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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Prince's Guard - Annette Gisby

Good morning, sweeties! And, for those of you living North of Sixty, I hope you had an excellent Thanksgiving weekend. Ours was quiet. We did the big family dinner on the Friday, while my parents were in town. Anyway, my apologies for not getting this interview up sooner, but the author and I had a mix-up. My guest today, is a very sweet lady, and another author after my own heart, because she writes M/M, my favourite! lol So, let's get the party started! Welcome, Annette!
I grew up in a very small town in Northern Ireland, which had no bookshops but a very small library. Very soon I’d exhausted every book I wanted to read in the library so I started writing my own stories so I would always have something to read later. My family moved to England when I was seventeen, when I was nineteen, they moved back to Ireland but I stayed in England because I’d met and fallen in love with my future husband, John. We got engaged nine months after we met, nine months after that we got married, we were half-hoping/half-expecting that nine months after that we’d have a baby, but it wasn’t to be. We’d tried for years to get pregnant, but it just never happened. I was recently diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, so we finally had an explanation as to why I wasn’t getting pregnant, but still no help with the ‘how’. I’d been suffering from it for almost twenty years, but was only diagnosed a year ago, and that was too late to be offered IVF treatment on the NHS and we couldn’t afford it privately. I’ve also been diagnosed with migraine associated vertigo around two years ago and getting pregnant certainly wouldn’t be a good idea with that.
A lot of people, including many doctors, haven’t even heard of migraine vertigo, they all assume that anything to do with vertigo is a problem with the ears. It was four and a half years before I finally got to see the dizziness/balance specialist who finally figured out that my problem wasn’t in my ears at all, but in my brain. I have good days and bad days with it. On a bad day I don’t get much writing at the computer done, it’s just impossible to be anywhere that has flickering screens or flashing lights. For a while I couldn’t even do normal things like be in a supermarket or go to the cinema. It’s getting better now that I’m on medication for it, but it’s not completely gone and maybe never will be. I just have to learn to cope with it.
Where and/or how do you find the greatest inspiration?
That’s a tough question. I think it has to be other books or films. Sometimes I’m reading something great and think to myself ‘I wish I could write like that.’ Other times, if it’s a terrible book, you want to improve your own writing. With films, sometimes it starts going somewhere interesting, but then never follows through so on the way home, my husband John and I discuss what we would have done differently. It might be an overheard conversation, or just wondering ‘what if’? Inspiration can come from anywhere and I don’t think I could really pinpoint any one thing.
What made you chose to write m/m erotic literature in particular? And, is there any other genre you’d like to write? And, if so, why?
I don’t think I chose it particularly, it all depends on the characters and if it was true to them to have the love scenes on the page as it were. My erotic writing started in fanfic quite a few years ago now, first with the X-Files and then more recently Harry Potter. It gave me good practice when writing erotic scenes, for the readers were very vocal in what worked or didn’t work for them. But it’s difficult to please everyone all the time, so first and foremost I write what I would like to read myself and just hope that some readers will like it too. I’ve never been able to write primarily for a market, that just doesn’t work well for me.
Which appears first when contemplating a new project: a character, the plot or the title?
Definitely the characters! For a few months before I start writing any novel or story, the characters have been in my head pestering me to write their story and they don’t give up until the words are on paper or on the computer screen.
What’s the hardest part of a novel for you to write: beginning, middle or end? Why?
I think the middle has always been the most difficult, as I normally have an idea of the beginning and ending before I start writing. It can be hard to keep the impetus going in the middle without it becoming filler just to have more words in it. With the advent of digital publishers and self-publishing options, there are now more markets for novellas and short stories too. Writers aren’t restricted to novels in order to get published.
Has your own life influenced your novels? If so, how?
Not really, although my future work might contain a character who has migraine associated vertigo. The more people who hear about that condition, the better, I think.
Writing sex/romantic scenes can be a challenge for some authors. Do you find it difficult? If yes, how do you compensate? If no, where do you draw your inspiration?
It can be difficult, yes, but I find the best inspiration is to read some other sexy scenes from other authors and see how they did it and how they made you feel as you were reading. If you were cringing at the purple prose, then that’s probably not the way for you to write yours. I think it also depends on what kind of story you’re writing. If you’re writing historical or fantasy, then sometimes purple prose might work better than coarse language. It could also depend on the characters, what sort of language would your characters use? You have to write as if you’re in their head. I don’t swear a lot in real life, but if my characters would, then it goes on the page.
Do you use a certain formula to write the sensual parts? Do you prefer the sex to be open and bold? Or left to the imagination?
I don’t have a certain formula as such, but I like the love scenes to flow naturally within the story. My first M/M fantasy novel, The Chosen, was turned down from one publisher because it didn’t have enough sex in it and they wanted me to add more. I agonised for days over that decision, because they’d hinted very strongly that if I did that, they would publish the book. In the end I decided against adding any more sex scenes, because I felt they would just look tacked on, as if I’d added them for the sake of it, rather than flowing with the story. So The Chosen didn’t find a home with that publisher, but it did a few weeks later with Lyrical Press, who didn’t want me to add any more sex scenes to it. I read both sorts of books, erotic stories where the love scenes are on the page and others where it’s a closed door. I like both and I write what feels best for the book or the characters within that book.
Who is your favourite character, which you’ve created? And, why?
Oh, I think that has to be Prince Severin from The Chosen. I think I fell in love with him a little as I was writing the book. He’s a prince torn between his duty and his desire – his kingdom needs and heir and he’s expected to marry and sire one, but he’s in love with a man, Havyn, who he released from slavery and is now working at the palace as a wizard’s apprentice. Severin gets to see him every day, to look, but not to touch, for wizards are meant to keep themselves chaste to better channel magic. There’s a lot of yearning in the book, on both their parts, so I think adding the sex scenes earlier would have ruined a lot of that so I’m glad I didn’t follow the suggestions to add more sex scenes. A sensual story doesn’t just have to be a love scene, it can be about the yearning and craving for someone too.
