Good morning! Today's interview is with Peter Hansen.
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Before you started, had you done any fanfiction? If so, what fandom?
I've done some Sherlock Holmes fic, some Jane Austen fic. I like writing for public domain fandoms.
Are you in agreement that writing fanfiction is a great way to practice ones craft, why or why not?
Oh, definitely! I think the review culture is my favorite part. Fandoms are by definition communities of experts, even if their "expertise" is only centered around the work in question—but especially in public domain fandoms, you also get costuming historians and technology buffs and military historians who know exactly what kinds of guns a particular class of ship would carry in 1812. The reviewers are alert to stylistic gaffes and factual errors, and they're more than willing to call me out when I haven't done enough research. (They're also pretty willing to roll with a steampunk alternate universe, too, so long as I don't cut up the text and stick zombies in the gaps.)
What is your favorite subgenre to write?
Military science fiction and dieselpunk are AWESOME subgenres. There's a pretty decent mil-SF reading community, but dieselpunk doesn't get nearly as much love as steampunk, and I'd like to see more people playing in my sandbox.
Would you ever write a hetero romance? Why or why not?
Sure! I like strong women just as much as I like strong men. I'd probably write F/F before I wrote M/F, but I wouldn't kick a good M/F story out of bed.
What is your opinion on the “chicks with dicks” analogy? In your opinion, is it wrong for your males to be emotional or romantic?
I think gender essentialism doesn't serve anyone well—not the queer community and not the human community. Both men and women are people, and they've got the whole range of people-like qualities. I've broken up with women who were extremely level-headed and pragmatic about the relationship, and I've broken up with men who had nervous breakdowns and cried to have me back. Those men weren't chicks with dicks, and those women weren't dudes with clits. They were and are all people, and I'm more interested in writing about people than I am in writing about some jumped-up caricature of masculinity or femininity.
I’m of the opinion that erotica doesn’t have to be real all the time to make a good story, what are your thoughts?
As a fantasy and science fiction fan, I agree. Tentaclesex is hot; I don't care how implausible it is. As a sexual person, though, I sometimes feel like I have some obligation to model courteous sexual behavior for readers. Show them what BDSM negotiation looks like and why it can be hot, show them why my characters might be personally invested in wearing a condom. I don't think that this attention to real sexual issues is necessary for a story to be engaging, but I do feel like I need to start stepping up to that plate and being an educator. (Maybe later?)
What books are you reading at the moment? Its okay to give a fellow author a plug!
Right now I'm working my way through Rachel Haimowitz's backlist. I've only read her short fiction before, and I was impressed; now I want to see how she does with longer stories. I'm also tackling Bleak House and The Idiot to get a better handle on nineteenth-century prose.
When creating your characters, do you have models in mind or are they totally fictional?
I tend to use character tropes more than specific models—so I won't ever be able to say, "This character is modeled on Oscar Wilde," but I might say, "This character is a Witty Aesthete." It helps to start with something broad and then build more specific personal quirks as I go, paying careful attention to how my setting shapes the trope into something particular.
What is your opinion as to why publishers only want to group all manlove stories under erotica? Do you feel this is a hindrance to our genre?
It's definitely a hindrance! Among other things, it means we get caught between the Happily Ever After and the All Gay People Die Because They're Gay tropes. With only those two endings available, there's no real space for me to write a story where the protagonist's tragic downfall is related to his being (say) a political dissident or a poor manager of money rather than a gay man. There's also not a lot of space for me to write a story where a couple of guys start out in a relationship and have a plot that's totally distinct from their love story, although I've noticed a recent, encouraging trend in that direction. It's not even about explicit versus inexplicit—it's about squeezing ALL of manlove into a tiny little narrative box, where we can only tell a few kinds of stories.
Recently, a writer sabotaged her career by answering a bad review on a blog. How would you have handled this and do you think authors should answer their reviews?
Riptide specific questions
Tell me what made you decide to hop on board with this brand new publisher?
I knew Aleks and Rachel before I knew they were thinking of starting a publishing company, and they've always been FANTASTIC with me. They encouraged me to start writing erotica for publication, and I can't thank them enough for that motivation. When I heard about Riptide, it seemed like the natural choice to submit something—and I'm happy to report that they're even better critics and cheerleaders when the relationship is professional.
What is your release that you have coming out with them?
Riptide Publishing is putting "First Watch" out in October. "First Watch" is a dieselpunk story set in the early twenties, heavy on the Lovecraftian horror. To save his own life on the battlefield, Edouard Montreuil made a pact with a monster—a pact with a steep price attached. Aboard the Flèche, a grim submarine with a nightmare captain, Edouard must give his body each night as the bells sound for the first watch. As the days stretch into months beneath the waves, Edouard becomes desperate for escape … but can his old comrade Farid Ruiz help him break this devil's bargain?
In your opinion, what is the difference between Riptide and any other publisher that has just started?
I've never been edited so hard in my life. They later told me they'd been very gentle with me. If that's the attention they give to my little manuscript, all I can say is, I expect quality things from them.
