Blog-anniversary Author Interview: Eliot Grayson
Today we’d like to welcome Eliot Grayson to our blog during our 8th blog anniversary. There’s been quite a few more books from Eliot since they were last on the blog and we thought knowing about their writing process and progress would be really interesting for us and our fellow readers. We hope you enjoy this interview…
K: This had to be my first question. As someone who personally enjoys a good redemption story but can also have a love-hate relationship with it – it’s that visceral, emotional tug – it’s been interesting to see how you can redeem a character within a book, within a series. Hello, Tom Drake! in the Reluctant Husband. It’s not an easy thing to do, readers can hold a grudge. Are you aware you write this way as you’re writing the story? Also, because I don’t think there is such a thing as a writer who doesn’t read, is that something you enjoy reading?
EG: With The Reluctant Husband, I was very aware I was writing a redemption, love/hate story! I had no plans to write a book for Tom originally when I wrote the first book he appeared in as the villain. One night, I was taking a shower (weirdly, I get most of my plot ideas in the shower), and it came to me that Tom was also Goddess-Blessed, and that his situation was a lot more complicated than I, or anyone else, had thought…and then I set out to give him an enemies-to-lovers story, since I really do enjoy that type of plot and felt like he needed to go through some trouble for his behavior.
I knew that readers didn’t like him in book one, but I truly didn’t expect readers to hold the level of grudge that they did! I’ve seen so many reviews of The Replacement Husband that mention loving that book, but thinking they probably won’t go on to read Tom’s book because they hated him so much. On the flip side, I have plenty of reviews of The Reluctant Husband that say things like, “I can’t believe Tom’s story worked for me, I didn’t want to give it a chance, but I’m glad I did…” I’ve even considered amending the blurb of The Reluctant Husband to promise readers that yes, Tom had some good reasons, and yes, he also has to suffer for his HEA! That feels a little desperate, so I haven’t! But it does frustrate me a little and make me wonder what I ought to have done differently to give readers more faith that I’d pull it off in the second book. I try to take it as a compliment, that I made Tom convincingly awful while writing his characterization in book one, but I do feel bad that readers are so turned off of book two.
Last note, I was aware of this in The Reluctant Husband, but I’ve had a lot of people say they didn’t like Arik in Captive Mate. In that case, I’d say I was more oblivious. I knew some people would find him unlikeable, but I liked him just fine and didn’t know it would be so overwhelming! Since I don’t find writing good through-and-through characters all that interesting, this is probably a problem that’s going to crop up for me permanently. 😊
To quickly and definitively answer your last question there, I love reading these kinds of books and these kinds of characters. There really is no level of morally gray that’s too much for me.
K: Another aspect of your writing I appreciate is the level of snark you can inject into characters, the Mismatched Mates series being a great case in point. Dear lord… Ian and Nate in The Alpha’s Warlock, and now there’s Arik, Captive Mate, who brings peak level snark when he’s added to the other personalities in this series. Is this the actual characters snarking in your head, or are you a pro-level snarketeer in life?
EG: To the frequent amusement and more-frequent annoyance of the people in my life, yes, I admit to having gold-medaled in snarketeering in every event I’ve entered. I have a very sharp tongue and have only learned to bite it relatively recently. An example: In high school, we were assigned a paper/presentation: we’d write a paper on an ethical dilemma we’d faced at some point and then read/present it to the school. I did it the morning of and I wrote my paper on the dilemma I’d faced that morning of whether or not to make up an ethical dilemma (and thus lie) in order to have a paper to present later on. However, I chose not to make up an ethical dilemma, thus making the ethical choice, and was rewarded for my virtue by having in the process overcome an ethical issue, thus giving me a subject for my paper after all. The headmaster, who had some…let’s say, issues with me…picked me to go first out of the whole school. It was meant to put me uncomfortably on the spot, since he knew I’d written my paper at the last minute and assumed I’d be embarrassed. I read my very self-righteous and tongue-in-cheek paper with aplomb and had the satisfaction of watching his face go slowly tomato-red followed by eggplant-purple as the school erupted into laughter.
Anyway, I’ve learned to be slightly more tactful, but I haven’t undergone any significant personal growth since then, sad to say. I still snicker when I think about this, some twenty-odd years later. (My old headmaster just retired at long last. He looks happy in his Facebook photos, so no permanent damage done.)
K: You also write endearing, memorable characters, characters who just bore under the skin and make you care. At some point in the book I know I’ve crossed over into love with your characters. It’s a good feeling. Do you feel this too? Do you have characters you’ve written, or are writing, who you just flat-out love? Or the reverse, who occasionally make your writing life aggravating as heck?
