24 May 2009

Guest Author: Alex Beecroft

This week we welcome Alex Beecroft as she celebrates the release of her debut, FALSE COLORS, a m/m romance set on the high seas of the 18th century. Here's the blurb:

For his first command, John Cavendish is given the elderly bomb vessel HMS Meteor, and a crew as ugly as the ship. He's determined to make a success of their first mission, and hopes the well-liked lieutenant Alfie Donwell can pull the crew together before he has to lead them into battle: stopping the slave trade off the coast of Algiers.

Alfie knows that with a single ship, however well manned, their mission is futile, and their superiors back in England are hoping to use their demise as an excuse for war with the Ottoman Empire. But the darker secret he keeps is his growing attraction for his commanding officer--a secret punishable by death.

With the arrival of his former captain--and lover--on the scene, Alfie is torn between the security of his past and the uncertain promise of a future with the straight-laced John. Against a backdrop of war, intrigue, piracy and personal betrayal, the high seas will carry these men through dangerous waters from England to Africa, from the Arctic to the West Indies, in search of a safe harbor.

Welcome to Unusual Historicals, Alex. Let's start by asking "what makes your historical so unusual?"

Imagine a cross between Master and Commander and Brokeback Mountain--all the seafaring adventure and excitement of the former, together with the bittersweet, forbidden love story at the core of the latter. That was what I aimed to achieve in FALSE COLORS, a novel set in the Georgian Age of Sail that follows the romance between Lt. Alfie Donwell and his Captain, John Cavendish.

Together with TRANSGRESSIONS by Erastes, FALSE COLORS is one of two groundbreaking novels released by Running Press which aim to bring the underground phenomenon of m/m romance out into the mainstream. Running Press's aim was to see these two books, and the next two in the series, take their place in the romance section of bookshops next to traditional romances.

But surely gay romance belongs in the gay section rather than the romance section?

I would argue it belongs in both. One surprise m/m romance has for the romance industry is its great popularity with gay men. Men have previously not been much of a target audience for romance, but that isn't the case with these books.

Perhaps the larger surprise is that m/m romance appeals hugely to women as well. The success of Brokeback Mountain as a film can be set down largely to its appeal to women, rather than to gay men. There are numerous reasons why women who try m/m romance find that they adore it--two sexy heroes for the price of one, for example, or the element of real equality and mutual respect such a relationship allows. That's a subject too long for me to go into here. If you're interested, there is a debate on the subject here:

Why do women write m/m fiction?

Brokeback Mountain was an amazing love story, but I wouldn't exactly call it a romance. How do you get around the fact that in the 18th Century your characters could have been hanged for having a relationship?

Well, partly I don't try to get around that fact. What could be more romantic than a love strong enough to bloom even under the threat of the gallows? The difficulty comes in allowing the characters to have a happy ending. But I look at it this way--most of the relationships which we know of, that ended badly, we know of because they ended badly. They were recorded because they were discovered and ended up in court. But I'm writing about the other couples; the ones who were careful and clever enough not to be discovered, and who managed--not without risk, of course--to live happily every after under the radar of society.

One final question: why did you choose this setting?

Oh, that's easy! I adore the Age of Sail. There's something so beautiful and romantic in the tall ships themselves. They symbolise the sense of freedom and excitement--the feeling of new horizons opening, fascinating discoveries being made, and the optimism of the age of Enlightenment. There's a wonderful confidence and energy, and a mixture of refinement and ferocity in the men of the time that I find magnificent. I've gone into more detail here:

What the Georgians did for us: Five reasons to love the 18th century.

Please visit me on my website if you'd like to know more. It has an attached blog that I try to update every day with news about my books, works in progress, writing tips and cover art secrets, as well as the occasional aside about my adventures in re-enactment and morris dancing.


From Dear Author:
Rarely, oh so rarely, I'll read a book that is so sublime, so transcendent, I actually come away from it a little melancholy, because it's over and I can never read it for the first time ever again, because I know I'll never be able to do justice to it in my review or analysis, and because I know I won't meet its equal for many a year. But the process of devouring the book, of eking out its layered, textured meaning, of savoring its descriptions, and the emotions–oh, the emotions!–leaves me flying for days and the melancholy only makes it all the sweeter.

This is one of those books. It ravished me. It scoured my insides. I feel like I'm stuck in it and I don't ever want to get out.
Read the whole review here.

More reviews here.

I'd like to offer a copy of FALSE COLORS to one of your readers, chosen at random from anyone who comments on this post. And thank you again for having me! It's been an honour to be here.


Thanks for stopping by, Alex! We were very happy to have you. If you would like to enter for a chance to win a copy of FALSE COLORS, made a question or comment for Alex. I will draw a winner at random in one week. Good luck!