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My guest today is Jayson James who was born and raised in Washington State, where he currently lives and teaches. Whenever Jayson has the time (and money), he likes to travel, hoping to see most of the United States over the next 5 years.
His first novel, “Finding Our Way”, was published in September 2012 and released the follow-up novels, “Tormented Discovery” and “Drifting”, in 2013 creating what readers would identify as the “Finding Our Way Series.” Much to his delight, fans are eagerly waiting to read what happens next with Justin, Derrick and the rest of the gang.

His new release is T.E.D. and he is offering a terrific giveaway. Please keep reading for the link.

Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

Jayson: Yes, for the sake of bills and living, I do have a day job.
My life is full, especially now that I have, as one friend put it, “a doghter” (dog daughter) named Cooper. I’d wanted to adopt a dog for the past two years but I did not think the time was right. It was my mom who reminded me that there never really is a good time to have kids. I am so glad that Cooper and I fell in love with each other the minute I picked her up. She has truly enriched my life.
I enjoy spending time writing, reading, watching movies and socializing. As I said before my life is full and I am always busy. Sometimes more than I would like to be. Recently I read that people are happier when they have something to look forward to. I think this is why I like to keep myself busy. Although I’ve been looking forward to having a weekend home, where I do not go anywhere. I get close, however something always comes up. It will be a real treat when I finally get those two full days off.

Elin: When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

Jayson: Drawing is what comes to mind when I consider this question. It is something that I get inspired to do, typically with pencil. I will draw practically every second I can for weeks on end in all sorts of mediums. Then all the sudden, as if a switch gets turned off, I quit drawing all together. I’ve drawn all of the cover images for my books with much prompting from my friends. As I go along I get more creative and think the images look better. In my writing, I’ve had a few characters that are artists and they have talked about experiences I’ve had when it comes to creating art.

Elin: What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

Jayson: I’m reading Nick Nolan’s “Wide Asleep.” This happens to be the third book with two of my favorite characters, Jeremy and Arthur. Within the first few chapters, I was crying and had my hopes up for things to work out. Nick writes real characters who are people who act like people, meaning not everyone sees or reacts to things in the same way. Nick’s books are each based upon a different fairytale, which I’ve always found clever.

Elin: In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Jayson: That’s a tough question! When I plan out they all come to mind. As I quit overthinking the question I realized that it is the character. Actually, all I had to do is glance over at my white board with my current work in progress on it. The characters are on the board: 1) The individual details of the characters are all each worked out underneath them, 2) Their storyline gets outlined underneath, 3) The story gets written, 4) Once the details are down everything below the characters is erased, 5) More outlining, such as chapters and other details, 6) This cycle repeats several times throughout the course of the book. The characters stay on the board typically until the second or third round of edits.

Elin: 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?

Jayson: My characters are never ready to fly. I like to write them as real people, thus they are changing and growing and even sometimes going in a downward spiral. I do have set ideas in many ways though. Such as with Derrick and Justin from the “Finding Our Way Series,”with each tellingl the story from their own perspective. Something I did with them (which drove some people nuts) was Derrick would use possessives such as “my dad” while Justin referred to them as “dad.” Derrick spoke with less contractions in his dialog while Justin used many and frequently swore.

Elin: 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?

Jayson: I enjoy writing characters that are both lovable and flawed. Such was the case with “T.E.D.” Each of the three characters that make up this book are real people that readers can identify and relate to on some level. Tim is the kid you feel sorry for and you want to give him advice on how to better his life, yet you also want to tell to suck it up and quit being a wimp. Eric picks on others to keep himself from being discovered. Delsin is dealing with his own monsters and struggles, yet is supportive and does what he can. Their lives are intertwined, having an effect on each other.
This is similar to “Finding Our Way” with Derrick Wilson being the one thing keeping Justin Parker, whose home life was falling apart from going too far on the self-destructive path his was traveling down.
Then there is Kristian Kirkpatrick who is my own villain. He is handsome, charming, cunning and just plain evil. Everything about him is someone that I cannot stand. Yet, I would like to write a book with him as the main character.
As far as other villains, I have always wanted to write a book told from the point of view of the killer. The closest I think I have ever gotten was a book I started writing a couple of years ago about this guy who decides to kill his wife.

Elin: 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.

