"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chrissy Alternately Praises and Probes...

We’re b-a-a-a-c-c-c-k.

Chrissy: Did you miss us? I’ve got my coffee in hand and I’d like to start out today by talking about Clare’s latest novel
True Colors, currently available at Dreamspinner Press.

From the very first, Zeke Roswell and Miles Winter are like oil and water. After a tragic fire claimed his brother's life, Zeke's personal and professional life spiraled out of control, and now he has no choice but to sell his gallery to cover his debts. Enter successful entrepreneur Miles, who buys it and plans to make a commercial success out of Zeke's failure.Their initial hostility stands no chance against the strong passion that ambushes them. Zeke's talent and lust for life intoxicate Miles, and Zeke finds Miles's self-assurance and determination equally fascinating. But it's not until an unsolved mystery of violence and stolen sketches threatens to sabotage any chance at happiness that Miles and Zeke realize they have a chance at all.

You can read an excerpt HERE:

There have been more than a few wonderful reviews of this story, and I am certainly no reviewer. So I thought I would post some of the reasons why I enjoyed reading this story so much and then ask Clare a few questions about the story.

Clare has an amazing ability to cross genres in her fiction and have it appear effortless in both her novels and short stories. From the amazing world building of her fantasy works The Gold Warrior and Twisted Brand, to the evocative and slightly noir atmosphere found in Freeman, she writes with a lyrical use of language that draws me in and keeps me wanting more.

True Colors is a wonderful example of her skill. It’s a vibrant and exciting mix of suspense and romantic development. The relationship between Zeke and Miles is written with intensity. The interplay of the two men crackles with volatile energy from their very first meeting, and explodes into an erotic feast for the senses.

As involving as their relationship is, it’s no secret that I have a soft spot for a couple of the secondary characters as well, and am actively involved in demanding a sequel to tell Carter and Red’s story.

There’s a family dynamic woven throughout that many may find unexpected, an underlying theme of how we are shaped and molded by expectations of those closest to us. I was interested in the character of Zeke’s deceased older brother and the part he played in the story.

Here are just a few examples of just why I enjoyed reading this story so much:

Take this comment by Red:

I enjoy the single life, Miles. I enjoy the transience; the fragility of it all. The anonymity and the hot, sweaty desperation. It has a poignant thrill of its own.

Think about that. Read it out loud. Take it for a spin. Let the words wrap around you and really feel what is being expressed in a few, carefully chosen words.

Or this small bit between Miles and Zeke:

“And so you were never going to get the theme of the show,” continued Zeke. How stupid had he been? “The feeling of seasons passing – the swing from the sharp spring green, to the late summer gold, to the burnt autumn ochre…”

Miles was watching him as he spoke. Zeke realized he was accompanying his words with bold hand movements, sketching the themes in the air. As soon as he caught the other man’s glance, he dropped his arms, self-conscious now.

And, because this was written by Clare there is the excellent job of building sexual tension between the two men:

He couldn’t take his eyes from Miles’ lips, though they’d stopped moving. He wondered what else Miles would say; whether he had any more complaints; what those lips would taste like, pressed against Zeke’s, hot and damp and hungry…

And later:

But all Zeke wanted to do was touch that mouth again – that firm, so often disapproving mouth – and plunder inside for a few more blissfully greedy moments. To see the pale red flesh of Miles’ lips blossom into a hard-kissed crimson; to feel the controlled body underneath him slide into a reluctant enjoyment; to watch the rosy flush spread over the dark, smooth skin of his neck – and know that it had been because of him, Zeke Roswell.

Darn near makes ME shiver just reading it.

I could excerpt my favorite bits and pieces from this story all day long, but you really should read it yourself and enjoy the full impact.

So, here’s where I get to put Clare on the hot seat and ask her a few questions about True Colors – Feel free to chime in with a few questions of your own.

1. Right off the start I want to compliment you on the lack of the chatty, female sidekick that I have *cough* been guilty of writing myself. The friendship between Zeke and Jo is understated and believable. Now, that isn’t really a question is it? But feel free to say something thoughtful anyway.

Clare : I’ve been guilty of it too – and the opposite, too, making the women in my books worse than unsympathetic! I didn’t think I chose characters purely on gender, but then I do worry about books that seem to take place in some magical Men-Only World. Jo was a character I used almost carelessly in the beginning, then found she had an important part to play at the end, too. Nowadays, I try to blend in a realistic range of friends and associates for my heroes. And I know my readers like purely m/m, but I did have m/f scenes in Gold Warrior – in context with the matriarchal society of the plot. I know this is FictionWorld, but it’s good to reflect real life, too.

2. Story after story you keep the sexual encounters between your characters interesting and innovative (I won’t give away my favorite here). How do you do it?

Clare : That’s a part of my resume I’m going to have to live up to, right? I’m not conscious of deliberately planning it, and I usually let the progress of their relationship – and their desire - dictate the pace. In True Colors, Zeke is sexually uninhibited but emotionally rather fickle, whereas Miles is just as passionate and adventurous, but more cautious about committing his emotions. When they fall for each other, things are combustible between them! It’s difficult to think up new ways or settings for intimacy without chasing novelty for the sake of it – so I let the guys speak for themselves and hope that’s differentiation enough.

3. Having spent some time involved in a small way with the gallery opening and art scene many years back I was struck by how accurate and bitingly observant your descriptions were in this story. I laughed out loud more than once. How did you come up with the concept of using this background for True Colors?

Clare : Wow, thank goodness I can fool some of the experts LOL. Seriously, that’s a lovely compliment. I’ve got no background in art but I know a lot of artists. And I suppose I rely on the theory that creation is the same for us all, whatever the medium. It’s all full of angst, euphoria, hard work, disappointment, achievement – and has its own share of pretension, idiots and genuine characters.

4. I was thrilled with Zeke’s use of the Perspex wall, audience participation and the way that tied in with the mystery plot. The scene was vividly described and I could see how that would look at an opening. If that hasn’t been done in the art world, it should be. How did that come in to being?

Clare : I wish I could remember! My imagination astounds even me, sometimes. I wanted Zeke’s artistic vision to be for something different – not just the paintings, not just a single theme of color or size. So I pitched him towards installation art – it seemed to me that his art would engage all the senses, that’s the kind of man he is. He does everything – good and bad – with his full enthusiasm and passion. As, of course, Miles finds out :).

And my postscript today : Thanks to Chrissy for being a sympathetic 'ear' and 'shoulder' all through the writing of this one - and at all other times, too. And now, having made her sound like some kind of collection of disembodied limbs, I'll sign off from here, but ...
To any of you, readers and visitors?! Feel free to ask me whatever you like!

Have a great time, everyone!

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In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.