We’re here celebrating the release of another thrilling episode of The Flesh Cartel! Episode 4, Consequences, is available now from Riptide Publishing. Check out our interview with DarienMoya below for the latest exclusive details about the serial, and for a top-secret look at The Flesh Cartel #5: Wins and Losses (available for pre-order now and coming 3/4/13!) Leave a comment with your thoughts below and you’ll be entered to win a special “Made to Order” t-shirt from The Flesh Cartel!
Hello Ladies, and how are you both doing?
Heidi: Absolutely exhausted! We’re in the last editing pushes for season 2, and nearly finished with writing season 3. Yesterday we wrote nearly 20k words.
Rachel: Feeling surprisingly great. At the time of this interview, Heidi and I just started--and finished--the entirety of Episode 9 in about 24 hours. Getting into the zone like that is utterly exhausting, but also one of the most fulfilling and satisfying experiences you can have as a writer.
Alright lets get into it!
The Flesh Cartel, Episode 4 is out and people seem to be loving it. But, is it (flesh cartel) kicking your ass and are you worried about if people will continue to like it?
Rachel: It’s a little bit of an ass-kicker, yeah. For me, at least, it’s more about the pacing of the schedule than the emotional heaviness, because the whole reason I write is to chase after those intense emotions--it’s exhausting but I love it. But knowing we have to put out an episode every month--roughly 18,000 words an episode, give or take--and that we need time to edit it and the press needs time to produce it and that we want every episode to be at least as good as the last . . . that’s a bit of pressure.
Heidi: The stress is lessening as time goes on on the “will people like it?” front. People generally can tell by the first and second episodes whether it’s for them or not, so now the people who are still reading us are generally dedicated fans! But then, of course, it starts being less about “will people like it” and more “will it live up to our fans’ expectations”? But so far, everyone’s been so nice!
The writing process, is it becoming harder to write the other episodes or as the worst already passed (real question, are you going to keep making us cry)?
Rachel: LOL, yes, hopefully there will be many tears in your future >:D It moves into a very different sort of zone, though, much less about the physical and much more about the psychological. And in that sense, the writing does get harder as we move on, because the psychological make-ups of the boys (and of the other characters too) get more and more complex and finicky and difficult and intertwined.
Heidi: You’ll still be crying, but for different reasons! But yes it is getting harder for us. Writing the physical torture stuff is pretty grueling and takes a toll on you emotionally, but
the psychological stuff is tricky and complex, which means we have to really argue over every single point and justify every feeling and action our characters take.
I have a fascination with the guards at the facility, and the fact that they enjoy the perks of their job so much. Do you both think it's human nature to get carried away when given power over someone else (in this case a lot of individuals)?
Rachel: There’ve actually been some really fascinating and frightening experiments to study that very question (Google the Stanford Prison Experiment), and rather conclusively, the answer seems to be yes.
Heidi: Yep. Honestly, I don’t even think many of the guards are even gay: they just have power and want to use it. History gives us all kinds of examples of people given power who quickly go on to abuse it in terrible ways. Luckily, there are also people who use power and influence to help others . . . I wonder if we’ll meet anyone like that in Flesh Cartel?
Will the Madame ever get a bomb placed in her mouth and we have the pleasure of reading about her head exploding?
Rachel: I’m afraid that’s one spoiler I’m not willing to give. You’ll just have to stick it out and see.
Any spoilers or amazing little tidbits you can spare us? *puppy dog eyes*
Heidi: Well, we’re nearly finished season 3 now, so maybe a spoiler from that?
Rachel: Hmm. Okay. They escape! I’ll leave you now to wonder if I’m kidding or not.
Heidi: Hey, don’t be looking at me for pity!
Has there been any "hey, fuck you I am not writing that"? (Or anything along those lines :D)
Rachel: Heh, actually, the other day we were thinking about writing a punishment for Mat that involved sounding and a TENs unit, but neither of us wanted to write it. (I would’ve loved to have read it, though *coughHeidicough*.)
Heidi: Yeah okay lady, I’ll write that the day you finally write me my fucking machine.
Rachel: I will so hold you to that.
Truth! Can Mat & Dougie comeback from what has happened/is happening to them? Throw out HEAs and feeling good times.
Rachel: No, they can’t come back. But they can move forward. Essentially, the people they were before all this happened are dead. But it doesn’t mean they can’t become some newer,
healthier versions of themselves who are capable of having normal relationships and aren’t suffering from PTSD.
