My guest today is Douglas Black – a new-to-me author whose work I will definitely be following up. In addition to that he has a profession for which I have a huge affection and I wish he lived a bit closer so I could run some of the weird stuff past him that members of the public bring into the museum for identification. “It’s just a stone” comes much more easily from a man with letters after his name. 🙂
BUT today he is here to talk about his new book.
Welcome, Douglas. Perhaps you could kick off the interview by telling us a bit about yourself?
Hello! Thanks so much for having me! I confess, interviews are a little strange for me since I really don’t like talking about myself, but I promise to give it my best shot. Shall we start with the basics?
My name is Douglas Black and I’m an archaeologist by day and an MM erotic romance author by night.
The writing really started when I was in university. I was by no means destitute, but there came a point in my third year where textbooks and field equipment got a lot more expensive and the amount of meat in my diet and central heating going on in my flat took a real nose-dive as a result. One of my friends wrote short stories for pornographic magazines to earn money on the side. She suggested I try it, and I didn’t take much convincing.
I stopped writing after university, but in 2012 I came back to the genre, because I had a story I really wanted to tell. A character called Jake jumped into my head while I was on holiday and I started messing around, writing about him. He’s really an amalgam of my wonderful partner, and the one who got away, and he’s by far the favourite character I’ve ever written. Jake started this journey, and now, after telling his story, I’m still here two years later because I enjoy writing. It’s that simple really.
When you arenít writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?
At the moment, I pretty much just work and write, but I used to fancy myself as a bit of an artist. I had what, I suppose, might be considered an unorthodox approach (my art teacher certainly thought it was!) I used mixed media, combining paints with pencil and pen sketches before throwing in newspaper cuttings, photographs and old placards from protest marches. My work was always very political.
It’s been years since I created anything new. I know it’s the excuse everyone uses, but I just don’t have the time anymore. However, I am writing a story that involves a character, Teddy, who’s very much based on me when I was in my late teens and early twenties (very opinionated, political and always off on some protest march or another) so maybe I’ll make him an artist on the side!
What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?
There are books I wish I had written, but they don’t fall into the MM erotic romance genre.
Three spring to mind. The Crimson Petal and The White (Michel Faber), Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel), and Into The Wild (Jon Krakauer). All three authors, I think, took writing to a higher plane with those books. You have to look at how they use words. It’s as simple as that, but that’s what being a master of ‘The Craft’ means, and you can see those authors’ level of skill in those books.
In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?
For me, the situation comes first. The one exception to that was my novel, Port In A Storm (which will be rereleased this year). My character Jake emerged fully formed and I just wrote down his story. Jake is my ideal man, my personal fantasy though, so I think that’s why that book was different.
Normally I come up with a situation, then I have a look around and see what type of character would do least well in that situation and once I find that character, I chuck them in and try to help them not drown. How cruel does that sound?!
Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?
They definitely never arrive fully formed. I don’t like perfect characters, because people aren’t perfect in real life, so all of my heroes have flaws. Not necessarily big ones – I haven’t written a character yet who just cant stop killing people, for example – but they have flaws and the situation I’ve created usually informs what those flaws are and how they (and the character) changes and develops throughout the story.
Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? What inspired you to write about a private investigator?
I’d like to try my hand at crime fiction, but I’ve avoided doing so thus far because I just don’t know how good I’d be at it. It’s on my ‘To Do’ list!
Villains challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?
Villains are incredibly important, so I try to be very careful when it comes to telling their story. I think it was Stephen King who said no one in life sees themselves as the villain, so I always try to look for the motivating factors behind a character. I don’t want a cardboard cutout bad guy. I want my readers to be able to understand where the anti-hero is coming from, even if they don’t like him or her.
What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.
I have two releases coming out in August. The Bucket List, and Spanish Heat (due out on August 22nd) so I’m naturally very excited about those. I’m also snowed under trying to bring Jake’s story back to life. I originally self-published Port In A Storm, but I was never happy with it. It’s such a personal story for me, so I want to make it perfect before it gets rereleased, but I certainly hope to be able to share it with everyone soon!
