I'm delighted to have Sam Thorne as my guest today, a fellow British erotica writer. I've enjoyed reading her work, so it's great to be able to chat to her, and ask about the recently-published anthology, Sexy To Go Gay Romance, which includes one of her stories.
Sam, I'm rather intrigued that I know so many female writers producing excellent stories about gay male relationships. Off the top of my head, I can think of Michele Micheal Rakes, Elizabeth Schechter, Meg Amor and Brina Brady, who all write excellent, engaging stories. Do you have any ideas why MM erotica is so popular with female writers?
Well I can only speak for myself, but I've witnessed the blossoming of a few relationships between men that just warmed me to the soul and made me want to relive them in my own time on the page. What I love to write (and read) for pure escapist purposes is the combination of the smooth, self-assured soul who's able to charm even the gruffest, most laconic bloke walking. I'm referring to the chemistry, of course. I think it's the chemistry that gets a lot of female MM writers, followed by the competitive forms of masculinity in the bedroom. I am not male. But I'm lucky to have a few gay male betas who will let me know quite bluntly if I'm going off-course with the horizontal shenanigans!
How did this anthology come together? I note that no-one is credited as being the editor, so did you "buddy up" to help each other?In all honesty, I was directed towards the Sexy to Go set-up (who already have several successful anthologies) by my good friend Dale C Lowry. Dale and I have now appeared in three anthologies together and he asked me if I had a story available for inclusion within the word count for the collection. Both Haley Whitehall and Eva LeFoy (the administrative masterminds) were friendly, efficient and very welcoming to this total newbie to their set-up. I'm very grateful to them and hope to have the opportunity to support their future ventures, even if I'm not directly involved as a contributor.
What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I have my eye on a couple of anthologies that I would like to submit to over the next three months, but I won’t name them because I’m superstitious. Most of my energies are being invested in a novel with the working title A Brotherhood of Bouncers, which is a sequel to Single-Syllable Steve. This short story features Celeste, a shy book-keeper at a London nightclub, who is hit by an ovary-squashing crush on the towering, taciturn and temporary doorman, Steve. Undermined by a horrible boss and surrounded by glamorous bar maids, Celeste is desperate to grow a pair and tell Steve how she feels before he leaves.
The sequel is about the difficulties in keeping a relationship going after the honeymoon period. Even with his two jobs as motor mechanic and doorman, Steve’s finances are in a dire state. When the cost of his father’s care package rockets, he’s driven to accepting a bodyguard job which is initially wonderful, but things quickly degenerate as he finds himself being put to work as a bailiff, then as a henchman. Meanwhile, Celeste’s struggling to get her family to accept Steve as a serious contender for the long term; her mother struggles to warm to the ‘deaf, over-sized Essex boy.’
I liked Steve and Celeste when I read their first story. I think it's great that more "real life" aspects of relationships are included in erotica, but I'll have to see how that tale works out. But I'll keep my fingers crossed that you can leave them happy. They both seemed pretty real, with strengths and weaknesses. Can I ask how you develop your ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?
Parts, yes. In terms of affairs of the heart, I prefer my characters to have very different emotional battles to my own. I write for my own escapism as well as the reader’s, so I deal with any personal demons in my own time. That said, I’m a strong believer in drawing on real life experiences where they have potential to lighten the tone. Like everyone, I’ve had my share of undignified experiences, some of which I’ve later shared with friends. If those friends had a good laugh at my expense, I have no problem in fictionalising those less-than-golden moments if they have any potential for plot movement or character development.
A large part of my personal experience is that I’m profoundly deaf, but I lipread and wear hearing aids. I do appreciate that this presents something of a conundrum for a lot of people, who automatically associate profound deafness with sign-language. Several of my characters (like Single-Syllable Steve) are at least severely deaf, because that’s what I know. I had great fun writing Rebuilding the Future (where both Allen and Declan are hearing), but my very helpful editors and beta readers had to remind me to include sound effects in the earlier drafts!
Have you ever had a character just “do their own thing?”
My characters tend to behave themselves while I’m creating them and writing them, but boy do they argue with each other! One of the most frustrating things in the world is to be driving along and having two of my characters engaged in a massive, fluent, word-perfect volley of needs, refusals and insults which will have entirely escaped me by the time I’ve parked the car and dashed behind my laptop. I’m sure most writers suffer some form of this…
What do your family and friends think of your writing?
My family will pat me on the back when I say I’m published again, but have absolutely no intention of reading anything I write until I produce something where the bedroom door stays shut. That’s fair enough. Most of my friends are encouraging about my writing—from a distance. I’m very content with this arrangement.
