Long and Short Reviews welcomes Marie Sexton, whose latest book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , is part of the Clandestine Classics collection from Total-E-Bound. She will give away a download of it to one random commenter on today's interview.
Marie told me that she believes that Jules Verne had it in his head all along that Pierre was in love with Ned in the original Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, so it was set up perfectly for this new series.
"If you read the original, you’ll see what I mean. Pierre gushes about Ned all the time - how he’s so strong and rugged, with his mighty harpoon and his piercing gaze," she said. "All I did was open the bedroom door."
Marie started writing in the summer of 2009 and had her first book published in January 2010. She's since written about thirteen books; her favorites among them tend to change.
"I love the A to Z series because Angelo is so much a part of my heart. I love Between Sinners and Saints for very personal reasons. I also love the Oestend series, because I think it’s unique. That series is by far my most ambitious work," she explained.
She has also just stared a story called Release that she is very excited about.
"It’s a cyberpunk about a whore and a slave. It’s very dark. Very kinky. Almost disturbing," she told me. "It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written."
"What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?" I wondered.
"Oh, this is such a hard question, but so fun!" she exclaimed. "First (going way back), John D. Fitzgerald. I think his Great Brain books are what taught me to love a quirky, sometimes unreliable, first person narrator.
"Alan Dean Foster. I can’t pinpoint exactly how, but I can say that I spent my early teen years reading everything by him I could get my hands on.
"JK Rowling, who reinforced for me the idea that a huge, sweeping tale can be told from a single point of view. (She strays a tiny bit, but not very damn much!)
"And Sarah Monette, because every single thing I do, I hold up next to Melusine and The Virtu (and I always come up short)."
Marie was born in Evanston, Wyoming, and spent the first eleven years of her life there.
"There’s a line in one of my favorite movies that goes something like this: 'Every writer has a conflicted relationship with the town he grew up in.' That’s definitely true for me," she said. "It’s sort of a gross little truck stop town, lots of drug traffic (I think?) and more adult arcades per capita than anyplace else I’ve ever seen, but it somehow still represents innocence to me. It’s a strange juxtaposition."
In high school, Marie told me she mostly hung out with the burnouts and the rejects.
"I was in the advanced classes in most subjects, so I had a lot of friends who were brainy, but I wouldn’t classify them as nerds. We were the drifters, I think. We were the folks who weren’t cool enough to fit in with the preps, who didn’t go to any graduation parties because we had jobs, and who ditched the school pep rallies to smoke in the parking lot."
"What was the scariest moment of your life?" I asked.
"The moment I realized I’d have to reveal to my Mormon family that I was writing gay romance. Actually, they took it very well. All except for my mother, that is. She burst into tears."
I asked Marie about the best fan letter she'd ever received.
"I had one amazing letter from a young man who had just read Promises and was trying to decide if he could come out to his mother or not. I’ve also received some truly touching letters about Between Sinners and Saints. Many of them are from Mormons or people who were raised Mormon, and a decent number were from Christians of other denominations, but all of them have thanked me for being fair to the religious side of the story and for not taking the easy way out and making religion = bad. There are plenty of books in my genre that turn religion into the antagonist, but that wasn’t where I wanted to go. Levi’s family are wonderful people. They’re real, compassionate people who love each other very much. They just happen to have this point of contention over Levi’s sexual orientation."
"Could you ever co-author a book with someone?" I wondered. "If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?"
"Funny you should ask!" She laughed. "Actually, I have two books coming out soon that were co-written with my good friend Heidi Cullinan. They’re both contemporaries. First, there’s Second Hand, which I started and she finished. This is part of the Tucker Springs series, which also includes LA Witt. We also have a book called Family Man, which we started a year and a half ago and finally finished. We don’t know yet who will publish it, but with any luck, it will be available in early 2013. Also, my good friend Ethan Stone has been trying to talk me into writing a book with him. Right now, we both have other projects going, but it’s something we’re both keeping in mind."
"When you aren't writing, what do you like to do?" I asked.
"I save puppies and feed the homeless." She paused for a long second. "Okay. Not really. Mostly, I chase my 8-year old and sit on my ass."
Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Writing is like parenting - read every single book you can find on the subject, and then throw them all away. Take what works and forget the rest. There are a lot of people out there who claim to know The Way, but the only real right way is the way that ends in a finished book."
About the Author:
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Professor Pierre Aronnax, world-renowned Naturalist, is part of an elite team of men commissioned to investigate a series of attacks on international shipping. Are the attacks the work of some ancient sea monster, or is this “monster” actually a manmade vessel? No one is certain, but either way, Pierre’s assignment is the same: find it and destroy it.
The hunt soon becomes tedious, and Pierre is distracted by Ned Land, a sexy and temperamental harpooner who has his sites set on the Professor. The two begin a passionate affair, but an encounter with the creature they seek changes everything.
Professor Aronnax, Ned Land, and their friend Conseil find themselves held hostage aboard The Nautilus, a secret submarine helmed by the mysterious Captain Nemo. For Pierre, life on The Nautilus is ideal. He spends his days studying the sea’s wonders, and his nights with Ned, discovering a passion he’s never known. But how long can it last? Captain Nemo is reckless, and Ned is determined to escape. Caught between two charismatic men and the opportunity of a lifetime, Pierre will have to choose: leave The Nautilus, or lose the man he loves forever?