Here’s a little secret about me: pretty much anything will turn me on, if it turns on a character I love. In my sordid reading life, I’ve been shocked, embarrassed, and even frightened by what’s aroused me in an especially well-written story.
This might be an occupational hazard of mine. I’m a priest in the Episcopal Church (the American branch of the C of E) and I’m one of those empathetic criers. If you start tearing up, I’m sure to follow. I cry while planning funerals and officiating at weddings. In a well-written erotic story, it sort of works the same way. If a lovable character—male, female, straight, gay or anywhere in between—gets hot and bothered, I start to get all warm and tingly too, regardless of my personal proclivities.
But I know its not only priests that experience this kind of identification with a character. It’s part of the pleasure of reading and one of the truly miraculous things about stories. They invite us into someone else’s heart, mind, and skin. They engage our imaginations so that we feel someone else’s emotions and sensations and that makes us bigger, it expands our world view, and the capacity of our heart to love, and care, and sympathize. Yep, I have that much faith in the power of books!
I live in San Francisco and I’ve got many LGBT friends, but when I first started writing the Blood Vine series and exploring the star-crossed relationship between my lovable smart ass winemaker Pedro and the vampire-Hunter Lucas, I found I had a lot of questions about the plausibility of the emotional and sexual conflict between them. I spent hours on the phone with my best friend asking him about “what men do” and how they negotiate situations like the one I had imagined. It was enlightening. I learned a lot about gay culture (and I thought I already knew a lot!). It was awesome, and my friend and I have been even closer since then, as we discovered we could talk about more personal things than we’d previously shared. Of course, for a writer, that’s the very best kind of research.
But a few years later, now that the series is finished, I’ve come to a different place about understanding “what men do.” Men are people, women are people, trans folks are people, in the Blood Vine series, even vampires are people in all the important senses of the word. Now I rely more on the human super-powers of imagination and empathy to develop my characters. Once I understand the rules of their world, and how they relate to them, I can put myself in their skin and give them free reign to be themselves.
Empathy and imagination. They are inextricable. It’s how some women write wonderful male characters and vice versa. Imagination is the key to empathy, and it empowers a writer to write a compelling, lovable character wholly different from the author. And thank God. A book about me would be really boring, but Pedro and Lucas…they’re worth reading about!
If you’re curious about the series, there’s an excerpt of Pedro and Lucas below, and a free short story starring them and called “Blood Eternal” will release very soon. Follow me on my blog, Facebook or Twitter to get new of the release. Those guys gave me a taste for writing M/M and so I’ve also got a short story in an anthology releasing this summer called Taking Liberties from Omnific Publishing. It’s about two guys in Colonial America and their printing press, it’s called “Inked,” and I kind of love it.
Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.
Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco, where she writes racy contemporary and paranormal romance.
Amber is giving away an ebook set of the 3 book Blood Vine Series. All you do to enter is comment on the post 🙂
For the Grand Prize Giveaway, I (Nix) will be giving away ten of my top LGBT books. These books will be gifted via All Romance as the books are available to readers on all the types of eReaders (you just need to sign up for a free account to access the books and you can send them directly). If you have any of the books and you win the prize, speak to me and I’ll see what else I can do. All of the posts have prizes atatched and a list of these can be found here
The books are (and there are substitutions available for people who have copies)…
- With a Kiss by Kim Dare (MM)
- Hot Head by Damien Suede (MM)
- By the Book by Scarlett Parrish (MM)
- The Dom With a Safeword by Cari Silverwood (FFM)
- Starfish and Coffee by Kele Moon (MM)
- How Sweet it is – Melissa Brayden (FF)
- Fatal Shadows – Josh Lanyon (MM)
- Faith and Fidelity – Tere Michaels (MM)
- How to Love – Kelly Jamieson (FMM)
- Cut and Run – Abigail Roux (MM)
- Paperback Tread Marks & Trademarks by SA McAuley