Author interview - Elin Gregory
There are some things in life so good you can't get enough of them. Like green jelly babies and elin_gregory. Elin's a great gal, has a smashing sense of humour, and her sheep nearly caused an outbreak of WWIII at the recent UK Meet.
Tell me about your latest release.
Ah, this is an experiment. Etopia Press, who published "Alike As Two Bees", put out a very short notice call for submissions of erotica on a Hallowe'en theme and since I have a bit of a horror of writing sex scenes I thought I'd better have a bash at it. You know - kill or cure? The result is called "Set in Stone" and it is very short.
In the story, Joe is the newest member of the Mountain Rescue squad based in the Brecon Beacons and has to endure their 'new boy's ritual - spending the night all alone by a standing stone high in the hills. But he's not quite as alone as he thought.
What did you find different about writing a short story?
I've written very short stuff before but have always had time to fiddle about, get the characters organised in my head, get a real feel for their voices. This time I had about 3 weeks to get it done, one of which I wasted trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge, and another trying to negotiate some time to write. That said, it doesn't take long to write three thousand words. However, every word there has to be effective. There's no space for long descriptions, or even much for character development, unless it's done very skillfully and economically.
Is there a secret to producing a good short?
If there is I'm not privy to it. Just going by the short stories that I've read that have blown me away, I'd say that the trick is not to try to do too much in the limited word count and to make every word count. But just because I suggest 'don't try to do too much' that doesn't mean short stories can't have incredible power. Sometimes a very important idea is best encapsulated in a short piece of fiction. We all remember our parables. Sometimes a short story can make a point about society that no amount of column inches or sound bites can manage. For instance "The Ones that Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K Leguin. I can't recommend it highly enough but it's uncomfortable reading that will stay with you a long, long while. The skill to write like that AND produce ground-breaking novels is something to aspire to.
Did you find erotica easy to tackle?
LOL, no, I didn't. I found it very difficult and worrying. Do I appear to be fetishising gay men for my own pleasure? Is what I have written inaccurate or insulting? I sincerely hope not in either case. The only thing I could do was ask a friend to read it and he said it was all right, but you have to take into account that not all gay men are the same. One might find something reasonable, even fun, and another might find it deeply offensive.
I'm pretty certain that what I wrote is a sex scene, NOT erotica. I've talked to erotica authors and they have said that they really enjoy penning sex scenes, in fact, that those are the parts of the story they enjoy writing most. Given a longer word count to expand into, I would have written a lot more mountain rescue and a lot more archaeology rather than adding more sex scenes, so - um - QED.
The other awkward thing was writing in first person to avoid all the inevitable pronoun confusion. I kept wanting to slip into third.
Is there any format or genre of story you couldn't tackle?
Splatter horror. The James Herbert stuff. I know that if what I was writing was making me hyperventilate and feel nauseous the horror aficionados would be tapping their feet wondering when it was going to start getting good.
What was the best thing for you about the UK Meet?
Chatting to you, sunshine :) And Grace, Clare, Stevie, Aleks, Bruin, Ann and so many other lovely people. I met Jordan Castillo Price - what a star. We shared a nice cool draft from the hotel door! But best of all was being able to talk about the art and craft of QuILTTBAG fiction without having to spend time explaining the what where and why of it. That was a joy and it's far too long til July 2013!
What would be the best thing which could happen to the m/m genre?
Several conversations I had in Brighton really made me excited for the future. I can forsee a time when an LGBT tag won't automatically mean erotica in the minds of the readers and booksellers, when the 10% of the population who place themselves somewhere on the rainbow will be able to go into Waterstones and find that 10% of the books are relevant to them and their lives and loves, when maybe, in the far distant future, a reader won't be bothered whether the latest blockbusting DaVinciCodealike features a gay hero/heroine or a straight one. Well, we can dream can't we?
For the moment I think the best thing might be to consolidate the tremendous progress made over the past few years and take advantage of the inclusivity, the passion and the enthusiasm of supporters of the genre to promote it as something that anyone can enjoy reading. There are all genres, all 'heat levels', all kinds of special interests represented under that one inclusive tag and not nearly enough people know about it. Poor souls, they are really missing out!