In between updates on my writing and little articles about life’s daily challenges, I’ll be hosting wee interviews with some of my fellow authors.
Now, just to be upfront about this, a very large proportion of these authors write adult fiction. And by ‘adult’ I do indeed mean that this is the kind of fiction you read alone, with the bedroom door locked. While the interviews are PG-rated, it’s all 18+ once you’ve hit the ‘buy’ links at the bottom of this article.
If erotica’s not your thing, then don’t click the links.
With that said, I’d like to welcome the first ever guest to my Author Spotlight….
Ian D Smith
You’ve just released the third in your series of ‘Merely Players’ novellas, which follow the adventures of jousting stunt rider-cum-actor Paul as he develops a three-way relationship with actress Hayley and her best friend, Becky. Feel free to give us the gist of ‘From the Top’ in your own words:
My three characters have been in their three-way relationship for a few months, which started when the women stopped unintentionally confusing nice-guy Paul and told him that was what they wanted. While things are going well, Paul is aware that he needs to give the longer-term some serious thought. An unconventional relationship is almost guaranteed to be gossiped about. Given that Hayley’s the star of a popular children’s show and that her parents are well-known actors, they want to private lives private, and avoid intrusive media attention.
The story occurs while they’re working on the first fully studio-based production Paul has worked on, which means they’re surrounded by people who love to gossip and might well share things with the media. As an acting novice, Paul feels very out of place. The production is a pretty silly family show in which two adventurers find a long-hidden ancient Egyptian tomb and temple. The tomb inevitably houses a restless and grump mummy, and the high priestess of the temple is a sultry temptress, who has some henchmen to help with security and the odd human sacrifice. While Paul enjoys working with a professional stunt team, the two professional actors introduce personality clashes, and Paul and Becky both get unwanted attention. And Paul keeps on having rather distressing and very realistic dreams about being involved in accidents, but each dream reveals enough for him to avoid the incident in real life the following day. But it feels to him as if he lives each of these days twice…
When writing the first in the series, had you envisioned how the second and third novellas would follow on (plotting well ahead, JK Rowling style) or have you seen each book as its own adventure, purely consistent with the previous?
I haven’t plotted ahead in any great detail, whether for the series or even for any of the stories. My main hope is that each can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story, even if it does refer to people and events in earlier ones. But I want to have a consistent thread running through the whole series, the development of the three-way relationship between my characters.
I set out to write novellas, thinking it might be easier to find a publisher for these. Although the first two books could easily be merged into a single short novel, they were written separately. My ideas for the second developed as I wrote the first and they just seemed to flow naturally. I only had vague ideas about the third until I was well into the second. The planned fourth and fifth books will actually be extensive revisions and extensions of short stories I wrote a couple of years ago. I’ve got some solid ideas for the sixth and final one, but I’m not going to do anything more than think about it for now.
Which do you find more challenging: the three-way love scenes, or the fast-moving action scenes?
I think it depends on the scenes themselves. I think the challenge with the love scenes is to keep them varied and entertaining for readers, and figure out the “choreography” in my mind before I write them. There’s also the problem of having two female characters. I don’t want to use their names over and over again, but I don’t want to leave the reader unsure who any given “she” is either.
The action scenes are fun to write, with the challenge of thinking them through until I feel as if I’m watching a video clip, then writing them down.
The scenes I find most challenging are the more subtle emotional ones, because I want these to come across as plausible and believable, consistent with that character and the situation.
Your hero Paul combines a good heart, a good brain (he lectures at university when not being drawn into a new filming project), and great athleticism (an expert horseman and stunt jouster). I’m going to be nosy… are you an expert in metallurgy and all things equine, or are you just doing a very good impression of someone who is? You can take that as a compliment to your effortless attention to detail…
Thank you! I’m delighted to have created him. I’ve been a horse-rider for over 20 years, have watched several jousting displays and even spent a day learning the basics. I’ve also done quite a few martial arts, and I practice archery as a sport. So, yes, I can probably include enough details to make a scene sound plausible even to those “in the know”. But other stuff, well, there’s google and my imagination…
Tell us about the genre you write in. Why does this particularly appeal and how did you get into it?
I first thought about writing a few years ago, when I read some entertaining “chick lit”. I enjoyed the idea of a story told against a developing relationship, but I thought the love scenes could easily be a bit more, um, detailed.
So that’s what I tried to write. My first efforts were pretty dire, of course, but with constructive feedback and my own bloody-mindedness, I started getting the idea.
Then I decided I liked the idea of the relationship developing as part of an adventure or mystery story. I don’t want to write a story which is primarily about the sex, but one in which the characters have sex as part of the natural flow of the story. Sex is an integral part of most adult romantic relationships, and as an often intimate and intense experience, it can be a useful trigger for all sorts of incidents, crises and revelations.
Your work has been praised often (and quite rightfully so) in reviews because you keep things very real—even when introducing supernatural elements as you have done in both The King’s Captain and From the Top. Have you ever been tempted to write something completely outlandish and fantastical?
