Long and Short Reviews welcomes Anne Brooke who is having a Virtual Book Tour to celebrate today's release of Where You Hurt the Most. She is going to be giving away three ebooks from her backlist to a reader who answers the following questions correctly:
- What was Dan's hoped for career before the accident?
- Where does Adrian take Dan on their second meeting?
- What month is it when Max visits Adrian for the last time?
Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after 18 May, when the tour ends. Good luck!
Anne enjoys writing about male hookers of all varieties, because she finds the love-for-sale theme fascinating.
"I've written about them in the past - so it's a subject I keep coming back to. I wrote Where You Hurt the Most when I saw that Riptide were producing a Rentboy Anthology, and I couldn't resist having a go! Key themes in the book are the contrast between the outer appearance and what's really going on in a person's heart, and how relationships can be formed in the most unusual of circumstances."
When it comes to her own writing, her basic rule is that if she finds it exciting, it's likely someone else will as well.
"I also want to find a way of describing erotic scenes that makes the reader more intimate with the character in an emotional as well as a sexual way. I think an erotic scene must either show us something emotional about the character that we couldn’t get in any other way or advance the story in a way that fits with the character’s needs. If it’s just there as 'dressing' then it simply doesn’t work," she explained. "When I was writing the gay thriller The Bones of Summer, I once wrote a sex scene between my main character, actor and model Craig, and his PI boyfriend Paul, which I thought worked well in terms of physical excitement, but it didn’t show us anything new about either of them or move the story along. So I cut it and that decision made the whole chapter work a whole lot better. Nobody’s ever complained either."
Anne told me she thinks there's a large section of the public who think there's something peculiar about reading or writing erotic romance. She gets some grief from work, even though she knows some of her colleagues do read it and then look embarrassed about enjoying it.
"It’s very strange how society somehow belittles erotic fiction, but never thinks twice when it comes to crime fiction – I think there’s far too great an emphasis on the apparent strangeness of sex, especially in the western world, when it’s actually something a lot of us experience," she said. "Whereas very few of us (I hope) will experience murder or assault or kidnap or abuse or any of the other subjects deemed 'acceptable' to read and write about. It’s a mixed-up world for sure."
In Anne's opinion, the most important elements of good writing are passion and tension.
"You have to be utterly committed to your characters and story so that nothing can stop you getting it down on paper – or up on the screen," she said. "Tension is vital too as you have to have something for your characters to struggle for or against. You also have to know them through and through, as a large part of the pleasure of reading is getting to know characters through the means of the story – fiction is above all about people and the relationships between them. It’s an endlessly fascinating topic, and part of being human."
"What is the hardest part about writing for you?" I asked.
"Getting that first draft down and trying to get it to make sense. How I hate that blank page! Really, I’m far happier when I have something definite to edit rather than floating around the void of my own head – which isn’t a pretty place sometimes. I also find it really hard not to be distracted by other stuff, like Facebook and what’s going on in the virtual world – there’s always that temptation to have to see what’s happening rather than get down to the writing side – probably an issue for us all …"
When Anne was growing up, she wanted to be a ballet dancer and took a few lesions when she was very young.
"I was really no good at it and soon had to give it up. But I love watching the ballet and envy how graceful, poised and strong all dancers are – I wish I could be like that! But I don’t think I’d like having their feet problems though – apparently all ballet dancers suffer terribly from foot issues and honestly my feet are bad enough without asking for trouble."
"What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?" I wondered.
"The voice in my head is definitely a male one – though I probably always suspected it. I should have known sooner really, as whenever I watched a film or read a good romantic story when I was younger, the heroine would always be replayed as the second hero in my head. Plus in all my dreams I’m a man. That voice has got some real kick-ass opinions too, which I love – and am probably not supposed to have, as an English woman in her late forties living in the countryside. It must be the sense of liberation that draws me."
Anne gets email from her readers on a fairly regular basis and admitted it's always lovely to hear from them.
"Much of what they say is very kind, and I’m supremely grateful for it!" she told me. "I also get a lot out of suggestions they might make for stories, and I always take that on board when planning future writing. It’s really useful to know what people want to read – I’m out to entertain, after all."
"If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again," I asked, "what would you do differently?"
"I’d wait for ebooks which have been a boon for a niche author like me. It’s wonderful getting my short stories out there, whether GLBT, literary, or comic ones, without having to wait for a collection to be viable. On the other side of the fence, I also love the fact that now I can buy one e-story if I want to, whenever I want to. Ebooks have revolutionized the sale of shorter works, that’s for sure. If I was starting out now, I’d also not worry about going after the mainstream print publishers. There’s a great deal of energy and quality more often found in the small independent press these days, and I really like that environment. I only wish I’d discovered it far sooner."
