MERCY CELESTE INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY.
CONGRATULATIONS TO LISA H.
Today award winning author Mercy Celeste joins On Top Down Under to help us continue this month-long celebration of the blog’s first anniversary. And because Kazza has read every book written by Mercy Celeste it was only fitting that we invite her to take part in the blog-versary. Both Kazza and Cindi would like to extend a warm OTDU welcome to Mercy Celeste. Yay!
Mercy: First let me say how excited and happy I am to be part of your blogaversary. Happy anniversary to you both and thank you for having me.
A bit about your writing:
Mercy: I started out as a het romance writer. For the uninitiated I wrote straight romance. I have three het books currently available one as Mercy and two under my original pen name. So why switch over to gay romance? Short answer I can’t write female characters to save my life. You’d think being female that would be easy. It’s not. At least not the way women want their heroines written. Most of my women act like men. They’re opinionated and strong. Which is not really the market. I think the first inkling I had that I should be writing MM was when I wrote my het ménage Double Coverage. When Bullet came into the picture and tried to take Trig away from the heroine I should have let him. My gut instinct was that these two men had a backstory that needed exploring but I was too chicken to give into that instinct. When I did finally give in with The 51st Thursday, I knew I was at home. I haven’t written another het book in going on three years with no plans to go back.
Kazza: Of all the MM writers I read I notice that your books can elicit strong emotion. You must be doing something right. There is nothing worse than ‘boring.’ I mean, even people who purport to not like your writing seem to keep coming back to read more of your books. And they even take the time to review them. What do you think the reason/s is/are for this…passionate, reactive affair readers have with your characters? With your books?
Mercy: I always say I’m not a writer but a storyteller. To me telling the story is first and foremost the main point of writing. These people come to me, they tell me their story, I write it down. I follow where they lead, and if that’s down the dark deserted back roads into the human condition…well, I follow. I know people tell me that I’m in control of the story and that I should tone it down, but honestly I’m not in control of anything. I start with a blank page, I cry with these people, I laugh, I curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb sometimes when I can’t cope with what the character is asking me to do. I don’t write from an outline, I can’t. There are no predetermined chapters with everything that is going to happen in a story neatly written and decided before I start. When a tangent off into the wild blue yonder comes up, I let it run. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
I think people read my books because of the ride I take them on. Even those who hate me. And yes, I have people who dearly hate me and my books. I receive hate mail. I receive mail from people who blast me for daring to discuss rape or abuse or cheating in their sweet little romance. I’m happy that their lives have been untouched by anything dark. I was not so lucky. But for every piece of ‘how could you’ mail I receive I receive a letter that breaks my heart. Someone, usually male, wanting to thank me for walking a path that they had walked. Prostitution, drugs, abuse. I don’t shy away from it because it’s real life. And if you think about it, without conflict in a story, what’s the point of telling the story?
Kazza: I have to agree. I work with the ‘human condition’ and many people have quite complex lives. Dark exists. ‘Fact is stranger than fiction’ is said with great authority. My favourite stories always involve angst, drama and tension. I want to be swept along and if you don’t go where the characters take you then you are failing as a writer, in my opinion. I’m glad you let the characters dictate rather than trying to stifle their voice(s). Writing books that touch people’s lives allows a catharsis and I’m glad that people have let you know this. If you put a black dot on a whiteboard a heck of a lot of people will tell you they see the back dot irrespective of the fact that 99.9% of the board is white. Human nature at work
Kazza: Running along with that ‘passionate’ theme, I’ll say that a couple of reasons I read and enjoy your books are because they are diverse and you don’t hold back. They don’t always go down a fluffy-bunny path. Let’s face it, life certainly can be bumpy and quite the ride. So, having said that, your character’s make for an interesting story, where does that Mercy Celeste storytelling and diversity come from?
Mercy: I’ve always told stories. Even when I was little, I could tell such whoppers. I had an imaginary friend named Baba and we had the most amazing adventures. I was always daydreaming. Always. I used to get smacked for daydreaming. Back in elementary school I lived for writing compositions, I loved to have the teacher give us a topic and just let us go. I was different from the other kids. I was bullied and teased for everything. My weight, my sense of humor. Just everything. I escaped into books. Again another source of contention. I was the only kid I knew who read for pleasure. As I said above my life hasn’t been easy. I survived an abusive parent, barely. There are still days even all these years later that the abuse can still rule my life. Storytelling for me is a way to face my demons. It’s a coping mechanism. The year my dad died the only way I survived was to write. I wrote Beyond Complicated in the first person. Liam’s gradual nervous breakdown was mine. I used my pain and grief and guilt to write that book. I could write bright and sunny little romances but then I’d have to pay for therapy. I like this way much better.
