Friday, February 15, 2008

Meet Erastes

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.

I agree

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

Mat x

30 comments:

Portia Da Costa said...

Welcome to Lust Bites, Erastes!

Love

Portia

Janine Ashbless said...

Welcome on board! It's great to have you here Erastes. Hope the behind-the-scenes-chaos isn't too shocking.

Er ... I mean energy, not chaos.

And now I feel I need to know more about Free Gay Pix Too!

Olivia Knight said...

I nearly disappeared forever, following that m/m link, Tilly - I'd forgotten how much great stuff we've paraded & written on it. Swallows So bring it on, Erastes! Welcome to the flock of filthy fillies.

And on the subject of m/m... Oh, I'm just going to brag now, yes I am, yes I am. I'm seeing John Barrowman tonight. Yes, that John Barrowman. You know, Captain Jack Harkness. So I'll show him around Oxford, take him to a nice pub for a drink, maybe stroll past a few colleges... oh, alright, I admit it, I'll be standing in a long line and hoping I don't whimper when I get to the front.

Whimper

Bugger. I think I'm screwed.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Hi Erastes, and welcome.

Why isn't intercrual sex possible between two men at the same time. I can see that it might not be exactly comfortable, but surely not impossible. I'm sure I've seen it depicted in film before too (and I'm talking independent film here not porn, ladies.)

Madelynne Ellis said...

Meant to thank you for Lucius too.

Janine Ashbless said...

Great interview by the way, both of you.

I'm starting to think we should ask John Barrowman to be our blog mascot. I mean, honourary president. Or something. He must be the most lusted-after man in Britain right now.

Olivia Knight said...

I'm trying to puzzle it out (and yeah, I'm also doing odd things with my fingers) I think the problem might be bending it backwards? You know that moment when a man suddenly goes white and bug-eyed and says in a strangled voice "it doesn't bend that wayyyyyy - arrrgghhh gurgleblurgleyarrrr..."

I think we need those little wooden jointed artist's mannequins but with little jointed genitalia. In the absence, obviously, of a brace of obliging yaoi boys to contort to our curious specifications.

What's the link to that research site, Erastes...?

Olivia Knight said...

P.S. Janine - absolutely. I'll have a word tonight ;-)

Seriously, Yanto's line on the last Torchwood - Martha was asking if he and Capt Jack were - you know -
Yanto: (smirk) We dabble.
Martha: And how is his... dabbling?
Yanto: (nodding uncomfortably) Innovative. Bordering on the avant-garde.

Violent coughing choking fit

Janine Ashbless said...

Give him a Lust Bites business card!!

Janine Ashbless said...

BTW - my 6 degrees of John Barrowman...

The only fan-letter I've ever written in my life was to Paul Cornell, who wrote Dr Who novels and has written some of the TV episodes (look, I was suffering from an overdose of SFX magazine when I did it! Long story.) And I sent him a copy of Cruel Enchantment, and he liked it!!

So Janine Ashbless - Paul Cornell -Dr Who - John Barrowman.

Erastes said...

Thank you to all of you for the welcome!

I think the link for the gay site is simply www.freegaypixtoo.com (can't check as I'm at work)

And yes. Mr B. He certainly should be an honourary Lustie at least, or Chairman!

I suppose it can't work if they are both are the same level because one of them would have to bend downwards. I'm all for posable dolls. I want a Standish range, complete with removable costumes and anatomically correct!!!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Hi, Erastes! I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the work you do in running the Erotic Authors Association. Speaking as a member. (Of the organization.)

Erastes said...

Thank you Jeremy! I mean to do more, but it's just finding the time!

*wails *

t'Sade said...

*bonk* I keep forgetting about the Erotic Authors Association. Every time I see the site, I go "I should apply there when it opens" then completely forget until a month too late. *sigh*

But, lovely interview, interesting ideas, welcome!

Erastes said...

Sade: You know the Director now...

*eyebrows waggle*

I'm easily bribed.

:)

Olivia Knight said...

Jeremy, no only are you a valuable member but a useful tool... ;-) I thought you might be alarmed, Erastes, to come back and find we'd hijacked your interview to discuss hot gay men.

