Hello Marie! Thank you for taking the time to come chat with us. I hope you will enjoy your visit.
Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about your novel, Song of Oestend?
Song of Oestend is my first non-contemporary. It’s sort of a fantasy, old west, alternate universe type story with wraiths and a haunted house. And some mild bondage. ;-)
***Readers…don’t forget to check out the excerpt at the end of the interview!***
What a unique storyline this book is. How did you come up with this concept?
Initially, I wanted to write about an artist and a cowboy, but I also wanted to write about a haunted house, and I wanted to write about some kind of paranormal creature that haunted the night. I decided to try to put them all together.
The actual time setting is hard to grasp in this novel. Sometimes it seems as if it is in the past and sometimes it seems as if it is in the future and it gave this story a real air of being a Steampunk novel. Did you do this deliberately?
Well, I deliberately set it in another world that was still in a colonial stage. Lanstead, where Aren is from, is bordering on industrial, but the far reaches of Oestend are still very antiquated. It feels very “old west”, but I didn’t want to make it a historical because I wanted Aren and Deacon to have more freedom than that, and because I didn’t want to have to pin Olsa down.
When I first met Aren, I could see right away that he had potential to be someone very surprising. Did he develop like you expected him to or did he go his own way?
I didn’t necessarily expect Aren to be so blatantly sexual, but I knew the story was going to be about his inner strength, and about him learning to embrace his own power.
Deacon was a shock to say the least. But what a turn on! He is another factor that made this story so wonderful, as his character developed from this big-as-life man into what Aren molds him to be. Were you expecting this when you wrote this tale?
For the most part, yes. I like to do opposites attract, and I like to make characters reverse their roles. I knew Deacon was tired of always being so strong, and needed a chance to let somebody else take the lead.
How did you come up with the Oestend wraiths?
The initial idea came from The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I didn’t want to steal his idea, but I was very intrigued by the idea of spooky things running around in the night. I wasn’t really sure what they were or where they came from until Olsa.
The clincher for me was Olsa. This woman comes across as an ancient being that is extremely worldly. She is the true hero of this story as she guides Aren where he needs to be. Did you expect her to have such an impact on the plot?
No, I really didn’t. She was definitely a surprise. As soon as I started to write her, she began to take over. She insisted on being blind, and yet she could see things that nobody else could. She was a lot of fun.
On top of the aura of paranormal, the other genres in this novel were m/m, futuristic, western, and adventure. Is there any genre you have not written that you want to?
I’d kind of like to write a really spooky, character-driven horror novel.
What about anything you would never even attempt to do?
Probably mystery. I don’t think I could pull that one off.
You have a couple of books listed on your website that will be published at a later date. Would you like to tell the readers a little about them?
The first one is a novella called Blind Space. It’s about space pirates! It’s a lot of fun. The second is Cinder. Cinder is a short Cinderella re-telling. Both of these are fun and quite a bit lighter than my last couple of novels. Both will be published by Silver Publishing. I think Blind Space will be released in early January, and Cinder maybe in March.
Your bio mentions that you quit your job about the same time you started reading M/M romances. Do you have a favorite author?
My favorite authors are probably Sarah Monette and JK Rowling. But I also like Lynn Flewelling, Orson Scott Card (if one can ignore his personal prejudices), Scott Lynch, WA Hoffman, and Jordan Castillo Price.
I found a header on your website entitled “Hijinks with Heidi Cullinan”. Can you explain what exactly this is?
Heidi Cullinan is another gay romance author. We met in June of 2010, and have sort of been joined at the hip ever since. We have a couple of sites together:
Do you belong to any social networks? Would you like to give the links?
I think I’m on all of them!
Tumblr (Tumblr is NSFW!!)
Holy Cow! I just checked out your “Obligatory Eye Candy” page. All I can say is Hot! Hot! Hot!
That page was a lot of fun to build. ;-)
I love what you had to say about how the female characters often drove you nuts on your “Why M/M” page. I have to agree with you about that particular pet peeve in the writing world. Do you have any other pet peeves when it comes to books?
I’m very picky about POV. I loathe head-hopping. Also, I like to read horror and psychological thrillers, but I am so OVER the obligatory prologue where the only thing that happens is some non-character getting killed. I can’t believe editors are still letting those through. Dump the worthless prologue and get to the point.
I see your novel is available in both eBook format and Print format. What do you like better personally when reading? For me, I have to say it is the print books. There is nothing like holding a novel to my nose and just smelling it. LOL. I know…it is weird to some people.
