What’s more enjoyable than reading a sexy romance novel in a coffee shop? How about a sexy romance novel set in a coffee shop! With their newest release, Anna Zabo brings us the bold and steamy relationship of Brian (see also: bisexual barista) and Rob (mmh, ginger Brit).
Today I’m delighted to have Anna on the blog to chat with me about Daily Grind, the city of Pittsburgh, and what else is coming up in the Takeover universe!
(Also, don’t forget to check out Michele’s review of Daily Grind, which she says is “meet-cute fluff that subverts romance novel clichés and is also hotter than a freshly made americano!”)
E: Thank you so much for joining me today, Anna!
First off, congrats on the release of Daily Grind! I can’t say it’s my favorite (because that’s like trying to pick which kid is your favorite, and also Justin and Eli I have too many feelings don’t jduge me), but it’s so freaking good that I want to twirl around just thinking about it 😀
A: Aww, thank you! I really loved writing Brian’s and Rob’s story! And about all those coffee drinks. I love all the couples I’ve written about, and really can’t pick a favorite, but Eli and Justin do hold a special place in my heart. Or really Eli does. But that’s a different story!
E: Well that leads me to my first question: why a coffee shop setting? What is it about coffee shops that you love, and why did you choose to set a book at Grounds N’ at?
A: I hadn’t really intended, when I wrote Just Business to write more about Brian or Grounds N’ at. But after a while, I kept thinking about Brian and how he looked at Justin and knew there was more to the story. As for setting it in a coffee shop–I originally put Justin in one because I LOVED coffee shops and a bratty barista seemed just the right foil for Eli. Also, Squirrel Hill really does have a lot of coffee places, so it seemed natural to have one below Sam’s office.
I also kind of flippantly said to my agent that I should write Brian’s story and call it Daily Grind, but thought that might have been too on the nose. It kind of turned out perfect, though. The book and the title kind of inform each other.
E: It did turn out perfect! *happy sigh* I adore Brian and his grumpy barista self.
The Takeover series is, in some ways, a love letter to the city of Pittsburgh. You sneak in references to places, and it’s clear that the city is a character in its own way. Are there any places in Pittsburgh that you wanted to feature in one of these books and couldn’t find a way to, or do you have plans to include any in future books?
A: I do love Pittsburgh, yes. I can’t think of anywhere I haven’t featured…well…the Strip District (which has nothing to do with stripping). But I have plans to feature that in a book, if things work out with publishing and schedules. Though, I have a feeling people might be mad at me for that book…
E: And oh, look! A perfect segue to my next question: Can you tell us anything about what might coming up in the Takeover universe?
A: The Takeover book I have planned out is more or less the redemption of Rasheed–Michael’s ex from Takeover! Which… yeah. That’s going to be interesting. Hopefully readers will trust me with that. He’s not an evil guy, just really screwed up.
I also want to do a bit of an offshoot book with Master Lyle and Kelly (Justin’s friend we meet very briefly in Just Business).
Aaaand I also just got another idea for an f/f office romance, but I’m not sure if I’ll connect that to Takeover. Probably, because why not?
E: All of these sound so freaking good! I can’t wait to read them… and maybe get some more delicious kinky pairings along the way!
What is one fact about Rob and Brian that didn’t make it into the final version of Daily Grind?
A: Oh, hmm. I think the main thing that didn’t make it is that Rob’s actually really well-known. He’s like an up and coming Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. But he doesn’t think of himself in those terms and Brian doesn’t care about that. He’s in love with Rob for the guy he is outside of work, not because he’s loaded or anything. Brian also doesn’t read the business news…unlike Len, Brian’s brother. But it will make things in the future interesting for Brian, when he starts going to Rob’s business things.
E: I’m looking forward to that story!! Okay, I know you did another blog post about the music you listened to while writing, but what kind of music does Brian listen to while at work?
A: I…don’t actually know! LOL. Probably a mix of things, since he has such a wide variety of customers. I suspect Justin had more to do with setting the types of music, to be honest. Brian’s focus is really on the customers and remembering orders and stuff about them. He’s got blind spots for other things.
E: One of the things I love about your characters is that they have fleshed-out backgrounds, and family and friends who play a part in their story. Can you tell me more about Rob and Brian’s families, and if we’ll get to see Brian’s brother appear at any point?
A: Poor Rob doesn’t have any family left…which is why he is so amazed to be “adopted” by Brian’s parents! For Brian, family has always been there. They supported each other, and were there when things were good and bad. His folks worked their tails off for their kids, but also helped them become independent adults. Brian’s grateful for that.
I know a lot of people have asked about Len, since he’s so darn quiet about his troubled high school past and whether he’s dating anyone (while knowing alllll about his siblings). I have a decent idea of who Len is, because when a character appears whose that cagey, I poke at them until they answer me. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll learn more about Len. His story will be a bit different, though. Especially since he is rather quiet and holds most things close to his chest.
E: Awesome! So many more Takeover-verse books to come someday! But next up isn’t a Takeover book… you have a few other projects on your plate, right? Can you talk about what else you’re working on?
A: The next book, which should be out in October, is going to be part of Riptide Publishing’s Bluewater Bay series. It’s a polyamorous romance between a gay miniature set designer and a bisexual guy who owns a comics and games shop with his wife. No cheating. Lots of love. And some kink. 😀
After that, hopefully, I’ll be working on a kinky rock star romance. Or two. Or three. We’ll see.
E: Yesssssss all the romance. All the kink. *makes grabby hands at you* I can’t wait!
Okay, last question: describe Daily Grind to a new reader in ten words or less.
A: Sexy m/m coffee romance with too many dirty cream puns!
There! Ok, there! Done! 😀
E: I could try to say that m/m doesn’t count as one word, but I’ll let you go on that… 😉
Daily Grind is out now, and it’s delicious and hot and bold and contains lots of cream! I’m talking about the coffee, guys, obviously! (Okay, I’m not. I’m talking about the men, and the sex, and the romance.)
Thank you so much for joining us today, Anna! I can’t wait to go re-read Daily Grind again and again… probably while sipping a large fancy coffee drink.
A: Thank you for having me, El!
Brian Keppler, owner of Grounds 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?
You can purchase Daily Grind from:
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.
Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also has a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
Find them online at https://annazabo.com/