Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Aleksandr Voinov/L. A. Witt blog tour for the newest Market Garden story, Payoff! Be Sure to check out my review of Payoff!
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off our backlists (excluding Payoff) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 9th, and winners will be announced on February 10th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
How did the Market Garden series and your partnership come about?
Aleks: I’d been aware of LA Witt ever since she signed with Riptide. When Rachel was emailing her, she’d sometimes cc me in, and Lori would just come back with the weirdest, funniest stuff. At that point I knew she was a) super-smart, b) funny like hell and c) just a little bit crazy. I find that combination pretty much irresistible.
We then worked together when I did developmental edits on her story “A Chip in His Shoulder” (Lori, feel free to tell THAT story!) and she was super-professional (while being smart and funny and insane) and creative throughout, so we had a ball working on that. Now, editor/author relationships can be strained, especially if you don’t know the other person very well yet, but Lori impressed the hell out of me from the beginning. We then met in the flesh at GRL in Albuquerque, and hit it off like nitro and glycerin.
LA: What Aleks said. In short, I went all fangirl on Aleks at GRL and asked if he wanted to write something together. Two weeks later, we jumped into Unhinge the Universe, and here we are.
We didn’t interact much between the epic bloodbath that was A Chip In His Shoulder’s editorial process and GRL, but oddly enough, the few conversations we *did* have inspired me to write The Left Hand of Calvus. Aleks was talking about doing a warrior submissions call, and I said if he did it, I’d totally write something Roman. Thus the Warriors of Rome collection came about, and since Aleks and I are both left-handed fencers, I decided to write about a left-handed gladiator. So even before we were talking constantly, Aleks was being a bad influence.
Aleks: Just doing my best to keep that reputation as “Darth Voinov”.
I have told you guys before the I totally adore Tristan & Jared. I know Payoff ends their MG arc, but any chance for some cameo’s or shorts for them in the future?
Aleks: The nice thing about Market Garden is that there are lots of interconnections, so, yes, I could easily see them get mentioned somewhere further down the line. Though they are quitting the life…
LA: We *have* had previous characters come back even after leaving the Garden, so it’s entirely possible we’ll see them again, but we can’t promise anything. It just depends on the story.
Aleks: Well, you didn’t really think Nick would stay out of the picture forever? (Yes, this is an If It Drives teaser…)
LA: As if Nick would ever do what we told him to.
Why Rentboys? What inspired the MG series?
Aleks: I read an interview with a senior banker in a newspaper, where he’s asked, “So, after so many years in the City, what’s the most valuable advice anybody has given you?” And his response was: “If it flies, drives, or fornicates, it’s cheaper to rent it.” (I understand he’d gone through a number of VERY expensive divorces – so expensive that hiring professional fornicators, aka whores, would have been cheaper). And immediately the title came to me “If If Flies”. I pitched the idea to Lori, who loved it, and we wrote “If It Flies”, and “If It Fornicates” pretty quickly. Then one day, while I was bored at work, Lori came up with “Quid Pro Quo” and Tristand and Jared, so we went from there. Then things just started happening, and characters showed up. From the moment I wrote Frank, I knew he’d get his own story.
I think rentboys are interesting because the conflict sex versus money is very compelling. Rentboys are professional, and sometimes not, and they are people, and counsellors/therapists, and some might just plain enjoy it. I wanted to write about sexworkers who are in charge of their own job and destiny. They aren’t exploited or downtrodden – it’s a job. A very demanding job, too.
LA: If It Flies was originally supposed to be a standalone. In fact, we were going to call it “If It Flies, Drives, or Fornicates.” Then when Spencer first arrived at the brothel now known as Market Garden, I realized just how much potential there was for an ongoing series. I *love* to write books that revolve around the same location (i.e., the Tucker Springs series, the Wilde’s books, etc), so I suggested it to Aleks. And now it’s taken on a life of its own because every time we write a story, the background characters start piping up and asking for THEIR stories to be told.
And I enjoy writing about sex workers for the same reasons Aleks mentioned. There are exploited and miserable sex workers out there, and there are those who are empowered and unashamed of what they do. We’re not writing Market Garden to gloss over the ones who are exploited – we’re writing it to explore those who, as Aleks said, are in charge of their own job and destiny.
Who do each of you see when you imagine Tristan and Jared
Aleks: Pass on that one. I rarely have pictoral inspiration. A character is mostly a feeling/mood/voice for me.
LA: What’s funny is that when I write solo, I have photos to go with each of my characters. Just gives me a face to keep in my mind while I’m writing. When Aleks and I write together, I don’t do that. I have no idea why this is.
Aleks: Because I hacked your brain?
LA: Oh. Right. As you were.
Who are your literary heroes? Who do you like to emulate?
Aleks: Inside the genre? Rachel Haimowitz, Kirby Crow and LA Witt – each one shows me what’s possible in this genre. Outside the genre, I’m in love with William Faulkner, who made the English language his bitch in every way. Some passages of his are so accomplished, they make me weep. There’s also Steinbeck, who has me awestruck. Of the German writers, Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” is pretty much perfect, though I never connected in the same way with any of his other stuff.
