Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Grace R. Duncan's Casting Couch Interview

I'd like to welcome Grace. R. Duncan, author of Choices to my blog for my first casting couch interview. Grace grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age—many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children—both the human and furry kind. She also teaches information technology classes at a local college.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance, and other erotica, or even dabbling in art.

How did you get started in writing? What made you decide to submit your first story and what was your experience with that? Who was the first person you told when you got your first contract? What was their reaction?

I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember.  Some of them were constructive, some… not so constructive that got me into trouble.  I managed to tame that a bit through school and got away from writing entirely until about ten years ago.  Then I started writing again, mostly for myself.  About five years ago, I started publishing fanfiction of the het variety and then about two years ago, I was convinced to try my hand at original fiction.  With the encouragement of another friend who was in love with one of my original characters in another story, I finally had the courage to think I could write believable characters and wrote Choices.

It took me a long time.  Choices was my 2011 NaNo novel.  It took me over seven months before I felt like it was ready for submission.  My beta and I went through it some six times before I was willing to let go of it. I know I was being crazy, but I couldn’t help it. I was so nervous.  Finally, I put it together and it took me another day before I managed to work up the nerve to hit the “send” button. I let out a little scream when I did.

I am quite sure that Dreamspinner is very, very busy with submissions, but I got my confirmation within hours and then the waiting game started.  I think that, right there, is the hardest part of the publication process — the waiting game.  Editing is hard, don’t get me wrong (no one wants to hear what’s wrong with their story), but the waiting is a nightmare.  I think I checked my email twice a minute for the first two weeks.  I tapered off to once every… two minutes for the next two.  It took me a solid four weeks before I got myself to the point of waiting for my phone to tell me I had email.  Somewhere along the line, I think I stopped running after every little ding, but I can’t guarantee that.

When I got the email that they were accepting Choices for publishing, I did scream that time.   Brought the entire house running (and that’s saying something, in my house).  Finally, I managed to spit out to my husband what had caused me to scream and I'm pretty sure he was as excited as I was.

Where does your inspiration come from for your books?

A million different places.  Songs, pictures, sometimes. A single line someone says.  Anywhere and everywhere.  I currently have notes for some 15 different books/stories I want to write. And most of them came from the simplest of suggestions, like Choices did.

How do you make the important choices when it comes to writing your stories? Point of View? Voice? Theme? Title?
I most often write in third person.  It's just most comfortable for me.  I do have a few minute stories here and there in first person, however the vast majority are in 3rd. As far as the type of third person, that varies depending on the story and how much each of the characters wants to be heard.

The theme, like the title, just comes out as I work.  Sometimes, it's obvious early on (the working title and the theme for my current WIP - Deception, I've known since before I even submitted Choices) and for other things, I will write the entire story and the theme smacks me in the head after the fact.  Most of the time, my titles are hard won because I am terrible at coming up with them.

Are your characters purely fictional, or do you sample from people you’ve met in real life? Which one of your characters is most like you? How so?

I would never presume to try to claim that all of my characters or their attributes are entirely original. I doubt any author could claim that.  The fact is we absorb details better than most sponges absorb water and I am quite sure that we incorporate bits of real people and characters we love from other stories into our own whether we intend to, or not. 

That said, I do, in fact, often start with someone I know or the basic appearance or personality of a character I like and let them grow into their own person in my head.  Choices began that way and Teman and Bathasar quickly became very much their own people before I even realized it. 

As for who is most like me, I would have to say Teman. I have always been something of a nomad, liking to find out what's around the corner or over the hill. I am also very service-oriented like he is with the ingrained want to please those around me, which I will get into more in a blog post later, but is not really something that belongs here.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

Actually hitting the submit button on my first book.  This sounds a little crazy, maybe, but it's the truth.  For all that I've written over the years, for all that I've laughed and cried with my characters and my readers have laughed and cried with my characters, my biggest accomplishment was actually getting the nerve together to submit. Not getting accepted - just putting it out there.  And I'm incredibly glad I did because the journey has been incredible, so far and it's only just beginning.

If you could co-author a book with any other writer, who would it be?

Oh my. There are so many possible answers to this. But my very favorite authors that I think of first are either dead or in a genre that I couldn't conceive of writing in (I say this now, but just watch... I'll pen something in horror just because the fates love to make me eat my words). 

