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.
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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 🙂
An excerpt from Blood Eternal, Book Two in the Blood Vine Series
Cold granite reared up and hit Lucas square in the chest, pushing the breath from his lungs. No, the countertop hadn’t moved—Pedro had bent him over the bathroom sink.
Fuck. This was a problem. Their eyes met in the mirror over the vanity. This was backward, he was the one who—
Pedro’s eyes were begging. He already knew. “I want you like this.”
Lucas’s chest constricted; his pulse hammered. On display for the volatile vampire, he was too vulnerable.
Shit, his new fuck buddy wanted to fuck him and not the other way around. He could feel Pedro’s erection against his ass. Pedro, who could be playful and sweet…and who got off on his power over Lucas.
“Pedro, I don’t do this.” He tried to keep the fear out of his voice, in case it turned Pedro on.
“You’ll like it. I’ll make it good for you.”
Pedro was way past reason. What could Lucas do? “Pedro, no.”
Pedro prodded him gently, and all the muscles in Lucas’s body tensed.
“Haven’t you ever?”
“No.” Lucas spoke firmly, as if he were talking to a child, or an animal.
Pedro just blinked; obviously he wasn’t surprised. They’d never discussed this because they didn’t need to, had sent each other cues from the start. A few things had changed since that moment, but one thing had not—
“I never have, and I don’t want to.”
With his new strength, Pedro could do anything he wanted to Lucas. He gripped a hip hard and pressed Lucas’s shoulder into the countertop. But then he stepped back.
Lucas’s chest filled with air against the cold granite. Thank God. Only, Pedro still looked miserable, with no relief in sight. Well, here goes nothing. Lucas dropped to his knees and took the swollen cock into his mouth.
“Fuck yeah,” Pedro whispered on a breath.
Lucas didn’t go down on a guy often, but for Pedro…Carefully and gently he suckled the engorged cock, which grew even harder with every pull. It didn’t take Pedro long to come, ejaculating for an eternity.
Lucas stood up and examined the vampire, whose shoulders sloped, loose. Pedro hopped up to sit on the counter and pulled Lucas into his arms.
For what felt like a long while, Lucas let Pedro hold him. Then his stomach growled, echoing in the small room. “What time is it?”
“It was about eight when I found you watching the television.” Pedro feathered a kiss on Lucas’s temple. “You missed dinner and cocktails don’t count. Lena tried out a special recipe with truffles—smelled like stinky feet, but the humans raved.”
Lucas chuckled, shaking his head with amusement.
Pedro nuzzled his neck. “You have to eat, if I am going to take your blood.”
The self-preservation masked an expression of care, so Lucas conceded. “I’ll get something soon, Lena keeps late plates labeled in the fridge.”
“I forgot about that. How did I forget so fast?” Pedro spoke into his hair, the breath making it stir.
“Because it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m your late plate now.” Lucas closed his eyes, his face pressed against his vampire lover’s chest.
Pedro took a deep breath and held it. “So, how is this going to work between us? I’m not the same anymore. I can’t let you fuck me. It feels…submissive.”
That was exactly how Lucas had felt bent over the sink. “Are you saying it didn’t feel that way before?”
“Yeah, pretty much. It was just about getting off. I could switch back and forth. But now…”
Lucas ran a gentle hand up and down Pedro’s spine. “I guess there’s a lot of blow jobs in our future. Foreplay forever.”
For the first time he could remember, Lucas laughed from his gut and it felt good. “Yep. It sure does.”
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
This sounds good, will be adding to the to buy list.
I agree that feeling a connection to the characters can make or break a book.
Great excerpt & giveaway!
Nix, thanks so much for having me today! Moira–hope you enjoy! Amy, glad to know I’m not the only one! Rocky, so glad you like excerpt.
I’ve heard that that’s not an uncommon phenomenon! I have the first two books queued up on my Kindle, and it definitely looks like I need to dig in!
These sound great! Thanks for the post and the chance to win!
Adding to the ‘read’ list.
And you are totally correct, as long as I, the reader, can connect and like (for lack of a better word) a character or characters I can kind of live in the moment with them. If they get turned on by something, or cry at something I’m mostly liable to follow right along.
Loved the excerpt. I’m going to have to add this to my TBR pile
I loved your first kiss blog hop excerpt Amber and would enjoy very much reading more of your books!
The random number generator picked you as Amber’s winner! I’m sending her your details and congrats 🙂
I’m thrilled, thanks!
Nix, thanks again for having me. Hi Trix! Good to see you here, hope you enjoy! Hi Melanie and Penumbra! Glad you liked the excerpt. And Christine, you are so sweet. I’m just delighted you loved that story so much! Nix, thanks again for having me along for the party this month!