Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Thoughts with Anna Butler

First Person POV – and sex


I’m not going to explain here why The Gilded Scarab is written in first person, except to say that Rafe Lancaster was clearly flatter and less interesting (and interested!) when his story was first drafted in third person, but he roared into life when I experimented with a first person rewrite of the first couple of chapters. He leapt of the screen at me, grabbed his story with both hands, and set off to tell it with a joie-de-vivre that just hadn’t been there in the first draft.

Which is cool. Until you come to write the sex scenes.

Put at its simplest, how do you write a first person sex scene so it’s intimate and sexy, without it coming across as the most egregious over-sharing?
I found some things were easier. One of the little wrinkles you have to deal with in same-sex romance is the issue of pronouns. All those hes and hises or shes and herses make your head whirl, and constantly having to put in the names so you don’t confuse the reader can make what should be a magical, intimate moment sound a little clunky. At least, a sex scene in first person is all him and his, and me and mine. Much simpler to know who’s doing what and what’s going where. So to speak.

What was harder, was working out how to make sure that Rafe’s voice, Rafe’s experience of the sex, didn’t reduce his partner to no more than a cock and a pair of hands. How to get the sense of connection, the realisation that there are two people involved, the emotional aspect right… that was a challenge. Inevitably, Rafe’s ‘voice’ was about himself and his own experiences, and keeping the sex right without making him out to be the most selfish arse alive… well that was fun.

I hope I succeeded. There are not a lot of sex scenes in The Gilded Scarab, but I ended up being happy with those that are there. Rafe was certainly happy, anyway. What more could I ask for?




The Gilded Scarab

When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.

Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.


(Cover by Reese Dante)





EXCERPT

“Edward?”

He drew a breath so shaky I heard it from where I stood beside the bed. And another. He turned his head toward me at last, and the firelight sprang up to light the side of his face, limning his cheekbone in red-gold, sliding its way across the side of his neck and pooling shadows in the hollow of his throat, slipping more shadows under his cheekbones and edging the line of his jaw.

The firelight loved Edward Fairfax, breathed living gold into him.

The breath caught in my throat. He was beautiful in this light. Very beautiful.

“I said I’d been away a long time, just as you had,” he said. “The commitments I had… well, they involved other people and promises made that I couldn’t break. It has been a very long time since I was free to be with someone like you, Rafe. And although I’ve been back to Margrethe’s three or four times recently, I haven’t allowed things to go this far.” Edward’s smile, the little crooked turning-up of his mouth, was pained. “I think I’m a little nervous.”

I could understand that. My hands were trembly, and I had to keep working my mouth to moisten it, it was so dry. I may even have been a little nervous myself. Odd, though, how his honesty, the lack of polite evasion, prompted the same in me. “It’s been a while for me too. Not because I was ever lucky enough to find one person the way you did, if I understand what you say about commitment—the Lancaster luck doesn’t run that way. But still, the life I had, the Aero Corps… I couldn’t risk it. So it’s been a long time.” I managed a grin. “At least, a long time since it wasn’t furtive and quick and in the dark, as if it were shameful. Nothing as open as this. But what I remember of it, it’s a pleasure I would really like to taste with you.”

He nodded, and this time his smile looked real. “I would be very glad to retaste it with you, Rafe.”

I took a step toward him. He pulled his hand out of his pocket and held it out to me.

I sought for something to say as I took it. His palm was warm and dry, and his fingers curled around mine. “Do you like kissing?”

This time I got the full smile, bright and dazzling and lighting up his whole face. “I do.”

“Not all men allow it.” I made a gesture with my free hand. “There’s a spot there I’d rather like to kiss.”

The particular kissable spot was under his chin, half-hid in flickering shadow, half-lit by the firelight. I laughed when my lips settled against the skin of his throat, and he laughed with me; I felt it thrumming in his throat. I raised both hands and held his face, tilting it away from the fire. His eyes were shadowed. I used my fingertips first, following the light down the side of his jaw, tracing the line of his neck and smoothing into the warm hollow at the base of his throat. The little bones cradling it were hard under my fingers, harder still under my tongue. The hollow of his throat tasted of salt.

Edward sighed, his hands fell onto my shoulders and squeezed, his head tilted back to let me do my worst. It would be all right. We’d find our way back to our old lives together.

The next kiss wasn’t gentle. It set the world ablaze.





WHERE TO BUY THE GILDED SCARAB

Dreamspinner as an ebook and in paperback.