LA: Aleks, obviously. I wouldn’t cry if I could emulate Marie Sexton, too. And Aleks has me on a Faulkner/Steinbeck kick, plus I’ve been reading a lot of Nabokov, Atwood, and Hemingway over the last few years, so I guess they’re pretty influential.
Do you read your reviews, and if so do they influence the way you write the next book?
Aleks: I do. I do filter them very strongly – I try to only read the four- and five-star reviews, in the interest of my own sanity. I also try to not read reviews while I’m writing – that way lies madness. As I wrestle an empty page, a plot that doesn’t come together and a set of main characters who don’t obey, the last thing my self-confidence needs is somebody writing, “Meh, that was okay, but it wasn’t Special Forces”, or similar. It’s hard enough to write, I don’t have to make it harder by sabotaging my confidence. And a big chunk of writing is the sheer bluster of, “I have something to tell you, and you’ll all listen!”
I admit though, when I read reviews and there’s a theme (say, with the Scorpions books, I realised that Selvan and Widow are huge reader favourites, so I tried to give them more space on the page), I do get influenced. Payoff was largely written because people kept clamouring for Tristan and Jared’s story. Call it “fan-service” – but it’s great to be able to do that.
LA: I try to avoid them. I really do. Sometimes I can’t – if someone tells me a review exists, it’s really hard for me to NOT go look. But I don’t go looking for them on my own because it just gets me into this horrific spiral of self-doubt, and then I get nothing done. That’s not to say I think people shouldn’t write reviews, but they’re for readers, not for me. So I avoid them.
So a little birdy told me that Aleks is into cooking these days. Is there a dish you’ve discovered you like to make together, or one you would want to try when you have the chance?
Aleks: Yes! I decided cooking after work is actually nicer than just quickly chopping up a bagel. It helps me chill a bit and tastes better, too. As for favourites – I make a mean pizza from scratch, but there are so many amazing soups and stews and curries out there. When Lori comes over in a couple days, I’ll cook some of my favourites, though none of the ones with chilis (Lori’s not good with chilis). Today, for example, I had a couple sea breams with salted new potatoes and a tomato/ginger/garlic relish with chopped coriander.
LA: Aleks’s cooking is sooooooo goooooood.
I know you guys live on 2 different continents, but have met up in person on a few occasions. Describe what it’s like when they have the opportunity to physically be in the same room together when they write, as opposed to emailing back and forth.
Aleks: Yeah, stupid time zones. I think we just go turbo-charged. Things get very silly and hilarious very quickly. And we feed each other a bunny a minute. Some people have been calling it the “Aleks and Lori channel” – we’re basically a two-person non-stop sitcom, plus we finish each other’s sentences. It’s mad. I’m amazed anybody manages to get a sentence in edge-wise. But even so, we have Twitter and Facebook and Google chat, so we’re constantly talking to each other anyway. And I can wake her up with my mind if I need her, which helps.
LA: Yep, what Aleks said. And he really has been able to wake me with his mind, which is EVIL AND MEAN AND YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT YOU BUTTHEAD.
Anyway, yes, we’re constantly talking on chat, Twitter, wherever. Then we get together in person and, well, there goes the neighbourhood.
What is next for each of you? (Individually and as a writing team)
Aleks: Well, I promised to write Suckerpunch, which I’m working on. That’s the sequel to Counterpunch, which will be re-released later in the year, together with Suckerpunch. More boxing! After that, I’ll be doing my Very Serious And Very Literary Historical Novels, of which I have three on last count.
Jointly, we have three half-written books and about five advanced ideas. We have a good chunk of Market Garden #8, half a historical WWII novel, and an idea for a new contemporary that’s part of a multi-author series. And a paranormal historical series. And maybe a paranormal contemporary series. And . . .
LA: Good lord, what DON’T we have coming up? Aleks pretty well summed it up for our joint stuff. I have collaborations in the works with five other authors besides Aleks. Cat Grant and I just finished our rock band book, and our second SEAL book, The Only One Who Matters, is out in March. Marie Sexton and I have a kinky little contemporary western called Roped In coming from Amber Quill this spring. The other authors will be revealed in due time. 😉
On my own, I’m re-releasing some books that went out of print in 2013, plus starting a new multi-author series with Aleks and some other awesome people who I can’t name yet. Then I have a bisexual ménage in the works, a lesbian military romance, a few more gay military romances, a steampunk novel, and an entirely new sci fi series that will be released under another name (it’ll be announced via my @GallagherWitt twitter, though, don’t worry). So basically, there’s going to be a lot coming down the pipe in 2014 and 2015.
Oh, and I might be writing a continuation of this cool little series called Dark Soul…
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 the research department of a pan-European investment bank.
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, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Riptide, and others.
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.
Tristan and Jared have got it made. When they aren’t raking in the cash together at Market Garden, they’re burning up their own sheets and getting closer by the day. But something isn’t right. Tristan’s on edge, and Jared doesn’t understand why.
Before they can hash things out, their services are requested by none other than Rolex. And Rolex doesn’t just want to be a bystander this time. He wants Jared while Tristan watches, and he’s more than willing to pay for it.
But Tristan’s reached a breaking point, and even that huge wad of cash might not be enough to keep tonight’s arrangement from crashing and burning.
Payoff is available February 3rd from Riptide Publishing.
All Romance eBooks (coming soon)
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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