My guest today is Theo Fenraven, a man of many talents. He doesn’t just write gay romance and erotica but edits manuscripts as well and is an excellent photographer.
Photos in the text below have been provided by Theo.
Welcome, Theo, to my comfy chair. If you’re ready, we’ll begin.
Elin: In Three of Swords and its ‘coming soon’ sequel Knight of Wands, you have written an exciting contemporary story with a considerable paranormal twist. What attracted you to this genre?
Theo: I don’t know that it’s the genre that attracts me as much as the idea of people being more than they are. I loved the television show, Heroes, for that reason. While they were living their lives, admittedly in a hyper-stylized fashion, they also had to deal with unexplained powers. I love that idea. Also, it keeps me from getting bored. It’s hard for me to write a straight romance. I always have to futz it up with stuff to keep my interest.
Elin: Have you always been a story teller, or did you read something one day and think “I could do that”?
Theo:I’ve always been a writer. I remember doing it as far back as elementary school.
Elin: How important to you is your other creativity – your photos are stunning. Do your other arts help or hinder your writing?
Theo:Everything I do is an effort to maintain balance. When writing, I get really focused and end up spending a lot of time in my head. Photography takes me out into the world and while it’s still a creative activity like writing, lets me see things a different way. I’ve been told I write visually, and I think taking pictures contributes to that.
Elin: Three of Swords is set on a houseboat – a very unusual setting about which you seem to know a lot. Have you had experience of river travel?
Theo:I love the idea of living on a boat. It sounds romantic and fun and yes, different. While I’ve certainly been in rowboats and on larger vessels, I’ve never been on a houseboat. This is where research pays off. I did a LOT. I also know two people who’ve rented them and they filled in those interesting little details you don’t know if you haven’t done it. Details are important to a scene; they make it come alive. I would love to rent a houseboat next summer and take it for a spin.
Elin: Have you a WIP about which you could tell us or do you like to keep them under wraps until they are ready to be published.
Theo: As you’ve mentioned, the sequel to Three of Swords is Knight of Wands, and I’m writing the last quarter of the story now. I’m planning an early November release. Following that will be the third books in the series, which will complete the trilogy. I’m not sure what I’ll write after that, but I always have ideas churning in my head and it’s very possible I will eventually offer more Gray and Cooper stories. I’ve rather fallen in love with these guys.
Elin: Could we please have a taste of one of your works.
Theo: How about a short excerpt from the first chapter of Knight of Wands? I warn you, you still won’t know what’s in the wall safe, but it reintroduces Gray’s cousin Harper and a problem she’s dealing with. This is the first time anyone has seen anything from the sequel. I hope you enjoy it!
When my grandfather, Graham, was killed, I inherited a houseboat, Cooper, the young man living on it, and a mystery that led to a treasure hunt. A letter from Graham sent us downriver on a quest. What we found was murder, more letters, keys, and the astral plane.
Cooper and I were in our berth on The Constant Companion, which was anchored in Lynxville, Wisconsin, instead of at our home marina in Red Wing, Minnesota. Following posthumous directions from Graham regarding a hidden safe, we knelt on the floor by the wall outlet. Crystal, our calico kitten, sleepily watched from the bed. Duplicating Graham’s actions in the ‘movie’ we’d seen on the astral plane, I slipped the key into the screw, turned it, and pulled the mini-safe open. Cooper and I leaned forward to see what was in it.
That’s when my cell rang.
Cooper frowned. “Are you kidding me?”
I sat back on my heels. “Might be important.” As hardly anyone called me, almost every call had some importance. Stretching to grab my jeans off the floor, I dug in the back pocket and retrieved my phone. “Yeah?”
“It’s me, Harper.”
“Hey, how are you?” I grinned at Cooper, who was pointedly not digging through the small safe behind the outlet. It had to be driving him crazy, waiting on me. I put a finger over the speaker so Harper wouldn’t hear. “It’s my cousin. She sounds upset. We’ve waited this long, five more minutes can’t hurt.”
He nodded, looking forlorn. I watched his eyes flick to the safe and fought laughter. I knew how he felt, I really did, but Harper was going on about… “What?” I interrupted her. “Hon, start again. I missed the first part of that.”
“I said Sian is knocked up. She slept with some guy and now she’s pregnant.”
I blinked. “Wow. Um, thought you guys were exclusively, you know, lesbian.”
“That’s what I thought.” Her voice sounded teary. “A few months back, we talked about having kids one day. I figured we would use artificial insemination or adopt even, but without discussing it with me first, she fucked someone and now she’s ‘with child.’ Jesus. She did it while I was in Red Wing. I don’t know if I’m ready for this, Gray. I just accepted that new job. You know, the one I told you about at Grandpa’s funeral?”
“I remember.” Harper and I had talked briefly at my parents’ house after Graham Vecello’s funeral. “How can I help?”
“I need to get away. I’ve talked to my new employer, told him there’s a family emergency, and they’ve agreed to let me delay my start date. Okay if I stay with you a while?”
I looked at Cooper, who gazed back at me almost patiently. “I gave up the apartment, Harper. Graham left me his boat. There’s a couch here with your name on it.”
“You’re not in St. Paul anymore? What about your job?”
“Quit.” Cooper smiled at me. Explaining him would wait until she was here. “Via a letter he left on the boat, Graham sent me on a journey down river, told me to talk to some people.” I paused, wondering how to tell her what had happened to me since we last saw each other. “Graham was murdered.”
“I know. Someone shot him outside a pharmacy. Gray, are you all right?”
“I’ve been better. His letter sent me to a woman who was subsequently killed. She was a fortune teller who could really see the future.” As could I, the few times I let myself go there.
There was a long silence, and then she said cautiously, “Gray, sweetie… you sure you’re okay?”
I bit back slightly hysterical laughter. “There was a second letter. Graham was involved in something before he was killed, and I’m trying to find out what it is. I’ll tell you more when you get here. Long story short, Graham left something for me besides the houseboat. You called just as I was finding out what.”
“Bad timing on my part,” she said drily. “I’m catching a plane out of here tomorrow afternoon. Where can I find you?”
I told her. “But we won’t be there until day after tomorrow. Stay with your folks until I’m back, okay? We’re traveling upriver from south of La Crosse. Looking forward to seeing you.” I ended the call.
Elin: Thank you, Theo, for being such a good sport and good luck with Knight of Wands.