Merry Xmas Eve!
I'm happy to have Lex Valentine on the blog today with an interview. Please enjoy our virtual sitdown!
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing since I was a child. I started with poems and little short stories and graduated to a novel in my 20’s.
What made you decide that you wanted to put yourself out there to publish? I hadn’t thought about doing it at all but author Jennifer Leeland kept coming by my blog Sunlight Sucks where I’d been posting snippets of my work on an online serial story, leaving comments encouraging me to get published.
What is your favorite subgenre to write? I’m a huge fan of paranormal romance. I like being able to build my own world and populate it with whatever creatures I want.
Is there one that you haven’t tried that you see yourself doing in the future? Actually, I’d been wanting to try steampunk but I had no idea what to write or how to write it. Steampunk is a wide open genre with all sorts of ways to go about it. So I got this idea for a serial story done online with multiple authors. I got some friends to jump on the bandwagon and our free gay steampunk serial Lords of Aether was born. We just launched it December 1.
Would you ever write a hetero romance? Why or why not? I do write het. I started out writing het, but I’ve been drawn to gay rom for a long time and when I had the idea for Fire Season (a het dragon whose mate turns out to be another male dragon), I knew this was a genre for me. Fire Season just wrote itself in many ways so I guess I had it in me along to write this genre.
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 don’t think it’s wrong for men to be emotional or romantic because men ARE those things. My high school sweetheart is gay, in a long term relationship with his partner, and he blogs about them being a family of two dads at belladaddy.com (a website I designed for him.) I can’t think of a more emotional and romantic man than David. I’ve known him since I was 16 and he totally gives the lie to the notion that there’s no such thing as gay rom in real life. Anyone who says all gay rom is “chicks with dicks” has never read authors like Ethan Day, James Buchanan, Z.A. Maxfield, Lynn Lorenz, KC Kendricks, and Mia Watts. I love their books because their men ARE men. And they are not the only ones writing books about men who are tough but can be tender in the right circumstances. So absolutely do I believe that it’s not wrong for men to be romantic and/or emotional. How can it be wrong if that is the way some men are in real life?
If you write gay romance or erotica, just how descriptive are your in their sex scenes? I’m very descriptive. I write what I see in my head, but I don’t really write gratuitous sex scenes. I make sure the sex in my books is what is needed to show the relationship between the characters. They are scenes needed to move the storyline forward. But I do write graphically for the most part. I’ve no problem describing blow jobs and anal sex and more. Of course, some stories are more erotic than others but, I don’t write straight erotica. I write romance so my stories always have a HEA or HFN and even my short story series about an erotic encounter (Encounters in the Five Dark Realms) the couples either have a promise of an HEA in a future story or already had their HEA. The HEA might not be in that particular story but you do get the sense that one is coming.
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? I’ve had some meh reviews. Luckily very few but there’s been a couple of reviews where someone wrote something you say was bad. In one case, it was on Amazon and the person just didn’t get the story at all which was obvious from what they said. The other was a new (at the time) review site whose reviewer made comments and remarks in their review that were overly snarky and pretty much agenda driven. From the comments of the site owners and staff to the readers who commented to complain about the review, it seemed obvious the review was written to create a stir by badmouthing in a highly snarky manner a bestselling book that was highly acclaimed. I made only a passing comment on the review to correct something wrong the reviewer said and I encouraged fans of the book to let it go and not comment on the review. Which they did, and the anticipated big internet brouhaha never came to be. I think it’s best to let bad reviews just go. There is nothing to be gained from commenting on or trying to defend your book from bad reviews. You almost always end up looking bad. Authors need to conduct themselves in a professional manner. This is a business they are engaged in and they should act appropriately, which means no sniping on blogs and such about bad reviews.
What is it about gay fiction and or m/m romance that pleasures you to write it? I love romance and sex. I read it because I love it. I write about it because I love to read it. (I always write the stuff I’d like to read.) And I just happen to enjoy writing about all the different ways people can love one another. I feel the same writing het sex as I do gay sex. It’s all fun. It’s all a turn on. And it’s all part of the character arc of a couple in a book. I can’t write sweet romances because romance and sex go hand in hand for me. Probably because I am a very sexual creature. I can love someone I don’t feel sexual about, but then that would make them a friend! I can’t feel romantic about someone I don’t have a sexual attraction for. I love the expression of love through sexuality in all its many forms whether it’s BDSM or gay sex or vanilla sex.
