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MM Good Book Reviews lead reviewer, Pixie, tracked down one of Storm Moon Press’s newest writers, Blaine D. Arden. Her short story, The Storyteller is an erotic fantasy piece that bleeped my radar. It’s sexy and so well written, I just didn’t want it to end. Since then, she has gone on to writer both fantasy and mystery and has been featured in several Goodread anthologies.
Enjoy their chat,
Tell us a little about yourself Blaine and is your hair naturally purple (What? You never know)
Well, I’m a purple haired, forty-something, writer of gay romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes and the colors black, purple and red, who sings her way through life.
Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, I spent many hours of my sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with my Barbies.
I’ve been married for almost twenty-two years to a man who gave me all the space I needed to grow, and together we raise—or try to, anyway—two sons, a foster-son (17, 20 and 19) and a ten-year old cairn terrier named Kendra.
As for my purple hair: Of course it is natural!! *snort*
Nah, I’m a natural blonde, so the purple is purely for artificial intelligence and vanity. You can check my color here: http://blainedarden.com/images/Blaineat18-writing-d.jpg though I was quite a bit younger then *wink* (in this photo I’m actually writing my first gay fiction)
Blaine do you set aside time to write or do you just go with when the inspiration strikes?
Well, I treat writing as my profession, so I write every day. I don’t quite make a 40 hour work week, with appointments, household, family, social gatherings and social networking distracting me from it, but I try to write a couple of hours in the morning and another couple in the afternoon.
But… I am a writer, so I drag a notebook everywhere and will definitely write when the inspiration strikes. I often complain that inspiration is a bitch with a lousy sense of timing, especially when she strikes right after I turned my lamp off to go to sleep.
You started out writing quite young, did you always want to be a published writer or is that just a nice bonus?
No, not always. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer, and writing wasn’t exactly encouraged at home. And while I did try to get a story published at eighteen—still can’t believe I did that, and shudder at how badly written it was—I still didn’t think of it as a future career. Writing always came second… well, last, to anything: studying, job, family, chores. I think the idea of being published didn’t take hold again until I finished my first NaNoWriMo project a couple of years ago, but I didn’t take a conscious step towards being published until January last year, when I dumped my studies to focus on my writing full-time. No regrets yet *grin*
How do your family support you in your writing? (Little bell next to computer to summon someone to make you a drink?)
I love my men to bits, but I doubt any of them would bring me something to drink until I asked them, repeatedly, and even then I’d probably have to wait a couple of hours for them to remember they promised to bring me one… They hug me and cheer for me when I receive good news, they stay out of my way when I request it (yes, sometimes I have to ask more than once for it to stick in their minds), they put up with my bouncy hysterics when I’m soaring and moodiness when I’m stressing out over a deadline.
Blaine what gave you that little push to finally submit your work?
Oh. Well, after I made the decision to go for my writing career, I joined a critique group, and the comments to my first chapter/scene were helpful and encouraging. It amazed me how level-headed I was when reading the edits (though I often kick at them during a first read-through, my inner editor takes over on the second read and agrees with most of the suggestions). I think that was the final nudge to giving it a go.
I have to ask, was it difficult getting someone to publish your work when you decided to take that step?
Err… not yet. At least, not in my experience. Out of three submissions, I was rejected once, and that novel subsequently was accepted elsewhere. Though, the first line of my first acceptance email almost gave me a heart-attack, because they didn’t think the story fit the anthology I submitted it for. But they wanted the story anyway. Phew! I was on holiday in the UK at that time, and I think the whole campsite could hear my joy.
And how do you find it working with Storm Moon Press?
Enjoying it very much so far. The staff is very friendly and helpful and I love the banter during the editing. I never take anything for granted and ask about every change I don’t get (when not explained in the comments) and defend every change I don’t agree with, and it’s encouraged. In the end, it’s all for the good of the story. I like that they handle a lot of the marketing and arrange reviews/interviews/guest blogs, if you’re willing to do those. So, all around, very enjoyable. Oh, and I love their covers. *grin*
So, Blaine you write M/M, how did you decide to write in this genre and what book inspired you to take the plunge.
