Gavin Atlas Interview and Giveaway
On Top Down Under would like to welcome erotic LGBT author Gavin Atlas to join in our 2 year blog anniversary celebrations with an interview and an e-book giveaway of The Boy Can’t Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms
Kazza: In 2013 I read a short novella of yours, Love and Rockets. I believe I called it “sexy, smutty and kinky.” Personally, I feel these are all good things, but what do you think when you hear – sexy, smutty, kinky in relation to your writing?
Gavin: Those adjectives do feel different to me which is interesting. “Sexy” is one of the goals, so that works well. “Kinky” I almost never hear because my fiction is often considered just a little more decadent than vanilla. However, Love and Rockets features wax play and some rougher sex than most of my stories, so kinky makes sense there. “Smutty” sounds like “trashy” to me, but let me look that up in the dictionary. Okay, “filthy, obscene, indecent, dirty.” I think it’s fair not to relish that description, but a) as you said, you consider that a good thing, and that makes a big difference. B) A “smut” is apparently someone promiscuous. That label fits my characters, so in that sense, smutty is appropriate.
Kazza: I currently have The Boy Can’t Help It and Slave to Shadows on my Kindle to read over the coming month. I sense a theme of bottom boys in both. That is something I have noticed with your books that I have marked to read or have read; bottoms. Obviously it takes two to tango, so tops behaviour will also be on display. But I know plenty of versatile men. So there is a bit to choose from-not that I’m complaining –but I have to ask you, why ‘bottoms’ as the central roles/theme in your writing?
Gavin: When it comes to sex, I have to do my best to write what I know. I do write from the point-of-view of top characters sometimes. I’m a good listener to what men have said to me, however. So I’ve been told that many of my stories where the top describes his hunger for his bottom partner’s body are the hottest.
Regarding your awesome question about versatility: Similar to not having a choice whether or not I’m gay, I also don’t feel I have a choice not to be a bottom. I’m old enough now that I doubt that will change. When I was younger I knew a number of men who told me, “I’m a bottom, but for you, I’ll make an exception.” So I have wondered how rare my mindset is. Also, independent of my writing, I’ve felt that versatility might often be mentally healthier. I just read an article that gay men should stop defining their entire personalities by their identities in bed. That irked me, but the author had a point. If that “sex identity” doesn’t make the individual feel good, then I agree. Some of my characters, especially in The Full Ride, are at odds with how men or society at large treat them for being submissive. Finding a man who appreciates a submissive for who he is or the sub finding strength within himself can be an intriguing journey.
Kazza: I have noticed another, I suppose, similarity, and that is all your stories appear to be short in length. Whether a single novella or a collection of stories in a novel, they are not overly long. Why shorter stories? Could there be a full length story in Gavin Atlas?
Gavin: I’m doubtful. I’ve tried writing a novel, and I kept finding fatal logical flaws on a weekly basis. True, I have a friend who helped me with them, but that didn’t feel great. I wanted to solve my own problems. I also have ADHD and bipolar issues, so I could say that makes my ability to hold it together for a longer work more difficult. I’m not willing to say that I can’t someday overcome that. If I write a novel, I’ll be quite happy. If it never happens, that’s okay, too.
Kazza: I just wanted to add how inspiring it is that you do write books with ADHD and “bipolar issues” and that you mentioned it here in this interview. I hope that inspires more writers with these conditions. It certainly also adds a new dimension or intensity to your writing. The calibre of your short stories is good. Maybe don’t fix what ain’t broken 🙂
Kazza: This year I was fortunate enough to pick up and read The Full Ride: Bottom Boys Get Play – review here. Yes, as the title implies, the stories in the book are very much about bottoms, however I have to say they are all diverse characters, situations and stories – including pirates on a train. How difficult, or maybe easy, is it to put a collection like this together?
Gavin: Hmm, I’m not sure how to answer that because I didn’t find it easy, but I wonder if compared to other authors at the same level of their careers if they’d find it easier or more difficult. I definitely was aware I wanted to work harder on diverse characterization and on more developed plots. When writing sex was new for me, that carried the momentum of the story more often than not. Now I have to re-write sex scenes several times, often closing my eyes and trying to feel what I’m describing, before I can get the intensity I want. And I’ve learned that if you want to keep entertaining readers, you need to offer more than just sex to make them happy. Showing that my writing has strengthened was important to me, but making readers happy was the ultimate goal.
