Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Alexis Hall for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Author: Alexis Hall
Cover Artist: Simone
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Romance
Release Date: 10/10/2016
Alfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.
It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie hasn’t met anyone like Fen before.
Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.
Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.
1) Thank you for joining us today to talk about Pansies. What can you tell us about it?
Thank you for having me. I’d describe Pansies as a domestic romance—or at least as close to one as I’m capable of writing. It’s part of the Spires series which mean it’s basically contemporary m/m set in England. It’s basically about a man who grew up in a small town in the north who’s been away from home a long time, comes back for a wedding and falls for someone. Y’know, that old classic.
2) What about Pansies makes you the proudest?
I say this a lot in interviews but I might be too British for this one. We’re sort of raised from an early age not to be proud of things. I think, in a lot of my books, sense of place is something I pay a lot of attention and Pansies is about a bit of England that doesn’t get written about much—which is to say, not London. So that’s … a thing.
3) Please tell us more about our main characters.
Alfie Bell grew up in a small town in the north, where he was sort of a big deal, then went away to the city. But he’s never really forgotten his roots, which in some ways is a source of strength to him but is hard for him to reconcile with his sexuality because the culture he grew up in has very traditional views of masculinity. Case in point, Fen is the boy who Alfie bullied in school for being gay who feels both alienated from and trapped by his origins, and has very mixed feelings about his attraction to Alfie.
4) Pansies is set in South Shields. For those who don’t know this area of the U.K. why is it important?
To an extent it’s not. That’s sort of the point. It’s very much a small town story and I deliberately picked somewhere that most people have never even heard of, let alone been. I think there is something unique and special about that part of England, which is one part climate, one part history. Like a lot of seaside resorts, South Shield kind of had its heyday in the Victorian age, and has sort of been fading ever since. There’s all these ornate Victorian monuments that are just sort … there, tarnishing in the salt from the North Sea.
5) In a lot of your books the language/accents the characters use. Did you use local language in Pansies, and if so, why do you think it’s important?
As you sort of point out, language, dialect and—in as far as you can express it in a written form—accent tend to be things I pay a lot of attention to in my books. And for basically the same reasons every time: the way people express themselves is part of who they are. It might be a slightly weird thing to focus on but I’m actually quite passionate about validity of non-standard dialects, whether that’s modern estuary English or 18th century thieves cant.
One of the things I was really interested in doing with Pansies and with Alfie’s character in particular was writing somebody who code-switched – that is to say, someone who shifts quite dramatically between dialects depending on context and state of mind. You get even more extreme versions of this among genuinely bi-lingual people who will often just switch between languages as different concepts become easier to express in one language or another. But one of the things I hope comes across about Alfie in Pansies is that whether he’s talking Geordie or London says something about he’s trying to present himself or how he’s feeling in the moment.
6) A number of UK writers use US English and idioms in their books, is this important to you either way?
Obviously, I’d never judge what other writers do and actually increasingly US idioms are used by English people anyway. But, for me, I do feel it’s important for my writing to authentically reflect the people I’m writing about. And that’s not as simple as never using an Americanism (I actually do stop and think about whether I should be saying asshole or arsehole since we do use both in England but there’s a subtle difference in meaning between the Americanised and Anglicised pronunciations), it’s about choosing phrases that I think would feel natural to the (generally British) characters I’m writing about.
7) How do Pansies and Glitterland differ?
I guess it depends how you characterise difference. There are two really glib ways to answer this question, one is which is to give two parallel descriptions that sound completely different and the other is to give two parallel descriptions that sound nearly identical (which is a trick you can pull with basically any two books you might choose). I think the trouble I’m having here is that most of the differences between the books feel either banal or subjective to me. I mean, clearly GL is a first person 65k word novel about a bipolar writer and an Essex fashion model. Whereas Pansies is third person 120k word novel about an investment banker and a florist. The more wibbly stuff like, y’know, themes and shit I feel are very much for the reader to decide.
8) What are you working on? What is next?
Again, I say this a lot in interviews, but I’m a bit superstitious about discussing my works in progress, especially because publishing is really volatile and unpredictable and I don’t want to make promises I might wind up keeping. I think I wind up in a genuine Catch-22 where if something is under contract I try to avoid discussing it unless I’m certain my publisher would be okay with it and if something isn’t under contract I try to avoid discussing because it may never materialise.
But I do have a trilogy contracted and announced with Forever Yours. The first one, I think, is due in April next year and … well … it’s kind of queer bildom story.
To celebrate the release of Pansies, one lucky winner will receive their choice of 3 ebooks from Alexis Hall’s backlist. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 15, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret.
He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.
He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car.
He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
Connect with Alexis:
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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