For the Inaugural Edition of Afternoon Tea, I’d like to welcome author Lia Black to The Swamp. Lia has graciously agreed to make the perilous journey deep into The Swamp in order to chat about her new release, A King's Ransom.
Lia: [shouting from somewhere off camera] Jaye? What the hell? I thought you said afternoon tea, not wilderness survival camp.
Jaye: [disappearing into a mass of hanging vines and returning dragging Lia behind her] Right here, Lia. It is afternoon tea, look I’ve got the tablecloth and crumpets and everything. There’s even a tea cozy.
Lia: [muttering] I thought The Swamp was just the name of your blog…
Jaye: That’s what everyone thinks. Have a seat. Have a crumpet, and let’s get down to brass tacks… Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself… How did you get into writing in the first place, and M/M in particular?
Lia: [sitting gingerly on the edge of a grubby and rather precarious-looking deck chair] Honestly, I ask myself that question on an almost daily basis (well that, and “Am I wearing pants?”). My first book that I ever sent out to the world… or ever finished for that matter, was a het romance called The Loss of Sunlight. Before that, I hadn’t written anything but angst-ridden journal entries since I was seventeen. Right after LoS, Spiretown happened. I was worried — because I had no idea that m/m existed at the time — that I would lose any fans I’d managed to get with my last story… or that maybe nobody would take me seriously because I didn’t have boy parts. I contemplated using a pen name, but in the end, I just put it out there and I ended up with a whole new set of readers!
Jaye: [nodding sagely] Yes, the pants are important, especially for public appearances.
Your new release, A King’s Ransom, is a fantasy story. What can you tell us about that?
Lia: Urgh, this is always the hard part for me. The story starts with Kaidos trying to NOT be a thief anymore, but he’s not having an easy time being anything else. So he takes a contract to kidnap a prostitute and bring her to some nobleman overseas; the money he is offered is more than he would make in a lifetime, and of course, he accepts. Everything seems to be going as planned until Kaidos finds out that “she” is a “he”. It’s a story told in two parts; the first part of the story is Kaidos and Veyl’s journey together, both literally and emotionally, and the second part is them trying to keep that bond despite them being separated. Of course, there is sex and magic sprinkled in there (sometimes at the same time), political intrigue, and a talking bear.
Jaye: I see you’ve brought a couple of your characters with you… not the talking bear this time? I’m disappointed.
Lia: You said afternoon tea… I was afraid he might get carried away when he saw the food. Wouldn’t want anyone to get mauled.
Jaye: Ah, well, no matter. Safety first, and all that. Perhaps you could introduce us to these two lovely young men and tell us a bit about them?
Lia: Sure, this is—
Veyl: [flipping his mile-long hair over his shoulder and poking it into Lia’s eyes — Jaye ducks out of the way] Veyl, charmed. I am, of course, the star of A King’s Ransom…
Kaidos: [rolling his eyes] Only because you happen to get kidnapped — you spend most of the second half asleep.
Lia: [stepping between the two] Er, next question please?
Jaye: [still staring in disbelief at the vision of twinky loveliness before her] Er… yeah… question… oh, yeah… what was the most challenging part of writing A King’s Ransom?
Veyl: Trying to make him likeable [jerks his head towards Kaidos].
Kaidos: [leering] You seemed to like me well enough last night.
Veyl: Next question, please.
Jaye: Who is your favorite character in A King’s Ransom, and why?
Kaidos and Veyl: Me.
Lia: I actually love all of them for different reasons. I think my favorite one to write was Aegeus, though…
Kaidos: That weird little wizard??
Lia: He was so wonderfully damaged, and sort of a tragic character. Imagine having so much magic, but every time you use it, it messes you up mentally and physically. The poor guy was a wreck.
Kaidos: I’ll say.
