Monthly Archives: October 2012

Andrea Speed interview–excerpt from *Infected: Lesser Evils*

Click on the cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press online store.

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Until recently, Roan was ahead of the curve when it came to reining in the lion that lives inside him. Now his control is slipping at the worst possible times. A new drug has hit the streets—one that triggers unscheduled changes in infected users. Street hustler Holden Krause gets attacked by one of his clients, then is surprised to find himself involved in an unwanted, unexpected relationship. And a serial killer begins targeting infecteds in their cat form—something that’s 100 percent legal.

To stop the murders, Roan has to work outside the law. But his newfound thirst for violence makes him worry he might be more like the killer than he thought, and his reluctance to talk about it with his husband, Dylan, puts an extra strain on their relationship. So Roan isn’t just fighting the killer and struggling with his mutating virus… he’s trying to save himself.

Andrea Speed writes way too much. She is the Editor In Chief of CxPulp.com, where she reviews comics as well as movies and occasionally interviews comic creators. She also has a serial fiction blog where she writes even more, and she occasionally reviews books for Joe Bob Briggs’s site. She might be willing to review you, if you ask nicely enough, but really she should knock it off while she’s ahead.

http://www.andreaspeed.com/

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Usually names come to me when I’m writing, and I’m glad, as they’re very vital in telling you about your character. For instance, everyone in the Infected series has a very telling name: Roan is named after a rough approximation of his haircolor, and has a Scottish surname that nearly everyone pronounces incorrectly, so you know right away you’re dealing with a stubborn Scotsman who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, yet must suffer them a lot. Paris had a slightly exotic name, pointing towards his exotic (tiger) nature and appeal. Dylan has actually changed his name to his mother’s surname to escape his younger, more troubled self and his violent childhood. And Holden’s real name is known to a select few, while he’s mostly known by his street nickname, Fox, giving him a complex identity all based on what name a person calls him. So names are super important, and everyone has their name for a specific reason.

As for titles … wow, do I struggle with those. I don’t know why, but that’s usually the last thing I come up with. I’m really bad with them. This is probably why nearly all the Infected chapter titles are song titles.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: Since the latest book is Infected: Lesser Evils, that would be alternate universe Seattle, much like the real one, just with some places and street names swapped or invented, and cat virus infected people walking around. It seemed a natural to set Infected in Seattle (and Washington State as a whole) because I lived there, still live in Washington State, and I knew going in that the whole thing would have to be set in progressive city, where you got the good (an infected cop, for example) with the bad (a whole religious cult built around infecteds) of an open door policy. A city that was slow to embrace societal shifts would shut down about half of the plot points immediately, so the story had to be somewhere where people would try very hard to accomidate the different, but go overboard perhaps, in some circumstances, and trigger a backlash in other ways. Places where the different would have no choice but to go completely underground is a different story, and frankly, Roan wouldn’t stand for it. He’d have gotten the hell out of there first thing, and I would have to put the plot into pretzel like contortions to make him stay somewhere he didn’t want to be, because he’s an especially willful character.

And that speaks to locations in general. They can have a profound effect on a story and a character, depending on how close to reality you get with your tale. Now I enjoy writing science fiction – places that don’t exist, don’t exist now, or can’t exist – and horror – places that don’t exist, places that have taken a turn for the crazy – and those genres allow you to do whatever you want to whatever you want (same with fantasy). But if you want to try and stick to as much realism as possible, that’s hampering. Not in a bad way at all, though, because sometimes that forces you to be more deliberate in your choices, and to think through the repercussions. “If x happens, then y has to occur, and it’ll probably all become z”. That can spur new ideas.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: They have a lot, whether I give it to them or not. So they might as well have it.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: That they’re relationships like any other relationship. No matter the genders involved, they all have rythyms, peaks and valleys, and some work, and some never can. No different from anyone else’s relationships.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Sometimes I do get suggestions from readers on what they might like to see characters do, but I’m not sure I’ve ever used one.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Friendly, cordial. But not so friendly restraining orders are involved.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: That they exist and can help spread word about your book. Sometimes there’s constructive criticism that works as well.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Sexiest? Well, that depends on a lot of factors. Paris was pretty much made to be the most attractive guy on the planet, and holy hell, is he ever, but I suppose for me personally, I’d have to pick Roan, for his sense of humor and his general refusal to let people hold him down. Also our taste in noisy music is similar. Which is a super boring answer, but there it is.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Eeee … this might qualify as a spoiler, since its in the new book, Infected: Lesser Evils. So can I just say read it, and hopefully you’ll know it when you read it? (Really, Andrea? I think you cheated, here, bigtime. But okay, I’ll read it and let you know.)

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: Right now I have some many irons in the fire I t’s crazy. I’m working on more Infected, of course, including a Paris prequel and a possible Holden solo story, and I have more coming up in my Josh of the Damned comedy-horror series. Oh, and there’s this fantasy novel in the works, and a science fiction one as well. So I hope I live long enough to write it all down.

Excerpt from Infected: Lesser Evils

Roan knew he should never have taken Nadia Rubin’s case the moment he took it.
She couldn’t afford him, she’d know he was taking pity on her and would probably resent it, and it wasn’t his usual thing anyways. She was asking him to be a bodyguard as much as a detective, and that really wasn’t his thing.

Still, how did you turn down a fellow infected? Especially when they were being threatened by another infected. It almost felt like a duty.

What she was, was a waitress who wasn’t wearing enough makeup to cover all the broken blood vessels beneath her eyes, indications of past beatings. She was a cougar strain, in the midst of a divorce from her abusive husband, Mike Oliver, who been threatening her. The problem was, the threats were obscure and personal—leaving dead flowers inside her car, leaving dead mice on her porch, flooding her e-mail with spam, putting dog shit in her mailbox, throwing red food coloring on her door—and to get him arrested she’d have to prove he did it. The cops had talked to him, but it had had no effect whatsoever, and she was sure he was going to ratchet things up, mainly because she’d finally got a restraining order. Right now she had no idea where he was living, as he’d been evicted from his last apartment, and all his family lived in Alabama or Virginia. What she wanted Roan to do was twofold: find where Mike was, and catch him in the act of vandalism. If she could prove something, she could get him arrested for harassment and violating the restraining order.

Oh, and he was cougar strain too. Apparently they’d met through the Church of the Divine Transformation. Sometimes Roan wondered if the universe took perverse pleasure in mocking him.

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Filed under featured authors, M/M romance, Writers on writing

Halloween Blog Hop–4 days of treats, no tricks, and win a book, too

The Halloween Blog Hop, brought to you by The Blog Hop Spot, is a chance for some grown-up, arm chair trick-or-treating. Click the link above for the list of 200+ participating authors. I’m sure they have all come up with sweet or spicy ways to “treat” their visitors over the four days of the hop (10/26 thru 10/29). I plan to check out more than a few and have a little fun myself.

But first…
Thanks for knocking at my blog door. My treats are going to work like this:

Each of the four days, I’ve added something new to this post, and today is the last day. Because today’s post is late, I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Some of these daily bits are words (some sexy ones included), and some are images. Today’s ‘treat’ posted 10/29 is part of one of my favorite Vasquez and James scenes–Sonny’s marriage proposal, from Delsyn’s Blues For yesterday’s photos, Saturday’s smutty/sweet scene from the next Vasquez and James, Finding Jackie, and for the 10/26 photo, and for the contest stuff scroll down.

*********
“Good Christ and all the saints! That wind came straight from hell!” Still standing braced against the door, [Luki] looked up at Sonny through wet curls falling over his eyes. “Make a run for the house?”

Sonny, who had stepped back out of the rain and who wasn’t having to fight the wind for possession of the door, said calmly, “No. It’s almost a quarter mile! I don’t want to get wet.” Ignoring the shocked look Luki gave him from under curls now dripping down his face as if he was in the shower, he added, “Let’s just sit in the Mustang.”

Accordingly, Luki let the door drive him inward and followed Sonny to the mean yellow machine, which he apparently had just been wrenching on. “Is there something wrong?”

“Pardon?”

“With the car, I mean.” Sonny gave him his brows-drawn-together confused look as they climbed in, so Luki elaborated. “You know, the tools, the greasy rag, the—oh God, the grease all over your hands. You weren’t planning to be intimate with me or anything, were you?” Sonny burst out into a loud and hearty laugh, which delighted Luki, though he tried to keep that secret behind a cool facade. Almost, he could forget his troubles. No, their troubles. But his fears.

Bringing him back to the more pleasant moment, Sonny stopped laughing long enough to say, “You’re going to be cold. You’re shivering already….”

He’s not supposed to notice stuff like that. Nobody’s supposed to notice stuff like that.

“…And your clothes are soaked; your hair too. We’ll have to get you warmed up.”

“Warmed up?”

“Warmed up. I’ll turn the heater on for starters.” He cranked the engine and it purred, and in no time, the breath of air coming from below the dash turned warm. “And while you’re getting a start on warming up—honey, why don’t you take that wet jacket off? I’ve got a towel too.” He reached a long arm around the back of Luki’s bucket seat and fiddled with something that had a zipper. When he handed Luki the towel, he said, “It’s clean. For your hair, maybe? I’ll go clean my hands up.”

Before he opened the door, Luki, still shivering, quaked, “How?”

“Goop.”

“Goop?”

“Yeah, you know. Stuff that cleans off the grease. Goop is a brand name.”

