Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’


hands

Hands

I can still remember your hands

So well-tended and pristine

Painting the world with patterns and

Colors I have never seen

And still imprisoned in my mind

Every detail, fair and flawed

And hopes of touches cruel or kind

By fantasy or façade

And handcuffed in famished quicksand

Sits my wish to set you free

I can still remember your hands…

Although they never touched me

 © Jerod Scott

Facebook Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/thejerodscott?ref=tn_tnmn

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C.J. Cherryh is one of the most prompt, and easy-going people I’ve ever met. When I asked her if she’d like to participate in my recent author interviews, she said, “Sounds great.” I sent her some questions, and within fifteen minutes she’d responded to them all!

She is the author of more than 60 science fiction and fantasy novels, which in and of itself, is astounding. She has several Hugo award-winning novels, and even has her own asteroid: 77185 Cherryh. The folks who discovered the asteroid had this to say about her: “She has challenged us to be worthy of the stars by imagining how mankind might grow to live among them.”  To learn more about C.J., check her website out at: http://www.cherryh.com/

Q: Was there a defining moment in your life when you decided you wanted to be a writer?

A: Pretty well when they canceled my favorite TV show [Flash Gordon, the old serial] and there were no books like that in the library. I was 10.

Q: When you did start writing, were the people around you supportive of you?

A: My mother heard my ambition of the week and said, sternly, a very eye-opening thing: “Do something to eat.” This made me, at 10, wonder how writers got paid, and how they got to be writers. I decided publishers wouldn’t come to me, I had to get to them somehow, and meanwhile I had to eat. Teachers, I thought, had summers off. So I planned to be a teacher, so I could write.

Q: How long after you wrote your first novel did you get published?

A: Twenty years.

Q: How did you celebrate when you first got published?

A: Nobody I knew was home or would be for a week or so. So I went down and spent 200.00 completely redecorating my little office, repainting, putting up a mural, new carpet. And furniture. It wasn’t much. I invited my relatives in to admire it. They were amazed. My mum asked, “What prompted this?” I said: “I sold a book.”

Q: Is it true that early in your career you had to rewrite several manuscripts because the publishers misplaced them?

A: Yep. Moshe Feder found one at Ace, fallen down behind a cabinet, years later, and took it to an editor, who recognized it had long since been published in more than one language. I received it in the mail and couldn’t think what sort of fan would give you such a gift—I didn’t even recognize the typing: it was that old. Then I realized it was one of the old ones. I didn’t hear the whole story until Moshe told me his half of it at a convention. They lost that one 3 times.

Q: When you first began writing science fiction, was it difficult for you due to the fact that the majority of sci-fi writers were male?

A: I had no idea. I’d never been stopped from being or doing anything because I was female, except being shunted into a detestable home ec class instead of shop (but I still have all my fingers) and realizing I couldn’t fly fighter jets (but my vision wouldn’t let me do it anyway.) I write under initials because that’s the way my addy stamp was made up, because (the third reason) I lived in a rough neighborhood and didn’t like having a solo female name on the door. I’d have met them in the hall with a Persian saber—I competed in fencing—but I didn’t intend to let rascals even get the idea.

Q: Your writing voice is unique and especially powerful. What can you tell us about how you developed your style?

A: The key is viewpoint—understanding how to ‘be’ the person you’re writing about.

Q: You have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel two times, and the Best Short Story Hugo. What has that like?

A: Really, it’s hard being up for something: you do get nervous. And then I felt bad because I’d beat out some friends who also wanted it really badly.

Q: What does your writing space look like?

A: I have a little recliner beside a window in my bedroom, and I face a telly which provides white noise. I am frequently assisted by a cat.

Q: How many languages do you speak?

A: I know Latin, Ancient Greek, my best ones; can get along in French, once I get it going; and Italian [a Latin student is cheating on that one.] I know a little Russian, can muddle through several Romance languages in Latin, as long as it’s not too wild; and a couple of others.

Q: Do you write anything outside of the Science Fiction genre?

A: Fantasy. Jane and I are talking about collaborating on the next vampire book.

Q: What has your greatest moment as a writer been?

A: I think when I went to my first convention and met people who’d actually read my books.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: I outline a little, because I have a life, and travel, and need to pin the bare bones down so I can remember it. Then I don’t look at that unless I need it and just go forward. If I get stuck I start editing from the beginning. A good shower is really essential to the process, too. If you get stuck, shower.

Q: Which of your own books is your favorite and why?