Kazza: This is a two-parter about “Bottom Boys.” I am a major cover fetishist, and that cover *purrs* is truly to die for. I love the sexual innocence yet heat it exudes all at the same time. It captures the book’s essence. Who created the cover for the book, and how involved were you in the process?
Gavin: I had nothing to do with this cover, so the credit has to go entirely to my publisher, Steve Berman, and to Alex Jeffers who designed the cover. I will have to apprise him of your love for his work. 🙂
The model’s name is Nicholas John and he’s covered several books for Lethe Press. When I saw his photo, I thought he looked a lot like my vision of my character Nicholas from the story, “The Full Ride.” I had planned to title the book Every Wicked Wish, but then the universe told me the book needed to be titled The Full Ride.
Kazza: I had another erotica author on here recently and I asked this same question: I have my opinions on this subject, but I’d be interested in yours as someone who writes erotica. There are those readers who equate erotica to porn, I know because I have seen erotica reviewed that way or heard people say it. What do you have to say about their differences?
Gavin: For the life of me I don’t know where I first read of the distinction. I thought this quote was originally Lars Eighner, but I asked him and he said it’s not. Anyhow, here goes: “The goal of most genres of fiction is to tell a story. The goal of porn is to arouse the reader.” Meanwhile, in my view, erotica has two goals–both to tell a story and to arouse the reader. I could go on and explain how I think most genre fiction really has two goals, like romance wants to both tell a story and make the reader feel the bliss of new love. Mystery wants a story plus the satisfaction of justice served, etc.
Kazza: Who do you feel influenced you in your writing? Maybe someone, or multiple people, who still impact your desire to write. Maybe they encourage you personally, or from afar, to continue to write and always write better?
Gavin: Throughout my life there have been authors whose books have triggered my need to write, but not as many who influenced my writing style. I’ve had several women friends who I probably shouldn’t name who have been quite supportive, both in terms of improving my writing and in terms of helping me remember I’m not a bad person for what I write. On my own, I’ve realized no one says authors who write about serial cannibals or axe murderers are deviants, right? So neither am I. But having friends reinforce that helps a lot.
Okay, authors: C.B. Potts and mystery author Rob Byrnes are probably getting sick of me name dropping them, but you mentioned inspiration to write better. Both of them write characters and dialogue so incredibly well that it has made me think, “Dude, you need to do another draft before this is ready” on numerous occasions.
Kazza: Are there any hobbies or interests (away from writing) you enjoy? Or perhaps something you feel very strongly about or are involved in at a passionate or core level?
Gavin: I enjoy travel, and that can trigger stories for me or help me develop my descriptive abilities when it comes to settings. I like doing volunteer work. I used to answer calls for a crisis hotline when I lived in New York. I tutored native Spanish speakers in English for a while. More than anything, it upsets me how difficult it is for lower class kids to get a college education in America, but actually I don’t have the master’s degree credentials to do enough about it. So I might look for something else meaningful. If I had fewer pet allergies I’d help some friends out with animal rescue since dogs and cats likely don’t care if I lack a master’s degree.
Other than that, I spend too much time playing video games although even that can help my writing. I like making lists on ranker.com. Recently I’ve liked watching terrible Godzilla and Gamera movies. I also like going to pet stores and watch the parakeets bounce around and be silly.
Kazza: What is next for Gavin Atlas? Are there any works in progress we should know about?
Gavin: I don’t have plans for more work, but I reserve the right to change my mind. I’ve had issues with harassment by some serious computer pirates from Azerbaijan and recently some other harassment. That’s why I don’t have a website and it’s a part of the reason why I don’t think I’ll be writing as Gavin for a while. I realized, however, that I have so many more friends that like me for who I honestly am that know me as Gavin than my real name. So I’d hurt myself by killing Gavin off and perhaps eventually “he’ll” write again. Perhaps not erotica, but hopefully something that still makes readers happy.
Thank you so much for all these incredible questions.
Kazza: Thanks Gavin. I appreciate your patience as I let you know I was finding this interview difficult to get my act together on, it all came together well.
**THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. CONGRATULATIONS TO JOHN**
Today’s giveaway is The Boy Can’t Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms. Please leave a comment before October 26th, US Midnight Eastern Standard Time, below to be in the running to win an e-book copy. (**If you receive a spam message don’t worry, we will retrieve it and place it in the comments section.)