Then I thought - WTF?

Just a reminder, in case anyone's inspired by all this discussion of beautiful m/m men, that the Valentine's flash fiction comp is still open. I don't think we have anything featuring intercrual activities, yet...

t'Sade said...

Erastes:

So, what bribes work the best? :)

Of course, it would help if the only published book I have out there WASN'T by an company that went out of business. :( Ditto on the short stories.

I have a curse *swoon* a horrible curse of killing publishing companies.

Olivia:

That is a hot contest. Of course, since I entered near the beginning, I pout when I see better stories passing by. :)

Olivia Knight said...

t'sade - didn't Tilly tell you we love double-entries?

Madeline Moore said...

Ah yes, the wounds of losing members are healing, now that Erastes is here. What a good idea we LBs had, and how fortunate we are that you accepted our invitation. Welcome!

I wrote my first m/m scenes in 'Amanda's Young Men', my second Black Lace novel, just finished, not yet published... BUT...when the time came to write it my main character, yeah that'd be Amanda, was spying on the two men and she felt guilty...so she quit spying.
At that point in the writing I needed words so it wasn't what I'd intended, but it did feel right so that's what happened. Maybe next time. It was fun, though. Different, imagining how he feels, and how he feels...with no 'how does she feel' directly involved.

Welcome, again, Erastes. Enjoy us!

Erastes said...

Olivia: *giggles * yes. I'm going to be VERY annoyed you dragging Barrowman into the thread. He'd be right at home, here, that's for sure.

t'sade: Amazon reviews will work almost as well as alcohol. :) And if you are a publisher wrecking ball, I have "have a little list...."

What? Who thought I was NICE?

I think we'll have to have a m/m flasher special one day.

*leers*

Leatherdykeuk said...

God to see my favourite gay writer here :)

Erastes said...

God? Nah.

I appreciate the compliment, Leatherdyke, but it's not necessary.

John the Baptist perhaps?

:)

Kate Pearce said...

Welcome! I'm really pleased you decided to join us. I kind of see you as the next link (or kink) in the ever expanding chain of erotic romance-erotics-m/m fiction.
(I'm hanging on the edge at the moment getting bisexual men into NY publishers erotic romance books)
Love historicals, and would love to see the English civil war one in print!

Kate Pearce said...

of course I meant erotics which is a cool form of exercise instead of eroticA-sigh it's Friday...

Erastes said...

Hi Kate - and thanks! Yes, I've noticed the gradual accretion of m/m, and bisexuality is getting more notice, specially on the TV serieses around. It'll happen, maybe never on mainstream american tv - but if I ever pluck up the courage to send Standish to Channel Four.... You never know...

It's much more accepted in sci-fi and fantasy than in romance yet, but I have faith!

Caffey said...

Hi Erastes!
I wondered what time periods do you write for historicals and some that you plan?

I enjoy reading the regency (Victorian, not always sure what that time period is), Medieval and Westerns (love cowboys!). I too enjoy reading more of the settings and time periods that are not written about much when they give a good understanding through the story of the culture and all. I'm not one who is looking for facts (I know nothing, LOL) but more looking to see the picture of the surroundings while reading a great erotica story!

Great to meet you!

Erastes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erastes said...

Reposting!

Hi Caffrey!

I've written:
-Regency (Standish, and a novella "Hard & Fast" - coming hopefully this year)
-Victorian (Chiaroscuro - in "Night Moves" by Aspen Mountain Press)
-English Civil War (Transgressions, in editing)
-1960's (WIP)

And various others in short story form which are dotted around the anthologies I've written.

I have major plot bunnies for: Roman Gladiators, Film Noir detectives, Shakespeare's time (all those men dressed as women....), but gah! I just need so much more time!

Thanks!

Deanna Ashford said...

Hi Erastes,

As you know I write historical erotica but I also love slipping in some homo-erotic scenes as well. I find them incredibly sexy, unfortunately at present my editor doesn't.

I keep trying however.

Erastes said...

Oh, sorry that your editor is a little - um - what? shortsighted? bigoted? scared? I hope that your attempted tries give fruit one day!