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Tag Archives: Elizabeth Noble
Hello! Today I’m happy to share with you my recent interview with author Anne Barwell. One of the things I most enjoy about Anne’s writing is it’s diversity—she writes series, but they’re all quite different. I made her talk about that sneaky little habit! You can ask her disturbing questions too, if you like, in comments. 🙂
Note: Click any cover for a buy link to that book. For Anne’s bio (and other good stuff), visit her blog
Here’s the interview:
Q: You have, if I’m not mistaken, four different series in process. Please tell us a little bit about each one.
A: Five if you include The Harp and the Sea, which is our joint project… [LS—I’m so pleased to be working on this project with Anne!]
I’m still not sure how I ended up with so many series in progress. I blame demanding characters. Seriously though, one advantage I find with having more than one series in progress is that I have a hardcopy in front of me for the previous book while I’m writing the next one, which is so much easier when hunting for continuity details.
Hidden Places [series] is a contemporary fantasy which crosses through a portal into another world called Naearu. The main characters are Tomas, a writer, and Cathal, who is from Naearu. Part of the action takes place in the English village of Oakwood, part in Naearu. So far I’ve written two books in this series Cat’s Quill and Magic’s Muse. I have two more planned: One Word is Ethan and Donovan’s story and is a side story to Cat’s Quill. Dragon’s Price finishes the series and takes the characters back to Naearu.
Echoes is an historical series set in occupied Europe during WWII. Kristopher Lehrer is a scientist working on a top secret project in Germany. When his illusions are shattered and he discovers what the Nazis plan to do with his work, it isn’t long before he is on the run with both the Gestapo and the Allies after the plans he carries. Shadowboxing is the first book in the series and is set in Berlin in 1943. Winter Duet (which I’ve just submitted to Dreamspinner Press) is set in Germany in early 1944. The last book, Comes a Horseman, is set in France in mid 1944
Dragons of Astria is a fantasy series set in Astria, a land where dragons are real and magic exists, although it has been outlawed for generations. Aric and Denys are from two very different backgrounds, but their destinies are intertwined in more ways than one. A quest for a magical sword will affect not only their life together, but the future of the kingdom. A Knight to Remember is the first in this series, and there will be two more books: A Mage to Forget and A Sword to Rule.
The Sleepless City is an urban fantasy series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble. The first four books are set in the re-imagined city of Flint, Ohio, and the characters are vampires, werewolves, ghosts—and human. I’ve written the first book, Shades of Sepia, and book 2, Electric Candle, by Elizabeth is coming out on April 4th.
Q: Of your series, do you have one that is easier for you to write? One that is your favorite? If so, please explain your choice?
AEchoes, being an historical series, requires a lot more research than the others, but I was surprised how fast Winter Duet wrote once I got going with it. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, it’s like choosing a favourite child. My favourite tends to be the one I’m working on at the moment and yes I know that’s not helpful. Each of them have aspects I really enjoy, and I love all my guys but it is easier writing fantasy especially as I can build worlds and ‘make stuff up’ rather than worry about whether I’ve got the details of a time and/or place just right. Ben from The Sleepless City, as a Kiwi character, is very easy to write, but the US setting means a bit of research as it’s the little things that I really don’t know. I’m definitely setting my next contemporary series in New Zealand. But not just for that reason as I think there needs to be more M/M set locally.
Q: How do you balance your writing time between the different series? Do you find that your style differs from one to the next? If so, how do you get in the right mind set for the particular series you’re working on?
A: I didn’t intend to have four series on the go at once. My original plan was to have two and alternate them, and once I’ve caught up with finishing what I’ve started that’s what I’ll be doing with maybe a one shot—and yes I know they always turn into series—or two in between. Meantime I’m trying to write in a circle: Hidden Places book 3, </em.Dragons of Astria book 2, Echoes book 3 etc. That way I’m not leaving readers of those readers hanging around too long, or at least that’s the plan. There aren’t enough hours in the day with working full time [outside of writing] so a couple of novels a year is about as much as I can manage.
With the series being different genres, my style does differ between them. No too much so but more in what is needed for the characters and plot. The series tend to have a different feel to them, especially in the narrative/dialogue between historical/contemporary and high fantasy. Aric’s speech in Dragons of Astria is going to be more formal, and have no modern idioms compared to Tomas in Hidden Places, while Cathal from that series being between two worlds in a sense has a mix of both. It also depends on what story a particular book is telling. Magic’s Muse was slower paced but it was filling in a lot of gaps and building relationships which need to be in place for the final book in that series Dragon’s Price which will more of an action/drama.
I get in the mind set when I switch projects by firstly writing an outline, printing it out and scribbling over it, and writing a blurb. Usually I’m thinking through and researching/discussing ideas a couple of projects ahead of what I’m writing so I do tend to multitask a bit I guess especially if I’m working on more than one project at a time like I am now with Echoes and The Harp and the Sea.
Q: Your most recent release is Shades of Sepia, book one in a shared world series, The Sleepless City. How did you and your series partner, Elizabeth Noble, develop this concept? Any hints you can give us about what’s yet to come?
A: Elizabeth and I were chatting on IM one day and found we both had vampire characters we wanted to do something more with. One thing led to another and The Sleepless City was born. The mythos or ‘series bible’ is the product of hours of discussion, which is still ongoing.
The first four books in the series are an ‘arc’ and tell a complete story, and then we’re each writing books set within the universe. An arc seemed to be a good way to start the series and establish it and the characters. Shades of Sepia is Simon and Ben’s story, Electric Candle by Elizabeth which comes out in April is Forge’s. [LS—this book is now available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s site.] I’m writing Family and Reflection later this year which is Lucas’s, and then Elizabeth will tie up the arc with the last book Checkmate. One thing I’m looking forward to in Family and Reflection, as there’s got to be some fun in amongst all the seriousness of the case they’re working, is that Ben’s friend Ange visits from New Zealand. She doesn’t know who or rather what they all are, so they’re going to try to keep it from her. Good luck with that one.
Q: What can you tell readers in advance about the two main characters in Shades of Sepia, Ben and Simon? (Make us curious, or make them irresistible!)
A: Ben’s a local guy – well local for me – as he comes from Wellington where I live. He’s very laid back but at the same time speaks his mind and doesn’t take any shit. He’s also a bit of a geek and collects comics/graphic novels. His passion is photography and that’s the really ironic thing about his and Simon’s relationship. The one person Ben really wants to photograph he can’t because vampires not show up on film. Well, not usually, there is a way around it but he’ll have to convince Simon first – and you’ll have to read the book to find out what I’m referring to 😉
Simon’s is very different to Ben, it’s one of the reasons they complement each other so well. Simon’s more serious, and carefully considers his actions before he takes them where Ben’s more likely to just decide and do it. Simon’s also got an old fashioned streak a mile high, which isn’t just because he was born in the late nineteenth century. He’s also got a dark side, not unexpected as he’s a vampire! But like Ben he’s fiercely protective of the people he cares about and won’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to do just that. As Lucas says, “You can argue over which one of you is going to play protective over the other one’s ass on a given day. Promise me I can watch?”
Q: What’s coming next from Anne Barwell? Anything slated for release in the upcoming months? (Please elaborate!) Also, what’s on the burner for the next year or so?
A: I’m putting the final touches to Winter Duet, which is the sequel to Shadowboxing and the next book in the Echoes series.
Here’s the blurb:
Germany, 1944. With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel begin their journey across Germany toward Switzerland and safety.
Separated in the middle of a warzone, after helping an injured RAF pilot, Kristopher is determined to find Michel again. But how far can he trust the man travelling with him? Whoever he is, he is definitely not the German soldier he appears to be.
Meanwhile Michel mounts a rescue mission. Time is running out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo close in. Can he reach one of their own before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s safety, but that of the remaining members of the Allied team?
Or is it already too late for all of them?
And an excerpt:
Kristopher dropped to his knees, and examined the boy. His eyes were glazed over and he flinched when Kristopher touched him. “He must have hit his head when he fell,” Kristopher said. He brought his hand away from the boy’s temple. It was covered in blood. “He needs help, but I can’t do much for him here, just try and stop the bleeding.” He quickly opened his satchel and pulled out a short length of bandage, bundled it into a wad and held it against the wound. It probably wouldn’t be enough to stop it, but it was better than doing nothing. Head wounds tended to bleed, didn’t they? It didn’t mean it was something serious, but it could be.
He let out a quick breath. Damn it. He wished he’d paid more attention when he’d watched Clara at work. Why had he agreed to disguise himself a medic? In this situation when that was exactly what was needed, he was next to useless.
“We can’t stay here,” Michel said. “Can you tie something around the bandage so it keeps the pressure on it when we move him?”
