Books and herbs, Books

Guest: Interview with Leora Stark.

Today, I welcome Leora Stark to the blog. Take it away, Leora!

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1. How did you come to know you wanted to be an author?

I work part time as a professor so I've been writing in academic forums for a few years now but it's different, it's something I enjoy but it's not …fun. In fact, it's often painful! I started reading a lot of romance and erotica titles about two years ago and a few of them really captured my imagination. Before I knew it, I was lying in bed devising stories and characters of my own. One day I was on the Dreamspinner Press website and I saw that they were coming out with an anthology of stories centered around the university experience. Given that I work as a professor it seemed like fate! I submitted a story, it was accepted and I immediately started working on new ideas. Suddenly, writing was fun and I was hooked.

2. How much is too much or too little description for you in what you read and write?

Personally, I like quite a bit of description – I like to read about what a character is wearing and what a room looks like etc. But it has to be done well, and when you focus a lot on physical description you sometimes risk alienating the reader. I wrote a little bit about this in a blog a few months ago called "So, what are you wearing?" I talked about how some authors are really good at riding that fine line, they're able to paint an evocative scene but they don't hit you over the head with a two page description of someone's décor or outfit. It’s always important that the reader have a chance to form their own picture of a character, that way the character becomes theirs and they often bring something to it that the author might not have even intended so you need to leave some room for that. It's tricky though and I'm certainly still figuring out how to strike that balance as an author!

3. What was the inspiration behind "Fell The Vibrations" that's in Bust Magazine?

That story is about a doctoral student named Jane who is bothered by her neighbors loud music. When she goes to confront him she realizes that he's hearing impaired and that he experiences music in a totally different way than she's used to – through vibrations. He shares this experience with her and well, they end up getting it on. It was inspired by a few things. First, thin walls. We've all had that moment when we want to pound on our neighbors door and tell them to shut the f*ck up. But I wanted the story to have a unique twist so I started thinking about the different ways you can experience music and that's where I came up with the idea that Dan, the neighbor, would be hearing impaired. I remember when I learned about the way that people with a hearing impairment experienced music and how physical it was, it's amazing really. It also just seemed sexy to me, I mean, vibrations, for a woman, can be quite…stimulating, right?

4. Can you tell us about your forthcoming book, "Knock-Out"?

Knockout tells the story of Tyler Morris, a young man who moves to L.A. to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer and Jamie Lewis, an all star trainer who runs a boxing gym. Tyler first met Jamie when he was fifteen when he attended a charity boxing camp. Jamie, then a heavyweight champion, was a volunteer trainer at the camp. The camp was a real turning point for Tyler and he never forgot his time with Jamie. When he shows up in L.A. however, he's not sure if Jamie will remember him or, more importantly, if he'll agree to train him. The story follows their relationship and Tyler's pursuit of his dream.

The story started as a daydream, as all my books do! I had this really detailed fantasy about a boxer and trainer and I just couldn't get it out of my head so I went on literotica and started writing chapters. The response was crazy, people really loved the story and the characters and it became one of the most popular stories in the gay male category. I decided I wanted to polish it up and submit it to Dreamspinner. I'm really excited about this story coming out officially. It's pretty near to my heart. I hope people like it. It will be released by Dreamspinner Press on June 13th.

5. And your forthcoming work, "The Binding"?

Someone to Depend On is totally different from anything else I've ever written. It's a paranormal romance about a fairy like creature and a human.

The official blurb describes it like this:

"In Asgard, a land inhabited by benevolent creatures called Felan, Bero Halvorsen is having an identity crisis. He’s burned out, tired, and he doesn’t want to spend all his energy bonding with humans and solving their problems. Needing some time to himself, Bero resolves to sabotage his next assignment.

That assignment happens to be Dave Whitaker. He’s lost his job, he hates his new apartment, and his relationship has just ended. When he finally breaks down and begs for help, he’s more than a little surprised that someone actually answers him—more so when it transpires that Bero is essentially his fairy godfather.

Neither Dave nor Bero expects the bond that forms between them to turn into something real. Suddenly Bero is faced with a choice: sacrifice Dave’s happiness… or the only life Bero’s ever known."

It's the first in a series of three called "The Binding." The books all have different main characters but they all center upon relationships between a Felan and a human. The books are sweet and fun and they don't take themselves too seriously but I think the underlying message of the series is actually really important, which is basically, that love should never be discounted or ignored. It might sound cheesy but in these books love is what makes the world go round. For the Felan, it's the whole reason for their existence yet they've somehow lost sight of the true value of love and the overall series explores how they might be able to regain that.

It was released May 16 by Dreamspinner Press, I'm so excited to finally have it out there in the world!

6. How have you found the experience of publishing on Literotica?

I had a really great experience on Literotica. The support and feedback I got from readers was incredible. I made a few friends on there and it was a really supportive and fun place to publish. I found it helpful to have people asking when the next installment of a story would come – it pushed me to get my shit together! It was the first time I had ever received any reader feedback and finding out that characters I created mattered to other people kind of blew my mind. I know there are some complaints with Literotica, specifically that there are people on there who deliberately give low "scores" to stories what contain gay characters so that they don't win contests etc but overall, I found the experience really rewarding. I keep meaning to get back on there but things have gotten really busy. I do have a story in mind though….

