Monday, August 20, 2012

Aleksandr Voinov talks Skybound


Oh yeah, he's back visiting again, here to talk about his latest piece of fabulous and to dish out prizes too! Yaaaaaaay!! So, please help give an Amara's Place type welcome to the fantabulous Aleksandr Voinov. 

*crowd goes wild*

Ok, ok. Shhhhhhhh. Quiet down now and take a seat as Aleksandr takes the floor. Don't forget to check out his giveaway at the end and leave comments and/or questions for him.

Welcome back Aleks!



Skybound, or: No sex, please, we’re Germans

Hi, I’m Aleksandr Voinov, and I’m back (again) at Amara’s Place. Hi Amara, thanks for inviting me to talk about Skybound, freshly out from Riptide Publishing http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/skybound

Skybound is about two men falling in love while Nazi Germany around them falls to pieces. It’s a quite sombre tale, though I also think it has a gently optimistic ending. I think people will be in a good place after finishing this.

Some readers might be surprised at the low “heat level” of Skybound. I’m well-known for sex (writing, that is), and normally my characters can’t wait to jump each other’s bones. I love writing sex. If all that story and character background and plot and detail and setting and history didn’t get in the way, I could be happy as a porn writer. But the last time I set out to “just write some porn”, I ended up with a novel. Special Forces started as “let’s do some soldier porn”. Yeah. One million words, and hundreds of sex scenes later . . .

Anyway, I love writing my characters getting down and dirty. It’s fun. It’s hot. I think I’m doing a good job, too. So why not in Skybound?

Skybound has one “sex scene”, if you’d call two paragraphs that, and while I think it’s sensual, it’s not erotic. We don’t see anal or oral sex, we are barely aware there’s a handjob, or maybe frottage, as we’re so focused on what Felix feels. To him, it’s awesome, but he’s also overwhelmed at the emotion of it. He’s a virgin at that point, he’s young, he’s inexperienced with all kinds of tender emotions. And Baldur is oh-so-tentative. Both guys are taking an enormous personal and professional risk, and the impact of getting together is momentous, too. Baldur is careful, tender, emotional. Both are extremely vulnerable. There’s a great deal of emotional stuff going on, and I’m hoping that the readers will catch that (otherwise I didn’t do a good job putting it on there, which is my fault, not any reader’s).

And somehow, that just didn’t work written any other way. I could have been much more explicit, though Felix would struggle putting into words what’s physically happening to him during the sex. I was worried readers would expect that, and I agonized about how to write it hot but without breaking my characters. Sometimes, characters will have sex in a certain way. It’s part of their personality, their voice. And I couldn’t for the life of me imagine these two guys getting it on like modern porn stars. I don’t think it would have strengthened the story, either.

But above all, Skybound is an emotional journey much more than a sexual one. I do think that Felix and Baldur will explore sex more, and it’ll all be fun for them, and that they’ll learn to live together as a couple, even though post-war Germany isn’t a gay-friendly place by any means. In my mind, they just close the door when they have sex, or maybe leave it open, but all you’ll get to see is a duvet moving, and maybe some sounds. No bright lights, no close-ups of genitalia, no porn dialogue.
Sex for them isn’t a big issue, it’s not even the main thrill, not after what they’ve been though. It’s finding each other, supporting each other, and the amazing privilege to love and be loved, to have somebody you can cherish. Sex is part of that, but it’s not the driving force. So sex is part of the story, but it’s nowhere near the central element. I think intimacy can simply mean a touch, a kind word, a shared silence. It does for these guys, at least while they are “on camera.”


Blurb:Love soars.
Germany, 1945. The Third Reich is on its knees as Allied forces bomb Berlin to break the last resistance. Yet on an airfield near Berlin, the battle is far from over for a young mechanic, Felix, who’s attached to a squadron of fighter pilots. He’s especially attached to fighter ace Baldur Vogt, a man he admires and secretly loves. But there’s no room for love at the end of the world, never mind in Nazi Germany.
When Baldur narrowly cheats death, Felix pulls him from his plane, and the pilot makes his riskiest move yet. He takes a few days’ leave to recover, and he takes Felix with him. Away from the pressures of the airfield, their bond deepens, and Baldur shows Felix the kind of brotherhood he’d only ever dreamed of before.
But there’s no escaping the war, and when they return, Baldur joins the fray again in the skies over Berlin. As the Allies close in on the airfield where Felix waits for his lover, Baldur must face the truth that he is no longer the only one in mortal danger.
 
Biography
Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he makes his living editing dodgy business English so it makes sense (and doesn’t melt anybody’s brain). He published five novels and many short stories in his native language, then switched to English and hasn’t looked back. His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk, and fantasy to contemporary, thriller, and historical erotic gay novels.
In his spare time, he goes weightlifting, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He singlehandedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects and interests. His current interests include World War II, espionage, medieval tournaments, and prisoners of war. He loves traveling, action movies, and spy novels.

Visit Aleksandr’s website at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com, his blog at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com, and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.

Giveaway:
Thank you for reading and stopping by! If you have any questions, I’ll be here to respond. To celebrate the launch of Skybound, I’ll be giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one commenter on the tour, with two more receiving book swag (so please leave your email address so I can be in touch). 

28 comments:

  1. Sex for them isn’t a big issue, it’s not even the main thrill, not after what they’ve been though. It’s finding each other, supporting each other, and the amazing privilege to love and be loved, to have somebody you can cherish. Sex is part of that, but it’s not the driving force. So sex is part of the story, but it’s nowhere near the central element. I think intimacy can simply mean a touch, a kind word, a shared silence. It does for these guys, at least while they are “on camera.”


    Beautifully said.

    Skybound is a beautiful, breathtaking story, and that scene (or two paragraphs) fits the characters and situation very well :)
    And that cover is just gorgeous!

    blaine(at)blainedarden(dot)com

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    1. Blaine - Thank you. I'm glad you agree. (Of course, you can always disagree, too. :) )

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  2. I was not disappointed at all to have a low heat level in this particular story. I probably should chalk that up to my opinion that there shouldn't be sex scenes in action movies. As much as this is an emotional journey for the two MCs it is also a tale that involves alot of action and turmoil in a short amount of time/space. Thanks for the great read!!

    Kassandra
    sionedkla@gmail.com

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    1. Kassandra - Good! (Of course I needed to blow shit up. It's what I do!) :) I'm glad it struck the balance. :)

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  3. I have found that you in particular are able to write an excellent M/M story that is plot or character driven and doesn't need all the graphic sex. How much sex can one person read? It's nice to be able to choose a good book with gay characters who do more outside the bedroom than in!
    tmadamski(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. Tina - Thanks. Definitely kee pyour eyes open for the WWII novels, which are very character-driven, and sex is fairly low on the agenda (the same extends to them - I just don't see them ho at it like porn stars). I like writing sex, but sometimes it's jarring and doesn't fit. (And "more lube" is not the solution. :) )

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  4. I agree with Tina, it's nice to have a m/m romance book with a plot that does not resolve around sex and you can write that, tough sometimes your characters are a bit too violent for my taste, still the writing is usually very good!

    Jibriel.O at web dot de

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    1. Jibriel - Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, they are often soldiers and/or very messed-up people. Though I'm trying something else in the WWII novels - more character and setting, overall less sex, and there's a surprising lack of bodycount (so far!) - there will be some scenes that will be somewhat hardcore, but overall, I'm experimenting with how I write these extremes. It's definitely a learning curve for me and I hope you'll like it.

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  5. For me, this story steps fully outside the genre of m/m romance. It's so much bigger, even in it's brevity. A love story to be enjoyed by anyone. The scope of the setting, it's intensity, is huge and heavy. Smutty sex would be ridiculous in this situation. Certainly, Aleks could have gone with gritty, desperate sex but not for these characters. This is a love story and the tenderness of the implied intimacy is so striking against the tense background that is is breathtaking. Just a perfect, perfect story.

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    1. LisaT - Thank you. I did consider angry sex for a moment, but they were both feeling too fragile and raw and tender for it. Probably as a response to the fear and worry. The noise of war really makes everybody whisper in that story.

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  6. Oh, sorry, no prizes for me. Thanks :)

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  7. Beautiful story - I had tears in my eyes by the end. The level of sex felt just right - there was so much else happening, so much emotion that I think anything else would have been a distraction.
    Thank you - this really was a beautiful, wonderful read.

    pointycat(at)hotmail.co.uk

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    1. Pointy - Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. :)

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  8. It does get tiresome to read some stories where the sex scenes seems the whole focus and not so much on the plot and the characters. This story sounds so moving and somewhat melancholy, but beautifully written.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

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    1. Anon - There are some stories that are nothing but sex, and those are beginning to bore me as a reader. As a writer, even setting out to write "just something hot" (you know, pure erotica), my characters suddenly get all these ideas and back stories and things they want to do apart from boinking the other hot guy. I'm hopeless. :)

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  9. Yes, yes, so much YES! And don't worry - you nailed it in the story perfectly. :)

    I must admit I was a bit surprised at the amount (or lack) of sex scenes in this, but I was rather charmed by it. Also, I think it made the book even more of a jewel. :) If ever one of my RL friends get interested in your work, this'll be the one I'll suggest.

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    1. Aija - Oh, I'd never considered that this is the story people can use as a gateway drug. Interesting! I was a little concerned when a reader really wanted a signed copy of Dark Soul for her grandmother. But I was assured that the grandmother in question is awesome and will enjoy it. Which I think is great. But yeah, having some stories that are less heavy on the sex and/or violence is a Good Thing.

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    2. I never know which of the tactics might work better - introducing them gently or with the full blast that is Special Forces.. I know many read SF first and got addicted to m/m, but what if my friends don't get it? They might think me even a bigger freak than they already do! :D

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  10. I didn't have a chance to read this short story yet, but this post made me very curious. Other people mention the sex or lack of this - I'm indifferent in this matter. What cached my interest was the setting - Second World War and Nazi Germany. There are not enough multicultural m/m romances and I greatly appreciate each such book.

    Joan
    0401romance(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Joan - Thanks for stopping by. Being European, I tend to have a fairly European cast. Russians, the last one has a Canadian (my first), then British. It's just the variety I see in my every-day life, really - people I know, places I visit. But I'm working on two more WWII novels, one set in Germany, the other in France.

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  11. I think that the sex--or lack of sex--in a story should always flow organically from the characters. Your reasoning sounds really thoughtful and valid.

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Anon - I agree, and I try to never compromise my characters. I think readers would notice. (Like I notice if characters are "out of character" in a story I'm reading.) Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. It worked beautifully. Handled with utmost care.

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    1. Thank you. Last thing I want to do is be unsensitive or crass about this. It's too important and means too much to too many people. I'll be in touch! :)

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  13. I totally agree that intimacy is much more than sex. I've read some books with plenty of what should be steamy sex scenes, but somehow,...they come across as anything but. Definitely adding this book to my TBR pile!
    seritzko AT verizon DOT net

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    1. SusieQ - Definitely. If a book's only sex, I get bored myself after about 50 pages. :)

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  14. I loved Skybound for its detail, and for the 'rightness' of the sex scene. Nothing over the top, nothing purposefully graphic... just right for the story itself, and for the characters. (Plus, it's one I can recommend to my uncle, since he didn't take to Dark Soul at all--too violent/intense/bdsm-esque, he said. ;))

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