“Keep pressure on the wound while I look.” Kristopher searched around in his bag, ripped some more of the bandaging material, and tied it quickly. His hands were shaking, but at least there didn’t seem to be any blood seeping through the original cloth he’d put over the wound. “I think that should hold it for now.”
Michel handed Kristopher the flashlight and then lifted the boy into his arms. “What’s your name?” he asked softly when the boy opened his eyes and looked up at him.
“Fritz,” the boy replied, his voice wavering. He put his arms around Michel’s neck and clung to him. Thankfully he seemed more alert than he had a few moments before.
“Hello, Fritz. I’m Michel and this is Paul,” Michel said. “We’re going to keep you safe, I promise.”
“You promise?” Fritz’s earlier confidence was gone. “I didn’t think it was so dark. I know this place. I shouldn’t have tripped.” He glared at the ground. “Stupid thing. Stupid stupid. Everything looks different.” He sniffled loudly, and wiped one dirty hand over his face.
“Do you remember the way to the bunker, Fritz?” Kristopher asked. Michel was watching Fritz carefully, holding the boy close to him. His grip had tightened at the first sign of Fritz’s distress.
“I don’t need to put you down,” Michel reassured Fritz. “You can still guide us while I’m holding you.”
“I don’t want to walk.” Fritz bit his lip. He looked around and then pointed to a street to their left. “If we go down there it’s only about ten minutes away.” They’d never reach the bunker in time before it closed.
“There isn’t one closer?” Michel asked.
“It’s the one I know about,” Fritz said somewhat defensively. “Mutter told me if something happened I should go to it.”
“Where’s your mother now?” Kristopher asked. The light from the flashlight was dying quickly. They had to hurry.
“I don’t know. She went to get my baby sister but she never came downstairs.” Fritz stuck his chin out. “I waited like she said, even when I heard the loud noises and people crying.”
“You live around here?” Kristopher hoped Fritz’s family had survived this. They’d have to try and reunite them or at least find someone who could look after him before they left Stuttgart.
Fritz nodded. Whatever his wound, it seemed as though it was definitely superficial or he wouldn’t be talking as much as he was. “I went looking for her, and I couldn’t find her.”
“You sound much better, Fritz. Do you think you could walk?” Michel asked.
“I don’t want to lose you and Paul too,” Fritz said. He let Michel put him down and then put one small hand into Michel’s.
“You won’t lose us,” Michel promised. “Keep holding my hand and Paul will look after the flashlight. We can work together.”
“Michel’s very good at working together,” Kristopher told Fritz. He shone the flashlight around. The further out into the street they got, the more rubble there was. It wasn’t safe to move too quickly and at this speed they’d never reach the shelter before daylight. He glanced up at the sky. Most of the flashes of light seemed to now be focused toward the city centre. “I’m wondering if it’s safer to stay here, but get as far away from the buildings as we can, and wait for daylight.”
“We don’t know how long this raid is going to last,” Michel said, “but we need to make a decision.” Something creaked and groaned to the side of them. “Move!” Michel yelled. He picked up Fritz and ran back the way they’d come. Kristopher didn’t stop to see what was going on behind him. He followed.
Moments later, more rubble hit the street where they’d just been standing. If they’d stayed there they would have been buried in it.
Kristopher shone the flashlight on it and shivered. “I think finding the shelter is the least of our problems,” he said. “We need to get out into the open. It’s not just more bombings that could kill us, but the buildings that are already damaged.”
“I know a place,” Fritz said after Michel put him down. “I’ll show you.” He took hold of Michel’s hand again. “You and Paul are soldiers.” He pointed to the Red Cross on Kristopher’s arm. “You’ll stay and help look after all the hurt people, won’t you? Vater is a soldier too. He’s fighting at the front. Mutter says he’s very brave.”
“Yes, we’ll stay and help,” Michel said before Kristopher could say anything. He squeezed Fitz’s hand. “We’ll also help you find your mother, or at least someone who can look after you.” He looked over at Kristopher and gave him a questioning look.
“Of course we will,” Kristopher said, wondering why Michel felt he’d even had to ask.
My next project is On Wings of Song which is a WW1 novella which begins in France in 1914. I’ve had the idea for a while, and as this year is the centenary of the beginning of the war, it felt like the right time to write it. And of course The Harp and The Sea.
After that, and book 3 of The Sleepless City, I’m focusing on working on/finishing the series I already have in progress.
Q: To wrap up, please describe for me the single most satisfying thing about being an author. When and how does it happen?
A Seeing my ideas and characters take shape as I write, and having others enjoy my stories. It’s a scary thing putting a bit of myself out there, but even if each book just touches one person it’s worth it. I write the stories I want to read, or otherwise what’s the point?
LS—Your writing has certainly touched me, and I know I’m not alone, so thanks for taking the chance! And thank you, Anne, for being my guest today! Come back soon.
You Can Go Home Agan (and kick some ass when you do) Elizabeth Noble, Todd Ruger, and *Collared Souls*
Welcome Elizabeth Noble! Readers note that as usual on sylvre.com, the cover image is the buy link. Enjoy!
Elizabeth: Hello, and thank you to Lou Sylvre for giving me a spot on her blog. Actually this time the spot will go one of my favorite tough guys, Todd Ruger to answer a few questions.
Todd: Only one of your favorites?
Elizabeth: Shhh, we don’t want the others getting jealous. Lou doesn’t have all day, she has her own tough guys to cater to so, let’s dive right in.
Lou: Luki Vasquez you get back here right now! Todd is not going to bother Sonny at all. He loves Nick!
Elizabeth: Recently, within the covers of Collared Souls, you had to do something very difficult for you. Tell us about it.
Todd: You’ll have to be more specific, I was sort of kept busy start to finish with difficult things. You never gave me a moment’s rest.
Elizabeth: You and Nick had to return to the village Nick grew up in, Eldrid. How’d that go for you?
Todd: You wrote the book, don’t you remember?
Elizabeth: *clears throat* Why don’t you share, for all the nice readers?
Todd: Okay, no need to get testy. Taking Nick back there, the way we had to go about it, was a fat pain in the ass. Chancellor Clarke likes to pretend he’s our friend, but he really just uses us. I would have rather gone back for our own reasons, but that’s not how things worked out.
To be honest, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Nicky was scared going back there, even though he did a great job of covering up how he felt. It was like a constant itch, the vibes I got from him the whole time we were there.
Elizabeth: But you both got things done?
Todd: Of course we did! I was a bit sad because I didn’t have a chance to blow the place up.
Elizabeth: You did speak to a very important person from Nick’s past, however.
Todd: Yeah, that was a highlight. See, Nick had a tutor the entire time he was growing up, a guy called Linn. He was a real prick and thought a good way to get a kid to behave was to hit them. I’ve spent a few years fantasizing about snapping the little twerp in half. I held back and only hit him a few times.
Elizabeth: There was another thing you did for Nick while you were there, can you tell us about it?
Todd: My biggest problem was making these people see Nick as my mate and a sentry. Not a little slave kid. He had strict instructions not to kneel to any of them. I had to make him stay on his horse to be sure and threaten to restrict his coffee drinking.
Luki: Oh my god!
Lou: Luki, relax. One more outburst and you’re out of here!
Elizabeth: The ultimate punishment for Nick!
Todd: You got that right.
Elizabeth: Thank you for sharing with us today.
Todd: Don’t you want to talk about the hidden archive, or the bombs and shooting, or… ?
Elizabeth: We don’t want to spoil things.
Todd: Not even my Dad?
Elizabeth: No. And don’t sulk.
Nick: Todd says I pout when I don’t get my own way. And I loved what he did to Tutor Linn. Talk about revenge.
Todd: Where’d you come from? Did you hear all that?
Nick: *nodding* Where do you think I came from? Don’t tell me I have to explain that to you.
Elizabeth: Nick, since you’re here, tell us, how did you feel going back to Eldrid.
Nick: There’s a saying ‘you can’t go home again’, but that’s not really true. You can go home, but you can’t go back to the way things were when you were a child. I could never have stepped foot in that village without Todd. He really made me see I could go back a different person, not a slave, but a sentry. Todd’s my hero.
Todd: *Groan* Maybe we should give these nice readers an excerpt.
Nick: And don’t forget the blurb.
Luki and Lou: Bye, you two. Thanks for stopping by!
Freedom is within reach for Todd and Nick Ruger, but their dreams of Elk’s Ridge are dashed by Vice-Chancellor Raleigh’s troops. With his mate imprisoned, Nick searches for help and finds an unlikely and unexpected ally, but Todd’s release leaves them once again in debt to Chancellor Clarke.
