Book Title: We Still Live
Author: Sara Dobie Bauer
Publisher: NineStar Press
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Release Date: December 9, 2019
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Friends to lovers, hurt/comfort
Themes: Coming out, depression, anxiety, PTSD/post-traumatic stress, mental illness
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 62 000 words
It is a standalone book.
To escape the past, accept it.
Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.
When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.
Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.
***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.***
Interview with Sara
What’s your favorite book, a book that’s greatly impacted you or your first LGBTQ read? Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s the most terrifying book I’ve ever read but an important reminder of the battles against censorship we have to face now and will in the future.
Do you have any tattoos? If yes where and what? If you have a lot, which is your favorite one I have a small tattoo on my lower back I got when I was eighteen with my Aunt Susie. Susie has been my best friend my whole life. She was the Maid of Honor at my wedding. It’s our special thing.
Tea, coffee, soda, alcohol? What’s your drink? My drink is seasonal! Right now, it’s all about Christmas ales, whiskey, and peppermint mocha coffee!
Tell us a little about yourself.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I’m actually 37. People always assume younger, probably due to my general lack of maturity.
How do you relax? Hot yoga.
Do you have a favorite quote? “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the f**k you were gonna do anyway.” ― Robert Downey Jr.
Who inspires you? Pretty much every other writer EVER.
How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing? Since I was in elementary school. I like the aspect of escape. Having a bad day? Write something. Bad year? Same.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? I used to say, “getting published,” but that’s sort of old news now. Going forward, I want to keep enjoying writing. If I ever start to hate writing, we’ve got a problem.
What’s your favorite part of writing? Making characters fall in love.
Why did you choose to write LGBTQ+ romance? Why not another genre? I love men, so it’s like a math equation. One hot dude plus another hot dude equals two hot dudes. Score.
What sort of reception do you get when you told your family and friends about the genre and stories you write? First, confusion, because how could a bisexual woman write the intricacies of being a gay man? Then, once people read my books, they’re like, “Oh, it’s just romance.” Basically, people realize that, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation, we all fall in love the same way.
What’s your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ communities? The overwhelmingly loud fans who shout, “WHAT IS YOUR NEXT BOOK? GIMME GIMME NOW!” I feel like this community is super supportive of writers, which is outstanding—and rare, honestly.
Describe a scene in your writing that has made you laugh or cry? There’s a scene in We Still Live involving an infamous Ohio State versus Wisconsin college football game that makes me giggle every time. I grew up in Ohio as a Michigan Wolverines fan, so I love chronicling the insanity of the Buckeye fandom.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style. Relaxed. Conversational. Not too many big words. Quick, in that people usually read my books over the course of, like, four hours. Real.
What does your writing process look like? A lot of talking to myself in the car. My yoga studio is 30 minutes from my house, and those 30 minutes are often the most productive of my day. I don’t do much plotting or outlining before I start a new story. I see a character in my mind, and follow him/her around, see what they might do. It’s all very laid back.
How do you go about naming your characters? Sometimes, they’re based on real people. Other times, I think of a word that describes the character (like brave or strong or wild), and do a name search based on meaning. Ancestry occasionally comes into play, as well.
What’s your spirit animal/mascot/avatar? Ha! That changes often, but right now, it’s actor Timothee Chalamet due to his incredible awkwardness in interviews but talent on-screen. Acting and ambition wise, he’s an inspiration to me, but he seems like a nervous nerd in real life. It’s cool that he’s not cool, ya know? Makes me feel better about my own insecurities.
Do you write any other genre? I might mix it up with pairings, but I always write romance.
Give the readers a brief summary of your latest book. We Still Live came out December 9! Isaac is a new hire at Hambden University, the site of a shooting the prior spring. John is the hero professor who stopped the shooting. Isaac feels like an outsider because he merely observes the after-effect of tragedy while everyone around him lives it. He forms a connection with John that leads to a secret affair, but these boys have some baggage, and all that baggage threatens their love and their lives.
What genre does it fall in? Angsty contemporary M/M romance.
Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they? Isaac is running from a failed marriage. John is running from painful memories. They’re both broken men, but they find healing in each other. John is pretty passionate, to say the least, and Isaac has a soothing touch. They balance each other.
Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon? Is this book part of a series? Nope, We Still Live is standalone.
Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? Alexander Skarsgard as Isaac and Timothee Chalamet as John.
What genre/s do you enjoy reading in your free time? Everything. I like to sometimes read three books at once in different genres. The more you read, the better your writing will be.
What was the last book you read? What did you like about it? Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. It’s the sequel to Carry On, which I loved. I have a huge crush on the vampire Baz. (You could say I have a vampire kink.)
Have you held any interesting jobs while you worked on your books? I bartend, which haaaaaa, yes, is VERY interesting indeed.
What hobbies do you have outside of writing? Yoga. Rubbing elbows at my nearby dive bar. Reading a ton. I like being alone, so I spend a lot of time hiding from other humans.
Thanks so much, for your time Sara!
We love learning more about the authors and stories we love!!
🌟🌟🌟🌟 4.5 stars
🔥🔥🔥 Heat Level: 3.5
Real, powerfully honest and somewhat confronting. This book is going to stay with me for a long time!
Wow! The power, truth and core reality of this book will knock you through a loop, break you apart then slowly stitch you back together.