Jayson: A new book called “Pieces of Us.” When completed, this will be only my second novel to have a title from the beginning of the writing process. It is about a guy and girl who are best friends in high school, growing and learning about themselves and others. I’m quite excited about this novel, as it will be different in many ways from my previously published works. Typically, I will not talk much about a book until it is in what I call, “the downhill stretch”, known as the last third of the book. This one I’ve been discussing quite a bit with my friends and I think the storyline is developing wonderfully.

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Jayson: Gladly! This comes from my new release, T.E.D. This is the scene gives the reader’s insight to Eric, who is bullying Tim.


Sheila had been partially correct that he was hiding something. There was no way in hell Eric was going to ever let anyone know what that was though, especially not his two best buddies. Conrad was the meanest person he’d ever met and would no doubt kick his ass, and without much effort. Keifer would be more subtle, slowly not hanging out with him or returning his calls.
Definitely not his family either. Eric’s parent s made no qualms about expecting their youngest son to provide them with at least one grandchild. He could remember a long time ago when his older brother Ethan lived at home. He missed Ethan and wished that he could see him again.
Eric was thirteen years younger than Ethan. When he was six, he remembered waking up to shouting. Ethan was standing in the living room, with his parents. His mom was holding the door open and his father was face-to-face with Ethan. They all looked angry. Eric’s dad bellowed, “There is no way any son of mine is going to be into this shit. If you want to get involved with those kinds of people, than you can get the hell out of my house.”
Ethan looked to their mom, “Are you going to let him just throw me out?”
She didn’t even hesitate, “Your decision is why we are asking you to leave. If you decide to make the right choices, you can come back. Until then I’m afraid you are basically dead to us.”
“It is not a choice!” Ethan shouted. He kept on repeating that as their dad shoved him out the door and their mom closed and locked it.
Eric was crying, not wanting to see his brother go, “Where’s Ethan going?”
His father walked past him, “He doesn’t live here anymore.”
His mother picked him up, holding him and looking him in the eyes, “Ethan is doing something very, very bad. It is something that if he doesn’t stop doing, he will eventually die from. I know this is hard for you to understand, but Ethan is no longer a part of our family.”
Eric cried and cried, wanting his brother back. Ethan was the only person Eric ever felt a family bond with. His father put his arms around his mom and him, “You’ll understand when you get older.”
Nearly nine years later, Eric still ached to see his brother. His parents told him that Ethan had a bad drug problem and they feared for his safety and the wellbeing of the family. They sent him to a counselor who explained things like tough love and coping with the loss of a family member. This guy pretended to care about Eric and get him to tell him things that were supposed to be kept private between the two of them. Once Eric learned the counselor was telling his parents everything they talked about and how mad his parents got, he started saying the things he thought he needed to say, which worked and a couple of months later he did not have to go anymore.
Years later Eric would overhear his mother on the phone with her sister, “I’ve been hoping Ethan would get over his homosexual tendencies for years. I know now that he never will. It’s been so long I often forget I have another son. He died to me the night he told me that he was gay.” Eric never let her know that he’d heard what she said. Several years later Eric would learn what gay was and what homosexual tendencies were.
Eric’s eyes were starting to tear up as he thought about Ethan. There was a guy in the magazine he was reading who looked very much the way he remembered Ethan had. He hoped that his brother was okay and that they could be a family again someday. He planned on tracking him down the first chance that he could.
His father walked in the room and said, “What are you crying about? Is there a sad article in your Women’s Day?”
“Ha ha! I got something in my eye.” Eric closed the magazine and quickly left the room.

###

Many thanks to Jayson for answering my questions so sportingly. Here are the details of his latest release and at the bottom of the post you will find a link to his giveaway.

T.E.D. by Jayson James

TIM is being bullied. No one in high school wants to be known as a tattle-tale and to do so would only make things rougher for him. The repercussions would most likely make him an outcast, and without any friends.

ERIC is frustrated with life. His parents are overbearing and if they ever knew the person he really was, they would throw him out of their house. His friends are not much better, they only like him when he is who they expect him to be.

DELSIN is gay and ready to come out. Unfortunately, life at home is on the brink of falling apart with his parents constant fighting. Admitting the truth could bring his whole world crashing down around him.

Each of these three needs to decide whether the risks of being honest about who they are outweighs the importance of being true to themselves. This could mean ruining life as each of them knows it. Maybe it is better to remain miserable in order to play it safe. On the other hand, doing nothing doesn’t seem to working either.