Their mission sends them to the small village of Eldrid in search of a historic record of owners and slaves with unique abilities. Eldrid holds even more secrets from the past—including the origins of sentries—as well as conspiracies of the present that are set to launch a new battle that will turn lover helplessly against lover. Though Todd and Nick know the realities of war are hard lessons, it will be a fight to draw on the strengths of their bond, survive, and learn to forgive.
A large creek ran adjacent to the main road into the village, then around one side to the farm. Todd seemed to know there was an irrigation system from that creek to the farm, but he couldn’t remember if he’d seen it as a child or if Nick had told him. A wooden track had been built a few feet above the ground and wound through the farm and converged at the opposite end of the village to the creek. In several places it branched off and looped around parts of the village, following the gently rising and falling course of the land.
Small carts could be hand cranked or pulled along the tracks, moving harvested crops to various parts of Eldrid. Close to the main part of the creek was a mill, powered by a paddle wheel. Just beyond was a wooden watchtower, though Todd had never seen anyone inside when he’d passed through as a child and younger adult. He supposed it was probably more for weather keeping and observation, though at some point in the past it might have been used for security.
The entire village looked like it had been carved out of a mesa. The reddish-brown stone and adobe buildings were a stark contrast to the dull gray of the wood tracks and buildings that intermingled with those of rock and stone. Wooden steps had been built to wind around the taller rock-tower structures, with platforms leading to second story entrances of the wooden buildings.
Like the farm surrounding it, the village was horseshoe shaped, with a large, open space nestled in the middle of the three-quarter circle. It was that space the road led to, directing anyone coming into the village to the flat stone building housing the offices of the elders. Todd’s gaze was immediately drawn to the metal cages in the village center. At no time when he’d come here before taking Nick away with him had he ever seen anyone or anything in them, but Nick had told him sometimes children were put in them.
“Outsiders are always told those cages are for livestock. To keep them in temporarily when they are first shipped in, or just before they are shipped out,” Nick said softly. He was rubbing a small scar on the palm of his left hand. Todd realized that, wherever he looked, Nick’s gaze followed right along with him.
Todd picked up the reins of his horse and gently squeezed his calves against Arenite’s sides. At the same time, he clucked softly. As the horse set into motion again, Todd glanced over at Nick. “Let’s get this over with.”
Nick nodded and nudged Obi forward, staying back so Obi’s shoulder was even with Todd’s leg. Todd considered holding back until Nick was even with him, but the look on Nick’s face when he turned to his mate stopped Todd. Nick was tense and stressed just coming here. Pissing off the elders and tutors by having Nick ride abreast of Todd wasn’t going to help them and would simply increase Nick’s anxiety even more. Todd reached back, dug around in one of his saddlebags, and extracted Nick’s tether. He held it out to Nick. “Stick that in your pocket in case you need it fast.”
That forced Nick to urge Obi’s stride to lengthen so he could take the tether from Todd’s hand. When Todd glanced back as the tether transferred from Todd to Nick, Nick ducked his head and smiled shyly. Todd winked and returned Nick’s smile with one of his own.
Even though the village was a mixture of stone and wooden structures, where the slave children were housed and where their overseers lived was obvious. The stone structures had small gardens near their entrances, and some of the windows had flower boxes drilled into the stone. The weather in this part of the protectorate was warmer than in the north and more humid. Stone houses were cooler and more comfortable. Solar panels installed into the sides of each one and the windmills scattered around the village told Todd they were powered.
The slave dorms were the two-story wooden structures, all grouped to the eastern end of Eldrid, closer to the farm entrances and the grain mill. They had none of the amenities, such as window boxes or a place for gardens, the other structures had. Between that and the main part of the village was a small group of wooden buildings constructed into the rock.
“Those are the school buildings,” Nick said. Todd heard Obi trot a few steps, bringing Nick more even with him. “Up there”—Nick pointed to one of the second-story windows—“is where my room was. Behind that building is livestock barns. I used to work there and on the farm sometimes.” He tapped Todd’s shoulder and indicated another fenced-off area set between the farm and village, but more to the center. “See that?”
“Training and workout grounds. That’s where we’d have exercises, and those of us who did actual weapons training and hand-to-hand type stuff practiced there.” He pointed to a series of small buildings near the western edge of Eldrid. A few were freestanding, the others built into the side of one of the buttes, with wooden balconies and stairs leading from the ground to the entrances. “Those are the guest accommodations.”
“You don’t kneel.”
“Todd.” Nick’s eyebrows pulled together, and the muscle along his jaw knotted.
“I mean it, Nick. Not to these bastards. No coffee for a year.”
Todd’s gaze slipped to the side for a quick look at Nick. He winked, hoping to reassure his mate.
Additional link: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/
DSP Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_423
Elizabeth Noble on Reader Voices and appreciating reviews, and a tantalizing excerpt from *For the Long Run*
Click on the cover image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner Press online store.
After being bullied into the closet by his conservative senator father, Jay Molloy reconciles himself to a life of one-night stands instead of the loving D/s relationship he craves. When he meets the man of his dreams, trained Dom Eric Keger, all Jay dares to hope for is a quick fling. Eric has other ideas. He’s been hired by Jay’s father to run security at the family’s hunting resort, but now he has his heart set on Jay.
When murder victims begin to turn up at the resort, Eric and Jay start an investigation, but chasing down the killer proves less frustrating than dealing with Jay’s abusive, homophobic father. Exploring their new relationship would be hard enough on their own, but Eric and Jay also have to deal with politics, Jay’s fake fiancée, and a murderer who may be something more than human.
Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.
Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by three mutts, a foster mutt, and two cats. She lives in her native northeast Ohio. When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three. When at work she meets all sorts of interesting characters who often find their way into some story or another.
Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Titles are more important to me than the character names. I can’t write a book unless it has a title, and the title has some meaning to the story. I may be the only person who gets that meaning, but that doesn’t matter…lol
I don’t really have a system for naming characters and honestly some of them just come to me. Others are names I like (I keep a list of names I hear or see that appeal to me), and they almost never have some deep, hidden meaning. I’ve scouted through the data base at work too, picking out both first and last names for future use.
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: For the Long Run, which is released on September 12, 2012, takes place in a fictional town, on a fictional hunting resort in Montana. I chose Montana because a lot of people go there for big game hunting. One character grew up there, the other moves there. Part of the plot needed larger areas of secluded territory, which was another reason I chose Montana.
Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I don’t know as I consciously give them power, but I think they end up with it anyway. As a book is written and I get to know the characters better how they might react in a given situation becomes clearer. Sometimes that directly conflicts with the plot. Obviously something has to change and in most cases it’s the plot.
Writing in a series, which is my preferred style, characters grow, mature and sometimes change completely with their life situations more so than in a single book. It’s a balancing act, fitting fluid characters within plots and giving each equal importance.
Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: Not everyone writes same sex relationships, I like stepping off the beaten path so to speak. I love the fact that my characters are given a voice and in some small way help to break down prejudice and promote equality. It’s nice being able to take steps to a time people aren’t labeled.
I don’t think anyone will disagree that men and women are different. They think differently, act and react differently to different situations. Exploring how men face life and challenges as a couple is fascinating to me.
Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Good heavens yes! I’m deliriously happy when I received requests or suggestions from readers and ask for them any chance I get. I write for two reasons, one to please myself and two to please my readers. I have four published novels and one novella and every one to some extent was reader inspired.
Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: One of my favorite things to do has become the chats where I can interact in some way with readers. Some people seem to be intimidated and hesitant to email or participate in a chat and I wish they wouldn’t be. I may always be a writer, but I wouldn’t be an author without readers.
I love the sorts of sites that allow and encourage interchanges between the authors and readers. I’m adding a section to my website for comments/suggestions/wishes in general and I hope readers will take advantage of it. It’s a blog style and called Reader Voices, I’d love if you’d stop by with a comment/suggestion or request.
Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Reviewers by nature are critical and detail oriented. What I enjoy the most about reviews is seeing someone notice little details I’ll add to a character or storyline, even if they don’t like that detail they did notice.
I appreciate their honesty and the fact they took the time to not only read one of my books but to make comment on it, good, bad or indifferent. Most reviewers give examples of why they liked or disliked a book. Invariably what I think is the big appeal for a character or book really isn’t and what I might worry is a weak point is what reviewers seem to home in on as what they liked the best. That becomes an invaluable tool while plotting a book and makes me try to look at something from different ‘directions’ so to speak.
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: The sexiest of my characters and my favorites are the ones whose stories are being told at the moment. Right now, that is Todd and Nick Ruger. Tomorrow it might be Cole and Dreyden, Jonas and Blair or… Comment by LS–I am amazed how many authors cheat on this question! Yes, Elizabeth, I mean you. Great non-answer, though! 😉 )
Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: I don’t know if they’re the hottest, but they are among my favorites. They are taken from the last few paragraphs of Chained Hearts.