How do you feel about m/f writers making the jump into the m/m romance genre just because it’s popular? I’m not a fan of writers who write the m/m romance genre because they think that’s where the money is. I’m also not a fan of writers who put out a fuckton of stories and admit that they know the quality of their work isn’t very good in some cases because they are putting out so much stuff, but they don’t care because they have a goal to put out X number of books that year. Basically, I don’t have much respect for people who do either of these things. I write because it’s what I’m driven to do creatively, not because I want to be popular and make a lot of money. I DO make money on my books. More so at a little boutique press than at a big one, and I have books at both. And I make more on my het than I do my gay rom. My very first book, Shifting Winds, out sells my critically acclaimed gay rom, Fire Season even though the swift sales of Fire Season in its first 6 months made me PAN eligible at RWA. Fire Season was on Jessewave’s Top Ten List for 2009! It was a Rainbow Awards finalist. Yet, the shorter het Shifting Winds has sold more copies over time. Writing is a talent that requires careful nurturing and a constant honing of the skills required to bring that talent out and make it shine. There’s a balance to it that the best writers know they must maintain. You have to constantly work at your craft but at the same time you need to nurture your creative muse and set it free. You can’t force creativity. It shows in your work. And I think it shows in the work of those who are in the gay rom genre solely for the money they think they will make. Their stories aren’t as poignant, their characters aren’t as real or have as much depth, their plots are more formulaic and there just is a general lack of spark to the stories. I’m sure I’m not going to be popular for saying any of this but it’s what I see when I buy gay rom to read for pleasure. I can tell which authors have a true love of the genre and who’s in it for the accolades and paychecks.
*What is your stance on issues in society like same sex marriage, DOMA, etc? I’m all for same sex marriage. One of the reasons I write gay rom is because I believe love is love is love. It doesn’t matter if it’s between two women, two men or a man and a woman. In October Z.A. Maxfield and I drove up to LA from Orange County to get our photos taken by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska for the NOH8 Campaign. We just our photographs back this week and they are amazing. I felt so honored to be able to do this and support this cause. California is always seen as such a liberal state when in reality it’s not. And I’m offended that there are so many places in this country where you cannot marry the person you love if both of you are of the same sex. It just feels wrong to me on so many levels. And even though I am a native Californian, I’m not a true liberal. I hold a lot of fairly conservative views. I’m just not a hatemonger.
What is your opinion about some review sites not accepting m/m books? I don’t mind. There are review sites that don’t accept het books. And there are sites that do M/M books and won’t take a basically M/M book because in the opening scene the hero is in bed with a woman, not having sex but basically breaking up his relationship with her. Yes, that happened to me! LOL The opening scene in my book Where There’s Smoke has the hero in bed with a woman he’s been having an affair with. But they actually break up in the scene. It’s not a sexual scene at all. All the sexual scenes are between the hero and his mate, who is male. When the book was first turned down at a M/M book review site, I was shocked because there’s no sex between the hero and the woman in the book. There is only the information that he had been involved with her. But I got over my shock. It’s their site. They are entitled to make their own review rules for their site. We authors just need to make note of the rules and submit our work accordingly for each site.
Fun questions pick at least 3
For the men in your books, commando or underwear? Both. It depends on the character what kind of man they are. My DH is a commando man unless he’s in the mood for his silk boxers, which isn’t really all that often. He actually prefers to wear those around the house in the summer and nothing else. (And if you were wondering, YES, he looks pretty damn good in nothing but a pair of silk boxers.) Mostly, if I pop open the button fly of his 501s, I find him au natural beneath the denim.
Favorite character in one of your books? I’m in love my two Air Force fighter jocks Sebastian Marchetti and Ryder Beckett of Afterburner and Breath of Heaven. I love jet pilots. They are always lean hipped and walk with a cocky arrogance that turns me on.
If you’ve watched gay porn, tell me your favorite movie and or star. I don’t have a favorite gay porn star or movie and mostly, I don’t like the staged stuff. I’m in love with NextDoorBuddies.com currently because those guys are seriously getting off on each other. In a lot of porn one guy is fucking the other and the receiver isn’t even erect.
That’s boring to me. I want the fuckee to be into it and hard as stone! LOL I do happen to have a serious love of model Levi Poulter’s sex videos. I think it’s because that man so obviously loves men. You can see it in the way he touches the men he’s with in those videos. He kisses them with such passion and he’s completely turned on by touching them. Plus he sucks cock like he could do it all day he loves it so much. Now that, to me, is the hottest thing ever.
Author website: http://lexvalentine.com
Personal blog: http://sunlightsucks.com
Graphic Design site: http://winterheart.com
Facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/cemeterywinter
Breath of Heaven
Trailer – http://youtu.be/8qEMBqtPnQA
Sebastian Marchetti and his husband Ryder Beckett are flying high since their retirement from the Air Force. They're still young, still hot for each other and enjoying life as a married couple and members of the Flying Marchettis aerobatic team. When tragedy strikes their extended family, the couple become parents overnight and the demons of Ryder's past return with a vengeance. With the Marchettis and the entire town of Forza pitching in to help, Bas and Ryder strive to make Christmas unforgettable for a special little boy and his newborn brother while laying to rest past and present pain.
