Hello all! Today I we have the very purple-haired funky girl Blaine over at the blog. She’s going to tell us a bit about herself and her books. Keep a sharp eye out for she is going to re-release some of her books soon! Give a warm welcome to Blaine D. Arden!
Welcome to the blog Blaine. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started writing.
Hey, Larissa. waves Thanks for having me here :).
Well, I’m Blaine, I’m a purple-haired forty-something going grey pretty fast, though not fast enough for my liking. I love the purple, but don’t like the upkeep much.
I was born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, and though as a teenager I thought it was boring and wanted nothing but to leave, I still live here with my family, and aside from emigrating to the UK, I can’t think of a single reason to move away from here. Our house is quite full with five ‘legal adults’ and a cairn terrier, but visitors often have a hard time believing there are any adults in this house. The terrier might win on points 🙂
When I was little, I used to tell myself stories to help me sleep—I’m a bit of a scaredy cat in the dark—but I didn’t start writing stories when I was about twelve/thirteen. Nothing serious, but if I dig through my box of old stories I’m bound to find some cutesy, sappy love stories between secondary school kids. Right next to the story about a girl who was slowly going deaf and blind. No idea how I came up with that one, but I put her through a lot. I even tried to write a story based on a silly song about Indians, once—something about them shooting us with bananas.
You have several published books. Which of them is your greatest accomplishment?
But if I go by how long it took to write, rewrite, and edit a work, then I’d have to say Aliens, Smith and Jones, which once started out as a short about an immortal 400 year old—well, practically immortal—who is lucky enough to find a mate twice in his life-time. It was called Echoes then… until the POV shifted to the one he fell in love with, changing the course of the short, and the blind date that wouldn’t go away happened, changing the short into a novel. A messy 90+K novel that ended up being reduced by roughly 15K between my own edits and the editor’s before it was published.
Of course, in terms of hardship, The Forester Trilogy should definitely be amongst my greatest accomplishments as well. For years, I screamed I was never going to write sequels. Until both the publisher and readers expressed an interest in a sequel for The Forester. Of course, if I hadn’t seen something in it myself, I might never have succumbed to writing it, but it still took me a long time to write it. The same goes for the third part (which I finished in August, or mostly finished, anyway). I am in awe of those authors who manage to write series and make it seem so easy to follow the characters’ paths through them all. But, oh, those little things. My memory has always been wonky, and I kept having to check stuff in the first book(s), kept having to remind myself the cloud elves aren’t called sky elves, and that Taruif really didn’t have wings–something I barely realised until I’d written about him having wings for two-thirds of the story already. And, for me, it sucks the pleasure out of writing, and only made it more difficult. But… after all that, I can’t help but absolutely love these three men and their triad even more than when I wrote that first short about them.
I guess, in the end, I feel accomplished about all the works that I manage to get published. (Did I ever mention that I have a hard time picking favourites?)
You recently released two short stories in Anthologies. Can you tell us about them?
I have a story called Click Your Heels Three Times in Wilde City Press’ Bedtime Stories anthology back in August, which was an initiative by Anna Martin. The blurb, and the idea behind the anthology, reads:
From supernatural tales of intrigue to a curious modern romance, a thoroughly British relationship and a classic fairy-tale all twisted up, Bedtime Stories is a collection of short stories designed to be read one at a time, at bedtime. Let us wish you goodnight with gay romances that are sure to leave you ready for a night of sweet, lingering dreams.
My contribution is about Theo, a young prince, who’s looking forward to spending an evening with his lover, which is thwarted when he turns down the general’s offer of his son. Theo already has a boyfriend, but the general doesn’t take his refusal kindly and with the snap of a wrist, Theo finds himself stuck on a weird deserted island, trying to get back to his lover. It’s basically a weird little fairy-tale in which I got to mess with my character’s mind—on behalf of the bad guy—and see what he was made of. I have to hand it to Theo. He was determined to never give up trying to get back home.
