Monday Meet: Anne Barwell and one of her characters, Ben Leyton

My guests today are Anne Barwell and Ben Leyton, a character from Anne’s new book Shades of Sepia.



Thanks, Brynn, for hosting us here today. I say ‘us’ as I’ve brought a guest with me – Ben Leyton, one of the characters from my upcoming release Shades of Sepia.   He’s agreed to be interviewed – well actually I told him he was going to be and he went along with it.   A big thank you to Brynn, Heather, Elizabeth, and Lou who came up with the questions.

Here’s the cover and blurb from the book to introduce him. Ben’s the dark haired guy in the sweater. His partner, Simon, is the guy in the background on the faded sepia photograph.

Shades 200x300

Buy link:


A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.

Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.

One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.

After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.


The Sleepless City is a joint project between myself and Elizabeth Noble. We’re each writing books within our shared universe.  Shades of Sepia is book 1.

The first questions for Ben are courtesy of our lovely hostess, Brynn.

What especially do you find different from New Zealand?


It’s the little stuff that trips me up and reminds me I’m not in New Zealand anymore. Actually, too, it’s the stuff I didn’t really think about.  Creamer in coffee and tea would be a big one.  We tend to have definite preferences for milk –  low fat, homogenized , full cream, that kind of thing, and creamer is something in coffee machines, and very different from the creamer on offer here. *pulls face*  Just the thought of it… although I’ve been told I’d get used to it I just can’t bring myself to drink my coffee that way so I’ve started drinking it black.  I worked in a café in Wellington for a few years, started part time when I was at uni and it grew from there, and it’s taken me a while to get use to the different terms used here. In New Zealand, a flat white is coffee with milk, and a straight black is coffee without. I get weird looks when I use those terms here. But hey, everything’s sweet as.



What is one good different thing, and what is one thing you miss from home?


What good different thing? There’s so many different things here that we don’t get in New Zealand. I walk into a supermarket and I’m blown away by how many different types of one kind of food there are. At home there’s usually only a couple of brands and that’s it. And books are so much cheaper here, and so much easier to get hold of. I feel like a kid in a candy store.  The biggest thing I miss from home is my family. Some days they feel such a long way away which they are.  I love being able to Skype although that’s getting really awkward because they keep asking when they’ll ‘meet’ Simon and he doesn’t show up on camera.



What about Simon do you find especially attractive?



Just one thing I find attractive about Simon?  Have you seen him? He’s seriously hot, and when he smiles his eyes light up. I love the way he looks so young when he does that. Yeah I know he only looks like he’s in his early twenties although he’s way older than I am, but there’s all this baggage he carries because of what’s happened to him.  It shows more than he realises it does. Oh, and there’s the whole thing he does with his fangs and the way his eyes change so they’re completely brown.  Totally hot as.


Heather’s question is “What’s your phone number?”


No. Sorry, I’m sure you’re very nice and all that, but my partner is a possessive, overprotective vampire. Let’s just not go there, okay?


Elizabeth wants to know “What’s it like having a vampire who hears everything as a partner.”


It’s more what it’s like living with his friends who hear everything. Simon and I don’t have secrets, we can’t with because of vampire soul mate bond anyway but I don’t want to keep stuff from him. There’s no secrets at all when you share your living space with vampires and a werewolf.  I don’t know for sure but I suspect ghosts’ hearing is just as good. Privacy kind of works differently too. There really isn’t any although everyone pretends they don’t hear anything, although I notice that agreement doesn’t always work as well as they told me it would.


Lou has a few questions.  “Ben, dear. I know Simon is a super-intriguing kind of guy, shrouded in mystery, and all. I can see why you want to get to know him, but there must be things about him that scare you. What and why?”


I’m not scared of Simon, but I’m also not an idiot. I know what he is, and that he keeps himself under control for a reason. He’s done a lot of bad stuff, and I know what happened last time he lost someone he loved. I’m scared what will happen to him if he goes through that again, and I don’t know what I can do to make sure he’ll be okay if it does.  So yeah, not being able to be there for him scares me. My Simon’s a good guy, but he’s also a vampire and there’s a lot of crap that goes with that.  I seen what happens when he loses control of the bloodlust, and that was scary as. When it happened I was not only scared for him, but of him.


When Simon touches you, is it cold? Do you find that comforting… or something else? I guess I just want to ask you what it’s like to be touched by this guy.


His skin is cool to the touch, but not cold. It’s not always like that either; vampires get aroused just like humans do. Or at least Simon does. I’m still learning about this stuff. And before you ask, I’m not going to details about that. It’s private, you know?  But yeah, I love it when he touches me, and it’s a comfort, not because of how it feels but because it’s Simon, and when we’re together I feel like I’m home. Sorry, I’m not sure that’s really the kind of answer you wanted, but it’s the only way I can explain it.



Oh, good heavens, Ben. Have you met any of his friends? Are they… normal?


I’ve met some of his friends, yeah. Since I’ve met Simon I’ve had to readjust my ideas on what I thought was normal. It kind of scares me how fast I did. His friends are good guys. Forge is a vampire, and he’s also a cop. He doesn’t look that much older than me but he’s even older than Simon. I suspect he thinks he’s intimidating and all that, but really he’s not. He’s one of the good guys. They all are.  Lucas  – who is Flint’s coroner – is a werewolf. He keeps hinting for a threesome with Simon and me. Simon’s told me it’s a werewolf thing – but that’s taken a lot to get used to. Seeing Lucas turn into a wolf is kind of cool too. Not as cool as Simon going all vampire with the fangs and that, but Lucas reckons I’m just saying that because I think Simon’s hot. And his point is?  Mr. Boggs is a ghost, he’s more old fashioned than Simon and that’s saying something, but he’s really sweet. He reminds me of one of my uncles. It’s weird the way he’s there one minute and not the next though. I’m never sure whether he’s really there the whole time and I just can’t see him. I’ve decided some things are better not knowing for sure.



Thanks, Ben. I’m taking the keyboard back now.  Simon’s hovering, so go make him a cup of tea or something.

I’m offering a different kind of giveaway with this post – a free short story (about 500 words or so).  Leave a comment with a suggestion of something you’d like to read with Ben and/or Simon, and I’ll choose one and write it.


Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.



Thanks so much for visiting today Anne.  Ben sounds like a fascinating character, as does Simon, and their relationship seems to be so touching.  I can’t wait to read your book.



Please comment below and don’t forget to add a short story idea.  Remember, Anne will pick one lucky reader for whom to write a short story about Ben and/or Simon.

Also, check out past Monday Meets by using the link on the left.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Pingback: An interview with Ben from Shades of Sepia | Drops of Ink

  2. Great ideas for ficlets. Thanks! The winner is Andrea, but the ficlet I’m mulling over has a reference to a crush in there too. I’ll send the ficlet to Brynn to post once it’s done. I need to finish the last chapter of my current WIP and then I’ll write it. Thanks everyone for posting, and for your ideas 🙂

  3. Pingback: Threads – A story from The Sleepless City | Drops of Ink

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