Todd believed in him, and at the end of the day that was all that really mattered to Nick. The one chain Nick never wanted to be rid of was the one around his heart that was firmly anchored to Todd’s heart. As long as he could feel that chain and its connection, Nick would never give up on himself.
Nick was loved. It was all he’d ever really needed.
Q: What are you doing now, what do you plan to write next?
A: Ahh….well remember you asked! I have a few irons in the proverbial fire. On the front page of my website I’ve been posting word counts for a few of my in progress works.
I am currently working hard on book four of the Sentries series, Collared Souls. For those of you following the series we finally—finally—get some answers about why things are as they are. Okay, in all fairness I’ve known all along, but the Ruger men haven’t and they are learning a lot!
Earlier this year I started a scifi series called Novi Orbis and am working on book one, Into the Blue. Some of the series highlights are mind wipes, worm holes, exploring the unknown and dinosaurs. There are three books planned for this series. I hope to have the first book completed by the end of this year or early next year.
I have been plotting and planning an urban fantasy series with fellow Dreamspinner author, Anne Barwell, called The Sleepless City. So far we have five books planned. There are vampires, werewolves and ghosts, oh my. We’ve diverged somewhat from traditional vampire and werewolf lore, so hopefully readers will enjoy our take and changes.
Excerpt from For the Long Run
Settling at the bar, Jay ordered a beer, preferring local brews to the bigger name brands. While he waited for his drink to show up, he scanned the menu, not sure what he wanted yet. When his beer arrived, he swiveled the bar stool around and leaned back against the bar to watch the start of the game. People filtered in and out, and the barmaid brought him a second beer along with some nachos and cheese.
The door swung open and a gust of cool air hit him. Jay glanced at the man coming through. He was tall, maybe an inch or two taller than Jay, older, with light brown hair and dark brown eyes. His trim waist blossomed to a powerful chest, round, muscled shoulders, and beefy arms. Thick thighs were encased in his well-fitting jeans, giving just enough of a hint of their bulging muscles. Jay liked a man with muscle, and he definitely had a thing for powerful legs. The guy was easily half again as wide as Jay, and he judged him to be early to midthirties, making him roughly ten years Jay’s senior.
He was gorgeous and the type of man Jay fantasized about but never really felt he could win. Jay was nice to look at but nothing like this. He considered himself more average. He was in shape, but leaner. He’d never have the sheer bulk and powerful physique gracing this man.
The man settled in a corner, out-of-the-way booth and ordered a beer, gaze skimming the bar before coming to rest on the television and the game. Jay hoped he’d looked away fast enough and wasn’t caught staring at the newcomer.
Too bad Jay was being forced into a marriage he didn’t want, to a woman he barely knew or liked. He knew exactly what he wanted but doubted he’d ever get it: a man who understood him. One who knew what he wanted and went after it, knew how to take without violence. A man who took the time to learn what Jay wanted—needed—and had the smarts to provide it.
A man like that one.
Jay’s quick glances in his direction morphed into longer looks until he realized he was staring again.
The man in the corner nodded to him and tipped his beer bottle at Jay when one team scored a basket. Jay hadn’t turned away fast enough and had been caught staring. Cheeks burning, Jay smiled back and ducked his head, breaking eye contact. A few minutes later, he took a deep breath and turned his head, looking to the side. The man’s gaze at once flicked from the game to Jay, a slow, easy smile spreading over his face.
Jay’s radar tingled. He knew that look, and it made his stomach go giddy and his cock get warm and thick. He offered a shy smile back. This man was definitely the right type of man for Jay, on a few levels.
The man tipped his beer at Jay before wrapping his lips around the bottle neck, taking a swig and watching Jay with dark, smoldering, lusty eyes. Jay gulped and looked down again, picking at the material of his jeans where they covered his knee.
Jay waited, wondering what would happen next. Was this man a man who knew what he wanted and how to get it? When the man shifted around, planted both feet on the floor, and leaned forward, gaze moving from the television to Jay and back a few times before he settled on watching him, Jay decided maybe he was indeed a man who saw what he wanted and then took it. The thought of this big man pinning him to a bed or wall, taking him and giving to him made Jay’s heart race.
Jay was never that lucky.
“Eric.” The man was standing beside Jay a few seconds later, hand extended, warm expression in his eyes and on his face.
Jay shook his hand, returning the smile with a shy one of his own. “Jay.”
From Elizabeth Noble: The Future is What We Make It (Plus an excerpt from upcoming release, *Chained Hearts*
The Sentries is a series that takes place three hundred years in the future. This is a future that hails back to the past. It’s not a high tech future. The culture and society in general have changed. The world of Sentries was created by a natural disaster occurring, for the characters Todd and Nick Ruger, three hundred years in their past. Things have changed between now and then.
I wanted a totally different society for my series, and since I stayed on planet Earth for this one, I needed to do something with the society we have now. Being basically lazy and wanting to take the easy route I did the only logical thing I could think of: I blew ours up.
Don’t you just hate it when some schmo comes along and blows up the modern world?
I suppose it was messy and scary and there was chaos for a while, but for the Ruger guys that was way, way in the past, so what the reader knows of those scary, messy, chaotic days are on par with what the Rugers know. I’m currently writing book four of the series, and the Rugers will know a whole lot more about those days by the end of it, which means so will the rest of us.
However, that’s in the future.
Let’s go back to the Sentries and the future.
Creating a different society wasn’t my only motivation for using the future. I needed a place and time where my characters, those delightful Ruger men, could be what I wanted them to be and here and now wasn’t that place, or time.
I’ve had more than one reader comment on the fact that the future in Sentries isn’t bleak and barren, people aren’t struggling to survive, and they’re not starving. My question is why does it have to be that way? Firstly, it’s not logical to think three hundred years after even a globally devastating natural disaster, that humans wouldn’t have at least partially gotten their act together and rebuilt something. Secondly, there is no reason good can’t evolve from horrible.
In Sentries there are cities, farms, politics, coffee and pancakes along with a few paranormal baddies to be dealt with. There is also something else, and that is what is more important, to me at least.
Ever since I started reading and writing in the M/M genre I’ve been seeing blog posts discussing the fact that women can’t write about gay men because women have no idea what it’s like to be a gay man. I’ve even heard tell there are gay men who will not read anything written by a woman concerning the relationships of gay men.
For me, personally the gender of the author isn’t important as long as they tell me a good story, but I’ll concede to the fact that not everyone feels the same way. Do I know what it’s like to be a gay man? Well, no. I’m not even sure I know what it’s like to be a straight woman.
What I do know and understand is what it’s like to be discriminated against for reasons that are just silly.
See, I was divorced when my oldest child was only seven, he has two younger siblings. Before that I was a child of a divorced couple and for some reason people seem to think untraditional families of any sort produce people (male or female, gay or straight) that are somehow damaged. I had friends in school whose parents blatantly refused to allow their children to interact socially with me since I was from “a broken home”. I had a very nice home and was given a good education.
Twenty plus years later my own children were told they weren’t welcome in this family’s home or that child’s birthday party because—go ahead, gasp in horror—yes, they came from a broken home! Our home wasn’t broken, I fixed it and I now have three successful adult children with decent jobs and their own homes.
I may not be a gay man, but I sure do understand what it’s like to be judged (falsely) by others simply because my life is different from theirs.
What does all this have to do with blowing up the world as we know it, two guys in love with one another who fight paranormal baddies, drink coffee, like pancakes, and the future in general?
Quite a bit, actually, in a roundabout sort of way.
I detest discrimination against anything for any reason. One method I try to fight it on a personal level is via the books I write. This is where we go back to the future (loved those movies by the way). In the Sentries version of the future things are different, they have changed. One of those changes is same sex unions are perfectly normal and acceptable.
My most favorite books, movies, stories of any sort are filled with action, adventure as well as a smattering of romance. Sentries is a series set in the future, with lots of action, tons of adventure and a smattering of romance between two main characters who happen to both be men. It’s sort of my own, little, personal way of protesting those that might discriminate against someone because they prefer a partner/spouse/soul mate who is not the opposite sex.
I purposely don’t make a big deal out of the fact that Todd and Nick are both men; I do make a big deal out of the fact they are very in love with one another. The Rugers are a family in their eyes and I hope in the eyes of the reader.
The words homosexual or gay are not used in the series because I like to imagine a future where those are not words used to describe people. A world where one is not judged by whom they are attracted to or lovFroe, where it doesn’t matter if your family isn’t what we today consider traditional and ‘right’.