Slipping from the bed, Bas pulled on a pair of sweats and quietly left the room. He peeked in on the boys and found Levi sleeping soundly. Cameron had just begun to fuss so he picked him up and took him to the changing table where a quick diaper change quieted him. Holding the baby against his bare shoulder, Bas headed toward the kitchen and a bottle. Light spilled from the big room as he pushed open the swinging door to find his mother sipping a cup of hot cocoa.
“Smells good, Mama,” he said quietly. “But what are you doing up at this hour?”
Mona smiled at him. “I’ll make you one.” She bustled to the fridge, her slippers making scuffing sounds on the tile floor. “I’m all turned around. Still on Florida time I suppose. Why are you up? Did Cameron wake you?”
Bas sat down at the table, rocking Cameron in his arms. “No, Ryder did. He stole all the covers so I decided to check on Cam.”
“He’ll want a bottle.” Mona hustled around the kitchen warming a bottle for Cameron and preparing a cup of cocoa for Bas. “I gather cover stealing isn’t usually one of Ryder’s faults.”
A sigh escaped him when his mother looked at him with one brow raised inquiringly. “No, Ryder usually is a sound sleeper. This tossing and turning is new. And it bothers me. Not so much physically as emotionally.” Bas stroked a finger over Cameron’s warm cheek. “This situation with Ryan and the boys has brought Ryder’s situation with his father to the surface. In all the time I’ve known him, he’s kept his deepest thoughts about his father to himself. He’s always been very controlled when he’s spoken of their estrangement. Now, it’s like a dam has burst.”
Mona brought Bas a bottle for Cameron. The baby turned toward the nipple, latching on instantly. Bas cuddled the baby as he ate, his heart spilling over with love. Mona set a cup of cocoa in front of Bas and stroked his hair lightly.
“Maybe it’s time, Bas. Time for Ryder to let go of the past and step into the future with you and the babies. That boy has a lot of love to give. I’m so glad you found him.”
Bas smiled up at his mother. “I am too. I just wish I could get him to tell me about his father.”
“Then just ask,” a deep voice stated quietly from the door.
Bas looked up and his gaze met Ryder’s. Like him, Ryder wore only a hastily donned pair of sweats. Mona kissed Bas on the top of the head and stroked her fingers over Cameron’s cheek. Then she turned toward the door where Ryder stood propping the frame. She tugged him down and kissed his stubbled jaw.
“Good night, my darlings,” she told them and disappeared through the swinging door.
Ryder stared at Bas for a long moment before he walked over to the table and sank down in the chair Mona had vacated.
“I just want you to be okay, Ryder, and right now, I don’t think you are. What’s happened with Ryan has stirred up something inside you. Something you’ve never shared with me,” Bas said in a low voice.
Reaching out to touch the delicate fluff on Cameron’s head, Ryder ducked his own head, avoiding Bas’s eyes. When he spoke, the low pitch of his voice gave away his emotions even though he visibly struggled to control them.
“My father never kicked me out of the house, although, I think I would have handled it all better if he had,” Ryder began. “From the moment I told him I was gay, I ceased to exist for him. He looked through me as if I wasn’t there. He spoke around me to Ryan and my mother, but never to me. If they spoke to me or said my name, he ignored it. In public, he would introduce Ryan as his son and turn his back on me.”
Helpless fury assaulted Bas. His stomach turned as Ryder went on, detailing all the little ways his father made him feel as if he didn’t belong in the Beckett family, as if he did not exist. He explained to Bas how Ryan had tried to protect him and had railed at their father for his treatment of Ryder only to have their father say, “Ryder who?”
“I spent a lot of years wondering why I felt so needy,” Ryder said in a resigned voice. “Why I had this driving need to be connected to another person and a driving need to be perfect at everything I did. I needed to prove to myself that I was worthy of love. I needed to prove to myself that what my father did was wrong and that he was the loser for turning his back on a son who loved him and needed him. Why would anyone ignore a child who needed love?”
He raised his head and Bas saw the silent tears tracking down Ryder’s handsome face. In that instant, Bas saw the young man Ryder had been, on the cusp of adulthood, needing his father’s love and guidance and being turned away. How Ryder had ever found confidence in himself and in his sexuality amazed Bas. What Brian Beckett had done could have turned Ryder into a neurotic man who had unhealthy relationships. Instead, Ryder had become a star athlete, a perfect student, an amazing pilot, and a wonderful teacher. He had risen above his father’s prejudices, had become a man of worth and distinction all on his own and by his own terms.