Where do you see the publisher in the next 5 to 10 years?
I don't know, but I'll be there.
Your favorite gay tv show or movie?
Look, all I'm saying is, Tin Man was totally the saga of how Glitch and Cain found each other, and how Alan Cumming defeated storm troopers with the power of dance.
Do you feel that celebs who are gay or bi should come out the closet?
I think that's their choice. I caught a lot of flak when I came out, and I'm not even a celebrity—I can understand why they'd want to stay closeted. I do think it's very brave and commendable when celebrities come out, though, and I look up to them for it.
Have you attended a pride parade? If so, where you inspired when doing so?
I have! As a queer person, I value the visibility of my community. It's important for me on a political level that people see me there, waving my rainbow flag and cheering on the delicious men in leather straps.
Excerpt from First Watch and the buy link:
The dog watch shaded into the first watch, and at the eighth bell, Edouard Montreuil put aside his pen and rose from his bunk. He locked his letter carefully in his sea chest, then buttoned his shirt collar up against his throat. A useless gesture, he knew—it’d be undone for him within the first moments—but he took pride in small signs of resistance.
The other men on first watch went to their stations at the observation deck or the con, and the night crew of engineers went aft to spell the men in the engine room. Edouard walked with them, as he always did, and they ignored him, as they always did. They, too, had their reasons for serving on the Flèche; better not to ask what debts a fellow crewman was repaying beneath the waves.
They’d been submerged for three days now, and the air was thick and hot and stale. The engine room hummed faintly. Behind their tight steel cages, the electric lights gleamed white and steady.
An assistant engineer on dog watch gave Edouard a worried look, and he raised his chin at the pity in it. “Go to your bunk, Valancourt,” he said. If he didn’t have the rank to enforce the order, neither did Valancourt have the will to stay. The crew knew why he passed through the engine room to the captain’s cabin night after night. If they didn’t, it was only willful ignorance.
He ducked his head and slid through the aft portal sideways, like a long-limbed crab. , Ruiz had called him back in , when they’d all been looking for new names. For a moment, Edouard stood in the narrow passage between the officers’ quarters and the engine room, remembering the way the sun had beat down on his brow in Algeria and the way Ruiz had laughed. He passed the alcove where the officers bunked, and rapped on the door of the captain’s cabin.
“Come in,” said a voice from inside—inside the cabin, or inside his own head, he’d never been able to say. It made his ears ache; it made his blood heat and his heart thrum in time with the engines until he thought his skin would burst.
He turned the handle and swung the door open, then shut it behind him. Closed away the light of the engine room, and closed himself into the darkness.
“Sir,” he said, and swallowed against the constriction of his collar. “Reporting for duty.”
“Good,” said the captain, and a limb like a wet cable fell cool and slick upon Edouard’s wrist. His lips found Edouard’s throat, sharp teeth catching there as he undid those carefully-closed shirt buttons.
A second mouth brushed over Edouard’s ribs, tongue wet with a viscous fluid that chilled his skin. A third latched at his hip, needle-teeth scraping, seizing. “Very good,” said the captain, against his throat and chest and hip, as his boneless fingers wrapped slowly over Edouard’s cock and coaxed it hard. Edouard’s skin crawled, but he willed himself still.
Two of those hungry mouths smiled, and the third whispered, “Then let us begin.”
A flash of lightning illuminated Edouard’s cup, casting a stark shadow along the curve of the rim. He brought it to his lips, sipping only sparingly at the coffee. They made it black here, and bitter; Edouard had never much cared for coffee, but they hadn’t any tea, and he needed his head clear.
Beside him, the wind dashed braids of rain against the windowpane. He tilted his chair back, letting it rest on the rearmost legs as he raised his arms in a stretch. He glanced out the window as he cracked his neck from one side to the other, but the rain was too thick for him to make out the far side of the street. , he thought, as though it would bring the man running with the lightning at his back.
He would have counted the seconds before the thunder came, but the peal rolled in on the lightning’s heels and rattled the glasses behind the bar. In the relative dimness after the flash, he finished his coffee and frowned at the dregs.
“More coffee?” asked the young serving woman, and he raised his cup for her to fill anew. She spoke Spanish with an accent he couldn’t place; it wasn’t Castilian or Catalan, and it certainly wasn’t from the former colonies. He ought to have found it unremarkable, in a port city like Tarifa, but his hackles were already up—and she must have seen that he was giving her a hawkish look, because as she poured his coffee, she said, “If I can help you with anything . . .”
“I’ve been trying to place your charming accent,” said Edouard, and his own native French colored every consonant. “You’re a long way from home, I suspect.”
“Asturias,” she said. Her eyes crinkled a little at the question; she looked so delighted to have been asked he felt his suspicions evaporate. “I followed my husband from there when he was called to serve. He’s a lieutenant—”
The door crashed against the wall and sent the hatstand spinning, and the serving-woman startled at the clamor—she canted the coffee pot up too quickly, spilling a long line of tepid coffee across Edouard’s sleeve. The storm swept across the threshold, and with it, a man in a black Mackintosh coat. He drew off his hat, shaking his head like a long-haired pup and scattering drops of water over the nearest patrons. “Where’s Montreuil?” he demanded. “Edouard Montreuil, where is he? I’m here to meet with him.”
