Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks Interview

Today I’m pleased to have Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks join us on the site to talk about their partnership, how it works and of course about their books. My thanks to Val Kovalin of Obsidian Bookshelf who submitted many of the questions since she’s a prolific reader of Angel’s and Naomi’s stories.

Hello Ladies and welcome. Why don’t we start by having each of you tell us something about yourself?

Angelia: I’m Han Solo.
Naomi: I’m Errol Flynn.
At least in our heads.

Angelia: In everyday life, I’m a married mom of four. I drive a semi on a dedicated run, which means I deliver to the same three places every day. I’m pagan and actively working toward ordination in my church. I work with the local Gay and Lesbian Community Center and the local writers’ group. 
Naomi: I’m a retail escapee geek with a stuck-up cat, a hotrod computer, and a dozen pushy muses in my head, demanding release.

How did your partnership start? Did you meet each other at a convention and think “Wow, I like her and she would make a great writing partner?” Did you place a want ad? 🙂 Did your eyes meet across a crowded room? 😀

Angelia: Once upon a business class, Han Solo fell in love with Bagoas. (A: Toldja) We met in an online role-playing game called Fandom High and carried on a fine fictional romance for three months. When circumstances forced us to leave the game, we continued writing and playing. For Love of Etarin came out of the game and we got to kicking around other ideas.

Naomi:We didn’t actually meet face to face until 2007, when Angelia was trucking through and had to stop in Naomi’s town for a random drug test. We had a nice little “date” at Steak-n-Shake.

Why do you think your partnership works Angelia? Naomi? 

Angelia: Love. Love of the boys, love of the stories and yes, love of each other.

Naomi: And my boys adore her boys.

Angelia: And I’m still her big bad Corellian boyfriend.

How do you resolve issues such as who writes what in a book and how do you prioritise all of those plot bunnies running around in your heads?

Angelia: Plot Bunnies get prioritized by deadline. Or by which muses are available to play. You see, we each have a group of stock characters who are useful, yet unpredictable. For example, the eponymous Nikolai may also get drafted into service as Josh Tucker, art gallery manager; Will Scarlet; Charlie Doyle, secretary to Lord Withycombe; or magician Jared/computer whiz Jarrett. But if he’s stuck in a sulky Nikolai mode, we’re getting nothing done with him and had better turn our attention elsewhere.

Naomi: We do the plotting and dialogue together over AIM and Angelia transcribes and fleshes it out. Naomi does the rough draft read-through and editing.

How would you categorise your writing? Do you consider yourselves as m/m romance writers, or are you writing from another tradition and seeing your fiction crossover into an m/m audience?

Both: We both come out of Star Wars slash fandom, Naomi out of the Prequels, Angelia out of the Original Trilogy. These days, our stuff is moving away from slash and more toward genre midlist with GLBT characters. We have editors who constantly say we don’t have enough romance (or sex) and we very seldom fall into simple m/m categorization. We’re plotty. Very plotty.

What is your most popular title within your complete works (which are all fairly iconoclastic and different from the usual m/m conventions)? How would you explain its appeal?

Angelia: Glad Hands has sold the most, but Shell-Shocked is reviewing better. Glad Hands had the Ellora’s Cave marketing machine and a hot cover. Shell-Shocked, we haven’t a clue. Naomi thinks it’s that the guys are great with tons of personality.

Naomi:
Angelia’s still just boggled, since this was supposed to be the nigh-on unpublishable hard-sell that everyone would hate.
 
What’s your view on how well, or to what purpose, BDSM themes are explored in m/m romance in general? What is your own purpose in including such themes in your fiction?

Both: We really don’t have an opinion on the first part. We include the kink because it’s hot. Why else? We use the themes to reveal something about the characters or to advance the story. For instance, in Curse of the Pharaoh’s Manicurist, we hint at an S&M relationship, still ongoing, between Edward (our hero) and Nigel (his villainous former lover). Readers will see more of that in the sequel (which is in the works), as Edward uses the pain to cope with his post-traumatic stress from the Great War. Nigel copes by being a vicious bastard to everyone around him.

But in the Collared Hearts stories from Phaze, the boys use bondage as a way to free themselves from some bad scripts and fully enjoy their sexuality. And also as a way to make some really hot art.

What unique knowledge does each of you bring to enhance the partnership (e.g., Angelia brought the trucker details to Glad Hands)?

Both: We’re both pop culture junkies. Angelia has the driving and casino work, as well as some BDSM experience. Naomi is the tech whiz who keeps our site up and running, and who gets called when Angelia’s mangled the formatting.

