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Book Feature: One Foot Onto the Ice by Kiki Archer

1 Oct

one foot onto the iceKiki Archer is back with another dose of funny lesbian chick lit. But She is My Student and its sequel Instigations were hit stories of longing between a teacher and student. Binding Devotion featured a equal marriage rights champion whose own marriage was under strain in the face of temptation. With One Foot Onto the Ice, she’s back at school but this time the kids and teachers have been let loose on the slopes of a French Alps ski resort and a sexy ski instructor is about stir things up.

Hi Kiki, please tell us about your new novel.

It’s called One Foot Onto The Ice and it’s about two women who find themselves connected in more ways than one. Susan Quinn is a teacher at an all-girls school, and Jenna James is a ski instructor in the French Alps. The pair meet up when Susan leads a school ski trip to the sunny slopes of Morzine and discovers her old classmate is their guide for the week.

The novel is a fast-paced romance where the young cast of students and teachers search for excitement on the slopes, with some finding it a lot more easily than others.

Your last novel, Binding Devotion, posed the reader questions about commitment in the face of desire. What’s the theme for this novel?

It’s about love and how you can find it in the most unexpected places with the most unexpected people. I do believe in soul mates and I do believe in that invisible pull that grabs hold of your heart and never lets go. One Foot Onto The Ice is also about trust. It’s about making the decision to judge someone for who they are now, not who they once were, and choosing to take that first step together.

Who was your favourite main character and what grabbed you about them? Are they inspired by anyone in real life?

I love Jenna. She’s flawed in lots of different ways, but she’s aware of her flaws and that makes her very endearing to me. She’s very open about who she is and what she wants from life, that’s why it’s such a shock for her when she starts to crave something she didn’t even know she desired. Is she inspired by anyone? – We’re all flawed, aren’t we?

Your books have very colourful minor characters for readers to love and hate. Who did you have a soft spot for in this book and who rubbed you up the wrong way?

I like the dynamic between Champagne and Priggy and I picture a pair of girls, just like them, walking around the corridors of Cheltenham Ladies College as we speak. Marcus was also an interesting character for me. In my first two novels we met Ben, who was a lovely guy, completely accepting of Kat’s sexuality. However not all guys are lovely and accepting. Some are total idiots, and Marcus is one of them. I wanted the reader to cringe at him, and I think I succeeded.

What was the best part of writing this novel for you?

I actually love the moment when it’s released and I invite people into the secret world that I’ve created, to meet the characters that I’ve grown to know and love. The best bit is being able to talk about them like they’re real people, and hear what the readers want to happen next.

Do you have a favourite scene?

I enjoyed writing the bathroom scene. Poor Susan’s one of those women who find themselves in the most embarrassing situations with nowhere to hide. I really felt for her, and I think I actually winced in pain for her as well. But, by consequence, the scene showed Jenna in a very kind and compassionate light, which I liked.

Have to ask. Are you an expert skier?

Watch the clip and judge for yourself!

And you know your readers will devour this book and want more. What have you lined up for them next?

I’m currently writing the sequel to One Foot Onto The Ice, due out 2014. I love Jenna and Susan and their story is only just beginning!

Thanks Kiki! And if that wasn’t enough to get you reading One Foot Onto The Ice, here’s Kiki reading the first scene of the book:


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Book feature: Mountain Rescue: The Ascent by Sky Croft

5 Jul

imagesSky Croft has been busy. Her debut novel, Amazonia, was published by Regal Crest last autumn, her second novel Mountain Ascent came out this spring, and her third is due out in September. She took some time out to talk to UKLesFic about her writing in general and her second novel in particular.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Writing takes up a lot of my time, but whenever I can I visit the local cinema and watch the latest releases – I’m a huge movie buff. I love tennis (I’m currently watching Wimbledon, in fact), but unfortunately a lack of skill and height (I’m only five foot) means I’ll never be much of a player – I have a feeling I’d struggle to get the ball over the net!