Edouard rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling. “Farid Ruiz,” he said with a rather fixed smile. “When I tell you that I’ve an urgent matter requiring your —”
“I nearly didn’t get your letter,” said Ruiz, his wet boots squeaking on the polished wood as he crossed from the doorway. “If it had come even a day later, I’d have been on the next flight for the Canary Islands, and then you’d have been drinking alone—and so much for your urgent matter! So much for your utmost discretion! Buy me a glass of good beer, Montreuil; I’m soaked to the skin.” He dropped into the seat across from Edouard’s, propping up his elbows on the table. He was indeed soaked to the skin, and the rain slicking his black Mackintosh had already begun to puddle beneath his chair. The Asturian serving woman smothered a laugh with her hand and brought him a cup and saucer, but he only gave her a tragic look when she began to fill it with coffee.
“Not a drop of beer?” he asked, and he fluttered his long, dark lashes at her. “Not a drop of rum? It’s not proper coffee without a drop of rum in it.”
“Not a drop,” said Edouard firmly. “We’ve business to discuss, and we’ll drink once we’ve concluded it.”
“Then on to your business, you old stork.” Ruiz downed the coffee in a long gulp, grimacing at the bitterness. “There, I’ve fortified myself. I assume it’s something to do with about it?”, if you wrote
“Something like that,” replied Edouard, voice lowered—he didn’t particularly expect Ruiz to take the hint, but at least his own half of the conversation might be quiet. “Do you remember Algeria?”
“I’ll never Algeria. Mosquitoes everywhere, skirmishes with the locals, damn Belaire with his .”
“,” Edouard corrected absently. “And you remember what you did, when your colonel took that little Algerian boy and—”
Ruiz’s hand tightened on the coffee cup until the delicate handle cracked free. A shard of porcelain must have scored his skin, because a drop of blood fell to the saucer. “That bastard,” said Ruiz, and now his voice was as soft as Edouard might have wished. “He deserved what he got.”
“And went on functioning just as it should. No snags in the business; no pauses for the damn courts-martial to decide whether he’d disqualified himself for duty; the men decided the sentence and carried it out. Everyone was with it.”
“As happy as you can be, when you’ve killed one of your own,” said Ruiz. Behind him, the serving woman was turning up the gaslamps against the oncoming darkness; the occasional flash from the window was blue and sharp with sea-lightning.
Ruiz sucked the blood from his thumb, then rested his chin on his fist. “If you dragged me here to bring up the worst parts of my service, I’m putting my hat back on and going to find a drink.”
“I’ve dragged you here,” said Edouard, “because my captain is a monster, and we go to sea as soon as we’ve a full crew.”
Ruiz tilted his head at that, his dark brows going up. He had strong features, only very faintly Spaniard—Edouard imagined he was the scion of and , simmering for generations under the Spanish thumb. Small wonder Fernando Ruiz had changed his name and joined . And small wonder he’d put a gun to his colonel’s head and blown him away.
Edouard’s hands were shaking. If he were to put his cup down on the saucer, the rattle would give him away.
“By the time we reach port in Tartous,” said Edouard, “I want him floating belly-up the Mediterranean. I want the crew to come out of it me for killing him.”
“And following your orders? That’s what you’re after, yeah?”
“I don’t like your tone, Ruiz.” He took a long drink of coffee, giving himself time to calm his nerves, then set the cup very deliberately down. “I can live with another man’s command. If he’s a good man.”
“You don’t get many of those,” said Ruiz, bracing his chin on his hand. “I thought I could kill all of the bastards, and then the good men would rise to the top. But all I got were more bastards.” He raised his empty cup, and that toast said,
Edouard raised his cup in answer, letting it click against Ruiz’s before tossing back the last of his coffee.
Outside, lightning cut across the street. Three seconds later, thunder rolled in behind it. “Promise me,” said Ruiz. “me you have good reason to want your captain dead.”
For a moment, Edouard’s throat closed. He couldn’t bring himself to meet Ruiz’s eyes. “If I thought there was any other way to do this, I’d have done it,” he said, still thick-tongued and aching. “If I thought for a second I could just kill him myself, or even walk away—”
“You can’t walk away from a monster,” agreed Ruiz.
“You can’t. Because he’ll you.”
Ruiz brought his hand up to gnaw lightly at his thumbnail, but he said nothing. His breathing was even, his gaze clear and steady.
“Will you help me?” Edouard asked, and he hated how small and weak he sounded. “I’ll be happy to repay you—”
“I’ll help you because you need helping. Now, buy me a fucking beer, stork. If I’m to turn mutineer, I’m going to need a damn good drink.”
* * * *Today's Giveaway -First Wave Winner’s Choice: Pick any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist”
books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are
excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles).