Friday, November 2, 2007

Erastes



I'd like to welcome Erastes to our blog. Due to time zones, and my general incompetence, Erastes might be a little late, so I'm going to borrow a quick bio and some book information and post them here first!

Bio

Erastes has been writing all of his life, in one way or another, letters, emails, diaries used to satisfy his need for the written word. He simply didn't think he could write, make plots that people would be interested in.

Then one day in 2003, he simply started, a few short stories, and then a novel and then.. well, he hasn't stopped writing since.

He lives in Norfolk, and when he can be dragged kicking and screaming away from his computer, he enjoys walks by the Broads. He likes cats and cheese but has discovered only one of those is any good with toast.

He likes his men like his fiction, dark, with a hint of danger, romantic and intelligent without being too wordy. He believes in the GDM bases his dodgy morality on Heinlein's Intermissions.

He is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Erotica Writer's Association and is a staff writer at www.bookpuppy.co.uk


Standish
is a novel set in England during the Georgian period. Here's the book blurb:

A great house, a family dispossessed. A sensitive young man, a powerful landowner, and the epic love that springs up between them.

Ambrose Standish is a studious and fragile young man with dreams of regaining the great house his grandfather lost in a card game, but when Rafe Goshawk returns from the continent to claim the estate, their meeting sets them on a path of desire and betrayal which threatens to tear both of their worlds apart.

Set in the post-Napoleonic years of the 1820's, Standish is a tale of these two men, and how the relationships they make affect their journey through Europe and through life.

Painting a picture of homosexuality in Georgian England, illegal as it was and punishable by death, at heart it is a simple love story and the tale of one man's discoveries of his sexuality and his true feelings for the man who released it.
Product Description


I have to say that the Georgian period is one of my favorites and I'm really looking forward to reading this book!

Ladies and gents, Erastes!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to write m/m romance stories?

I've always wanted to write but nothing really sparked me off - I'd started books before. I have a half started children's book which is completely plotted out, but when I was half way through it I discovered Pratchett and found he'd already done "amusing sarcastic witches" and so that came to a halt, I've also got a fantasy I started about 10 years ago but that never got very far either.

Then I got into the Harry Potter books - and one day I was just surfing on the net looking for gossip or news about Severus Snape on whom I had a bit of a crush (blush) when I found a site called "The Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest" which was literally an archive of stories about Severus Snape having sex with just about every male character in the Potter Universe and my jaw dropped onto the desk. I'd discovered slash - and I'd never considered it before. Believe me, I've had the least sheltered life imaginable but I'd never thought of gay sex as a turn on - despite having been to bed with 2 men at the same time on several occasions - but here I was, reading slash and getting turned on. At first I thought I was slightly perverted, then I realised that a lot of male fantasies concerned two women in bed together, so it seemed perfectly normal after that.

I was lucky that the first slash story I ever read was a damned good one - there's a lot of crap in fanfic - if I'd read a bad one - I may not be here today! I read voraciously and then must have been struck by what they call inspiration and I wrote a novella in about 3 weeks. I realised almost immediately that I could do nothing with a Potter Novella - so I decided to write a Regency - and Standish was born.


2. How do you see the market for what you write-who are your readers and where are the based?

The market is growing - especially in the epublication market. I truly believe that for once in my life I'm in the right place at the right time. The publishing world has been steadily ignoring m/m fiction, but I don't think they can do much longer.

My readers come from all over the world, and, maybe because Standish is equal part gay historical, gay romance and gay erotica, seem to be both men and women, both straight and gay. It's wonderful to get emails from people about the book - something I thought would never happen to me.


3.What would you say were the main differences between what you write and say, erotic romance which often now incorporates elements of m/m or m/m/f or m/f/m stories?

Well, I admit that when I started out to write I was writing erotic romance, that is, fairly graphic sex but as I've continued on with books they've become less so. The one I'm doing at the moment has moments of "oh? was there a kiss there?" so I don't know whether people might be dissapointed. Don't get me wrong, I do love the sex scenes, but what they have to be is relevant to the progression of the plot and some erotic romance seems to be more about the sex and less about the characters or plot. I don't like the idea that people think m/m=sex because (and I shouldn't need to say this) people are about more than that.

