Talking with author V. Greene

Hi and welcome to my blog, V. Greene. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake.  So tell us a little about yourself.

Q: What genre do you write and for what publisher(s)?

I write erotic fantasy novels for Shadowfire Press, which just released the second book in the Spellslayer series. The Spellslayers are sword-and-sorcery at heart; Fire and Water is more high fantasy – if you can use that term on something with rather low punning in its origins. The commission was for “smoking hot sex.”

Q: Tell us about your latest/upcoming release. What inspired it?

I’d discovered there was a market for fantasy with gay characters, toyed with the idea while rereading Fritz Leiber, and woke up with a large swordsman and a small tricky wizard wanting to scrabble their way onto paper (and fool around a lot). Once they were there, they just kept having adventures. I’d thought they might be worth a short story at first, but now they’re pushing me into writing their third, and possibly their fourth, novella.

A skeptic might say I made them up entirely to pimp their asses and sell books. That might even have been true for about five minutes, but I’ve become quite fond of them and their ornery tendency to scoot into risky territory, have huge backstories, take crazy chances with the plotline, and have a quickie after nearly being monster chow.

Q: Who are some of your favorite characters from your books? The hardest to write? The easiest?

I adore Turak and Gazriel. Totally. They’re good guys, in their own highway-robbing pocket-picking ways, and they’re fond of each other while being completely incapable of saying so. They’re worth the grind of catching their adventures and stuffing them into the computer.

Turak has been hard to write, though, as he’s something of an internally contradictory character: as gentle as a man can be when his preferred career involves extensive use of a greatsword. He’s a sweetie, except when he’s not, and I have to make sure he has opportunities to be well-rounded.

Gazriel, on the other hand, has a soft spot for the poor and downtrodden, and for Turak, but is otherwise pretty well self-centered, sneaky, and a little too fond of his own cleverness. He’s easy for me to write, which can be disconcerting.

Peripheral characters tend to come and go, since the main ones travel a lot, but I’m fond of Sara in the first book. She was the quietly voyeuristic keeper of a roadside tavern, there for all the female readers of m/m stories. In this one, there are a couple of serpent-temple acolytes I quite enjoyed writing, energetic teenage girls who aren’t quite committed to the cloistered life just yet.

Q: What do you do when the muse decides to take a holiday or become really difficult? How do you try to coax them/she/it/he back to the drawing board?

The muse tried to hide for rather a long time between book 1 and 2, actually. I asked the publisher for a firm, harsh, absolute deadline, and though the deadline wasn’t all that harsh, it shook everything loose, muse or no muse. And, you know, I only missed it by about a week. Coffee helps. Reading other people until my word-tank is filled up again seems to work pretty well, too, but I still have to prime the pump by just writing garbage until the flow gets going.

Oddly, sometimes the forced writing turns out to be the best, probably because I was sweating every word in the first place instead of galloping along without noticing exactly what the prose looked like.

Q: Is there a genre you haven’t tried yet but plan to in the future?

I’d like to do more science fiction. I have some science background and still like to keep up on the latest discoveries and controversies, and I also live with a philosophy professor – a great source of the sort of questions science fiction likes to play with.

Q: If the world was to end tomorrow, what three things would be on your bucket list?

Erk. Panic, make phone calls to some dear people who do not live nearby, then some more frenzied panic. I’ve been aware of my own mortality lately as it is, and have come to the conclusion that death is a gigantic waste. Mass death all the more so.

Q: You’re on a remote island with a handsome man, a computer, and a “mysterious” source of electricity to power your computer. What do you do?

To quote Tom Lehrer (should one attribute a quote originally on the subject of plagiarism?) “Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.” What’s mysterious about a solar backpack?

Q: What comes first for you: Setting? Storyline? Characters?

Characters. Storyline tends to force setting, and characters to force storyline, so I suppose the characters demand that a certain world be built to house them. Once those traits are settled, I try to be sensible in putting mountains and jungles in plausible places, making the cities different from each other, and having some idea what the political climate is. For instance, though it hasn’t come up yet, I am aware that the king once had his bacon saved by a former street urchin who managed to claw his way up to advisor, and therefore he requires all the schools and guilds to admit not fewer than one (though no more than five on the nation’s nickels) impoverished student a year. This is important to Gazriel’s past in several different ways, most of them offscreen.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrities would you like to star as your main characters?

That’s actually rather tricky. Neither looks much like any currently available celebrity. You might be able to cobble a reasonable Gazriel out of Elijah Wood or Seth Green, with tinted contacts and some deft makeupping. Right now we don’t seem to have an action hero who looks at all like Turak, though Jason Momoa might be close. They’re more the sort of person you find on old pulp-fiction covers than the sort of person that’s easy to cast in live-action movies. Would animation be a valid option? I would love to do these books as a graphic novel, for that matter.

Fire and Water, on the other hand, is relatively easy to cast. Ideally the dragon would be voiced by Patrick Stewart, and Sir Campion could be well-played by Justin Chambers.