A: Gate of Ivrel remains dear to my heart; Cyteen is one I’m quite proud of.

Q: What is the best novel you’ve ever read?

A: Hard to say: that varies by my mood. Jane and I read each other’s, and of course we love what we’re working on. Vergil’s Aeneid occupied a lot of my college study: he had a great influence on my sense of expression—Latin’s impressionistic and tricky. He was a great ‘sensory’ writer and it doesn’t come across well in English.

Q: What is the most discouraging thing about being a writer?

A: Isolation. There is NO instant gratification in the writing biz. It’s a long battle with white space. But it’s wonderful when it’s going well.

Q: How large of a role do you play in the marketing of your novels, and what are some of the best marketing strategies you know of?

A: Since NY has not been able to keep up backlist—Jane Fancher, Lynn Abbey and I formed our own e-book company for just the 3 of us, to keep our backlist in print and to experiment with books and stories that the bean-counters who try to dictate to publishers what they CAN buy — might not like.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

A: I garden, I do fish tanks, I figure skate, I travel, I hang out with my friends.

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: In the same month I wanted to be a writer? An astronomer and a fighter pilot. Astronauts weren’t on the horizon yet.

Q: Are you working on anything now, and can you tell us about it?

A: I’m working on a Foreigner book, I’m putting out the Rusalka books (3) as e-books, I’m advising the Audible people who are doing some of my books, I’m talking with Jane about that vampire novel, and meanwhile we’re doing our own covers and conversions, and thinking up other stories.


Tara Lain was named Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and her Genetic Attraction Series was runner-up for Best Series of 2011. Additionally, her novel Genetic Attraction was nominated for a CAPA (Cupid and Psyche Award ~ given by the Romance Studio) as best contemporary romance, and she was nominated for a CAPA as favorite author of 2011. Her novel Golden Dancer won The Romance Reviews Best Book of 2011 in the LGBT Ménage category.

What prompted me to ask Tara Lain for an interview was my intrigue and respect for the subject matter of her novels, which is very often (but not always) gay erotica/romance. My interest was piqued a few years ago, when I had an account on Goodreads.com. Browsing through the readers’ reviews, I couldn’t help noticing a major trend: women who love books written by women about men who love men. The inescapable, mass popularity of this genre surprised me as much as it intrigued me… and naturally, I had no choice but to check it out. The first book I ever read of this kind was a book by Tara Lain.

I think Tara Lain is not only a great author but I also think she is a brave person. It takes courage to write about such socially sensitive topics… and it takes grace to do it well. I think Tara has what it takes to keep doing what she’s been doing for a very long time to come. She was as enthusiastic to be a part of my author interviews as I was to have her, and I’m grateful to her for taking the time to answer some of my questions.

Q: You originally began writing non-fiction. What kind of non-fiction did you write?

A: I still write non-fiction every day. I own an ad/PR agency and write magazine articles, blogs, websites, white papers, email blasts and much more for my clients in technology and medical markets.

Q: In terms of process, what are some of the main differences between writing fiction and writing non-fiction?

A: There are surprising similarities. Some of my employees say my fiction writing has made me a better and faster non-fiction writer. In non-fiction, it’s all about the thesis. What is the article or paper going to prove or show? In fiction it’s about what is the hero’s problem? What stands in the way of him achieving his dreams? (I say hero because I write mostly M/M, but it’s also true for heroines) The big difference, of course, is dialogue. It’s a very different method of expression from prose. I adore dialogue and love writing it. And, I don’t get to write sex scenes when I’m writing for Waste Water Digest!  LOL

Q: Of your own characters, do you have a favorite, and why is he or she your favorite?

A: Oh, I can’t play favorites. They’re all my kids. I do have a special affection for the yummy Roan Black in The Scientist and the Supermodel and Genetic Attraction. He was my first love! He comes back in my new book, Genetic Celebrity, being released on July 24th. I also adore my feisty little Rodney Mansfield in Fire Balls. He is such a mass of contradictions — a real alpha hero in a five foot eight inch body with pink hair.

Q: Erotic fiction is very hot right now. What do you attribute that to?

A: I think erotic fiction is always hot. It’s just that digital publishing now provides a much wider selection to appeal to people’s individual tastes. The books are inexpensive, high quality and easy to acquire. What’s not to like?

Q: What originally got you interested in writing male/male (M/M) erotic romance?