“So then you’ll have ‘Goop’ on your hands.” Luki’s shivering had rattled to a stop, his hair no longer dripped, and he felt that he could manage ultra-cool again. Though he questioned the look of his wardrobe at the moment. Still…. “Like I said, I hope you weren’t planning to get intimate with me or anything.”

Sonny laughed again. “Well,” he said, “I wasn’t actually planning on it, but since you keep bringing it up, I guess it might be in the offing?”

“Could happen.”

“Then after the Goop, I’ll go stand right there where the water is running down off the roof, put my hands under the stream, and get the Goop off. ’Kay?”

“’Kay.” Luki had to fight off the urge to laugh at Sonny’s exaggerated tone, waiting until he was out of the car even to smile at him. Also, at the idea of getting intimate in the Mustang. Which didn’t have enough room in the backseat for two German Shepherds, much less two six-foot men. Which had narrow bucket seats in the front and a gear shift dead center between them. And a steering wheel and a wrap-around dash and a low roof. Yep. Unlikely intimacy environment. He thought cigarette, but remembering their earlier… conflict, he shooed the thought quickly away. You’re going to have to do something about that addiction, Luki. Even though that was his own thought, he did his best to ignore it.

When Sonny came back, he went to the trunk first and collected a blanket, which he tossed to Luki before he got back in the Mustang. “It’s pissin’ buckets out there. The whole yard is a mud wallow. If you want, I’ll drive us over to the house—seems stupid, I know, but I don’t want to walk it. I really don’t want to take the Mustang out there, though, because I just cleaned it up and, well, you know.”

“That little Honda?”

Sonny shook his head. “Even if we’d both fit at the same time, it’s not running. Truck’s out of the question too. You have to pop the clutch to start it.”

Luki nodded sagely. What the hell is “pop the clutch”? Sounds like porn. Such thoughts played havoc with the sage look, so he spoke up to change the subject. “So, how long will this last?”

“Could be minutes, could be days.”

“Days?”

There went Sonny’s wonderful laugh, bubbling again. “Well, not days. Hours, max.”

“I like it when you bubble, Sonny. Are you cold?”

“I’m going to ignore the bubbling comment—I hope it doesn’t mean you’re getting a fever. In answer to the meaningful question, yes, a little bit. Here, let’s spread out this blanket. Between that and the heater, we ought to be warm and dry in no time.”

“Just in time for us to fight the bluster and mud to get back to the house, for instance.”

“I’m turning the engine off. I smell exhaust. I love that you always have a positive attitude.”

“Just comes naturally. So weren’t you formulating plans for small-space intimacy? Kind of like gardening in pots?”

“I can think of some things that might sprout. Maybe even bloom.”

“That sounds so crude.”

“I agree, but before we get crude, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you—”

“Ask away. No time like the present.” What the hell has gotten hold of me. It’s like I’ve got two modes—smoking and stupid.

“Yes,” Sonny continued, “I’m trying to. Umm… why—”

“Do I keep smoking even though it’s stupid?”

Sonny took an exaggerated breath and blew it out. “No, no, that’s a very good question but—”

“You’re right. I’m quitting, Sonny, for real.”

“Good! But, damn it, that’s not what I was going to ask….” Suddenly wide-eyed, he turned and leaned to get a good look at Luki’s face. “Hey, maybe you really are getting a fever.” He put a hand on Luki’s forehead.

“Maybe. Doesn’t matter.”

“Matters to me.”

“Question?”
“Yes, if you’ll let me ask!”

“Ask away.”

“You are lucky I want to ask this so badly, or I’d be out of here.”

That sounded ominous to Luki. He didn’t know why it should, but he thought a lot more might be riding on that statement than a little half-serious afternoon spat. His head hurt, and he’d started shivering again. Maybe that made it seem more important. Maybe he did have a fever. Whatever.

“Marry me.”

“Pardon?”
“Luki, will you marry me?”

*********

For the contest, answer one of these questions:

  • For you, what is the scariest kind of monster in the movies?
  • What is your favorite Halloween sweet?
  • In books what kind of evil (human) criminal is the most frightening?
  • If you could trick or treat with anyone in the world who would it be?

(Note, each question you answer is one entry, so you can enter up to four times.)

What can you win? Choose an ebook of any one of the Vasquez and James series books available at Dreamspinner Press.

What if you’ve read them all? When Finding Jackie, the sequel to Delsyn’s Blues, comes out in May or June 2013, I’ll reserve you a copy of that. That’s a long wait… So, email me at lou(dot)sylvre(at)gmail(dot)com. We’ll talk about it!

Here’s the visual treat posted 10/26

********

********
They walked back to the hotel after their business and pleasure at the market was done, and Sonny sighed.

Luki said, “What?”

“Nothing,” Sonny said, sounding like a martyr. “It’s just… interesting wallpaper.”

“Baby,” Luki said, not understanding at all but willing to go to any lengths to please his man, “If you hate it—”

“No, no, I don’t. I mean, it’s not bad—it’s probably even good, I just need to get used to it. The colors in here are gorgeous, truthfully. And you know what?”

Luki’s eyes followed his husband, who paced from side to side, peaked around curtains and walls, opened doors. He made a sound something like “Mm,” knowing Sonny wasn’t really looking for a response, but would appreciate knowing Luki was paying attention. He also smiled. Something about the quirky way Sonny settled himself into a space was too sweet for words.

“You know what I need to do, honey?”

Luki noted with glee that Sonny had begun to strip. This time when he said, “Mm,” he didn’t have to feign interest.

“I need to get in that bathtub—do you see that thing? It’s like a swimming pool. I need to get in there and soak, all nice and relaxed, and take in that wallpaper until it seems normal to me.”

The man is fucking crazy, Luki thought, both disappointed and surprised. Sonny was already in the bathroom, fine-tuning the water temperature at this juncture. Luki put his hands in his pockets—not a characteristic posture at all, but he was at a loss. He literally jumped when Sonny whooped, and yelled.

“Yes! There’s bubble bath in here!”

Luki was so nonplussed by this time that he sat down on the couch, rather hard. When he tried to think of something he might be doing the only two things that came to mind were jerking off—which he dismissed immediately—and eating a hamburger. He considered the hamburger carefully, decided against, and got up to wander into the strangely wall-papered, thoroughly lavender scented bathroom.

“This is a big tub, Luki.”

Luki stepped closer to Sonny so he could push a long strand of dark hair off his chest, letting it join it’s fellows falling down Sonny’s back.

Sonny grabbed Luki’s belt at the buckle, made as if to undo it. “Get in, Luki. There’s room. Look.” He lifted a foot out of the water. “See, my feet don’t even reach all the way to the other side. Not crowded at all.”

Luki stood silent, chewing his lip. He wasn’t one for shower play, which Sonny knew. It just reminded him too much of lonelier days. He never took baths—especially bubble baths. And, he really, really didn’t want to smell like flowers. But he loved his husband so much, and there the man was, asking for this simple little thing.

“Luki, take a bath with me. Come on.”

Luki started to strip, tossing his clothes back out onto the chair in the bedroom. He was, of course, hard by the time he was naked, which was something Sonny certainly didn’t fail to notice, even though he said nothing. Luki stood there, feeling confused, never before having realized that deciding how to get into a bathtub and situate oneself was so difficult.

“Luki, you can just sit on that side, face me, so I can look at your eyes and we can talk. Okay? That way you won’t feel so awkward.”

“I’m pretty sure there’s something in that statement I should scold you for, Sonny Bly, I just haven’t figured out what it is.” Luki said that while climbing in and turning around and sitting down as instructed. But once he settled, his hands found Sonny’s legs, and he couldn’t help but rub them. And then Sonny found his foot, and as Sonny well knew, Luki’s toes were really sensitive. And Sonny played with them. All the while they looked each other in the eyes.

“Luki,” Sonny said, finally, “you don’t play in the shower.”

“No. What’s your point?”

For answer, Sonny took Luki’s foot and laid it along his own erection, which was one of the sexiest things that had ever happened to Luki. Then Sonny took his size a-very-large-number foot, with its long, nearly prehensile toes, and not too gently stroked it up and down Luki’s cock, and Luki spent a few seconds catching his breath.

“This isn’t a shower,” Sonny said.

Luki nodded. “Right.”

Sonny let a little water out, added some hot to adjust the temperature. “We could fuck here, if we so desired, which I do.” Sonny actually looked hopeful, as if he was a little afraid Luki would say no, or maybe scoff.

Luki wasn’t about to do either one. Sonny was the most beautiful, lovable, eminently fuckable person on the planet, and Luki wasn’t about to fail him. As he’d explained to Sonny just the other day, fucking Sonny happy was his personal joy. He licked his lips. “Come here, baby.”

Sonny more or less slithered up Luki’s body, dragging his weight over Luki’s flesh until he’d brought his lips even with Luki’s. He stopped, offering his slightly open lips, but waiting for Luki to take them. Luki did, starting with a suck and nibble of Sonny’s lower lip, then licking with just the hard tip of his tongue along the underside of Sonny’s upper lip. He kept it up, nibbling, sucking, licking, lingering at the sensitive corners. Sonny made a move to kiss back, but Luki pulled away, and answered Sonny’s widened eyes by kissing them. He smiled, biting his own lip, made sure Sonny saw the expression, then whispered in his ear. “Just let me do whatever I want to you baby, okay? It’ll be good, I promise, and when I want you to kiss me back, I’ll tell you. Okay?”

“Oh!” Sonny’s breath puffed out, then he nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Yes, Luki. Okay.”

