By Mathilde Madden and Erastes
Recently we’ve said goodbye to some of our much-loved Lusties. As we waved them off to big, new thrilling projects, we started to ask ourselves how could we ever replace them. Well, of course, we couldn’t. But we did decide to think about new members - and one name was suggested that got a hugely enthusiastic response.
Erastes has written some wonderful guest articles for Lust Bites that resulted in some of our busiest ever comment threads. As she writes almost exclusively in the intriguing niche of male/male historical romance there is always a lot of interest in her work.
I caught up with her as the closing credits of Torchwood rolled, to let her know what she was in for.
You've been a good friend of Lust Bites since the blog started. How did you feel to be asked to join?
Thank you, it's a great raunchy blog and there's little enough good unashamed lust on the net this days. I was hugely surprised and very flattered, obviously. I'm just a noisy nuisance with one book out which doesn't really fit anywhere, so to be in the Lusties company is pretty overwhelming. But I'm very happy about it.
Well some of us have written ten zillion books and some of us have only done one or two. And some of us just do short stories. Lust Bites is nothing if not diverse! So what can our readers expect from you?
Double the goodness, I hope, as my motto is "one man good, two men BETTER."
I'll be discussing gay sex when encouraged to do so; perhaps some free short stories, definitely snippets of stuff not seen elsewhere.
I know gay erotica is not to everyone's taste, but I hope to convert people if I can. Male/male erotica can be molten hot, but then I'm biased.
Plus of course, it's always nice to find hot pictures of snogging men to share if all else fails.
Well I know that male/male erotica is *always* popular on Lust Bites. I'll be encouraging it and I'm sure I'll not be the only one
Tell us about your writing. Why male/male erotica? And you sound as if you've faced some differing opinions about the kind of stuff you write. Did you struggle to find a publisher?
I wanted to write for years, but simply couldn't find stories. I tried a children's story about 15 years ago but it foundered and just as well because what I'd written was far too close to Terry Prachett's witches series, one or two other fantasy things went the same way, so I gave up in disgust.
It wasn't until I found male/male fanfiction in 2003 that I was inspired to try writing some for myself. I was turned on by m/m fiction, it was as simple as that, and I'd never found heterosexual fiction arousing. I found it strange at first because I didn't know anyone else in the genre, but as I got to know others I found that it was quite a normal reaction - a lot of women (lots of them married, straight - some even lesbian) found straight erotica a little squicky but m/m fiction hot.
Anyway... fanfic. I really enjoyed it, and although I stayed in fanfic (in Harry Potter fandom) for several years I realised that there was nothing I could DO with it. So the first thing I created, which was a novella based on Lucius Malfoy, I decided to "orginalise" for hopeful publication - but it refused to be converted and I ended writing Standish instead which has no connection to fandom at all.
I did have some trouble getting published - part of that was I just didn't know what the HELL I was doing. I tried for ages to get an agent because I was told (by books) that's what one DID, then gave up and tried UK Publishers but Gay Mens Press was going down the pan and no-one else was risking the genre (particularly NOT costume drama for gay men!) so I went to the States and found a small publisher almost immediately.
Here and then I've seen the attitude from some gay male writers that "women shouldn't write it" or "can't write it" but from my sales record of short stories so far (over 20) in anthologies aimed at gay men, I think I'm proving them all wrong. I hope.
Why the name Erastes? Was that a conscious choice to hide your gender?
I wanted a pseudonym because well, of course I was convinced that one day I'd stop writing that mucky gay erotica and start writing "literature". One day. *cough *
And I'd been studying the Erastes/eromenos tradition from Greece for a while as research.
Yes. For *research*. Including the pictures!
I liked the idea of Erastes as a name because for me it (as an adult male being the older and more experienced member of a m/m relationship) seemed to sum up what I was writing about.
I never meant to actually misrepresent myself as a man, and if I'd been writing sci-fi I don't think anyone would have cared what sex I was - but it became a sensitive issue and I quickly "came out" as a woman. Some people say I should change the name but I like it.
And actually now I can't see why mucky erotica can't also be literature, anyway.
