Archive for the ‘introductions’ Category

Hi, I’m another Alex – Alex Draven. Mostly I write queer romance (sometimes dubbed m/m erotic romance, or original slash, or any one of a hundred other labels), and I’ve been putting off making my introduction post, because I always find it slightly embarrassing to talk about myself – how terribly stereotypically British of me!

(Photo by Chanc)

My tagline is ‘Librarian by day, storyteller by night’, because that’s pretty much true – I’ve worked in various libraries, largely in London, and they’re excellent places for watching people. My writing has to fit in around the day job because I’ve learned that nothing takes the joy out of something like making it responsible for keeping a roof over your head. I’ve made that mistake before. I can’t not think about stories, though, so the writing happens in all the spaces where it can, and I get to still enjoy it.

A fair amount of what I write is set in Britain, because that is my background – I’ve lived in England and Wales my whole life.

That said, I struggled for a long while to find a way of writing contemporary stories set in the UK that didn’t get bogged down in specific locations, and my first published stories were set in the USA. (Fall, which is urban fantasy with centaurs, is out of print and freely available on my journal, and Sleeping Bears, which is urban fantasy with bears and set in Alaska. Originally published in an anthology, it has been extended and will be coming out as a stand-alone ebook from Torquere Press in October)

(photo by unclebucko)

How did I make the jump to bringing my stories closer to home? I created fictional locations. There’s Kettle and its environs, which was home to my early experiments in English urban fantasy – some of which I plan to eventually revisit – and there’s Tawnholme, which is home to a lot of my contemporary stories, including both my current publications, Staytape and Favour (or, officially, Favor, because it’s with an American publisher). It took a long while to get a good grip on their geography, their history, but at least most of the background rules that shape the way people act – school systems, police systems, the rules of the road, media distribution, power supply – were already familiar to me.

If you followed the links, you’ll see the other reason I have ‘storyteller by night’ in my tagline – a lot of my stories are set in the UK’s goth/alternative scene. Why? Because boys in eyeliner. Okay, so that’s flippant (if a little bit true). Mostly because that, too, is my background. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s wondered where my pen name comes from, but, yes, I’m a goth. Or, these days, more of a metal-tinged rivethead corp-goth with terrifyingly eclectic music tastes, depending on how you look at these things.

I don’t write from life, but I do take inspiration from what’s around me, and my aesthetic is what it is.

(Photo by fluffy_steve)

I had a conversation with an editor last year where they queried a description of one of the characters, and I paraphrase.

“Are you sure this is saying what you want it to say – I’m getting Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, they said.

“Yup,” I said.

“Oh,” they said. “If that’s what you intended, then, fair enough. Only that’s not an image that says sexy to me”.

“Um,” I said. “It does to me …”

I’m just glad that the story found readers who see things more my way than the editor’s!

At the moment I’ve got several Tawnholme stories on the boil – the drag queen and the reluctant stag-party guest, the librarian and the children’s author, the roadie and the musician, the one where they meet by dropping milkshake on the pavement, the one where they go on holiday to Cornwall – and a ghost story that’s percolating in the back of my head.

So, in a nutshell, that’s me. Hi!

My website is currently a work in progress, so alexdraven.org.uk will take you to my journal, and the fiction that I’ve posted there.

My published works are available direct from the publisher here or via Amazon / Fictionwise / etc.

And my email inbox is always open, if people have questions or want to get in touch. (Alex@ the domain above)


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As Alex Beecroft and I are somewhat responsible for the blog idea, it’s way past time I introduced myself. Hi. My name is Sharon Maria Bidwell and right now I mainly write for Loose-Id and Aspen Mountain Press, with several works out in the romance genre. How that happened never ceases to amaze me.

You see, I’ve been writing for a long time and I’ve had many short works — stories, articles, and poems — published in small press magazines, both print and electronic. Yet the day came when I wondered ‘when’ was I going to have a longer work out there. I even had a few draft novels sitting around but I never seemed to fit a suitable category so I’d never more than toyed with submitting one of these stories. When asked to describe what I do I call my work diverse because if you were to ask me if I’m a romance writer, a horror writer, a fantasy writer, science-fiction, humour, slipstream, or whatever genre you care to name, I’d have to answer a resounding yes to each of those categories. My work just didn’t fit a defined market.

Resigned to writing for an extremely small audience of devoted friends or waiting until a particular genre inspired me, I sat around waiting for some undefined occurrence that might point me in the right direction. I never expected that direction would be not only romance but also romances that are somewhat erotic. I’d not truly written anything you could call erotic in my life before so no one was more shocked than I and, even more difficult to explain to the in-laws, the majority of my work to date is mostly m/m romance, although that’s about to change. I do have one m/f work out with Aspen and I’ve a couple of m/m/f ménage stories in progress.

So how did my first published romance come into being? Simply put, I had an idea. It turned out to be one of those ideas that many writers consider a blessing. One that taps you on the shoulder when you’re not looking, stays with you, bugs you, whispers in your ear, and then starts howling when you try to ignore it.

The success of the book was also due to timing. I had read writers such as Angela Knight and Mary Janice Davidson. They led me to stumble across others too many to mention. I discovered erotic romances for women were selling and that many of these publishers allowed their authors to let their imaginations take them where it wanted to fly. I loved the concept and wanted to join them. My idea had found its perfect mate in the perfect market.