Kazza: Yes, definitely cheaper than therapy!
Kazza: I’m not a writer. I am a reader, but there have been books that have inspired me over the years. Books I remember. What books have most influenced you and/or your writing?
Mercy: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I was in the ninth grade when I read that book, it was right around the time the movie came out. And the movie was full of hotties so of course I had to check it out. And that’s when I discovered that I wanted to become a writer. Of course, I was immediately told that I couldn’t because I wasn’t smart enough. But I never forgot how that book influenced me. Everything bad that could go wrong for Ponyboy and Johnny Cade went wrong. I cried so much lying on the floor in the band room with my feet propped up on the wall while I skipped math class just so I could finish that book. That’s when I knew exactly what made a great book. One that the author throws everything but the kitchen sink at the character and the reader can’t put it down even with the threat of suspension for skipping class a possibility.
After that I found the huge epic novels. Gone with the Wind. The Winds of War. I read everything. Great stories always were the ones that reached down your throat and ripped your guts out. As an adult I found Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Johanna Lindsey and Virginia Henley. My romance instructors. They took everything that I love in a fiction novel and threw in some sexy and there we go, Mercy was hooked. I’ve never regretted a single one of my Fabio covered romance books.
Kazza: You had me (and my son) at Gone With the Wind. Fabio covers. Hmm, seems right 🙂
Kazza: Recently I was interviewed by Christopher Allen and one of the questions was ‘who writes better sex in male romance/erotic writing, men or women?’ My answer was women. I also suggested that anyone interested in some amazing sex should read Beyond Complicated – because that book contains some holy shit- give-me-some-ice amazing sex, in amongst the psychological aspects – so I have outed you as my favourite sex scene writer. I must also add it is more than just great sex, it was my 2012 Book of the Year So…do you get compliments on your ability to write good sex? If so (roughly) what is the percentage of males to females in terms of who, uh, appreciates it the most?
Mercy: Honestly no one ever writes to tell me about my sex scenes. I’ve read in passing that I seem to know how to write them fairly well. I believe I read a review for Beyond Complicated that talked about how often the reviewer masturbated, I believe it was a man. Usually my compliments and comments are about the what the fuck moments in my books. I think I write good sex because I write it as part of the scene, the gradual build to it and the emotion that leads to the moment and then the emotion in the aftermath. I try to fit the scene to the situation. So many writers write a sex scene or three and work them into the story. I can’t do that.
Kazza: This year has been a terrific year in terms of the books you have released. Six Ways from Sunday (Southern Scrimmage #1) was this intensely emotional friends-to-lovers, to love lost and found again story. I have to tell you it tore a hole in my chest while I went up and down the rollercoaster as I read. It was an incredibly beautiful love story with memorable characters. How hard was writing Six Ways from Sunday, given the intense emotions? Also, did you expect the connection so many readers seem to share with Bo and Dylan as you wrote?
Mercy: I wrote SWfS in five days. It’s unlike anything else I’ve written because it’s more of a series of snapshots into Bo and Dylan’s lives. More so Bo’s. I based the story on a viral YouTube video of a young Marine surprising his college basketball playing brother at practice. The kid’s tears at seeing his older brother did me in. The scene at the Super Bowl came from that. Backstory then skip so many years to catch them in a moment as adults with different life experiences. Sex and connection. Love. Maybe. They would have to reconnect one day for that. Then destroy any chance of it. I cried so much when I wrote that scene. When Bo broke down on the football field, yeah, I wrote that with tears flowing. Did I expect people to go crazy over it? No. It was a little story I wrote in five days. There was barely any structure, it was too short, it jumped around too much. And there was no real HEA. I am usually surprised by the reaction to all of my books. To me this one was just a quickie to get me back into writing after taking a year off. And wow did I step into something with that one.
Kazza: Then Levi and Tracy followed with a real twist in Sidelined (Southern Scrimmage #2). Once again it has quite the following with a lot of readers enjoying the kilt sex and Levi’s persona that comes to the fore as you read on. How easy is it to go from Bo and Dylan to Tracy and Levi? Without giving anything away, Levi is an out there character, have you had many comments about Levi?
