Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Aleksandr Voinov/L. A. Witt blog tour for the newest Market Garden story, If It Drives!
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off our backlists (excluding If It Drives) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 7th, and winners will be announced on April 9th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
Fiction Vixen is not choosing or announcing the winner.
A Writer as Protagonist
Callum, the main character/romantic lead in If It Drives is actually my first-ever writer main character. If’ written soldiers, inquisitors, bankers, boxers, knights, pimps, special agents, shamans, and about a dozen other “jobs” (though most seem to be war-like and somewhere on the “mess your stuff up” spectrum of human professions). So, it’s quite funny I could get into the head of a professional Dom or a heavyweight boxer, or a Mafioso, but never got into writing about artists, even though I arguably spend most of my waking hours being a writer.
I guess part of me—me the reader—is tired of protagonists who are clearly heavily inspired by the person who wrote them. I did grow up on a steady diet of books by a rockstar horror writer from Maine, after all, who writes a lot about writers living/working in Maine. (Much love to Stephen King.)
But personally, I never found a writer’s life too interesting. We’re often people with bad backs and cramped shoulders who eat in front of our computers and talk to people all day who don’t exist. Inner conflict is often based on “Should I have a nap or finish the chapter?”, “Will my spouse be upset if I call in pizza again?”, and “How old are my kids now?” Riveting stuff for a romance.
But thinking about Callum, I wondered what his “real job” was. I got the strong idea that he wasn’t a full-blooded driver—driving a car was something he liked, but also something he did to earn a living, rather than make a career out of. And there’s another thing about London: every waiter, bookshop person, every barista and shop assistant is an actor, a singer, a painter, design student, or a writer biding their time. Hell, for most of my career, I was a writer making a living as an editor—I know that double life well.
So yep, he was an artist, and a young one. In his mid-twenties, spinning his wheels (literally) while trying to make that art thing work. I think the biggest boon for a writer is natural perceptiveness—the ability to read people and put clues together. That would serve him well with James, who Does Not Talk about his emotions. Cal has to do almost all the thinking and interpreting, so perceptiveness was his biggest strength and absolutely crucial.
All the small details are inspired either by my quirks or the quirks of writer/artist friends. For example, as young writers, we’re still working out what our natural genre(s) are—like I started in fantasy and horror and eventually made my way across more and more genres. Cal is writing literary fiction, but for whatever reason got stuck on his “serious” novel, struggling with it throughout the novel, but at the same time easily writes thousands of words on his space opera, which he’s dismissing as his “unstucking” project:
Funny how the serious book had twenty-six thousand words, and the space opera was closing in on one hundred twenty thousand, though he’d started on that one much later.
He did an easy three thousand words of battle scenes and then shut down his computer for the night.
He’s young enough that he misses the biggest clue of all—if it’s “easy”, it’s his natural turf. He’s a sci-fi writer waiting to happen. But for all his self-awareness, there are things he’s missing and still working out, which I personally find terribly endearing.
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 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.
Connect with Aleks:
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.
If it flies, drives, or fornicates, it’s cheaper to rent it.
After driving James Harcourt, his wealthy banker boss, around for a year and a half, Cal isn’t surprised by much anymore. Not even James’s regular trips to Market Garden, London’s most elite gay brothel.
But when James leaves the Garden alone one night and turns to Cal instead, Cal’s floored. After crushing on his boss for ages, it’s his wet dream come true . . . until the awkward morning after. Cal still has a job to do, but he wants to offer more. Yet James doesn’t take him up on it; he keeps Cal at arm’s length and continues his chauffeured jaunts to Market Garden.
As Cal learns what James needs from the rentboys, he tries to fill that need himself. But there’s more to James’s penchant for rentboys than Cal realises, and it may be one role that Cal can’t fill without overstepping his duty.