Could we please have an excerpt of something?
Of course, have an excerpt from The Bucket List. (And would you believe it? It’s available now!)
Kade looked up at the unfamiliar facade of the building in front of him. If he hadn’t just checked his location for the third time, using both the sat-nav on his phone and the one in his car, he would have sworn he must have taken a wrong turn when he reached the unfamiliar streets of Glasgow’s East End.
Unlike the supermarket he normally frequented, this one had no branding or signage to speak of. There were no garish colors and definitely no cheesy logos. If it had an official name, the owners clearly didn’t think it was worth sharing with their customers.
The building looked like a windowless warehouse, and the car park, devoid of neatly painted grid lines and pointless shrubbery, was just a gravel-covered, pothole-ridden piece of ground hemmed in by a giant metal fence. If it hadn’t been for the steady stream of people coming and going through the single-door entrance, Kade wouldn’t have known if the shop was open or closed.
He sighed and leaned against the bonnet of his car. All he really wanted to do was get back behind the wheel and drive back to what was familiar. The temptation was almost overwhelming. It wasn’t like he hadn’t had enough changes and uncertainties to deal with recently without dragging the weekly shopping into the mix. He pulled out his phone and scrolled down until he found Ian’s number. Ian answered on the second ring.
“I’m standing outside an Asian supermarket. Are you happy now?”
“That depends,” Ian said. “Are you actually going to go inside, or are you just planning on standing in the car park, biting your bottom lip and looking at your feet?”
Kade looked up from his boots and removed the phone from his ear momentarily so he could stare at it instead. He heard Ian’s laughter through the handset.
“Fuck you very much,” Kade said under his breath when he put the phone back to his ear.
“And you. I’ll see you tonight. You know, I’m impressed. Doing two things outside of your comfort zone in one day? Hell, the council must be pumping chemicals into the water again.”
“Yeah, yeah. Very funny.” Ian was still laughing when Kade rang off and slipped his phone back into his pocket.
Ian’s jokes didn’t feel very funny to Kade at the moment, and his behavior had nothing to do with too much fluoride in the city’s water supply, as Ian well knew. Instead, it had everything to do with that stupid bloody list.
The bucket list. His bucket list. Only it wasn’t really his at all, because Kade hadn’t had any say in whether or not he wanted a bucket list, let alone what he wanted to put on it. Ian and his boyfriend, Paul, had drawn it up the morning after Kade had shown up on Ian’s doorstep, shouting and ranting and crying because Niall had left.
The Bucket List
When Kade Doherty gets dumped, he expects sympathy from his friends. Instead, he gets a bucket list. His friends want to help him enjoy life again, but Kade isn’t convinced a list of outlandish leisure pursuits will help much with that. To keep the peace he goes along with the plan and in the process, he meets Blake. Blake’s Australian accent and surfer-boy looks are the stuff of sexual fantasies and Kade surprises everyone – including himself – when he wastes no time making a move.
Kade goes with Blake into the Scottish highlands, but just as he is beginning to get used to life with his very own Mr. Australia, reality comes knocking. Kade’s newfound happiness falls apart when his abusive ex demands they meet. Blake senses something is wrong and he wants to help, but Kade knows he can’t confide in Blake.
After all, Kade hasn’t exactly been honest. He might feel like a different man when he’s with Blake, but Kade knows he’s still just an accountant from Glasgow with slight obsessive compulsions and a bucket list that someone else wrote. He knows Blake won’t hang around, let alone help, when he finds out the truth.
Or will he?
Buy The Bucket List here
Douglas Black was born and raised in bonnie Scotland. An archaeologist by trade, Douglas started writing MM erotica as a means of avoiding starvation at university before returning to the genre in 2012.
Welcome to your fantasy.