The other short was published in LT3’s Satisfaction Guaranteed anthology in September. My contribution is There is Light, which is about a drifter called Marek. A drifter is someone whose magic is warped or fluctuating, and this hampers Marek in holding on to a boyfriend or finding a job he actually enjoys. Marek has tried quite a few jobs over the years, but none of them seemed to stick. The only reasons he stuck to being a lighter for the past six years is that the lights are pretty, he’s not working for his smothering family, and he gets to ogle Hennen Kovu from time to time.
Hennen is everything Marek is not. He’s elegant, confident, and damn good at his job, despite being blind. And Marek has a crush on him. A crush that turns into something more when he bumps into Hennen outside of work—trips over his cane—and is invited for a drink and a concert. Hennen makes Marek see that he can change how people react to him, and that there might be a job he’d enjoy, after all. And if Marek can gather the courage to take that first step, he might even have a boyfriend to hold on to.
Yeah… the brief of this anthology was to write stories about people in the service industry, about the people working minimum wage hell, exhausting themselves to guarantee satisfaction and make ends meet, always looking for a chance at happiness and satisfaction of their own. And this is where I took it.
I’m a fantasy author, I tend to see all call for submissions through my hazy purple fantasy glasses, and somehow I ended up writing about two handicapped men on opposite sides of the scale. I was really nervous sending the story in, because the ratio contemporary/fantasy in our genre always makes me worried my story won’t fit in. So I was thrilled when LT3 accepted it, even more thrilled that mine isn’t the only fantasy story in the bunch. I like the variety 🙂
You got the rights back to several of your older stories, including The Fifth Son and The Forester. What are your plans in regards to the stories?
I thought long and hard about that. Not many publishers accept re-releases, and I already had some fixed idea about both stories mentioned. I liked the idea of keeping The Fifth Son as an illustrated edition—in paperback and ebook—and rather than try and see if there were publishers interested in publishing a 24K novella in paperback as well, I decided to self-publish it. In fact, The Fifth Son, second edition, comes out November 28th (and is available for pre-order already). The ebook at least, but I’m hoping to finish the whole layout/typesetting for the paperback around the same time.
As for The Forester—which I’ve just sent to the editor—I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that, at first. I’d basically just finished the third and final one of that series when the rights reverted back to me, and that meant I had two previously published books and one not even published first draft to sell. My main reason for doing it myself was that I had my eye on getting them out in paperback, too. I know paperbacks are only a small part of sales for an author in our genre, but just the idea of being able to show it to people, of being able to hold it has a lot of appeal. And once I’d decided to self-publish The Fifth Son, it was only a small step to do this one myself as well.
It’s not going out in its original form, though. At least, I don’t think so. I haven’t quite worked it out yet whether I’m going to publish them as separate ebooks as well, there’s still plenty of time to decide that. But first, somewhere in 2015, I’m going to bundle all three stories into one novel-sized book called The Forester: A Triad in Three Acts.
You write stories that are vastly different from each other. Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere and nowhere, basically. The littlest things can trigger an idea. The Fifth Son started life because of a conversation on twitter about gun-porn. Aliens, Smith and Jones was inspired by the idea of an alien-turned-human being lucky enough to find two compatible mates in the 400 years he’d been on earth, despite his species not being compatible to humans in the first place. This year’s NaNoWriMo project started out because I fell completely in love with the queen’s dress in the film Epic. I mean, come on, a dress made out of flower petals that flows like that? What’s not to love? And then I segwayed into the ones who made those dresses, and Evven, the first male dressmaker in seven generations was born. A male dressmaker teased by other boys about possessing ‘girly’ magic, asked by the queen to be her stand-in, then having to wear the dresses he makes, and realising he likes wearing dresses.
Of course, sometimes not even I have any idea what sparked a certain idea, but I just grab the spark and run away with it.
Time for a funny question. You are author-napped and put on a remote island that has monsters. Pick three characters you want to have with you.