Still, a small core of insecurity resided within Ryder and it was that little vulnerable bit of him that Sebastian wanted to heal. Except that it wasn’t his place to heal it. It was Ryder’s.
Bas held his arms out, offering a sleeping Cameron to his husband. Automatically, Ryder took the baby in his arms, holding him securely to his naked chest. He bent and kissed the baby’s forehead.
“If Cameron ever comes to me and says he’s gay, I will hug him so hard he won’t be able to breathe,” Ryder whispered. “I know what it’s like to be confused and looking for acceptance because you’re not the same as everyone else. I know what it’s like to look to your father for guidance when you’re vulnerable. And I know what it’s like to be rejected for those feelings.”
Sebastian leaned closer, placing his hands on Ryder’s thighs, feeling the taut muscles beneath his hands. He stroked him soothingly, his touch caring and non-sexual.
With a shake of his blond head, Ryder cut him off. “No, Bas. Let me say this. I need to say this out loud. I need to chase away the specter of my father.” He drew a deep breath. “My father is a homophobe. The names he called me, the things he accused me of doing… naïve virgin that I was, the things he ascribed to me, horrified me. I was a kid just discovering things about myself that I hadn’t been aware of before. I hadn’t really thought about men sticking their cocks in my ass or fucking my mouth and coming all over me. I’d just thought about kissing other boys. I hadn’t even thought about the sexual aspects of being gay, at least not in the way my father did.”
Ryder clutched the baby to his chest, seeming to draw comfort from him. “My father told me all the things men would do to me. He described sordid acts and tried to scare me straight. He asked me if that’s what I wanted out of life. Of course, it wasn’t. But all his words, all his rough descriptions of how men were with one another, still could not make me want a girl.”
Ryder shrugged, a sad listless lifting of his broad shoulders. “And in the end, he looked me in the eye and told me that if I wanted to be his son, I’d better never say the word gay to him again.”
Drawing a shaky breath, Ryder finished his story. “I lived in his house for two years after that. Two years where every day was torture because I knew he didn’t want me there. He looked right through me, never acknowledging me, and always just wanting me to leave so he wouldn’t have to face the fact that he raised a son who was attracted to men. What my father did to me was give me an insatiable need to be accepted and loved. The Air Force accepted me even though they didn’t want to know I was gay either. And then I met you.”
Bas leaned forward and brushed his lips against Ryder’s. His husband smiled, a beautiful angelic smile of pure love.
“My father is a narrow-minded homophobe and it’s time I stopped believing all the things he told me when I was sixteen,” Ryder said in a firm voice. “I’ve been saying for years that I’m over what he did to me emotionally, but it’s not true. Part of me has never recovered from the way he treated me. Part of me has always believed I’m not good enough, solely because I’m gay. Part of me has never understood why he turned his back on me. But that’s over. I know why my father turned his back on me…it’s because he’s an intolerant man who refuses to bend, a prejudiced, narrow-minded bigot who, in the end, turned out not to be a very good father.”
Ryder stared at Bas with glittering cobalt eyes. “It was never about me, Bas. It was always about him. He wasn’t a good father to me or to Ryan and I should have seen that years ago. It had nothing to do with me being gay, and everything to do with his lack of ability as a father.”
“So you can let this go now? His rejection of you is all settled in your mind now?” Bas asked quietly, his gaze holding Ryder’s. “It was all about your father’s lack of understanding and inability to love unconditionally. It had nothing to do with you.”
A huge sigh escaped Ryder. “It wasn’t about me. It was about him and his faults.” He peeked at Bas from under his lashes. “I feel a million times better sharing this with you. Can we go back to bed now?”
“Why? So you can steal all the covers from me again?” Bas grumbled as he got to his feet.
Ryder grinned and got up, leading the way down the hall to the boys’ room where he placed a sleeping Cameron in his crib. Back out in the hall, he took Bas’s hand and drew him into the master bedroom and closed the door.
Wrapping his arms around Bas, Ryder whispered, “You can have all the covers you want. I want you to stick your cock in my ass, fuck my face and come all over me.”
Bas blinked at him warily. “I thought your father made all those things sound demeaning and horrific.”
“He did, but he was wrong. When you do them with me, it’s all about love and that is something my father knows nothing about.”
And with that Ryder kissed Bas, his mouth firm and sexy and confident against Bas’s. With that one kiss, Bas knew Ryder had come to terms with his father’s abandonment after all these years. It was the best Christmas present Bas had ever received.