by Jesse Pearle
Sam Blanco’s greatest desire is to escape his abusive father and violent neighborhood the only way he can—by earning money as a tattoo artist for a street gang. He’s befriended their leader, the deadly Leo Reyes, and gained a measure of safety under their protection. But just when things are going right for the first time in Sam’s life, Leo’s girlfriend, Pilar Flores, walks in and requests a tattoo in an unusual location. Sam obliges, but the experience leaves them both reeling. Unable to focus for days, Sam finds himself craving Pilar’s touch, but she’s exactly the kind of trouble he doesn’t need.
Pilar Flores is her father’s daughter. Being the daughter of a drug lord is not an easy role to fill, but she aspires to live up to the title and make her father proud. But her father has no plans to allow her into the business, and Pilar hates being sidelined. She hates that Leo is away for days on end, and she especially hates being treated like an incompetent female by every man she sees. Except for Sam. She decides to take control of her life the only way she knows how—through seduction. But she’s not prepared for how eager and passionate a lover Sam is, or how deeply she’s drawn to him. Even though she knows their ill-fated affair can’t possibly end well…
The small plane touched down on the runway of the airfield outside Los Angeles. After taxiing to the hangar, Leo powered down the engines and pulled off his headset. He felt like a weight had been lifted, but anxiety twisted in his gut as he worked through his explanation to the old man.
Gustavo had needed to be taken care of, that fact had been clear to him for months. The only reason he hadn’t gone to Arturo Flores about Gustavo’s consistent series of fuckups was because of his promise to Pilar to leave her father out of it.
The deed was done, the memory of the corpse he’d left behind in the little shack in the Sonoran desert still left him ice cold to his core. He’d had to ignore the spark of memory of another pair of eyes whose light the same gun had extinguished two years earlier. Two years to the day, he thought.
Leo no longer regretted any of those bullets, starting with the very first one from his brother’s gun that had pierced his own chest. Each had brought him closer to her. Now all he had to do was claim what was his.
The phone at his hip buzzed as he made his way across the tarmac to the parking lot. He settled in his car and started the engine, turning the AC on full blast while he checked his messages.
911! Call me when you land!
It was from Pilar. Goosebumps rose up on his arms in spite of the hot August air that baked the interior of his car.
It is my pleasure to welcome Jessie Pearle, author of Second Skin, to Room With Books.
Please tell us about Second Skin and what inspired you to write it?
Second Skin is part love story and part coming-of-age story. It’s a love triangle between three characters whose worlds collide in unexpected ways, from Pilar’s first encounter with the tragic hero, Leo, to the complicated entanglements that occur when the young tattoo artist, Sam, comes into the picture. At its heart, it is Sam’s story, even though the “happily ever after” isn’t his. At least not yet.
The inspiration came from a fan fiction I wrote back in 2012 that needed a fresh, original character to play a small role—the role of a rough and world-weary tattoo artist approaching his 50s. The character sprang to life so vividly in my mind at the time that I just had to know what his life story was, so I began writing it. The teenaged Sam came first, then the other characters gradually began to evolve out of my imagining of the story of this young artist who aspires to be a famous tattoo artist like his idol. Sam’s little sister, Celie, came next, followed by Pilar and Leo, then Benny, then the rest of the cast of characters came to life, one by one. They each told me their stories as they evolved.
When you start writing a new novel, do you outline the story or do your characters dictate what will happen?
I don’t generally put together a full outline. I normally begin a general plot framework and themes I’d like to incorporate in the story, as well as my main characters. Beyond that, the characters determine what will happen.
Do you ever have arguments with your characters and who usually wins?
My characters are stubborn creatures, but I think we have some give and take. It’s all about compromise!
What is something about you your readers would be surprised to know?
I pretty much grew up on horseback, but rarely do horses appear in my books. I have graduated to dragons.
If you could write with any other author who would it be any why?
That’s a tough question. There are so many authors I love. Honestly I don’t think it would be a romance author, though. I’d love to write with Neil Gaiman. I’ve read his work for decades, all the way back to the Sandman comic books. I think a lot of my character and story inspirations come from pieces I loved about his stories or facets of his characters that struck a chord with me. Plus, I think he has a fantastic imagination.
When you were little what did you dream of becoming when you grew up and why?
I wanted to be an architect. Mostly because I loved to draw, and I loved to draw houses, in particular. It turned out I lacked the discipline and focus for that career to satisfy me, so I ultimately ended up with a degree in fine art instead.
When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I first got the bug when I discovered fan fiction in 2010. Shortly afterward, I just randomly began imagining a couple characters I loved having adventures (and a romance). I decided I’d give writing their story a shot, just so I could find out what happened next. I still haven’t finished that particular story. I haven’t written a fan fiction in more than a year, since I decided to finish and publish Second Skin.
What music inspires your writing?
I like all kinds of music, so it just depends on the mood of the scene I happen to be writing or at what stage I am in the process. When I’m planning a new story, I try to find music that inspires a character’s voice. I compile a playlist to put on repeat while I’m writing. When I’m at the editing stage I prefer instrumental music. A large portion of the playlist for Second Skin includes The Black Keys. There is a link to the playlist on my website, for the curious.
What is your favorite breakfast? Eggs Benedict (but I usually eat oatmeal).
What is your favorite color? The same as Sam’s favorite color – Blue.
What is your favorite movie? Wings of Desire. It’s a story about an angel who falls in love with a human woman and decides to give up his immortality to become human for her. Hollywood did a remake, but this version is infinitely more poetic and beautiful than the travesty that was City of Angels.
What is your dream car? The more I see them around, the more I want a Tesla. I’m really not that much of a car person, to be honest, just as long as it’s safe, comfortable, and fuel efficient – and has a kickass sound system. Boring, I know…
How can our readers find you?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jesse Pearle grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina in a place where there was no danger in dancing naked in the moonlight at the top of a mountain. Always possessed of a creative mind, but never quite the right amount of focus, she wandered for decades. She received a degree in fine art which she put to poor use working an uneventful desk job for an engineering company when she started writing her first really ambitious piece of fiction. She lives in sunny Southern California with her ever supportive husband and four attention-whoring cats.
Jesse will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour..
I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found by clicking on the tour banner below.