Book Title: All the Way Out
Author: Ingrid Sterling
Publisher: Literary Wanderlust
Release Date: April 1, 2021
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, New Adult
Trope/s: One-night stand turned into true love; Forced proximity; Athlete with musician; closeted sports star
Themes: Self-acceptance, coming out publicly
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 79 000/263 pages
It is a standalone book.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
Ever since Zach was 14 years old, he knew two things about himself:
1) He wanted to play football at the highest levels of college and pro ball.
2) He was gay.
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?
“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 have 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.
Q & A With Ingrid Sterling
Introduce yourself and your writing
Hi! I’m Ingrid. 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 of being a private investigator in a noir film.
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 scream over college sports. I love all the cats in the world and a good IPA.
How long have you been an author?
I’ve always written, even as a kid, but didn’t really think of myself as an author until very recently. I was involved in the fanfiction community for years before I ventured into original fiction!
What/who inspired you to start writing?
Writing has always been an escape for me. I love delving into other places, times and experiences. It helps me process emotions and live through things I may never get to in real life.
Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it?
Who doesn’t love a good trope? For me, I wanted to play with some of the more traditional ones like the star athlete and the musician and ONS turning into true love, but I also wanted to play with the trope a bit, too. I also really wanted to write something that took place in Chicago. I love that city – and is a big part of my love story with my husband – so in some ways, this book is a love letter to that city, too.
How did you decide on the title?
The title was changed from the original and my publisher wasn’t a fan. 😉 I didn’t mind! I found the whole process really hard and had a massive list of possibilities. Once I hit on “All the Way Out” it felt like the right name and I started using it on documents and emails so it stuck!
What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
My new project is called “Wow and Flutter”. Here is the opening!
When Jesse had broken out in the uptempo chords of his first song, all the inebriated banter quieted in an instant, the mood morphed to a magical hush.
Alex’s breath had caught in his chest as Jesse sang, mesmerized. His heavily diluted drink was all but forgotten. Jesse held the entire room full of rowdy state college students in the palm of his hand, each person captivated by the sound and quality of Jesse’s pristine voice, the clever beat of his guitar.
Alex had been equally mesmerized, when later that night, with Jesse’s performance done, the lights turned down low, and DMX and Jay-Z being pumped in through speakers, Alex had watched Jesse grind against some handsome co-ed and stuck his tongue down the other guy’s throat. Jesse’s fingers, that had been like God against the guitar strings, had splayed across this boy’s neck, his jaw, the ends of his hair, before Jesse had pulled him by the belt buckle up the stairs to some second floor bedroom to do God knows what.
Alex had only been sixteen that night. He’d only come out to Lynn and his parents the previous fall. Nothing about Jesse’s demeanor on stage hadn’t made any homosexual alarm bells clang, not in the same way that Alex felt so sterotypically obvious. It was like Alex had just seen someone run when he could only walk, take to the air and fly, when Alex had never even considered leaving the ground. Something in his mind imprinted itself on Jesse right then, and never let go.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I’d say the hardest part was cutting things that I was fond of but that weren’t really needed. It was a true lesson in “Kill your Darlings” and my editor was super helpful in that regard. Thanks, Julie!!
I was also nervous about the last ⅓ of the book – there were a lot of roads to getting Liam and Zack together once and for all. I’m really happy with the route I took.
Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
No spoilers, but I had to do some medical research. 🙂
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just do it!
Are there any genres you prefer to write and if so, why?
Definitely prefer writing romance – I could write about two idiots falling in love over and over and never get sick of it.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Red, White and Royal Blue! Such a funny, witty, romantic book with the perfect title! She deserves all the recognition she’s getting!
The LGBTQ community deserves to have love stories written for them and ones that don’t end in tragedy or illness. All my books are happily ever after guaranteed!
Are you a panster or a plotter?I’m definitely a plotter! Sometimes new scenes or ideas will appear as I write and I get to know the characters/setting better, but I always work from a pretty well thought out outline.
What are your writing and personal goals for 2020 and beyond?
My goal for the end of 2020 was to finish Wow & Flutter. That still hasn’t happened yet BUT I’m very close. So I guess my goal for 2021 is to promote All the Way Out and finished Wow and Flutter!
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Tell us about your pets.
I am totally a cat person. I have 4 (plus an outdoor loving stray that we take care of) and I’d have 10 more if my husband would let me! Our four kitties are all named after beverages! 🙂
If you could go anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go, who would you take with you, if anyone, and why?
So many places – especially after being in lockdown for almost a year! I’ve always wanted to go to Spain but I’d love to take my kids to Germany where we have family. 🙂
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things (or people) would you want there with you?
3 people – husband and my kids! We could Swiss family Robinson that island! 🙂
About the Author
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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