I am so excited to be interviewing Heidi and Violetta today! They are two very awesome ladies and talented writers, and they are here chatting it up with me. Give a warm welcome to the fantastic duo Heidi & Violetta.
Hi Heidi/Violetta welcome to Pants Off, super excited to have you guys here.
Heidi: Super excited to be here! Can I take my pants off now?
Tell us a bit about yourself, and how long you've been writing?
Heidi: I’m a stay at home mom living in Northern Canada. I’m a history geek. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. In fact, even before I could physically write, I was dictating stories to my father to write down for me. I don’t think this gives me a particular pedigree or anything like that, but yes, I have definitely spent a long time nurturing this... talent? Inclination? Fetish? Haha.
Violetta: I was raised by wandering hippies who have since mostly settled down. I went to kindergarten in Japan but have spent most of my life in the United States. I’ve been writing essays formally and informally for many years, but was always too afraid to venture into fiction. A few years ago, I jumped in.
Heidi: Turns out she had nothing to worry about, because she’s totally awesome.
Was gay fiction something you always wanted to write? Or did you develop it as an interest over time?
Heidi: I actually wrote stories about a pair of gay characters back in high school, so it must have started sometime around then! I mean, I’m bi myself, so I never really thought romance needed to be limited to couples consisting of one man and one woman. However, growing up where I did, I never realized that books about gay and bi people could actually sell and find an audience. It was very exciting to me to find M/M after forcing myself to write straight stuff just because I thought that was the only to get people to read my books. There’s this whole period of my wriitng where I am patently forcing myself not to let the LGBT subtext in my stories shine through. Pablo Picasso had his Blue Period, I had my.... nohomo period. It’s really quite hilarious because even my straight books were super duper gay.
Violetta: The first gay fiction I ever read was The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, when I was 14. I’ve always sought out stories (mostly in science fiction) that had treatments of sexuality and gender that didn’t conform to what I felt were constricting norms. And I listened to a lot of Bowie during my formative years. I mean a lot. Due to both study and recreation, I’ve developed a fair degree of knowledge of LGBTQ fiction, but I’m not claiming insider status. I look at m/m romance as a fascinating hybrid genre—many of the stories I want to tell fit very well inside it.
I believe I've read all the books you both have written together and look forward to the others. Most (all) of your stories have a supernatural theme to it. Is the supernatural something you both believe in?
Heidi: I do, yeah. I don’t subscribe to any one belief system, but I am definitely open to the possibility that there is more in this world than we can necessarily comprehend. I definitely still try to be critical, because there are many many people in this world who want to capitalize on and even exploit those beliefs. I have very little tolerance, just as an example, for phony psychics and the like that make a good living off of manipulating people’s grief.
Violetta: I believe in the fantastic, in a literary sense. I don’t believe that causality is influenced by the supernatural. In terms of belief, I’m a Buddhist.
Sex with a corporeal spirit/ghost. Seriously, whose idea was that?
Heidi: ...I think that may have been me. We decided to write a book set in Hawaii and were looking at different Hawaiian stories, and the ghost stories in particular called to me. And I’ll admit, this isn’t my first time writing ghost sex. Uh.
Violetta: An invisible man sleeping in your bed... who ya gonna call? Trick question, you get it on with him, write a story about it, and send it off to Loose Id.
Heidi: I mean, I guess you could call someone, if you were freaky. I’d call Peter Venkman anytime.
There is such wonderful Multiculturalism/interracial relationships in your books. Will this be something you both you and Violetta continue to write? Because I believe you guys are really setting the bar high for interracial relationships in gay romance/fiction.
Violetta: Thanks! Yes, it’s something we’re both very committed to writing. We have written a few stories, I think, where all the characters are white, but even in those cases culture and ethnicity play a huge role in the story. More than anything, that’s what we focus on; people not just as isolated generic individuals but as members of families, communities, cultures, and how love and sexuality interacts with all of that.
Sadly, the bar is kind of low at the present moment. There are some awesome writers and stories out there in IR/MC and I promote them as much as possible. But we don’t have as many writers and stories as we could. People look at it and they only see the risks and not the rewards. The situation is changing for the better, though.
You have written the intense, sad, and the horror stuff. When will we be reading the fluff? Just good ole guy falls in love with an office worker ^_^
Heidi: My god, you know, writing fluff has never occurred to me? Which is crazy because I love rom-coms. I mean, I think I’ve watched The Proposal like eight times, and Bridget Jones’s Diary probably even more, and even The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Jack Black... I also like M/M romance with the same themes and scenarios, although I think it’s hard to get right. Yeah I think we are overdue for some fluff. I know we have been talking about the possibility of writing a contemporary with no paranormal aspects (specifically, a sequel/follow-on to our free short “Harm Reduction”) but given the subject matter I don’t think that has a high likelihood of being fluffy. Fluff... fluff. We may have to discuss this for an upcoming project. This may be all your fault.