You can buy T.E.D. on Amazon here: http://amzn.com/B00IC0NX7W

Jayson’s contact details are below.
Blog/Website: http://www.jaysonjamesbooks.blogspot.com
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJaysonJames
Twitter: @jaysonjamesbook

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My guest today is award winning playwright Vanda, who is currently working on her first novel, Juliana.

~~~

Madame Spivy
by
Vanda

Who Was She?

I wonder how many LGBT folks today know who Madame Spivy was. Well, Spivy was an early pioneer in the gay rights movement, although I doubt she would’ve seen herself that way. She was a nightclub owner and entertainer who from the early 40s to the mid 50s kept Spivy’s Roof going despite her poor money management skills. Spivey’s Roof was a nightclub where gay men and women could go and be “almost” out. This meant it wasn’t a gay club, most of the patrons were straight, but gays could openly gather there if they didn’t call too much attention to themselves. According to Gavin (2006) Spivy wanted her various girlfriends to come into the club, and she didn’t think it would be fair to let them in while leaving out the men. Each night gay men lined the bar in their white tuxedos. Spivy’s was a good place for the men to meet each other and a little “fumbling around in the dark” was not uncommon. But Spivy, a short, stout woman in a black dress and black hair combed into a stiff pompadour with a white streak going from front to back (Gavin, 2006, p 30), could be moody. Every once in awhile she would stand up in the middle of the dining area and yell, “Get all the fairies out of here.” Gavin doesn’t say whether this was a joke or whether she actually pushed the gay men out. I rather think not. As one patron put it Spivy was the “patron saint of fags.”

Spivy’s Roof

Spivy’s Roof was located in the penthouse of 139 East 57 Street in New York City. To get there you rode up in a rickety elevator, which opened into a world of glitter and chrome and tightly packed tables and chairs. On the walls were paper sculptures of “stars” such as Katherine Cornell and Gypsy Rose Lee.

Madame Spivy had her devoted fans who came to hear her perform a set of 15 “sophisticated” or “blue” songs. She was supposed to do two shows a night on the weekend, but she paid no attention to time or scheduling. Often she still hadn’t begun the ten o’clock show at 11:30. It wasn’t uncommon for her fans to begin chanting “Spivy! Spivy!” to try to coax her onto the stage. But Madame Spivy was in the back talking to one or more of her girlfriends, among them Tallulah Bankhead or Patsy Kelly.

Spivy was always the star at Spivy’s Roof despite, allowing others to perform on her stages, such as Mabel Mercer, and the then unknown Carol Channing.

strong>An Unknown Piano Player You May Know

Spivy always had two pianos, one under the spotlight and another in the back covered in shadows. The pianist in the back played the ambient music and also backed up Spivy’s own playing when she sang. The word was that she kept that shadowy pianist in the back, because she wasn’t very good. Still she had no intention of sharing the spotlight with anyone else.

Walter Liberace, c 1943

One of her early pianists, hidden in shadows, was 21year old Walter Liberace. Imagine him being stuck in the back and in shadow. Well, that didn’t last long, but to find out what happened between Spivy and Walter I hope you’ll read my novel, JULIANA. There’s a chapter on Spivy’s Roof in which the scene with the young Liberace gets played out.

The times these people lived in were very different from ours in some significant ways. One commentator who was a regular at Spivy’s Roof when he was sixteen—they didn’t seem to be quite so fussy about legal drinking age back then—said “I was probably too innocent to think of Spivy’s sexuality. The concept of women loving women just didn’t exist in the groupthink of the era…” (www.ralphmag.org/DJ/spivy2.html)
Spivy’s Roof was so successful in New York that Spivy thought she could expand into London, Paris and Rome. These clubs all failed. (www.ralphmag.org/DJ/spivy2.html)

So What Happened to Her?

Spivy established a small acting career and you can see her in The Manchurian Candidate and Requiem for a Heavyweight. She also starred in some TV episodes of Hitchcock Presents.

References:

Gavin, J (2006). Intimate nights. New York: Back Stage Books
Ralph (n.d). The Bearded Lady on Spivy’s Roof, Part I. http://www.ralphmag.org/DJ/spivy1.html
http://www.vandawriter.com
Blog: http://www.Julianathenovel.com

Based on research for my novel, JULIANA: It’s 1941 in New York City
where gay men and women live secretly among straights.

