Today is Elyan's first visit to the Place, so please help me give him a nice warm welcome. After the interview leave a comment to enter the giveaway for a $20
Hi Elyan! Welcome to my Place. Come in, come in, please, make yourself comfortable. I’m so excited that you’re here. *smiles* Thanks for coming to sit and chat with me.
Thanks for having me, appreciate it.
Let's start with the obvious. Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
Hm, there’s not that much to say. I’m in my twenties, grew up in Germany, then moved to the UK. I work for a university at the moment and write more or less when I’m not working. My social life’s fairly limited just because it takes a chunk out of my day that I could potentially be writing (even when I’m not). I go to the theatre when I’ve got time and there are cool plays on. Meet mates at the pub every now and then. Live by myself. No pets. No car. No expensive tastes. It’s not that exciting, to be honest.
So, you have a new book. Do tell. :D
Portside is Iwan’s story more than anything. Iwan’s a bloke in a coastal town in Wales, you know one of these towns that you pass through, a little grey, a little dirty, and you’re glad when you’re out again. He’s into blokes, watches the porn and whatnot, but hasn't worked up the courage to approach one of them, so he decides to go online and find someone he can pay for sex because it seems, ironically, like the safer option.
Sounds so good. I've been waiting and waiting to get my hands on this jewel. So how has it been working with Riptide?
It’s been great. It’s such a cliché answer, I suppose.
Portside is the first story I wrote with the intent of publishing. I sent it to Riptide because, at the time, they were the only ones handling trans* characters the way I'd like to see them treated in LGBT fiction. They liked it, and that’s that.
A lot of the process has been me trying not to mess up and avoid newbie author mistakes – more or less successfully, I suppose. Riptide has been good about guiding me through it and I'm thrilled that they decided to take somewhat of a chance on this book. It's not a romance (even if there are romantic elements if you squint, in my opinion) and it's not cis and it's not very pretty, overall, but it's been great coming together over this and sharing the same approach to fiction and to the hows and whys of the inclusion of the trans* spectrum in fiction.
And then Aleks went and bought me ice cream in London – you can’t beat that.
*laughs* Ice Cream with Aleks in London FTW! Alright, please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Portside isn't a very pretty story -- it's rather messy and a bit broken -- but so is life sometimes, and the story delivers on that honesty.
Do you have any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’m just finishing up a fake-history novella (there’s probably a technical term for it), a submarine story of sorts. One of my stories is going to be in Lashings of Sauce, the UK LGBTQ Meet anthology coming out in July. And I’m playing around with a few ideas for what to do after the novella – am rather excited about those but I tend to keep my mouth shut on things I’ve not started yet, so I'll just leave that there.
I'm curious, what inspired Portside?
Well it was written for a submission call, technically, and I don’t usually work like that. I'm not much of a plotter at all. I usually start with an idea or scene or image and then just develop the world and the characters as I write them, so to start with an idea was a bit strange.
What made me write it the way I did though, with the characters I chose, was that I was looking for stories with trans* characters that weren’t about people transitioning, people angsting about their identity and coming out, people prostituting themselves or even people’s trans* identity as the driving force in the plot.
So I wrote one that I thought, you know, moved away at least a little from those very common themes in fiction with trans* characters. I believe they are necessary and important themes to explore but they’re not themes I want to read about or that I’m interested in writing at this point. And I wanted to write characters who aren't perfect, aren't driven to succeed in jobs or vocations, and are just the kind of guys you see around town.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I don’t really think of myself as an author. I mean, I’ve heard people say how publishing credits don’t make you an author and you’re an author if you think you are one and so on, and how you have to take it seriously and treat it as a career, and I probably don’t. I consider myself, I don’t know, a writer? Someone who writes stories? And that just happened. I used to write poetry as a teenager, wrote a few plays that ended up on (very very local community production) stage, at some point switched to writing prose, probably because it’s a little more accessible and less of a hassle to show to people – theatre productions are a bit more complex than just letting someone read something. But I’ve always liked the opportunity of being able to say something and make people hear something that you get with writing, so that did it probably.
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you'd be embarrassed to admit?
Not embarrassed as such, to be fair, but this tends to catch people by surprise. I don’t write romance, I don’t read romance, I don’t tend to particularly like romance (even though I like love stories), but one of my favourite movies, hands-down, is Notting Hill. There’s something utterly charming about the romance in that story (that or the ‘meet a famous top bloke and have him sweep me away to a life full of riches’ is a bit too much like one of my fantasies).
Ooooooh, I love that movie. Haven't seen that in a long time. May need to have a movie night and watch it again.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Portside’s theme song, and Iwan’s theme song that way, I suppose, is Snow Patrol’s This Isn’t Everything You Are. Not necessarily in regards to the content of the verses, but definitely when it comes to the mood and the energy of the song.
If a movie was made about your book, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
I'm going to curveball this and say that it'd be likely an unknown guy, local to the area. I'm thinking about the kind of guys you see cast on Skins or Misfits, people who are raw and new enough to bring more to the table than just a pretty face and honed craft, who have a certain honesty about them. Ideally, yeah, it'd be kind of great to have an actor who identifies somewhere on the transmasculine spectrum playing the part since generally cis women (Boys Don't Cry) and cis men (various british soaps, Romeos) are cast to play trans* folks.
*smiles* That was fun. Thanks so much for chatting with me. I hope we get to do this again.
Thanks so much for having me. :)
As part of the Portside blog tour, leaving a comment will enter you into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift certificate.
Life on the dole in a dying town is defined by drinking when you can, smoking to pass the time, and, if you’re gay, going down to the barracks at the old port to get some. Iwan’s got the cigarettes and the booze down pat, but he lacks experience, which has him sticking to online porn and watching other people.
Everyone else seems to have moved past getting what they want, while all Iwan can think of is what could go wrong. He knows who he is, regardless of labels. But no matter how often his best friend Lyn tells him to just go for it, he doesn’t trust other people to see past his mismatched body.
Paying for what he’s afraid to get for free is a long shot, but it’s better than just watching, and it’s better than porn. It doesn’t change the world he lives in, but it changes him.
Elyan Smith lives in the southwest of England. He works in research during the day and spends most of his free time writing LGBT fiction. Portside is Elyan’s debut release. You can find him at his Website and his Twitter, and purchase a copy of Portside at Riptide Publishing.
Please join Elyan at his next blog tour stop here.