Tell us about your newest release.
That is an M/M erotica short story, The Prince’s Guard. With the migraine vertigo, my concentration is not what it was and I hadn’t written anything for quite some time and knew a novel was just not going to be possible for me right now. Prince Dashan had been in my head for a while, as had his bodyguard, Ryland. Both ruggedly handsome and both warriors, I wanted to do something with domination and submission. I don’t know, but I’m guessing most people might have expected the prince to be the dominant one, being used to giving orders to servants all the time, but in my story, it’s Prince Dashan who wants to submit and he finds what he’s looking for in his bodyguard, Ryland. I’ve had a few reviewers comment that they enjoyed it, but it was too short, they wanted to read more. The ending is left open-ended deliberately, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll revisit these two and see how they’re getting on. It all depends on the Muse though.
Just for fun–
What is your favourite colour?
Which do you prefer a great hero or a great villain?
A great hero, I never really liked the villains (unless they’re played on film by Alan Rickman.) Is Robin Hood a hero or a villain? I suppose he could be either, depending on your point of view.
What is your favourite movie? And, why?
Lord of the Rings. Yes, it’s one movie in my head. One very long movie. You really don’t want to know how many times I’ve watched it. It became an obsession very quickly. Why do I like it? That’s more difficult. Two reasons are Frodo and Legolas (and the actors who played them, LOL!) I also like that it’s a film about ordinary people or hobbits caught up in something much bigger than them. The scenery was fantastic, the music score was magical and it was just a great film all around. My husband tried to cure me of my obsession by taking me on a trip to New Zealand so that I could see some of the film’s scenery in real life and realise it wasn’t Middle Earth really. That trip became the basis of our book, New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer, a humorous book as John tried to see New Zealand and I tried to see Middle Earth, and stand where Frodo stood, Boromir died or Legolas shot his arrows. In the end, John saw Middle Earth too, but he hasn’t seen the films as often as me. He did take me one Valentine’s Day to an arthouse cinema who were showing all three Lord of the Rings films back to back. Now, that’s romance for you.
If you could be anyone in the world who would it be? And, why?
I don’t want to be anyone famous or anything like that – I just want to be the person I was about five years ago before I started suffering from the dizziness and vertigo. It isn’t fun feeling like you’re on a fairground ride most of the time.
Where do you see your writing career in the next five to ten years?
I see a lot more short stories or novellas in my future, but I hope to be able to get back to novels one day as well once my concentration improves.
The Prince’s Guard
Prince Dashan has been used to getting things his own way, with servants to cater to his every whim. As the crown prince, it is essential that he is protected and he is followed everywhere by his bodyguard, Ryland. Dashan can't even head to a tavern with his friends without Ryland somehow turning up and spoiling his fun.
Dashan disguises himself as a peasant one night and sneaks off to the brothel that he's heard rumours about - a brothel that caters for men who like men. The prince finds it difficult to admit to himself what his true desires are - he yearns to submit his will to someone else. And Ryland is just the man to show him what that truly means.
Dashan’s face darkened as he thought of Captain Ryland. Just because he was captain of the King’s men-at-arms, he seemed to think that meant that he was the boss of the princes too. Officially, he was Captain of the Guards, unofficially he was Dashan’s bodyguard and Dashan railed at that fact. Everywhere he turned, there was Ryland getting in his way and preventing him from having any fun. Dashan couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen his friends or even visited a tavern without Ryland tagging along or turning up. He put a pall on everything, like a mourner mistakenly turning up for a wedding feast rather than a funeral.
“What about the Alradai? If there are any of their spies about, you could be in serious trouble. That’s why Father wanted you to have a bodyguard in the first place. You could start an international incident if you get kidnapped. The Alradai would love to have the crown prince as a hostage. They’d like nothing better for us to be at war again.”
“No one’s going to know I’m a prince,” said Dashan, frowning. “I’m just an ordinary peasant out to enjoy an evening at the tavern.”
“And maybe a wench or two, eh?” Aniel winked at him.
“Maybe,” Dashan agreed, although he knew he was lying to himself and his brother. For a long while he’d suspected that the female form wasn’t where his interest lay. Instead of spying on the maids like his brothers sometimes did, Dashan was often to be found watching the soldiers and men-at-arms at their drills. He much preferred it in the summer when they would remove their armour and shirts, practicing their arms in little more than their kilts. It was strong, firm chests Dashan dreamed of, not flowery scents and softness. He wanted someone strong, someone forceful, someone so passionate that they forgot he was a prince and just ravished him. The trouble was that the only person he could imagine being as forceful as that was Ryland. Dashan scowled, he doubted Ryland had a passionate bone in his body. He was just annoying. Dashan couldn’t wait to be rid of him. Ryland riled him like no one else could.
No one thought it odd that the crown prince spent so much in the men’s company, after all once he was king, they would be his men to command and his father just thought he was being friendly to the men who would serve him. The trouble was, Dashan wanted to be more than friendly. He wanted much more, but the castle was a hotbed of gossip, so there was no one he could approach without word of it getting back to his father. He’d heard that in the lower city there were places you could go to, pleasure houses that catered to every patron’s whim, male or female.
Dashan knew what he wanted and tonight he was going to get it.
Publisher Link: http://www.smashwords.com
Thank you so much for stopping by, Annette! All the best of success, hun! ~ Blak Rayne