I’m also interested in history, and I enjoy looking around historical buildings. When I was young my parents often took me to old characterful properties, usually belonging to The National Trust or English Heritage, and I’ve carried that interest into adulthood. Castles are a particular favourite, along with churches and cathedrals.

When did you start writing and how would you describe/classify your work?

I’ve written stories since I was thirteen– it’s always been a form of escapism for me. Most of my work is action/adventure with a good dose of romance thrown in. That said, I like most genres – I had a lot of fun writing Shadowstalkers (out in September) which falls into the supernatural category.

My leads are always strong women, despite having adversity in their lives. No one goes through life without their fair share of troubles, and I try to make my characters reflect that.

As for the romance, I like the romantic relationship to be a source of strength, and for both women to gain equally from the partnership.

Your new book Mountain Rescue: The Ascent is a romance between a doctor and climber who work on a mountain rescue team in Scotland. Did you need to research the area and the characters or is it based on a setting and careers you know well?

I’ve been holidaying regularly in Scotland since I was a child (my most recent holiday being in June this year to the west coast of Scotland). It’s a beautiful place and the scenery is breathtaking. The village in Mountain Rescue: The Ascent is fictional, though I used many attributes from different places I’d visited in Scotland to give myself, and hopefully readers, an image of the setting.
I researched what a Mountain Rescue team does, from the kinds of incidents they can be involved in, the equipment they use, the types of vehicles that are at their disposal – ground and air support – down to what they wear. As for the climbing aspect, my brother-in-law is a climber, so his knowledge and expertise were of great value. I also went climbing with him, so I could experience it for myself.

What have readers liked about the book?

People seem to like the mix of romance, action, and drama. Many have liked the fast-paced action element of the rescues – people have commented that they couldn’t put the book down.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the characters themselves, especially the leading ladies. One reader commented that she could fall in love with either Saber or Sydney, which, as a writer, I took as a huge compliment.

The book is the first in the Mountain Rescue series. Can you give us a taster of the other books to come?

In Mountain Rescue: The Ascent you got a taste of Saber’s family, the negative reaction to her sexuality. In book two it will be a complete contrast, as we get to meet Sydney’s family, who are fully supportive of Sydney and her relationship with Saber. However with family there is always drama, and Sydney will face a challenge on the home front. The Mountain Rescue team will of course have more accidents to deal with, as they will in every book.

Further on in the series I’d like to revisit the north slope, where Charlie (Saber’s former climbing partner) was badly injured. I’m not short of ideas for subsequent books, I just have to decide which to go with!

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

A few things. I’ve just submitted the Amazonia sequel to my publisher. I intend to start on the Mountain Rescue sequel shortly, then after that I’ll likely do a follow up to Shadowstalkers. I get quite attached to my characters, so I’m looking forward to revisiting them. As long as I still have ideas and people keep reading the books, I’d like to do many more sequels.

Thanks for talking to us, Sky. You can find out more about Sky and her work on her website.

Building Worlds: A Conversation between Jane Fletcher and Nora Olsen

17 May

A couple of months ago we were delighted to be asked whether we would like to host part of a conversation blog hop feature between two Bold Strokes authors. As Jane Fletcher is one of the leading lights in UK lesbian fantasy writing and Nora Olsen is a brand new BSB author, we jumped at the chance to have them chatting on the site.

Jane Fletcher and Nora Olsen began their conversation at the Bold Strokes Books Author’s Blog on May 14  and will wrap it up on Tuesday May 21 on Women and Words. Take a look!

nora picNora Olsen:

I’m curious about what it’s like to have published a whole lot of books. I’m still a newbie, and every time anything happens I’m overwhelmed with wonder or maybe confusion. When you’ve published ten or more books, is it still really exciting to see your new book cover for the first time? Or is it just business as usual?

fletcherJane Fletcher:

I’m not a natural writer. I didn’t keep diaries or write little stories when I was a kid. I wrote my first book mainly to see if I could finish a whole novel, but also partly just to play around with the word processor on my first home PC. My only intended audience was my partner. I certainly had no plans to submit it to a publisher, so there was no pressure on me at all. Nobody else in the world was waiting for it.

