“Painstakingly strange with brushstrokes of joyful chiaroscuro.” Welcome Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
My guests this week are Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane… “two unlikely friends and co-writers from different sides of the same continent. Heidi, from Northern Canada, is a history geek with a soft spot for Highlanders and Victorian pornography. Violetta is a Yank (and a Southerner, and a Japanese-American) with a cinematic imagination and a faintly checkered past. Together, they write strange and soulful interracial and multicultural m/m with a global sensibility and the occasional paranormal twist.”
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New Release Mailing List for Heidi and Violetta (new releases only)
Welcome, Heidi and Violetta!
Q. Please tell us about your new release, Salting the Earth.
Heidi: Salting the Earth is an erotic fantasy all about a somewhat neurotic young man whose encounter with the Irish sidhe forces him to confront truths about himself that he’s been running from for a long time. That’s the sophisticated version. You could also call it a gender-bending fairy gang bang. It’s a part of Storm Moon Press’s “Like It Or Not” anthology, which is a selection of non-con stories, so it’s also an exploration of consent.
Violetta: Put in simplest possible terms, it’s about a man who gets drunk and climbs a hill with a shovel and a salt shaker. And then he makes a terrible mistake, although it’s not his fault at all, and he couldn’t have known better. The story has multiple levels of myth and memory and sexual experiences of searing pornographic intensity all woven together. It does not have anything remotely resembling a happy ending. We can write happy endings—we love writing them, in fact—but Salting the Earth called for ambiguity.
Q. How do you find writing together? What’s the process? E.g. do you write a chapter each, or one does a first draft, the other polishes?
Heidi: Neither of those, actually! We use Google Docs and work simultaneously (often in the exact same sentence!) Once in awhile one of us will edit or work on a scene without the other, but we largely work together.Violetta: We often work together on the same passages, sometimes finishing each others’ sentences. We’ll write longer passages alone, but we always go back and edit each others’ work. We like to keep our drafts as clean as possible, so we plan heavily and edit as we go along. That way, we keep the style totally consistent. I had a very different style from Heidi in my solo writing; cowriting, we combine our styles to form a new one. Kind of like Voltron, but less clanging and clanking.
Q. I loved The Saturnalia Effect (set in a prison!) and I’ve also read a story by you guys set in a Scottish castle. How do you get your cool ideas for settings? And what comes first – setting or character?
Heidi: I’d actually say we start with a concept, and sometimes the setting is at the centre of that, and sometimes a character is. So for “Salting the Earth”, King Finnbheara and the story of Eithne the Fair was at the centre of our planning. For The Saturnalia Effect, the setting of the prison was where we started. But no matter what we start with, we always put out an effort to make sure the setting is authentic and integrated and essential to the story, no matter where or when that may be.
Violetta: We’re both really into setting—and not on its own, but how it relates to characters. In my mind, they’re always dynamically related. We have so many special memories that link us to where we’re from and where we’ve been. A lot of our characters are displaced, too, and that’s definitely true of Ronan, our protagonist in Salting the Earth. He’s Irish but he doesn’t feel at home in his own country anymore because of something that happened to him when he went on a trip to America. And then, when he enters the fairy mound, that’s another level of displacement, both physical and emotional.
Q. Describe your writing style in ten words (each!)
Heidi: Magic hidden in the mundane. Oh, and gratuitously filthy dialogue.
Violetta: Painstakingly strange with brushstrokes of joyful chiaroscuro. No quarter given.
Q. You guys seem to have a billion things coming out over the next few months! What’s the secret?
Heidi: No secret, we just bust our asses and don’t make or take excuses. It helps to have someone who keeps you accountable, and someone who can pick up the slack when you’re blocked. But you also have someone wrestling with you for creative control (and oh, we do wrestle sometimes!) so maybe it evens out. Mostly I think we just work very well together.
Violetta: Except for this last month or so, we write every day. And the only reason we’re not writing every day now is that we have so much editing and promotion to do! This summer is also so busy for us because so many projects for the past year ended up coinciding in terms of release dates. We’d like to release more evenly, but since we’re working with several different publishers—Carina, Loose Id, Riptide, Storm Moon Press—that’s not really an option.
“Cruce de Caminos”, part of the Riptide Rentboys: The 2012 Collection.
Hawaiian Gothic coming June 12th from Loose Id.
A dark but achingly sweet romance novel.
Ori Reyes thought there was nothing left for him in Hawaii. A former Army Ranger, his dishonorable discharge turned him into the family disgrace, and his childhood best friend Kalani never could love him back—not the way Ori needed to be loved—even before Kalani’s doctors declared him to be in an unrecoverable coma. Ori’s return to Hawaii seems fated to be a depressing reminder of every chance he never took and every mistake he can never put right… until Kalani himself impossibly shows up to welcome Ori home.
Even though Kalani’s body is bedridden and non-responsive, his homeless spirit is free to roam, and it turns out it’s not just Ori who had regrets and unspoken yearnings. Tenuously reunited, the pair must solve the mystery of Kalani’s unlucky life, sorting through years of dark family history and even journeying to the ancient Hawaiian ghostworld. For Ori, taking on Hawaii’s monstrous ghost-guardians is easier than facing the hardest choice of all: that he might have to put Kalani to rest.
The Druid Stone, an epic urban fantasy romance coming August 6th from Carina Press.
Sean never asked to be an O’Hara, and he didn’t ask to be cursed by one either.
After inheriting a hexed druid stone from his great-grandfather, Sean starts reliving another man’s torture and death… every single night. And only one person can help.
Cormac Kelly runs a paranormal investigation business and doesn’t have time to deal with misinformed tourists like Sean. But Sean has real magic in his pocket, and even though Cormac is a descendant of legendary druids, he soon finds himself out of his depth…and not because Sean’s the first man he’s felt anything for in a long time.
The pair develop an unexpected and intensely sexual bond, but are threatened at every turn when Sean’s case attract the unwelcome attention of the mad sidhe lords of ancient Ireland. When Sean and Cormac are thrust backward in time to Ireland’s violent history—and their own dark pasts—they must work together to escape the curse and save their fragile relationship.