Anne is actually a great believer in both print and ebooks and told me, "I don’t see why there should be any competition between them at all. After all, TV didn’t vanish when video began, and they both have a very symbiotic relationship. There’s room in our world for both paper and the screen and we should rejoice in it. That said, ebooks have been very beneficial to me, and I certainly sell more ebooks than I do paperbacks – by a long margin. However I still wouldn’t get anyone an ebook as a present – yet! – whereas I am more than happy to buy paper books as gifts."
When it comes to TV, some of Anne's favorite shows are Sherlock, Inspector Lewis, and Midsomer Murders.
"I can’t get enough of any of them. In fact, if I could live in Midsomer (so many strange deaths, so little time ...) I’d be more than happy. Plus they have a lot of country fetes and so on there so it would be a home from home for me. On the comedy side, I really have to watch Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week and QI – they’re my chill-out zones. I also still miss not having Friends or Frasier around, but catch the repeats whenever I can. So, all in all, there’s no better mix than murder and laughter."
"What would we find under your bed" I asked.
"We have storage under our bed and it’s full of my jumpers and some of my huge collection of Star Trek videos. Yes, I’m a real fan and have watched all the films and all the series. Deep Space Nine was always the best one. I could have watched that for ever and, yes, I was in love with the shapeshifter Odo. He was brilliant. I also have all the Star Trek Monthly (now, sad to say, Quarterly) magazines, I was once a Lieutenant in the Star Trek Fan Club, and I was second in the queue when the first Star Trek exhibition came to London. I would have been first too, but the girl who came out of the Tube station with me was just a tad quicker off the mark! Mind, it did make the journalist smile who was waiting for the first mad people to turn up for a photo – she didn’t think anyone would be that early."
For authors starting out in writing erotica, Anne would recommend Reviews by Jessewave.
"It's an excellent research and review site; a magnificent source of information, including articles on how to write m/m erotic fiction and also gay sex terms. The reviews are also great and I’ve added a lot of books to my TBR list from here," she said. "I’d also say don’t be afraid to ask questions from the gay community, writers or not. Most people are happy to help out and will certainly let you know if you’re not quite on the ball (as it were!). "
"Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book," I said. "Where would you most likely want to go?"
"New York. It wins hands down. I might not want to set a book there even, but I just love the place. It has the best people, the best sights and definitely the best clothes shopping. I still wear stuff I bought over there and it was some years ago that we went. I never even thought I’d get to see it as I really hate long flights (I get quite scared – and yes I have been that person on a flight who said during a very bad storm: we’re going to die, we’re going to die, aren’t we?... Ah the shame …) but my husband persuaded me and once my feet were safely on the ground over there I had an excellent time. We went everywhere and saw everything in the week we had – we even went to the opera and a wonderful off-broadway show called Naked Boys Singing – which was absolutely what it said on the tin. We loved it – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I loved it. Not sure what my husband thought, though he was pleased when I said at the beginning (in as loud a voice as I dared): 'But, darling, they’re all so small!!'" She grinned. "It’s actually in London from January to May this year so, heck, I’m tempted …! Seriously though, I thought the people in New York were so welcoming, and the place was great so I’d love to go back. One day …"
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give an author who wants to write erotica?"
"I’d say that it’s best to want to write the character and the story first and foremost, and if erotic scenes are part of that, then all well and good. It’s hugely important to go with the voice in your head and write what you really want to write, rather than sticking to a set formula or writing what you think will sell. Above all, feelwhat you write in your heart and gut, and you can’t go far wrong. And always welcome the editor’s pen – it’s your best friend, believe me. Good luck!"
About the Author: Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition. She is the author of six published novels, her latest being the first of her fantasy trilogy, The Gifting, published by Bluewood Publishing. In addition, her gay and literary short stories are regularly published by Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads respectively. Anne is very excited about being part of the Second Wave of authors at Riptide Publishing and is still performing her happy dance, much to the neighbours’ dismay. She has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a gay fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at www.AnneBrooke.com.
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Adrian is more than happy as high-class escort for a number of regular clients. When his boss and dear friend asks him to entertain his nephew, Adrian readily agrees, but meeting Dan challenges him in ways he'd never imagined. Dan is scarred inside and out from an accident that destroyed a promising future. Despite Adrian's loveless lifestyle and Dan's withdrawal and anger, the two men forge a deep - if unnerving - connection. Soon they find themselves questioning the choices they've made and the futures they've mapped out for themselves.
Yet even bright young men like Adrian and Dan fear the unknown and take comfort in the familiar. Neither may be strong enough to step away from the life they know and toward the one they dare not hope for. But while it's true that love can't heal all wounds, it is the surest balm for where you hurt the most.