Monday, July 30, 2012

Circuit Theory Blog Tour: Interview & Giveaway with Kirby Crow and Reya Starck

Welcome to the Circuit Theory virtual book tour! As a thank you for helping us celebrate the release of Circuit Theory, we’ll be giving one lucky reader a $10 gift credit to Riptide Publishing! To enter, just leave a comment with your email address included below. Earn additional entries by commenting along each stop of the tour. As always, our thanks to the wonderful Amara for hosting us and helping kick off another exciting Riptide Publishing virtual book tour!

Welcome to my blog you guys! Let's start with the obvious. Tell me a little bit about yourselves.

Kirby: Well, this novelette is my 7th published work of fiction. In between writing - which actually is my full time job - I do a lot of artwork, Photoshop, gardening, photography, reading, hiking, antique-shopping, and cooking. More cooking than anything else. Sometimes I think I spend half my life cooking, and I'm addicted to cooking shows. I'm a foodie. There. I said it. I'll never write any novels about gay chefs, though. I think that would ruin it for me, and Poppy Z. Brite already did it better.

Reya: I could have said that I was born with a pen in my hand, but I think my mum would have noticed that at the time! I was the girl at the back of the class with the super-skinny exercise book because I kept tearing out the pages that I’d scribbled stories and poems on, and I was Going To Be A Journalist when I grew up. On realizing that I didn’t have the requisite rhino-like hide I became a bacteriologist instead (totally logical move, right?) So, by day I squint at petri dishes and eradicate microbes, and by night I squint at Word and eradicate copious quantities of tea.

Kewl. So Reya, this is your… 1st… published book? That’s awesome. Congrats on that! How’s that feel?

Reya: Thank you! It feels weird, now that my initial squealing and seal-clapping is over, if not quite completely done with; weird, yet awesome. I’m still at the pinching myself stage, because I’ve dreamed of publication for some 20-odd years, and now that it’s here I have keep reminding myself to change my inner ‘one day’ mantra to ‘hey, I’m legit at last!’.

You two have a new book, *tries not to fangrrl* that is so great! Do tell!

Kirby: Circuit Theory was supposed to be a light, fun piece about finding love in the virtual Metaverse, almost a comedy, but once we started taking our own experiences into account and those experiences of our friends and fellow roleplay partners, we realized that was an insulting premise. If anything, romance in virtual reality is a game played in complete earnest. I don't say "game played in sincerity" because that implies that everything you see in virtual reality is the truth. It's not, but it's not a complete lie either. What you get when you interact with other avatars in virtual reality are small facets of the player's personality poking through. People have many sides and roleplay is a complete fantasy, so the facet that the player is presenting at the time might not be something they would ever dream of doing or being in real life. You have to take it at face value and not try to read too much into it, because there's no way to know what side or how much of the real person you're seeing. This is why you can't judge people entirely by what you see in a virtual world. Reality does not apply. It doesn't mean they can't be jerks (if they're acting like a jerk, they probably are), but I hold off on making sweeping statements until I know the person better.

In the case of Byron and Dante (the main characters) they happen to be almost living inside the game world and playing it as a lifestyle, so much of what you see of them is the truth and they've gotten used to trusting their eyes and ears in virtual reality. At least with each other.

For that reason Circuit Theory starts out light, but draws you in and makes you think.

Sounds fabulous! So, Kirby, I hear this is your first release in… 3 years…? Why so long and what prompted this one?

Kirby: I never have just one project going. There's always three or four, and then everything explodes and my readers get a lot of works all at once and this poor crow-brain gets very burned out. I published four books in four years, beginning in 2005 with The Pedlar and the Bandit King, and following up with Angels of the Deep in 2009. Not short stories or novellas, but full-length 60,000-95,000 word manuscripts. A full-length novel is a huge project, and frankly, if any writer can crank out a solidly-written novel every two months, more power to 'em. I can't, and I don't want to.

"Release" just seems to be a current word in the m/m genre for a published story that doesn't indicate how long the story actually is, and that's cool, because our genre lends itself well to the short form and it's a good way to let readers and fans know you've done something new. I don't mind the word as a literary term, it's just my preference to refer to stories by their traditional length: flash fiction, short story, novelette, novella, and novel.

I do have about thirteen very dark short stories and novelettes completed that I could've released, but instead I thought it would be interesting to save those stories up and collect them into an anthology that's in an editor's hands at the moment. 