Err… from my own stories? Or in general? Are you aware of how many characters there are in this world? Err… I’ll stick to my own characters, since I at least know them. My memory is bad enough without having to remember other authors’ characters…
Right. If I’m not allowed to pick my husband—really, he’s very handy to have around, likes to fix things and is way clever—I’ll have to go with Connor Smith from Aliens, Smith and Jones. He no doubt knows what to do with monsters after working for Primrose for a couple of years now. I was tempted to go with Isa Griffin—from the same book—but then I realised we’d need to make homes there until we can escape, so I’ll go with Taruif from The Forester instead. He knows his way around trees. He might even be able to turn a branch or two—or ten—into a boat we can use to escape. And last, but certainly not least, I’ll take Callum Ormas, a trans* security officer from a half-finished, untitled first draft. He’s kick-ass and good at taking action. Also, as much as I’ll hate him for it, he won’t hesitate to kick me into shape so they won’t have to spend so much time keeping me safe. 🙂
I have a feeling I won’t get any writing done there, though…
The Forester is a m/m/m story. How did you come to write the story this way?
By accident, is the short version. Really. I never set out to write a triad. I was dead-set on writing a story about a forbidden love, a truth seeker falling in love with a shunned forester who is the suspect in a murder the truth seeker is trying to solve. Not being allowed to talk to a shunned wouldn’t make hooking up very easy. So, a couple of scenes in, Kelnaht, the truth seeker, comes across his ex—yeah… took me by surprise as well—who he’s so not over, and finds out they both like said shunned forester. And something just clicked. Suddenly, I had a story about three men, who couldn’t be in a relationship with each other for various reasons, falling in love. I knew from the start that not everything could or would be resolved in that short story—and as I mentioned before, I never actually meant to write a sequel—but there was something about that story that wouldn’t let me go, and I needed to tell their story, or part of it, at least. And hope readers could see that they could some day be together.
Are you a planner or a pantser when it comes to writing?
I’m a complete pantser… well… mostly, that is. I know where I’m starting, and mostly know where I want to end, and I know some things that need to happen along the way—in the most vague way possible—but everything else I discover while writing that first draft.
It’s weird, but short stories sometimes take as long to write as novels do, because I’m much more aware of word count restrictions. On one hand that means I work more focussed, but on the other it means that I can’t just set an alarm for twenty minutes and write my heart out.
And those twenty minute sessions of just going for it are often the ones that lead me to solutions, in directions I never thought of before, or dead ends. But even those dead ends spark some interesting titbit that I need when I’m editing the book and gluing all the disjointed bits together.
So… a pantser who sometimes needs a little break to figure out where she’s going 🙂
What are your plans for future stories?
Oh, man… publish them all would be my first answer, but I have a feeling that was not what you were asking :p
I have a One Note folder filled with first drafts that need polishing (approx. 9, 10 if I count my NaNoWriMo2014 project), stories in the ‘still to write’ queue (5 or 6…ish), and a list of random story ideas I hope to write one day (20+).
I have a number of stories set in The Forester world that I want to write at least three of in the next year. The Guide’s story, Brem’s story—Kelnaht’s former apprentice—and two others that are in the mere ideas stage. Though, I have no idea whether they’ll end up being novels, or shorts that I might collect in a Forester anthology. It depends on the length 🙂
I also plan to, finally, work on a editing a fantasy story about a blind curse breaker that I’ve been wanting to edit since the beginning of last year, but life keeps happening, and I keep pushing it down the schedule.
Of course, I’m writing a YA novel this NaNoWrimo, my third one, and I really want to edit one of those so I can submit them as well. So many stories, so little year. sigh
We really need that link between brain and harddrive, if only so we won’t have to worry about writing down the background that’s growing in our minds. Though, teleportation still has first priority. Any takers? Could it be done yesterday? Please?
You can find Blaine at the following places: