Guest blog: Eli Easton – Inspiring “Superhero”

Today, we welcome guest blogger Eli Easton, talking about the inspiration for her new YA novella, Superhero!

“Superhero” is my new YA novella from Harmony Ink.  It’s a story about two best friends, Jordan and Owen, growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, and the way their relationship changes as each character comes to terms with his sexual orientation.  Jordan realizes in sixth grade that he’s gay.  For Owen, it’s a much longer and more difficult road to find his own truth, one that strongly tests the nature of he and Jordy’s friendship. “Superhero” is primarily a m/m romance with lots of heart, a little angst, and some sexual tension!

So where did the idea for the book come from?  There were a few inspirations.  I began the story as an entry for a sports-themed anthology (Owen is a high school star wrestler).  But it soon became clear to me that I was going to go WAY over the word count limit so I decided to write it as a stand-alone novella instead.

The inspiration for the high school setting for this love story was Fer and David, characters on a Spanish TV show who play two high school boys who fall in love.  The show is called Física o Química (English: Physics or Chemistry).  I discovered the show while browsing around youtube and trolled the web until I found videos with English subtitles.

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Fer (in back) and David, played by Javier Calvo and Adrian Rodriguez

What I particularly like about Fer and David is the fact that the show is a soap opera about a high school, and Fer and David are just one plotline among many and are treated much like any other romance.  They have a loving and public relationship, including PDA in the halls, and neither the teachers nor the others students have a problem with it.  That was very refreshing to me.

Fer was an inspiration for Jordan.  He was the model for what Jordan looks like (a tall and very lean cute brunette) and for Jordan’s self-confident attitude.  Like Fer, Jordan is completely comfortable being gay and he’s really very emotionally mature.

Of course, I don’t live in Spain. I grew up in Ohio so I set my YA story in the American Midwest where things are not quite so progressive.  Being gay is definitely not widely accepted at Jordan and Owen’s school and so that figured into the plotline of “Superhero” in a big way.  And Jordan, unlike Fer, is a very talented artist who is obsessed with comic books and in love with his best friend.  Owen is not really anything like David in the show.  He’s an athlete, a wrestler from a family of wrestlers, who ends up being good enough to be ranked number one in the state.  At his core Owen is a big-hearted, very responsible guy. But the really important thing about these two is not so much who they are as individuals, but the beauty and strength of their friendship.  They’ve been best friends since second grade and nothing can come between them.

As a writer, I love it when I find something that excites me and makes me feel intensely.  I want to channel those emotions and direct them into my work.  Because if I can feel passionately about something, I know my audience can too.  So whether the inspiration is a friend, a beautiful painting, a song, a movie, a biography, or a TV show, I’m happy to let that emotion churn up inside me and get poured into a new work that will then, perhaps, inspire others.

If you want to check out Fer and David’s story, here’s a link to videos with English subtitles:

http://foqmylife.tumblr.com/Playlist

And here’s a lovely screen grab of Fer and David from a FoQ fan on tumblr:

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Eli Easton

Read an excerpt from “Superhero” here:  http://elieaston.com/books-by-eli-easton/superhero/

Peekaboo, Spooky & Brimstone Slot Canyons hike, Escalante, UtahAbout Eli Easton

Eli Easton is a new nom de plume for an author who has primarily published mystery thrillers in the past.  As an addict of m/m romance novels, she decided to tip her size-nine toe in the water and write in the genre herself.  “Superhero” is her first YA novella.  She has various other m/m titles out or soon releasing from Dreamspinner Press.  She lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows, and six chickens.  You can get news about her books at the links below:

Eli on goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7020231.Eli_Easton

Eli’s blog:  www. elieaston.com

Eli’s Tumblr:   http://elieaston.tumblr.com/

Eli’s Twitter:  EliEaston

Superhero links:

Buy at Dreamspinner here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4081

On Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17855574-the-lion-and-the-crow

Eli Easton’s website:  www.elieaston.com

GIVE AWAY:

Check out True Colorz for an interview with Eli and a chance to win a free ebook of “Superhero” (just leave a comment). http://true-colorz.blogspot.com/search/label/featured%20author

New 5-heart review of “Seidman” on MM Good Book Reviews!

Seidman

“I absolutely loved Kol. He was like the Viking Harry Potter of his era. He was very shy, but incredibly brave. Even when death was staring him in the face he stood stall and strong.

I recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a very entertaining and historical book depicting young love, magic, and adventure. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.”