I wrote my first gay fiction when I was 17/18. I was a rather naïve idealist and with all the negativity on homosexuality and AIDS on TV, I wanted to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. I’ve written non-gay stories over the years as well, but somehow I always come back to my men. It wasn’t a book that inspired me to take the plunge; I was inspired by films, three of them to be precise. ‘An Early Frost’ is the film that started it all, ‘Maurice’ is the film I fell in love with and ‘Beautiful Thing’ is the film that finally convinced me that my view on gay romance wasn’t wrong, like I thought it was for a while. Of course, if you want to be technical, ‘Maurice’ is a book as well, by E.M. Forster, but I saw the film before I read the book.
Who is your favorite fantasy/mystery character out of all the books you have read?
Out of ALL the books I’ve read? Oh, boy… My first thought was Snape… so I’ll be going with that, though Mrs. Pollifax is a very good runner-up. Snape embodies the types I tend to fall for, the underdog, the aloof, the stoic, not quite bad guy, while Mrs. Pollifax embodies every girl’s dream. Who doesn’t want to be a secret agent on dangerous missions? LOL
You seem to have an affinity for fantasy; will you be branching out into other genres?
I make occasional road-trips to other genres—Aliens, Smith and Jones is SF—but I feel fantasy is where I’m strongest. I know it sounds strange, but creating my own world with its own culture and rules is far easier for me than researching contemporary cultures. I’m not very politics and culture minded and I don’t read the news papers, so am often not quite up to date on what’s happening where. I am a dreamer, after all, and I like living in my own world, however inconvenient that often is. Plus there is this annoying habit I have of wanting to write stories in which no one cares what gender your partner is, and our world just isn’t ready for that yet, regrettably.
Your next book is Aliens, Smith and Jones (expected release 20th July 2012) tell us a little about it and how it came to life.
How it came to life? Oh, my? Do you have a day or two? No? I’ll try to keep it short, then.
Aliens started life as a short story from the point of view of a virtually immortal ex-alien who falls in love for the second time in 400 years. But while writing I started to realize that writing from the point of view of his lover was much more interesting, considering he was the one with all the action, tracking and monitoring alien beings and artifacts. And then came the blind date that wouldn’t go away and the story grew into a novel.
Aliens, Smith and Jones is about Connor Smith, who works for Primrose, an organization tasked with monitoring and tracking aliens and alien technology. It’s a job that doesn’t know the meaning of “nine-to-five”. It also doesn’t leave much room for a social life, a complication that Connor hasn’t minded, until now. At the prodding of his best friend, Connor reluctantly puts himself back in the dating pool, even though it means lying about his remarkable life.
Elsewhere, Noah Jones has led a remarkable life of his own. Stranded on Earth in 1648, Noah was forced to transform himself permanently into human form to survive. He soon learned that in doing so, he’d become effectively immortal, aging only at a glacial pace. Alone, with no way to contact his people or return home, Noah becomes a silent observer of human civilization—always in the world, but never of the world. Then, hundreds of years later, he sees a face in a crowd and instantly feels a connection that he thought he’d never feel again. But he’s too late: Connor’s already taken.
Destiny is not without a sense of humor, though, and the two men are pulled inexorably closer, snared by the same web of dangers and conspiracies. Worse, Primrose is now aware of Noah, and they aren’t ones to leave an alien unrestrained. So while Connor struggles to understand the strange pull he feels toward Noah, forces without as well as within are working against them to keep them apart.
What advice would you give to a new comer to the M/M genre who is just starting out?