~~~

Many thanks, Vanda, for such a fascinating article. Madame Spivy was quite a lady! Good luck with your novel, Juliana, and please let us know when it’s available.

Club owner, actress, bon viveur AND song writer. Spivy was a talented lady!

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comfy chairMy guest today is Mina Carter, renowned for her beautifully produced book covers [I still get a bit of a lump in my throat when I look at the one she made for On A Lee Shore] and for her many romance series. She is here today to publicise the latest instalment of her Lyric Hounds series, Sex, Wolves and Rock and Roll, which has a strong M/M pairing at the heart of it.

Welcome, Mina, and thank you for answering my questions.

###

Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

Mina: Nope, no ‘day’ job as in going out to work for someone else, but in addition to writing I’m also a cover-artist and a photographer, so at any given time I can be wearing one of three hats 🙂 Other than that I’m a married mother of one with a bad reading habit and far too little respect for correct amounts of sleep 🙂 I’m also addicted to coffee.

Elin: Normally at this point I would be asking about your other creative outlets but since I first got to know you through your fantastic cover art, I’d like to ask some questions about that. In view of the highly imaginative works produced by artists such as Nathie, Ann Cain, Paul Richmond and yourself, do you think the day of the stock photo nude torso on MM romances may be drawing to its close? Where do you start in designing a cover? The characters? The overall tone of the work? Do you accept commissions?

Mina: Hmmm, it’s possible. I’m getting a lot of requests for more than just a torso. While I understand the thinking behind it (so the reader can imagine the perfect hero), it’s a creative challenge to take the information from the cover art form and create a cover that tells a story in itself.

Generally I start by reading through the form and the information provided by the author. I’ll also go and have a look at their website to see any previous covers, and have a look around the stock sites. Different genres have different requirements so then it’s a case of picking the stock that matches both the characters and the genre. Sometimes if I know I need something specific in advance, I’ll organise a photoshoot with the intent of getting that image.

I do occasionally accept commissions, but it very much depends on my writing schedule 🙂

Elin: What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

Mina: Currently I’m reading City of Bones, the Mortal Instruments series. I can heartily recommend Zero Dog War by Keith Melton, which I would love to have written. (But he wrote it WAY better than I could have)

Elin: In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Mina: Any and all of the above. Sometimes it’s a line of a song, an image in a film, or my brain idly playing ‘what if?’. It’s more a case of trying to turn the ideas off before they drive me mad o_O

Elin: 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?

Mina: Some are pretty much fully-fledged, like Sav in the Lyric Hounds series, but he still had a surprise for me in that he used to be a cage fighter. Others are just a thought and a feeling so I need to chip away at their story to reveal their full potential.

Elin: I know that you have written a successful series of books with paranormal theme combined with crime combined with het romance, but that your latest book is M/M. What inspired you to make the change from het sex to same sex?

Mina: Love is love, a heart is a heart. Same emotion whether it’s MF or MM or FF. Sav arrived and told me his story was with Karlan, so I sat down and wrote it as I saw it.

Elin: Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?

Mina: All stories for me follow a certain ebb and flow. I always write romance or stories with a romance somewhere in it, so early on I need to make the choice whether the romance or the action is predominant. Action-heavy stories tend to be longer for me, and more complex in planning to ensure all the players on the board so to speak are in the right places at the right time.

Elin: Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

Mina: Ohh, this is an interesting one. How many do I get? I think I’d want Andy from Reaper (nothing gets past a woman who is basically Death personified), Darce from Blood Mate because he can talk his way out of anything and perhaps Calcite from Hard as a Rock/Between a Rock and a Hard Place because a Gargoyle would put a serious crimp in any muggers day.

Elin: 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.

Mina: I’m currently working on the next PPA story, which will be Duke’s story. All I’ll say is that this story will open up a whole new area of the PPA world, and potentially launch a new sub-series.

