Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Aleksandr Voinov for taking the time to talk with us today.
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Cover Artist: Tami Santarossa
Welcome to the Belonging ’Verse re-release blog tour with Aleksandr Voinov and Rachel Haimowitz! We’re very excited to be bringing you edited second editions of our Belonging stories, Anchored and Counterpunch (in the case of Anchored, very edited, with over ten thousand new words and a completely different beginning and ending!), which are finally under the same roof and back in print after about a year out of circulation.
We’ll be touring for about two weeks, Aleks discussing his slave boxer and the barrister who tries to free him, and Rachel talking about her slave news anchor and the talk show host who covets him, and both of us discussing the world of Belonging at large—which, as you’ve probably guessed, is not a particularly pretty place. But good things can and do happen in this world, and we hope you’ll stick with us to find out what!
Speaking of good things, don’t forget to comment on this post for your chance to win a $25 gift certificate to the Riptide store! Each new post you comment on earns you an entry into the drawing, so be sure to check out the rest of the tour schedule too!
Don’t forget to enter to win on the Prism Book Alliance Anchored Spotlight Stop.
Counterpunch – The uncanny truth of fiction
To the best of my memory, I wrote Counterpunch around April/May 2011. It was a fast book – 4 or 5 weeks for about 55,000 words (the new version is a bit shorter). As far as “easy” goes, Counterpunch was easy, despite being emotionally tough. Brooklyn proved to be a good main character—he had drive, a goal, a dream, and such characters are relatively easy to write. They have momentum, energy and power.
A news item was taking up quite a few news inches: the trial of the policeman who shoved Ian Tomlinson, a bystander during the 2009 G-20 protests in London. Tomlinson was fell, and died, and a court tried to determine whether it was an accident or manslaughter. Everybody I talked to expected the police to walk away scott-free. (They didn’t.)
If you’ve read Counterpunch, you’ll recognize that as the crime that Brooklyn committed and for which he ended up getting enslaved.
I was also writing about riots, which is where Brooklyn killed the protester. I had the G-20 protests in mind, I guess, but on a larger scale. 2011 was in the teeth of the financial crisis, and the mood was grim. We had “Occupy” people camping around St Pauls Cathedral, not far away from London’s financial centre, The City, and while bankers and we, their support staff, might walk past them during a lunch break to look at that untidy group of tents and the sometimes strange people who lived there, in the shadow of London’s stock exchange, something was in the air, a frission, a current, something that made riots believable.
I handed the book in in late May, then did something else.
The book came back from edits.
In early August, London was actually burning.
Between 6 August and 11 August, we had riots, kicked off by the shooting of Mark Duggan, who was apparently an unsavoury character. Looting, arson, huge amounts of cops on the road, and a sense of threat and doom. You couldn’t be sure where it would break out next: a colleague didn’t manage to get home because his neighbourhood had a full-blown riot going, and most people I knew barricades themselves inside their houses, hoping that that would protect them.
The names of places where rioting happened weren’t exotic. Tottenham was just a short bus ride away. Wood Green not on another planet. Hackney, Brixton, Walthamstow, Peckham, Enfield, Battersea, Croydon, Ealing, Barking, Woolwich, Lewisham and East Ham were all stops on train lines or tube lines that I’d actually taken. Was possibly taking on my way to work. Croydon and Lewisham “lovingly” embrace the city where I live and where I bought a house.
And it wasn’t just London—it was also Birmingham, Bristol, and Manchester and others. (see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_England_riots)
With all that going on, I opened the manuscript and saw what I’d written about riots just a few months before that. I’m pretty sure I had a moment of goose bumps there.
But well, if life hands you riots, make better fiction.
I re-worked some of those passages to reflect what was going on around me, flesh it out, put in some more detail. Perversely, the riots helped me imagine a world where anarchy is just a few large-scale riots away, where your own livelihood, health and sanity are much more tenuous than we want to believe they are in this world.
And the place where the riot happened that Brooklyn had to help contain—that place was right outside the bank where I was working. It seemed like the best place, especially with the added security protocol in the bank during that period.
As I write this, I’m also following what’s going on in Ferguson over in the States. It’s a different kind of unrest, and different ways to deal with it, but again I have that sense of unease. It doesn’t take much to put into question everything we want to believe. Not much at all.
Fight like a man, or die like a slave.
Two years ago, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London policeman and amateur boxer with a promising future. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose powerful father had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the prison system, the state sold Brooklyn into slavery. Now he’s the “Mean Machine,” competing on the slave prizefighting circuit for the entertainment of freemen, and being rented out for sexual service to his wealthier fans.
When barrister Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn’s services for a night, Brooklyn braces himself for yet another round of humiliation and pain. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it love—such feelings can’t truly exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to get Brooklyn’s conviction overturned, Brooklyn dares to hope.
Until an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he’s worked so hard for. With the law on his tail and Nathaniel in his corner, he must prepare for the most important fight of his life: the fight for his freedom.
About the Author:
Aleksandr Voinov 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 until recently worked as an editor in financial services.
After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write gritty, edgy, 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, and is an EPIC Awards winner and a Lambda Awards finalist.
You can connect with Aleks at: Website: aleksandrvoinov.com, Blog: aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com, Twitter:@aleksandrvoinov, Goodreads: goodreads.com/Vashtan.
Aleksandr Voinov has kindly offered a $25 gift certificate to the Riptide store for 1 lucky tour commenter
Contest will end 7 days from original posting date at 8pm CDT. Must be 18 or older to enter, void where prohibited.
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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