elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Eric and Geoff: Mingled Destinies

Geoff: Hey everyone! First of all, thanks for having us, Elisa. Eric and I are both big fans and we’re honored to be here. Secondly, some of you might be thinking this is a bit weird having Geoff—who co-owns Wilde City with Ethan Day and Adrian Nicholas—interview Eric Arvin who is the author of a book that Wilde City is publishing! Do publishers normally interview their own authors? The answer is no, not normally. Which is kind of why we’re doing it now. I’m very new to this publishing game, but I’m not new to being published and in my experience there’s never really that nice, calm moment when publisher and author can sit down for a chat about the book. By the time all the contracts, content editing, line editing, proofing, layouts, formatting, cover art, marketing and approvals are all said and done, you suddenly realize you never got that chance to sit down and discuss the book as though you were going for drinks with friends after a movie to hatch theories and have debates and dissect everything there is to dissect. So this is that chat… Eric, thanks for joining me!

Eric: Thanks for inviting me along, Geoff! I'm a big fan of Elisa's site. And of course any time I get to talk to you is the highlight of my day ;-) Why, I remember at GRL last year, while drinking way too much in the casino at Hard Rock, being surprised with a kiss on the cheek by someone I had yet to meet in person. You! And you were more inebriated than I was! Ah, good times...

Geoff: Inebriated? Me? Yes, most likely. It’s not that I enjoy drinking, it’s just that I’m soberphobic! Now, first up, The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men has to be one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Every step of the journey is spellbinding and captivating and unpredictable, yet this book almost defies categorization. Tell us about the story, tell us how you would categorize it, and tell us how you came up with one of the most original titles I’ve ever heard?

Eric: Thank you! Well, it's set in an alternate version of the river valley which I grew up around. There's an ancient darkness rising from the chapel grounds in the valley and only a mystic and river dweller known as Minerva True can sense it. She tries to warn the valley folk, but none of them listen. In the end, it is up to her and three others - the elfin Aubrey Avonmore, his lover Leith, and the mute Deverell - to save the valley. It gets pretty intense.
My writing influences are authors like Mervyn Peake and James Purdy, whose own work is hard to categorize. I would say my work lies somewhere along the lines of magical realism or speculative fiction. It's not full-on fantasy or horror, nor is it true Southern Gothic.
As far as the title goes, when I was in Austria back in 2000 I came across an exhibition of Peter Beard's work. Flipping through a book I saw the phrase "the mingled destinies of crocodiles and men..." and it stuck with me, influencing the story building.

Geoff: Mingled Destinies is quite an epic novel. Was this the kind of novel that took ten years to write? Were you a slave to perfection and ache over every word? Or was it such a force that it needed to spill onto the page as fast as it could?

Eric: Nearly. I started the outline around 2003 and finished the first draft around 2007 or 08. It's gone through various incarnations, a few paragraphs taken out, a character removed, etc., but the story has remained the same.
The tale itself did form on its own in that creepy way writers are always talking about, "it's like I was the vessel." You know, that sort of thing. But, yes, to keep the lyrical prose I did have to be a task master with the wordage.

Geoff: The gay love story between your heroes Leith and Aubrey is the core of the story, yet the character of Minerva is such a powerful force and a powerful narrative instrument on so many levels. Where did she spring from in your head? Why make her such an anchor for the tale?

Eric: I needed a character who would counter balance the youth of the boys, one who could give them advice when they needed it. Minerva formed at once in my head. I pictured her almost as this silver-haired prophetess, an Emmylou Harris walking the roads of the valley barefoot, always with a sweet smile on her face but great knowledge and concern beneath that calm demeanor. There is also a connection between her and the character of Dr. True in The Rest Is Illusion, my first book, which takes place in the same valley years later.

Geoff: Your stories are all very unique. Do you write to be published, or do you simply write for yourself. Do you care if every publisher in the world rejects your story, so long as you love it?