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Mina: Oh, go on then. It’s a tiny, unedited snippet of my next release, Reaper and the Cop.

~~~
Death is inevitable. For most that means worrying about the how, and more importantly, when. It’s an obsession the marketing industry has latched into like a leech and from one person to the next ranges from the absent worry about leaving loved ones behind through to narcissistic panic at leaving this mortal coil.

For some of us though, death is a job. I would say it’s a nine to five daily grind, but really it’s more of a 24/7/365 deal. Let me introduce myself. I’m Laney Larson, and I’m a Reaper. Yeah, you heard me right. I said Reaper. As in the big, bad dude with the robes and scythe…looks like he could do with a few extra squares in his life? That guy.

Kinda.

Well, not quite.

It’s probably more accurate to say that I’m his great-god knows how many-great grand-daughter. Hard to tell really since no one has seen his Grimness since the middle ages, but each and every Reaper carries a piece of him, their Grimm, inside us. It’s what gives us our abilities and lets us see things that others can’t. Without a Grimm, a Reaper is just a standard human with an interesting family tree. Nothing more, nothing less. With a Grimm? Yeah, even I don’t know everything we’re capable of. I don’t want to think what we’re capable of. Not with how many of us there are.

It’s a bit like the Santa deal, but instead of presents, there are lots of souls to be reaped on a daily basis all over the world. I have no clue how the big dude in red manages it (yeah, he’s real too. And the Easter Bunny? Don’t get me started on that asshole) but us Reapers spread the load.

###

Mina’s latest release is available NOW from all the usual ebook outlets.

Sex, Wolves and Rock ‘n Roll

He’d loved Karlan forever. Now he must face forever without him…

Karlan Rixx is the epitome of the playboy rocker. Sexy and gorgeous, with that feral edge that marked a werewolf, Sav’s been in love with him for years. The trouble is, Karlan’s Mr. New girl every night, as straight as they come, and Sav doesn’t stand a chance. Unable to bear it anymore, he makes plans to leave the band, even though it will break his heart in the process. But anything’s better than seeing the man he loves and not being able to touch. Ever.

K loves being a Lyric Hound. The only time he truly feels alive is on stage, a guitar in his hand and the beat of Sav’s drums flowing through his veins. Despite his image as a womaniser, it’s the other wolf who makes his heart pound and his body ache. Before K can admit his feelings though, Sav leaves and rips his world apart.

Enter Madam Eve and a very special 1NS date. Can she succeed where so many investigators have failed and find K’s lost wolf?

Read an excerpt here

Buy from:
Decadent Publishing
Amazon
Amazon UK
B&N
ARe

You can follow Mina at her:

Website – http://mina-carter.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/minacarterauthor
GR – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2920063.Mina_Carter
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/minacarter77
Twitter – http://twitter.com/minacarter
Amazon author page – http://www.amazon.com/Mina-Carter/e/B002BOH5R4/

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Unbreak My Heart
by K-lee Klein

Brett Taylor has been doing just fine living in his own little world for the past three years, thank you very much. Losing someone special is life changing, and Brett doesn’t understand why everyone and their damn dog thinks they can get all up in his business about him needing to move on. He managed to make the transition from musician to rancher without relying on anyone else’s opinion or help, and he certainly doesn’t need some city kid coming into his life to disrupt his routine—one that involves grief, isolation, and a whole lot of Jack Daniels.

Moving from one meaningless job to the next, JT Campbell is on a quest to escape his old life and figure out who he is and where he belongs. He’s not looking to save anyone, let alone a secretive, hotter-than-hell rancher who wears his heart on his sleeve. JT likes working for Brett, but Brett’s made it perfectly clear that any relationship between them other than a professional one will never see the light of day.

But when JT’s lust turns to love, and he gives in to his desire to find out what makes Brett tick, will his interest push Brett away? Or will he, through his patience and support, be the one who can finally unbreak Brett’s heart?

Available now from Amber Allure

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comfy chairMy guest today is Lisa Henry, resident in Australia but her imagination roams the world and the genres from contemporary drama to ancient history. Her work has received glowing reviews and has been picked as The Romance Reviews top picks.

Thank you very much, Lisa for agreeing to answer my questions today.

null

Elin: Do you have a crisp mental picture of your characters or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Lisa: I like to know what makes my characters tick, but I never have more than a vague idea of their physical descriptions in my head. I’ll write sticky notes about eye colour, hair colour, and who is taller than who (otherwise I’d get mixed up when it comes to love scenes) but that’s about the extent of it. When I read I usually like to fill in most of those gaps for myself, and I think a lot of readers do. Sometimes when an author reveals their inspiration for a character I’m very surprised. Wait, that’s not how I pictured him at all!

Elin: Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one with masses of action?

Lisa: I tend to write relationship driven stories rather than action, simply because I think I’m better at it. I love reading a great action sequence, but I do find them trickier to write. In an action driven story you have to keep a very tight pace, and one piece of action has to lead directly to the next and so on. In a relationship driven story you’re allowed more space to breathe and reflect, I think, which suits my style more.

