Seren: You have your first book out with Ellora's Cave, a shapeshifter story with a married couple who incorporates another man into their relationship. What gave you the idea for this story? Why did you decide to include male-on-male sex in the relationship?
Alexa: The basic idea of the plot came forth when we were stuck at an airport with all the other frustrated families. My mind started wandering, examining the fun ways a couple without children could pass the time. When I saw Ellora’s Cave’s call for submissions, the idea of two hunky shifters came to me. I approached Patrick with the idea and he was all for it.
The story was conceived with a male/female/male ménage. I always wanted to write a story that contained male/male elements and I think the emotional relationship between the three characters was quite natural to write. Thankfully, Patrick was as open to it as I was.
I think Animal Attraction would have had less intensity if the story was only about Wes and Tab. The addition of Brand, the more natural Alpha, makes the marriage of Wes and Tab take on more significance and adds so much to their struggling relationship. It is a blend of old and new, of the old relationship flourishing with new blood. And then you have the shifter element and the pecking order of the Alphas. Our readers and publisher were particularly happy with a scene where the two men establish the pecking order. We were firm in our belief that both men needed to be Alpha, but one the more dominant Alpha. I hope that came thorough!
Patrick: When Alexa brought up the idea of the story, I was all for it. We both love the idea of shape shifters and since we are both devoted cat people, it is no surprise our heroes tend to be big cats. Besides, were-kitties are just plain fun to write!
As far as the male-male relationship goes, I agree 100% with Alexa… there is something endearingly touching about two men, macho on the outside, feeling their way into a relationship. The dynamics are fascinating. And on the coldly commercial side, everybody doing a ménage story writes about a woman joining a hetero couple. We both figured that doing a story about the other possibility was both a unique opportunity and a challenge to write properly. How DO two men, both Alphas and both indoctrinated by our society to be highly touchy about their sexuality, break past those barriers to form a relationship? In this case, their mutual love of Tabitha became their bridge to each other.
Seren: Why do you thing m/m has recently become such a big fad with women romance readers?
Alexa: I think it is a natural progression from the ménage. Women are fascinated by Alpha Males who can show their vulnerability and is there anything more vulnerable than a man who can expose his soul to another man? Add in the emotional layers to a male/male relationship or a ménage where the males are also romantically involved, and many women are hooked.
Additionally, women are more well spoken about their sexuality than ever. With the advent of the Internet, adventurous women are exposed to all sorts of literature. Erotic romance is no longer as taboo as it once was. Many bookstores carry erotica and erotic romance books. As erotic romance has become more mainstream, women have felt free to seek out stories that push more boundaries. The Internet has also allowed “slash” (male/male) fan fiction to be accessible to fans of popular TV shows, books, and movies. It seems natural for readers to look for these sorts of stories featuring original characters.
Patrick: Well, I lack the proper plumbing to be qualified to guess why women find male/male attractive. I will however point out that it is unusual, rare and just reeks of overactive male pheromones
Seren: Do you think romance readers are as interested in just two men as they are in man/man/woman menages?
Alexa: I think it depends on the story and the reader. For some readers, I’m sure that the appeal and fantasy of being the filling in a male/male sandwich is the ultimate, but for others the appeal of two men becoming vulnerable to each other is intoxicating. Some books lend themselves to a ménage well while others lend themselves to a male/male relationship. It all depends on the plot of the specific story. I think both have huge appeal!
Patrick: I think it depends on the reader. Straight male/male has its place and its readership. I think that male/male/female or even male/female/female relationships are more complex and thus far more interesting as story material. Speaking only for myself, I prefer to read a ménage story than a straight male/male story… unless it was very well done indeed.
Seren: Do you have more stories coming? And if so, will some or all include m/m or m/m/f?
Alexa & Patrick: Yes! For the foreseeable future, all of our ménages will have a male/male element. We do have some male/female non-ménage stories in the pipeline.
Right now, we have two stories accepted by Ellora’s Cave. Primal Fate is part of the Torrid Tarot series and is based on the Emperor tarot card. It is set in the African savannah. Can a lion and a meerkat shifter overcome their differences and find love? It is a male/female erotic romance.
Troika is also part of the Torrid Tarot series and is based on the Two of Pentacles card. When Steve Delarian crash lands on a planet during a supply run, he never expects to find his old lover and his lover’s wife there. Since James left Steve for the woman, there is a lot of unfinished business between the two men. Add in Moira and a sexy emotionally charged ménage results. But Steve has never been the kind of guy to settle down and he is desperately needed elsewhere. Can James and Moira break down his defenses? This is a male/male/female ménage.
Additionally, we have two stories (male/female) under consideration with our publisher and we’re just about to start on our first male/male erotic romance.
Seren: How do you research your male-on-male sex scenes? Do you think they are realistic?
Patrick: Hey, come back here, Alexa! Hmm. Well, since my partner seems to have chickened out on this answer, I guess it’s up to me. How does a man answer this without sounding like he himself is deeply into male/male sex himself? I am very comfortable with my own sexuality, Thank You Very Much!
Seriously, if you have an open mind and have not the slightest trace of homophobia, it becomes a matter of common sense, mostly. How would you feel in situation
I also have the advantage of having friends who live the life. The best man at my first wedding, decided after 8 years of marriage and two children he preferred men. He and his wife parted amicably and raised their kids together. He is still, to me, one of my best friends. I have others I can ask difficult questions, if common sense can’t provide an answer.
Alexa: Well, researching the physical aspects of male/male isn’t the hardest part. The hard part is to make sure the males involved react as men instead of women with penises. The male brain, the male approach to sex is different to the way females approach sex and relationships. To make the men realistic and not caricatures we need to delve into the emotional consequences of situations.
The pure physical research can be done by watching movies or looking at pictures. It’s the emotional reactions that are so much harder to quantify, as neither of us has been in a male/male relationship. We have wonderful friends who are quick to answer questions and are gracious enough to discuss their experiences with us.
Seren: Thank you very much for talking to me, Alexa and Patrick. And good luck with your upcoming releases, I'll look forward to reading them!
Animal Attraction: ebook at Ellora's Cave; $2.99 download