Heidi: Their greatest weakness in all this will also be their greatest strength: their love for each other. Nikolai and others will try to use that love and loyalty against them, but it’s also the one thing they can really count on, and their one hope for a better future.
Nikolai, bastard or a man shaped by his job and clients? Tell me how you really feel about him.
Rachel: A man shaped by circumstance. I actually quite like Nikolai--as a character, I mean; as a person he is both tragic and criminally insane. He can be a heartless bastard for sure, but he truly feels for his charges (or so he likes to think of them), and he does as well by them as he knows how to do, given his understanding of the word.
Heidi: Both. Can he be both? I think he’s a horrible monster of a man, who just gets worse and worse the longer Mat and Dougie spend with him, and don’t think there’s any excuse for what he does, but oh, there’s an explanation. And it’s a sad, scary secret.
At this point, how are you guys feeling about the entire experience writing The Flesh Cartel?
Rachel: It’s pretty fucking amazing, actually. Writing with Heidi is such a joy, and I’ve become quite attached to the characters, and it’s quite the luxury to be able to spend so much time with them. Normally, you write a story, or maybe two or three stories in the same world, and then you pack it up and say good-bye. But the serial format allows us to be so expansive without getting off topic, so we really get to delve into all the little things, learn more about the world and the side characters as well as the heroes and villains, and that’s something you really don’t ever get the chance to do in standalone pieces. Plus it’s been amazing to see the readers’ responses to the story as each episode comes out--from the outpouring of support when Amazon refused (and still refuses) to carry Flesh Cartel, to the eager, squirmy excitement for the next episode.
Heidi: Still having a blast! I said the other day that it was like running a marathon. I know some people consider the serial format to be a bit of a cash grab (if you buy by the season, though, at least with ours, all the episodes together are just the same price as any regular novel format), but on our end, it’s also a lot of work for the authors, editors, and the press. Rachel and I are constantly working on one thing or another. Just yesterday we wrote 17k of new material, did first and second round edits on TWO separate episodes, did some plotting for our next episode and next season, AND did promotional work. The work never ends until the story’s done: and by the looks of things, we’ll be providing you with new Flesh Cartel stories at least until the end of 2013. That is a long term commitment. Consider that on average a co-written novel takes a month or two to write and a couple months to edit, and then there’s one cover and one digital book to format and convert. We’ve already written 3-4 novels’ worth of material, our artist Em is on her third cover . . . Well, you get the point. It’s a full time job!
Include whatever else you guys wanna share!
Heidi: How about a (mid-edits) excerpt from episode 5, which comes out in March? Here you are! Enjoy…if you dare…
Excerpt from The Flesh Cartel #5: Wins and Losses (available for pre-order here):
Mat started awake to the sound of a . . . power tool? He lurched up in bed and spun toward the noise, saw two men installing a heavy punching bag at the same time he realized his bedroom door was wide open.
The thought had barely formed before the doorway was filled with two more men carrying a treadmill, and Nikolai, bringing up the rear, one hand stuffed casually in his pants pocket
“Good morning, Mathias,” Nikolai said, grinning expansively, as if it really was a good morning.
Mat realized he was on his feet, though he couldn’t remember getting there, and that he was naked in front of a room full of very attractive men in their forties—the kinds of guys you’d see modeling suits in a Macy’s catalog—and that nobody but him seemed to think this was odd in the slightest.
In episode four of The Flesh Cartel, Mat and Dougie Carmichael begin their training with their new master, Nikolai, where they both learn the meaning of servitude . . . and of consequences for their choices.
For Mat, destined to be trained but not broken—to always fight but never win—life with Nikolai is suffering stacked on suffering. Nikolai pushes him to the edge but not over; he must never lose the hatred in his eyes. Dougie, on the other hand, is fated to love and crave service. For that, Nikolai must teach him the pleasures of a pampered sex slave, but training a straight man to revel in his gay captor’s touch is no easy feat.
As if the challenges Mat and Dougie face aren’t difficult enough, one last complication remains: before either brother can submit fully to Nikolai, they must first give up their strongest, most powerful loyalty: their dedication to each other.
Rachel Haimowitz is an M/M erotic romance author, a freelance writer and editor, and the Managing Editor of Riptide Publishing. She's also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.
When she's not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.
You can find Rachel at her website, Tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Fantasy Unbound. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.
You can find her tweeting as @HeidiBelleau, email her at heidi.below.zero (at) gmail.com, or visit her blog: http://heidi-below-zero.blogspot.com.
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