To be fair to myself, I've been writing Scarlet and the White Wolf 4 for more than a year and a half now, and it's turned into Scarlet and the White Wolf 5 as well, since I've run way, way over my word count. I've also been pecking away steadily at some other titles, which leads up to a whole bunch of stuff nearing completion at once rather than one thing at a time. It's just how I do things. Call it a lack of literary focus, this working on multiple storylines, and I'll cop to that, but I'm interested in a lot of other things besides writing. I don't want to just sit behind the keyboard my whole life. I want to get out and do things, and I do. As much as I adore writing, I don't want to live solely in my own head, so I open the front door and walk out of it as much as I can.

Um... wait... did you say 13 dark short stories and novelettes?! *gasp* Um... Really?! COOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!!!! er... *mumbles* interview Amara, stop fangrrling and focus...

*clears throat* 'k, soooo tell me... how did you two hook up for this?

Kirby: We met about six years ago inside a pennMUSH game I'd been coding. The game was pure text and based on the Scarlet and the White Wolf novels. I played Liall, and Reya played a Morturii character I created, who was actually a canon character taken from the first Scarlet novel. She played him very well, my other characters liked him, and we just started hanging together. That led to a lot of roleplaying with each other across various text games. It led to A LOT of gaming together. We played Uru, Second Life, MUSH, AOE, LAN games, Scrabble, you name it. She had her writing projects and I had mine, but one day we were messing around in one of the many virtual worlds we frequent, and one of us said; "Hey… what about a story about two avatars in love?"

We wrote Circuit Theory together in about a week, just messing around, seeing where the story took us, exploring the theme, but the editing took three weeks and 12 passes. *laughing* There's a huge gap between writing for yourself, for fun, and writing for public consumption, and if there was any doubt about that, it's been proven now. 

Hey that's cool. 

How has it been working with Riptide?

Kirby: If I had to sum up Riptide in one word, that word would be serious. Riptide is thorough, efficient, artistic, and above all, very professional. They're all top of their game and know their stuff, and the feeling I get from Riptide is they'll never let anything cloud their judgment or compromise their vision. No title will ever be forgotten at Riptide. That's my opinion.

*nods* That's what they look like from here too. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Sexy 'toon men making smexy pixel love with side-dollop of angst.

Reya? Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 

Reya: I’m currently working on the second draft of Mesme, a biopunk novel about a solitary, government-controlled executioner whose killings are served up as a twisted kind of reality TV to keep the masses happy. That’s my main project, although I do have two more ideas that are percolating in my hindbrain. One is a gritty urban fantasy story about a man who can find anything that’s been lost, and the other is currently telling me it wants to be a paranormal fantasy, so until it figures out its identity it’ll remain an increasing pile of notes. There are also two sequels to Mesme, one of which is half-written, and the other is in the plotting stage.

*gasp* Oh! That's that one you shared a piece of the other day! That rocked! *looks to Kirby* And what about you, Kirby?

Kirby: I have two more Scarlet and the White Wolf novels. I have that anthology. I have a sexy novella about Roman-era Briton and a hot Druid warrior. I have a speculative fiction novella nearing completion. I have another Nemerl novel set in the same time-period as Scarlet and the white Wolf, focusing on the capitol city of Rusa. My fantasy novel Erisine is still on the building block, and there is a futuristic biopunk novel mostly completed, but I think those last two are back of the list simply because it's going to take a lot of research and fine-tuning before I'm happy with them.

At least three of the above will be - hopefully - be off my desk before the end of the year, but I can't speak for publisher schedules. Let's just say that drafts will be handed in and hopefully editing process will be hip-deep before Christmas.

*gasp* DRUID WARRIOR FTW!!! *grabby hands start to twitch* I want that one!! :D 

I'm curious Reya, being you first, how'd you celebrate the sale of Circuit Theory?

Reya: In a somewhat undignified manner. There may have been seal-clapping, and there was definitely an over-use of the letter ‘e’. It was at about 7pm on 07/07 that Riptide Publishing made the tweet that made my day, which rather reinforces the fact that seven is my lucky number. Sadly, I had no alcohol in the house at the time, so I celebrated with a small bag of savory snacks and a large mug of tea. (I’ve since rectified that tragic booze-less state of affairs, with gusto.)

*laughs* Awesome. 

Do you listen to music when your write?

Reya: All the time. In fact, I create whole playlists for stories and even for scenes. For me, the right music reboots my brain into the mood that I need for a certain piece, and I’ve been known to put one particular song on repeat until a scene is done (which has resulted in some interesting play counts on my mp3 player).
Occasionally I’ll live dangerously and put the player on shuffle to see if what comes out will change the mood of the scene, but that can have unexpected pitfalls. Pro tip: never have ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ on your mp3 player, unless you want to dissolve into a fit of the giggles in the middle of an emotional or romantic scene.