Write what you love and finish what you write. Don’t worry about publishing until after you’ve finished the story. Actually, don’t worry about publishing at all. Finish the story, then edit it, edit it again, let someone else (NOT your mother or best friend) look it over and don’t fear critique. Critique is not meant to hurt you, but meant to make your story better, meant to help you grow as a writer. And then read it through at least one last time.
And when you’re finally ready to submit, stick to the guidelines. I know the fonts are not the most beautiful, and the format may not make it pretty, but it’s not about looking pretty, it’s all about the text, and not making editors squint their eyes and think twice about even opening it. You want them to read your stuff, make it readable and stick to the guidelines.
Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Other writers are often very willing to answer questions.
Tell us a little of your hobbies aside from writing.
I sing in a choir and I have singing lessons. I also practice QiGong.
And for those of us… err *cough splutter* for those of our readers who don’t know Qigong (unless you mean the artist and then I will look a complete pratt ;-)) what is it?
QiGong (aka Chi Kung) is the practice of aligning breath, movement and awareness for exercise, healing and meditation. And yes, I plucked that off the net to make sure I say it right. It’s a close relative to Tai Chi, actually and it’s all about your chi, your life force.
Do you think Qigong helps with your creativity? (Qigong is said to ‘allow access to higher realms of awareness, and awaken one’s “true nature”’)
I don’t really see relation to my creativity, but, I started doing it because my mind never shuts up. For me, going through those exercises, from posture to breathing to moving and being aware of what I’m doing, means that for an hour, hour and a half a week, my mind is slowed down and very much forced into the here and now.
But it’s entirely possible that giving my mind a break is good for my creativity.
Funnily enough my singing teacher teaches on the same principles, almost. She’s very in tune with her students and through breathing and mindfulness exercises she tries to get the best out of me, vocally and health wise. So, double-win situation for me.
You also sing. Besides from choir singing, what other type of music do you like to sing to?
Oh, tough question, since I suck at naming genres. I sing rock/soft rock, ballads, top forty, country… whatever catches my fancy, really. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve sung Toto, Heart, Gotye (bit too low for me, unfortunately), Ilse DeLange, Adam Lambert, Maria Mena, Emmy Rossum and Kings of Leon. I have a rather eclectic taste and depending on my mood I’ll go for something that screams or something that’s small and more intimate in nature.
So Blaine tell us something that nobody else knows… not even your husband (leans forward in eager anticipation).
I had plenty of things to say, until I read the ‘not even your husband’ part. Is there anything my husband doesn’t know? I guess the only thing I could answer to that is how often or how much… He knows what sort of porn I love, but not how often I watch it. He also knows I buy books, just *cough* not how much money I spend on it *cough*
Disappointing answer, I know, but… I honestly don’t know what I haven’t told my husband. I think I even told him I fancied my ex-boyfriend’s father for a bit…
Well Blaine I have read a bit of your background and I have to ask… what’s wrong with pixies? You love fairies and elves and dragons but not pixies (muttering about stinking fairies).
There’s nothing wrong with pixies, honestly. I just never thought to include them into my bio. Probably because I’ve not written about them… but never say never. I used to think I wasn’t ever going to write gun porn, and see how wrong I was about that *grin*
Okay Blaine a serious question now, if this world suddenly became a magical place what magical creature would you be? (What… you can tell a lot about the sort of person someone is by that choice!! Honest)
Magical creature? Oh, that’s open to so many interpretations. But, seeing how much I love pointy ears, I guess I’d have to go for fairy, elf or even pixie *grin* I’m none too picky, I just want to fly, wear pretty clothes and play with other creatures’ pointy ears. Though, I’d love to have a bit of magic, even if it’s just to do the dishes with the flick of a wrist
Okay Blaine tell the readers where they can find you and your books (seriously readers she writes good stuff).
*blush* thank you for the compliment.
my website: http://blainedarden.com/
my blog: http://blog.blainedarden.com/
Twitter: @BlaineDArden http://www.twitter.com/BlaineDArden