Getting published was a year long roundabout of wonderful moments. Sometimes, out of the blue I’d be surprised by the thought “I’m going to have a book published” and I’d have to stop myself from literally jumping up and down with excitement. The peak though, was holding a proper copy of my book in my hands for the first time.

The surprised excitement element has now faded, but the satisfaction when I send the manuscript back to my editor after completing the last round of edits has not dimmed at all.

If I had to be honest, I’d have to say I enjoy having written more than writing. And nothing says “I’ve written” more than getting the copies and holding them – in fact, to be more accurate, the phrase should be cuddling them.

So what has the publishing process been like for you? What have you found the most unexpected part? And what got you writing to start with?

Nora Olsen:

bsb_swans_klons__94993I used to write a lot as a kid–in fact, when I was visiting my mother the other day I found a story that I had written when I was about seven years old called The Fight For Unicron (I was not a good speller at all.) Also a choose-your-own-adventure detective story where one of the options was disguising yourself as a landlord. I don’t know what I thought landlords were supposed to look like.

As an adult I started out trying to write literary fiction, short stories, for grown-ups, which was a total bust. I finally realized that I was writing about teenagers all the time and I should really be writing FOR teenagers. I hit my sweet spot when I started writing specifically for LGBTQ teens. (And anyone else who wants to read my stuff—I’m not picky. But there’s definitely a target audience in my head that I write to.) So far the publishing process has been great for me. I have been blown away by it. The most unexpected thing happened to me recently, when I went to the Rainbow Book Fair in NYC to help out at the Bold Strokes Books table. My book Swans & Klons was not published yet; it still had about a month before it came out. But there my book was, sitting there all glossy and shiny on the table, for sale. I was so surprised and amazed. And then some people bought it, even.

I definitely identify with enjoying “having written” more than actually writing. I think I mentioned before that I like writing the first draft, but editing it so that it’s good enough for an editor to read is torture. However, being done with writing is the most satisfying!

Jane Fletcher:

bsb_the_temple_at_landfall__81031On the other hand, I like editing. For me, it’s a bit like decorating a room and making it pretty after you’ve done the hard slog of building the house.

I’ve got set in my own editing routine, which came about from my first book. As I said, I didn’t write it with a view to getting published, but after I’d finished, I decided to put it aside for 6 months, then read it through, in the hope of seeing it with fresh eyes. If I thought it was good enough, I’d send it off.

When I eventually did the reading, what I discovered was that my writing had improved enormously during the course of the book. So I had to edit it, to bring it all up to the same standard – except the same thing happened again.

By the time I’d completely rewritten it six times, my writing was no longer getting better. But by now the novel was too long (250,000 words). However after all the time that had gone by, I had an idea for a shorter novel which I dashed off quickly.

I also let this sit on my hard drive, unread for 6 months – just to be sure. This confirmed my writing had stabilised. However, what I had written wasn’t always the same as what I’d thought I’d had.

When I’m writing, I’m much too close to the story. I need the gap of a few months so I can judge what I’ve written and see how far it’s drifted from what I intended. It’s when I edit that I really learn who my characters are. Their voices become much stronger. I also spot the bits that aren’t working – usually because I had an idea so firmly fixed in my head I didn’t notice when it failed to get onto the paper.

The second shorter novel became The Temple at Landfall. My first marathon effort was not a loss. After yet more editing, it was split in half and became the first two books of the Lyremouth series.

Nora Olsen:

That’s very interesting. I’m fascinated by how different every writer’s process is. It sounds like for you the book has to bake a little bit after it is written, and then you look at it again.

Jane Fletcher:

It sounds as if you also had to sit back and evaluate in order to discover who you were writing for. Was there anything more intentionally planned that led you into spec fic? Do you think you’ll stay with it, or do you have plans to explore other genres?