Kirby, same question!

Kirby: All the time, unless I'm dictating into my Dragon (speech processor), which is a joy once you get used to it, and very accurate. It's impossible to listen to music and dictate at the same time. I mean, I'm sure that technically it can be done but that's another thing that I don't want to do. *laughs* My life is peppered with "I don't want to do that" stuff.

I listen to game soundtracks, unsurprisingly. All of the Myst scores are great for writing, too. Stronghold2 has some nice tracks, depending on what you're writing, and then we have Warhammer, Dear Esther, Eve Online, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Mass Effect 3, the Assassin's Creed series… the list goes on. I'm sure I'm going to think of about 30 different tracks as soon as this is published. I also listen to a lot of Denny Schneidemesser, Two Steps from Hell, Globus, and lately- Les Friction. Song lyrics distract me from what I'm writing so it's more instrumentals than songs. 

If you could invite any 1 person (real or fictional) to dinner who would you choose?

Reya: Death, from Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ series. For one, I make a mean curry, and I have it on good authority (Pterry himself, no less) that Death loves a good curry. For another, I would love to discuss Death’s views on humanity, as he’s so fascinated by it. I wouldn’t expect him to bring anything like a bottle of wine or box of chocolates to dinner, although if he wanted to make recompense for the meal I wouldn’t say no to some help in the garden. That scythe would make short work of the pyracantha that needs cutting down.

Innntresting. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Reya: Stephen Maturin, from Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, because he’s such a quiet, unassuming character who is a complete badass underneath. Not in the Clark Kent/Superman way; rather in the “I’m a nice chap but if you’re my enemy I will have no compunction whatsoever in slitting your throat in a very efficient manner” way. Let’s just say that I never found historical surgical implements sexy until I saw what Maturin could do with a catling.

Kirby:  ROY BATTY. Hands down. No question. Paul Atreides runs a close second, which is weird because there were never two more disparate characters. Paul is eaten alive by his own destiny and prescient visions, and Roy is like a demented knight in a cosmic chess game that's run amok.

Oh! That guy's cool! 

Have you ever been surprised by the reaction to one of your books?

Kirby: Yes, I have. Angels of the Deep - which won the Epic Award in 2010 is - I think, a very good novel. In some areas it's a superior work to the Scarlet novels. It's contemporary, it's well-researched, the characters are starkly drawn, and I've been told that it packs a whallop. But in terms of financial success, my other novels have overshadowed it. I think that's partly because of the lack of traditional m/m romance in Angels and because - despite the very human love story between Beck and Sean - it really is a horror novel, with all the scary emotional and visual punches that implies. I think writing horror is more than just blood and gore. There are more effective ways to shake readers up than just splashing red on the page, and I made full use of that in Angels.

I think all that put the romance audience off of it, and I don't blame them. It is rather disappointing though, because I put a lot of work and effort into Angels, and that may have been part of what took me so long to get back to writing full-time, like I am now.

But those of you who haven't read Angels of the Deep are missing one hell of a ride. I'm just sayin'.

OMG YES! Best.Book.EVAH! I loved it. UBER loved even. heehee, it lives over there *points* on the sidebar. 

Um... now what... *ponders*... Oh! I know.  If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?

Kirby: An Alienware laptop with satellite uplink, a 5000 Watt solar generator, and an industrial-size refrigerator full of Coca-Cola classic.

You said things, not single objects. Precise Crow is precise. *laughing* Also, I won't be stranded for long with that uplink.

 *laughs* Kewl. If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?

 Kirby: If you mean a time in the past, I really can't answer that. Most of how we see history is fond history; how we envision a place might have been at a certain time under ideal conditions. While I like the idea of medieval Europe, I certainly don't like the realities of plague, constant warfare, and serfdom. I'd probably wind up a serf. Or I could say I like the idea of Egypt in the time of the pharaohs, but knowing my luck I'd likely be sweeping floors for the guys who built the pyramids. I'd love to see Rome in the time of Julius Caesar, but I wouldn't have wanted to live in the Subura. 

There are historical eras that interest me greatly: Mongolia in the time of Temujin, Tudor England, the Angevin Age, Attila's Hunnic Empire, the Viking age, Salah ad-Din's Jerusalem, and many more. I like to read about these times. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, too, but I imagine that really living back then is something that being a modern-era human being hasn't prepared me for.

But if we were talking about the future, I'd like to pop back in about 500 years from now. That would be interesting.

*nod nod* That would be interesting. Now, I'm curious, which of your characters is most/least like you and in what ways?

