INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY WITH ANNE BROOKE.
**GIVEAWAY NOW OVER**
Congratulations to Carolyn and Mollydee
Today’s interview and giveaway is with an author who has great significance for On Top Down Under Book Reviews. I’m not sure if she realises the actual significance of her role in the formation of this blog. In August 2012 Anne Brooke read a book called Garnetville. My (now) blog partner, Cindi, also read it and so did I. We all loved it. I think we were the only three people who had read this fabulous book at the time. I was a Goodreads friend of Anne Brooke and through her Cindi and I also became friends. Cindi and I became such good friends that we decided to collaborate on the blog we have today. So a HUGE thank you from both Cindi and I to Anne Brooke for the creation of On Top Down Under Book Reviews.
We would like to extend a warm On Top Down Under welcome to Anne Brooke.
Kazza: I would have to say you are one of the most diverse authors I have read – gay romance, gay lit, female lit, poems, fantasy, Christian lit, children’s books….Do I have it all covered or have I forgotten anything here? Please fill me in if I have. How much more interesting does it make writing when you can step into different genres like you do?
Anne: First of all, I must go back a step and say many and huge congratulations on the one-year anniversary of On Top Down Under Book Reviews! It’s a wonderful site and I do love visiting and seeing what the pair of you have been up to in the book world. Plus it’s great to have played a small part in its formation – I feel very proud!
Looking at the list above makes me feel rather exhausted – honestly, I don’t do all those sorts of books at once. That would be scary! Though I do have a wide range of voices lurking in my head (as I suspect all writers do) and the genre of any work in progress depends entirely on what the most demanding voice is at any one time. You’re certainly right in saying it makes the whole writing process more interesting – and also very challenging – as I’m never really sure which voice is going to win. On the whole, I try to concentrate mainly on one book or story at a time, but I do tend to flit about sometimes, so have to be careful not to get the characters mixed up. You can imagine the confusion if I did …
Kazza: I want to talk about The Delaneys. I must. I have made it patently clear that I have crushed on Mark, Johnny and Liam since I first read about them in The Delaneys and Me. This is where the fictional crush comes from, people like me and great characters like Mark, Johnny and Liam. Where did these fabulous characters come from?
Anne: It’s no secret I enjoy reading gay BDSM stories, as long as it’s not too heavy (so, in many ways, gay erotic story The Beginning of Knowledge came out of nowhere and knocked me for six!). When I started writing the Delaneys series, I’d read several BDSM stories, and enjoyed them but missed the addition of humour. I’m a great believer that sex is fun, and occasionally very comic as well as exciting – and so I wanted to create a series where my main character, Liam, begins a highly erotic and submissive relationship with the twins, Mark and Johnny, but he also very much sees the funny side of the situation. Added in to the Delaney mix is my love of the crime noir genre, which explains why the twins are local gangsters. Once Liam was in my head, he really took over in there and I thoroughly enjoyed writing his six books, and developing the ménage relationship between the three men. I still miss them!
Oh, and Liam – being Liam – sends you and Cindi big hugs and kisses, Kazza – but don’t tell the twins. They’ll be jealous …
Kazza: Cindi and I won’t tell if you won’t. Johnny and Mark won’t like it at all! 🙂
Kazza: A lot of people who read my reviews know me as a reader of romantic and often erotic books, not to mention those books that are quite out-there in terms of sexual content. But I had the pleasure of reading The Prayer Seeker, a wonderful piece of Christian lit. I’m not a writer but as a reader I have to be in a different headspace or mood when I read BDSM as opposed to someone seeking to get back to basics about prayer and their connection with the Creator. How much different is it writing something like The Beginning of Knowledge, quite a dark BDSM story, and The Delaneys, a ménage with lighter BDSM, to the more spiritual The Prayer Seeker?
Anne: Yes, those stories are certainly very different from each other in lots of ways. I think it goes back to the number and intensity of different voices I carry around in my head – which have been there ever since I can remember, even from a very young age. I know they’re all part of me and are a way I’ve found of expressing the different responses I have to life. I think that’s true of all of us, to be honest. People are always a lot more than the sum of their parts. There’s always more going on than can be seen on the surface, and I like – in my writing at least – to bring those possibilities out into the open. So, in the world I carry in my head, it’s absolutely fine to be erotic, comic and spiritual, and sometimes all at the same time too.
In terms of the sexuality and spirituality mix, I think they’re simply two sides of the same coin: sexuality is very spiritual; and spirituality is very sexual. You only have to look at The Song of Solomon in the Bible, or a poem such as John Donne’s Batter my heart, three person’d God to see powerful, and sometimes violent, imagery expressing the essential link between body and soul that is part of being human, and being alive.