Nora Olsen:

I didn’t really intentionally get into spec fic, except that it’s a genre I’ve always loved, and that’s the kind of idea that tends to occur to me. It’s easier to have a story that’s a little offbeat in spec fic, and I think I can’t help bringing a quirky sensibility to what I write. I would like to explore other genres, but I’m sure I will always want to write spec fic too. I think that LGBTQ spec fic YA is kind of a rare, elusive unicorn—any two of those elements aren’t that hard to find but all three is uncommon. Most LGBTQ YA is set very firmly in our ordinary world. I like the idea that queer teens who enjoy reading dystopian or spec fic novels will be able to see themselves reflected in Swans & Klons.

Jane Fletcher:

I can trace the steps that brought me to the genre.bsb_wolfsbane_winter__16848

As a young girl in the 1960s, suitable books had titles like The friendly puppy’s birthday party. Edge of the seat excitement got no more intense than wondering if the sky really would fall on Chicken Little’s head.

Then one day, when I must have been no more than 7, I was allowed to pick my own book from the school library. I got a children’s version (it had big pictures) of the Greek legend of Perseus and Medusa. I can still remember being blown out of my little white cotton socks by a story of a woman with snakes for hair, and a flying hero who cut her head off.

The friendly puppy didn’t get a look in thereafter. I absorbed every scrap of mythology I could find. Which got me, via Arthurian legend, to fantasy and science fiction.

bold books logoBios:

Jane Fletcher is a GCLS award-winning writer and has also been short-listed for the Gaylactic Spectrum and Lambda Literary awards. She is author of two ongoing sets of fantasy/romance novels: the Celaeno series and the Lyremouth Chronicles. As a child, her resolute ambition was to become an archaeologist when she grew up, so it was something of a surprise when she became a software engineer instead. Born in Greenwich, London, in 1956, she now lives in southwest England where she keeps herself busy writing both computer software and fiction, although generally not at the same time.

You can find Jane here on the Bold Strokes Books website, her own website, and on Facebook.

Nora Olsen was born in 1975 and raised in New York City. Although her mother, a prize-winning author, warned her not to become a writer, Nora didn’t listen. Swans & Klons is her second YA novel. Her short fiction has appeared in Collective Fallout and the anthology Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction. Nora lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her girlfriend, writer Áine Ní Cheallaigh, and their two adorable cats.

You can find Nora here on the Bold Strokes Books website, her own website, and her Facebook page.

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Cari Hunter on Desolation Point

22 Apr

Cari HWith being so busy covering everyone else’s lesfic news, Cari Hunter has been far too quiet about her own new novel! If you want a novel with suspense, romance, an exciting outdoor adventure and great writing, Cari’s your woman. This month, Cari follows up her gripping and excellent début Snowbound with her new novel, Desolation Point, which she talks about falling in love with here. Look out for details below on the book giveaway too – I’ll definitely be signing up for that.

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Falling Head Over Heels Hiking Boots

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I haven’t fallen in love many times in my life. With my wife it happened pretty much on first sight, then there was Fizz my pet hamster when I was twelve, and my two cats—well, they go without saying. For a while there I thought I was in love with Lena Headey, but that was possibly more a case of lust.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself falling head-over-heels for two of my characters. It wasn’t supposed to happen, I certainly didn’t ask for it and it may well have been ill-advised, but—if I may pinch a language slightly more romantic than my own—je ne regrette rien.

desolation peakIt all started two years ago. My debut novel, Snowbound, was safely edited and off to the printers, so I began to plan a new story. I had a basic concept in mind: a national park, a flood, two women trapped in the middle of it all, and a bad guy chasing them down. I even drew a sketch, and I’m completely crap at those. The idea evolved: the national park became the North Cascades and the flood became a storm in the mountains. The bad guy stayed bad, while the two women got names—Alex and Sarah—and backgrounds. I wrote notes and outlines and marked my story beats. I researched my chosen location, used YouTube to teach myself how to fire a Glock and covered my computer desktop with pictures of snowy peaks. At some point I stopped procrastinating and actually started to write the bloody thing, and that, as they say, was that.