A: I had decided to write an erotic romance — a M/F, older woman/younger man story. Then I ordered a book from an author I had been enjoying. All the books I had read of hers up to that point were M/F, so I simply ordered this book called Heaven without much investigation. The book was M/M and I was surprised. I started reading, kind of looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching, and immediately fell in love with the dynamic of M/M romance. The unintentional mentor was my friend Jet Mykles. I added another man to my M/F story and immediately became both a M/M writer and a ménage writer neither of which I had ever intended. I have been reading and writing M/M romance ever since.

Q: Do you prefer to write male/male erotica/romance, or male/female, and why?

A: I prefer writing M/M (or M/M/F) romance for many reasons. Two men together have no assigned societal gender roles. They both have the same physical capabilities and limitations so the writer can mix them up in lots of fun new ways. Like in my LGBT [lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender] romance, Fire Balls, my hero is a flamboyant artist who is only 5’8” tall but he is a black belt in karate and a top in bed. His lover is a big, hunky firefighter who by nature is more submissive although he’s very heroic at work. The roles are fluid. I love that. As a woman, I enjoy crawling inside the skin and emotional framework of my men and showing that men have deep feelings. I write few traditional alpha males who are silent and stoic. My guys cry as much if not more than my heroines. Also, gay men bear such a burden of discrimination that it adds a complex dimension to even a simple story. Plus, I love giving them a happy ever after!

Q: How do people respond to you when you tell them you write gay erotica/romance?

A: My husband loves it and tells everyone. So does the rest of my family and most of my friends. One or two are disapproving and prefer to ignore that whole side of my life. One of my friends who is a gay man was pretty amazed when I told him but he loves my books and tells all his friends. They keep saying, “But she’s a straight woman, right?” That makes me smile a lot!

Q: It has long been more socially acceptable for two women to have a sexual/romantic relationship than two men. Why do you think people are suddenly so interested in male/male relationships? What do you think has changed that has made male/male relationships so much more widely accepted, especially in literature?

A: I like to think that we writers of M/M romance have had something to do with it. Let’s face it, women develop the standards and mores of a society. Women love romance and they love men. Tons of women have found they love reading about two men together and suddenly the idea isn’t icky any more–it’s HOT! Those women raise children. Certainly a woman who reads M/M romance on her Kindle is going to make more of an effort to understand when her son says, “Mom, I’m gay.” On a grander scale, the world has grappled with its discrimination on many fronts. It’s time we dealt with this one.

Q: What inspires you more than anything?

A: The first two words that came to mind are justice and authenticity. For astrology buffs, I have six planets in Libra. I have an over-developed sense of justice and hate to see anyone or anything treated unfairly. And all of my books end up being about people living an authentic life –finding the way that is right for them and being willing to sacrifice to have that life. I never intend for the books to have that theme. It just happens.

Q: Of your own novels, which is your favorite and why?

A: Oh my. I can’t choose. I love Genetic Attraction because it was my first novel (and still one of my best). I really like Golden Dancer. I had never written romantic suspense before and it has three super complex heroes (it’s a M/M/M ménage). Spell Cat is my first paranormal M/M romance and I love my cat, Aloysius. Fire Balls was one of those books that just wrote itself and has been my all-time bestseller so far. And Sinders and Ash is such a total fairy tale romance it’s hard not to love it. Oh dear, I love my enemies to lovers in Beach Balls. I love them all. I can’t choose.

Q: Who do you base your characters off of?

A: I make them up. No specific inspirations (except for the male fashion model in my upcoming book, Genetic Celebrity, who is based physically somewhat on Andrej Pejic). My characters walk into my head and tell me who they are.

Q: What are some of the strongest marketing strategies you’ve found for your novels?

A: I am what is affectionately referred to as a promo whore! Since my day job is in PR all my instincts point in that direction. I know from professional experience that promotion is a cumulative effect. People often say “I’ve seen your book so many places. I think I have to get it.” I do everything– Facebook, Twitter, two blogs plus a group blog, blog tours, blog hops, online chats and parties. I just consider promotion a part of my job as an author.

Q: Do you prefer hardcopy, or e-books?

A: E-books. Though I have hundreds of paper books in my house, I took to the ereader like the proverbial duck to water. I love the idea of carrying hundreds of books in a tiny package. I enjoy the process of reading digitally.

Q: What does your writing space look like?

