The following interview is with Leta Blake, co-author of Love’s Nest [http://www.ellorascave.com/love-s-nest.html]. Keira Andrews has read and approved these answers!
I’m inspired by so many things in life. The kernel of a story can develop from anything at all—a song, a comment from a friend, a person or people that I see while out and about in my everyday life, or from questions that arise while reading another book.
In the case of this story, I was initially inspired by my daughter reading The Twelve Dancing Princesses aloud to me for what seemed like the hundredth time. I started to play with the story in my head instead of really listening to her. What would this story look like if it was about two men? What kind of place were the otherworldly princes from? What if that place was fairyland?
At that point, music became a large sustaining force for me. I work a day job and have a large collection of music available to distract me from the mind-numbing hours there. I spent some time creating a playlist for the story. This is a process done by gut feeling alone. I try not to focus too much on what a particular song is about, but rather on how the music makes me feel. Does it help to sustain the world I’m building in my head? If so, then it goes onto the list. (I’ll be making some blog posts over the next few weeks at my blog [http://letablake.wordpress.com/] about the music that helped to inspire this story, for those interested.)
Finally, because once the story started coming, fairyland turned out to be so avian inspired, I set up this Pinterest Board [http://pinterest.com/letablake/spanish-dancing-shoes/] to try to capture the visual feel of the universe. As you can see, there are photos that not only reflected and inspired the heroes of the book, but also the side characters and the fairyland.
Basically, though, in general, I’m inspired almost constantly. I have more story ideas than I have time to write. I really can’t think about that too much or I start to feel panicky on the inside. So, yes, deep breaths. In and out. All shall be written in its own time. Or something like that.
Where do you get your ideas for sex scenes? Porn? LGBT friends? Personal experience?
I do consult porn for various reasons. I like to find porn with people of similar body types so that I can see for myself how they fit together, how they move together, etc. It’s not that I lack that ability to envision it myself, but sometimes seeing it in action on the screen I’m able to find better descriptions or just describe things a little more clearly.
I also find porn helpful to clarify tone. I might have written myself into a sex scene and something isn’t clicking with it. I’ll look through various porn videos until I find one that’s got the right vibe to it–loving sex, angry sex, hopeful sex, vulnerable sex, kinky sex, hard sex. It’s amazing the plethora of pornographic videos out there of almost every flavor and variety. I also find that characters sometimes reveal themselves to me a bit more while looking at pornography. I’ve often seen a scene and thought to myself, “Oh, yes, I see. Mateo would like that.” And, as I said above, that can happen for a particular act that I, personally, don’t really want or like, so that might explain why I don’t think of these acts on my own sometimes.
An example of the above situation from this latest novel: I saw a sexy tickling video and quickly clicked out of it because I loathe being tickled. But then, I had to click it back on, because I suddenly knew without a shadow of doubt that our character, Mateo, would totally get off on being tied down and tickled. As it turns out, I didn’t write that scene into the book, and yet I know that Mateo would really enjoy that. I don’t think there is another character I’ve ever written who would enjoy that particular activity.
Unfortunately, at times finding the right porn video to set the tone requires looking at a lot of wrong ones—at least for a few seconds—but when I do find one that helps me wrap my mind around the character’s motivations, behaviors, and turn-ons, it’s quite helpful. To sum up: yay porn!
What do YOU like to read? How do you find satisfying reading stuff, when you have whole worlds in your head? Do you read completely different genres, or do you read m/m? And can you even do that without thinking at some point that you could do better?
I love reading everything from nonfiction, to fiction of all varieties, to poetry. There really isn’t a topic that I don’t want to learn more about and very few genres that I’m completely disinterested in consuming. Maybe finance. But I have to read finance sometimes for my day job, so that happens anyway. Pity me.
As for reading m/m, I do read it at times, yes! I read my friends books and I read books that come up on my radar as being interesting or fun. Regarding whether or not I think I could do better with the m/m books I read, I’m not sure that better is the right word for it. I do often find myself distracted by thoughts of what I would have done differently. But, quite frankly, unless I’m reading incredibly high literature, that happens anyway.
For example, I’m reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman right now and having a ton of thoughts of what I would’ve done differently. And I’m not delusional about my writing abilities! I’m no Neil Gaiman. Haha! So, it’s quite egotistical of me to question the greats in these ways, I concede that immediately. But those kinds of interloping ideas are nearly always present when I read.
What are some of your plans for future books, plot lines etc…
Where to start? So many books! So little time!
I’ve got a ‘90s coming of age novel that I’m determined to see out this year. I’ve been working on that one off and on for about ten years. Its time is nigh! I’ve also got the prequel and sequel to Stalking Dreams [http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18045685-stalking-dreams] to complete sooner rather than later. I’m totally in love with that universe and can’t wait to share more of it with people as soon as possible.
Keira and I are taking a little rest on the fairy tales in order to focus on a fun, hopefully exciting contemporary piece together. We’re both swamped with our solo projects, but we’re hoping to get to write it together in 2014. It’s mostly planned out. It’s just all about making it a priority in the midst of life.
I’ve actually posted several “hints at books to come” blog entries. Each post has some visuals and/or some music that might give a bit of information about what the books will be about, the inspiration and vibe of the books, and hopefully people will look forward to them.