From an Amazon near you (Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk links for starters)

All Romance as an ebook



GIVEAWAY

Comment here and get an entry in a rafflecopter to win an Amazon gift card (drawn when the blog tour is over at the end of March).







In addition, one commentator chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random will get a little pack of The Gilded Scarab loot and a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella).



ABOUT ANNA

Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.


Find Anna:



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28 comments:

  1. I love the premise and excerpt!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Trix

      Thanks for commenting. It's a nice, scene-setting scene this one, and says a lot about how Rafe and Edward will be in the future.


      Cheers

      Anna

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  2. Wow I haven't read anything written in 1st person, that sounded so good.
    bikemudd@yahoo.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First person can be a little difficult at first, because it isn't what we're used to reading. But Rafe came alive to me when I let his own voice through unfettered. I hope you give him a try - I know I'm biassed, but I think he'll charm most readers!

      Cheers

      Anna

      Delete
  3. Wow I haven't read anything written in 1st person, that sounded so good.
    bikemudd@yahoo.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the post and sharing the excerpt! I'm looking forward to reading this. amaquilante(at)gmail(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Antonia

      I hope you enjoy it when you get to read it!


      Cheers


      Anna

      Delete
  5. I like the whole making sure the reader knows who's doing what to whom. It looks like a great read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heather

      I certainly found that the sex scenes were less confusing to write. The most difficult bit was making sure that the reader didn't feel they were intruding on a (very!) private moment. Hopefully, it works!

      Thanks for commenting,

      Anna

      Delete
  6. I'm reading the book and so far I like very much. =)
    serena91291@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Serena

      Grins back at you. I'm delighted that you're enjoying it!


      Cheers


      Anna

      Delete
  7. Sometimes it works! I agree that often I like seeing both sides, so third person works. However, I do have some favorites written in first person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Waxapplelover

      (Great name, btw!) I agree that just being in Rafe's head for the entire story can feel restricted. You only get to know what he knows, hear what he hears. If he isn't in the scene, it isn't there. You can only guess at what Edward is thinking here, or what later characters are up to, and what they say and do will be as much as a surprise to the reader as it is to Rafe>

      But if it works - and I hope it does here, of course! - I think first person can be a really intimate point of view. As if you're sharing a cup of coffee with Rafe and he's speaking to you, face to face, sharing his story. I like that aspect, very much.

      Anyhow, thank you for commenting!



      Anna

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    2. Hi WaxAppleLover - the stick-a-pin-in-it method chose you to get the little bag of loot. I have your email from the Rafflecopter, so will email you today about how to get it to you


      Anna

      Delete
  8. I have not read any first person mm story before. Sounds interesting.
    June
    manning_J2004 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi June

      I don't remember very many in the m/m genre, either, to be honest. Perhaps because writing the sex scenes is hard! We readers are very used to third person stories, so anything different can take a little while to get used to.

      Thanks for commenting!


      Anna

      Delete
  9. I agree that the pronouns can get confusing sometimes during third person same sex scenes.
    This sounds like an interesting read! Enjoyed the excerpt!
    aegger.echo(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alaina

      I'm delighted that you enjoyed the excerpt. It's one of my favourite scenes, because it says so much about who Rafe could be if he felt safe and, for once in his life, loved. And because he sees Edward in this really quite beautiful way.

      I hope, if you ever read the rest, you'll enjoy that too.

      Cheers


      Anna

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  10. Thank you for hosting me - and Rafe! - here. I appreciate it!


    Anna

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  11. The excerpt intrigued me, added the book to my TBR list.

    annmariesbooks at yahoo dot com

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  12. It's always interesting to hear about the writing process - I find it funny that Rafe just wasn't interested until you let him speak directly :)

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  13. Hi Ekkie

    Rafe has a very decided personality! He was, actually, a joy to write once I had his voice fixed in my head, and writing in first person meant I could keep Anna-as-author right out of it. It wasn't me telling the story. It was Rafe.

    Thank you for commenting!


    Anna

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  14. That excerpt is killer. I've added this to my TBR. :)

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  15. Thanks for the post - I do sometimes LOL and the odd ways some authors try to get around the he's and him's in third-person POV sex scenes.

    The Gilded Scarab sounds awesome - love Steampunk - just added it to my TBR list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgot my email...jen.f {at} mac {dot} com

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    2. I hope you enjoy it, Jen.

      Anna

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