My take on the future is best summed up by the words of Doc Brown in Back to the Future III “…It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Our future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”
There is no reason we, as a society, can’t make a future where tags such as gay aren’t what defines people. The future is what we make of it and I chose to try and make it a more tolerant place, unless of course, you’re some paranormal baddie that needs dispatching. In that case, watch out, because Todd and Nick will getcha!
Thank you Lou for allowing me to take up your blog and ramble on it.
From Chained Hearts, book 3 of the Sentries series:
Todd and Nick Ruger are alive and on the run in the Yellowknife Protectorate, but maybe not for long. After narrowly escaping New Colorado, where they were implicated in the assassination of Chancellor Shaffer, they’re running out of steam: Todd is gravely ill and Nick’s injured. Just when it seems like the harsh winter will get the best of them, they find refuge with a doctor in the isolated town of Elk’s Ridge.
On the surface, Elk’s Ridge seems the ideal place to rebuild their lives. Nick begins training as the doctor’s apprentice, and Todd works in a lumberyard until they’re recovered enough to return to their duties as Sentries. They make friends, forge a new life, and most importantly, there’s no sign of anyone from New Colorado.
They should have known it was too good to be true. Victor Raleigh, the new Vice Chancellor of New Colorado, knows all about Nick’s psychic abilities, and he wants them in his corner. When Nick is betrayed and captured, Todd sees no alternative but to head back to the war zone to rescue him. But will Nick be the same man Todd loves after Raleigh’s pet psychic vampire is through with him?
Movement from the direction of Nick drew Todd’s attention. His mate rolled to his butt, sitting there leaning on one hand, legs half stretched in front of him and crossed just below his knees. Shaggy, dark hair was brushed away from his face and sleep-blurry eyes blinked at Todd making his young mate look even younger…more like a sleep tousled little boy.
There was no way Todd could, or would even try, to stop the smile from spreading over his face. Scooting closer to Nick, he combed his fingers through Nick’s hair, appreciating how soft it was. He pressed a gentle kiss to Nick’s forehead. “Morning.”
One side of Nick’s mouth twitched up for a second before he yawned.
“Christ, Nick, some days you make me feel like a pedophile.”
Nick yawned again, scratched at his chest and mumbled out, “huh?” Inching along the ground until he wedged himself between Todd’s legs and laid his head on Todd’s shoulder, face pressed against the side of his neck. Nick yawned again. His entire body relaxed as he nestled against Todd, ribcage expanding with yet another yawn.
“Lemme see this.” Todd lifted Nick’s shirt and inspected the bandaged wound as he had earlier. “According to the map there’s a town not too far from here, how about we check it out, see if there is somewhere we can get some supplies? We need more bandaging material and more medicine to put on this. I’m going to heat some water and get it cleaned out again.”
“I don’t think it’s ever going to heal.” Nick grumbled. “It’s been almost a month.”
“I wouldn’t mind finding a doctor to take a look at it either.” Todd smoothed Nick’s shirt back into place and took a deep breath. “Nick, you keep having those nightmares.”
“How are we going to explain this kind of wound?”
Tapping Nick’s nose with one finger, Todd warned, “No changing the subject.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t stop them, they keep coming.”
“Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault. We need to work on stopping them.” Easing away from Nick, Todd stood up. Moving farther from the wagon he got a fire started and set a pot of water on to heat. Nick wandered off to the nearby river. Todd grabbed his clothes and headed after his mate. He’d considered the possibility Nick was right and the kelbit did have a mate who was somehow able to infiltrate Nick’s dreams. More likely it was trauma. Nick’s ability to sense evil entities also made him incredibly sensitive emotionally. That trait didn’t always work for them which strengthened his resolve to find them somewhere bigger than their wagon to stay.
Once they were done washing in the cool water, Nick quietly sat by the fire, naked from the waist up, while Todd scrubbed out the round bite wound, smeared some more of the antiseptic cream over it and applied a fresh bandage. The only sign of discomfort Nick let show was the occasional hissed in breath and a shifting of his shoulders forward. After the cream was smoothed over him, he turned and looked over his shoulder, rubbing at it with one hand. “That makes it feel better.”
“How about we get a real meal in town? It should be over that rise, it’s called Elk’s Ridge, and from the looks of it on the map it’s a decent sized town. Then we can hit a store if they have one. We’ll need somewhere for the winter, this area is as good as any I suppose. If we want we can head out again in the spring, but for now we have enough money to get us through.”
“We can always get work, Todd. There will be lots of our sort of problems kicked up by the war.”
“Not until that wound is healed we don’t. Besides, time to give it a break for a bit I think, and stay as far away from that war as we can. I hope if they have a store there is a post office so we can send our letter to Jimmy and maybe get a newspaper, see what we’re missing.”
Nick nodded and pulled his shirt over his head then the sweatshirt Todd had given him on their first day together and he still insisted on wearing. They dowsed the fire and packed their camp into the wagon before securing the team, choosing instead to ride the saddle horses into town.
“We can’t ride the same horse?” Nick stood beside Obi, looking up at Todd who was already sitting on the other horse. “What if it’s a problem, me on a horse?”
Motioning to Nick to mount up, Todd smiled softly. “It’ll be okay. No law says you can’t ride one as long as you’re with me. I know you like when we ride together better, but we’re going to need both horses and the packs to haul back supplies.”
“No law in New Colorado,” Nick grumbled and swung onto the horse.
“I doubt the laws in Yellowknife are much different, but if they are we’ll worry about it then.”
Nick didn’t say anything else, simply nodded and nudged Obi into motion, keeping close enough to Todd their legs brushed as the horses moved. The town, Todd discovered, was a pleasant one. There was maybe around a thousand inhabitants, smaller than the tens of thousands who lived in bigger cities like New Colorado City or Yellowknife City, but not so small that they were totally unaccustomed to people passing through.
Even as far north as it was, it was a hub for travelers which was immediately evident by the several number of inns. There were also a few cafes and restaurants, a larger sized livery, libraries and a fair amount of homes scattered around the outskirts and farther out in the countryside. Leaving their horses in the care of the livery, they decided to hike around and check the place out.
The buildings were mostly stone and wood with slate and shingle roofs. The streets were cobblestone or brick paved with wide, wooden sidewalks on either side. This was a little oasis of civilization in the rugged, mostly uninhabited far northern part of the Rocky Mountains.
Their first stop was a café a few blocks over from the livery. The letter to Jimmy started a few days ago was finished while they waited for their meal. Todd was pleased that people here had slaves, he’d seen several on their trip through and no one seemed much fussed over how he treated Nick. In fact this town reminded him of the New Colorado City neighborhood he’d chosen to live in, where more of the owners and slaves were a part of a family.
The fact Todd was a stranger and there with a slave drew little attention other than a few people greeting them on the street. As he’d always done, Nick’s tether was hooked to his collar and then tucked into his back pocket making it easy to grab if needed.
Todd got a good feeling from the town, people who minded their own business and were open to newcomers, not that he was ready to find a real estate office just yet, but this was definitely a place to check out more closely. They would probably be fine if they could find a small cabin or even a cave for the winter, keep an eye on the town and decide if this was where they wanted to live.
“The coffee here is good.” Nick had finally stopped shoveling food in and was leaning back in his chair, looking up and down the street. He looked content and was smiling, another good sign as far as Todd was concerned.
When they left the café there was a five-pound bag of coffee beans to add to their packs. The doctor, they discovered, lived just west of the town and outside of it on a small piece of property. If he didn’t find something for Nick’s shoulder in town then Todd decided a visit to the doctor was in order.
They wandered down the street to the next main intersecting street and took a right, walking along. There was a large store not far from the intersection; they’d gotten directions from a waiter at the café. It took up nearly half the block. It was several stories high, a store on the main floor, lodging on the second floor and whatever was on the third wasn’t open to the public, but Todd suspected it was storage. He could see houses behind the store that were attached to it. Probably whatever family owned it lived in those houses.
As they walked through Nick was all eyes, checking out everything, making Todd smile. It’d been a while since he’d truly seen Nick’s insatiable curiosity come bouncing to the forefront and it gave him hope his young mate would be on the mend if they stuck around this area for a while. Heading toward the back where there was a counter, and looking beyond it Todd did indeed see that there was someone’s home.
Two small children, a boy and girl, maybe about four years old came running from behind the counter. They were small, blond, cute, looked like twins and nearly ran Todd over.
“Whoa, whoa, easy there,” he laughed and scooped one kid—the girl—up, swung her around and set her on the counter all while deftly sidestepping away from the little boy plowing into his shins. Nick covered his mouth and snickered.
