Today’s guest blogger Bonnie Dee is a multipublished author with Samhain, Liquid Silver, Loose Id, Red Sage, Cleis Press and now Carina Press. (there may be more, but there was such a long list of books on her website, I didn’t have time to go through her whole list.) Bonnie writes historicals, paranormals, and explores both m/f relationships as well as m/m relationships. I’m really looking forward to reading the twist she’s put on a classic…Welcome, Bonnie!
Thanks for having me on your blog today, Leah. I’m really excited to be one of the authors included in Carina Press’s launch. JUNGLE HEAT releases Monday, June 7.
Congo Free State, 1888
On a mission deep in the jungle, Oxford anthropologist James Litchfield comes face-to-face with a local legend: a wild man who wanders with mountain gorillas and lives as one of their own.
The chance encounter with the savage, whom James calls Michael, leads to a game of observation and exploration. Their mutual curiosity turns to an attraction; one that Michael has never experienced and James is desperate to deny.
When members of the expedition unearth James’s secret discovery, a living specimen of man at his most primitive, Michael becomes a pawn in their quest for fame.
As their relationship deepens, James is compelled to protect Michael from the academics who would treat him as nothing more than a scientific acquisition and London society, which threatens to destroy their passionate bond.
Leah here: Sound interesting? There’s a small snippet of an excerpt after Bonnie’s interview, but if you want a longer read, follow the link to my Excerpts page.
Leah: So tell me when you first realized you wanted to try getting published? Was it an Aha! moment? Or was it a dream from when you’d been little? Or were you dragged into it kicking and screaming?
Bonnie: When I was a child I wanted to be a writer, I still have a story about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat on a yellow legal tablet which I wrote in second grade. I read all the time and just knew I’d be a writer some day. But by the time I’d finished college the dream had dimmed and reality set in. I had to have a money-earning job and I soon had a family that required lots of time and attention. It wasn’t until 2000 that I began writing again. I dabbled in fanfiction for a while, a really great place to practice and grow as a writer. After a couple of years of playing in the sandbox, I decided I was ready to try to give my own characters voices and stories. I co-wrote my first book with a friend because I didn’t feel confident enough to tackle an entire novel alone. After discovering the world of e-publishing, I never stopped writing and now have over twenty published novellas and novels. So becoming a published author was a slow process that took many years. I wouldn’t have been ready until recently to have the strength and determination to take rejection and keep soldiering on.
Leah: With your latest release, did you have any specific inspiration? Did you do anything to help keep you in their world – music or a movie or something?
Bonnie: My inspiration for Jungle Heat was the Tarzan legend—not so much Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original story as the 80’s movie Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan. Let me start off by saying my hero is NOT named Tarzan. The name’s got too much cheese-factor for me. And because this is a male/male romance, my hero’s not Jane but James. I got a kick out of keeping the name as similar as possible.
Why a gay romance you ask? Because it provides a unique and refreshing way of telling the story. There’s an intriguing symmetry in the two men’s experience. Both feel like outsiders in the society in which they live. Both are lonely men who yearn for something just beyond reach, a missing part of themselves. The discovery and acceptance of that missing part makes for a great romance.
Leah: See, that’s what I like to do–take a standard trope and twist it up. It makes for much more interesting reading. If you could go back to meet yourself as you were just getting out of high school, what advice would you give yourself?
Bonnie: I don’t believe we could ever advise our younger selves. They simply wouldn’t listen. It takes enduring trials in the crucible of life to force you to become stronger, braver and better. I would tell that self-doubting girl to be bold, not to care what people think and to have more confidence in her abilities. But she would look at me like youth always looks at age with a doubting gaze. She’d give a condescending smile and nod and go right on being who she must be at that moment in her life.
Leah: Gee, that sounds like you’re having a conversation with one of my sons, which tells me you’re probably right. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do just to kick back and relax?
Bonnie: I love both movies and television dramas. I have an eclectic collection of favourite TV shows. No medical or police procedurals included. I like historicals like Deadwood, Rome and the Tudors. I enjoy testosterone-laden shows featured on FX such as Sons of Anarchy, Rescue Me and Justified. I like relationship-driven shows, family dramas like Friday Night Lights, or female-oriented shows like Sex and the City. Mad Men is superb. And of course I have the complete DVD collection of both Buffy and Angel. Older favourite shows include My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks. My newest discovery is a Brit post-apocalyptic series called Survivors. So you can see my tastes, much like my writing, are all over the place.
Um, I do get out from behind a TV or computer screen and exercise too. I’m not a complete lump.
Leah (who is a complete lump) Okay, quick question to wind things up here: Cat or Dog?
There’s nothing more comforting than a cat’s purr and their warm fur. I’ve always preferred cats although I own dogs too. But dogs are smelly and needy. Cats just “be”–cool, calm and collected.
Leah: *snerk* I’ve got a smelly, needy cat named Spike I’d like to introduce you to. 😉 If you want to know more about Bonnie, or read the long list of books she has available, visit her website. You can also find Bonnie on Facebook or on Twitter. And if you’re excited to buy her Jungle Heat, you can get the link from her page on June 7th, or here on this page as I’ll be adding in the buy links as the Carina bookstore goes live.
Odd One watched, as still as the tree trunk by which he stood, not moving more than his eyes as Old Grunt had taught him. His pale, furless skin caked with river mud was nearly the same gray-brown as the tree. His light hair was also matted with mud and his face smeared so only the whites of his strange blue eyes might give his position away. He could never hide in plain sight like the Others, but he did the best he could.
Something was moving loudly through the underbrush—a foolish animal without enough sense to slip quietly between the leaves or to step lightly on the ground. The footsteps were different from any creature he’d ever heard, a heavy tread. It sounded as if there were more than one. He judged that the approaching animals had the weight of a leopard but not the stealthily padded paws.
Excitement tingled through him, making the hair rise on his nape. He clenched the sharpened stick in his fist, pressed his back against the rough bark and waited for whatever was coming.
One of the creatures made a sound as it came closer. Not a screech or cry, not a groan, hoot or whimper, but a noise unlike anything he’d heard before yet strangely familiar. A dim memory struggled to float up in his mind. He reached for it, and it was gone.
His heart pounded and he breathed faster as he glimpsed one of the creatures between the leaves. It walked upright on two legs just as he did and like the Others did some of the time. He wanted to leap forward, to see all of it at once instead of flashes through the undergrowth.
There were two of them, one walking behind the other. The pair communicated back and forth with their strange calls. He caught his breath. These were like the sounds he sometimes made when he was all alone in the forest, the noises his throat and tongue made that none of the Others could duplicate.
The pair moved into the clearing in front of him where they stopped and stood looking around. His heart raced even faster. The two creatures looked like him, or what he’d seen of himself reflected in still water. Their faces and hands were naked like his with the same prominent noses and fully formed lips. Hair grew on the lower part of their faces. Their bodies were covered with something that was neither fur, skin nor scales but something completely foreign.
One of them took a thing off the top of his head and ran a hand through sweat-flattened hair—hair like his, not fur as most animals had—and white like the streaks in Old Grunt’s ruff. These animals were his kind. There were more in the world like him. He wasn’t alone.