EG: I love all my characters, or I wouldn’t be able to write them! I really have to enjoy them all on their own merits. I will say that Ian from The Alpha’s Warlock is a hero I would personally want to climb like a tree. And Fiora in Deven and the Dragon made me laugh a lot, even though I was the one technically creating him.
There are some who aggravate me. It was particularly difficult getting Mal and Tom to admit their feelings in The Reluctant Husband. They were both very stubborn.
K: Oh my god, Mal and Tom really were stubborn!
K: You also write different styles of books within gay romance (or mm) – historical, alt-historical, contemporary, paranormal, how difficult (perhaps easy) is it for you to change up what you write? I’m very much a mood reader, is it like that writing-wise? Do you think, ‘you know what? I’m in the mood for historical, let’s do that’. Or is it a matter of voices in your head talking to, screaming at, or blackmailing you into telling their story? 😊 Or do you get an idea or story jolt from something you see? Or from your daily environment?
EG: Oh, it’s definitely a mood thing. And usually, I’m in the mood to write any other book than the one I’m supposed to be working on… 😛 Sometimes it’s hard to switch gears from, say, first-person contemporary paranormal to third-person Regency. I find that reading a little something as a palate cleanser is helpful. Sometimes it’s useful to read something in the same vein as what I want to write in order to set the mood, and sometimes it’s better to read something totally different just to reboot my brain.
One reason why my books are so eclectic and released in no particular order (to the reader, anyway) is that the voices in my head do make their presence known, and I get that itch to write a particular book. I don’t force it, ever. I write the books I want to read, and hope that translates into readers feeling the same way!
K: Do you have any characters now that need their story told that may have appeared in other books you’ve written, even those you thought would be a one-off?
EG: A few, actually!
K: If yes, who might they be?
EG: There are a few characters from my books whom I think most readers could predict as future sequel protagonists, but I also have a few in the back of my mind I don’t think anyone’s predicted, but whose stories started coming at me in the shower.
I’ve been cagey about these to date, because I like to keep my secrets, but since this is your anniversary, I’ll share a little. The evil cousin’s second in his duel from the end of The Reluctant Husband, Thorpe? Yeah, he’s got a whole book in my head. He only appears for a hot minute, but…he’s going to eventually be the star. Speaking of morally gray characters…I don’t know if he’s actually going to murder anyone on page, but it’s not out of the question.
Also, the doctor who cured the minor side character’s scarlet fever in Deven and the Dragon is going to have his own book eventually. What happens when a dragon needs a human physician? Lots of sex and arguing, probably, since this is my book we’re talking about here.
K: What’s on the horizon for Eliot Grayson in the near and not too distant future in terms of standalone books or series additions?
EG: I’m releasing a standalone fantasy and a standalone contemporary, both part of shared element and shared world series, in the spring. The Mismatched Mates series is going to get a standalone novella as part of a group giveaway I’m doing in January. So that means I’m all booked up on writing, and can’t release anything else in 2020! Hopefully the wait will be worth it.
After that, oh man, there are so many books that I hope to get out in the next couple of years. Once a Gentleman (Regency historical, sequel to Like a Gentleman), another Goddess-Blessed book, three more Mismatched Mates books (and yes, one of them will be Charlie and Dor, pinky-swear!), a sci-fi with a sequel already planned, another sci-fi series (this one will be novellas/shorts in a linked narrative following the misadventures of a colony ship commander), another book in the same world as The One Decent Thing…
If anyone has suggestions for how to undergo mitosis, please let me know! On the other hand, I’m not sure I could live with another me. We’d strangle each other.
K: I’ll get my son on to cloning/regenerating you. He’d probably fancy the whole mad scientist thing 😀
Thank you to Eliot Grayson for joining us during our 8th blog anniversary celebration with this excellent interview. Eliot has a great giveaway on offer too.
EG: Thank you so much for having me!! I’m honored to be a part of your 8th anniversary.
**This giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Micca.
Elliot Grayson is offering either an e-book copy of the very popular and delightfully snarky paranormal romance The Alpha’s Warlock or, if you’ve read that, the equally fantastic second series book, Captive Mate to one lucky reader. Entry is via the Rafflecopter below or you can leave a comment on this blog post. This giveaway runs for 10 days from Oct 2nd. Good luck!
I’m an editor by day and a romance writer by night, at least on a good day. I’m more of a procrastinator by day and despairing eater of chocolate by night when inspiration doesn’t flow and my day-job clients are driving me to insanity. Go ahead and guess which of these is more common.
My steady childhood diet of pulp science fiction, classic tales of adventure, and romance novels surreptitiously borrowed from my grandmother eventually led me to writing; I picked up my first M/M romance a few years ago and I’ve been enjoying the genre as a reader and an author ever since.
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