4. Describe your journey to publication.

I have been very very lucky. I know that much. I finished Standish in 2004 and started sending it out to various mainstream publishers and got rejected and rejected - possibly about 12 times in all (I don't count the times where the particular editor had left or the publishing house had closed down) and then I simply stopped sending it and concentrated on short stories for a while. I was lucky enough to get the first story I ever wrote for original publication ("Bright Souls") accepted by Torquere Press and I sold several more stories to them-I'll always be grateful to them for my start. Then I re-sold Bright Souls to Alyson Books as part of their "Ultimate Gay Erotica 2005" and after that things just snowballed. In the middle of 2005 someone suggested I start sending Standish out again, now I had some details on my "CV" and the first publisher I sent it to (P D Publishing) accepted it. I still find it hard to believe.

5. What does the future hold for you bookwise? What's coming up?

My second novel "Transgressions" (which is based in the English Civil War) is with the publisher and they want some re-writing done, so that's what I need to concentrate on now. I'm half way through a novel about a married stockbroker who falls in love with the teenager next door - and which doesn't obey the requisite rules for a "Romance" so I don't even know if that will sell.

But I do - in the interim - have two novellas coming out in the next little while: One with Aspen Mountain Press (which will be my first foray into ebooks) called Chiaroscuro and is about a 19th Century Florentine artist and the man he falls in love with and another one which I can't talk about yet as it hasn't been finalised - but it's a Regency.


6. Where can we find you and your books?

My website is www.erastes.com Standish is available from all Amazons and Barnes and Nobel (and some bookshops, in America I think) My website has some free stories and excerpts on it, and links to all the anthologies.


7. How do you see the market for what you write in 5 years time? Are times really changing and if so, why?

I hope - I'm fairly confident - that m/m will have broken into the mainstream by now. It's already happening in some small way. As well as the ubitquitous Brokeback Mountain, there are the Lord John stories by Diana Gabaldon, David Leavitt's fiction, Mordred Bastard Son by Douglas Clegg, As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McAnn and The Boy I Love by Marion Husband - all of which have been critically well received. What needs to happen is

1. more people to write it
2. and the emphasis to drift away from the graphic sex

I'm sure that things will be better - there are a lot of problems in the publishing world, gay oriented publishers and book stores are closing all over the place, but I hope that when one falls, it leaves a place for one or two others to spring up in its place.


8. Favorite football/soccer team? Favorite TV show? Favorite thing to do when you're not writing?

The only sport I enjoy watching is Three Day Eventing and there's not much of that on the TV, not enough anyway. *G* When I'm not writing I'm usually reading. I run a gay historical fiction blog, Speak Its Name which concentrates on reviews and discussion so I'm always reading in order to review. The sad thing about m/m fiction is that there is a finite amount of it - whereas heterosexual historical fiction is vast. I maintain a list HERE - so if any of your readers know of any that I haven't listed - please let me know!

Thanks for having me, Kate.

Erastes

Any questions or comments for Erastes, please post them to the comments section :)
Kate

10 comments:

Jane Lockwood said...

Hi Erastes,
Great to have you here with us. I'm very interested to see that you have a book coming out set in the English Civil War period, because that's a period I have a hankering for too.

So why that period, and why the Regency?

Pam Rosenthal said...

Erastes,
I'm enjoying the excerpts and love your penname. But -- sorry if this sounds naive or childish -- I'm confused by Kate's ambiguous use of pronouns. Are you a guy, a girl, or something in between? (I live in San Francisco, so I'm serious about the in between possibilities, physical and/or spiritual.)

Kate Pearce said...

Actually I love three-day eventing because I'm totally in awe of anyone who can make a horse do anything more complicated than the basics (like me) all those other disciplines are amazing!

Erastes said...

Hi Jane - thank you!

As for "why Regency?" It was a period I knew a fair amount about - I have lived with Austen and Vanity Fair and all the Gothic Novels all of my life, so I felt comfortable there. I was wrong though, as I still had to do a shedload of research (and still got a couple of things wrong!)

