Today I have a brand new-to-me author in my Comfy Chair. Alyson Pearce is an American transplant currently living in London, where she works full time in publishing and as an author of M/M romances. She fell in love with romances after discovering her grandmother’s library and hasn’t looked back. As a member of the LGBT community, she believes that everyone deserves their chance at a happily ever after.
She has recently released a new series set in the Regency period that follows the adventures and misadventures of a group of gentlemen who are artistically inclined.
Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?
I’m an American by birth, currently living in London while I finish up a masters in Publishing. My passion is romance, of course, but I also love crime, fantasy, and historical fiction. I came to the M/M romance genre through a mix of M/F romance and M/M fanfiction. I found the subgenres of romance I enjoyed (mainly historical, with some paranormal as well) and the tropes I enjoyed in fanfiction. Then I decided to combine the two, both in reading and in writing, which opened up a whole new, exciting world. After reading Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon’s Seducing Stephen and The Gentleman and the Rogue, I tried writing my own novel, and that became The Viscount and the Artist.
In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?
Normally I’ll get a glimpse of characters in a situation. For Andrew and Jeremy, it was “what if this peer who didn’t want to be a peer fell in love with an artist?” I had the roughest picture of who Andrew and Jeremy were as characters—kind of like looking at one of those pixilated Classical art works. You know more or less who they are, but not the specifics. Before I write a single word, though, I flesh them out and get to know them as well as possible, that way I know how they would react to a certain situation.
The Viscount and the Artist is the first of what will surely be a long series. When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye/hair/skin colour, preferred mode of transport, rank or profession, quirks or mannerisms – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about but will be needed in the next book?
I keep a story bible with all of the series information in it. All of my characters have multiple pages of character sheets, down to the smallest quirk. I also include setting details, historical details, timelines, family trees, and so on to try and keep everything organised. With each book, I add to the story bible.
Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they 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?
I love sympathetic villains. In The Viscount and the Artist, the main villain is absolutely society, but that leads to two physical villains—one you see coming and one that’s a bit of a surprise, so I won’t give too much away. With each of those villains, I did my best to make them more than just the ‘bad guy.’ Lady Dersingham isn’t just the woman who’s trying to wed Andrew. She’s also a widow who’s trying to find some source of stability in a world that doesn’t cater to women. And the mystery villain I won’t spoil also battles with their own inner demons, although I have to admit this villain is far less sympathetic. Writing villains you can identify with and sympathise with is just more fun for me, and I think it adds another great element to the story.
Could we please have an excerpt of something?
Instead of remaining in the library, Jeremy explored the house. He hadn’t had much of a chance to the day before, and since this was to be his home for the next two weeks, he wanted to be able to find his way around. When he had accompanied his father on the many dinners Richard had invited them to, he only saw the ground level. There was much left to explore. Making his way through the drawing room and past Andrew’s study, he paused outside the parlour. The door was partially closed, but he could hear voices from inside.
“…can’t ask that of me yet. I’ve only just come into the inheritance.” The voice was unmistakably Andrew’s.
“Even so, as it stands, there is no heir. What if something happens to you?” Phoebe asked.
Andrew scoffed. “Nothing is going to happen to me.”
“We thought nothing would happen to Nathaniel. We thought nothing would happen to Papa. You need to be married, and soon. I suggest by the end of the Season.”
Married? Jeremy couldn’t see Andrew as the marrying kind. Even if he preferred the company of women to that of men, he didn’t seem like the type to settle down.
“And I suppose you already have a candidate in mind?” Andrew asked.
“Lady Dersingham?” Andrew’s voice was sharp. “You would have me—your own cousin—marry that harpy?”
“That harpy happens to be one of my closest friends. I see nothing wrong with her,” came Phoebe’s haughty tone. “It’s common knowledge that she fancies you. She’s already invited you to her ball. It would be the perfect chance for you to get to know her.”
“I don’t want to get to know her! Besides, she’s only just come out of mourning.”
“Which makes this the perfect time for her to seek another marriage.”
“And what of the fact that she’s a scheming, self-centred excuse for a woman?”
“Again, I will remind you that she is a dear friend. If you really feel that way about her, I suggest the two of you go your own way after your marriage is consummated. As long as you produce an heir, I see no problem.”
The Viscount and the Artist
Andrew Cardwell is a man driven by duty to his country and to his family. After the death of his uncle, he’s determined to provide security and stability for his family as the new Viscount Cardwell—even if that means marrying and producing an heir. Surprising himself, Andrew decides to sponsor a young artist named Jeremy for the season, to help him find a patron. What he doesn’t anticipate is how well Jeremy fits in his bed…and his life.
Jeremy Leighton knows what it’s like to be a disappointment. The only son of a vicar, he’s refused to follow the path his father set for him, choosing his passion for art, instead. He accepts Andrew’s proposal, hoping to prove to his father—and himself—that he can succeed as an artist. After spending time with Andrew in and out of bed, Jeremy struggles not to fall for the damaged viscount, knowing the season will likely end in Andrew’s engagement.
Between a meddling cousin, a widow on the hunt for a new husband, and their own doubts about the relationship, how can Andrew and Jeremy shed the expectations of others to find true happiness?
Allow me to tell you a bit about myself. I fell in love with stories at the tender age of five. With a librarian for a grandmother and an English and History teacher for a grandfather, I suppose it was fated. My first stories were records of my time spent at their house, embellished here and there when I felt the need. I soon moved on to re-writing pop culture classics like Star Wars. Unsurprisingly, those were abandoned as soon as I learned what copyright was.
Over the next few years, I developed a love of fantasy and historical fiction, and tried my hand at writing both. During that time I also picked up my first romance in the basement of my grandmother’s house. It wasn’t until I started writing fanfiction, though, that I actually started writing romance. That was also where I discovered slash fiction. I quickly added in m/m fiction to my reading, and eventually decided to give writing it a go.
The Viscount and the Artist is my first novel.