A: I write in the same place I work. I am lucky enough to get to work from home, so I have a nice wrap around desk with two big screens and a powerful computer.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

A: I love to walk and I adore movies. I also do some mixed media collage which I don’t have much time for now but I pull out occasionally. And, of course, I love to read.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m writing the next book in the Aloysius Tales, my paranormal series. The first book was Spell Cat and this will be book two. It’s about a young witch who has the gift of prophetic painting. When this book is complete, I’ll start another story in my contemporary fantasy series to follow Sinders and Ash.

Q: In your opinion, what is the absolute best part of writing?

A: I love walking into new worlds and meeting new people!  : )

 

For more information, or to contact Tara, go to:

 

E-mail:                   tara@taralain.com

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Author blog:       http://taralain.blogspot.com

Book blog:           http://beautifulboysbooks.blogspot.com

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

Facebook:           http://www.facebook.com/people/Tara-Lain/100001514105686

FB Page:         http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Lain/205042046209804

Amazon:          http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Lain/e/B004U1W5QC/

B&N               http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Tara-Lain?keyword=Tara+Lain&store=book

ARe     http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Tara+Lain


     

     Me and my friends’ Kim (Williams-Justesen) and Joe (Ostler) talked about forming our own critique group for many months before we ever got together and actually did it. The trouble was that the project Kim and I were collaborating on was very high in gore and horror, and I, being the nice guy I am, didn’t feel comfortable corrupting poor Joe by subjecting him to the nastiness and raw morbidity of our story, (little did I realize at the time that Joe has his own unique brand of deviance ~ but hey, I was trying to be nice!) Just kidding, Joe. 😉

So, as Kim and I wrapped up An Evil Heart, we both began new (and far tamer)  projects which we used in our critique group of three. The interesting thing about our group is that I write Horror/Supernatural, Kim writes for Middle Grade and Young Adult, and Joe writes Sci-Fi/High Fantasy, so the contrast of our styles creates a fun dynamic. The three of us were only able to meet twice though. I am leaving the state in two days from now, but we plan to continue the group through Instant Messenger and e-mail, but already, in the short time I have been a participant of a critique group, I have learned a good deal.

A critique group is an assembly of writers who’ve come together for the purpose of gaining insight and feedback from other writers, and no matter how good a writer you may be, there can be no arguing the benefits of being part of one. Critique groups may be as large or small as the group desires. They may be done face to face, over the phone, or online.

The beauty of the critique group is that however polished a writer may be, he or she will undoubtedly overlook some necessary detail at some point in his or her story. The other member’s of the group will hopefully be able to see these snags and help the writer smooth them over. Editors, agents and publishers don’t want raw and sloppy rough drafts. They want polished, revised material that has been read and critiqued, preferably a few times over. A critique group can help a writer be sure that the material he or she sends to an agent or editor is clean, concise, and professional.

     There are however, those groups of writers who do not have their fellows’ best interests at heart. I’ve heard many horror stories about really nasty critique groups whose members were apparently more interested in stroking their own egos than becoming better writers. These kinds of folks undoubtedly run rampant in writing communities worldwide. These kinds of writers aren’t hard to spot and should be avoided at all times. When someone works up the courage to allow his or her work to be viewed by others, I think we need to respect the vulnerability of the writer. That’s not to say that honesty isn’t imperative, it absolutely is, but honesty in and of itself does not need to be cruel. Writer’s are up against enough rejection and damage without having his or her peers standing in line to take turns crushing him or her. Critique groups should be constructive and supportive, and if they aren’t, find a new one. End of story.

Critique groups are as good (or bad) as the members make them, and I am grateful to have a pretty good, albeit very small, group of trusted writers to share my work with. It’s a disconcerting and unfortunately very necessary thing to lay your heart out and ask to be critiqued. To find just a handful of people who I feel comfortable asking feedback from is a wonderful thing.

     The world in general loves to give its opinion and whether you ask for it or not, you are going to get it. The trouble is, you have to be very careful who you listen to. The way I see it, you can divide the world’s population into three groups. The first (and probably largest) group, are those who really just don’t much care whether or not you succeed or fail. The second group is what I call the “cockroaches”. These guys will go out of their way to try to sabotage your success and sense of self-confidence. And the third and final group is the group you need to stick with. These are the folks who want to be better people themselves, and who want to help you become a better person.

So if you are thinking of joining or creating  your own critique group, my advice is to be sure you are among good company because, as important as it is to get feedback from other people, it’s even more important that you don’t give up on writing at the hands of someone who took it upon him or herself to let you know how bad you suck. We all suck or have sucked at some time or another. Totally sucking is the first step of good writing, so if you have to suck, why not suck with the best of them? 🙂

Write on.