The water, hot and ever so slightly silky from the bubble bath, made touching—running his hands along Sonny’s back, over his ass, down his legs—a little bit different than touching had ever been before, for Luki. And by different he meant, damn, that’s nice! And Sonny, who was never, ever still unless specifically instructed, kept squirming and rocking, moving his body side to side over Luki’s. And the water lifted him just a little bit so Luki felt little weight on him, only a teasingly sweet, achingly light friction.

He pulled his lover tight against his chest. “Sonny, baby, you are so damn sweet!”

Sonny was not very coherent. “Mmm, mm…ooooh! Luki!”

Luki chuckled. He couldn’t help it. Then he took hold of Sonny’s forelock and tilted his head back until he was sure he had Sonny’s eyes, and he said, “Stick out your tongue.”
Sonny did so, a little, and said, “Aauuh?”

Luki smiled. “More.”

When Sonny obeyed, he said, “Yeah, like that.” Then he laid his own tongue alongside it, teased it, licking at its tip, and finally closed his lips around it and sucked it into his mouth, meanwhile invading Sonny’s mouth with his own tongue, and touching every part of Sonny he could reach with any limb, and rocking Sonny over him, cock to cock, chest to chest. At some point he said, “Okay, kiss me back, Sonny.” Finally, after a long interval of bliss, or else torture, Luki asked the question he almost always asked when they made love. “What do you want, baby?”

Unlike his earlier efforts at speech, Sonny answered clear and concise. “Fuck me.” Then he buried his face in Luki’s neck, where he commenced licking, sucking, and yes, even biting.

Luki gasped at the sensations that weren’t quite tickle, weren’t quite pain, “So you’re serious, you want to fuck here? In the bath?”

“Mmm-mmm.”

“Turn over baby, and turn around; get up on your knees. I want your ass right here, up close and personal.”
Continue reading

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Filed under Contests, Halloween Blog Hop, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance

Isabelle Rowan on the sexiness of bad boys and vampires; excerpt from *The Road to Byron*

Click the cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press Store.

Matthew Kellett and Craig Jeffries are lifelong friends and neighbors. They thought they knew everything about each other, but some secrets seem too big share. Craig hides the truth about his father—but Matthew’s secret is his own.

To celebrate their high school graduation, Craig, Matthew, and Craig’s girlfriend take a road trip up the east coast of Australia to Byron Bay. Then one night on the beach, everything changes: Matthew meets Damien, a college student who senses what Matthew is hiding. Though the connection between them is undeniable, Matthew scrambles to keep it secret. It will take a shocking revelation from Craig and a lot of courage to get Matthew back on the road to Byron—and the boy waiting there.

A black cat for a witch may be a cliche, but add a whole bunch of tribal tattoos and an intolerance to garlic (seriously) and you have Isabelle Rowan.

Having moved to Australia from England as a small child Isabelle now lives in a seaside suburb of Melbourne where she teaches film making and English. She is a movie addict who spends far too much money on traveling… but then again, life is to be lived.

Website: http://www.isabellerowan.com/index.html

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: I don’t have a character until I have their name. I will often try a few names on for size and if they don’t fit the muses will not co-operate! I also like names that can be shortened or made into a nickname because that can say so much about relationships, tone, etc.
Book titles… argh! These are so difficult. Like character names, they will usually change several times during the writing process until one appears that feels right. A Note in the Margin was probably the easiest because the whole point of the story is that there is more to the story than the text itself –you need to read the notes in the margin. The hardest was the most recent The Road to Byron. Don’t know why, but that one was changed so many times and when I finally decided it was like, well duh, of course that’s its name!

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: The most recent – The Road to Byron – is a road trip up the east coast of Australia. It starts off near where I live on the Mornington Peninsula before the boys go in search of better surf beaches. So far all my books have been set in Australia and a few have some cross-over references – even if they don’t take place around Melbourne there will be a link. It’s home and what I know!

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: They have total control! If a muse has something in mind there is nothing I can do to change it and believe me, I’ve tried!

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I think it’s that the human experience is universal and a huge part of that is love, regardless of gender.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Most definitely! I love to get feedback and character questions/suggestions. I was writing a fanfic and had planned for a main character to die. When that was suggested at the end of a chapter the comments made me keep him and I’m so glad I did!

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Mutual respect and openness. I love to hear what people think and will always listen!

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Reviews terrify me! When A Note in the Margin was released it never even crossed my mind that there were people out there who might want to review it. Luckily I have a wonderful publisher who sent me the link to my first review and, even luckier, it was a good one! Reviews vary greatly and I have almost learned to take the good with the bad. Constructive criticism is very useful; I take their advice to heart and always try to improve.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Hmmm, I like a bad boy and people might be surprised that Galen in Ink might be my sexiest. There is something very sexy about a vicious vampire who skulks in the shadows. He’s pale, tattooed, slinky, long hair and very sharp teeth! But there’s also a new character on the horizon that I find very sexy – he’s not published yet, but hopefully will be soon. His name’s Sam – watch for him! *winks*

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).

Dominic carefully unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it down to fall on the back of the chair then waited for Michael to begin. It had been a long time since Dominic had felt nervous and it surprised him that he could still feel the flutter of anticipation. So intent was his focus on the movement of Michael’s hands that he was startled when the fingers actually made contact with his bare skin. He closed his eyes. It was such a simple touch, just fingertips marking out the boundaries of the proposed tattoo, but it sent a deep shiver through Dominic’s long neglected body and sparked a different hunger.

Ink (page 4)

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I have a few things on the go at the moment.

~ The Red Heart – a new novella about a young Goth called Daniel who is joined by Sam, an ex-military drover, as they walk the desert of central Australia to Uluru.

~ Book 3 in the Margins series – this one will be mainly about Jamie, but David, John and Adam will all be there too.

~ “Snowman” – I’m expanding my short story into a novel because Caleb and Paul have a lot more to their story.

I have a few other plot bunnies bouncing too!

An excerpt from The Road to Byron

The exertion of swimming felt good. The steady stroke always calmed Matthew and his breathing fell into a relaxed rhythm. Side by side they swam, catching sight of the other when their need to breathe matched up. Matthew’s discomfort dissipated as he was buoyed on the water, enjoying the cool slide over his body. It was only when a hand touched his skin that he stopped.

They were in deeper; not enough to have to tread water, but enough that it lapped against their chests.

“What’s up?” Matthew asked noticing the questioning look in Damien’s eyes.

“Why didn’t you come over last night? Seriously?”

It was a simple enough question and one that should have been easy to answer, but Matthew shrugged and looked back to the shore. This was new territory, unchartered territory for Matthew Kellett boy from the suburbs who all the girls liked, but never seemed to get very far with. Finally he turned back and said, “I wanted to.”

“You should have.” Damien smiled and seemed relieved to see Matthew smile back.

“Yeah, I guess I should have.” The words were barely spoken when Matthew felt the soft touch of a hand on his side. He tried not to react as their warmth was swapped skin to skin in the cool water. He knew Damien was waiting for him to do something. Anything. But Matthew stood unable to move, not even when the pad of the thumb stroked slowly over his belly.

“Am I wrong? Do you want me to stop?” Damien asked quietly.

Matthew gave a slight shake of his head. Is the water warmer? It feels warmer, he thought and looked into Damien’s eyes. Stormy blue. Then those eyes grew closer and lost focus as lips brushed his. It was just a light touch as if testing the waters. As if Damien was waiting for Matthew to pull back and make an excuse or react with a punch. But neither happened.

The kiss felt right and, for once, Matthew didn’t allow all the doubts he’d felt before stop him. With eyes open the barest crack he returned the kiss; just as soft and tentative. When his eyes closed Matthew noticed the slight taste of salt water and then the rub of stubble at the edges of soft lips. As the warm tongue parted his lips Matthew welcomed it and met it with his own.

For the first time Matthew was able to actually stop thinking about what he was doing and just enjoy how it felt.

The hands that moved below the surface of the water were as slow and soft as the light current. Damien’s fingers brushed over Matthew’s belly and down where they remained still just above the waistband of his board shorts. The pair swayed in the gentle waves and Damien eased back enough to whisper, “You’re allowed to touch me.”

All the air disappeared from Matthew’s lungs and he leaned a little closer momentarily trapping Damien’s fingers between them. As their lips met again Matthew finally touched the other man’s skin. His palms pressed against Damien’s sides, holding him, feeling the taut muscles beneath them.
But the kiss ended all too soon.

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Jacob Flores: *3*, *The Gifted One*, and what might melt his butter

Click the cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press store.

Justin Jimenez has loved his partner, Spencer Harrison, for ten years. He’ll do anything for him—including bury his feelings for a man he met while he and Spencer were separated last year. Justin never planned to fall in love, and he certainly never planned to tell Spencer about it—but when a phone call wakes them in the middle of the night to inform Justin that his former lover, Dutch Keller, has been in an accident, he doesn’t have a choice.

Justin’s revelation shatters the fragile relationship he and Spencer were trying to rebuild. The weight of his guilt—both for hurting Spencer and for leaving a heartbroken Dutch to find solace in a bottle—crushes him. But what Justin doesn’t know is that Spencer and Dutch guard an explosive secret of their own. All three men are tangled in a communal web of lies, and unless they find the events in their lives that ultimately led them to friendship, passion, and betrayal, they won’t see the love at the heart of the pain.

Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.

Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse. When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his husband, Bruce, their three children, and two dogs, who represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.