(Click the image to read the full review!)

“Gods” is now officially longer than “Fire”

Dreams of Fire and Gods - FireThe final novel in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy, which is called Gods, is now about a thousand words longer than the second novel Fire was.

This probably isn’t terribly exciting news to most people, but it is to me.  Although Fire was exactly as long as I felt it needed to be, it was considerably shorter than Dreams, the first novel in the trilogy.  In order to wrap things up properly, I wanted Gods to be longer than that.  There are so many twists and turns in the plot that I felt a short novel would be cheating readers.  

Not that I wanted it to be War and Peace.  Dreams was actually a bit long at just under 80,000 words.  It’s looking like Gods will probably roll in at about 65,000 words, and everything should wrap up very nicely.

However, this means I have to adjust the meter on the sidebar to reflect the new estimated word count.  (It’s been at 55,000 words for a while.)  So if it looks like I’m deleting pages, that isn’t the case.  It’s still moving forward.  I estimate it will be finished (first draft, anyway) within the next two weeks!

 

Progress report on “Gods” and other things in my life

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsFirst of all, to anyone who has read Dreams and Fire, the first two novels in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy, the third novel (Gods) is definitely on its way.

I realize it’s been dragging on a bit.  The Evil Day Job was really interfering with my writing—for the past two or three months, things got so insane there that I was coming home every night and finding myself too exhausted to write much—and that’s put me really off schedule.

The good news is that my husband and I made the decision that my writing needed to come first.  So with some trepidation, but his blessing, I’ve quit that job to write full-time.  Gods is, I’m estimating, within about 15,000 words of completion.  I’ll keep people posted, and hopefully make an announcement soon about it being finished!

So, please bear with me.  I think you’ll find it worth the wait.  The story has taken a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and I really love where it’s gone.  In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview!  This scene takes place about a third of the way in, as Master Geilin begins training a new type of mage not seen in Dasak for thousands of years—one skilled in the use of Taaweh magic!

EXCERPT — Gods by James Erich — Chapter Three

The south courtyard had become a hedge maze.  No, worse, Sael reflected.  The maze wasn’t composed merely of yew and cedar hedges, but also had stone walls that hadn’t existed in the courtyard the day before.  Apart from the hedge, and two guards posted by each entrance, the courtyard appeared to be empty.

“What is all this?” his father asked sharply, as they approached.  He didn’t raise his voice, particularly, but it could still be heard clearly in the enclosed space.

Sael thought he heard giggling—the giggling of a woman—coming from somewhere in the maze, followed by what sounded like young men snickering.  The vek looked as if he were about to boil over.

Fortunately, before that could happen, Master Geilin called out from the depths of the maze, “Your Grace!  Forgive me.  I will be with you momentarily.”

At that, the stone wall immediately before them melted into the cobblestones like warm butter, leaving no trace that there had been anything there just a moment before.  Behind it, branches of yew curled to one side, forming a direct path into the center of the maze, where Master Geilin stood with four others—three young men Sael only vaguely recognized and… Tanum.

Geilin bowed formally, his students imitating him.  “Your Grace.  Your Lordship.”

“Master Geilin,” the vek said coolly, “Might I have a word with you in private?”

Geilin walked forward calmly, a stone wall rising up out of the cobblestones behind him to prevent his students from listening in on the conversation. 

“I don’t recall giving my permission for Lady Tanum to be included in your classes,” the vek told him, when he drew near.

Geilin looked perplexed.  “I’m very sorry, Your Grace.  Lady Tanum informed me that she had permission.” 

“She did not.”

“Father,” Sael interrupted.  “Tanum and I spoke of it before Koreh and I went into the mountains.”  He hadn’t exactly agreed to let Tanum train, but he wasn’t opposed to lying in order to help Master Geilin and Tanum save face.

Fortunately, his father didn’t see fit to grill him on the subject.  Though he looked at his son with an expression like someone who’s just bitten into a lemon, he turned to Geilin and asked, “These boys….  Clearly you’ve not chosen your apprentices from among the vönan.”

“I did try, Your Grace,” the wizard replied.  “But it’s a big step for a vönan to deliberately sever himself from the power of the Stronni, even though we’ve been cut off from it for several weeks now.  None are yet willing to take it.  They are all watching me to see if I burst into flame or, worse, become powerless.”

“I suppose we can’t blame them.”

Geilin shook his head and ran a hand over the spot where his tattoo had once been.  He’d mentioned to Sael recently that it didn’t exactly hurt, but he could feel that it was missing.  “No, sir.  But although I’ve found my training as a vönan an aid to learning Taaweh magic, the Taaweh themselves insist it isn’t essential.  All men—and women—have the ability to learn it.”

Sael saw his father’s eye twitch at the obvious reference to Tanum, so he attempted to redirect the conversation.  “Those young men looked familiar,” he said.  “Who are their families?”

“They are stable boys!” his father snapped.

Sael was taken aback by this, but Geilin seemed unperturbed.  “Only Nalekh lives in the stables, Your Grace.  I believe his family resides in Tessam.  Bol and Ahvi are brothers and they live in the servants’ quarters.”

“The servants’ quarters?”  Sael was just as surprised as his father.  Master Geilin was creating a new order of mages… out of servants?

“They were the only volunteers, Your Lordship,” Geilin explained patiently. 

The vek sniffed.  Then with an air of resignation, he asked, “Have they made any progress?”

“Today is their first day.  It will take some time.”

“How much time?”

Geilin merely spread his hands to indicate he had no idea. 

The vek gave him the bored half-smile he normally reserved for servants he’d grown weary of talking to.  “Carry on, then.”

Sael had no doubt that Geilin sensed the disapproval behind that smile, but the old man merely nodded and said, “Thank you, Your Grace.  Your Lordship.”

He bowed formally and left them to return to his students, the stone wall melting away as he approached it.

The vek muttered under his breath, “I confess I’m skeptical about how useful these new ‘mages’ will prove to be,” before heading back toward to the keep.  Sael fell into step behind him.

This courtyard was somewhat smaller than the main courtyard and it was bordered with decorative wading pools in the four corners and bordering the entrance.  When Sael began to walk past one of these, something reflected in the water caught his eye and he slowed to get a better look.

It was Koreh.

Not a ghostly apparition, but a very clear view of Koreh’s face and shoulders against a bright blue sky.  The angle put his face in shadow, but there was enough light reflected up at him—rippling as though he were peering down into a moving river—that there was no mistaking it was him.  His eyes lit up with recognition, as though he could see Sael too.  Their eyes locked for just a brief moment, before something dark seemed to swim between them and the vision disappeared.

Sael staggered and made a grab for something to steady himself.  He was surprised to find his father there, though the man had been ahead of him a moment earlier.  His hand gripped the vek’s strong forearm tightly, as he fought back the wave of grief that threatened to overwhelm him.

“Are you ill?” his father asked.  “How do you summon that blasted Taaweh physician?”  He was reacting with his usual haughtiness, but Sael could hear the note of concern in his voice.

“I’m all right, father,” Sael told him, though he didn’t feel all right.  His heart felt as if it were being wrenched out of his chest.  “Just… a little lightheaded.”

It couldn’t have been Koreh.  It had to have been a trick of the light.

But it was so clear. 

“Have you eaten anything this morning?” the vek asked.  Then without bothering to wait for an answer, he said, “Let’s get you inside.  I’ll have something brought up from the kitchen.”

Day of Silence flash fiction

SafeMy publisher, Harmony Ink Press, began posting flash fiction from Harmony Ink authors in honor of the Day of Silence on Friday, April 19th.

If you’re not familiar with the Day of Silence, it’s an annual protest that’s been held every year since 1996, when it was started by then-student Maria Pulzetti as a protest against bullying and harassment of LGBT students.  As stated in the wikipedia article, “Students take a day-long “Vow of silence” to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBT students and their supporters.”

Harmony Ink decided it would be cool to have participating authors write a flash fiction piece symbolizing silence in some way.  Mine was a modified excerpt from the third novel in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy (called Gods), which is still being written.  You can read it by clicking on the image above.

You might ask, “Why did you wait until the 24th to post this, if the Day of Silence was on the 19th?”  Basically, I didn’t post until today because I was at a workshop with my publisher in Chicago over the weekend and between that and traveling, things have just been too chaotic for me.  Also, due to the large number of submissions Harmony Ink received, my story wasn’t put on the website until this afternoon.

I’ll close this post with a picture snapped at the workshop of some of the Harmony Ink authors in attendance:  Me (James Erich, looking like I just stepped out of the shower, because I had), Robbie Michaels, Madison Parker, Nessa Warrin (YA Coordinator), Jamie Mayfield, and Geoff Laughton.