Mercy: Levi was the catalyst to tell more backstory for Bo and some for Dylan. Dylan’s lost months will stay lost because I don’t think anyone really wants to travel that road, especially me. But Levi was how I chose to relate those months after Bo was forced into being the first out player in the NFL and how he as a deeply closeted gay man acted and reacted. Sidelined picked up after the soft HEA of SWfS with Levi devastated. He’s lost everything including a man he could love. Angry, bitter, lost and afraid of his future. I think of all of my characters Levi might just be my favourite, his dual personality…I think he represents the two parts of humanity. The face we show the world and the person we really are that we keep hidden for fear of rejection.
Tracy and Levi’s story was intentionally lighter. I have Bo in backstory tearing at my heart. But Levi is in the here and now just trying to get laid and make it through life. Tracy was unexpected to me, he was supposed to be more of an antagonist than a soul mate, someone to push Levi’s buttons and snap him out of his anguish. Instead he became his biggest supporter.
Kazza: I can see where Tracy might have started our adversarial and where and why he let that all go. I’m glad you go with the voices in your head – hmm, possibly not something you hear every day.
Kazza: Today, Under a Crescent Moon is released. I have had the pleasure of Reading UaCM. There is some crazy, some witchy, mystery/suspense, and a bucket-load of angst-y moments going on in the book. It made for an interesting read. It also made me frighten the dogs as I leapt up and down and yelled at my Kindle or melted while some sexy scenes were going on – I have invented a whole sex-listing category because of Moon. So, I have to ask you – WHAT was the inspiration for Under a Crescent Moon? Did you have any sleep in amongst the MC’s, Xander and Taylor, bouncing off one another?
Mercy: Bad BDSM books inspired Moon. Or more to the point rape abduction fantasy BDSM written by people who have no idea what that lifestyle is about inspired this book. I wrote it to show the bad side of what happens when people play with something they don’t understand. At least that’s what it started out as. I never know where some of my subjects really come from. I wanted the juxtaposition of the hard cop and weaker twink Dom/sub relationship. It just went in a direction I hadn’t anticipated in the beginning. The cheating thing and the reason for the cheating wasn’t even on my radar yet there it is. Somehow it became a paranormal. Somehow it became a murder mystery. Somehow it became something completely different than I intended. I wanted some bondage and some hot sex and two people who weren’t suited for a Dom/sub relationship to become equals…I guess I got carried away.
Kazza: One last thing, what is next for Mercy Celeste? What books are coming out soon? Works in progress? Please spill to our wonderful followers.
Mercy: Up next is the third Southern Scrimmage book, Offside Chance. It’s going to be full on double GFY with Levi’s brother Jude in the hot seat and Levi’s best friend and most trusted offensive tackle, William Slater aka Slayer. And right now the two of them are driving me crazy. Levi will play a major role in this story as the link between them, Tracy, Bo and Dylan flit through in supporting roles. We’ll learn more about all of their backstories and the backstories that link them all together. If I can pull it all together that is.
I have a panther shifter book that I’ve had on hold for a year that I want to finish and get out. It’s actually light and fluffy for me.
I have a couple of ideas swimming around for next year but nothing definite. Maybe a fourth Southern Scrimmage but that will depend on what plot points I go with in OC. And if the major twist doesn’t drive people away screaming and pulling their hair.
For reviews of Mercy Celeste’s books click HERE
OTDU: We would like to thank Mercy Celeste for taking the time to stop by the blog today, and for answering some questions.
But there is more. A giveaway for a lucky person. All you have to do is comment below to be in the draw for one of Mercy Celeste’s books, including her brand new release, Under a Crescent Moon (please read warning tags on this book) or a pick from the backlist of Mercy Celeste’s books. Some in print and others in e-book or PDF format, look below for a list of which is which. Giveaway closes of at midnight (US) Eastern Standard Time Sunday. October 27th, Winner will be contacted Monday 28th. Please contact us within 48 hours of the giveaway closing.
Beyond Complicated, Six Ways from Sunday, Sidelined, and In from the Cold in print – overseas delivery included. Under a Crescent Moon and Behind Iron Lace in PDF only. The rest in e-book format.
Mercy: Thank you Kazza and Cindi for having me. You put me through the wringer here. Made me think. I just hope I was coherent and that I sounded like I know what I’m talking about.
OTDU: We know the feeling. Some days we’re not with the program, some days we’re on fire. 😀 The interview was great and we appreciate your candour.
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**THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED**