Hi guys, I am so excited to welcome Aleksandr Voinov to the blog today. Aleks is here to talk to us more about writing his new release, Lying with Scorpions. He has also brought details about a great giveaway. So please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Hi, thanks for hosting me! I’m Aleksandr Voinov and I’m here to talk about my newest release, Lying with Scorpions, which is the sequel to Scorpion and is part of the Memory of Scorpions gay military fantasy trilogy. I’ll be checking in to answer any questions you might have, so feel free to ask questions in the comments. At the end of the post, you’ll find more information and details for a backlist giveaway. Good luck!
Lying with Scorpions: On breaking all the rules
One of the big themes in Lying with Scorpions is rule-breaking. The second book in the Memory of Scorpions series is all about upheaval. Things aren’t what they’re supposed to be, the old ways to respond are no longer valid, and Kendras, the main character, has to think very much on his feet, not for his own sake but that of his men.
And just today it occurred to me that it reflects, on some level, me breaking quite a few rules. See, I used to have several excuses why I refused for a while to write the sequel that Scorpion clearly demanded. I preferred to keep it open-ended because I know there was “trouble in paradise”, so to speak. I didn’t know much about that book, but that much I knew. So I chickened out because I kept reading about how “romance readers can’t cope with splitting up the established couple.” In fact, roughly a year after the first publication of Scorpion, as I was toying with maybe writing a sequel, I attended a romance conference in York, where “DO NOT SPLIT UP THE ESTABLISHED COUPLE” was one of the romance rules that were discussed. Aka, some readers are okay with it if (and only if!) the couple gets back together, and some readers will simply send the book flying.
So, yeah. I knew they’d split up in Lying with Scorpions, and I couldn’t guarantee the “happy ever after” that’s part and parcel of the romance world. So I avoided alienating readers by simply not writing the book that would offend them. I preferred to keep readers happy with Kendras and Adrastes, pretending it was an open ending and a “happy for now”.
But then, Scorpion already messed with romance expectations. There’s casual sex, even group sex. Sex is barter, sex is a transaction, and sex is not nearly as highly regulated as it is in most fiction or even the expectations of the real world. The world of the Memory of Scorpions series treats sex differently from what we get to read in most contemporary romances, and more in keeping with how I interpret a time before puritan values—a distant past, maybe, that’s more permissive and casual about sex in general.
It’s always been pretty clear to me that Scorpion is already a genre-buster that breaks established “rules”. Yet I did get quite a bit of email about people wanting the sequel, including the most heartfelt “please write more” at conferences from Brighton to Albuquerque to Atlanta. I tried to avoid the issue, but while I tried to stay in la-la-land, a few first characters began to show up and talk.
At that point, I was pretty much lost and bit the bullet.
Writing it, I knew I was doing things “wrong” according to expectations, and I had to battle fears it wouldn’t sell because it’s just too “out there” and doesn’t tick the boxes of m/m romance.
But stories are funny creatures in that they sometimes simply force their way out.
Seems like neither Kendras nor his creator are very good at following “the rules”. Besides, I think I can trust my readers to “get it”. Some of my books will be way “out there”. Others won’t. I firmly believe that the last thing readers want is me pulling my punches. So I didn’t.
Now that Kendras’s lover Adrastes has claimed the throne of Dalman, Kendras is tangled deeper than ever in politics and intrigue. As the new leader of the Scorpions and Adrastes’s one true friend, he and his men stand between Adrastes and those who wish him dead.
And many do. Adrastes openly challenges the ocean priesthood for power while establishing himself at court and brokering with the realm’s various factions. He means for the Scorpions to become a fearsome legion again, but Kendras must first learn how to be a good officer and recruit to replace the fallen. His choices will determine the future of a group steeped in hundreds of years of history and tradition.
As both Kendras and Adrastes settle old scores, a new enemy arises in Commander Graukar, a war hero loyal to the old order. In his formidable mountain fortress, Graukar may hold the balance of power. But while Adrastes aims to either rule or destroy Graukar, Kendras finds himself doubting Adrastes for the first time, and sharing more with Graukar than he ever thought possible.
Buy link: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/lying-scorpions
Aleksandr has been published for twenty years, both in print and ebook. He has ten years’ experience as a writing coach, book doctor, and writing teacher, and he works as a financial editor in London.
After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write edgy, dark, sometimes literary M/M and gay fiction (much of which is romance/erotica)—the only way he can use his American Literature degree these days.
He’s been published with Heyne/Random House, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, and others.
Connect with Aleks:
- Website: www.aleksandrvoinov.com
- Blog: aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/Vashtan
To win an ebook from my backlist (not Lying with Scorpions), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to the following questions (and your preferred file format). The contest ends on January 31, 2014.
– Name the Scorpions that join Kendras’s unit in this book
– What is Runner’s secret?
– Who was the first officer of the Scorpions, and what happened to him?