Okay–I’m down to only a day late! The Backlist Ba-dump-BUMP is here! Now, the point of this feature is to have authors come on and actually talk about books from their backlist– maybe, for instance, you discovered Kim Fielding with Motel/Pool, but you didn’t know she also wrote historical fantasy as well. And now you do!
So enjoy the stories behind the stories, from authors in their own words. Today we have Kim Fielding, L.E. Franks, and C. Jane Elliot– and they have some awesome books in their backlist!
by Kim Fielding
Like many of my stories, The Pillar started out with a journey.
A few years ago, I was spending a month living and working in Zagreb, Croatia. Zagreb is one of my favorite cities and also makes a great base for exploring central and eastern Europe. During this particular stay, I booked a quick visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina—four nights in the beautiful city of Sarajevo. Now, Sarajevo is fascinating, with a long (and often tragic) history. I could easily spend much longer there. But I wanted to see more of the country as well, so I arranged a day trip to Mostar, a couple hours away.
The drive to Mostar was… interesting. Gorgeous scenery. A driver who spoke little English—and my Bosnian/Croatian is very rudimentary—but he was a friendly, patient man. I tried very hard not to notice that Bosnian drivers are terrifying. They cut the corners and drive really fast, shifting with one hand and smoking with the other.
I survived, though, and it was worth it. Mostar is charming. Much of it was damaged during the war, but it’s been rebuilt. And on a drizzly November day it was almost free of tourists. As I wandered through the old part of the city, I could almost picture what life was like there during medieval times.
That day in Mostar was the genesis of The Pillar. I fictionalized the town a bit and renamed it Zidar, but the details are as close as I could get to the original. I hope I’ve captured the feel of the place, with the coppersmiths, the bridge, the kavanas where people still linger over their strong coffee, the mosques and churches calling the faithful to prayers.
The area around Mostar has been wracked with wars for centuries. I needed to capture that too, and a bit of the devastation those wars create. I heard terrible personal stories from my (wonderful) guides. In the end, though, I wanted to end on an optimistic note, because I heard those stories too. I wanted to remind us that love can be stronger than hate.
One more thing. Punishment pillars really did exist throughout Europe during medieval times. A few of them still remain.
So, The Pillar. Possibly the only existing m/m romance set in medieval Bosnia. I hope you’ll give it a try. Oh, and that stunning cover is by Shobana Appavu, who really captured the look of the place.
by C.Jane Elliot
Serpentine Walls came about because Dreamspinner Press put out a call for university stories for an anthology. The short story I wrote eventually became my first novel in the Serpentine Series. I was seized with the idea for a story set at the University of Virginia, where I had gone to school. Serpentine Walls reflects some of what was happening in my life when I went to college. My parents had split up and my father got remarried to a younger woman. I was angry and disillusioned about love, and my MC Pete shares those feelings. He seems to have no trouble attracting male attention but he’s not interested in the nice guys who want to have a relationship and he gets hung up on the sexy but unavailable guys. I was exactly the same way, and neither of us realized we were protecting ourselves from getting hurt. Lucky for Pete, he figures himself out and is able to let love in with the perfect man by the end of the story. It took me a little longer, but I got there eventually and have been married to my perfect man for 26 years. One other thing about the story: the creepy Professor R who hits on his students is based on a real-life professor that I had in college.
Can This Be Real?
I was answering a submission call from MLR – looking for something food related, and I thought about how I’ve always used my cooking to show my love for the people in my life and how there are an infinite number of stories centered around chefs in love, but I wanted something different. I pinged on the idea of throwing a celebrity chef into the arms of someone who wasn’t a foodie, where all his skills in the kitchen wouldn’t automatically work. How that might change the dynamic? So I eventually came up with a cop with no sense of smell and no ability to taste and a chef with no clue how to woo him if he couldn’t use his fallback menu. It was fun to write. – LE