As part of the Daily Grind blog tour, I’m pleased to sit down with author Anna Zabo to talk writing, coffee, and fashion!
ABOUT THE BOOK
A man discovers that love can show up when you least expect it—and in a much different form—in this piping-hot romance from the author of Due Diligence and Just Business.
Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N’At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn’t have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he’d become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.
As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob’s visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.
But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?
Ebook available at:
Audio book (read by Iggy Toma) available at:
Daily Grind is book 4 in the series that began with Takeover. How is this book different from the previous books in the series? How is it similar?
It’s different in that it’s a little slower and sweeter than the other books. Not to say that it isn’t sexy…but Brian and Rob spend a lot of time on page getting to know each other. There’s also far less kink involved, and more exploration. There’s less tech, too, since the focus is on Brian’s coffee shop.
It’s similar in that all the books revolve around work and especially high-tech in some way. In this case, Rob is a CEO of a robotics firm. Brian, though not a geek, is a business owner. The person that ties all the books together is Sam. He’s been in every single one, and this one is no exception.
What has been your favorite thing about writing this series?
Exploring the different personalities of the characters. They’re all different people with different blind spots and different struggles. I also really liked delving into high-tech culture a bit. It’s something I know very well and I wanted to showcase it in the same way lawyers or ranchers are shown. Geeky smart people can be hella sexy, too.
Writers are known to spend to spend a lot of time at coffee shops. Are you a walking cliché like me? If so, how has that experience informed your creation of the coffee shop in Daily Grind?
I love coffee shops. I have written quite a lot of words while sitting in one shop or another. Or sat and talked with other writers for hours. Brian’s coffee shop in Daily Grind is very much an ode to the independent shops in Pittsburgh. A lot of Brian’s desires for what he wants his shop to be are very similar to what my local coffee shop is: a hub of the neighborhood. Somewhere people can meet and hang out.
You write about men in suits. I know you look amazing in a suit. Give us a tip on how best to rock a suit, whether male or female, man or woman?
It’s all about the proper fit, really. Get a suit that fits and hangs the way you want it to. I’m lucky that I have long arms, so off-the rack men’s shirts actually fit me really well (except for my tiny neck). Also, if you’re not conforming to the gender you were assigned at birth—there are a lot of pointers for sizing and finding what you’re looking for out on the Internet.
Also, don’t be afraid of color. At least in men’s wear, ties and pocket squares and shoes…they’re peacock feathers. They’re meant to be noticed.
I also love one of your previous books, Close Quarter, an M/M erotica with a heavy urban fantasy flair. How is writing “real life” different than writing urban fantasy, and do you have a preference for one over the other?
The main difference between contemporary and paranormal/urban fantasy is that in a “real life” setting, you can’t just throw a monster at the main characters (MCs) to push them together and raise the tension and stakes.
Well, you can in a contemporary suspense novel—the monster becomes the bad-dude out to get the MCs.
But in a straight-up contemporary, generally the monster exists inside the MCs—it’s their internal conflict. The bits of their personality that’s both pushing them toward and pulling them away from their love interest.
That’s hard to write in many ways, especially since you have to keep the reader liking the characters, despite their flaws!
And finally, leave us with a quick excerpt that shows us why we should read Daily Grind!
More than half of Easter Sunday passed before Brian finally got all of the next week’s schedule worked out. Lots of customers clamoring for coffee, plus firing Ethan had certainly thrown a wrench into everything—he was covering more than he wanted to. Again, but at least he could text Rob to let him know when he was free.
After making drinks, he leaned against the counter and pondered the screen of his phone. A tightness in his chest and an ache in his balls. Time to admit that he had one hell of a crush on Rob.
Was he even allowed to have crushes at thirty-eight? Staring at Rob’s number on his phone, he felt fifteen again and calling the first girl he ever asked out on a date.
Why now? He’d ignored his desire for men for so long. Not flirting, not dating, not anything. He had no time for a relationship—yet here he was, in the first steps of that dance.
Anita, his last girlfriend, would be laughing so hard right now if she knew. Not at him dating a guy—but contemplating dating at all.
I care about you, Bri. You’re a great guy. You’re also fucking married to that shop of yours.
True. Above anything else, he had a responsibility to his employees and the shop. He shouldn’t be flirting with anyone. Or making plans to meet up.
But Rob did things to his head that no one else—man or woman—ever had. It wasn’t entirely lust, either—though certainly that was there.
Someone he could banter with. Someone he could talk to.
The screen went dark, a fine indication that he was overthinking. He unlocked the phone and typed in a text.
Hey, I’m working every night except Friday, if you want to stop by with your photos.
He jabbed send before he got cold feet. There. He’d figure out what he was doing later, probably after he’d done it. Or Rob.
That thought went straight to his dick and balls. Yeah, he wanted those fingers touching him, that mouth on his, and to find out where else Rob had freckles.
Good thing the shop bell rang, because if he thought about Rob much longer, he’d not be safe for work.
After he shoved the phone in his pocket, he greeted the customer—one of his regulars who came in to grade papers—poured her a simple cup of coffee, and settled in to wait for a reply from Rob.
If Rob had taken his advice about hiking, he might not have a great cell signal. Really depended on where in Settler’s Cabin he was.
Nearly two hours later, his phone buzzed. He jumped in the process of trying out some coffee art on a cappuccino, but somehow, his leaf didn’t look that sad. He slid the drink over to one of his more recent regulars—a freshman at Pitt—and she beamed at him.
“How do you learn to do that?”
“Would you believe, videos on the web?”
“Aren’t you too old for the Internet?” She took the drink and gave him an innocent smile he didn’t believe for one second.
“Hey, have respect for your elders!”
She laughed and went to claim a seat by the front window. Homework, probably. Or reading.
Brian dug his phone out. Yes, a text from Rob. He couldn’t help grinning.
Can stop by any night. But does no work on Friday night mean you’re free?
It did. He hadn’t wanted to be presumptuous. Trust Rob to notice. He seemed to notice everything.
Yeah, I’ve no plans for Friday night.
The reply came back almost immediately.
Now you do.
He bit his lip and his jeans were back to feeling too snug.
Shift ends at 6.
I’ll be there, photos in hand.
Waiting makes it better. 😉
Brian stared at the text.
Did you just wink at me?
You did just wink at me.
You’re imagining things. Don’t you have drinks to make?
The bell on the door clanked.
Actually, I do. I gotta go.
Brian laughed and slid the phone into his pocket. Halfway through making the second drink for the couple that walked in, he realized he was smiling. Broadly. Enough that his cheeks hurt. And humming.
It wasn’t a crush—it was downright infatuation. Yeah, he was too old for that, but he didn’t give a fuck anymore.
He couldn’t wait for Friday.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow and believes passionately that happy ever afters are for everyone. Anna lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.