Today we have the very nice Cooper Davis over at the blog. Cooper contacted me for a review for A King Undone, just as I received my copy from Netgalley. So it was the perfect opportunity to ask for a indepth interview for the book. Are you curious about the book and want to know more about Arend and Julian and the next stories in the series? Take a look!
Let’s give Cooper Davis a warm welcome!
Hiya Cooper! Welcome to the blog! Can you tell the readers a bit about who you are and how you came to write m/m stories?
Absolutely. I first wrote male/male in the sphere of fanfiction, when of course it was referred to as slash. There wasn’t a male/male published romance category at the time, but I quickly realized how many readers truly craved these kinds of love stories. The fun thing in fanfiction, of course, is that you can write some really crazy plots–I even wrote an Mpreg story! But as time went on with the fanfiction, I realized I’d ceased writing in the true fandom and was writing wholly original fiction, and was simply using the character names. Just the thinnest thread still linked my work to the fandom. So, eventually, I made the leap and began writing original fiction. My first published m/m was a contemporary romance, BOYS OF SUMMER, a sweet and sexy friends-to-lovers story. That’s a theme I am particularly fond of because I think it delves into the many faces that love can take in our lives and among the people who mean the most to us.
You recently released a new book called A King Undone. The first book in a series called Noble Pleasures. It’s about a King who is finally done with his royal obligations and ready to give into his long hidden desires. Can you give us a bit of background on the story and how it came about?
This answer is going to really surprise you! But after the RT convention way back in 2006, I came home with this crazy menage story in my head. I jammed out about 60 pages, but other deadlines pulled me off that idea. For some reason, I didn’t save it in my ideas folder and I actually forgot about it! Then last year, while looking for some old material on my drive, I discovered this old story. It was just a crazy tale, but what interested me most was the young prince’s father….and soon I found my mind going wild about this man, and how he’d never fulfilled his own desires. And thus, King Arend’s story was born. The former menage? Got overwritten and so it can’t ever be published. Or if it is? It will need to be the story of some other prince because Prince Darius (Arend’s son) is happily married and monogamous with his husband Prince Garrick now!
This is how my creative self tends to work, by the way. An idea is really just a kernel that then often grows into some entirely different “vine” than what I start out planting. Crazy metaphor, but you get the idea. I try not to limit myself too strictly when developing an idea, as I’ve discovered that if I just let the idea grow without standing in the way, it will become something much more magical. It’s important not to second-guess your creative self. Incidentally, that’s one of my best pieces of advice to aspiring authors.
A King Undone is the first book in a series. Will the series follow different characters or focus on a single couple? What will be the red thread throughout the series?
The first book, A KING UNDONE, and the second, A KING AWAKENED focus on King Arend and his concubine Julian. I just wound up having too much story for one book. I could have crammed it into a single, really long book, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to give them time for the slow burn I was writing. Book three is A GENTLEMAN REVEALED, is about Alistair Finley, Arend’s royal secretary. He’s a really wonderful character (one of my favorites) because he’s a bit thickset and quite shy with other men because of his weight. But he manages to attract the attention of a particular man. (Spoilers done!)
The story reads as both a historical romance and an alternative historical romance with victorian era elements, yet it also has fantasy elements woven into the story. Can you tell us a bit about the genre?
It’s really not a fantasy, in terms of magical elements. There’s a light touch of “foreknowing” with a few characters, but to be honest, I feel that’s part of everyday life. I don’t see those elements as being paranormal, even though that observation has come up with a reviewers. It’s just how I personally approach life, trying to tap into that intuitive side of things. The fantasy aspect is really more in terms of it being an alternative world. I actually deliberated in simply writing the world as England, with Julian being from France–then having it be that true alternative history, and then have men openly courting men. But to me, it felt more liberating to just knock the walls out more clearly. That way, for instance, the royal province where Arend’s palace is can both be by the sea, have palms and a breezy summer…but also get deep winter snows in colder months. I picture Arend’s palace as a combination of The Winter Palace and Monaco. So it’s not, strictly speaking, just an alternative version of England and France and so forth. Later in the series, we’ll be going to Agadir and seeing that world a bit more–that’s meant to be a great deal like France, as readers will likely figure out since Julian’s full name is French-sounding.
Is A King Undone very much focuses on the romance and the characters. What was it like to write a romance between a King and Concubine?
Interesting question! I really debated with how sexy to make the book at first. I knew that, logically speaking, people were going to expect a highly sensual story when they heard the plot. But I loved the idea of a powerful man carting home a bed servant…and then not quite knowing what to do with the concubine once he’d hired him. A powerful king is always in charge, but I found it most fun to turn that notion on its head by having Arend, in this one thing, find that he was utterly out of his element. King Arend first writes to the temple where Julian has trained as a pleasure servant with very clear parameters of what he wants, and how the arrangement will only be a legally binding arrangement. No emotions, not attachment, he tells the temple. And we the reader can laugh because inevitably when any character has such rigid notions, it’s inevitable that they’re going to be taken on a wild ride that’s quite beyond their control!
Time for a funny question: if you were to find yourself in the world of A King Undone, who would you be in that world and why?
I’d be Alistair Finley, his secretary. Because I have that shy, observer side–I love making things happen and managing them, but from behind the scenes. I also love food just a little too much, and have always wrestled to keep my weight under control. I may also have occasionally liked my wine too much, like Alistair! LOL!!
What was the funniest part about writing A King Undone?
I love the way the dialogue between Arend and Jules assumes a life of its own. So many times when writing, it would just volley back and forth, and I’d giggle at some of the zingers they deliver each other. This little interchange would be a prime example:
Arend pressed a trembling hand to his brow and dabbed at perspiration. “’Tis a wonder but I forgot that fact for a moment. You seem to do a remarkable job of making me lose my head.”
“Take comfort in the fact that you, at least, managed what I did not. You kept your clothes upon your person, a feat which was apparently quite beyond me.”
The story only just released, but can you share a bit about the next book in the series?
Absolutely! It picks up the morning after book one ends. A KING UNDONE is a HFN, and of course, A KING AWAKENED will ultimately be a HEA for King Arend and his adorable Julian. Think of the two books in this way: almost a bit like PRETTY WOMAN in the Victorian world. Julian has been hired for a specific time frame…but even so, he hopes for the ultimate fairy tale. He’s very clear about that from the beginning–not necessarily with Arend, but with the reader. He knows what he wants, even as a big part of him knows he may well get his heart broken because of his dreams and longings for a husband and a life. Needless to say, in book two, Arend is going to have to confront what he wants himself, and what he’s willing to risk to get it…or if he’s willing to let Julian walk away when their concubinary contract ends.