“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. Karen, Kieron you’re both supposed to be in the house helping Nana not annoying our customers. Now go.” A woman about Todd’s age rushed after them. She was small, equally as blond as her children with crystal blue eyes and had long, wavy hair that fell to below her shoulders. She offered Todd a dazzling smile. “I am very sorry. What can I do for you?”
A quick glance back at Nick who was brushing his hair back from his face and looking a little grumpy and Todd stepped up to the counter after the little girl, Karen, vacated it for the house and her Nana. The woman’s gaze flashed to Nick for a brief instant before landing back on Todd. He hoped he really didn’t look like some kind of pedophile after all. His mate looked too damn young sometimes. Todd resisted the urge to blurt out Nick was twenty-three.
“Do you have any postal service here?” Todd fished the letter out of his coat pocket.
Nick stepped up behind him and dropped to one knee, arms crossed over his bent one, he looked around the store casually. Todd knew that for what it was, Nick’s little bouts of jealousy hadn’t bothered him since the night he’d chased after his mate. Nick behaved this way the most when he wanted reassurance from Todd, he understood that and found giving Nick his needed security and letting it ride was his best course of action. He let one hand drop casually to his side and moved it back far enough to skim across Nick’s hair for a few seconds before bring it back up to rest on the counter. Todd didn’t often demand Nick take a kneeling position behind him, but wanted Nick to know when he chose to do so on his own, Todd completely understood the reasoning behind Nick’s actions and that Nick would never be reprimanded.
“We do.” She held out her hand and Todd set the envelope with their letter to Jimmy in her palm. It took her a minute to weight it and figure the postage, she chatted away at him while she worked. “I’m Amelia Wilbourne and you’ve met my children. Are you new in town or passing through?”
He also found out in those few minutes she was a widow, her husband killed earlier the year before. She lived with her grandparents and children. Her brother and his family ran the local lumberyard about a mile down the road. It was way too much information, definitely way too much hair flipping and touching of Todd’s forearm while she was giving it out.
“Not sure yet.” Todd smiled at her and handed over payment for the postage then gave her a quick handshake when she offered her other hand. “We’re definitely here to pick up some supplies.” Reaching behind him, he slipped one finger under Nick’s collar and tugged lightly. Nick stood, stepped closer and waited placidly beside him. “I’m Todd Ruger, this is Nick, my mate.”
Amelia’s gaze barely flicked to Nick who smiled politely and nodded. “Hello.” His voice was soft and Todd was likely the only person who’d ever hear the note of insecurity in it.
“Well, Mr. Ruger, if you need anything at all let me know.” She had a sort of predatory sweet smile that made Todd want to shake his head. Nick more glared at her than anything. “I hope we see more of you in here. If there is anything you can’t find, let me know, I’ll have it ordered.”
“I bet you will,” Nick grumbled. If she heard him, she ignored him.
Giving Nick a slight bump on his arm, they grabbed a basket and walked up and down the aisles. Thankfully Todd found some medicated cream as well as the rest of the supplies they were getting low on. Nick finding a book that interested him made Todd happy and he made it a point to hand it back to Nick after paying for it. Amelia’s looks were making him nervous and he decided he really wanted her to understand Nick was his mate and Todd was not looking for any other sort of company.
It was early evening when they left the town and headed back to their wagon, Todd wasn’t comfortable enough to get a room at one of the inns for a few nights. He wanted to watch the town and the area for a few weeks first. That night a cold wind blew in heavy rains forcing them to sleep in the wagon. Todd spent the night shifting from one side to the other, trying to ease aches and cramps, never seeming to find a position that allowed him to relax and sleep all while trying to stifle a cough he figured came from the damp air and not wake up Nick. That turned out to be a non-issue since Nick didn’t really sleep much. If he wasn’t flinching awake from nightmares he was rousted from Todd’s tossing and coughing.
By early morning the two of them finally got to sleep. It rained most of that day, making Todd even more antsy. He’d decided he wanted to check the area, watch the town, and bad weather was thwarting his plans.
We five authors had a lot of fun doing this, and we hope you’ll enjoy the results. Each of us came up with a question for the interview, and all of us answered every question. So let the games begin!
As both a writer and a reader, what ingredients do you consider indispensable for a romance novel?
Anne:Interesting three dimensional characters and a ‘real’ relationship or building of one between them. I want to be able to care about the characters, even if it takes me a while to grow to like them. There also needs to be some conflict they need to work through whether it’s their history, a situation outside of their relationship or whatnot so that their HEA or HEA feels as though it’s deserved and worked for.
A common enemy or opposing force
Conflict between the parties to the romance
Resolution of that conflict
United victory over the external opposition
A final consummation or sealing of the new love.
Elizabeth: A solid plot and a good story with characters I have some sort of emotional reaction to, even if that means the character is a jerk.
I’m a huge fan of the happy ending, in some manner, and I’m not a fan of the tragedy. I read because I want to feel good, so the characters and the plot need to come to some logical end that is at least nice. I don’t mean they have to be ooey-gooey, just not in tears and emotionally wrecked at the end.
No matter the setting and world the characters must be believable and solid in their development and the development and progress of their relationship. I particularly need characters who can communicate and have a sense of humor.
T.J.: Believable characters. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pulled out of a story when a character suddenly just does something that makes me go WTF!?!? It’s a bummer when that happens because it can definitely effect how I read and view the rest of the story. When I write, I have a long thought process for most scenes, where I will sit back when it’s finished and think “Okay, would (fill in the blank) REALLY do/say what whatever they just did/said?”
Rhys: A romance? Whoosh. Um. Keep track of the dead bodies. Never ever write about a ferret. And most importantly, I would say a sense of realism. I love happy ever afters as much as the rest but there’s something satisfying about seeing a relationship build over a series of books. And hot sex. Okay, that just helps.
Plot or character, which comes first?
Anne: A bit of both, depending on what I’m working on. I work a lot on what-ifs either with specific characters in mind or those characters show up and become a part of whatever happens or is going to happen. Once I have the basic plot, how the rest of the story develops is very much down to the characters and where they want it to go, often leading in directions I hadn’t thought of or where I hadn’t planned to go.
Lou: For me, character almost always come first. The characters demand my attention until I make them a story, but then they change the story as we go along until, in the end, it rarely resembles the story we started with.
Elizabeth: Ah, the old chicken or egg question…LOL For me it’s the plot and generally not even the entire plot. I’ll often come up with an entire plot idea based on some small scene or even a line in a scene or dialog. I’ll often imagine a character physically along with that little kernel of a plot idea, but I’ll develop the characters to suit the story.
T.J.: Characters, all the way. I have weirdness going on in my head where my characters “talk” to me and are born as such. Plot follows, but it’s usually only after I’ve already thought up how character will look/sound/act. But obviously, there have been moments where a set piece has come into my head and I love to find out how my characters will fall into it.
Rhys: I’d say the main characters. Mainly I write series so I need characters that can hold up over a few books. If they aren’t complex enough, then the plot of the book falls apart. For me, there are two sets of plots; the book’s plot which will be resolved at the end and the arc plot which should span over the series. There could be smaller sub-plots accompanying the main arc plot but they must supplement the overall story, not overwhelm the characters.
How do you name your characters, or do they already show up with their own names or ‘correct’ the names you’ve chosen?
Anne: Some characters turn up already named, others I have to hunt for. One of my favourite websites is ‘behind the name’ as it gives the meanings of the names and their origins which I like to keep in mind when I am naming characters. Others though, as I’ve said, just turn up with all of that in place and don’t care about what their names mean. I’ve also named characters, started writing and been told, in no uncertain terms, that no my name isn’t this, it’s this. I don’t tend to argue with them on that.
Lou: Naming my characters is almost a ritual with me. I struggle (though I enjoy it) to find a name that is right — representing ethnic origin and character traits, having the right sound, and interacting with other character names the right way. My first resource is a baby name book that I’ve had for years, but sometimes I use other sources, too. In the process, I almost always learn more about my character (by knowing what does and doesn’t fit), or at the very least solidify the character in my mind. Sometimes, a lesser character comes with a name: Margie, Jim Ladd, and (believe it or not) Mack Money. For the dog in Delsyn’s Blues, a reader named him in a contest. That was fun.
Elizabeth: I don’t have any specific ritual I go through to name characters and often the names just pop into my head. If I have the wrong name I know it and keep searching until the correct one shows up. Sometimes I use online name sites if I want a certain meaning or nationality.
Another trick I’ll do is go through the data base of names of at work and pick a first and last name that appeals to me. I’ll sometimes read movie or TV show credits for names. I keep a list of names to peruse when I’m naming characters.
