Friday, December 23, 2011

INTERVIEW: Blaine D. Arden (author of The Forester)

It is my great pleasure to once again welcome the amazing folks over at Storm Moon Press to my little Bibrary Book Lust blog! Joining us today is Blaine D. Arden, author of The Forester (as well as The Fifth Son, due in March of 2012).

Blaine is a purple haired, forty-something writer of gay fiction with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies (the pointy eared ones), platform shoes and the colours black, purple and red. Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her barbies.

Though she wrote her first gay fiction as a teenager, Blaine's true inspiration comes from the wonderful gay romance called 'Beautiful Thing'—an adaptation of the play by Jonathan Harvey—through which she gained some very dear gay friends and a postponed bout of puberty that caused an introverted and shy Blaine to finally grow into herself. Supporting Blaine in all matters regarding household, teenagers, cairn terrier Kendra and pursuing her dreams, is her long-suffering husband for over twenty years.

When not writing, reading or at choir practice, Blaine has singing lessons and hopes to be in a band someday.

Before we get into Blaine's interview, let's take a quick look at The Forester:

Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith. Worse, a murder committed ten days before Solstice reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit: Kelnaht's former lover Ianys, who once betrayed him, and the shunned forester named Taruif, who is not allowed to talk to anyone but The Guide, their spiritual pathfinder. When Taruif turns out to be the only witness for the crime, Kelnaht has to keep Ianys from sacrificing himself and losing his daughter, while at the same time realising he'd gladly sacrifice himself to end Taruif's loneliness.


♥ For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi. I'm Blaine. I'm a purple haired, forty-something (turned 43 yesterday), writer of gay romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies (the pointy eared ones), platform shoes, and the colours black, purple, and red, who sings her way through life.

I was born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, and have been married to a rather indulgent husband for over twenty-one years now. Together we raise two sons, a foster son and a dog, all equally mischievous. Officially, there are four adults living in this household, unofficially, I doubt you'd find even one.

♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

I began writing in my early teens, but as much as I loved losing myself in my stories, it wasn't really encouraged and being as naïve as I was, I never thought about doing something more with it. I still have a box filled with slips of paper containing mini-plots and character lists, plays and a number of shorts, both finished and unfinished.

The first time I saw my work in print (non-m/m under a different name) was in a British small press magazine in 2004/2005. I entered a competition and was one of two winners. I was thrilled to get my copy and dragged it along to every friend and family meeting I went to.

♥ Did you deliberately choose a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

I never deliberately chose the gay romance genre, though most of my early work was definitely romance – sappy young teen stuff, but romance. After seeing the film 'An Early Frost', I felt gay characters needed a break from all the negativity, and just started writing a gay romance. I was seventeen, I think, and wanted to change people's perception of men falling in love with men. As for writing fantasy. I love building my own worlds, my own cultures. Plus, I love magic, elves and dragons.

♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?

Funny thing is that I did a writing course years ago, and out of five students, I was the only one who didn't write a memoir, diary or travel journal. I was the only one who actually just made them up. I thought it was very strange. So, no. It's never been a conscious thing for me. I crawl into my characters' skins, feel their emotions and tell their stories. Some of their reactions might reflect my own experiences, but I'm mostly the last to realize it.

♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?

I spend most of my days in my office or at the dinner table, trying to stick to a work day routine, and remembering to have lunch. Of course, being a mother, even of 17s and up, there are too many other chores and appointments to make it a full forty hour work week, but I'm getting the hang of this scheduling thing. When I'm not at home, I always carry a notebook or laptop with me; you never know when inspiration will hit.

♥ Do you have a soundtrack to your writing, a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?

My taste is too eclectic to stick to one style only. Because I tend to sing along with about every song I know, and I'm very focused on lyrics, I often play instrumental music in order not to distract myself too much. But sometimes I just need something different, need the lyrics to inspire me, and I'll just play anything and everything to keep me going. I keep the volume low so it doesn't outcry my thoughts.

That said, I've been having a bit of an Adam Lambert obsession lately, and I can't seem to stop playing his album.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

Bringing it all together. I'm more a pantser than a plotter, so most of the story happens while I'm writing, while there will always be key elements that I've planned out beforehand. Sometimes getting all the things in my head to rhyme on page is a struggle for me. It never happens while I'm writing a first draft. Things don't come together until I start editing. I always feel I'm deeper into the story during the editing phase, and then halfway through editing, something will click for me, and I suddenly know how to make it all come together.

♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

I'm always amazed at random thoughts popping up just the right time, solving parts I wasn't even aware were causing a problem. A couple of years ago, I started a short story about an immortal man who found the reincarnation of a past lover. But after the first chapters, I started to write more and more from the POV of the reincarnation, and the story changed. On top of that, the reincarnation suddenly found himself hooking up with a blind date that went wrong, but wouldn’t go away, and my perfect villain was born. The short story turned into a novel.

♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?

Very sneaky of you to prevent me from answering reading. :)

I sing. I have singing lessons, and I sing in a choir. Both are very good ways to take my mind off things (still with my notebook never far away) and replenish my energy. I recently took up Qigong, a perfect way to clear my mind for a bit (even if it's only an hour a week). I also cycle with a friend once a week and I love watching films with my husband.

♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?

Number 1? Well, since I keep thinking I'm over him until I listen to him singing and go weak in the knees, I'll have to go with Gareth David-Lloyd. What I'd most like to do with him? Err … apart from the obvious ;), sing a duet with him. I'm sure between our different tastes in music, there has to be a song that we could rock its socks off.

♥ If your book were being made into a movie, and you had total control over the production, who would you cast for the leading roles?

So many gorgeous men to choose from. But, in keeping with my answer above, I think Gareth David-Lloyd could be a very decent Ianys. As for the other two, Andrew Lee Potts would look great with wings, so he'd be Kelnaht, and for Taruif, I'd have to go with Johnny Depp. He could play any role, but I think he'd look gorgeous with a long grey braid and those vine tattoos.

♥ Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?

I always try to write diverse worlds, where sexuality doesn't matter. So, apart from hoping they've enjoyed the story, I like readers to feel a sense of hope that one day everyone will realize that diversity is a fact of life and love doesn't discriminate.

♥ What can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

During NaNoWriMo I wrote a story about an investigator who finds out that his boyfriend was the female suspect of a murder case he's working on. I'm looking forward to polishing that one.
Right now, I'm working on a story set in the same universe as 'The Forester', about a mute, magical baker. I enjoyed writing this world so much, that I couldn't leave it at just one story. No reappearance of old character's though, at least, not yet. Maybe in a different story I'll revisit Kelnaht's village.


Thanks so much to Blaine for stopping by - you can find her at:

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