Happy Birthday Bound for the Forest – and my experiences of being a published writer.
It’s been two years since the release of my first and most successful novel, Bound for the Forest. My experiences of that book—and of writing since—have been an interesting journey, and while not a soaring trajectory of triumph, I figured it was a good time to take stock.
Ah, Bound for the Forest. I believe (hope) I’ve improved as a writer and creator of narrative in subsequent efforts. But in many ways, Bound for the Forest’s weaknesses—and my unwitting transgression of so many rules—are its strengths. For example, I think I’ve got much better at creating complex characters since, but whether an asset or otherwise, Brien is still the best example I’ve ever produced of a clear-minded alpha male. Herne and Robin, while more rounded, are far more angst-ridden, weighted with the burden of their histories. While I love my tortured chaps, Brien’s my most straightforward hero.
And then there’s Scarlet. He’s wild and raw, a figure of total fantasy. For some, that reads as shallow, maybe immature, and I’m not sure I could even produce him now. He was innocent because I was, and I’ll always love him to bits for it. In many ways, Scarlet stands for the book. I wrote it for myself, not understanding how an m/m romance was “supposed” to work, and never knowing it would be read by anybody beyond a circle of friends. When sculpted into a publishable state by my superb editor, it didn’t lose its essence of make-believe and freedom. Bound for the Forest was never about representing real life or the core of any true experience. It had no pretensions. It was about guilty pleasure and letting go, about writing something inherently “me,” which only I could produce.
So, what’s happened since? Bound to the Beast was, as I’ve explained many times, a hard graft to write, because heavens, I learned a lot from the experience of editing Bound for the Forest. Plus, I’d now realized that people read published books and have things to say about them. All right and proper, but….eeeek! Catching Kit was a relative breeze, but I hit my nadir, in terms of writing enjoyment, with Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone. That said, with my back to the wall and losing faith in my abilities, I produced something that was, like Bound for the Forest, very “me.” A book set in my home town, a hero whose experiences—and character—are by far the most similar to mine, thus possibly the “realest” out of any I’ve written. I’m proud of the result, especially as I managed to pull it out, just about making my deadlines, during difficult times.
I learned how to love writing again with Lord of the Forest, which has garnered my best reviews and my poorest sales! Few seemed interested, either in more from the Greenwood universe or in Robin Hood. It hit me hard, I will admit, but in some ways, it’s been liberating. If there’s not too many people watching…well, let’s see what I can do. I feel like I’m writing for myself again, as well as a small circle of friends (including you lovely visitors here.) I’m not sure I’ll ever produce anything as innocent and raw as Bound for the Forest, but I think I can learn something by looking back on it. Sometimes it’s better when you forget about the rules, and the expectations, the sheer damn weight of it all…and let go.
Blurb and excerpt:
England, 1817. Ex-soldier Melmoth Brien returns to his ancestral home in the ancient Greenwood, intending to retrieve his family’s valuables and get the hell out of there. When he’s beaten to it by Scarlet, a young woodsman turned thief, Brien overpowers him and ties him up, demanding he help get the family fortune back by leading him deep into the forest. The flash of sexual fire between them is undeniable, but a force more powerful than rivalry or lust is ratcheting up the tension.
Brien’s family are Protectors of the Greenwood, a responsibility he has discarded like every other in his life. To Scarlet, whose very life-force is bound to the Greenwood, this makes Brien a traitor. He would use anything, even his body, to drive him away. After all, a traitor may stir the fouler Spirits, who will demand blood. And Scarlet knows he is marked for sacrifice…
Lured ever deeper into a realm of ritualized sex and magic, bondage and blood, the fighting gives way to rampant lovemaking, but Scarlet needs more than just sex to survive. Can Brien admit his identity as a Protector and bind his underling forever, or will the Greenwood Spirits enslave them both?
A dissonant scream tore through Scarlet’s mind as their lips, bodies, and passions clashed together, the kiss frantic, messy, and wet.
No! Not here. Not upon the sacred ground where the spirits of the Greenwood reached toward their goddess. Scarlet was aware he was
committing a great sacrilege. Yet the tighter Brien held him and the deeper he kissed him, the less Scarlet found he could fight.
Holgaerst, forgive me!
This was not good. The plea did not come from his heart. And the ache in his groin was fast overwhelming the rest of his faculties.
As Brien intensified the kiss, Scarlet’s resistance sagged and surrendered, his mind turning disarmingly blank. The coarse stubble of Brien’s jaw scraped against Scarlet’s chin while Brien’s tongue explored every facet of his mouth. Scarlet returned the kiss with an ever-swelling fervor, sweeping his tongue against Brien’s and inviting the captain to plunder. It was like being sucked into a hot, swirling pool; the rough brush of Brien’s tongue unhinged him, swamping his caution, his self-willed loathing, and even his fear. Scarlet wanted this far too much.
Brien ground his body against Scarlet’s, melding them as one to the rhythms of the kiss. The closeness of their bodies sent Scarlet’s desires spiraling further out of control, all his loyalties to Holgaerst and the great Green Man momentarily banished from his mind. The kiss consumed him, but he wanted more. And so, it seemed, did Brien. A steel rod of an erection pressed against Scarlet’s stomach, just below his tied and crushed hands. Scarlet too was hardening toward full arousal, a whirlwind of need spinning in his guts; and whether he was possessed by Holgaerst, Niogaerst, or the devil, he didn’t know and no longer damn well cared. Scarlet scrubbed himself wantonly against Brien’s thigh, hitching up his leg until his knee brushed the hard line of his captain’s hip. He needed this man inside him, right here, right now.