Do you each come from extensive reading in, and familiarity with, different genres, e.g., one of you is more into romance and one is more into horror / speculative fiction) or are you both a close match in terms of interests and reading experience?

Both: We both read horror, Angelia moreso than Naomi. Naomi is more a movie sort of person. Angelia reads widely, across most genres and nonfiction.

What aspect about your fiction is the hardest “sell” for a general readership? What aspect about your fiction gets the most praise and attention?

Both: For the general readership, the gay part. For the m/m readership, the girl cooties. (Our characters tend to the bisexual, and some to the omnivorously sexual) We always get praised for uniqueness. Every Brooks and Sparrow review tends to include the words “unique” and “unusual.”
 
Why do you think a story as risky and hard to classify as Shell Shocked did so well with the readers?

Both: The boys are easy to relate to. Most of us have been “scrounging for bread money” poor at some point. And Gabe is ridiculously sexy, even in a non-standard-hero-issue body. We’re surprised it did so well, but pleased. In fact, it’s done well enough, it will be out in print at the end of April.

Do you ever get frustrated with the “rules” imposed upon the romance genre by the publishers (e.g., the obligatory HEA, no infidelity etc.)?

Both: Oh hell YES! The HEA works because it is, in itself transgressive. But we bump our nose on the porn convention of no one under 18, which is ridiculous, especially in historical pieces or today when more than half of people lose their virginity before 16. We ignore the infidelity rule. And some of the house styles drive us batshit. We almost had a release pulled a week before the date because of racist and homophobic language used by racist and homophobic characters. It really blunted the impact to have the language toned down.
 
Now that you both have name-recognition, have you both (or have either one of you) ever been tempted to start your own e-publishing venture or to self-publish so as to get your work available to the public faster?

Both: It’s called Succubus Productions and we’re only using it for reprint collections. Our publishers keep us coming out quickly enough on the first run works. No website yet, but the collection is available at The Literary Underworld, an author consortium, or at Amazon. Http://www.literaryunderworld.com  There is a possibility that the next project out from there is a cookbook…
 
Do you find social networking and reader-writer interaction to be necessary or would you rather keep a low profile and let your work speak for itself?

Both: Naomi prefers a low profile because of social anxiety. Angelia enjoys a moderate amount of networking and interaction, so she’s the more public face.
 
Will there be any more fiction set in the Nikolai / Glad Hands futuristic universe?

Both: There are two shorts that missed the mainstream news, both in Dark Roast Press anthologies. One is a Nick piece, in which he acquires a new lover, called “Gourmet Etude.” The other is a Tanis and Steven focus. Angelia is working on the third book in the Nikolai series, Nick and Corban. There has been talk of a sequel to Glad Hands, but that bunny is small and hiding in the back of the hutch.

Now ends the formal part of the interview.

ANGEL AND NAOMI UNPLUGGED

Ladies, sometimes I ask my guests to join the boyz in the hot tub, and while they are not usually into the fairer sex they help out by handing out oil and suntan lotion and towels.

The guys want to know, Angel, if you ever get it on with another trucker (or more than one) on those long haul trips?

Angelia: Since I don’t do long haul, the answer is no. Dedicated runs are done on a close time schedule. And the one I’m on starts at 4 AM and is done around noon. Besides, even when I did run longer lanes, the guys that were interested in me are never the Oded Fehr clone with the painted-on t-shirt and the skull and crossbones belt buckle. (readers may remember him from the Blue Collar Taste Test. I saw him at a TA in Arkansas) It’s always the guys old enough to be my grandfather, with three teeth and permanent tobacco stains.

Which of those nasty guys in your books would you like to watch make it with another character?

Both: All of them? Seriously, we use a variety of stock characters, so they do get shuffled from book to book. Just to mix it up, we’d like to see our Edward Kilsby (from Curse of the Pharaoh’s Manicurist) with Chuck Hummingbird (from Glad Hands). Two great big good-looking guys, who haven’t ended up in a book together yet.

Are you spectators or do you like to join in the fun if there are several guys making it, assuming they have no objection to “girl cooties”?

Both: Edward is omnisexual, so he won’t object and Chuck’s been known to sleep with women. However, Naomi is asexual so she’ll be watching while Angelia joins the boys…

What’s your favourite toy Angel? Naomi? (Sorry you can only choose one and it can’t be human) 🙂

Naomi: I’m an asexual geek, so my computer. I’ve been known to be stimulated by a powerful graphics card. High frames-per-second = “Oh, baby!”

