aside from the fact that it has a pretty well-respected music

program. Certainly not enough to know it has some big deal football team. And besides, what

were the chances?”

 

“I’m not a betting man, but I definitely wouldn’t have taken these odds.” Doe-eyed panic lingered on Zach’s face even as he shifted to a more conversational tone. “So, the music school, huh? That’s cool. I remember you had music on your desk. What do you play?”

 

“Piano mostly, but I’m a composition major. I added a Classics minor ‘cause I can, here. My other school didn’t offer liberal arts courses.” Zach nodded, and Liam realized it was probably his turn to attempt conversation. “A jock with a brain, then. Color me impressed.”

 

Zach gave a bored lift of his shoulder. “It makes for a great human-interest story. I think every bad pun about Greek gods or Roman gladiators has been made about me at least once. The ESPN announcers think they are so fucking clever.”

 

Liam stared at him. “You keep saying these things thinking I know what they mean.”

 

“ESPN.” Zach gave him a patient grin. “It’s a cable sports network that shows games. You know, on the TV.”

 

“Yeah, alright.” Liam’s pursed lips morphed into an unbidden smile.

 

It was impossible not to note how the tension in the room had slipped away. The looks that passed between them carried a certain playfulness once they were forced to accept the inconceivable fact that they were both here in the same city, at the same school, and even in the same class. And into that ease slipped the feelings of attraction and memories of the intimacy

they’d found on Liam’s mattress by the end of their night together. Liam had sought hidden parts of Zach’s body with his fingers. That small, insinuating touch, burned into his memory, had ignited such terrified want in Zach’s bright blue eyes that Liam had known that he would been allowed to feel Zach from the inside if only they’d had more time. One more night. One

more hour, even. And now here Zach was, standing before him. It was as baffling as it was thrilling. Liam certainly wouldn’t mind if they wound up hooking up again.

 

“Look,” Zach started, “This is crazy that you’re here, and I hope you love your time at Northwestern as much as I have, but it’s probably for the best if we don’t interact.”

 

Liam was rendered mute.

 

“I mean, I know we’re in class together,” Zach continued. “We’ll have to interact, discussion grades and everything, but what I mean is, we shouldn’t be friendly.”

 

“Why not?” Liam asked after another stunned beat.

 

“It’s nothing personal. In fact, I think you’re—” Zach stopped. He pressed his eyes closed and shook his head sadly. He took another steadying breath before speaking again. “It

would make things really difficult for me. Like I told you in Rome, no one knows about me. About me and…” He spoke the next word at a careful volume. “Men. In fact, you’re the only person on this entire campus who does.”

 

Zach’s sexuality was a secret that should have bound them. But instead, Zach was using it to put a wedge between them, between even the possibility of them. Liam didn’t think the conversation could get any more ridiculous.

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Giveaway

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one of three ebook copies of All the Way Out

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Ingrid Sterling

Biography

I named myself "Ingrid" after a character in a story I started writing and will never finish.

I named myself "Sterling" after my dad's boyhood dreams.

I'm a Yankee who has lived south of the Mason Dixon for a decade and I use 'Y'all' without irony. I dance in my kitchen. I vote. I love all the cats in the world and a good IPA. I will scream over college sports.

I write about love, with love, because #loveislove.

With two degrees in music performance, I strive to make my words sing. The rhythm and pacing of the prose are as important to me as my complicated, imperfect characters and my guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

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