Friday Favourites with Al Steward and Claire Davis


I'm so very excited to welcome on the blog today the writing duo of Al Steward and Claire Davis. The write queer romance (adult and YA/NA) and are the authors of Dear Mona Lisa which was one of my favourite romances I read in 2017.

Al and Claire are my guests today to celebrate the release of their latest book, Oskar Blows a Gasket. This is a YA/NA sort of coming of age m/m romance and you can learn more about the inspiration behind it in the short interview that follows. Read on to see the cover and blurb and miss the purchase links at the bottom of the post if you want to get this book. I can't recommend it enough, it's heart-breaking and funny and a wild, inspiring ride!

1. Favourite place 
Al: Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s an amazing place where you can see massive sculptures out in the open, along with sheep and cows. It looks like the set to a sci-fi film, yet the art also seems to belong to the trees and the fields. To me, this is creativity at its best – using the natural world around us to find inspiration, but always respecting the environment. I visit often and always go away feeling empowered and braver than when I arrived. The park appears in several of our books but what I would really love is to plonk myself there for a while and write some poetry. I always feel vulnerable there, which for me is an important requisite to writing, so maybe one day it will happen. I hope so.

2. Favourite food and drink
Claire: Any and all LOL! I’ve had an off/on relationship with food since a teen, going from one diet to another with very little dieting success. It’s true to say food has been a life theme for me one way or another and sadly it will always be tied up with negative feelings. I have hated being part of this destructive cycle but now I try to eat whatever I fancy and not worry. I like French, Spanish, Eastern European, Middle European and North African food. I haven’t travelled further afield but if I did I’d probably love that too. For drink, I’m a huge coffee fan! I spend a long time picking and choosing all the seasonal flavours but at the last minute I often have the same drink.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
Al: I’m very uncool! I listen to anything, but especially classical music and also dance music. If I go somewhere with live music I will dance even if it embarrasses people. A couple of years ago I went to a Spanish club on holiday with my boyfriend. We went crazy on the dance floor but when we stopped we saw that the younger clubbers were pointing at us and laughing! Heheheheh. We danced all night and I like to think we taught the kids a thing or two.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
Al: The most recent film I watched was, God’s Own Country. OMG it was so good! I was applauding all the way through. TV series, it has to be The Walking Dead. I am pure addicted, but at the same time I don’t think I can stand another character dying and it gives me nightmares. I also loved the Game of Thrones, and I watch all the popular cop series. Strong characters are more important to me than storylines.

Claire: Comedy all the way! I watch anything funny with my son. We’ve just finished bottom and Little Britain.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Al: Oh god, I wish I had more but there’s not much time in my life. My writing roots are writing poetry and this is where my heart will always be. I often say, I cannot write in sentences, and nobody believes me, but it’s true. I’m a poet and will always be. And cooking.

6. Favourite books 
Al: Huge fan of the sci-fi classics like H.G Wells, John Wyndam, Philip K. Dick. I’m always looking for new sci-fi like the Wool trilogy which I found by accident. I had a zombie phase but I believe I’m through. My favourite oldie author is Dickens, favorite poet is T.S. Eliot. I fall back often on the classics but probably my favourite genre is literary fiction. Many of my favourite authors are European but I also spent years reading African literature.

7. Please introduce your latest/upcoming release (what inspired you to write, what can the readers expect from it, etc.)
Al: Oskar Blows a Gasket! Weeeee! I just love the title, because it says everything you would want to know about the book, about us, and even about where we come from. It’s British, it’s unexpected, it’s powerful and it’s unique. It came from a place of wanting to explore what it’s like to come from a very different background, and how interesting that might be should a character suddenly be immersed into the world of the rich and famous.

It began with a daily word count and a wobbly idea that we wanted to write a full length novel. Many of our readers were asking for more, but for us, this was a big ask. Even now, I don’t know how we wrote that much.

The inspiration for Oskar came from us both; from our lives and childhoods, also from our day jobs. We wanted to write a book about worlds colliding, about when rich and poor meet, about people not being what they seem. It’s a book about two boys that go a long, long way, through adversity and pain. They find their ways of holding on to inspiration and in the end…. I guess we wanted to over reach, to go to places we haven’t been before. To have fun, to be bold, to experiment. The storyline will kick the ground from under your feet. Be prepared to have an experience of bodacious proportions.

I believe if you have enjoyed our other books, you will also enjoy this one. Because it’s so much longer, of course there is way more character development. The main chap—Oskar—really turns himself inside out. Something I really enjoyed was being able to explore the other characters too. I absolutely love the bus driver!

What can readers expect? A YA feel, which moves gradually into NA. There is romance with a capital R that pulses off the page, and some steam. They can expect to look into two opposite worlds, and I hope that they will also laugh. If they like the 80’s, well, they will love Oskar, because so does he. Will they feel? I think so. Will they be entertained? Yes! Will they hate the main character? Sometimes. Will they understand him? At the beginning? No. By the middle? Yes, perhaps. By the end? Yes. Yes. Yes! Readers can except to see the Davis Stewart team stretch, and stretch, and stretch. To move from the young and vulnerable to the mature and broken. To see the dreams of the young alongside the disappointments of older generations.

I guess the real question here is: do they want to get on a rollercoaster where the ride is hidden? If so, hop on board. I can’t promise you anything except to go-go-go!


Oskar Braithwaite is bold, brash and gorgeous. Just ask him.

Armed with designer backpack full of make-up and retro music galore, Oskar sets off for college. And, with attitude even spikier than his heels, nothing is going to hold him back. Except maybe one thing…his past is shouting louder than the 80s songs he adores and it won't be ignored. Behind the effervescence are secrets, lies and sadness. Try as he might, not even Oskar can hide forever, and one day it isn't only pop icon Simon Le Bon who's going to catch up.

Who is writing letters? And why is a spy secretly following?

Enter Bear, with dancing eyes and secrets of his own. Bear's kindness sparkles brighter than Lycra leggings, and everyone knows Oskar loves shiny things. Like every prophecy, their fates seem inevitably linked. As the walls of Oskar's defence crumble, Bear shows his hidden strength, but will it be enough to save them?

Find out in this far-out, zany tale of fame, first love and retro DJs.

Purchase Links: Amazon / Smashwords 

Author Bio and Links

Claire Davis and Al Stewart are lifelong friends and writing companions. They write YA, NA, gay fiction and short stories. They also write with other people and alone. Al is a poet and Claire is good at sentences.

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