T.J.: As a writer who has somewhat…different names of characters, I’ve been asked how I get the names that I do. (I anticipate that won’t change when This Is How We Burn The World comes out and people get to meet Seven, and the Clock Twins, Tick and Tock.) They generally show up in my head already named, but sometimes some tweaking is in order. For some reason, I’m drawn to “A” names for secondary characters and I have yet to figure out why.
Rhys: I usually “taste” a character’s name. It’s rare that I change something once I start writing. It has to fit the person before I start. I know the character. Then I name him or her.
What is a “classic tale (fairy or otherwise)” that you’d like to retell. And how?
Anne: St George and the Dragon. I’d rework the story a bit though so that the so called dragon slayer really isn’t one and the dragon is a shifter and so naturally there’s a HFN in there for both of them. After all fairy stories and the like are only based on the truth and the actual story behind it can be quite different. *sigh* I’m going to have to write this one now at some point. Thanks, Rhys 😛
Lou: I don’t have anything specific, but I really love TH White’s The Once and Future King. Let’s face it, it’s chock full of little tales that could be—should be—gay.
Also, on a completely different note, there is a beautiful Iroquois tale that has at least a couple of versions for each of the nations about a young man who falls in love with a salmon wife. He sees that beneath the lake is a mirror-image world (and here we all thought it was reflection), and he goes to live with her there. No, he doesn’t drown! Why would you think that? ;-)Anyway, I think it would be very fine if the mirror-world lovers were both fine young men.
Elizabeth: The Three Musketeers. Well, I think instead of bromance there’d be more actual romance between the Musketeers. It sort of screams for it. I’m not sure who I’d pair with whom yet, but, yeah, that would be cool. My second choice would be the Atlantis legends.
T.J.: Sleepy Hollow, hands down. The original scared the crap out of me when I was a child and I recently read an M/M take on it that I though could have been so much more than it was. I’ve stewed on the idea for quite some time, even having gone as far to write a general outline, but I’ve stopped time and time again, just because I don’t think it’d be right to mess with what is obviously a classic.
Rhys: Damn it, I came up with this question and I don’t have an answer. What a fricking fail! Um… I would say a more current tale that I would love to re-tell is The Treasure is the Rose by Julia Cunningham. Fantastic book. Perhaps the Wizard of Oz. Less… psychotropic drugs but still, that would be fun. I would love to take a stab (no pun intended) at the Ninja Circus, an old Japanese drama about a group of assassins traveling from town to town as an entertaining troupe.
Is there a particular genre or sub-genre that you’ve always wanted to write in but have not done so yet? What would it be?
Anne: Gothic. I’d love to write a ghost story, but give it a bit of a twist and throw some romance into the mix.
Lou: Space opera!
Elizabeth: Space opera! I’ll have to second that.
T.J: Horror. Man, would I give my left arm to be able to write in horror. I’ve read every Stephen King book countless times and I always wished I could write a good horror story. I think that horror can definitely be effective in the long story/novella format i.e. Edgar Allen Poe, and I still hope to one day sit down and write something that’ll scare the bejesus out of everyone, myself included.
Rhys: Wow, I have no answer for this one either. I’ve written in a lot of genres. I would say I’d love to Regency romance (in the style of Loretta Chase). So much discipline and knowledge needed for those. And the language shifts. Totally daunting. And of course, as a male-male romance.
Anne Barwell is the author of Cat’s Quill, Tj Klune is the author of Bear, Otter, and the Kid, Rhys Ford is the author of Dirty Kiss, Elizabeth Noble penned Marked Yours, Together Bound, and Strays, and I wrote Loving Luki Vasquez.
Yesterday Tj Klune, Elizabeth Noble, Anne Barwell, and I (Lou Sylvre) “chatted” at Love Romances Cafe. Thank you to everyone who came to hang out. We had some significant technical difficulties despite the best efforts of illustrious and much-appreciated moderator Dawn Roberto, and many people were unable to comment. Happily, contest entries did get through various channels and we had winners! If you were there and couldn’t get through, we missed you. I hope you enjoyed the chat anyway, liked the excerpts and question/answer posts, and maybe learned a little something about unicorns and edamame.
If you weren’t there, You can still check it out—just go to Love Romances Cafe and jump to about message 268180. If you want to contact one of the authors about something you read there, please do—we all have our contact information in our messages. I, for one, would love to hear from you, and I’m sure my fellow authors feel the same.
(About the edamame image above, I found it at http://fuckyeahedamame.tumblr.com/. I could not find the creator’s name, nor the owner of the site, not even anything in the source code. If you own this picture and object to my use, please let me know and I will immediately credit you, or remove it. Thank you.)
On October 8th, we’re going to be chatting at Love Romances Cafe. Hours are noon-6 eastern (9-3 Pacific). We hope you’ll join us.
Elizabeth Noble author of Marked Yours and Strays
Tj Klune author of Bear, Otter, and The Kid
Anne Barwellauthor of Cat’s Quill
Lou Sylvre author of Loving Luki Vasquez
As you see, quite a variety of styles and themes. We’ll be chatting about what’s out, what’s soon to be out, what we’re working on, but also about whatever you’d like know.
We’ll be having contests, posting excerpts, and blurbs, and who knows what else. I really, really hope you’ll come and chat with us!
Oh, yeah, one more thing. Here’s the link to Love Romances Cafe, and you have to join to chat. Of course you can unjoin later if you want, but they have some great promos there, from time to time.
Leave a comment here if you have any questions.
Scroll down the page for an interview with the author and excerpts from Marked Yours and other stories.
Three hundred years ago, natural disaster reformed the face of North America, and the people who lived in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains would never be the same.
Now, the master/slave bond in New Colorado has become a sacred rite of service, protection, and, sometimes, for the lucky, love. Nick and his intended Master, Todd Ruger, a sentry of the territories, have grown up knowing that they were pledged to this bond. They’re looking forward to the ritual with both excitement and trepidation—it’s something they’ve prepared for their entire lives. But New Colorado’s institution of slavery has made dangerous enemies on a frontier fraught with trouble, and they are unprepared for the trials their new relationship will face. Their bond needs to grow very strong, very fast if it’s going to survive the collision of old superstition, new beliefs, and the ever-present danger of the natural and supernatural frontier.
Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.
Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by three mutts, a foster mutt, and two cats. She lives in her native northeast Ohio. When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three. When at work she meets all sorts of interesting characters who often find their way into some story or another.
Q: Hello, Elizabeth, and welcome. First I’d like to ask a little about you as an author. Your bio mentions your love of sci-fi and fantasy, but also your love of M/M romance. How did your love of writing turn you toward romance in general, and M/M in particular? When you write futuristic romance, do you typically set your characters down in a world where same-sex love is considered within the norm?
A: Hi Lou, and most importantly, thank you for having me here today!
I really consider myself more of a sci-fi-action/adventure writer first and romance writer second. M/M appeals to me because of the emotional connection. It’s different between two men than a man and a woman, or two women. Men are, by nature, protectors and exploring how each one looks after the other is something I find fascinating and never ending. Sci-fi/action/adventure is a love of mine because there are so many aspects to explore in a world and situations to put the main characters in then add in how it affects each character personally and their relationship with one another. That is an intriguing mix.
I abhor bigotry in any form and I’d like to think sometime, hopefully in the not too distant future, it won’t matter what color someone is, who they sleep with or what religion they are. So, yes, I purposely put my men in a world where same-sex love and union is accepted and in the case of the Sentries series the norm, isn’t a big deal or the focus of the story.
Q: The two excerpts and blurbs you’ve shared with us are set in the far future. Though the apocalyptic event in one is natural disaster and the other disease, the characters in both live in “the world we know,” but dramatically and irreversibly changed. Is this the type of sci-fi you prefer writing? How do these worlds come into being? How extensive is your “world-building” process before you begin to set the story on paper? Does this type of setting make it easier for your gay couples be open about their love?
A: It’s a coincidence that the two stories are set in a post-apocalyptic world. While the future is my favorite place to write, not every world I’ve devised is a result of some disaster. No matter what sort of future I write in I try to create a world and society that evolved naturally from circumstances and events in its past.
My world building is pretty extensive, though I attempt to use those worlds as background. I don’t generally give out tons of information, but I know many details about how my worlds work. I have notebooks, maps and computer files of notes on what is in each world. I like sprinkling the details of future world throughout the story. Using alternate worlds is easier for me all around. I am working on one contemporary book and fitting things into the rules of our present world is hard. I like making my own worlds, in a way it’s because I’m lazy and making my own rules and settings are easier.
I purposely create worlds for my characters where the fact they’re in a same sex relationship isn’t an issue. That way I feel I can concentrate on the adventure part of the story and the relationship between the characters. I purposely want the emphasis off the fact the couples are gay and onto the emotions and interactions between the characters themselves.