Eric: Actually, a lot of publishers did reject Mingled. The replies were the same: really like it, but not our thing. I reacted how I always do, threatening to throw myself out of my first floor window. But then I recover. I learned a while back, though, that if you don't write for yourself, if what you give to the publisher isn't truly a part of you and you're doing it for the money, you will regret it. Hopefully, the right publisher will come along eventually. If not, self-publish. Ain't no shame in that.

Geoff: Book covers! They can make or break a book because like it or not, we do judge books by their covers. You and I went through a few ideas for Mingled Destinies but you had a very clear vision of what you wanted and you stuck to your guns (in your truly polite and humble Eric Arvin style). Do you want to share with everyone where the cover for Mingled Destinies came from?

Eric: Ha! My polite and humble style ;-) The photo on the cover of Mingled was done by my sister, Amy Morrison. She's a wonderful photographer and also did the cover for the very first book I ever had published years ago. She really gets where I'm going with these books. The model and look for this cover are spot on for the tale.

Geoff: You do know I have to ask a Klarvin question, don’t you, because you and TJ make quite the couple. I think I described you once as C3PO and R2D2—cute, clever, quirky and everyone’s favorite characters! I’m so pleased to say that TJ has also signed a contract with Wilde City, and that contract is for a gay zombie story that the two of you co-wrote. Talk to us about Ghoul’s Gym and whether the writing process was like a romantic afternoon in a rowboat… or a plate-smashing screaming match in the kitchen.

Eric: Which one am I? R2?? {putting down the brownie now}

Geoff: R2 saves the day! Now get back to answering the question about working with TJ.

Eric: It was so much fun working with him! We were concerned at first, wondering if we'd gel at writing together, but there was no need to worry. We're thinking of stretching this novella into a series of novellas. It was that much fun. I'm excited for people to read Ghoul's Gym.

Geoff: What advice can you give aspiring writers of gay fiction?

Eric: Write for yourself. Don't worry about what's popular. Someone out there wants to read exactly what you've written. You just have to find them.

Eric Arvin

Geoff: For fans of Eric Arvin and Mingled Destinies, the great news is that this book has a sister book that is coming out in the next few months. Please tell the world all about Azrael and the Light Bringer.

Eric: It's a prequel of sorts, taking the reader back to the childhood days of Minerva True and other residents of the valley. Some of these other characters appear in Mingled, others are only mentioned, including the Widow Lone and her family. The story focuses on the first rising of the darkness on the chapel grounds that proceeds the occurrence in Mingled, and how it then ties in to the angel Azrael and a little boy named Lucifer.

TJ Klune and Eric Arvin

Geoff: Eric, thanks so much for joining me…

Eric: Not so fast, Geoff. Tit for tat, as they say. I have a few questions for you. I lived in Australia for a brief period back in 03 and loved it. I shared an apartment on Coogee Beach with two friends. Where were YOU in 2003?

Geoff: Gosh, so close yet so far away. I was on the other side of the Harbour Bridge in 2003 living at Avalon Beach. All the models and glamour hunks and cool kids go to Coogee… Just sayin’ :-)

Eric: You've recently turned me on to Woodkid, an amazing artist whose debut CD is one of my favorites so far this year. What other musical gifts do you have up your sleeve? Also, when you write do you use a soundtrack?

Geoff: Go Woodkid! For anyone who hasn’t heard his song “I Love You”, it’s something incredible and unique… you’ll listen to it and totally think of Eric! Top of my playlist at the moment is Regina Spektor’s “Open” and Ben Folds’ “Cologne”… I’m addicted to both. And yes I do indeed create soundtracks when I write, but even better, I created a soundtrack while we were crazily building Wilde City! That playlist includes Shirley Bassey’s “Apartment”, Rufus Wainright’s “Respectable Dive”, Talking Heads’ “Wild Wild Life” plus a whole heap of musical numbers from Cabaret and Chicago! SO much fun! Then again sometimes I do the reverse, I’ll hear a song and love it so much that I’ll write a story about it. The Boy from Brighton is based on a song called “Levi Stubbs’ Tears” by Billy Bragg, and Paperboy is based on a really sexy fun song by Michelle Shocked called “Paperboy” (surprisingly) which is about a sexy paperboy who is the object of lust of all the women in town (I just turned it gay!)

