Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Guest Blogger Maia Strong - Scratching a Niche

Hello, all! First off, a big thanks to the Nine Naughty Novelists for the guest blog opportunity. You're lovely and gracious, each of you!

Now, a quick intro: I'm Maia Strong and I write m/m fantasy. (Sounds like an AA introduction or something, doesn't it? LOL.) I have two books out now, The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing from Samhain Publishing, and a related novel, Client Privileges with Torquere Press. My latest, an m/m/f fantasy short story titled Play Music, Play Magic will be out from Torquere Press in the anthology I Put a Spell on You on 24 February. I also have an m/m erotic space opera detective novella (damn, that's a mouthful), False Dawn, coming from Torquere this summer. That's the facts. Here's the fun. ;-)

I love fantasy. Always have and, I expect, always will. From Susan Cooper to J.R.R. Tolkien, from Gael Baudino to Guy Gavriel Kay. LOVE IT. I also love m/m. Discovered that genre a little later in life--say, high school--but it is nevertheless a fave of mine. I spent much of college seeking out gay fiction from the teen f/f Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden, to that classic of gay lit, The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren (which I've just discovered, much to my chagrin, I no longer own--what up with that?). I was even lucky enough to take the brand new Gay and Lesbian Literature course offered when I was in college.

So, naturally, I love when authors put fantasy and m/m together. Trouble is, that's not such an easy thing to find. When I wrote my first m/m fantasy novel, the abovementioned Ballad..., it never occurred to me what a tiny little niche I was digging into. I should have, really. I mean, I can count on one hand the authors I've found on the bookstore shelves who write it. Wanna know? Sure you do. Melissa Scott and (sadly now deceased) Lisa A. Barnett; Ellen Kushner (I'd add Della Sherman, but I've not read the book they co-wrote yet); and... that's it. And I've looked, you know? Gael Baudino falls on the edge of the genre, but she's more towards f/f and elves, and I've read (almost) everything by her already. All of which leaves me, a) in pretty damned good company, IMO, and b) scratching out a niche on the shelves for m/m fantasy, and apparently pushing the boundary into m/m/f.

If you have any m/m fantasy authors/books to recommend, please do! They don't have to be steamy or even romantic, just gay boys in a fantasy universe. Whodathunk it was so much to ask? And while you ponder that question, here's a short snippet (is that redundant) from my upcoming short story.

Play Music, Play Magic Excerpt:

Putting such heavy thoughts aside, Rhys let himself relax into the music.

He didn't know the song she played, but it hardly mattered. Noula's music was… enchanting. The notes intertwined like a tapestry growing on the loom of a master weaver. Complex, subtle, haunting. Beautiful. He'd listened closely to every Wand'ring Minstrel he had ever come across -- here in Yanto, back in Western Zephren, and everywhere in between -- and no one he had heard could do what Noula could do. And with such a deceptively simple instrument as a recorder.

Simple. There was nothing simple about what was happening. Colors and light that had nothing to do with the candle lanterns began to swirl slowly around the edges of his vision. Rhys sighed and leaned into his husband, resting his head on Isaac's strong shoulder. Isaac reached an arm around him, kissed him on the top of his head. For that suspended moment, everything was perfect in Rhys' world.

Subtly, the tone of the music changed. Where before it had buoyed him on pillows of flannel stuffed with the softest down, now it grew sleeker and less cozy, and yet no less welcoming. He floated on the melody, rich as silk, spicy as cinnamon, and exotic as the island paradise Noula had spoken of earlier. The music flowed over his skin and into his blood, warming it from within. The heat grew and centered itself quite deliciously in his groin, and he grew hard.

Isaac's arm around him squeezed a little tighter, and Rhys opened eyes he hadn't realized had fallen shut. The colors he had seen in the room had continued behind his eyelids, and now, as he opened them, those swirls and eddies of rainbow light were there with him in the room again, too. He turned his head and looked deep into his husband's jet-black eyes, sparkling like obsidian with every flicker of light. He didn't have to look down or reach out a hand to know that Isaac felt what he felt. Craved what he craved.

Together, they turned and looked at Noula. She played on, but a knowing and eager twinkle was in her eyes.

Wordless and as one, the three of them rose from the table and headed for the ladder to the sleeping loft. Noula played the men up, bringing the tune to a suspended end as they reached the top. Pocketing her recorder, she climbed up after them, humming as she went.







sherry said...

I love m/m stories I didn't start reading them until a couple of years ago. I haven't read any of your books yet but they do sound very good.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Lovely excerpt Maia! Little niches can be quite interesting...

Maia Strong said...

Sherry - Thanks! If you decide to check any of them out, I'd love to hear what you think of them.

Kelly - Thank you! I'm very fond of my wee niche, although I'd also love to see it expand.

Meg Benjamin said...

Now that's what I call a provocative ending! Whew.

Maia Strong said...

LOL! Glad you like it, Meg! You should see what comes *after* that. ;-)

PG Forte said...

Well, I know I want to see what comes *after*. Feb 24 huh? Just in time for my birthday!

Maybe someone can talk Susan Cooper into doing an adult follow-up series to TDIR and get Will and Bran together. 'Cause the way she ended that series has always bothered me.

Anonymous said...

Fiona Patton gets some m/m action in her fantasies, I believe. I'm sure there are others. And thanks for not slaughtering the recorder!

Maia Strong said...

PG, I love the way you think! I'm rereading TDIR right now, as a matter of fact. I'll keep what you say in my as I read the last one. My mind is spinning with possibilities...

Fiona Patton, eh? I know the name but haven't read any of her stuff. I'll check her out. Thanks!

Erin Nicholas said...

Welcome Maia! I'm going to confess I don't read m/m but I have a really good reason now to start! :) Thanks!

Maia Strong said...

Hi Erin! Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully you'll find some m/m you enjoy. :)

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