However, after saying that, there are any number of wonderful Dreamspinner authors that I would love to collaborate with. Just a couple that come to mind would be Shira Anthony or H.B. Pattskyn.  Someday, I would like to try my hand at collaboration. I've written fanfiction with a few folks before, so I think original could be fun, challenging and a wonderful learning experience.

What is the one book that you think that very few people have read but everyone should read? What are you reading right now?

Hmm... I doubt I have any that I can think of that few people have read.  I will say that one book everyone should get through at least once is the Lord of the Rings.  There are so many wonderful things in that book that I just think everyone could take something away from it, but I am well aware that fantasy isn't everyone's forte.

What do you find the most difficult part of the writing process?

Editing. Not my editing, though that is tough enough. It's getting the manuscript back from the other editors. I am far from someone who considers their words "precious little darlings". I have sentences, lines and phrases that I really like, but I am well aware that many things can go.

However, that is not the same as having something you've poured so much of yourself into get sliced to shreds. Yes, I am well aware that many authors have fragile egos.  It's not that, so much. But I came away from my first line edits wondering what the hell I was doing trying to write. Sort of like... How in the world did I have the nerve to think I could be published? It took my content editor — a truly wonderful person with the patience of a saint — to talk me down and remind me that obviously Dreamspinner saw something in it because they accepted it and I was, in fact, in the editing process, which meant I belonged there.

What is a typical working day like for you? Where do you write? Do you wait for inspiration? Do you set certain writing goals? Are there any specific tools you use to help you write?
On one of the few days that I am able to devote to writing I find that I work best if I can organize myself, first and foremost.  I set aside specific time to write, set goals for each session and sometimes go so far as to write on my smaller netbook instead of my main desktop computer because it is limited and, hence, I cannot easily be distracted. It doesn't always work, but it works most of the time.

For writing, I have joined the Scrivener group.  I find I like having all of my research in the same place, I can even keep my music playlist there, pictures and art for the story... A lot of things. It's really grown on me and I find myself missing it when I don't have it available.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure (literary or otherwise)?

Well, actually, I don't like to think of things as guilty pleasures.  That makes it sound like we should apologize or be ashamed of the things that we like or are attracted to.  In our genre, we write about men who are attracted to men and most of us recognize that this isn't a choice that they make. It is simply who they are. Likewise, the things we enjoy, our likes and dislikes aren't something we just decide one day.  Do I like chocolate or not? Do I enjoy reading (and writing) about two men? Then I do.  No matter what it is, I shouldn't feel guilty about it because it shouldn't be something I ought be ashamed of. Mind you, that doesn't mean that there aren't tastes out there that people shouldn't pursue (like true pedophilia, for instance) but for the most part, no, I don't feel guilty about the things I enjoy.

And…last but not least: What are you working on now and what can we expect to see from you in the coming year?

As I mentioned earlier, I have a ridiculous number of stories planned, however, my current WIP is the sequel to Choices, called Deception with Cyrus and Nadir of Choices. I hope to work on a third book in the same world, featuring Darius and Salehi.  And I have a novella series that I hope Dreamspinner will want.

Excerpt from Deception (Warning, this excerpt may contain spoilers):
Behekam, Neyem - 1095 A.D.

Bathasar slid along the alley, shifting from shadow to shadow.  He could just barely make out the footsteps behind him and made sure he kept enough distance between him and them to stay out of the man’s knife range.  He had no wish to go back to the palace with a wound that his advisors would lecture him over.

He took a swift right turn and then a left, but the footsteps never faltered.  He frowned and melted further into the shadows, reminding himself to be lighter on his feet. As malik, he rarely worried about how softly he walked, except if he was trying to let his lover sleep when he couldn’t. He forced himself to think like a thief or assassin and worked to shift his weight.  Thieves didn’t stride like a malik did, they slipped or tiptoed. 

Another turn to the left, then another right and Bathasar found himself facing a solid wall.  He grumbled under his breath and frowned, trying to decide if he should attempt to scale it or turn around.  Before he could choose, however, the first knife flew through the air and embedded itself in the fence next to him.  He spun on his heel and cursed soundly as three more found their marks around his torso, an inch of their blades buried in wood.

“Four? Where on Earth did you hide four?”  Bathasar asked, amazement and amusement fighting for dominance in his tone.

“Where I hid them, which is the same place I hid this one,” Teman said, holding a fifth knife, aimed at Bathasar’s stomach, “Isn’t an issue.  What is, is that I could have heard you walking from a mile away.  If you insist on striding, you might as well paint a target on your back.”