Elin: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Lisa: I’m a pantser who is attempting to be a reformed-pantser, but I have found that whenever I attempt to sit down and plot, I get bored with it because I just want to dive right into the writing. So instead of working more at the beginning with plotting, I work more at the end with brutal editing. There is often very little in common between my first and final drafts.

Elin: Villains – incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. What sort of villains do you prize? A moustache-twirling nightmare or … ?

Lisa: I love villains, but no moustache-twirlers for me. I like my villains to be more complicated than that, and I think it’s important to remember that “evil for the sake of evil” is incredibly rare. Most villains don’t think they’re evil, which makes them much more terrifying. The closest thing I’ve ever written to a moustache-twirling villain would be Vornis from The Island, but even he’s not evil just for the sake of it. He makes examples of the men who cross him because it is necessary in his line of work. He happens to enjoy it as well, but it’s not done without reason.
I think Nero is one of history’s most fascinating and complicated villains, because he really did start out with so much promise and so many good intentions. Because of that, it’s tempting to be somewhat sympathetic towards him: you can see how the people around him poisoned his mind, you can see how tormented he was, and you can see how power corrupted him. That aside, he was a complete monster by the end, and deserved to die.

Elin: Do you enjoy research for its own sake or do you just do what is necessary for each project? What was the most interesting fact you discovered in the course of your research that didn’t make it into your novel?

Lisa: I can get totally lost in research, because it’s all too fascinating. I love learning about how everyday people lived, and I try to get the details right. I have a by-no-means-comprehensive list in my head that I need to check off before I feel comfortable writing about an historical period. It includes things like what did they use instead of toilet paper, what did they use for birth control, what did their shoes look like, what did their houses look like, and what did they eat for dinner? I think you have to know the basics before you can attempt to recreate a world, even if those details don’t make it to the page.

One of the most fascinating things I learned about Ancient Rome that never made it into He Is Worthy — and was never going to, I just got completely sidetracked — was about cosmetic surgery. Yes, in Ancient Rome you could get breast reductions, nose jobs, and eyelifts. The Romans knew about blood and circulation, and even how to reshape cartilage, but given that they didn’t know about germs, or have much in the way of anesthetic, I imagine you would have to be very brave or very desperate to go under the knife.

Elin: Short vs long – which do you prefer to read/write?

Lisa: I prefer to write long, but I’ll read anything. As long as the story pulls me in, I don’t mind if it’s a tiny piece of flash fiction, or War and Peace.

Elin: Would you say that a short story is harder to write than a long one?

Lisa: Absolutely! For me, at least, which is why I generally write long. Short stories require almost a different skill set. They have to be sharper, and neatly honed, if that makes sense. I like that in longer works I can detour a little bit, and see where it takes me. It probably comes back to being a pantser rather than a plotter.

Elin: Put together your ideal team of men – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

Lisa: I’m going to choose all fictional, since my chances of a happy ending are stronger there. I think Dean from Supernatural would be great in the case of both muggers and alligators, and demons of course, but maybe not fundamentalists. In the case of fundamentalists, I would want a Special Ops team including James Bond, Boromir from The Lord of The Rings, Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead, and Jack Bauer from 24. And, just to cover all bases, the Scarlet Pimpernel. Oh, and Moriarty from the BBC’s Sherlock. I want him planning the entire operation.

I don’t think I’ve left any room for error there…

Elin: “Had we but world enough and time” and no other commitments, is there anything you would write that you’ve been eyeing and putting off because it’s just too big a project?

Lisa: I want to write a series of novels set in the one universe, full of political machinations that would make the Borgias proud. At the moment I’m leaning towards space opera rather than historical, because that way I can do all the world building myself, and fit all the pieces together without having to worry about historical accuracy. But I wouldn’t say I’m putting it off because it’s too big a project — I’m putting it off because I keep getting distracted by new, shiny ideas.

I’m also being plagued by plot bunnies for a sequel to Dark Space, an m/m romance that came out in December. I’ve never written anything before with the intention of writing a sequel, so this feels entirely ambitious for me. But Dark Space has been so well received, and I loved writing in Brady’s voice so much, that I just know I’m going to have to go back to that world.

Elin: Borgias in space? You can put me down for one of those.
When you have been writing a scene, have you ever scared yourself/upset yourself so much that you decided to tone it down a bit?

Lisa: There was one scene in an earlier draft of He Is Worthy that I cut, because it was just too much. I wanted to show Nero’s brutality, so I had a scene written from Aenor’s POV where another slave was turned into a human torch. When I’d finished it was just too horrible, so instead that scene was cut down to the one sentence where Senna is in the gardens and sees the remains of the slave. I didn’t want to shy away from showing how monstrous Nero was, but that scene was just too upsetting.

Elin: I’m very glad you didn’t put that in the book. The little bit you did include was upsetting enough, though necessary, I think, to get across just how perilous a slave’s position was in that society. What are you working on at present?

Lisa: At the moment I’m in the process of editing The Good Boy, co-written with the amazing J. A. Rock, which is a contemporary m/m with a BDSM theme, which will be released around March by Loose Id. I’m currently writing another historical, set in Wyoming in 1870, with the working title Sweetwater. My MC, Elijah, is partially deaf thanks to Scarlet Fever, and finds himself having to choose between two very different men with two very different agendas.