What book do you wish you could have written?
Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K Jerome. It’s my go-to book for escapist comfort. No matter how many times I re-read it, and no matter what mood I’m in, I never put it down without feeling happier than I did when I started reading.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so how do you get past it?
If anyone ever tells me that they never get writer’s block, I politely ask them to go away and never repeat this little item of smuggery ever again in my presence. It is an absolute bane for me, and one of the reasons I’ve not exactly been prolific in the three years I’ve indulged in writing and reading erotica. The other reason is that I’m a very busy editor, and even when I’m not working, it takes time to come out of censoring mode and re-engage the creative part of my brain. I can’t produce anything while in editorial mode; it’s like trying to rub my tum and pat my head at the same time.
I can’t totally sidestep writer’s block (my pet block wouldn’t look out of place in Stonehenge), but I find that a few new habits have lessened the effect:
· I stay off social media for a day or so. I’m delighted for all those people who have written another 6,000 since the day before, but while I’m not of their number, I’d rather not be reminded of my dwindling performance. Plus, I’m too inclined to spend hours looking at puppies.
· I do the stop-watch exercise for a few hours. I type without stopping for five minutes, repeating for an hour. Then ten, then fifteen and so on. I just need to get my hands moving.
I force myself to stop being obsessed with writing in such a linear way. I’ll leave a highlighted [PLACEHOLDER LIKE THIS FOR DETAILS I NEED TO COME BACK TO] and get the scene done. I won’t hamstring myself by trying to connect everything I’m writing fluidly.
I keep reminding myself that I won’t be showing my dire scribbles to anyone until I’ve edited at least a few times. Sometimes that gives me the freedom to just hammer the words down and get the shape of the scene down on the page.
Thanks, that's a really interesting approach. Just to finish, a couple of off-the-wall questions, then you can tell us a bit more about the new anthology you've had a story included in.
If you could go anywhere in the world, but had to drop everything and go right now, where would you go? What pulls you there?
Hawaii. I dream of going to Oahu, and I’d love to watch Pele in action. And eat all the gorgeous fresh food. It’s all Meg Amor’s fault. Since I’ve been reading her Hawaiians series, I’ve had a craving to take a very long holiday over there.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I could do with a withering stare that’s actually effective. It would be a fantastic tool for day-to-day life, but wouldn’t be so conspicuous that I’d regularly get summoned from my work by some irritating police chief with a Krieg light. I’m not sure what symbol would best represent the need for a withering stare, though.
Thanks, Sam. I've really enjoyed our conversation. Would you like to finish off by telling us about the new anthology and your story?
Well, if you insist...
Sexy to Go Gay Romance
Sexy to Go Gay Romance features nine scorching MM romances from some of today’s hottest authors, available for the first time in one book. Whether finding love at a Jewish singles dance or while crossing the River Styx, the men in Sexy to Go Gay Romance know what they want and how to get it. Meet a handyman who’s an ace with his tools, a king who kindles the passion of a Greek god, and an architect who erects more than buildings. From the everyday to the fantastical, these stories explore male-male love in all its simmering intensity. This collection contains Sam's story, ‘Rebuilding the Future’.
Allen's peace has been seriously disturbed. As the shy architect takes on the task of extending the home he inherited from his late aunt, his life becomes a battle. The building work is going fine, but he can barely contain his one-way lust for sexy foreman Declan, who's a one-man generator of testosterone and mixed messages. As the build completion approaches, Allen's ready to do just about anything to keep Declan around a little longer...
Allen was so cold the coffee cup rattled in his fingers. Declan, though, was purely chilled out, leaning back, mug in hand, sipping his brew. There wasn’t a single goosebump in evidence: not down the toned arms, across that lean gut, or the magnificent chest. His nipples weren’t even hard.
Stop staring at his nipples, for God’s sake!
Declan’s sudden, direct gaze made Allen jump. “Yes! Yes…it’s just…I feel hypothermic just looking at you.”
Declan swallowed his coffee hastily, grinning around his cup. “I’ve been working next to a zillion-watt floodlight for the last half hour. I’m not cold, trust me.”
“Splendid,” Allen said faintly, tucking his lower regions away under the kitchen table. He still hadn’t got used to having the Adonis slaving around his house all day, every weekday. Even when Declan’s tanned, taut bod was tragically hidden under T-shirts, the sight of his dark brown hair curling into the nape of his neck, his green eyes, and blowtorch smile were enough to make Allen’s groin boil. It was a good job that Declan’s henchmen, Big Al and Screwtop, were slightly less decorative.
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