February is going to be an exciting month for me, and it’s all down to Isobel Starling, who is my guest today to kick off all that excitement. I’m not at all good at writing to order or to deadlines, and I’d never before had the confidence to join a big giveaway. It was Isobel who convinced me it’s a fun thing to do, so I’ll stop my wittering and let her explain how y’all can get your hands on some wonderful new stories… and how it all came about.
Finding an audience is always difficult for authors, so in February 2017 I organized the M/M Romance Valentines Giveaway. The idea was to have a mixture of new and established authors offering a short story, and in return, new authors could benefit from the exposure of a shared promotion of established authors and we all get a list of prospective readers. The event featured 34 authors each of whom offered a new short story, or excerpt.
My own offering was titled “Silken,” and since the giveaway, it has gone on to be contracted for translation into French and Italian and has been released in German and as an audiobook, narrated by Gomez Pugh. So, from being a small novella I wrote for the giveaway I have reaped so much. I never expected the story to be so well received, and was delighted at how successful the Valentine event as a whole had been. And so, I’ve decided to do it all again in 2018.
There will be a whole new bunch of authors involved this year. So far, we have short stories from:
Isobel Starling, Jackie Keswick, Kasia Bacon, A.M Arthur, Liv Rancourt and Irene Preston, Helena Stone, Sharita Lira, Alina Popescu, Teodora Kostova, Frank W. Butterfield, Chris Mc Hart, Kimi D Saunders, J. Scott Coatsworth, Tanya Chris, Kate Pavelle, Sue Brown, C.L Mustafic, Shane Morton-Newman.
So if you want to get a head start on your Goodreads reading challenge do yourself a favor and look out for the Giveaway page link on the Facebook pages of the featured authors from 10th – 14th February.
My own story for this event is brand new and titled “Man Crush.” I used to travel by train every day, and I admit, I am an avid man watcher. I’ve always been fascinated by voyeurism and the tangible line between fantasy and reality. I know that when I traveled the same journey day in, day out for months and the same hot man got into the same carriage as me every day, my mind did wander to fantasy land. I made up stories about him in my head, and fantasized about his life and… other things to make a boring journey a little more interesting. I did eventually introduce myself to him, and he admitted he’d been watching me too. Over the following weeks, we chatted during journeys before, eventually, he admitted he’d just got engaged. (Grrr)
And so, in the internet age where phones can take better photos than some hi-tech cameras, I was not surprised when I discovered that others share my fascination with watching fellow travellers, and there are real-life websites where people post pictures of good looking men they see while on public transport.
It is disturbing that we have all become fair game. Some people think it’s okay to photograph another stranger because they’re attractive and upload that image online. I can think of a handful of stories that could come from this scenario. It appears that phones and wifi have created a population who are blurring the lines of personal privacy. Voyeurism is in vogue, and instead of connecting people technology has turned some into watchers and clickers who won’t dare speak to someone on public transport, but will happily photograph them and share the image with strangers online. It’s all become about the fantasy.
There are many similar websites: TubeCrush is London based, Subway Crush.net on Facebook is for perving hot New Yorkers, there are even a ‘Hot dudes on the subway’ Instagram page. I had to look at them— for research purposes, of course. So this 7k short story is inspired by these real-life websites. “Man Crush” will be shared for free for the length of the Valentines Giveaway and then released on Amazon. Here is the blurb:
When Marcus’s assistant Kyle neglects to send him the report he’d been waiting for and goes to lunch, Marcus has no option but to poke around on his errant employee’s computer. He finds that his assistant spends more time browsing than working, and his favorite site is Undr, a website where men post covertly taken photos of hot men traveling on the London Underground.
Marcus is drawn to a photo of a man who was given the moniker “Java Joe.” The man has a fan base of gay men and straight women, who take secret photos of him as he travels and upload them to the website, then discuss his attributes.
Over the next few weeks, Marcus becomes obsessed with seeing the next secretly taken image of the man. Heading for an earlier train one morning, he happens upon none other than “Java Joe” in the flesh. Unable to prevent closeness on the packed morning train, Marcus and his man crush get caught in a crush of bodies… and sparks fly.”
And as for my own man crush? I met him years later. To my relief, I’d just had my hair done and was actually looking super cute at the time. He hadn’t aged well, and his wife seemed to be the argumentative type. She made him sit in the upper-level front seats of the bus, and I was already seated further back. His wife nagged for the whole journey, and he kept trying to turn and look at me inconspicuously as if wanting to say hello. I felt sorry for him, but he had his chance!
About Isobel Starling
Born in Germany, Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.
Isobel is currently working on her sixteenth book. The Shatterproof Bond series is an Amazon Gay Romance bestseller and is being translated into French with Juno Publications, German with Deadsoft Verlag, and Italian with Quixote Edizioni. The series is also available as audiobooks, narrated by Gary Furlong.
“Fall Together” and “Sweet Thing” will be translated into French by Reines- Beaux Publishing.
Already in audio, narrated by Gomez Pugh, “Silken” will be available in German, Italian and French in 2018.
Where to find Isobel Starling
Isobel Starling’s Shatterproof Bond Series
Get it here
Get it here
Get it here