Angelia: A snakebite kit.

Have you ever had sex in a public place? Were you caught? Did you go to the slammer:)

 Naomi: I could plead the fifth to be all mysterious and stuff, but nah. Nope on all three.

Angelia: Yes, no, no. No more details than that. The statute of limitations isn’t out yet and they still haven’t found the mess we made of Tertullian.

What favourite dessert have you ever had poured all over you and licked off? I know you tried this at least once. 😀

Both: Actually, neither of us has. Naomi says licking spilled hot fudge off herself probably doesn’t count and Angelia’s husband is not inclined to mix food and sex.

 Thank you Angel and Naomi.

Thanks for having us.

ANGELIA’S AND NAOMI’S CONTACT INFORMATION

 Email: asparrow@angelsparrow.com; nbrooks@angelsparrow.com
Website: http://www.angelsparrow.com
Angelia’s Blog: http://angelsparrow.blogspot.com/
Angelia’s facebook: http://angelsparrow.blogspot.com/
Angelia’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/asparrow16

Naomi’s myspace: http://www.myspace.com/midnightblue
Naomi’s facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Naomi-Brooks/
Naomi’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/nbrooks
Naomi’s livejournal: http://nbrooks.livejournal.com/

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

9 comments

  • Hi Kris.
    ~
    We didn’t talk much about Alive on the Inside, because it really didn’t come up. Also, it’s not going to be reviewed here for a variety of reasons. Alice, Dinah and Sin being prominent, but also items like grapefruit spoons and buzz-saw penises.
    ~
    I made a group of hardened horror vets (Brian Keene and Bryan Smith, Stephen Shrewsbury and Maurice Broaddus) cross their legs as one with THAT last phrase.
    ~
    We’ve been writing paranormal romance since the first: my gay werewolves, djinn and naga in love, blind vampires, the devil himself. Venturing clear over into horror seemed like a logical step. After you’ve written Gay Christmas Werewolves vs. Cthulhu, how do you top it, really?
    ~
    Horror is actually a very popular genre. It’s just not a common one for female writers. It’s also not real popular among the romance crowd, and I don’t know why. After all, fairy tales and horror stories are the same thing, it’s all a matter of happy ending.

    • Thanks Angelia for the clarification.

      “Horror is actually a very popular genre.”

      Sorry, I should have been more specific. I meant horror being popular in terms of the m/m epublishing industry. I haven’t seen a lot of it other than Rick Reed’s work via Amber Allure, but then again I also admit that it’s not a genre I read a lot. Watch it, yes. Giving scariness to my fertile brain, however, is never a good idea. LOL.

      “After all, fairy tales and horror stories are the same thing, it’s all a matter of happy ending.”

      Yes. I think Walt Disney has a lot to answer for because if people actually knew how the original story went… well…

      Speaking of endings… and apols for going on about it… I loved the ending of ‘Alive on the Inside’. The complete turnabout associated with the concept of the freak show was just full of win.

      Shutting up now. 🙂

  • Great interview, Hans and Errol. 😀

    Like others, I’m fascinated by insights into writing partnerships. I found it really interesting that you do dialogue over AIM. It makes perfect sense that this would be a good vehicle to be able to write something like this given how quick the response time usually is.

    Question for you – and knock me down if I’m out of line – how come you didn’t talk about ‘Alive on the Inside’ here? I personally think that this is your best work to date.

    I’m also really curious about what made you take the plunge into the horror genre as it is not one that appears to be particularly popular.

  • Very interesting answers! I’m still fascinated by the whole partnership thing. Coordinating that has got to demand a lot of organization, but it seems to have really worked well for you. Best of luck with all those plot bunnies clamoring for attention! 🙂

    • Tam, actually, I find writing alone much more difficult. No external inspiration or audience to perform for. At heart, I’m a storyteller, a bard. My favorite memories of the SCA are getting up and telling tales around a campfire as long as people would listen…or until my voice gave out.
      ~
      Lily, thank you for reading us. We are working on more right now. We only have one release for 2010 at the moment, but we’re working to change that.
      ~
      Val, it requires more than you might think. My day starts at 3 AM and ends at 8 PM. Naomi’s starts about 4 PM and ends about 3 AM. We do all right though.

  • What a wonderful interview! I’ve enjoyed reading your books very much and look forward to reading many more in the future.

  • Great interview guys. I’m always intrigued by people who can write as a team as I see it as much more complicated than closeting yourself away and hammering out a story.
    *
    Good luck with all your projects on the horizon.

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