Q: From the excerpts, your characters seem very human, and at least the main characters are likeable and easy to identify with. On the surface, though, the stories appear to be plot-driven—as though you had the world and the general story in mind first, and your characters were made (or born ☺) from that world, or to fit into it. Is that true? Perhaps you can share a little of your process for creating characters that the reader will become so strongly attached to.
A: The general idea for the situation comes first in most cases for me I think. Then I build a world and characters simultaneously around that initial ‘what if’ situation. Often times for me that situation is some small part of the story, or maybe one scene that I’d like to include and build the story around it. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a sentence.
In Marked Yours it was the idea of the two men having a distance relationship for most of their childhood before actually meeting. They grew up knowing they were promised to one another, but they still had a period of learning one another when they were finally together. For Strays I think the thing that stimulated the story was an image of a man hiding in an alley. Each book has a sort of theme. I might be the only one who knows what it is and I try not to ever come out and mention it, but I write around it and use it as a subtle guide for each story. I’m not even sure that makes sense.
Q: You set your loving couple in a master-slave relationship, in Marked Yours. Is this in particular a part of the romance, or erotic element, or Nick and Todd’s attraction to one another? Does your work always or often explore this as a romantic theme?
A: Nick is an actual slave, bought and paid for. He didn’t have a choice in being a slave or in who owns him. He does have a choice in what his part in their relationship is. Nick is actually a driving force in their relationship. Just like any couple their relationship is layered and complex, has its ups and downs. It easily could have gone in another direction, but the romance between them developed because each one wanted a deeper connection and like all people they wanted to be loved. I compared it to the arranged marriages, some became true partnerships and unions with the couple loving and caring for one another. Some did not. The owner/slave relationships in Marked Yours are not all the same. As the series progresses we learn people have slaves for many reason and there are equally as many types of relationships between an owner and his or her slave or slaves. I’ve tried to put a lot of gray areas into the owner-slave aspect of the book and series.
I do enjoy exploring the give and take of a D/s relationship and this was one way to delve into that sort of relationship. There was a lot of thought put into their (Nick and Todd’s) relationship and how it works. Even though one is owner and one slave, they each work to court and woo the other. They’re attracted to one another because years before they met in person they exchanged letters and had a process of getting to know one another in a small way. Each one wants something out of their life together and part of the story is how each approaches that life and attains what they want. The love and relationship develop because they are master and slave and thrives within that structure.
The majority of my works in some way show a D/s relationship and I try to show it in a healthy, loving way. What I find fascinating and a sort of turn on personally is the truly symbiotic nature of this kind of relationship. Doms (or owners) do not exist without a sub (or slave) allowing them to and visa versa. You simply can not have one without the other. In Marked Yours I took elements of a D/s relationship and integrated them into the society Todd and Nick live in and into their lives. The biggest example is Nick’s collar. To Nick it’s not something that signifies he’s some sort of captive or merely a possession. For him it shows the world he belongs to Todd, something Nick is quite proud of. It’s like a wedding band. He tells others how long Todd saved to purchase that particular collar and that it was specially made for Nick.
Q:Okay, this is my favorite question to ask an author, and this time I get to have two answers: In Marked Yours, is it Nick or Todd that you see as the sexiest? Why? Same questions for Kyle and Daniel in Strays—who’s the hottest? No fair saying “both.” As a little add-on this time, how steamy are these stories?
A: I’ll answer the steamy question first. The Sentries series in general is far steamier. Nick and Todd are young, healthy guys in love. They can’t keep their hands off one another. Being a part of a longer series any issues between them come about more slowly and there is more room for hotter scenes as their relationship grows and develops. Their life dictates they depend on one another and mostly only one another. They’re more secluded from the rest of the world and therefore interact more with each other than outside characters.
Daniel and Kyle don’t live in their own cocoon world as Todd and Nick do, so while they have just as much sex drive they are more like many working couples, too tired, too busy, different work schedules. Their story is shorter and more focused on problems between them, the resolution and how their love evolves. They are complete strangers to each other when the story starts, so there is more of a build up to the point of having steamy, sexy scenes. In the start Kyle is very traumatized by an event in his life and Daniel is more concerned with getting him over his trauma than getting him into bed. Once Kyle has healed Daniel’s concern shifts in a big way.
Now the harder question of who is sexier. That’s a tough one. Each of the four characters have qualities that make them very sexy but in different ways.
Todd is really a very devoted family man—with a small armory, the has-guns-not-afraid-to-use-them sort of guy. He’s tough and smart and nothing threatens what’s his, the ultimate protector. I wouldn’t consider him a bad boy, but he projects rough and hard on the outside and is really ooey gooey on the inside. One of his accomplishments is nurturing in Nick the parts of his personality that will allow him to grow into a more confident man. I think he’d be my top pick.
Nick is sweet and innocent and completely trusting of Todd who becomes his hero. He maybe a slave, but he’s not a pushover and he’s actually very much a smartass. As a partner he sees no one other than Todd, and doesn’t expect to ever have anyone else. To the outside world he’s painfully shy and Todd’s quiet shadow. In private and alone with Todd he’s anything but shy and quiet.
Now for Daniel, he’s a loner and the guy who is afraid of being hurt so he doesn’t put himself in that position. A different partner every night and never for the whole night is what he’s comfortable with. Both men and women do it for him as long as there are no strings, getting attached he has learned and seen only gets your heart ripped out. He is completely taken by surprise when he develops feelings for Kyle beyond lusting after a cute new face. Attachment and love for Kyle scares him silly because it’s so deep and so powerful. He’s the challenge, what’s not sexy about that guy?
Finally, there is Kyle. He’s young like Nick, but not as innocent, however he is inexperienced and at the start very vulnerable. He wants to please and be a success in life. Kyle isn’t afraid to embrace the radical change in his life forced upon him. He is one that makes lemonade out of life’s lemons. Fitting in and being a part of something worthwhile is important to him. This boy is a true survivor. One of his finest qualities is his capacity to forgive. I think I’d pick Kyle.
Hhm hmm! Elizabeth. You basically said they are all equally sexy. That may be true, but that’s cheating. Jus’ sayin’… (Pardon the interruption, now back to the interview for our final question.)
Q: What’s next, Elizabeth? Marked Yours was released by Dreamspinner Press in May of this year. When can your readers expect to see Strays? Is there a date, yet? Will there be sequels to either of these stories? What awaits for your readers in the next year or so?
A: Strays has a release date of September 7, 2011 and will be in eBook and audio formats. If it has a sequel I don’t know about it yet…lol But, I’m sure if Daniel and Kyle have more story to tell they’ll let me know!
Dreamspinner has accepted for publication the next in the Sentries series, Together Bound. I do not have a release date as yet other than sometime in September or October. Together Bound is a very different story than Marked Yours. Todd and Nick have been together for eighteen months at the start of the second book so their relationship is more established and solidified. They’ve moved beyond that fumbling around learning one another phase and Nick has become a full-fledged Sentry. They accept a job that launches them into the world of politics and has them hunting a very dangerous adversary. Not only do they have a job to do, but in the course of doing it they have to face some very personal, and frightening, issues individually and as a couple. This book also gives a look into different aspects of slavery. Two important revelations are what happens to a slave if the owner dies and what becomes of children of an owner/slave union? Nick has a very special ability which really comes into play in this book. By the end of the book their lives are turned upside down.
For the Sentries series I have a total of six books planned, and am working on the third, Chained Hearts now. One of the big reveals in Chained Hearts is why was it so important that Todd and Nick be together and were bonded as children? Beyond those are stories involving a return to the village Nick grew up in (Collared Souls) and riverboat gambling (Tethered Pair). Then of course the sixth book is the series wrap up, I’m still deciding on the title.
There is also a peek into the lives of Todd and Nick on their tenth ‘anniversary’ which is part of the Hot July Days challenge on the M/M Romance group on Goodreads. If you squint and pay extremely close attention you might see a very vague spoiler for the end of the series. The story is titled Take What’s Yours. There are no real spoilers for Marked Yours. In a month or two the kind mods of that group will put out a free anthology with all the stories they’re posting this month. That’s a great group, go now and join! Here is the link: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/20149
I’m also working on a contemporary D/s monster hunting romance and I started a story for Dreamspinners pirate anthology—got the idea for that one from a scene in a movie with a plane almost crash landing and thought I must have a story for that! It got too big for the anthology, so I’ll eventually be submitting it for publication as a novel or novella.
It has been a delight to have you visit, Elizabeth. Thank you for coming.
Thank you for having me! I had such fun answering your questions, which were great by the way. I hope I didn’t “talk” too much.
(Elizabeth, you “talked” just enough! Thanks again.)