You can follow Jacob’s musings on his blog at http://jacobzflores.com or become a part of his social media network by visiting http://www.facebook.com/jacob.flores2
or http://twitter.com/#!/JacobZFlores.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Great question. Character names and titles are pretty important to me. For the main characters, their names have to sound good together, as if not just the characters as people belong together but so do the names, like Romeo and Juliet or Bo and Hope, for soap opera fans. When I’m naming a character, I choose a name that is significant to the character’s personality. I sometimes consult my Character Naming Sourcebook and research various names until I find one that matches the character’s personality. If I’m using a nickname, I choose one that captures the essence of the character.
Book titles are just as important. I want the title to reflect the theme of the book. For example, my upcoming m/m/m novel slated for release by Dreamspinner in September/October is titled 3. While the title may be simple, it also reflects the inherent complexities and conflict in a relationship between three men. Most of us are familiar with how difficult a relationship between two individuals is. When you add one more to the mix, the struggles magnify exponentially.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: 3 is set in San Antonio, Texas. I chose San Antonio because it is my hometown, and I feel quite comfortable there. I typically choose locales based on my familiarity with them. I want the reader to get a good sense of the setting, so in order for it to be real for my readers, it has to be crystal clear to me. I aim for as much verisimilitude as possible in terms of setting.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: It really depends on the character and the story. After I create character sketches for each character, I create a plot outline that provides me the direction I need to move the characters from exposition to the novel’s climax and finally to its ultimate conclusion. Once I have a general idea of where I want the characters to go, I let their interactions dictate how I get there. For example, I had envisioned a different ending for 3, but by the time I got to the last third of the novel, I knew my original ending wouldn’t work. The characters had evolved past my original ending. I think if I would have concluded it the way I had first envisioned it, the reader would have felt the ending to be disingenuous.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: As a gay man, it’s very satisfying. I get to share with the world what a gay relationship is really like. While it may involve two men (or sometimes three), trying to find love, it makes the struggle universal. All of us want love. The only real difference is that some men prefer that happily ever after with another man.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Right now, no. I’m still new to the genre to have such a fan base. If I were ever lucky enough to have such devoted followers, I would take their considerations into mind. In fact, when I wrote my episode of Boxer Falls, which is a “gaytime serial” on Goodreads, I took the wishes of the fans into consideration. They love Oz and Quinn as characters, so I made sure those two characters were spotlighted. I even nudged Oz and Quinn’s relationship along a few steps in the process.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: The ideal relationship would be that the readers loved everything the author wrote. LOL! But I know that’s not going to be the case. You can’t please everyone, but I hope that the readers would be invested enough in my book to understand the choices the characters made. On the same token, authors wouldn’t be successful without our wonderful readers. The relationship needs to be symbiotic, a successful joining of creative minds traveling together on a wonderful journey.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Like I said before, I’m still new, so I don’t have many reviews. However, I did self-publish a novel titled Moral Authority. I got some great reviews on that book. It’s a dystopian tale reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four with a gay twist. But the reviews that offered some constructive criticism made me re-think certain approaches to plot and character development. Sometimes, what we as authors think will work may not resonate with some readers. It’s the author’s job to make the book resonate with as many readers as possible, in my opinion. So, while constructive reviews may be hard to read at times, I use them as learning tools.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: For 3, I would have to say that Dutch is the sexiest. First of all, physically, Dutch is the most impressive. He’s a tall muscle bear with crystal blue eyes. His presence is intimidating, but his character is kind and gentle, at least until he’s pushed too far. Then, watch out! Those characters whose physical strength is tempered by their kind hearts always melt my butter.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: This is a scene from 3, where two of the main characters, Justin and Spencer are having a three-way with their best friend Tyler.

“Fuck me,” Tyler moaned. He took Spencer’s cock out of his mouth and looked back at Justin with pleading, wild eyes. “Fuck me hard!”

“Beg for it,” Justin demanded. “Beg for me to fuck your man pussy.”

“Fuck me,” Tyler begged. “Fuck my pussy like the whore I am.”
–From 3 by Jacob Z. Flores

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: Actually, Dreamspinner just accepted my paranormal romance tentatively titled The Gifted One, which should be out in March/April.

Here’s a blurb:
Though Matt sees himself as an ordinary man loved by the family who adopted him, he is unaware that he is the Gifted One. His unknown blood lineage makes him a seventh son of a seventh son. Within him rests the unlocked potential of a positive force for good. His promise as the Gifted One grants him special favors from heaven in the form of his own personal savior, the Archangel Gabriel, but it also marks Matt for death from the wicked, who attempt to kill him every year on his birthday.

Being the Gifted One and dodging demonic attacks aren’t Matt’s only problems. He has fallen in love with the Archangel Gabriel, who was sent by heaven to protect him. Gabriel returns Matt’s love, defying divine law and placing them both in danger from demons and angels alike. Heaven fears that Matt and Gabriel’s union will result in an evil similar to that of a fallen band of angels called The Watchers.

Can Matt survive the rising ancient evils that have hounded him since birth? Will heaven allow Matt and Gabriel’s love to exist? Or will both heaven and hell turn being the Gifted One into a curse?

An Excerpt from 3

“Watch your step,” Justin told him. His eyes were as refreshing as a coastal breeze on a scorching day, and their brown hue reminded him of the cool, packed sand that lay between the ocean’s edge and the sandy beach. When his family went on a summer vacation that involved a beach, that is where he stayed—at the water’s edge. While his brother and sister swam in the ocean and his parents lay out on their beach blankets, he sat in the cool, wet sand, thrusting his toes into the velvety folds.

He felt safe, as if by sinking his toes into the sand the earth had somehow claimed him as its own, grounding him and giving him the companionship he lacked in his family or at school.

When he gazed into Justin’s eyes, as he looked back to make sure Spencer didn’t trip over any one of the inebriated patrons in the small stairwell, he felt transported back to that beach, toes in the sand and connected to another life force much greater than his own.

Going past the small series of stairs that led to a walkway, they skirted the packed dance floor where the gays were getting down to Cher’s “Believe.”
Justin surprised Spencer by pulling him onto the dance floor, where they joined their gay brethren in their fevered adoration of the ultimate gay icon.

Rarely, if ever, did Spencer dance at the clubs. He preferred observing the standard mating ritual as the dance partners gyrated on the floor with the express purpose of gauging each other’s sexual prowess through thrusting hips to the syncopated beat.

He found the custom distasteful, yet here he was grinding in sync with Justin, whose hands rested on Spencer’s hips and whose crotch was currently scraping against his ass.

What has gotten into you? his mind asked him. Since when do you engage in such immature and improper activities? You’re practically copulating on the dance floor?

I know, Spencer returned. It feels great!

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Jaime Samms interview, and bittersweet beauty *Angel Elegy*

Click the cover images for buy links at Dreamspinner Press store.

Twin Angels Jophiel and Ariel are servants of Heaven bound to help the humans of a world headed for ruin. But for them to become the independent Angels they need to be, their bond must first be broken.

Jophiel takes his duties seriously, answering a call from an artist struggling with his dominant, sadistic nature. But Ariel, embittered after being tortured and killed by human captors and returning to Heaven in shame, hesitates. The choice is taken from his hands when he is sent to Earth, wingless and without any memory of who or what he is. Until he regains the faith in the humans he’s meant to help, he’ll never reach his full potential and be readmitted into Heaven. From somewhere within himself, Jophiel must find the courage to let go of his twin and trust Ariel to be strong enough to Rise again… or they will never be together.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men; what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love, she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they should also be the stories she wrote.

These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Freya’s Bower, Loveyoudivine Alterotica, Pink Petal Books, Dreamspinner Press and Total E-Bound.

Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, she’s probably spending reading, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!) or watching movies. Well. She has a day job or two, as well, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child care responsibilities.

She graduated some time ago from college with a Fine Arts diploma, with a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all….

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: I have found that in my contemporary books, I just like to make sure I haven’t already used a name in any significant way. In my fantasy stuff, I put a little more thought into it, though. I like the names to mean something. As for titles. OMG. I have the worst time coming up with them, most of the time.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: I think the immediate setting of the Main Character’s actual apartment in Stained Glass was very important, but the world at large is usually pretty generic. If I have to use elements like laws or school customs, I usually use generic Canadian, because that’s what I know. I only set things in the States or elsewhere if I have to. As to how I decide, if it’s not generic Canada, then the plot or characters let me know where it is.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: Better to ask how much power they give me. Lol! When I try to steer, we inevitably go off the rails. Better to let them have their own way.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: That moment in the story when the main characters realize they are together because that is the right place for them to be, that’s magic. I don’t think it would be any different if I wrote het or f/f. Gender isn’t the issue. The magic is the issue.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: They always suggest. It isn’t that I don’t listen. It is more like some characters speak to me and I tell their stories, some do not. I can’t force a character to talk to me. But there are characters I’ve lived with a long time, secondary characters or main characters I had thought I was done with, who come back, years after the fact and whisper in my ear, and I’ll do my best to accommodate them. If a reader asks for the story of a character I can’t feel, I’m happy to chat about the characters, happy to discuss the story and the possibilities, but I never make promises.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Respect.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: When I’m looking for a book to read, I sometimes glance at them if I’m waffling about whether to pick up a title. More often, I’m like any other reader. I have my go-to authors who I know I don’t even have to read the blurb, I’ll more than likely love the story.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Well, on the manly-men side, there is Vance Ashcroft, country music mega-star and ever-so-slightly, hide-the-truth-in-plain-sight closet queer. He’s everything a country boy should be and then some, with a crooning baritone and silky amber locks to run your fingers through.