As to "why English Civil War" - I rather wish I hadn't. It was my mother's idea, she was my greatest supporter, and she just said "Oh wouldn't it wonderful pathos to have lovers who end up on opposite sides" and I was stung hard by that idea and just had to write it. However, despite having friends in the ECW re-enactment society I found I knew just about zilcho about the period. And also it's a tricky period to research too!

There's a huge amount of information about the war itself - battles, uniforms, personalities etc etc etc. I could find out what so-and-so wore at what battle and what the blinking horse was called but the minutae needed to bring the period to life was hard to find - what did people eat? What did their houses look like? How much did they earn? Was a lot lot harder to resource. I ended up having to go to bricks and mortar libraries more than once! How Quaint!

Erastes said...

Hi Pam

I'm female - but when I started out I didn't have the first clue that m/m fiction was written and read by women and so I was writing for men you see. I didn't think that they'd want to read a book by some woman so I invented Erastes and well, now, I'm kind of stuck with him - but I think it's a fairly open secret that I'm not some old greek bloke. :)

Erastes said...

Hi Kate

Yes - I used to do it a bit myself when I was younger and my mother couldn't bear to watch. I think I'd be too chicken to do it these days!

Jennifer Linforth said...

Wonderful interview Erastes. I was nodding as I read your comment on sex scenes and erotica "...they have to be is relevant to the progression of the plot and some erotic romance seems to be more about the sex and less about the characters or plot." I could not agree more!

My critique partner is published in erotica (I write historicals and works forwarding classic lit as you know) and she feels the same way regarding erotica and sex. (Our CP relationship is an odd combination but works...)

We have been discussing marketing and was wondering if you had any wise words? Granted our publishers do a lot to market our books, but authors can as well. What do you do? How do you drive traffic to your website? (.. besides the great snippets of sex ;)

Jennifer

Erastes said...

Hi Jennifer

Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

Re marketing: You are very lucky that your publisher does some marketing for you! Mine is a little too small as yet, but next year they are going to Saints & Sinners - I wish I was.

I'm active, as active as I can be online without (I hope) making too much of a nuisance of myself. I am the Director of the Erotic Authors Association, and Moderate Speak Its Name which helps get the name known.

I also try and do as many short stories for anthologies too - I find this invaluable. The pay is rubbish - I get about $100 per story if I'm lucky but hopefully people read the stories, start recognizing the name and are then tempted to go and read the novel, or seek out the website. I always find it amazing when i see a writer has no online presence, it's vital in this day and age.

I blog on Livejournal regularly, a daily sort of chatty blog, but I cross post on writely type blogs such as wordpress and myspace. It all takes time that I could be writing in, but I do think that it's worth it.

I also belong to an advertising co-operative which has been a real boon - 50 m/m writers who have band ed together and by small monetary sums every month or so - we can afford national advertising in magazines such as MEN and Romantic Times, which would be way beyond my means in the normal course of things. I get at least a third of my hits from that source.

If I was in America I'd be a lot more active in conventions and that sort of thing but I haven't really looked into it here yet, although I certainly will be going to the Historical Novelists Society in York in 2008 as it's not too far to travel, and it's only one day. I can't wait to see their faces!!

Kate Pearce said...

Erastes, thanks so much for being here and answering questions. I'm asking a follow-up,-have you had any problems with any review sites or advertising venues such as Romantic Times regarding your genre?

and yes, falling off a horse 'now' huts a lot more than it did when I was a kid!

Erastes said...

Hmmm. Well, I haven't had any problems personally in marketing, because I've learned from other people's mistakes in that respect - one of my co-members of the collective I spoke about was treated very badly at the RT's convention due to her picture of a half naked man advertising m/m. She had to take it all down. There were a lot more risque pictures of naked men advertising Hetero romances but none of those were asked to be removed!

So I've never sent Standish to be reviewed by RT's as I know that they wouldn't review it. (even if I paid for advertising which then is supposed to ensure me a review - I wouldn't like to be ripped off like that)

I think they are being very short sighted, to be honest, but it's their choice. I have faith, things will change. There was a book written recently (I forget the name) by someone relatively well known in the Romance Genre who had a plot including a gay cop and RT's reviewed that, so we'll see.