Who do you write your books for? You say sometimes gay men have reacted oddly to your work - who would you say is typical Erastes fan?
I write entirely for me. As I said, I was told that there wasn't even a market for gay historical fiction when I started out, and I'm happy to find that that is changing, slowly. I get my ideas from various places and then let the characters guide me - often there are themes in my books that I'm told "publishers aren't going to like that" but I worry about that later on. My criteria for "is it hot?" is whether it turns me on.
I think some gay men are a little baffled by what we see in it, as they in general I would imagine, wouldn't find anything too thrilling about watching or reading about het sex. Some are a little more militant, but I don't believe that writing is anything about gender (except for real life stories, which I wouldn't touch)
Average fan? That's very difficult to say, because there are so many people who don't comment. But going on the emails and comments I have had, I'd say it's a surprisingly even mix of men and women, both gay and straight. I was told when I started out that gay men (1) wouldn't read gay historical romance and (2) written by women - I'm very happy to be proved right on both counts, there. I've even had wonderful and heartbreaking emails from closeted men who are so happy to read my book - and are getting away with it because of the very innocuous cover.
That's amazing. Standish does have a very staid cover (and a respectable title) considering the content!
On that subject do you have your books on show in your house? Do you give copies to friends or hide them away under your bed?
I'd like to say I have one nice tidy shelf but my house collapsed into book chaos a long time ago, but they aren't hidden away, gay porn rubs shoulders with Pratchett and Dodie Smith. Most people know what I write and at first I was embarrassed for a long while. "Um.. I write... historical romance." was as much as I would say but then someone asked me "aren't you proud?" when they found out what it was I did write and I had to think, yes I really was. After that I started being more upfront about it.
I have these fantasies of one day being interviewed like someone like JK Rowling with my books behind me on a nice tidy shelf! I gave away a few copies of Standish to friends, but only had a very limited number to play with.
I really want to ask you about research. One questions that seems to bug erotica authors is the old 'do you do everything you write about' the 'bet you have fun researching' nudge, nudge, wink, wink. So I’m sorry to ask it. But how do you research? Do you ask gay men, go online, watch a lot of porn (!) make it up?
As dearly as I would love to have two or three twinks in the house with exhibitionist qualities it's not likely to happen.
I'm a woman - that helps hugely. I know what it's like to make love to a man, how his cock feels in my hand, my mouth - how to give a blowjob etc etc so I started there.
As I worked on, I did a lot research online - one of my most invaluable sources is Free Gay Pix Too which has everything I need in terms of positions and "Is that even possible?"
I have a couple of gay men friends online too who I discuss nitty gritty stuff with.
I recently wanted to know if intercrual sex was possible for two men at the same time, and was informed that it wasn't. shame. So that scene was quickly scrubbed
Intercrual? Is that with the cock between the thighs? I'm trying to figure...?
Yes. Evidently its not. Can't see why, face to face, but both men said no. I want to see proof, damn it!
I'm doing something with my fingers right now to try and picture it that you probably don't want to know about... Ahem, so what are you working on right now? Sounds like it's something fun!
I've got a second novel finished which is set in the English Civil War but the publisher wants me to make some specific changes which I haven't decided if I want to do yet. It starts warm and sunny and gets gradually darker but that's what actually happened.
As for my WIP, it's anything but fun. It's a novel based on a true story of people my parents knew in the early 1960's and is about a married closeted stockbroker who falls in love for the first time in his late 30's - with the teenager next door. It's not a HEA, and it's been hell to write.
HOWEVER. Fun is on the horizon as my next project is going to be a sequel of sorts to Standish where I follow one of the secondary characters, Fleury, across the pond and watch him deflower anything that moves and leave a trail of chaos in his wake.
I know a lot of our readers will be keen to find out more about all of those. Historical are very popular with the Lusties and our readers – especially historicals with a bit of a twist.
Thank you so much for talking to me. I know you are going to fit right in a Lust Bites
You are very welcome! And thank you - I can't wait to spread the smut!
I mean serious gay erotica
Look out for more from Erastes soon. Meanwhile you can visit her website here