Bathasar laughed.  “You sound so peevish, love.”

Teman rolled his eyes.  “That’s because the idea of my love’s life being taken tends to make me a bit peevish.”  He pulled the knife back, spun it and it disappeared into his pants.  Bathasar watched, eyebrows going up.

“Have I mentioned lately that I am very grateful that you’re on my side?” He asked, chuckling.  “And really, let them come. I do know how to use the sword I carry, you know.”

“The problem, my love, is that they won’t let you get close enough to use it.  You would already be dead were it not for the fortunate position I was in my first night in the Grand Hall.  They have deadly aim. They do not miss and were it not for the fact that you had one on your side, you would be dead.” Teman shook his head and crossed his arms as he peered up at Bathasar through the gloom of the alley.

Bathasar sighed. “You are right, of course.  I promise next time to work harder at walking lighter.  It is exceedingly difficult. I have spent my entire life being groomed for the throne. It’s not easy to undo nearly thirty years of training.”

“I know.  But your life may depend on it.  I can’t always be at your side.”  Teman frowned and took the single step closer to Bathasar as his lover wrapped arms around him.

“I intend to change that.  I have been thinking about it and I do not think there’s anything you shouldn’t be able to be present for.” 

“Really?” Teman asked, looking up.

Bathasar nodded. “Yes.  Besides, if you insist on acting as my bodyguard,” he said, sighing and Teman chuckled at the put-upon tone.  “Then we must establish that you will be with me at all times. If they think I can’t live without my pleasure slave then they won’t question it.”  He paused to run his thumb over the jeweled collar that Teman wore.  “And you will be able to protect me.”  He frowned again. “I don’t like the idea of you being the one to protect me.”

“It makes sense. I’m more than capable of it and you are the much more valuable out of the two of us, love.”  Teman reached up and pushed a few stray strands of black hair out of Bathasar’s face.

Bathasar rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, so you’ve told me.  Well, I have had enough of ‘training’ for one night.  There are much more pleasant things I can think of to do with you.”

“Mmmm, I can agree with that,” Teman murmured and tilted his lips up to be caught by Bathasar’s.  A full minute later, they pulled apart, both having trouble breathing.

“Come, let’s get back inside.  I want you,” Bathasar managed as he struggled for air.  Teman had been back at the palace for nearly a year since his initial release and self-discovery and even after all that time, Bathasar still had trouble gathering wits after kisses like that.

Teman stepped back and took Bathasar’s hand.  “Then let’s not wait any longer, my love.” Teman grinned and Bathasar laughed as they turned toward the palace entrance.

Choices is available from Dreamspinner Press on March 4th. You can pre-order a copy of Choices here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3611&cPath=55_777
and Grace can be found on her
Website: http://www.grace-duncan.com/
Blog: http://gracerduncan.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorgraceduncan
Twitter: http://twitter.com/gracerduncan
E-mail: duncan.grace.r@gmail.com


  1. Woo Hoo - Grace - you're Cate's first :-P. Great interview, I can almost see you blowing a puff of air as you try to answer a few of these questions. Nice to see you're busy on more works to entertain us.


    1. Well, since I *was* her first, I hope I was gentle enough. ;)

      And some of those were tough! Cate sure didn't hold back! But that's good. I l ike a challenge when I write.

      Thanks! I hope it really is entertaining.


    2. Totally gentle enough. You made it a very memorable experience ;)

    3. WOO HOO!! I like to be memorable! *waggles eyebrows* ;) LOL

  2. Really enjoyed reading this interview... great questions, Cate, and Grace, I learned more than I expected I would, haha!

    So excited about Choices...

    And Keeping Sweets is definitely something I'd like to read as well!

    1. O.o You learned something! Apparently, we need to talk. LOL!

    2. Thanks for stopping by (and I love the name!)

  3. Great post! Looking forward to reading the book!

    1. Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy it! *beams*

  4. Great post and awesome questions! Choices sounds like a saucy little adventure. Action, Adventure, and Boys Touching. My kind of story. ;D

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and thanks for the comment! I do hope people really enjoy it! LOL I don't know if I know how to write a story without the Boys Touching part. XD

  5. Thank you all for taking the time to stop in and read Grace's interview! It was great to have her here and Choices sounds like it's going to be fabulous!

    1. Thank you so much for hosting me, Cate! I really appreciate it. I enjoyed the questions.

      I do hope you like Choices! I can't wait for it to be out! *grin*