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt?

Lisa: I’ll go with Sweetwater, since this site is all about historicals! This is the (very unedited) opening scene:

1870, South Pass City, Wyoming Territory

A spray of blood hit his face like hot rain, and Elijah Carter clamped his mouth shut.
“Hold him! Hold him!”
The rope had slipped when Dawson made the first cut, and the yearling was trying to buck them off now. Elijah and Lovell had it pushed against the fencepost and were trying to hold it there, Lovell against its hindquarters and Elijah shoulder-to-shoulder with the yearling. Elijah didn’t know which of them had the worst end of it. He wasn’t sorry to be out of the way of those back legs, but if the swinging thick skull of the panicked animal collided with his, he’d be in real trouble. Elijah pushed his forehead against the yearling’s neck. Closer was safer, if they could hold it.
Dawson was drunk, probably. His hands shook too much, and they were weak too. He’d been a good butcher once, back when Elijah first started working with him scrubbing the floors and the counters in the shop and doing the deliveries. Then Dawson’s drinking had picked up, and now he couldn’t even slaughter a yearling without fucking it up.
Elijah’s cheek scraped against the coarse coat of the yearling. He smelled blood and dust.
The yearling pitched forward and Elijah’s grip slipped.
“I said hold him, you simple deaf cunt!” Dawson grunted.
Elijah didn’t need to see the shape of Dawson’s mouth in the lamplight to make out the words. He’d heard the insult often enough.
Hot blood washed over Elijah’s fingers. He dug his boots in the dirt, fighting against the struggling animal. The yearling bellowed — a long, high-pitched sound that vibrated against Elijah’s face, his hands. It moved through him, and jarred his bones.
Elijah closed his eyes as Dawson’s knife passed close in front of his face. He hoped Dawson wasn’t drunk enough to take his fingers with the next cut. He hoped the lamp hanging off the fence gave enough light for Dawson to finish the task.
Working in the dark was dangerous, but it had to be done. The beasts were mavericks, brought down from the hills into South Pass City. They had to be slaughtered and butchered under the cover of the night, and served up on dinner plates all over town before the sheriff came asking questions.
Elijah hadn’t seen the faces of the men who’d herded them into town. There had been maybe four of them, all wearing their hats pulled low. In the darkness, they could have been anyone. Elijah hadn’t stared. It was safer that way. He’d stayed out of the way while Dawson had done business with the men, then Lovell had come to fetch him. And here they were.
The yearling bellowed again.
Blood again. A flood of it this time, as free flowing and hot as bathwater poured from a kettle. It turned Elijah’s stomach, and he fought the instinct to pull away.
The yearling sank to its knees and Elijah went forward with it. He could hear its heartbeat echoing inside his skull, in panicked counterpoint to his own. It beat slower, and slower still.
Elijah was slick with blood. He shifted back, his body aching. He kept one bloodied hand on the neck of the yearling, his fingers splayed. It was too weak to struggle now. Its ears flicked back and forth and its eyes rolled.
The yearling’s breath came in short pants. So did Elijah’s. Kneeling together in the dirt, they waited. Blood, black in the night, pooled around them.
Dawson laughed, lifting his arm to wipe his sweaty forehead on his sleeve. The blade of the knife made an arc in the scant lamplight. Dawson’s skin was yellow and puffy these days. His gut was bloated. Elijah had read enough of Dr. Carter’s medical books to recognize it as cirrhosis. Dawson was an asshole, and every day, every drink, he was closer to death. Elijah had more sympathy for the yearling than the butcher.
The yearling sighed, stilled.
Lovell dropped a hand on Elijah’s shoulder. “We’re done.”
Lovell never treated Elijah like a fool. Never pulled his mouth into exaggerated shapes to mock the way Elijah spoke. Never laughed at him or slapped him in the head for being slow to understand.
Elijah rose to his feet, bracing himself against the dead yearling. The beast felt more unyielding now than when it had been struggling against them. Dead things always did. The difference between alive and dead was both infinitesimal and immense: the tiny space of only a single heartbeat was as wide as an abyss.
Elijah spat, and wiped his hands on his bloody apron for all the difference that it made.

~.~

Thank you, Lisa, that was terrific.

If you would like to follow Lisa online you can find her blog here, on Twitter as
@LisaHenryOnline and she hangs out on Goodreads a lot too.

He Is Worthy

Rome, 68 A.D. Novius Senna is one of the most feared men in Rome. He’s part of the emperor’s inner circle at a time when being Nero’s friend is almost as dangerous as being his enemy. Senna knows that better men than he have been sacrificed to Nero’s madness—he’s the one who tells them to fall on their swords. He hates what he’s become to keep his family safe. He hates Nero more.

Aenor is a newly-enslaved Bructeri trader, brutalized and humiliated for Nero’s entertainment. He’s homesick and frightened, but not entirely cowed. He’s also exactly what Senna has been looking for: a slave strong enough to help him assassinate Nero.

It’s suicide, but it’s worth it. Senna yearns to rid Rome of a tyrant, and nothing short of death will bring him peace for his crimes. Aenor hungers for revenge, and dying is his only escape from Rome’s tyranny. They have nothing left to lose, except the one thing they never expected to find—each other.

 

Buy “He Is Worthy” here:

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Previously posted on Speak Its Name.

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My guest today is Paula Sophia whose work delves into the complexities endured by transgender characters as they try to balance their emotional needs against the demands of their professions.

Thanks, Paula Sophia for joining me today.

