Vivi Anne Hunt
The Author of To Trust and To Touch Reveals All (Get Inside My Brain)
Hi precious peeps. :)
I read this amazing tweet the other day and it made me so happy!
I was thinking of sharing the motivations behind some of my choices, but I thought nobody would be interested in reading that. Then I saw the tweet and it was like DING - maybe some of the readers would appreciate to get inside my brain after reading the book. Hah!
Anyway, if you're curious about To Trust and To Touch, I'll answer some questions, and I'll be careful not to share too many spoilers, just in case. :)
Also, I have gathered these questions from all the feedback I got on Goodreads. Thank you to everyone who has shared their feedback with me, I found some interesting things to think about in there, and I have addressed some things people wondered about.
Just for fun, you know? I love talking to my readers.
Where did the idea come from?
I was challenging myself by asking weird questions. Like, for my first book the question was, 'What would happen if you lose your soulmate? Can you find another one?'
For this book it was, "What if the main character can't be touched? How can there be a romance then?" Obviously, there can be, I just needed to sit down and write it. I didn't know what the reason for Alex's no touching rule was, but it soon became apparent, the further I got into the story. I'm 100% a pantser, I don't know anything before it happens.
Why is there no kink?
Ha! Okay, so... Sigh actually likes a specific kink that is only mentioned in this book, and to answer your question - why would I include a sex club called Kink World and mentions of a kink that never comes to pass? Because it's what happened. Kink World features heavily in many of my books, the kink itself is in almost every book, but didn't make sense for this one, and also - the characters tell me what to write, not the other way around. *shrug*
Why is Alex so obnoxious?
If you read the book carefully, you probably know the answer to that one. Like one of my readers said, "If I've been through what he has, I'd be even more obnoxious!"
What I truly love, though, is when a reader comes to me and says they loved Alex or they loved his character arc, because he's quite different in the end. Not different per se but a bit softer because of Sigh and definitely more settled and happy with who he is, which is a huge deal for him. He starts out wanting to die, basically, and ends up happy, in a family, and actually helping other people who have gone through similar things.
I will always tear up thinking about his healing journey.
Is Alex a self-insert?
Yes, there was a time in my life I was angry at the world and everyone in it, and my heart was filled with so much anger. Alex's healing journey is also mine.
Who's your favorite character?
Alex, because he's so incredibly strong, and Nestor, for the same reason. These two will always fill my heart with love and awe and absolute heartbreak. They deserve the best of what this life has to offer, and they are very much real to me.
Oh my god, did I mention how much I love Emma? Some of her lines seriously made me squeal in joy and cry. I think she was one of the most important elements Alex needed to heal. He needed that pure innocence around him.
Who's your least favorite character?
I really didn't like Dominic, for obvious reasons, and I disliked Daniel, for obvious reasons, but other than those, I absolutely adored all the characters. They all seemed real to me, with their own flaws and quirks, and it was so fun getting to know them as I wrote.
Why is Sigh so naive?
Aww, I know he is. In a weird way, the young character of this book is distrustful and cynical while the older individual is trusting and idealistic. I know it's backwards, but Sigh just isn't that type of person. He has an open heart, he believes in the best of people (even when they've disappointed him), and he's just the way he is. Hates conflict, sometimes can be a doormat (as can be seen in Char scenes), and he's just too soft and trusting, which complements Alex's edges perfectly. I love them both.
The thing is, I'm not in the business of writing perfect characters. I write completely real and raw, utterly flawed and redeemable characters. That's just what I do.
What about Sigh's cheating?
I could have resolved this better, but honestly, I have a ton of friends who cheat. That sounds awful, but when we're young we make terrible decisions. Then it's our job to face that and resolve it in our minds and hearts for the rest of our lives. Hopefully be better people. I don't think anyone should be beyond the point of forgiveness. We all deserve a second chance.
I think Sigh can come off as though he doesn't care he was a cheater, but actually, he carries a lot of guilt, which is why he sometimes sounds so harsh about the club, but mostly, he's resolved it and forgiven himself. Maybe I wasn't clear in the book.
Why is Sigh so obsessed with Emma's nutrition?
He's a single parent. Single parents tend to overcompensate in their own ways.
(Single parents are superheroes in my eyes, by the way.)
What about Char? Why didn't you develop that more?
Truthfully, I could have. It just didn't happen. When I write, I take what I am given, and I don't question it. I did add a couple more lines later, to mention Charlotte more, but honestly, I wanted the focus to remain on the two men, rather than go into depth about her.
Why did you rush it?
If you've read the book you know what I mean, right? The love story is pretty much a slow burn, friends first, up until one point, and then... well, then they're together, and it seems fast, but I've noticed this about my other books too. I think it reflects my personal experience with relationships. I can be slow on the uptake, but once I've decided, that's it. Maybe I just can't imagine going back and forth after one point, so I just jump right in.
How come Emma loved Alex so fast?
Ha! Emma is so smart. And she really needs someone other than Sigh around. She's always wanted a Mommy, obviously, but I think the fact that her best friend Lily has two mommies gave her this idea she could have two daddies. And the moment Alex said something Daddyish, her brain clicked and decided she wanted this. Bless her heart.
My favorite Emma/Alex moment:
Did you cry?