1. ‘90s Coming of Age Novel http://letablake.wordpress.com/tag/hints-at-books-to-come/
2. The Thief & The Fashionisto http://letablake.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/hints-at-books-to-come-the-thief-and-the-fashionisto/
3. The Wolf, The Student, and The Mess (This one is m/f, oh my! Haha!) http://letablake.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/hints-at-books-to-come-the-wolf-and-the-student-and-the-mess/
4. A New Spell (This one features a trans character.) http://letablake.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/welcome-to-the-inspiration-for-my-latest-story/
Love’s Nest Info
Buy link: Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/love-s-nest.html
It will shortly be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others!
Part of the Tempting Tales series, a group of stand-alone, fairy tale inspired m/m stories by Keira Andrews and Leta Blake. [http://www.ellorascave.com/love-s-nest.html ]
There’s no greater mystery in the kingdom than how Prince Mateo’s sisters wear out their shoes each night while locked away in their chambers. Using old magic, Mateo discovers their secret and follows them through a portal to an enchanted world of fairies and lusty delights. Ópalo has waited years for his male human, and he knows Mateo is his destiny. Mateo soon succumbs to the pleasures of the flesh, but as their worlds collide, Ópalo has to risk everything to win his man forever.
One boat remained.
The man in this boat was as startling to look upon as the rest. He was smaller than the rest of the creatures, his hair short and quite pink, sticking up in all directions as though he’d just woken from sleep, or perhaps never used a comb. He wore a riot of colored feathers woven into a shirt and breeches made of the softest brown leather Mateo had ever seen. Mateo’s own fine woolen trousers and exquisite, silk-trimmed tunic seemed almost shabby in comparison to the wild wonder before him.
The man’s lips were the same pink as his hair, and his eyes were blue, fierce—as though they contained a soul stronger than his form. Mateo’s blood coursed. He was as captured by the look of this man as he’d been captivated by the sensual lure of the water. Mateo swallowed hard, hesitating. Did he dare get in? He must to follow his sisters.
Mateo stepped forward and the creature smiled. Frozen in place, Mateo checked that he still wore the cloak. Lámina’s voice echoed in his mind. The one who sees you despite the cloak’s magic is a friend.
“Ópalo!” the man rowing Luz called as distance grew between his boat and the shore. “Next time, perhaps.”
Ópalo, for that must be his name, did not look away, keeping his eyes on Mateo’s own. “One moment more.” He quirked his lips into a small, amused smile and rested his oar against the side of the boat.
Mateo took a step forward and Ópalo’s eyes lit up. He lifted his chin slightly, almost imperceptibly, with a motion that indicated Mateo should come. Mateo lifted his hand in a small wave, and Ópalo nodded his head and smiled. It was a toothy, pretty thing that made Mateo catch his breath and take a step back.
“Come!” Luz’s man called again.
“Patience, Azulejo!” Ópalo answered.
“We must not be late to the dancing.”
“You must not. I can be as late as I wish.”
“Stay then, and yearn for your bride to come. It changes nothing,” Azulejo said, before bending himself to the oars, speeding Luz away at an alarming rate.
Seeing Luz’s white nightgown and dark, shining head disappear across the lake broke Mateo from his shocked state, and he quickly clambered into the boat with Ópalo. He ignored the offered hand as he stepped aboard, causing the boat to rock dangerously, nearly toppling them both out. Mateo’s stomach lurched, and there was a spray of cold water against his face as Ópalo steadied the boat with his oar, digging it into the bottom of the lake. Mateo sat down quickly.
Ópalo grinned, his blue eyes—blue as a summer sky—twinkling, and his lips spread again into that beautiful smile. “No need to be so formal.”
Mateo wasn’t sure what to make of the casual tone, but there was nothing customary about the situation. He’d traveled with his sisters into a magical realm while hidden beneath a cloak that rendered him invisible, and which had apparently determined in some unfathomable way that this man, of all men, was to be Mateo’s friend. He knew he should find more comfort in that, but he felt quite the opposite. It was hard to concentrate over the ceaseless thrumming in his veins.
Ópalo went on. “I’m so glad you came. I’ve waited for you. You have no idea how long.”
Up close, Mateo could see that Ópalo seemed made of the shifting light from the diamond forest, his skin a mottle of beautiful colors that glowed breathtakingly in the moonlight. His eyebrows and eyelashes were pink, like the hair on his head, except that none of it was hair. Instead he had feathers, longer and thicker on his head, but short and fine around his eyes. His eyelashes appeared to be the daintiest feathers that Mateo had ever seen. And Mateo, out of either the arrogance of royalty or the shock of the moment, reached out a hand to feel them, only pulling back from touching the beautiful oddness at the last moment.
Ópalo shook his head, and then reached out to grab Mateo’s hand with a strong grip. He leaned forward, offering his eyebrows and hair up to Mateo’s touch.
Mateo pulled back without making contact, a belated terror pumping through him. “Who? What?”
“Shh,” Ópalo said softly. “They can hear. Sound carries over the water. You’re hiding for a reason?”
Mateo swallowed, nodded his head, and realized he was shaking.
While Leta Blake would love to tell you that writing transports her to worlds of magic and wonder and then safely returns her to a home of sparkling cleanliness and carefully folded laundry, the reality is a bit different from that. For as long as Leta can recall, stories have hijacked her mind, abducting her to other lands, and forcing her to bend to the will of imaginary people. This absence from reality results in piles of laundry and forgotten appointments. In between abductions, Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family. When not spirited away by demanding imaginary people, Leta lives happily with her husband, her kid, and one too many dogs in the Southern United States.
Keira Andrews Bio:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes both contemporary and historical fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said: The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.