~~~

Elin: Please can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Hystericus? Have you always enjoyed storytelling or was the urge to write fiction a fairly recent development.

Paula Sophia: Hystericus came from a workshop exercise where we were instructed to write something about a true-life experience. I had initially sent it to a friend of mine who was putting together a book about transgender women, The New Goddess, Transgender Women in the Twenty-First Century, published by Fine Tooth Press. The editor decided not to use the story, instead using some of my poetry – several slam pieces I’d written during my short career as a slam poet.
I revived Hystericus (which means of the womb in Greek) while enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hystericus proved one of my better efforts according to one of my professors and most of the other students in the program.
I had submitted it to over two-dozen literary magazines, only to get rejection after rejection. One editor wrote comments, saying the story was well-written but unbelievable. This response stung a little since Hystericus is very true-to-life. Everything that happens in the story happened to me in real life, just not on the same day. I did use some literary licence to explore some metaphors: the chain-gang snake at the beginning, the railroad crossing, and the phone call Angelina makes to her mother. (more…)

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My guest today is Steve Emmett – reviewer, writing coach and author of deeply scary horror novels. He is here today in celebration of the release of his novel Diavolino in paperback and to tease us a little, I hope, about his WIP.

Many thanks for joining me today, Steve. I know you’re a busy man!

Steve: Well, thanks for asking me to come. I don’t get out much these days and I look forward to invitations such as this. It does mean I may ramble a lot, so be warned. Oh, and I ought to say that I don’t do much by way of reviews these days, I’m just too wrapped up in my own writing and I’ve landed rather a lot of paid editing work!

Elin: Oh, grand news! So on to the questions. Diavolino was published firstly as an e-book and has done very well. Now it is out in paperback has your attitude to it changed? Does it feel more ‘real’ now you can hold a physical copy of the book in your hands? (more…)

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