I loved the raw honestly Sara placed in this book and it is likely true for anyone who has suffered PTSD, lost a loved one or been witness to a violent event. It changes you! This story reflects the reality of those who are left behind, the aftermath. The complexities and nuances of each of these characters and what they went through in the aftermath of a violent shoot reflect the truth of humanity and harsh reality for many when faced with something so horrific.
I found John so real. His path, personality, and mental health fluctuate throughout this story as if he were real and you can feel the emotions, complexities, and challenges he faces. Sara has created an endearingly snarky character, so real and honest; I just wanted to hug him. I felt Isaac complemented John well and really, grows into himself. He has/had a lot of internalized homophobia to overcome, along with a few other challenges (and violent) events to overcome, all in a new place, as a new person. My only surprise was Isaac’s ex, Simon. As a character he was unhinged, to say the least, and then suddenly does an about-face and accepts defeat which does not seem to be part of his make up, until that point. I did keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and his “revenge” to wreak havoc but it never came and I don’t know how I feel about that…
I must say while parts of this book are confronting and raw I loved the overall message and that it’s okay to seek help, step back and recharge. You may be changed forever by what’s happened to you but you still live and you need to keep on pushing through and healing.
Thanks for reading! For great stories, reviews and more please visit https://bookstattoosandtea.wordpress.com 📚!
Close as they were to the foyer, Isaac was the first to notice the front door opening. A student walked inside. The kid dragged a heavy-looking suitcase behind him. Dressed as he was in a slim-fitting button-down, Isaac immediately assumed preppy, although that assumption altered and changed when taking into account the tight black jeans, Converse sneakers, and shaggy hair the color of caramel and chocolate—a mass of waves and curls that fell down the back of his neck but not quite to his shoulders.
The kid pushed his hair out of the way and looked up, eyes finding Isaac and flashing a moment of panicked nonrecognition before seeing Tommy.
“Um.” Isaac pointed toward the new arrival.
Tommy turned and shouted, “John! My man!”
Not a student, then.
Tommy wrapped John in a hug that actually lifted his feet off the ground. Isaac imagined it wouldn’t be difficult. The new guy might have been average height, but he was gangly, skin and bones.
Tommy ruffled his hair. “Have you lost weight?”
John grumbled and scratched his face with his middle finger. “What are you freeloaders doing in my house?” His voice was surprisingly resonant for someone Isaac considered “pretty.” At John’s pronouncement, crows of approval rang from every direction.
“Come meet Isaac,” Tommy said.
John wiped his palms on his jeans before reaching out to shake, and Isaac’s large hand dwarfed his.
“Isaac Twain is the newest addition to our special corner of Hambden hell. Isaac, this is John Conlon.”
John brushed more hair out of his face. “Nice to—”
John and Tommy froze.
Isaac jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “The books on the shelf. Those are yours?”
John’s face, immobile in what looked like dread a moment before, melted into relief, tinged with a bit of blush. “Oh, yeah. You’ve read?”
“No, but I should. You’ve published a lot of books. You must be good.”
John’s nose wrinkled, and he looked away.
Tommy shook him by the shoulders. “John is an amazing writer. He had a story published in The New Yorker when he was, like, five. Are you working on anything right now?”
John glanced at the bookshelf. “Not lately.”
“You need a drink,” Tommy said.
John’s eyes widened on a big breath. “God, yes, I do.”
“Nice to meet you,” Isaac said, but John just nodded quickly, smile thin, before allowing himself to be herded farther into the house toward the sound of quiet laughter and clinking bottles.
Isaac felt it then—an outsider’s emptiness. He became a nervous-looking coat rack in the corner, a terrified tree waiting for the ax. As the party doubled in auditory volume, he bemoaned his spilled wine. Was it okay for him to leave? It wasn’t like he was supposed to make a speech. He was only there because he figured it was the easiest way to meet everyone before the first official faculty meeting, but he’d been standing around too long. He wanted to run.
Out of curiosity, he reopened John’s book from earlier and read the front flap. It was a coming-of-age story about a gay kid in the Midwest. He flipped to the back, and a picture of John stared back at him. He’d assumed the guy was tired when they first met, but no; apparently, John had perpetual bedroom eyes, and his hair was always an artful mess. He skimmed…creative writing professor at Hambden University…gay rights activist…Converse-wearer and “old-people music” enthusiast.
All arrows pointed to John’s probable sexual preference for men. A spark of interest flickered but quickly went out. True, John Conlon was what most people would consider beautiful, but he wasn’t Isaac’s type. John was the kind of man butch guys fought over in gay clubs, but he was too small for Isaac, too fragile-looking, girly. After all he’d been through, the last thing Isaac wanted was someone feminine.
A thin figure ducked into the library and literally hid against the doorframe. He took a long drink of something brown and leaned his head back. “It’s not good when you want to hide in your own house.”
“Library is the best place for it,” Isaac said.
John kicked away from the wall. “Tommy mentioned you just moved here? I’ve been in Lothos forever, so if you need anything…” He examined Isaac from his brown boat shoes to the top of his blond head. John’s large eyes, dark green, seemed bottomless—drowning pools of intellect and soul—only slightly overshadowed by his thick eyebrows.
About the Author
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series and Escape Trilogy.
Photo credit: Bill Thornhill