Kazza: One of my favourite pieces of gay lit is A Dangerous Man. This story is unbelievably real and dark in its telling. Tell us a bit about the writing of A Dangerous Man and where the story came from because it could not have been easy to write. How daunting was it to write? And how did you de-stress after writing such a powerful piece?
Anne: Ah yes, my most devastating book, and the first one I really had to do some serious soul-searching with. I wrote A Dangerous Man when I was going through a hugely difficult time battling with depression and I simply had to find an outlet for the amount of anger and frustration I was carrying with me. The voice of Michael, my anti-hero, was one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever possessed – or, rather, been possessed by – and writing his story was like jumping off a high mountain without having checked I’d first packed my parachute. At times, it was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done and at other times it was the most frightening. But, my goodness, it felt hugely liberating to let that angry, spiky, difficult, talented, searching man-in-my-head out onto the page and let him have his say. During the one-and-a-half to two years I spent writing him down, it felt as if I could be someone else – or more accurately be the someone else I’d tried to ignore for too long. I loved him for that. It felt good to acknowledge the level of darkness I carry around with me and express it too.
Interestingly, I did find myself in real life taking on some of Michael’s attitude and what I think of as his astonishing determination and doggedness – and this proved helpful for some of the situations at work and outside I faced at the time. It certainly helped with my depression. It’s also the only time my husband has commented on the effect my writing voice has had on him in our marriage – as he said quietly one morning after the book was done that it had been strange living with a gay male prostitute for a while. Later, when he read it, he loved the book and, I think, found Michael very moving as a character. For me, it took a while for Michael’s voice to be diluted, and when he finally went, I missed him very much. Oddly though, even now, I can occasionally hear Michael’s voice in my head and I find it gives me strength.
Anne: Taking a Chance is a gay BDSM romance which is very much tongue in cheek (if I dare put it like that!), and is out now from Wilde City Press. I had great fun writing it, as I do enjoy trying to combine the erotic and comic parts of life. The blurb is:
The moment model and part-time actor Benjamin spots the sexually alluring Alan outside his local restaurant one night, he’s determined to get to know him better. Much better. So he takes a chance and pretends to be Timothy, the blind date Alan is waiting for. When Alan asks him about submission, safe words and spanking, Benjamin knows the sensible thing to do is to make his apologies and leave. Funny then how his body keeps telling him something different, and instead he finds himself strangely eager to know more. Will it be a date to remember, and if Alan discovers his deceit, could he ever be persuaded to take any kind of a chance on Benjamin?
Kazza: And apart from Taking a Chance, what is in the pipeline for Anne Brooke writing wise and works in progress wise in the near future?
Anne: I’ve just finished the first round of edits for my gay fantasy novel The Taming of The Hawk, and am taking a breather before getting stuck in to Round Two. I originally intended the novel to be a standalone book, but I think there’s a lot more to say so it’s highly likely there’ll be a sequel at some point, probably called The Flight of The Hawk. I’ll have to see! I’ve also started writing a straight erotic comedy set in a sex club, but that’s in the very early stages – and I hate my working title, so I’m too embarrassed to tell you what it is. Oh, you’re offering chocolate? Oh, all right then – it’s Freed (Vanilla Club 1) – but yes I know it’s dreadful! Any alternative suggestions gratefully received, though there might not be any chocolate left to offer round.
I’ve also just submitted the first in a gay paranormal series, The Paranormal Detection Agency, to Amber Allure Press. It’s due out in spring 2014, and I’ll need to think of a follow-up story soon. It’s a gay comic paranormal romance – which is really genre-overload, isn’t it? It’s the voices, Karen, the voices …
Kazza: You make no secret of the fact that you are a Christian. You also write LGBTQ romance and stories. Do people in your life know that you are, shock/ horror, a writer of gay romance stories? If so, how has that been received by those around you? Any funny, unusual stories/reactions?
Anne: At the beginning, when I first started writing, people were surprised, and I did get a few comments, particularly from the more traditional members of my family, but over the years these comments have tended to change from disbelief to an attitude of “well done and go for it!” – which is nice. On the whole, these days people don’t seem to get upset by a Christian writing gay erotic stories – and there’s no reason, to be honest, why they should. God, after all, does have a vague idea that sex might exist … Any questions I get tend to focus on how I can write gay male fiction when I’m a straight woman – the general answer to that is we’re all human and know what bodies and hearts feel like. My specific answer is to do with the fact that the majority of the voices in my head are male, and wouldn’t take kindly to being rewritten. Though I accept that’s rather weird in itself!