The love affair, as these things often do, started slowly. Alex and Sarah made me laugh, and I’m a sucker for a funny woman. They kept me up at night, thinking about them, considering from what cliff I’d left them dangling and how I was going to patch them up when they were back on terra firma. For twelve months of writing, in between 12-hour shifts where I might get puked on or spat at or verbally abused, Alex and Sarah were an absolute joy to come home to and spend time with. When Desolation Point was finished and Bold Strokes had said “yes” to publishing it, I knew already that I couldn’t give the characters up.

I probably should have—given that there’s a law of diminishing returns attached to sequels, and that standalone romances usually conclude as soon as the happy couple are, well, a happy couple—but I couldn’t. Mea culpa.Desolation Point desktop

So I started another story, an all-out thriller this time, with Alex and Sarah living far away from the Cascades, keeping their heads down, getting on with new careers and attempting to stay out of trouble. As you may have already guessed, despite their best efforts they do end up getting into quite a lot of trouble, which was fine by me; it meant sharing their company for another year.

I am not ashamed to say that I cried when I came to write the very last scene. Because that really was that. I had taken the couple as far as they could go and I needed to move past them. The only problem was that I really bloody missed them. For weeks, a brand new writing pad remained untouched. Pens languished in the drawer, reduced to signing cheques and scribbling shopping lists. I was stymied, unable to create a new cast of characters when I wanted those two back. There were a few tears before bedtime and then a none too subtle request from my real-life beloved that I pull on my Big Girl pants and stop being so damn mard.

mac-and-cheese-650-1I’m wearing them right now, my Big Girl pants, and taking a quick break from working on a fourth story, set back in England. I have new characters, whose voices I’m growing fond of and who are steadily pushing Alex and Sarah into the background. My wife is happy to see me writing rather than moping, and I’m looking forward to summer in the garden with ice-lollies and that pad of paper. I will confess to getting a little pang every time we have mac‘n’cheese, but I suspect even that will fade, given time.

I never went to Writing School, so I don’t know whether you get warned about these kinds of attachment issues. There are countless authors out there who do stick with the same characters book after book, developing them, challenging them and even in some cases killing them off when the reader least expects it. There’s undoubtedly an ease in returning to familiar faces, in already having their backgrounds established or relationships under way, and there’s a real thrill in being able to take your characters further, not to have to abandon them just when things were getting interesting and start all over again from scratch. The maxim write what you know can surely be adjusted to write who you know.

If there are any authors out there who have recently parted ways with their creations and are now experiencing similar heartache, I hope it might help to hear that you are not alone. But having said that, now might be the time to pull on your own pair of Big Girl pants and dust off that writing pad.

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Desolation Point is available now in paperback and e-book. Its sequel, provisionally titled Tumbledown, will be published by BSB in 2014. You can catch up with Cari at her own blog or via Facebook.

GIVEAWAY!

BSB_Desolation_PointUK LesFic has two signed copies of Desolation Point to give away to anyone who leaves a comment on this thread (all you need to do is say “hello” and leave your email address in the system so we can contact you if you win!) or who gets in touch via our email address: uklesfic@gmail.com

Closing date for entries is midnight, Sunday 28th April, and we’ll announce the winners on the 29th. Best of British to everyone 🙂

Book feature: Dark Wings Descending by Lesley Davis

3 Apr

DarkWingsDescendingLesley Davis was recently short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Here, she very generously answers some questions for UKLesfic on her award-nominated book Dark Wings Descending.

For those who haven’t read the book, here’s the blurb:

Goodness may appear in many forms; evil need only take one.

The Chicago PD Deviant Data Unit specializes in the dark and cruel aspects of criminal behavior. When a serial killer who leaves his victims oddly posed starts terrorizing the city, Detective Rafe Douglas leads the team tasked to find this sadistic killer. Still recovering from severe injuries sustained in the line of duty, Rafe’s tenuous hold on what is real is further tested by someone who wants in on the case and won’t take no for an answer.