Yes, I cried in a few places, actually. I cried when Alex said what he said to Nestor. I cried the most when he cried in the parking lot outside. I cried when he told his heart-breaking story to Sigh. I cried when Emma asked her question about Mommy.
Otherwise, my eyes teared up in other moments. I am a very emotional person.
Sometimes, as I write, I fill up with emotion for what's happening and I literally have to stop for a couple of minutes, to let the emotion wash over me.
How long did it take to write?
The book took about 3 days to write, I think. When I'm writing something and it flows, it comes out of me all at once. I have dedicated times in the year when I write non-stop - every day from dawn till dusk - and very rarely, something comes out of me in its entirety, with barely any need for changing stuff. This is one of those precious books.
What did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing Emma and Sigh's queer charity, Rainbow Homes, I loved writing Sigh's ridiculous romantic moments, and every little thing that brought them closer.
But truth be told, my absolute favorite scenes to write are always the most emotional ones. When the characters are dying inside or exploding in happiness, moments of relief, frustration, etc, just everything that made me feel alive and happy to be a writer.
It's a privilege, really, that I am allowed a peek into these people's lives and I'm allowed to write down what happened. I'll never take it for granted.
What did you hate writing?
That awful scene with Daniel and his gorillas. I am not big on action scenes or violence, so that was hard to write. Thankfully, my editor, B. K. Bass, helped with that.
What would you like the reader to take from this?
You can take whatever you want from my book, but if I had a choice in what people saw in it, I would say... take from it that even if you're in the darkest place, there is always hope. There will be light eventually. Sometimes you just have to hang in there, keep breathing, until that moment comes. Please never give up because this life is worth it.
Also, I'd like to share what one reader said here:
In this book, the author has perfectly described the ugly side of this world, and the humanity that is still alive. If there are bad people then there are good people like Cyril and Alex too.
What about the slut-shaming stuff?
Honestly, I tried my best to clarify and fix whatever bias there was in my book, but some people still see that when they read it, and that's their prerogative.
Personally, I'm not sure how a deeply traumatized survivor doing kinky stuff for money (as a way of establishing control and symbolically giving the finger to the assholes who hurt him) is slut-shaming or how a single dad wanting to have a partner that only shares his body with him is slut-shaming, but I guess it's all subjective. I am all for people doing whatever the fuck they want in their lives, with their bodies, and in their relationships.
What about the 2 chapter threshold?
Ha! I love that some people will stop reading at the second chapter because Alex is so obnoxious at the start. Alex is having fun with it also, laughing his head off. The truth is, after that chapter, the book is mostly feel-good and heart-warming, and the layers of Alex are revealed gradually, but anyone can stop reading at any time. It's fine.
People ask how come Alex can't be touched but he has so many tattoos?
Hmm, if you read the book carefully, you'll find that Alex can be touched when he perceives it to be safe. Like when he touches Emma, who's a little kid, so not a threat. In my mind, him sitting down to get a tattoo is safe because it's a public business, a service he's paying for. Ideally, nobody would be touching him in any other way there. Besides, it depends on the type of touch - does it bring back bad memories, etc.
I think Alex likes pain, he's gone through a lot of things in those 3 years before the book starts - drugs, alcohol, pain, etc. He just does what most of us do after trauma - trying any way we can think of to establish control. *hugs him*
Who is this book for?
This book is for anyone who loves feel good romances with a dark undertone. It's not for people who are triggered easily (trigger warnings in description). It's for those of us who are crazy about the tropes hurt comfort and age gap. It's for those of us who need to see that it is possible to heal with the help of love and that this life is worth living. It's for those of us who need a second chance, who need to heal, who need to feel all the things, and be reborn.
What about you?
Do you have any questions for me? Let me know below.
Finally, I just want to say - I know my book isn't perfect, I know my flaws as a writer and each individual book's flaws, but I still love them to death. Hope you will too.
Thank you so much for reading. It means a lot. :)
Get the book.
You can watch, but you can’t touch.
Alex performs at the infamous adult club, Kink World. He’s only in it for the money, and he has one rule: no touching. He doesn’t trust anybody that much. However, a chance encounter with a man who is the very epitome of the word safe may change all that. A man who runs a charity for abandoned queer kids, who has a five-year-old daughter, and who is unlike anyone Alex has ever met.
After years of focusing on raising his daughter and running his charity, Sigh’s status quo is shaken up when he meets a man covered in vine tattoos outside his brother's club. The young man stirs a longing he has ignored for far too long. However, he seems unwilling to let anybody in, so Sigh faces an insurmountable challenge to overcome these barriers and find some way to connect.
Will Alex ever let someone touch him? Will Sigh find somebody to fill the emptiness? Will the men find a way to heal together?
CW: SA, PTSD, unaliving, drugs, mature language, content, and violence
“This is a deeply emotional book.” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“A long journey of internal mental healing.” ★ ★ ★ ★
“A really nice age gap / trauma / hurt comfort read.” ★ ★ ★ ★
“If you like hurt/comfort and a patient, nurturing love interest, this book is excellent.” ★ ★ ★ ★
“The story is fast moving, but the romance has the feel of a slow burn.” ★ ★ ★
“I ended up being really charmed by the surprising sweetness in this story.” ★ ★ ★ ★
“The characters are written with empathy, caring and compassion.” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“What I loved about this book was that it felt very real.” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“This book is a must read. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful.” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“A story of real and true intimacy.” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★