Scribal Love Welcomes Gay Historical Fiction Author Erastes.
Erastes is an author of gay historical fiction. Her newest work TRIBUTARY is available as part of the four novella anthology LAST GASP from Noble Romance Publishing. The other authors in the anthology are Charlie Cochrane, Jordan Taylor and Chris Smith.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had a vision of an Italian landscape a windy road, leading up and up into forested hills and a little grey sports car moving along, seen from above, until it reached the top. It started there. I wasn't sure who was driving that car, or what he'd find in the hotel he'd stopped at, but I knew I wanted to find out.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Hmm. I'm probably not the person to answer that. I'm probably more descriptive than is usual, I like to try and immerse the reader in the era, as if the book was written IN the time, rather than ABOUT the time. Only the reader will be able to say whether I've succeeded in that, though.
What is the name of your latest book? And how did you come up with the title?
Tributary is the last book released. The title came from the idea that the person has been meandering through his life for a long time, as if he was drifting down a river, and he reaches a parting of the river, a tributary—a choice to be made.
What is Tributary about?
It's about a man called Guy Mason. It's 1936 and World War One has been over for a good while, but Guy—like many other men of that era, are still suffering the after effects. In Guy's case, it's survivor guilt. He never actually fought at the Front, despite having thought that he wanted to, he had a job in the War Office and feels that he was safe while so many of his friends died or come back half-whole. He's also lost a lover and he's just drifting through Europe, unable to settle—hardly even really aware that Europe itself is rolling its inexorable way towards more war.
In a remote hotel in the middle of the Italian landscape he meets Professor James Armstrong and his secretary Louis, and he finds an instant attraction to Louis, who—he finds—is not only James' secretary, but also his lover.
It's a story of loss, and guilt, and of choices made and choices not made.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I'm a bookaholic, my house is filled with more books than I have space for and I never (or very very very rarely) dispose of books, even ones I don't think much of. So it's hard for me to pick books that have influenced me. I spent most of my life reading the Classics, so I suppose Austen and Dickens and Thackeray are my main influences, but there are probably tons of others. More recently, and in keeping with the genre I write, I find The Charioteer by Mary Renault, At Swim Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill, A Strong & Sudden Thaw by R W Day, As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McAnn, Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale and False Colors by Alex Beecroft—all these are writers who have such a tremendous "voice" and superb skill that I wish I could have a voice as distinctive.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I was lucky enough to have R W Day as a mentor during my formative years—she's a stunningly good author and much overlooked. She kept me working hard, and by exposure to her writing, it spurred me to up my game. I'm pretty lucky, actually, that I have a lot of author "internet friends" who are madly talented, and I think we all encourage and mentor each other.
What books are you reading now?
I'm reading "The Glass Minstrel" by Hayden Thorne for review on Speak Its Name (www.speakitsname.com) and "Making Money" by Terry Pratchett.
What are your current projects?
I'm currently writing something tentatively called "I Knew Him" which is set in 1921 in England. It's a little bit murder mystery, a little bit romance, a little bit this a little bit that. Gay romance of course, as usual, but it's interesting writing about the 20th century, rather then the 17th or the 19th!
I have a new book coming out in Spring, that's with Lethe Press—called Mere Mortals--and that's a gothic mystery/gay romance set in 1840 on the Norfolk Broads in England, where I live.
Do you see writing as a career?
I do. I'm not self-sufficient just yet. I'm my father's Carer—he has Alzheimer's—and so I get a little bit of money from the state to do that. My dad is a great supporter, so I write at his house in the mornings, and then we go out somewhere nice in the afternoons. It's a tough job, sometimes, both the writing and the caring, but both very rewarding.
Some professional author (and I can't remember who it was) said that to consider yourself a writer you should write 1000 words a day, and that's my goal. I don't always manage it, but that's what I am for.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don't think so. I'm pretty happy with Tributary. Some reviewers have said it's a bit sparse, and a bit remote, but that's exactly the feel I was going for, that "no man's land" between the wars when nothing really felt real. There was a generation who hadn't experienced war and longed for a fight to break out so they could have some glory, and a generation who were still suffering from the horrors of the last one. It was all very brittle.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Absolutely. I came out of fan fiction, and I'll never deny that. Although I always knew I wanted to write, I never had any original ideas or plots – and the couple of books I had started, one kid's book and one YA just foundered because I didn't know what I was going to do with them. Then in 2003 I discovered fan fiction, literally hadn't heard of it before, and also slash (again, something I hadn't heard of.) I found them fascinating and inspiring and immediately started writing a Harry Potter novella. When I finished it, I was so pumped up with adrenaline it was unbelievable, but I realised that I couldn't DO anything with the book—I wanted to SELL books I wrote, so I started to write Standish, and the rest is history!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The research. I live in fear of getting something wrong, and it's so easy to trip yourself up. The research involved in writing a sequel to Standish (USA specifically in the 1820s) is putting me off from getting on with that book—and I want to write about Roman Gladiators and getting THAT right is going to be a challenge.
I'm also the world's best procrastinator—the gleam off a bald head is enough to distract me from writing. Hence me doing this instead of writing this morning!! I need that mentor to be standing behind me with a big stick. Or a cattle prod. WRITE! WRITE!
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh, I learn something with every book I write. I often think that I know a bit (or sometimes even a lot) about the era I'm writing, and it ALWAYS turns out that actually, I don't know hardly anything at all! For example, when I was writing "Transgressions" (which is set in the English Civil War, 1642 onwards) it was quite hard to find any details online. There are pages and pages of battles and uniforms and generals and musters and ambushes and everything concerned with the war, but very very little about everyday life in the time. I had to seek it out in other places, Living History groups etc who were so informative and so helpful, that I learned far far more about the 17th century than I ever needed to know. Did you know that it took 40 different movements just to fire a gun? Well, I do!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Believe in yourself. That's it pure and simple. Take advice, yes, listen to others, but don't try and automatically follow all these so-called RULES that you read all over the place. OK one editor says he hates descriptions of weather, or prologues or that your characters should meet in the first chapter—but if that doesn't work for YOUR book, then don't try and copy other people. Believe in your product.
Thank you Erastes for dropping by!
It was my pleasure.
You can find Erastes on the web at www.Erastes.com