I’m on the fence. In some way, I still love real books. I love to hold them and flip through them. But when it comes to traveling, you just can’t beat the ease of carrying all your novels on one portable device.
Now for a couple of fun questions.
If Song of Oestend was turned into a movie, who would you want to play the roles of Aren, Deacon, and Olsa?
Jason Momoa as Deacon. Definitely.
For Aren, maybe Thomas Dekker (although his hair is too dark).
For Olsa? Wow. I honestly have no idea. I bet Jenette Goldstein could pull it off, but they’d have to do one hell of a make-up job on her to age her by about forty years.
If you were thrown into a paranormal world, which character would you want to be and why?
Any paranormal world? I think I’d choose to be Luna Lovegood, because nothing ever gets that girl down.
Can you tell the readers something quirky about yourself? Maybe something no one else knows about you?
I often eat nothing but cheese and potato chips for lunch. Also, all of my pets are named after Star Wars people or places.
One last question I like to ask all of my interviewees. If you were to be described as a flavor of coffee, what flavor would you be and why?
Probably hazelnut. It’s like the nutty version of being vanilla.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Marie, I had a blast getting to know you as well as your amazing writing talent. I hope you had fun and I look forward to reading more of your future work.
Thanks very much for having me!!
Now our lovely readers, Marie has gifted us with not 1 but 2 excerpts! Enjoy!!
Aren was surprised when Deacon came back that afternoon with Olsa at his side.
“Get your paint, boy,” she told him as he let them through the door. “Red. And a brush. We’ll be in the pantry.”
Aren knew better than to argue with her. The suitcase that held his paints hadn’t been unpacked yet, and he dug in it until he found the things she needed and took them to her at the back of the house.
“What are you doing?” Aren asked her.
“We’re going to sing the ai’huara.”
As if that meant anything to Aren. He looked at Deacon for explanation. Deacon rolled his eyes. “Folk tales,” he said.
“You know better than that!” Olsa snapped.
Deacon crossed his arms across his chest and clenched his jaw, but didn’t answer her.
“Don’t let him fool you,” Olsa said to Aren. “He knows all the songs. All the ones that matter, anyway. He knows the marriage song—”
“Fat lot of use I have for it, too.”
“—and the birth song, and the warding song, and the death song—”
“Only ‘cause you made me learn them before I was old enough to know better!”
“Is it so horrible I wanted somebody who could sing the death song for me when I go? Will you deny me a proper end?”
“I told you I’d do it, and I will,” he said, his cheeks red under the darkness of his skin. “Now can we get on with this? I got work to do.”
“Ungrateful brat.” She grabbed on to Aren’s arm. “Help me down, boy.” Aren supported her as she slowly lowered herself to her knees. She pushed the rug out of the way to reveal a door cut into the floor.
“A cellar!” Aren said.
“Don’t you go down there,” Olsa said. “It’s a bad place.” She looked up at Deacon. “Well, get the paint and get over here.”
Deacon gritted his teeth, clearly biting back an angry retort. He grabbed the paint and the brush out of Aren’s hands and held them out to her. “Here.”
“What good are they to me?” she snapped. “Get down here on the floor!”
“‘Cause you’re the one’s got to paint the sign!”
“‘Cause I’m blind, you blessed fool! Why do you think? Now get down here before I take a switch to you!”
“What’re you drawing?”
Aren hesitated, afraid Deacon would make fun of him for his art as he had the first day they’d met, back in Milton, but he saw no mockery in his eyes. Only friendly curiosity.
He held his sketchbook out and Deacon took it.
He didn’t say anything for the longest time. He looked at the drawing, then up at the bull in the field, then down again at the drawing. He seemed puzzled. “I don’t get it,” he said at last. “I can see it’s the bull, but it’s not the same at all.”
Aren’s heart fell at the words. “I guess it’s not very good,” he said, reaching to take the pad back.
Deacon pulled it out of his reach, still looking at it. “That ain’t what I said. It’s just…” he looked up at the bull again, then down at the sketchpad, his brows furrowed as he tried to find the words. “When I look at your picture, he looks… Well, I guess he looks strong. And proud. He looks special, like he’s something way more than all the other cattle.” He looked back up at the bull standing in the grass, lazily chewing his cud. “But he’s just a bull,” he said, pointing out at him. “Nothing special at all.”
It was such awkward praise, and yet Aren found himself smiling. He felt something inside him swell with pride. “That means I did it right,” he said.