Veyl: [touching Lia’s shoulder in mock-sympathy] You know, you really aren’t normal…
Jaye: [under her breath] You’re telling me…
Jaye: Right. Next question… Aside from Aegeus, there are several other supporting characters in A King’s Ransom who are intriguing enough that I’m wondering if we’re going to see more stories that take place in this world.
Lia: Yeah, I hope so. It just depends if and when they want to show up. All of them have their stories to tell.
Veyl: [pouting] But none of them are nearly as interesting as we are. Our sequel should surely be next.
Kaidos: Yeah, you know, I’m certainly always ready, willing, and able to contribute to the sex scenes.
Veyl: [raising a perfectly groomed eyebrow] Hm, I can think of some contributions… how about the sequel where I stay awake the entire time as a Personage of Great Importance and you’re my willing slave?
Kaidos: I can agree to half of that.
Veyl: [licking his lips and getting all slinky] Which half?
Kaidos: How about the bottom?
Jaye: All right boys, save it for the bedroom, eh?
Lia: Jaye, do you have a thermostat control on your swamp? Maybe a bucket of cold water to throw on these two? [fans self]
Jaye: Sure, just a sec… [produces bucket of water and advances threateningly toward Kaidos and Veyl]
Veyl: Not on my expensive silk shirt you don’t, evil minx—
Kaidos: [clapping hand over Veyl’s mouth] Quiet! You don’t want to piss her off… you should see what she does to her characters… [shudders]
Lia: Whew. Thank you, Jaye. Now, where were we?
Jaye: I was just about to ask if you would tell us a little bit about your writing process.
Lia: Well, I write with a laptop in my room—camped out on my bed. It’s kind of my cave. Sometimes I get ideas from snippets of conversations, maybe catching something for the half-second or so I have the TV on, dreams…they come at me from all sides. Usually I form the characters first, and then I build a plot around them. I like to think of it as building a body…I start with the skeleton, which is the roughest rough draft ever (I don’t outline—yes, that makes some of my fellow authors crazy), then I start filling in the organs, adding muscle and flesh, and finally the cosmetic additions.
Kaidos: You’re complaining about cosmetics? Who went trudging around the market for you yesterday morning because you ran out of kohl?
Jaye: [doing her best to ignore them] So what other projects do you have in the works?
Lia: Well, at any one time I have a ton of things all waiting to be worked on. At the moment I am working on Mercury’s Net, a science-fiction story about a sociopathic killer who loves children’s shows, but has a difficult time grasping some of the concepts they teach...
Veyl: [in a stage whisper] Really, really not normal, dear.
Lia: [glaring at Veyl] And I am trying to work on sequels for Worthy and Spiretown. I have had some people beg me for more het romance, but it’s just not my thing right now.
Kaidos: Lucky for us.
Veyl: [pouting] I’m stunningly beautiful… I wasn’t supposed to be a woman, was I?
Lia: No, Veyl, you were always going to be a boy… and before you ask, so was Kaidos.
Kaidos: [under his breath] Thank the gods for that! [grabs Veyl for a passionate kiss, which turns into a passionate grope…]
Jaye: [picking up the sock which has been flung over the tray of dainty pastries] Oh, dear… looks to me like you’d better get these two home before they disgrace themselves… ooh… er... too late…
Lia: Yeah, we should probably wrap this up... unless you want the Legion of Decency breathing down your neck...
Jaye: [looking about furtively for men in suits carrying large butterfly nets] Okay, well, thanks for being here today, Lia...
Lia: [hauling Kaidos and Veyl apart and dragging them off-camera by the scruffs of their necks] Yeah, thanks, Jaye! It's been fun... [under her breath] Honestly, this is why we can't have nice things!
So, yeah, that was Lia Black, and if you'd like to check out her new release, A King's Ransom, it's available on Smashwords, where you can get it for 40% off from now until February 16th using coupon code LV74S, and Amazon and will be coming soon to other retailers.
Lia can be found at her website and on Goodreads.
Check back for more Afternoon Tea shenanigans... I don't have an exact schedule yet, but I'll get one posted as soon as I finish