Welcome, Grace R. Duncan
Choices will be out March 4th from Dreamspinner Press.
Grace was kind enough to stop by and to answer some questions:
1. What was the most challenging part of your story to write and why?
There is a scene toward the beginning of the book that is quite violent and (to me) disturbing. I don’t like to write unpleasant things, but I know that they are a necessity. Good stories require conflict and sometimes the conflict between the main portions of my couple isn’t enough (at least, for me). Especially, in this story, the abuse was of a particular kind that I have read about in real life all too often and in literature (I use that term loosely) it is often masked as being okay because it’s “asked for” (not true). So writing this scene was delicate, required a lot of juggling to keep it in the right context and hard because it was disturbing for me to inflict that kind of harm on someone, even fictitiously.
2. What is one of your pet peeves?
I am a pretty easy-going person when it comes to things like pet peeves. There aren’t a lot of things that get to me, but one stands out over pretty much everything. Choices has a lot of BDSM elements to it and I was very careful in researching the things I wasn’t already intimately familiar with, when it came to what I put Teman through. Unfortunately, not everyone does. Many people do cursory research (if they research at all) and would never consider taking a wooden spoon to their own behind before writing about it. Now, I am not one who insists that you only write what you know – fiction would be horribly boring, if that were the case. However, for most things, it isn’t difficult to do some simple experimentation to know what it really feels like to do something. Even if you don’t have a willing partner, there is plenty you can do to yourself. And plenty more good information out there, if you’re willing to look for it.
So what irritates me is when someone does some basic reading, then calls themselves an expert on a subject and proceeds to write about it. Most of the time, it isn’t the end of the world. It’s simply obvious that they don’t know what they’re talking about or they might even just squeak past.
With BDSM, it can actually be dangerous. I know that seems like a little overdone, doesn’t it? But the truth is, for someone who is learning about the world, who is interested in getting into it, if they were to take the wrong book and use it as an instruction manual, that could have very disastrous, nay dire, consequences, including serious harm, and in the worst cases, even death. No, that’s not an exaggeration. Get tied up wrong, someone ignores the safe word (because they read somewhere that it’s okay to), and the next thing they know, there’s a funeral instead of a sweet after-Scene discussion. It can happen.
Choices has a couple (okay, three) very disturbing scenes in it that show how a top and sadist who doesn’t care for their bottom or sub can do exactly the wrong things. But I am careful to show that it is the wrong way to be and I am careful to contrast those scenes with the right way to do things. I know this because I’m in the BDSM world and for what I didn’t know (and it sounds trite, but it’s true: I know enough to know that I know very little), I read. I researched. I asked. Or I went and asked my own Dom to do it to me.
3. What is your favorite meal?
I have recently had a lot of dental work done, so I have been forced to eat mostly soft foods. As such, interestingly, hummus has been a staple in my diet, which I’d started sampling different types of for my novel, Choices. I am also very partial to lamb, which is actually Teman’s favorite meal, as well, though I doubt I make it the same way that Cook does for Teman and Bathasar.
4. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I’m going to be a tiny bit selfish here and say super speed. If I could move fast enough for my fingers to keep up with my brain, for me to be able to get everything done, I’d be thrilled. I’d like to think I could still use it to help people, too, while being able to get my stuff done, as well. So, yes, super speed. Bring it on, I have fifteen books planned to write…
5. What makes your MC angry or upset?
Teman doesn’t like to see someone’s freedom being taken from them for any reason. The gypsy part of him hates the idea of someone not being able to do as they need or even want to do. Now, he recognizes that someone who really does break the law deserves punishment (though he will do his best to try to get away), but especially seeing someone imprisoned wrongly or enslaved really gets to him.
6. Do you have a favorite character? Why?
Teman is my MC (in that the majority of the book is from his POV and about him) but I have to say, I have something of a weakness for Bathasar. While he’s probably a little too perfect to be well rounded, he does have his own fears and insecurities. But he will step up and take the responsibilities that he needs to, regardless of what he wants. And, let’s face it, who doesn’t like tall, dark, and handsome?
7. Do you base your characters on your real life at all?
Actually, I am 99.9% sure that real life (my real life, along with others) creeps into my writing all the time. As much as I would love to say that everything is absolutely original, I am fooling myself if I think that. Rather, people of all types will wander into my stories and those that are close to me are likely to recognize bits of themselves in many of my characters. I’d think it would be impossible for any author to truly keep those they know out of their stories.
One of my favorite movie quotes of all time: “I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.” -Geoffrey Chaucer from *A Knight’s Tale *
I think as writers we spend too much time cataloging those that we observe – and we spend all our time observing – and so it would be mighty difficult to keep those observations out of our writing.
8. What are you working on now?
I am currently in the midst of working on the Choices sequel, Deception, featuring two of the secondary characters from Choices, Cyrus and Nadir. Teman and Bathasar come back and are the catalyst for change between Cyrus and Nadir, bringing them into a situation they’ve been trying to ignore and now are forced to face. I am also planning one more book in the series with another couple from Choices. Hopefully, Dreamspinner will like them all!
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
Every time I am asked this question, I hem and haw. I go over and over the movies I’ve seen and the books I’ve read and I wonder what my favorite is. But if I had to give you an answer without thinking it through, I’d say something like: TheStandLordoftheRingsHarryPotter(allseven)TheChesapeakeSeriesfromNoraRobertsTheInDeathSeriesfromJDRobbThe… And somewhere in there, I’d pause to take a breath and say… “I don’t think I have one specific favorite. One favorite within a genre? Probably (see the string of text above) but one overall? I don’t think so.
10. Do you have a favorite author?
I’d like to just say “see above” but I supposed I could whittle it down a little. I think, out of all the worlds I’ve been drawn into, Middle-earth has pulled me the most and, as such, I have to say Mr. Tolkien has to be my favorite. With that, then, I could probably tell you that the Lord of the Rings is *probably* my favorite book (though again, if I do that, I start to waffle and then people just start imagining syrup and things just get messy, so I’ll stick with a favorite author and move on…)
11. Do you have any insights for aspiring writers out there?
The one that, I am quite sure, they hear all the time. Don’t. Stop. Seriously. Don’t stop writing. Don’t let someone tell you not to quit your day job (like I did), don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough (I did), and don’t let your own fears of both success and failure stop you. If you keep going, keep writing, you will keep improving and, eventually, find your corner of the publishing world.
12. Tell us about your MC. What does he like or dislike? What are his good points or his flaws?
As much as I love Teman, he can be a stubborn as the day is long. He’s caring, intelligent, does try to do the right thing most of the time, and can think on his feet, but he is most definitely stubborn. I wouldn’t have any idea where he got that… *cough*
13. Where do you see your writing career headed in the future?
My hope is to eventually write full-time. I know that a lot of authors say that, but I think that, given the chance, I could do it. I’ve been told before that I am ridiculously prolific and if I ever get over some of my fears and self-esteem issues, I think I could do it. It’s just going to take some work and dedication, but I am willing to put the time and energy into it.
14. What type of book would you love to write someday?
I’d like to try collaborating sometime. I have seen a number of folks write a book together and I have written fanfiction with another author before. But I would love to write an original novel. I think it would be fun to be able to work with another author like that.
And the link to Choices: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3611&cPath=55_777