Q: What do you have coming next? Anything you want to tell us?

I’m working more or less simultaneously on several scenes from Spellslayer 3, a spinoff prequel sort of thing, and a story in the same world that might make a good submission to a Halloween anthology. No, I’m not an organized, outlining, scheduled sort of writer. Whenever I try to be, life tends to whack me in the face with a salted codfish.

Q: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Does anyone remember the one the PMRC suggested years ago? Okay, that one’s probably overkill. “Caution: Contents Misleadingly Packaged” might about cover the matter.

Q: What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?

I try to write something that’ll get a reaction, something that’ll make the reader think and feel in a way that they didn’t before, and not just in an erotic sense. Back in my fanfiction days, a m/m story of mine (Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black, I think) earned a review containing a threat to firebomb my house. Since the reviewer was on a different continent, I didn’t worry about it too much, and at least that reviewer had gotten involved enough to get angry! It’s the next best thing to making her think.

Q: Where can we find you on the web?

I tweet @v_greene and blog when the impulse strikes at http://v-greene.livejournal.com/. So far the desire to increase my web presence beyond those and the odd snarky remark at the Absolute Write Water Cooler just hasn’t hit.

Spellslayer 2: Revenge of the Serpent Priestess

Sales Link: http://www.shadowfirestore.com/

Book Blurb:

Turak was a solitary wanderer by choice, losing track of those he loved so that they could live forever in his heart.  Gazriel loved no-one, feeling safer in isolation.  Now together, tentative in any sense of commitment as they enjoy each other’s bodies, they try to evade their common powerful enemies, find a comfortable sort of life together, and possibly get wealthy.

Their enemies, women powerful in their own kind of magic, have other plans, prying into both men’s weaknesses to force them into a quest.  Traveling south into dark jungle and mysterious ruins, they must rely on each other’s strengths to survive it.

Excerpt:

Turak stared into the campfire’s flames.  He’d spent a lot of time doing that, he reflected, but it was a new show every night.  This evening, a thread of blue ran along one branch over and over.  Though its shape was smooth and pleasing, the color reminded him of the gleam in an Undead’s eye.  He hoped it was no omen of his future.

A week ago he had seen his younger sister.  She had died of a fever at six years old, just before he left home for good.  When she had appeared at the campfire, she had still been six years old, her faded dress dirty and her hair too long as always.  She had vanished when Gazriel flicked a silver coin to her, thinking her a genuine urchin.

Or perhaps thinking that silver would dispel her if she were not and please her if she were.  The thief had a quick and subtle mind for such plans.

Gaz, across from him, seemed absorbed in some study of his own.  It was good to have a companion who could also fall into a silence and feel comfortable there.  The night felt stretched, as though something waited outside the light of the fire and watched for an opportunity.  Turak found himself listening harder, waiting for the snap of a twig.  The blue flame rippled, but he no longer focused on it.  After a moment, he turned from it altogether and stared into the darkness.  His eyes adjusted, but there seemed to be nothing to see.  Whatever he wasn’t seeing, Gazriel was searching for it as well.

“I think the trace is making me jumpy,” Gaz said after a minute.  “You?”

“Maybe.”  Turak shook his head.  “How much can a group of priestesses do at this distance?”

Gaz shifted unhappily.  “Between where we started and the jungles, this is about as close as we ever get to their temple.  Maybe that’s why I’m on edge.”

On some level, Turak had known this as well.  Perhaps his mind only played tricks with this knowledge.  “Still, we’re not on the front porch.”

“Wizards don’t know much about temple magics,” Gaz said, amusing Turak.  A few months ago, if the confession would have been made at all, it would have been Wizards know little of temple magics.  “I can’t say,” he continued judiciously, “this is how I would have chosen to study it.”

“It’s probably the only way, which is probably why wizards have avoided it.”

“I suppose when it comes to self-preservation, wizards do have a certain amount of sense,” Gaz said.  Turak gave him a smile.

He’d only taken his attention from the darkness for a moment, but in that moment someone had joined them.  At the edge of the firelight, a young blond man stood shyly.  Turak caught his breath.  Again, the age was exactly what he remembered; the beautiful boy hadn’t changed in ten years.  “Jilarek.”

It couldn’t be, of course.  Jilarek was dead, gone, and his bloody suicide still haunted Turak’s dreams.  This, too, had to be an illusion.  “Turak.  Have you missed me?” said the copy.

His sister’s death couldn’t have been his fault; her silent visit had not hurt so much.  What could he possibly say?  He’d learned to go through his day without thinking of small tales to tell Jilarek that evening, without hoping that they might touch, and without that shy smile rewarding him for little deeds.  Those were the things he would have missed if he’d permitted himself.  He no longer practiced the sword wondering if now he might be able to best his friend, or whether he deserved to carry that friend’s sword.  And yet saying no would have been callous and not quite true.  “It’s been a long time.”

Jilarek looked away for a moment.  “That’s what I thought you’d say.  Nothing.”

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