Not so far. I like the idea of introducing “fantastic” things into our world, thinking about how they might appear and how my characters would react to them. And so far, I hope I’ve left things just vague enough to leave readers making up their own minds.
I have written a novel (currently with my publisher) which pushes the boundaries a bit more, but it’s still very much about our real, everyday world. And I wanted to rethink the supernatural a little, just for fun.
Primarily because my writing time is limited to short spells, I think I’d struggle to invent an alternative reality I was happy with. I’d want it to be self-consistent and have plausible physical laws and restrictions on anything like magic. But it would be an interesting idea to bear in mind for the future.
Do you have any suggestions/tips for aspiring writers and authors you’d like to share?
Decide what you want to write, and make sure you’re familiar with the conventions of that genre. You don’t need to follow them slavishly, but readers and publishers will expect you to include a fair number of them.
Writing even half-decent stuff takes a lot practice and you need to be willing to put in the time.
Find a critiquing group, or a group of fellow-writers you respect. Share your work and read their comments. Criticism of your writing helps you develop as a writer. It isn’t criticism of you, but developing a thick skin might be handy.
If you submit your work to a publisher or a call for submissions to an anthology, very carefully read what they say they want – style, genre, word-count, formatting etc etc. Not sending them that is an open invitation for them to say “no thank you”.
Anticipate that writing will be a rewarding, creative hobby, rather than a significant source of income.
Thank you, Ian! Now, lets have the blurb… (From The Top: Merely Players book 3)
Paul, working with his lovers Becky and Hayley, feels deep-ended. He’s acting in his first studio production—a slightly mad family-friendly TV show where amateur Egyptologists find a hidden tomb and temple, with a very realistic mummy on set.
They want to keep their developing three-way relationship private, while surrounded by people who love to gossip and just might let things slip to the media. Time is tight, working with a professional stunt team and egotistical actors is stressful, and Paul and Becky get some unwanted attention.
Adding to his anxiety is the important question of where their relationship can go.
Then there are his terrifying, painfully realistic, and very life-like dreams about nasty accidents. On TV, he can have another take. Real life only gives him one go. But it’s almost as if he’s getting a chance to change how things work out.
Knights Errant (Merely Players book 1):
Lonely widower Paul knows he’s ready to move on and start a new relationship, but doesn’t expect to meet two attractive and interesting women at the same time. They want to recruit his jousting display team to feature in a TV show.
Becky and Hayley are best friends, as different as chalk and cheese, and both clearly fancy Paul. A decent guy at heart, he hopes to win one without harming their friendship. But the women don’t make it any easier when they turn up the heat and leave him wondering what’s going on.
A fantastic prize is within his reach. He just has to overcome his deepest fears, self-doubts, and fragile self-confidence. And be Hayley’s leading man in the TV show she hopes will make her name. So no pressure. Just take a deep breath and let these two intriguing women lead him way outside his comfort zone.
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017IZS56K
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017IZS56K
Kings Captain (Merely Players book 2):
Paul is Hayley’s lover and now her leading man. But acting and portraying a hero on a period TV show takes far more than a suit of armour. He’s totally out of his depth, personally and professionally.
Help arrives with dramatic lessons in leadership and courage, when strange events put him and his friends in harm’s way.
Hayley’s happy when her best friend Becky books hotel rooms with a bed big enough for three, which confuses Paul. Sorting out their relationships is even scarier than acting, jousting, and stunt fighting in front of the camera.
Life doesn’t imitate art. Life shoulders art out of the way. Discovering a secret threatens Paul’s trust in Hayley and Becky, and forces him to face his doubts and fears. He must decide if it’s braver to walk away, or ask for honest answers. Even if they may break his heart.
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01L0C3YJK
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01L0C3YJK
About the author:
I currently live and work in the south-western corner of the UK, but I’ve spent time in quite a few parts of the country over my life. My education and professional life have been very focussed on science, so quite where my interest in writing fiction came from is a mystery. But I have this quaint day-dream that it might become more than a hobby. Well, one day.
I like to write stories which are at least plausible, especially in the little details. So research has involved me doing a few odd-sounding things. The fact they were fun was totally incidental. I’ve learned the basics of the traditional British rural skills of dry-stone walling and hedge-laying, and spent a day getting an introduction to bushcraft. I’ve driven a tank, spent the night in a snow-cave in the Cairngorms, flown in a hot air balloon, gliders and light aircraft, and been for a walk with some nominally tame wolves.
You can find out more about Ian and his writing through the following social media:
Regular Facebook profile – https://www.facebook.com/Dr.Ian.D.Smith
Facebook author profile – https://www.facebook.com/ian.d.smith.writer/?ref=settings
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ians2005
Blog – ianiscurious.blogspot.co.uk
Amazon author page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ian-Smith/e/B00Q060KCQ