On the Fem side, we have Mac, coming in Still Life in December, from Total E-Bound. He’s butch in the every day, but looks killer in a pair of hose and heels, and a mini skirt to show off his sculpted legs. And he has just enough of that vulnerable, love-me-keep-me vibe to drive any top’s fantasy.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: That’s so hard to say. Fifty words is like…nothing…lol! I found 92, from my WIP, and I can’t really think about anything else right now, so this probably means more to me than it will to anyone else, but here, Stanley has just finished helping Damian remove his eye make-up.

Stanley was entirely too close when those lashes fluttered and he found grey-green eyes gazing up at him.

“Done,” he whispered.

Damian licked his lips, a tentative smile dancing over his features. “Lip gloss.”

“How do you get that off?”It was Stanley’s turn to breathe too shallowly. Stanley’s turn to find himself slightly too shaky.

“Best way I know.” Damian cupped one towel-wrapped hand at the back of
Stanley’s neck and drew him the rest of the few inches down until their lips met.

The gloss tasted like strawberries and confectioner’s sugar. And whiskey. He moaned.

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: Right now, I’m working on a Goth rock singer and his Manager, the manager’s Country music signer best friend and sometimes fuck-buddy, and the rock singer’s puppy-love guitar player. I’m in the middle of tossing them all in a big sac, shaking it up a bit and seeing who falls out with whom.

After this, I am dying a little bit inside to get back to Rainbow Alley and give some of those boys their happy endings. And, there’s this thing with a couple of cowboys I wrote about long ago in the way back of beyond, Miles and Dillon from The Runaway. Oooh, and the futuristic one with the really Dominant Dom and his sub who doesn’t yet know he’s a sub. And the mer-shifters…and the dragon shifters. Two universes of dragon shifters, even. And the east coast fisherman and his bartender…and….and….

An Excerpt from Angel Elegy

“YOU can’t expect me to leave him there!” My voice rose, anger elevating it to Haniel’s level. “Do you not see what that human is doing to him?” I’d come home empty-handed, but I was not going to leave the younger Angel to the mercies of a man who had no scruples against using him in such hurtful ways.

“I see an Angel who answered a call,” Haniel said quietly. “I see a young, troubled man and an Angel trying to help him.” But his voice was as filled with sadness as my heart was with fury.

“He’s brainwashing Jophiel. Our brother thinks what that creature is doing to him is okay, Haniel, and it isn’t.”

“I understand your concerns, Ariel.” He looked at me with such sympathy.

I could claw his eyes out for turning that pity on me rather than using his sense of truth to help our fellow Angel.

“But you speak from the heart of someone who feels more than brotherly love. There are things you cannot see past that barrier.”

“You have never set foot outside this sanctum,” I spat. “You have no idea. My concerns—” I shot a hand out, and a flash of livid light splashed across the open expanse of the sanctum. “You don’t know, Haniel.” Anger tossed me about, breaking down my ability to think, forcing me to sporadic movement across the limitless space. “You just don’t—” I stopped and then winged back to stand once more before him. “And Jophiel will not stop that man from doing anything he wants, all in the name of art and creativity. He’ll twist everything that’s good and giving and honest in him. He’ll—”

“Break him?”

“Jophiel doesn’t understand what’s happening. He’ll just give and give—”

“Like you did?”

I whirled, fury giving me power, sparking in my gut and drawing my wings out to full splendor. “This is not about me. It’s about him, and the false safety everyone thinks is down there because Michael and Gabriel stayed behind. Angels aren’t safe. We never will be safe. Not among humans.”

Deeper sadness infused Haniel’s eyes, burning the blue to dark indigo. His wings drooped slightly, silver tips disappearing into the hazy divide between the worlds. “You have lost your Faith.”

“I have lost nothing!” Panic rose to fill the spaces left empty by anger. “I know. I was there.” The memories crowded, one piling on top of the next: the clipped wings, the pain, the annihilation of every good thing….

Until a bullet in the back was not betrayal. It was freedom.

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Jamie Fessenden interview, *By that Sin Fell the Angels* excerpt, and other stuff

Click the cover image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner Store.

By that Sin Fell the Angels is published by Itineris Press, an imprint of Dreamspinner Press that presents quality GLBT faith-based fiction.

It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart.

At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.

Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open for the devil—and for a second tragedy to follow.

Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school, but it wasn’t until he met his future husband, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. Ten years later, with the legalization of same-sex marriage in their state, Jamie and Erich have married, rescued a black lab pup from the SPCA, and purchased a house together in the wilds of Raymond, New Hampshire. Jamie currently works as technical support for a computer company in Portsmouth, NH, but fantasizes about someday quitting his day job to be a full-time writer.

Visit Jamie at http://jamiefessenden.wordpress.com/

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Very important. I spend a lot of time on baby name websites, searching for names that resonate with the character. Often, I’ll narrow it down to a few and then spend a few minutes saying the names to myself out loud, while visualizing the character, to see which one fits the best. On more than one occasion, I’ve changed a character name while I’ve been writing the story, because he or she seemed to outgrow the first one I chose. Titles are extremely important, but I’m really awful at coming up with them. I often ask friends for suggestions.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: I’m currently working on a cyberpunk novel set in a near-future Seattle and Vancouver. In a science fiction or fantasy novel, of course, the locale is often part of the story and can strongly affect the plot. Certainly the streets of Seattle and the surrounding countryside had a huge impact on the chase scene I wrote for part one! I’m also working on a contemporary psychological drama. For most contemporary stories, I prefer to use New Hampshire as the setting. This is partly because it’s what I’m familiar with, but also because I love the New Hampshire countryside and have a strong desire to convey the beauty of it in my work.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: Quite a lot. If I write a scene in which the characters don’t seem to be acting naturally, I go back and rework it until it works for them, even if it means changing the direction of the story. It always improves the story to pay attention to what’s right for the characters.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: When I was a teenager, just coming to terms with my sexuality, nearly everything I read was about heterosexual characters. I felt extremely isolated, because it was almost impossible to find gay characters in fiction who weren’t miserable and alone. All I wanted was to read about gay characters who found someone to love and lived happily ever after. In early stories I wrote, I tried to write about straight characters, but it really didn’t feel right to me, so I eventually realized that I needed to write the type of stories I wanted to read: stories with gay protagonists that have a happy ending.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: I’m afraid I have so many stories in my head struggling to make it out onto paper that I don’t really have the time to write what other people suggest. My usual reaction is to tell them, “That sounds like a great idea! You should write it!” (An exception to this might be requests for a sequel!) I do listen to feedback on my stories, though. If somebody tells me that something really didn’t work for them, I certainly give it serious thought and consider how I might do things differently in future stories. I don’t believe in turning my nose up at suggestions that will improve my writing, even if they sometimes sting a bit.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Ideally, readers will provide useful feedback for an author about what does and does not work for them, and the author will be responsive to that, taking into account things that pushed a lot of readers’ buttons, for instance, and learning to work with that. I’ve also had readers nudge me to get back to work on my cyberpunk story and I think that’s great! I love knowing that there are people out their interested in knowing how the story will work out.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: A useful review is one that points out flaws in the story or characters in a way that’s specific enough that it suggests a way to fix the problem. “The story was terrible,” isn’t particularly helpful, but “The ending was confusing,” certainly can be, and so can, “I wasn’t sure if they were really committed to each other.” One of the best reviews I ever received was from someone who pointed out specific details of the time period and culture I was depicting that I’d gotten wrong. They were things that only someone living in England might pick up on, and I just wish I’d received that feedback before the story went to publication!

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: I think perhaps Josh, from “Saturn in Retrograde.” I grew up in rural New England and the guys I was attracted to when I was young tended to be a bit rough around the edges: crude, rugged, often dirty from working on cars or other manual labor, often sweaty. Josh is a college nerd, but he lives in a single room and he’sA: a slob, leaving his dirty clothes everywhere. (But of course, he’s still gorgeous!) When Patrick is caring for him, after Joshua becomes seriously ill, he ends up cleaning the apartment, in order to make it more livable. This sort of detail is unappealing to some readers, but to me it makes the characters real. They aren’t fashion models. They’re just regular guys. And it’s that extra level of reality that makes a character sexy to me. Judging from some reader comments, I’m not completely alone in this.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: From the gym shower scene in “Saturn in Retrograde”:

While Joshua’s own eyes were closed, his face tilted up into the shower spray, Patrick took in the young man’s naked body and marveled at it. If Joshua had reminded him of a Roman senator when they first met in the lab… naked, he was a Roman god.

Too late, Patrick realized that Joshua had opened his eyes and was watching Patrick’s eyes drinking him in. Patrick glanced quickly away, embarrassed, but Joshua said softly, “It’s cool.”

“What’s cool?”

“I mean… you can look.”

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: While I’ve picked up the cyberpunk story again, the one I’m really caught up in is a psychological drama about a psychologist who’s fallen for a man with repressed memories of child sexual abuse. I’m excited about it, because it gets very dark, but unlike my novel about teen suicide (“By That Sin Fell the Angels”), this one also has a romance at the core of it. The working title is “Billy’s Bones,” but I’m planning on changing that.

An Excerpt from By that Sin Fell the Angels

JONAH woke to the sound of his mother screaming. He jumped out of bed, grabbed his robe, and nearly collided with his mother’s twenty-six-year-old boyfriend in the narrow hall outside his bedroom door.

“Christ!” Bill snarled, though Jonah couldn’t tell if it was aimed at him or at his mother. The man rubbed his eyes, growling like a bear awoken from hibernation. “What the fuck is all the racket about?”