Private Investigator Ashley Scott experiences the world through unveiled eyes. She alone can see that Hell’s inhabitants are breaking free from their confines and are bringing their evil to Earth. She believes the killer isn’t human and knows she has to convince Rafe there are more things happening in the Windy City than anyone could possibly realize. Only together can they solve the secrets revealed in the killer’s brutal slayings.

Congratulations on being a Lambda finalist. Before telling us about the book, would you like to tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you. I’m chuffed to pieces to have been nominated in the Best Lesbian Romance category with Dark Wings Descending. It’s a fantastic honour.

I’m from the West Midlands of England, born and bred in the Black Country. I’m a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy films, and eat, sleep and breathe gaming. (Yes, just like Trent in Playing Passion’s Game!) I play on all consoles but am a Nintendo diehard through and through. I suffer with M.E. so battle daily with the demons that particular illness carries. And in a former life I was a Mortgage Associate…. before the dark times, before redundancy!

How would you classify Dark Wings Descending?

I’d classify it as Supernatural Romance. With a crime story. And a cat, don’t forget about the cat!

What attracted you to the story and these characters? What’s the core appeal of the book for you?

I’ve written supernatural stories before with Cast A Wide Circle and A Touch of Alchemy (previously published works) but this time I didn’t write of witches and magick. I wanted to go a different route and picked angels and demons. I hope the appeal is firstly the romance between two very strong women, each with their own place in a very crazy world. A world that gets crazier for Detective Rafe Douglas the more she gets exposed to it. But with Ashley Scott by her side she finds her true place. I also wanted to explore how someone would react if faced by things we’re told exist but that we never truly see except with eyes of faith.

Did you enjoy writing from the perspective of one character in particular?

Rafe Douglas was great fun to create. She’s my most sweary character to date, I think! But I figure, if I was surrounded by the badness of human criminality as well as demons from hell, I’d swear a lot too! I wanted her to fight against what she was being shown, after all, who wants the knowledge that hell exists and is bleeding out onto the earth? But when she accepts that she really has no choice any more she gains purpose and a new fight. I also liked she never held back what she thought either, especially if it was a sarcastic reply!

Did you set out to write a series when you began writing the book?

I had the idea for the sequel while I was writing Dark Wings Descending. Blythe Kent, Rafe’s FBI friend, had a much bigger scene originally but it was edited down (which worked out better for me in the long run). I knew that the next story would be Blythe’s and would be about her and a detective investigating child abductions. Dark Wings Descending was written to be followed by Blythe’s tale, hence it being done immediately after. Pale Wings Protecting is due for release in October 2013 and I’ve got an idea for what comes after that one too. But I have some other stories to do before then…unless those characters start talking to me louder than the others!

The book has a great cover.

Sheri always does fantastic artwork for Bold Strokes. I love all the covers she has done for my books and this one was particularly eye-catching. I just wanted a cover alluding to wings and I got the most fantastic descending creature possible. The cover for Pale Wings Protecting is equally as striking and the books totally complement each other.

Would you like to tell us a bit about your other work?

I have three books published with Bold Strokes so far. Truth Behind The Mask tells the story of a city watched over by masked Sentinels. It’s my version of a superhero story (I love my superheroes!) but these don’t have special powers, just some very fancy gadgets and a vigilante spirit. Pagan and Erith are my romantic leads in that story. Playing Passion’s Game features characters very close to my gaming heart! Trent is a passionate gamer who finds romance with the beautiful Juliet. I’ve been very pleased by how many people have told me they enjoyed the story so much they went out and brought a console because they wanted to play too! I feel my job is done there! Does my gaming heart proud! I’m working on a spin off to those characters at the moment. Dark Wings Descending is my third book and its spin off, as mentioned above, is out in October. I also have five other works (that were published elsewhere) that are now in the hands of BSB and I’ll be re-working those as soon as I finish writing what I’m working on now and can put my games controller down! I also have numerous short stories in some of BSB’s anthologies. Check out the BSB website or my own http://www.lesleydavisauthor.co.uk for further details of them all.