It’s also interesting that nobody asks me how I can also write about murder, violence, organised crime, people-trafficking and child abuse, etc, when I don’t have any direct experience of these things – but perhaps people do think I’m seriously strange after all …
Kazza: Yes, sadly, it certainly has been my observation over the years that people are more ‘comfortable’ with violence over love or sex/sexuality.
Kazza: I have seen a video of you talking openly about marriage equality and advocating for change in the church and within the community. I am always in admiration of those who make their honest feelings known and don’t shy away from, at times, difficult territory. I’m also rather fond of people who believe in human rights and common decency. Please tell us about your advocacy and your feelings on the church and marriage equality. And because I am in the mood, women and their lack of position within the church – because, goodness knows, that hasn’t been an uphill battle – note the hint of sarcasm there.
Anne: Ah, yes, the church and its outdated attitude to women and GLBTQ people – it does hugely annoy, upset and frustrate me, to the point that this year I’ve not signed the electoral roll of my local Church of England church as I don’t want to support an organisation which basically belittles both women and GLBTQ people. However, I want to worship God which is why I go to church in the first place – but sadly these days the God I worship is grossly misrepresented by the Church who claim to represent Him. It does upset me very much when people assume the Church’s attitude is the same attitude as God has, as believe me it certainly is not.
The God I know loves men, women and intersex people utterly the same and utterly passionately and would do anything at all and everything He could for every single one of us. As indeed He already has of course. Likewise the God I know rejoices in marriage, and longs for everyone to be included in that particular joyous form of life celebration, whether you’re a same-gender or opposite-gender couple.
So I continue to hope and pray that one day the Church of England, and many other churches across our world, will have the courage to have the kind of attitude God Himself has, and not an attitude constrained by outmoded ways of thinking. One day, Kazza, one day …
Kazza: Hear, Hear!!
Kazza: I happen to know that you are a passionate cake baker and gardener. I happen to like both as well (maybe mine is more the eating as opposed to the baking), so I’ll put you right on the spot and ask you what is your absolute favourite cake and your absolute favourite plant. And why?
Anne: Oh dear, such difficult choices. I love it when you get cruel, Karen!! I think my absolute favourite cake has to be chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream icing. My mother used to make this one perfectly, and it’s one of the earliest cakes I remember eating. However, I would like to make a special mention – though it’s not even officially a cake – of my Great-Aunt Alice’s legendary Lemon Meringue Pie. Anyone who met this Lemon Meringue Pie had their life instantly changed for the better and never forgot the experience. Total and utter bliss.
The plant is easier – it has to be scented roses, as my father had a rose garden and was a passionate and committed rose grower. We have roses at home, and I always think of him when I’m out there tending them. Honestly, one of the great pleasures in life is smelling roses, and more people should stop and do it. Roses are magical.
Kazza: I just had to put a Blue Moon Rose on here to celebrate rose-love. It is my favourite rose.
Kazza: And one of my favourite questions. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Anne: Now, this is easy. It has to be Wales. Every time I go to Wales I feel happy, as if I’ve finally come home – even though I have absolutely no Welsh blood in me whatsoever, and the family has never even lived in Wales. I just find that every time I cross the Severn Bridge into the country, everything in my head gets lighter and I can feel my whole body relaxing.
The most magical time I’ve had in Wales was when my husband and I were driving through Pembrokeshire on a gorgeously hot day and suddenly came upon a stretch of beach which was totally empty. We stopped the car, got out and just walked along the sea edge, paddling, for about an hour or so. It was my idea of what heaven will be like for sure. Oh and then we went to a lovely garden for a Welsh cream tea – so the day just got better!
Both Cindi and Kazza would like to thank Anne Brooke for stopping by and chatting today and to mark the occasion Anne Brooke is giving two readers the chance to win either her latest release, the delightfully sexy Taking A Chance, or one of Kazza’s all-time favourite books, A Dangerous Man – in e-book. All you have to do is comment below to be in with a chance to win. The draw will take place just prior to midnight (US) Eastern Time Monday, November 11th. Kazza’s enthusiastic Jack Russell, Trudy, shall pick two names out of a hat – hey, it’s a tried and true method so I’m not bucking the system 🙂 Winners shall be contacted Tuesday, November 12th. Good luck and please enter the anti-spam Captcha Code at the bottom of the page so your comment will be received. Thank you for stopping by and good luck!
**GIVEAWAY NOW OVER. CONGRATULATIONS TO CAROLYN AND MOLLYDEE**