Bill was naked, though apparently too groggy to care. He staggered down the hall ahead of Jonah and stopped at the entrance to the kitchen. The boy had to stretch his six-foot-two frame to see over the man’s freckled shoulder.

Shirley Riverside was standing against the wall near the fridge, her gaze fixed on the floor, her mouth trying to say something. But no sound was coming out. Jonah had never seen her looking so frightened.

Pressing up against Bill’s back (but not too close) he was able to see that his mother had walked through a puddle of something in the early morning half-light. Her bare feet had left a trail of dark prints on the worn linoleum. Her hand was still on the light switch beside her, the one she’d turned on to see what she’d stepped in.

It was blood.

Somehow a large puddle had formed in the center of the floor. Jonah saw something small drop into the pool, causing ripples to spread on its surface. The boy looked up and saw that the blood was seeping through the suspended ceiling, spreading along the seams between the tiles and collecting at the corners to drip down.

“Jesus H. Christ,” Bill muttered, and it was an indication of how frightened Shirley was that she didn’t rip him a new one for taking the Lord’s name in vain. Never mind running around bare-assed in front of her son. “Call 9-1-1,” Bill ordered. Then, when she didn’t appear to hear him, he added impatiently, “Can you do that?”

Shirley was staring at her bare feet now, as if she wanted nothing more than to get the blood off them, but she nodded mutely.

Jonah had to flatten himself against the wall to let Bill get past him. The man turned on his way to the bedroom and pointed at the boy. “You’re going upstairs with me to check it out, soon as I get some pants on.”

Jonah didn’t see any reason to argue. “Okay.”

He was disgusted with himself for letting his eyes linger on Bill’s tight ass as the man turned to enter the bedroom. Jesus, forgive me for lusting after my Mom’s boyfriend. But Bill wasn’t all that much older than Jonah, and hours of putting up sheetrock had made the man lean and muscular.

A few moments later, Shirley was sobbing into the phone as she tried desperately to wipe the soles of her bare feet with a wet paper towel. Her hand was covered in blood.

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Jana Denardo: *The Darkest Midnight in December* and 50 sizzling words

Click the cover image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner Store.
The year is 1930, and something is hunting infants and young couples in Economy Village, PA. When a local priest begins to suspect a demon may be the culprit, the sheriff calls in a team of Soldiers from the Sun.

Caleb, Agni, Temple, and Li specialize in demon hunting, but they can’t rule out an old religious sect as the true culprit. Prejudice, distraught parents, and angry townspeople don’t make the team’s job any easier. And if something goes wrong, they’re on their own, because by the time their backup arrives, it will be too late.

Jana Denardo’s career choices and wanderlust take her all over the United States and beyond. Much of her travels make their way into her stories. Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Mystery have been her favorite genres since she started reading, and they often flavor her erotic works. In her secret identity, she works with the science of life and calls on her medical degree often in her stories. When she’s not chained to her computer writing, she functions as stray cat magnet. She’s also learning that the road to enlightenment is filled with boulders she keeps falling over and that the words gardening and Zen don’t go together no matter what anyone says.

My web presence:
http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com/
http://twitter.com/#/JanaDenardo

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: You started out with a toughie. For me, the process of naming a character is very difficult. I often take days, if not weeks, to find the right name, sometimes even going so far as to put in a generic name to switch out later, once I know more about the character. I also try to find one that fits ethnically, if that’s important to that character.

Titles are even harder. I’m a little ashamed to say that, sometimes, there is much whining and begging for help in that department on my blog. (Bet my first readers will say it’s more than sometimes).

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: Pittsburgh and Ambridge, or at least the Old Economy part of the latter, was the locale of my most recent novella, The Darkest Midnight in December. It’s also set in the 1930’s. It was compelling for the story to have Old Economy, as its history played into the demon-hunting aspects of the story. It made a good counterpoint to the demons, as the founders of the village were a celibate Christian sect.

I don’t choose the setting the same way every time. Sometimes, especially if the setting plays a role in the story, it has to be a very carefully considered locale. Sometimes, it’s a place I just vacationed in, like with “Haunted” in Dreamspinner’s Two Tickets to Paradise anthology, or is a place I’ve lived in. I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, so I knew something about the area I was writing about for The Darkest Midnight in December. Also, I look at the characters’ jobs, and set my stories somewhere appropriate to that in some cases, like the holiday story I just finished, where a mountainous area was needed.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I give them most of the power. I’m in Stephen King’s “Let it Spin” camp, so I follow where the characters lead me. Of course, I have ideas where a story will start and end, but the rest is from the characters as they come to life.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I’ve never really thought about it. I write all kinds of characters of various orientations. I started emphasizing gay relationships about fifteen years ago, when various writing instructors, writers groups and first readers told me that I couldn’t write gay characters and be taken seriously along with a whole host of other narrow-minded crap. I said, ‘Watch me.’ I’m ornery that way. I won’t say that’s satisfying except in the most cynical of ways, but it really is one of the reasons I started writing in this field. I hate seeing people marginalized. I think if I had to pick one thing that satisfied me most, it is the opportunity to show love is love.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: So far, not so much and I’ve tried to engage them in this sort of thing on my blog. In my non-pro stuff, yes, they do. I, at least, try to get ideas from my first readers and friends on my blog. It’s been surprisingly unsuccessful. I could only wish it was like the fanfiction side of life, where people offer me all sorts of ideas.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: For me, that would be the moment when they tell me they were up all night or late to work so they could finish the story. Or maybe when they didn’t quite want to finish the end because they didn’t want to say goodbye. If I can give them a story that touches them and they, in turn, want to tell others about the book, I think the ideal relationship has been reached.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: I know a lot of people don’t care for reviews, especially reader based ones like Amazon and Goodreads (and I’ve seen those sites light up like New Year’s Eve when someone feels their review has been ignored or disputed). Even with those sites, I can often find something worthwhile in a review, be it good or bad. All reviews, regardless of source, should reflect something of my writing that I need to know. Sometimes, it’s a weakness, and even if it hurts to hear it, there have been many cases where I have to agree about the weakness and hope to do better next time. Of course, if it’s a positive review, that’s enough to make me grin all day. That said, probably very quickly there will be a time where I do not even look at them for my own peace of mind. The reviews are more for the reader than they really are for me.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: This is always a ridiculously hard question to answer. Probably I’d have to give the edge to Arrigo, one of my Las Vegas vampires (see Crisis of Faith with Dreamspinner Press). He’s certainly been taking up real estate in my head the longest (I started writing him in the early 1990’s). Arrigo has the coloring I love, that dark olive skin, long, black hair and chocolate eyes. He’s been alive for nearly two thousand years, so to say he’s experienced in lovemaking is probably a wee bit of an understatement.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Another really tough one. This is from “Snowbound” in the Dreamspinner anthology, Necking. (The same characters are in the prequel The Darkest Midnight in December.)

Taking hold of Temple’s hips, Agni complied, pounding into
Temple, raw and unbridled. Caleb felt the transmitted force. It took
Temple a few moments to get the fast rhythm but he matched it, diving
into Caleb deep. Temple’s breath rasped in Caleb’s ear. Caught in the
middle, the redhead’s moans dissolved into a symphony of inarticulate
cries until one final sharp one as he emptied into Caleb.

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I’m going to be doing Nanowrimo in November, and I do erotica every other year, so I’m currently trying to figure out what to write. Another story with my 1930’s demon hunter series? A modern day demon hunter story also set in Pittsburgh? A traditional fantasy story?

I’m also working on finishing a novel length story for my Las Vegas vampires and I’m within 10K of finishing an urban fantasy novel featuring an injured Iraqi vet and that story has become very special to me. I did my residency in VA hospitals and had wanted to go into service myself. Veterans, their service and sacrifice, mean a lot to me, so the characters in this story do as well.

Excerpt from The Darkest Midnight in December

“How many babies have gone missing?” Li asked.

Caleb tapped the briefcase holding a stack of files given to him by General Taglioferro before they left their headquarters in Pittsburgh. “Three and several couples. The local priests and police think it’s all the work of demons.”

“I was too busy packing.” Temple patted the box that held his Tommy gun and ammunition. “I didn’t get a chance to check out what the Order already knows about what’s going on here.”

“Once again, Li, your partner was napping.” Agni leveled a look at Temple who wrinkled his nose.

“We’ll bring him up to date once we get there.” Li pulled his coat tighter as the truck taking them from train station to hotel lurched down the road. “I just want to know why we have to ride in the bed with the luggage.”

“We all wouldn’t have fit.” Caleb shrugged. “And the driver they sent didn’t want any demon hunters in the cab with him, like we’ll infect him with our ability to see the demons or something.”

“Idiot. Who does he think is going to save this dumb town?” Temple grumbled.

“I also think he wasn’t too keen on our partners.” Caleb glanced over at his Hindu partner. Agni’s dark skin peeked out from where he had a scarf wound around his hooded head.

Temple snorted. “Big surprise. One of Father’s biggest complaints about me joining the Soldiers of the Sun and not the Knights Templar was that we welcomed all faiths, all cultures. I thought he’d go apoplectic when he found out I have a Chinese partner,” he said. The wind nearly whipped away his whispered, “too bad he didn’t just die from it.”