7. Which periods of history are you most interested in? Will you write a novel set in these periods?

I teach modern European history, basically from the French Revolution to the Second World War. My personal interest, and my area of expertise is mostly the late nineteenth century in France. So many exciting (and sometimes terrifying) things happened then. It's rife with inspiration and I have certainly considered writing a historical fiction novel set in that period. It's sort of percolating in my brain right now!

8. What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I think I'm still figuring that out. I love writing in the m/m genre but I've also dabbled a little in m/f romance and erotica. I think I lean more towards contemporary stories but I'm having a lot of fun writing The Binding series so who knows! I think I'm still so new to this that I don't know what my "genre" is yet.

9. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Oh god, so many things! Getting started writing is always a challenge with each new project. Just writing those first few lines. I also find it hard not to beat myself up when I read someone else's work. It's hard not to feel that other people's books are better than yours, especially when you're new to the craft. I don’t have a hard time thinking of stories that's for sure!

10. Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Once a project is started things seem to flow fairly well. But, like I said above, it's getting those first few lines down that really challenges me. I'm in a situation like that right now – I'm actually doing this interview as a way of procrastinating from writing! Should I not admit that?

(LOL! Sounds perfectly fine to me! - L. J.)

11. What are you reading now?

I've been reading a lot of Georgette Heyer recently, which is sort of random! I admire her wit and her ability to really capture the mores of an era. I've been told I should read Fifty Shades of Grey by various people so I might delve into that soon. I read a lot of fantasy title and YA titles too since I work as an editor of YA book part time. I'm always reading a lot of m/m titles too; Damon Suede, Mary Calmes, KZ Snow, C Cardeno, L.A. Witt, there's so many great authors out there.

12. What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Well, having my writing out there in a book officially has always been a dream of mine. It was so exciting to see my story in Higher Learning when I got a copy in the mail and then to see my name in BUST, that was awesome as I've always been a huge fan of the magazine. My novels are both about to be released so that's a whole new level of excitement to look forward to…

13. What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

I don’t really have a favorite quote…maybe I should. Words are so awesome that it seems overwhelming to pick a handful as your favorite! Can that be my quote?

(It's certainly very true. Words -are- awesome. - L. J.)

14. What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

Probably getting my PhD. It was a friggin hard slog and there were definitely times that I didn’t think I was going to make it.

15. And final question, that I ask everyone I interview - if you were a plant in the next life, what would you be and why?

Lavender. I am obsessed with it. I'd be so relaxed all the time!





KOKnockout.
Tyler Morris did not have a happy childhood. He suffered abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father, then bounced around a series of foster homes. He became unable to express his emotions or deal with his past. Then, at fifteen, at a charity boxing camp hosted by heavyweight champ Jamie Lewis, Tyler found a purpose and an outlet for his anger.

Seven years later, Tyler arrives at the The Gold Arena, Jamie’s Los Angeles gym. He’s desperate to train under the man who helped him turn his life around. With some difficulty, Tyler convinces Jamie to take him on, but their working relationship is complicated by a mutual attraction they both attempt to deny.

Jamie fears their relationship will ruin Tyler's chance at a career in pro boxing. Tyler’s scars run deep, and he knows he could be hurt if he opens up. But how can he expect win in the ring if he won’t let Jamie win his heart?

Coming Soon: Here.

TBThe Binding: Someone to Depend On.
In Asgard, a land inhabited by benevolent creatures called Felan, Bero Halvorsen is having an identity crisis. He’s burned out, tired, and he doesn’t want to spend all his energy bonding with humans and solving their problems. Needing some time to himself, Bero resolves to sabotage his next assignment.


That assignment happens to be Dave Whitaker. He’s lost his job, he hates his new apartment, and his relationship has just ended. When he finally breaks down and begs for help, he’s more than a little surprised that someone actually answers him—more so when it transpires that Bero is essentially his fairy godfather.

Neither Dave nor Bero expects the bond that forms between them to turn into something real. Suddenly Bero is faced with a choice: sacrifice Dave’s happiness… or the only life Bero’s ever known.


Buy it: here.





Leora Stark is a frequent insomniac who spends the wee hours of the night dreaming up sometimes sweet and always dirty stories. Recently, she decided to write some of them down, and now she just can’t stop. Leora lives in Toronto where she makes her living as a professor of history. When she’s not teaching, she can usually be found writing, reading, or fantasizing about her next story (what some might call staring into space, but she knows better). When she’s not doing any of the above, she likes to spend quality time with her partner and her two cats, all three of whom are incredibly cute.

You can find Leora Stark at her website, http://www.leorastark.com or by email, leorastark@gmail.com
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I'm so glad you published that story from Literotica. I can say that there hadn't been anything like that posted in the Gay Male cat, and it was refreshing! Congrats on all that has happened to you lately!

~M
Thanks!! I'm glad I did too, what a great experience. But seriously, if we're talking originality, your work blows my mind! Excited that you're joining the Dreamspinner family :)
Hi Jana! I'm glad to hear it! I feel the same way about your upcoming release - I'm a sucker for that time period and I love the twist! Writing is certainly a good way to escape dealing with students, right?
Thanks, good to know. Yes, I love historicals and anything paranormal.

Oh it definitely is (and for occasionally 'killing' off a few of the more annoying ones)