Eric: Why did you decide to get into publishing? Seems that's a lot of work. And you're gonna have to put up with ME. Do you realize how high maintenance I am?!

Geoff: A lot of work? No way, it’s a breeze! Now where did I put my head, it was here on my shoulders a minute ago. And you’re not high maintenance at all, like I said you’re like R2D2, you just need a word of reassurance every now and then, to which you respond with a little jiggle and a happy beeping noise. (God, I’m so glad you have a sense of humour, some people would have ripped up their contract by now!) But getting back the question, publishing was something that Ethan and I kind of inherited when Dare Empire became available, which was the home of our book To Catch a Fox. We thought it was a fantastic opportunity to co-own the press that we co-wrote our book for. Of course, starting up a press is one thing… starting up a press with the Pacific Ocean in between you and a whole bunch of different tax laws, business structures and foreign currency hurdles to jump proved a helluva lot of work! We even had to change the name of the press due to trademark issues and re-invent it with a whole new identity, which is when we came up with Wilde City. But it was all worth it thanks to the help of our third partner Adrian Nicholas (who has been my art director and business partner for ten years) and also the hard work of a whole lotta friends out there who have all been so willing to lend a hand and work so hard to help us make this dream come true. Not to mention the authors who were all brave enough to take a chance on us and patient enough to wait while we cut through one red tape after another… and that includes you. So thank you one and all!

Geoffrey Knight and Ethan Day

Eric: Picnic at Hanging Rock is a masterpiece. Teej has never seen it, so I bought it for him. Your thoughts?

Geoff: What! He hasn’t seen Picnic at Hanging Rock? Picnic is indeed a masterpiece! The mood and eerie ambience of that film alone makes it unforgettable, not to mention the concept—three school girls head up into a rocky outcrop on a Valentine’s Day school picnic, never to be seen again. Have you read my book On the Overgrown Path? It’s the story of a boy who disappears on a mountain and what happens when the townsfolk desperately trust a lying little girl to lead the search party to find him. Picnic at Hanging Rock was the inspiration for my book! I love that film. It gave pan flutes a place in movie history!

Eric: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert or Too Wong Foo? Choose wisely.

Geoff: I’m Australian, so I have to say Priscilla otherwise my citizenship would be revoked. But I love it for several reasons. First of all the soundtrack is SOOO good. Starting a comedy about drag queens with Charlene’s melodramatic tearjerker “Never Been To Me”… that’s just brave, yet it works so well! Secondly, it kicks off in one of my old nieghbourhoods in Sydney and I love seeing those old haunts (some of which sadly have now closed down). And thirdly, it’s just so damn Australian. To this day, when I’m lost, I utter in my finest, dead-pan Terence Stamp voice, “Oh Felicia, where the fuck are we?”

The Mingled Destinies Of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin
Release date: 24 April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-925031-06-5
Category: Gay Mainstream
Sub-Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal, Romantic, Series
Length: 105,000 words
Formats available: e-book only
Heat level: 1 Flame
Link: http://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-mainstream/the-mingled-destinies-of-crocodiles-and-men/#.UXeLH8oazyB

Minerva True is a River Dweller and mystic who lives deep in the forested hills of a river valley on the fringes of the world. She is the only person who sees the ancient danger that resides on a nearby chapel grounds. Most pay little heed to her warnings, and in the end only a small band of friends stand beside her. A tale of love and duty ensues, challenging the destinies of Minerva, the young hero Leith, his lover Aubrey, and the mute boy, Deverell. Leith’s half-crazed mother Calpurnia has her own aspirations, however, that prove detrimental not only to Minerva, but to everyone she comes in contact with.

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Tags: author: eric arvin

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