Sunday, April 23, 2017

Character Building, Intimacy, and Asshats in a Yaoi Novel Series

As I write the third installment of Ensnared Volume 4, I thought I'd answer some long-standing questions from readers. All of the Print and ebooks can be found here:

Plans and When to Shred Them

I had a detailed plan for the plot threads in the Ensnared Series. For the most part, everything is unfolding according to the original outline. However, there have been a number of occasions when the characters have turned into something far different than my draft versions. Darius was the first problem character. I had envisioned him as much colder in the first book, warming gradually through the volumes. I'm not sure where the mischievous streak came from. It just came out in moments when he was alone with Andreas. I found that I liked the idea that there was a vastly different Darius to those closest to him than the one the public knew prior to Andreas arriving in his life. Andreas was always meant to be cheeky. His being an expert mimic was not in the plan. I realized that in one scene, he reminded me of a very cheeky actor friend who is an amazing mimic. That trait became a handy tool for illustrating how Andreas' cheeky nature will never change no matter the situation.

Most of the characters are markedly different from their original version. The latest problem character (in a good way) is Lord Maceo. The installment of volume four I'm working on now was supposed to be a lot darker in tone at the beginning than the rest of the volumes. This is logical considering all that is at stake. Things aren't working out that way. Most of that is Andreas who is being himself in a strange environment full of very exciting wonders. But the big monkey wrench in my plans for angst is Lord Maceo. He is not cooperating at all, and that is turning out to be a surprising amount of fun. He's causing deviltry to be set loose in Mykos. By then, all bets are off for any kind of decorum during the Grand Convening. The stance taken by some of the Keepers is patently ridiculous in light of what Darius and his party learned in the desert. An irreverent stance would have a profound impact on their adversaries. And when the tone changes with the charges Darius is bringing to them, the shift will be more keenly felt. 

Forms of Intimacies

The intimacy between Darius and Andreas is growing and deepening in many different ways. They're together day and night for weeks before the Grand Convening. The Cosi grows to rely on Andreas in a way he had never anticipated. The dynamic dramatically shifts between them in the desert. Though Andreas had just found a balance between Crew Boss, Calix Lord and Dami when everything changes again. He is undaunted. Despite the changes, one aspect of their life remains the same. Darius needs a physical outlet from all the stressful demands on him. Andreas refuses to curtail the time he needs to be ready to meet those demands. Besides, there are examples of the incredible power Darius possesses and how he handles that power is in evidence en route to and at the Compound. Darius is hotter than ever in those settings. It's hard for Andreas to not jump on his Cosi and demand satisfaction no matter who is present. Thus, Andreas must push Darius' buttons in new and enticing ways to make sure they don't neglect physical intimacy. He will never let him forget that part of their lives no matter how close they grow outside the bedroom. This writing is all kinds of fun. 

The Staff and Those Awful Lords

I had always planned to have the staff members that are present in the series, but their roles changed markedly from their original roles. I adore the film, Gosford Park. And the idea that the staff knows far more about the house than their employers was part of said plan, but Andreas changed the dynamic of the household for me. It made sense that he would talk to them before and after becoming a Lord since he needed their guidance on how to fit in his Cosi's world. It also made sense that he would come to them for advice about the Charity Initiative. It was logical that Darius would follow Andreas' lead and seek their counsel as well. According to my research, head butlers had copies of their Employer's schedules and control over household budgets. They were the most trusted of the household staff and privy to everything that happened in the household. It stood to reason that those trained to work with the Cosi Leadership were especially suited to this role if called upon. My one regret in keeping the series Point of View with Darius and Andreas, their real personalities don't get much chance to come out. They are incapable of completely dropping their formality around their Lordships. I'm hoping that they can let their hair down a bit in the Holiday story.

As for Chiron, he was originally meant to be a counterpoint to Andreas' life as a Dami. Chiron was supposed to die from his Owner's abuse. However, I really liked him, and I needed someone to connect Lady Santorini with Pefki. I also felt the suffering he endured was more than enough to make the point that Darius was a far better Dami Owner.

The Lords from Amara (the asshats) were fashioned after similar jerks from Midsomer Murders. The Elitism in the English countryside is fascinating, and it's not just in that series. The snobbery and outright disdain for any class but their own turn up often in books like J.K. Rowlings' The Casual Vacancy. The worst offenders are the ones from Midsomer. Those were so evil, crazy or both that I didn't think they could be believable as villains. I toned down the type for Lord Kozani.

Of Snacks and Curiosity

A friend of mine called her husband a snack based organism. I loved the phrase, and it turned out to be how I viewed the Cosi and food. Their hedonism makes it logical that they would be fixated on good food in all forms. They love sensory experiences. That doesn't mean a love of luxury alone. They truly enjoy simple food that is well made.

Curiosity is the sign of intelligence. The best minds among the Cosi are intensely curious about everything they come across. That is sometimes exasperating for Andreas. However, the genuine interest Darius shows in the lives of even the most humble among those he rules also makes him endearing to Andreas and everyone close to them. 

Artwork and the Special Edition

I am in the midst of a flurry of new sketches that span most of the characters in the Ensnared series and many of the more exotic locations. I'm also working on the cover for the new installment and the cover for the print version of the entire volume. After input from readers and from fellow publishers, we're going to work on a limited edition, illustrated print version. The images will also be available on this blog and on my author and Deviantart page. I will not be foolish enough to give a timeline for when that will happen. I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, recipe testing for the cookbook begins in May! There will be many, many posts about that here and on the Facebook Author Page.

Stay tuned!