The four demon hunters hunkered down, trying to keep out of the wind as the truck wound its way through Ambridge, Pennsylvania. The store fronts winked by with promises of Christmas treasures on offer. The holiday was only a few days away. None of them, Temple in particular, had wanted to leave home before Christmas. There was no guarantee they wouldn’t be spending the holiday holed up in their hotel, nursing demon-inflicted wounds.

The brick hotel looked hospitable enough, and the truck owner was quick to help them off his truck and inside, away from him. It wasn’t an entirely new reaction. As Soldiers of the Sun, they had long since gotten used to people being wary of them. The hotel staff shunted them upstairs just as swiftly to adjoining rooms. Temple scowled at the metal bed frame of his twin bed in the room he shared with Li.

“This bed better be movable,” he grumbled.

“If you keep me awake, that adjoining door will be a pathway to your doom,” Agni warned grimly.

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JL O’Faolain’s new release: *Push Comes to Shove* (and he just says the darndest things)

Click on the cover image for a buy link at the Dreamspinner store.

Super-powered superhero Push and his human partner, Scratch, have been best friends and roommates for years. Push is the gay posterchild for the Real-Life Superhero Association. Unfortunately, Scratch is straight, which makes Push’s suppressed feelings for him problematic—but not as problematic as their next assignment.

Push and Scratch’s job: rehabilitating Wrath, a recently released supervillain, complete with super powers of his own. It’s not easy to trust someone who used to be on the other side, and Wrath’s presence creates just the wrong kind of friction.

When a bank-robbing practical joker throws a wrench in their plans and leads them on a wild chase across the southern United States, Push, Scratch, and Wrath have to leave their baggage behind and work together. But there are more secrets and danger awaiting them, and super powers may not be enough.

J.L. O’Faolain was born the youngest, with four older sisters, in the backwoods of the Deep South. Those that have braved getting to know him have attributed this to being the root of his growing insanity. A teased bibliophile in his youth, O’Faolain spent his years prior to getting published as a cook, laundry man, delivery boy, grease monkey, and retail stocker. He has a plethora of skills and abilities, none of which would work well on a job application. In his spare time, O’Faolain enjoys weightlifting, philosophy, deconstruction, reading, writing, porn, and the Internet in general. Aside from becoming a successfully published author, he would very much like to pilot a giant robot while Two-Mix’s “Rhythm Emotion” is playing in the background. Either that, or travel the world in a dirigible. In short, the general consensus by all, including himself, is that he is a mighty strange fellow.

Website:
www.manicexpression.webs.com

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: The titles of my books tend to run along a theme, or have some sort of pun to them. As for the names, they can range from significant to apathetic, depending on my mood and the story’s theme. I do like the idea of a pale sidhe with the name Cole, though.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: The Section Thirteen files are set in Manhattan, a place that I, believe it or not, have never seen outside of pictures and videos. In October of 2012, though, the first of a new, shorter series will be released, the title of which is Push Comes to Shove. This is set primarily in a small fictional Arkansas town. I liked the idea of a story about superheroes. I love comics, and the idea of a superhero team operating in a small Southern town, where they have to contend with small-town mentality, appeals to me.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I’ve learned the hard way not to argue with my characters much. If they want something, there’s nothing I can do to stop them. Watching them endure the consequences of their actions is the fun part. I’m a bit of a sadist that way.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I knew from a young age that I wasn’t totally straight, though ‘gay’ didn’t quite fit. After I got into college, I found out about bisexuality, and more of what it meant. Because of where I grew up, and the sort of family I had, it wasn’t something I could be open about or explore. When I finally got away, this was the first thing I began looking into. Writing gay and bi relationships lets me explore things from a fictional standpoint that I missed out on.

That, and I enjoy writing porn.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: I take things into account, but stories flow on their own, like streams. You can drop stones in them and see what happens, but they’ll keep on churning. Sometimes, a suggestion will stick in my head, and come out in some way.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: An ideal relationship between an author and said readers is probably best compared to a dysfunctional family unit, except the screaming takes place over the internet rather than via phone calls and Thanksgiving dinners.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Believe it or not, I enjoy reading negative criticism. Its always fun when someone enjoys my work. That’s a thrill to hear about, but knowing other people hated it has its merits. Media that no one criticizes tends to fade quickly. Fame, as they say, is fleeting, but infamy sticks like glue.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Cole is definitely one, but we may be looking at a contender this fall. I think it falls to whether fans prefer sidhe nobles to long-haired pyrokinetics from the Big Easy that have tragic back stories.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Hmm, I think you must enjoy making this difficult for me. (Lou’s note: Yes I do, absolutely!)

“I love you,” Shinichi gasped, once the hair on his boyfriend’s hair and chest was spotted with cum. “Gods, I love you so much I think it might kill me sometime.”

“You need someone to take care of you,” Allen said matter-of-factly.
“I need you,” Shinichi countered, snuggling up next to him. “You’re my hero, remember?”

Allen laughed and placed a kiss on Shinichi’s forehead. “Even heroes need someone to save them every now and then.”

Push Comes to Shove

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I’m working on the next Section Thirteen book, as well as one or two other things. Those are surprises for later.

I recently had a book released by No Boundaries Press called Blue Ninja, which is available here at the No Boundaries Press online store. Click the cover image to link to the store.

Excerpt from Push Comes to Shove

“Just like that!” the photographer called out excitedly. “Turn towards the camera a bit. Make sure your face is in the light.”

Nervous, Push did as the photographer asked while beads of sweat popped out of his forehead underneath the dusty cap of brown hair. He had never been comfortable on camera, and had to remind himself continuously that this was for a good cause while the man behind the camera clicked away. The front of his costume had been raised up slightly to expose the rock-hard abs underneath. Not that the spandex did much to conceal them. His blue uniform conformed to the contours of his body so tightly that he might as well have been wearing nothing at all.

But, he wasn’t going to argue with a professional about what looked good on a calender.

“Excellent! Now, lower your chin a bit.”

Push did as he was told. “Raise the shirt up a little bit more,” said the photographer, giving signals with his hands. “Now, Push. Give us that smile we wanna see!”

Impishly, he squinted his eyes slightly and grinned, raising the corner of his mouth into a smirk just as the flash went off. Spots swam in front of his face, but he held the pose. Next, the man wanted him to pull the front of the shirt up over his shoulders. The fabric was a new type of spandex with memory cloth woven into it, so it held up very well, both during fights and for when photo shoots demanded he look sexy.

Push felt ridiculous.

Over and over, he turned, flexed, and posed however the photographer demanded. At five feet and six inches, Push wasn’t the epitome of manly sexiness that the camera guy insisted he was. True, he kept his body in tight shape, but it couldn’t compensate for how small he looked in comparison to the average guy on the street. Adding to this, the studio was very cold. Goosebumps kept popping out over his arms and legs, a testament to the fact.

Down to his underwear, the photographer started insisting he remove the goggles. Fortunately, before he could explain, Annette came to his rescue.

“The goggles stay on,” the RLSA personal assistant said firmly. “They’re a part of his identity.”

The photographer started to object, but Annette had his contract with the studio in her hand between blinks. “It’s stated right here,” she reminded the willowy camera man. “The goggles remain on at all times.”

Annette looked over at him, then. “And in any case, I think we’re about done for today. Push has a meeting to get to, and there’s no way we can publish the underwear photos in the calender. The council was adamant that we keep things PG-rated.”

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Kim Fielding on writing for readers and other stuff, and a sweet excerpt from *Speechless*

Click the cover image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner store.

Travis Miller has a machining job, a cat named Elwood, and a pathetic love life. The one bright spot in his existence is the handsome guitar player he sometimes passes on his way home from work. But when he finally gathers the courage to speak to the man, Travis learns that former novelist Drew Clifton suffers from aphasia: Drew can understand everything Travis says, but he is unable to speak or write.

The two lonely men form a friendship that soon blossoms into romance. But communication is only one of their challenges—there’s also Travis’s inexperience with love and his precarious financial situation. If words are the bridge between two people, what will keep them together?

Kim Fielding lives in California and travels as often as she can manage. A professor by day, at night she rushes into a phonebooth to change into her author costume (which involves comfy clothes instead of Spandex and is, sadly, lacking a cape). Her superpowers include the ability to write nearly anywhere, often while simultaneously doling out homework assistance to her children. Her favorite word to describe herself is “eclectic” and she’s currently considering whether to get that third tattoo.

Links:
http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Names are very important to me—they’re one of the first things I decide. They can tell you something about the age and background of the character, and I also try to choose names that tell you something about personality. For example, in my novella Speechless, one of the characters has aphasia and can no longer communicate verbally. His name is Drew. In an upcoming novel, Venetian Masks, Jeff is a very ordinary guy with a very ordinary name. His love interest is Cleve, which is sort of a play on words because “cleave” can mean either “to sever” or “to stick,” and it’s unclear whether Cleve is going to stick around.

As for titles, I agonize endlessly, but usually end up with one that pleases me. I have a bit of a weakness for puns and double meanings.

Q:In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: Locations are also very important to me because I see the scenes in my head, and also because they often dictate parts of the storyline. In fact, it’s very often a location that gives me the plot idea to begin with. Both Good Bones and Speechless happen to be set in Oregon. Dylan in Good Bones buys a farm that bears a distinct resemblance to the farm some of my family members own. My upcoming fantasy romance, Brute, is set in an imaginary city called Tellomer. And Venetian Masks is a bit of a travelogue, set in Venice—of course!—but with scenes in a few other central European cities as well.
I love to travel, and it’s often my travels that suggest story locations.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I don’t give it—they take it from me! I start out with a very rough outline, but rarely stick to it very closely. Once I give my characters life, they run the show.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I like to be able to depict the positive aspects of love, even when the people involved face serious challenges. I also like being able to free myself from stereotypes.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Not much, aside from requesting sequels—which is always flattering!