So, romance? Well, yes, but whatever I write, I’m very aware that I want to produce a full story. There’s plenty of action and adventure in my books, along with the relationships. Besides, it’s about time romance bridged boundaries. Whether your character is stuck on a world of wizards and magic, or an orbiting platform in space, what is the chance that he or she won’t find a love interest? Many great series or movies have included plenty of action but kept the audience equally gripped by the possibility that the characters will fall in love…or the very least, lust, and yes, I’m including many macho action movies in this. You’ve only got to consider how many action stories involve the hero saving the woman he loves, or getting the girl…or the boy, if that’s his preference, even if it’s Happy For Now, rather than a Happy Ever After.

This all started with a vision of a man sitting on a bench in open parkland and a thief about to steal his purse. At the time, I had no idea who the man was or why he sat there. I had no idea as to the identity of the thief. Later, I came across a name: Shavar, ‘Comet’ and I found the missing pieces. That still leaves the question of why I made this largely a same sex story.

In my mind, there was no uncertainty. I envisioned a race that freely took lovers of either sex. This also gave the story an additional concept. If I had made the thief female, a similar story could have applied, but it would have contained less conflict, less tension, less story. That was not only somewhat boring it certainly wouldn’t have opened up new pathways I could explore for future instalments.

Why, though, would I consider writing more stories along these lines? When your publisher expresses such an interest, you don’t turn your back. When readers add their voice to the clamour you greet them with a smile and count your blessings. As to why m/m romances do well, that’s another blog, so watch this space, and that’s not to say I don’t want to explore other avenues and styles of writing. I always say I write as I read, meaning anything and everything. For now, this is the idea that launched my first novel, which is now a trilogy:

Unleash the Comet… Feel the power…

Markis Shaver, the Swithin Prince, controls the power of the Comet, which may be the only thing that will act as a deterrent in a war between two vast monarchies – a war that could devastate the natural world and must therefore be avoided at any cost, even if that means killing the many to save the few. As if things weren’t bad enough, he may also have to rescue a princess and face a marriage of convenience and it doesn’t help that Markis is still in training and struggles to control the power when he calls it forth. At times, he also struggles to control his temper, which is quick to react where his feelings are concerned. The lessons, alas, do not seem to be working and he is running out of time.

His personal guard and best friend, Ryanac, disagrees with the old teachings and has always insisted that Markis should embrace love, both emotionally and physically, to control the Comet … but then again, he could be wrong.

When Markis leaves the palace one night to indulge in the luxury of a little solitude, he captures a young man and would-be thief. Out of boredom he decides to play a little game with the thief but little does he know that in time Uly will teach him a whole new lesson in desire … and love. But if he gives into love physically before he has full control, what will it mean for the world?

If Uly, a street thief, can teach a prince to let go of control, maybe love really can conquer all. Markis is afraid of the ride but maybe he should just unleash the comet and feel the power…

Uly\'s Comet


Sharon Maria Bidwell
aonia – where the muses live

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I’m a relatively new writer who seems determined not to settle down to a ‘brand’. My first book came out on the first of January this year (2008). ‘Captain’s Surrender’ is a gay historical romance. Set in 1779, just before the end of the War of Independence, it’s a sea-faring adventure in the tradition of Patrick O’Brian. If PoB had given greater prominence to his gay characters, that is.

Captain's Surrender

Unlike many more professional writers, it never occurred to me to find out what the market was like; what was hot, what was not. If I had, I might have been discouraged by the fact that there seemed to be fifty contemporary novels and ten paranormals for every historical. This was an instance in which my own lack of savvy came to my rescue, because I just wrote what I wanted to read.

I’ve been in love with the 18th Century Royal Navy since watching ‘Master and Commander’. I wanted all that military glamor, all the excitement of battles, storms, shipwrecks, combat and life-or-death peril, combined with a strong focus on characterization, star-crossed, forbidden romance, true love conquering all, and a happy ending. In short, I wanted a book that would satisfy both the masculine and the feminine side of myself. I have to say that – for me at least – I managed to succeed in that.

My other published novel is called ‘The Witch’s Boy’, and is as different as can be from ‘Captain’s Surrender’. The Witch’s Boy is a pseudo-early-Norman fantasy, in which a man’s attempt to rise above his abusive childhood is complicated by the fact that both he and his abuser are powerful sorcerers, and the abuser wants him back. I published this one myself through Lulu because it flies in the face of various publishing conventions. For example, one of my protagonists is an 11 year old boy, (who does not grow up to save the world!) yet the novel is very definitely adult. Gruesome at times, even 😉

But I suppose that at present m/m Age of Sail is what I’m mostly associated with, and that’s unlikely to change when my next two projects come out. I also have:

an Age of Sail short story called ‘90% Proof’ coming out soon in an anthology (called ‘Inherently Sexual’) from Freya’s Bower. That’s been slightly delayed due to the editor not being very well.

Inherently Sexual

And I’m just in the process of negotiating and signing the contract on a second Age of Sail novel, under a working title of ‘False Colors’. That’s to be published by Perseus Books, and has a theme of how society’s condemnation of same sex love harms not only GBLT people but society itself. Which sounds very pretentious, I know, but which also involves battles with pirates, the white slave trade, cannibals, threesomes, cruel fathers, a famous castrato, and giant centipedes. So it can’t be all bad.

I run the ‘In Their Own Words‘ blog, which is a promotional resource for GBLT novels, where authors can put up interviews with their own characters. I’m also a moderator and contributor to The Macaronis blog, which is dedicated to gay historic romance. I run the Gay and Lesbian Excerpts blog on both WP and Myspace, occasionally review on ‘Speak Its Name‘ and I blather on incessantly about anything that takes my fancy on my own blog: HMS Gruntleship.

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