Kirby: Well, I'm not very much like any of them. That would be weird, wouldn't it? But I think I may have the most qualities in common with Scarlet: he's incredibly stubborn, he tries to do the right thing, he's occasionally foul-mouthed and argumentative, he's prideful and doesn't like to ask for help, and he's had great trouble coming to terms with accepting his sexuality. Not just accepting it for himself, but letting other people inside his space, too. That's pretty close to me as far as those things go. As for opposites, I'd say Mastema, but that's cheating because Mastema is essentially the Devil and everyone is the opposite there. So I'd have to say Liall. Liall is arrogant, supremely confident, physically powerful, and has a hard time believing it when he's in the wrong. Like, ever in the wrong. Just ask Scarlet. That's totally not me.

 Kewl. Thanks for coming by to chat with me guys. Congrats again on the new book!


Kirby Crow worked as an entertainment editor and ghostwriter for several years before happily giving it up to bake more brownies, read more yaoi, play more video games, and write her own novels.

Kirby is a 2010 winner of the Epic Award and a two-time winner of the Rainbow Award for her published works in fiction.

Her published novels are:
Prisoner of the Raven (historical romance, Torquere Press, 2005)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Pedlar and the Bandit King (fantasy romance, Torquere Press, 2006)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: Mariner's Luck (fantasy romance, Torquere Press, 2007)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Land of Night (fantasy romance, Torquere Press, 2007)
Angels of the Deep (paranormal/horror, MLR Press, 2009)
Circuit Theory (scifi, Riptide, 2012)

Reya Starck lives in England, never gets quite enough sleep, and is a professional procrastinator and consumer of chocolate. By day she is an intrepid bacteriologist, eradicating microbes for a better world order. By night she writes wonderfully queer stories featuring an array of lovely men.


Attraction is Binary. Dante and Byron are avatars. Driven by human beings, yet still only digital representations of their ideal selves. In reality, they live far apart, but share most of their waking and working hours together in a virtual world called Synth.
 In Synth, like in most code, the laws are infinitely more simple and infinitely more complex. Navigating the system rules of virtual lovers is like steering through a minefield of deceit, suspicion, heartbreak, and half-truths.
 Under pressure, Dante makes a friendship that trips Byron’s warning bells, disrupting their carefully-ordered lives and calling into question the wisdom of trusting your heart to a man you can never touch in the flesh.


  1. First one, do I get a bonus for the first comment? ;)
    First word that caught my attention about Reya was chocolate, that shows my fokus right?

    Seriously I cannot wait to read this one, though I was hoping for another book, something with specific characters, from Kirby.*looks hopeful at Kirby*

    Uhm, what's a biopunk novel????


  2. Kirby notices hopeful look! XD Hi Emiliana!

    I know that book you're thinking of with that *koff* stubborn guy in it, who's in love with that OTHER stubborn guy.

    My editor sort of hinted last week that she'd like the draft, which is coming. I know you guys are REALLY tired of hearing that by now, but it's a big BIG project and everyone has waited so long and I want it to be good. Like fabulously good. Maybe that means I'm suffering a little performance anxiety and subsequently dithering with smaller projects, but I promise you it will be worth the wait.


  3. hi Amara!

    Just dropping by to tell you how fabulous I think you are! <3 Thank you so much for hosting this interview.


    Biopunk is a portmanteau of "biotechnology" and "punk". In science fiction, it's a genre that focuses on biotechnology and subversives. Yes, that's taken straight from Wikipedia, but the description is accurate. :)

    1. Hi Kirby!

      Thanks luv. Was totally my pleasure. Had fun with it, I hope we get to do this again! :D

  4. Thanks so much for having us here, Amara! *settles on your comfy couch* Mind if I pinch a choccy biscuit? *g*

    @Emiliana Chocolate is an excellent focus! Mind you, my waistline would probably be happier if I was a bit more focused on lettucs, or something. ;)

    1. My pleasure darlin'. :) lol, nope, don't mind at all. Choccy biscuits for all!! NOMNOM!

  5. Very interesting interview. Book sounds rather intriguing. Congrats to Kirby and Reyva on their new release, especially to Reyva as it being her first published one. Will want to check out Kirby's other books. Great reply about wanting a 5000 watt solar generator on a desert island. ;)

    strive4bst at yahoo dot com

    1. Thank you!

      I highly recommend all of Kirby's books. She's fabulous to work with and an amazing writer :)

  6. I love blog tours - it's so nice getting the extra details on how things came about, likes & dislikes...all great - thank you!
    The biopunk sounds cool - looking forward to that :)

  7. Even though I'm not that well-versed in the new school of video gaming, I'm really intrigued by the premise! (I'm a big cooking and baking buff too, so it's a plus to hear about that.)


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