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Ideally, what I love to write is what readers will love to read. Also ideally, my stories can entertain, can stir emotions, and can maybe make people think about things in new ways. If my stories inspire people, even better. And of course readers are really important to me, because otherwise I’m just writing for my own amusement.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: I find reviews especially useful when people give specific constructive criticism. Also, if several reviewers say more or less the same thing—either negative or positive—that tells me I should probably listen.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Wow, this is a tough one! I guess I’d have to choose Drew Clifton from Speechless. What’s sexy about him is that, because he can’t communicate with words, he has to convey all his thoughts and feelings with his body and face. He’s also vulnerable yet very strong, which I find an irresistible combination.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).

Dylan buried his nose in Chris’s hair, inhaling deeply. He wondered vaguely if he could become drunk off the rich odors of drugstore soap and hard work and spicy meals, and a scent that spoke eloquently to him of Chris’s desire and need.

Good Bones

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: A lot! My short story “Tyler Wang Has a Ball” releases October 8 in Dreamspinner’s Don’t Try This at Home anthology. In December, my story “Joys R Us” will come out in Silver Publishing’s holiday anthology. My fantasy romance novel Brute releases in December or January. Venetian Masks will come out in February or March. And my gay fantasy trilogy (Stasis, Flux, and Equipoise) just began production as audiobooks. I also have a couple other short stories in various stages of progress. Whew!
My next novel will be a sequel to Good Bones. I have another novel planned after that as well, a contemporary romance set in rural California, and involving a former mental hospital.

An excerpt from Speechless

Drew stopped at a Walgreens, where the stringy-haired woman behind the counter gave them a deeply skeptical look. Travis supposed they did look pretty disreputable. But they gathered up a basketful of Band-Aids and Neosporin and ice packs and other first aid supplies—which Drew cheerfully paid for with his MasterCard—and then headed to Drew’s house.

Drew took Travis by the hand and towed him to a neat bathroom with white tile, a claw-foot tub, and an antique shelf full of fluffy towels. He gently pushed Travis down onto the closed toilet and dampened a washcloth in the sink. And then he reached for the eye patch.

Travis jerked his hands up and grabbed Drew’s arms. “You can clean around it.

It’s… it’s gross.”

But Drew shook his head and twisted his arm away, then slid the strap off Travis’s head. He tossed it onto the counter and for a long minute just stood there, staring. Travis tensed, waiting for the revulsion and rejection. But instead, Drew leaned down and, light as a butterfly, brushed his lips over Travis’s empty lid. Then he stood straight again, and Travis took a deep, shuddery breath. “It doesn’t disgust you?”

Drew shook his head impatiently and then pointed to a scar that ran across the upper part of his forehead.

“Well, yeah, but yours is sexy. Sort of like a dueling scar from your student days at Heidelberg or a slash from an assassin’s blade when you were saving the Ark of the Covenant.” He paused. “Is it from the car accident?”

Nod.

“Well, it’s still sexy.” Travis lifted his hand and smoothed his forefinger across the length of the mark. “Sexy,” he repeated, aware that his voice had gone kind of gravelly.

After that, well… it sort of started out as the mutual administration of first aid for the various scrapes and bruises they’d acquired in the fight. But a thorough rendering of aid required removal of clothing, and then Drew apparently decided that kisses would do a better job of healing than would antibiotic ointments, and then…. How the hell had Drew managed to slip some K-Y and Trojans into their Walgreens basket without Travis noticing?

The bathroom floor was hard and cold, but Travis barely noticed as he was flooded with sensation. Drew was so tight and warm around him, uttering ragged sounds that weren’t quite words but didn’t need to be. His pale skin was so fine and smooth, and his nipples ripe like fruit. And afterward they stumbled to the couch and wrapped themselves in a fuzzy blanket and sort of floated for a while.

Travis was drifting toward sleep—Drew between his legs and leaning back against his chest—when he roused himself and kissed Drew’s mussed hair. “I gotta go.”

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K.Z. Snow interview and an excerpt from upcoming release *Xylophone*

Click on the Dreamspinner image to go to the Dreamspinner store, where you’ll find many K.Z. Snow titles. Farther down the page, click on the cover for a buy link to InDescent at Liquid Silver Books.

Xylophone–Coming in December from Dreamspinner Press

Daren Boothe has a secret. It centers on an unlikely object: a xylophone. And it’s reflected in his professional alter-ego, an androgynous but extremely sensual performer named Pepper Jack. When Dare begins his second (and considerably more wholesome) job playing clarinet in a polka band, he meets an unassuming young man who takes his grandmother out dancing each week — a man who also has a secret and is about to change Dare’s life.

Jonah Day immediately recognizes the clarinetist. Three years earlier they’d crossed paths in a therapist’s office, but they’d both abandoned that route to mental health. Neither was ready then to open up about the psychological traumas that haunted them and were adversely affecting their lives.

Dare and Jonah, both in their twenties, are survivors of sexual abuse. Still struggling to heal their wounds, they turn to each other — or Jonah suggests they do. Dare balks at first but then, almost in spite of himself, gives in. The men begin to confide in each other. Understanding and empathy come instantly, accompanied by ambivalence about their growing attraction. But the repercussions of their victimization are many. Soon, the very experiences Dare and Jonah share threaten to drive them apart. Only learning how to “play past the past” will sustain and strengthen their bond.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Titles are, to me, far more important than character names. Often a title comes to me first, sparking the story. All that concerns me about names is that I haven’t used them before, they seem age-appropriate, and I mix in non-Anglo surnames. (I grew up in a very ethnic city.)

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: Almost all my stories take place in Wisconsin – cities, small towns, and rural areas. I guess I see a Midwestern setting as part of my “brand” (whatever the hell that is!)

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: It isn’t a choice. The buggers just take over!

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I could make something up, but truthfully, I just don’t know. Must be my inner gay man. (I’ve been aware of having one since I was in my twenties. In fact, straight men have even pointed it out to me.)

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Not too much. I have a very wayward imagination. Once in a while, though, people express interest in a sequel, and I take that into consideration. It was reader interest in my steampunk novel Mongrel that spurred me to start writing Merman (which is nowhere near finished, by the way — gah!)

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Interactive, in a way marked by mutual respect and appreciation. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either. 😉

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: I don’t read reviews of my own stuff unless I’m specifically notified. Too many authors go off the rails because they’re constantly trawling through and fretting over their reviews. I don’t need that kind of distraction. But I’ll check out reviews of books I’m considering buying or have read.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Jackson Spey, my urban wizard (who happens to be in the short excerpt below). I’ve loved him for a long time and made no secret about it. Ex-biker with a colorful past, hot and powerful as hell, a little rough around the edges, a lot intelligent. He’s currently in his early forties, and he’s grown increasingly complex over the years. Now he’s married, going through a midlife crisis, and has a surrogate son. Can still work some phenomenal magic, though, and doesn’t take any crap from anybody.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).

Jackson’s expression didn’t change. His face remained impassive yet somehow eloquent. Only his shallow breathing belied his blank composure. “You have no idea,” he whispered, “how much I’ve wanted to feel your mouth on me again. It’s been a kind of torture.”

Those words pulled the trigger. Adin’s fingers dug into the tendons of Jackson’s neck. “You want my mouth on you again? I swear I’ll worship you with it.”

He crushed his lips against the lips of his best friend.

~ from Obsessed

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I’m waiting on edits for my next Dreamspinner release, Xylophone. And I’m trying to pull together that sequel to Mongrel.

An Excerpt from Xylophone

The following week I got off the bus just a few doors down from Over the Rainbow resale shop. Since I had a bus pass, I wouldn’t have to walk the remaining distance, maybe a mile or so, to my house. This mattered, because I was carrying my clarinet. Not that it was heavy, but I was afraid someone might snatch it from me. I was even more slightly built than most girls my age. If I’d been mugged (and it never occurred to me most muggers weren’t after clarinets), I couldn’t have hung on to my most treasured possession.

At first I dawdled on the sidewalk, hugging the case to my chest, and studied the stuff in the windows. A manikin wearing a polka-dot bikini and a Creature from the Black Lagoon mask. A barbecue grill heaped with molded plastic food and a rubber plucked chicken. Painted wood fish and frogs sitting on the rungs of a swimming pool ladder. African-looking busts draped in costume jewelry. An old-fashioned picnic basket stuffed with garden tools. A red bicycle. An alto sax with silk flowers erupting from its bell.

Beyond this summery mad mess, the shop looked dim and dingy inside. But a multicolored OPEN sign hung crookedly on the door. I set my clarinet case at my feet, cupped my hands around my eyes, and peered inside. The ceiling lights were on. I saw shelving units, brimming with merchandise, set at odd angles to each other, and more weird stand-alone displays, and even a few racks of clothing. But no one was manning the old office desk that sat near the wall to the left of the door. It must have been the checkout area, I thought, because a scrolled brass behemoth of a cash register weighed down a counter behind the desk.

Someone had to be there.

I crept inside…and immediately heard it. Magical music dancing behind the buzzer sound that wavered from somewhere in the back of the shop. Notes like a fusion of dripping water and muffled bells.

He’d seen me. I didn’t know it then but I know it now. He’d seen me staring enrapt at the junk in the windows, a clarinet case clutched to my heart, and he’d scurried away to set his trap.

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