You have a new release out, and one is upcoming. Can you just share a little about them and future plans in writing?
Heidi: Our current release, as you know, is Hawaiian Gothic, it’s a super angsty super romantic friends-to-lovers ghost story set in Hawaii. With wrestling sex. And there’s an epic quest, too, but we’re definitely proud of the wrestling sex. It’s out from Loose Id now, and will be available for purchase at third party retailers like Amazon and ARe on June 29th.
Violetta: Our novel coming from Carina in August is a whopper. It’s about a young man named Sean O’Hara, who despite his name is not Irish but Cuban-American, and his journey back to Ireland to remove a curse that’s been destroying his sanity and his life. He meets Cormac Kelly there, a cynical modern-day druid who’s more John Constantine than Merlin, and it’s hate at first sight, and then it’s love, but the sidhe are coming after them... it’s a bit like Hawaiian Gothic in that we have a lot of elements and layers, but the plot is even more epic, and the length (>110k) really gives us the space to let the epicness unfold. And yes, it does have a happy ending, but like Hawaiian Gothic, the characters go through hell to get there... and about a thousand years of Irish history.
We’ve left a little trail of breadcrumbs to The Druid Stone. “Cruce de Caminos” is a prequel tie-in. “Salting the Earth” from Like it or Not introduces a major secondary character from The Druid Stone, and Cormac makes a cameo, too. There are other stories, some free. None of them are romances, and “Salting the Earth” comes with big red flashing warning lights about nonconsensual sex, so we don’t expect that people read all of these (or even any of them) before The Druid Stone; but going back and forth might add to the reading experience.
Hawaiian Gothic, how did the idea for the story come about?
Heidi: Well, we wanted to write a novel length work. We wanted it to be a paranormal romance. We wanted to set it in Hawaii and base it around Native Hawaiian folklore. We wanted to have a Filipino main character. It all kind of came together after that!
When am I going to get a BDSM book from you guys? I can feel it coming!
Violetta: I don’t know! We’ve had BDSM elements in some books, like The Saturnalia Effect. And we have written a pure BDSM short story that takes place after The Druid Stone, but we haven’t decided how and when to publish it yet. One issue is that while I love reading BDSM, I don’t love BDSM plots. There are hardly any BDSM plots that can actually sustain my interest.
Heidi: The whole “sex club” set-up of a lot of BDSM stories is a personal squick of mine, so while I love the power dynamics of BDSM, and also the actual nature of the acts from bondage to impact play to confinement, I’d rather write a story that cherry picks elements of the lifestyle and incorporate those into other stories versus BDSM being central to the narrative. Of course, the sex club thing isn’t the be-all and end-all of BDSM (and I’m sure many many practitioners have never stepped foot in such a club), but that, along with some serious asshole Doms, seems to be such a major part of the genre. Please please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d love some recs of good BDSM-centred books with plot and substance that hold my interest while keeping BDSM a star of the story.
Heidi: Oh yes, definitely. I think our finished product is generally pretty smoothly integrated, but there have been times where we will fight each other tooth and nail over things. One chapter of The Druid Stone was a particular battle, I remember. Ultimately you just have to be professional. Sometimes that means stepping away when things get heated, or it might mean ceding control, or trying out something you’re not 100% on.
Who has it better Top or Bottom (perhaps both)?
Violetta: Bottom. Less work!
Heidi: Uh, what she said?
How do you feel about 3 way romance in books? Believable or Not?
Heidi: I think in real life relationships can be healthy and fulfilling in all shapes and sizes. I dont’ disbelieve in the possibility or validity of actual 3 way romances. In fiction, though, I’m not too hot on them, personally. I wrote an M/M/F triad in a secondary relationship for Hawaiian Gothic and love it and wouldn’t have that plotline go any other way, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the dynamic, in general. Sexual/casual threesomes, bring ‘em on! Actual stable polyamorous relationships and triads? I just don’t think I could really do those justice, not on my own anyway. Violetta is definitely the expert in that arena.
Violetta: I’m not an expert, just a fan, really! I love menage stories—mainly MMF. I even founded a whole review blog dedicated to them: More Than This. I find menage just as believable as a lot of M/M and M/F romance, and when it comes to science fiction settings, more believable. It’s true, these kinds of relationships happen very rarely in real life, but romance as a genre is a variable mixture of real life details and totally unrealistic tropes. I like approaching these stories as complicated relationship jigsaw puzzles, and watching characters figure out where they fit together and where they don’t fit together. Plus I’m really into bisexuality in fiction.
Pants, is it better to write with them on or off?
Heidi: Off. I am a fierce proponent of wearing as little clothes as is necessary in any given scenario.
Violetta: On, but on fire.
Thanks so much for being here today. If fans want to keep in touch how can they get in contact with you?
Want to win an ebook copy of Hawaiian Gothic? 'You really need a copy of this'.
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