Hi guys! Today I am very happy to welcome author Sam Starbuck who is hear to share his new book, The City War (which I reviewed here earlier this week). Welcome Sam!
Hello everyone! Joyfully Jay has kindly allowed me to guest blog today, with the sixth installment of my blog tour for The City War!
In the past few entries I’ve talked about studying history, about writing historical and romantic fiction in general and The City War in particular. This is my first professionally published work, and it certainly has been different, which is an experience I wanted to talk about today. To thank you all for reading, I’m offering a chance to win $10 in credit with Riptide Publishing; every comment you leave on the post today enters you to win!
To say this is the first time I’ve published isn’t quite accurate; I have four novels I can brag on, and I do. But this is my first time publishing with a professional press, with the associated work with editors and publicity and someone else putting up the sales page. I’ve written romances into my books — gay, straight, and on occasion polyamorous — but this is the first time I have written with romance as the heart of the story. It’s also the first time I’ve written much about gender as well as sexuality, which is an especially difficult subject to face when writing in a historical setting.
So The City War is a first for me in a lot of ways. I started it as a challenge to myself, because while I’ve written a lot of erotica I haven’t published most of it. In four novels and half a million words published, I printed exactly one sex scene, and I nearly cut that one. I wanted to see if I could get over the inevitable internal blush I felt when asking people to actually pay for erotica. I don’t know why; it’s not like I haven’t paid to read it in the past. I don’t know if other writers, even if other Riptide writers, feel the same way; I don’t particularly think or want to think that sex is shameful, but publishing it still seems like crossing a boundary. It’s a sharing of intimacy with the reader, particularly when writing gay erotica while coming from a culture that still places undue value on binary-gender heterosexuality.
Try it, Cassius had urged. You might like it.
It’s not proper.
Since when have I ever been proper? Cassius had asked, licking his lips, amused. I want your mouth, Marcus, I want to see you look up at me while you’re sucking my cock. I want to run my hands through your pretty gold hair while your wet warm tongue . . .
Phew. That was tough to write, knowing it might get published. And that’s pretty mild, compared to some of the sex in The City War.
But one of the things that I believe in strongly as a writer is that one should be intimate with readers. A writer’s job, at least in my case, is to draw out a reaction, because emotional reactions make people think. The closer you are to someone, the easier it is to do that. So I think there is an opportunity with romance and erotica, which both involved highly charged emotions, to create an impact with the reader. Sometimes that impact is as simple as saying “This behavior is normal; it’s been done for thousands of years, and it’s okay.”
There’s a saying that there are three forbidden topics at dinner: politics, religion, and sex. I believe I’ve managed to cram all three, in varying amounts, into The City War. It’s been an exciting and admittedly sometimes terrifying experience, but I wouldn’t trade it. In the end, I’m proud of my first professionally published novella, my first published erotic romance, and to be a part of a publishing house that values such things and encourages the writing and reading of them.
As for how I write, the tips and tricks I use, that’ll be coming up tomorrow at Nyx Book Reviews.
Sam Starbuck is a novelist and blogger living in Chicago because he enjoys trains, snow, and political scandals. By day, he manages operations for a research department at a large not-for-profit, and by night he is a pop-culture commentator, experimental cook, advocate for philanthropy, and writer of fiction. He holds two degrees in theatre, which haven’t done much for his career but were fun while they lasted. His love of ancient cultures and art crimes makes him a very strange conversationalist at parties. His novels include Nameless, Charitable Getting, and Trace, published independently, and The City War, published with Riptide Publishing. He blogs here, and you can check out his writerly accomplishments here.
Senator Marcus Brutus has spent his life serving Rome, but it’s difficult to be a patriot when the Republic, barely recovered from a civil war, is under threat by its own leader. Brutus’s one retreat is his country home, where he steals a few precious days now and then with Cassius, his brother-in-law and fellow soldier—and the one he loves above all others. But the sickness at the heart of Rome is spreading, and even Brutus’s nights with Cassius can’t erase the knowledge that Gaius Julius Caesar is slowly becoming a tyrant.
Cassius fears both Caesar’s intentions and Brutus’s interest in Tiresias, the villa’s newest servant. Tiresias claims to be the orphaned son of a minor noble, but his secrets run deeper, and only Brutus knows them all. Cassius, intent on protecting the Republic and his claim to Brutus, proposes a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. After all, if Brutus—loved and respected by all—supports it, it’s not murder, just politics.
Now Brutus must return to Rome and choose: not only between Cassius and Tiresias, but between preserving the fragile status quo of Rome and killing a man who would be emperor.
You can buy The City War or read an excerpt here.