Monday, October 6, 2014

Breathess Monday: Enough

1. How did you start writing erotic romance?
My big thing as a writer has always been characters. I love to pick them apart, examine them, play with them, see how they react. I love people. I'm that sadistic Sims player who tortures them all then gets bored, locks them in the house, and sets fire to the whole building. I want to see how people tick. (In fiction. Ironically my day job is data analysis, and the people side of it bores me to tears.)
Romance is the perfect genre for that, especially as I am not romantically inclined and I quickly discovered that my grittier, very British version of romance gets attention. Apparently I'm not the only one who rolls their eyes at gushy sappy love scenes.
The erotic part was a bit accidental. I tried my hand at writing some porn, way back in my fanfiction days, and accidentally discovered I have a thing for dirty talk. So every now and then, the mood for some filth hits me, and off I go!
2. Plotter or pantster?
Six of one, half a dozen of the other. I have to know where the story is going. I usually have some scenes in my head that must happen along the way. I usually write a chapter-by-chapter plan, but several times I've gone back to the plan (to use to write the synopsis) when I'm about to pitch a novel and gone, "Hang on, this is nothing like the book!" So I plot, and then pants my way off the beaten track.
3. What are three things you have on your writing desk?
Currently, several dirty cups and an empty bowl that used to contain soup. And tissues. You see where this is going...I've been ill lately, but time waits for no man-flu. My writing desk is my general-life-the-universe-and-everything desk, so pretty much anything ends up on here.
4. Favorite food?
Right now I seriously want a homemade two-bean chilli. I have no idea why.
5. Tell us a little about your new release. What character in the book really spoke to you?
Enough is the story about - being enough. Its main characters, Jesse Dawkins and Ezra Pryce, have been together a few months, but Jesse has some pretty big self-esteem issues that Ezra's disapproving family and gorgeous ex-boyfriend don't help. Jesse really feels the relationship is running on borrowed time - until Ezra's accident opens Jesse's eyes and lets him see himself the way that Ezra sees him.
Both Jesse and Ezra spoke to me in different ways - Ezra is temperamentally very like me, in that he lets his prickly guard down for this one important person in his life, and otherwise he is very sharp and hostile. So I click with Ezra very well - write what you know and all that, eh? - but it's Jesse's story that got this book going.
Jesse is very much for people who aren't 'supposed' to have problems like insecurity or low self-esteem. Jesse is good-looking, he's affable, he loves his job, he has a gorgeous boyfriend, and he's happy. He's a firefighter and built like a brick shithouse. He gets a lot of positive attention in the bars, yeah? He's not 'supposed' to have low self-esteem; he's the guy you look at and think 'he's got it all, what's he moaning about?' Jesse as a character was, for me, a way of saying it's not that easy and just because someone looks confident on the outside doesn't mean they're confident inside too.
I guess both characters and Jesse's story went down well with the readers too, as Enough was an immediate hit when it originally came out - so much so that the publishers, Breathless Press, decided to put it out in print format as well. That was a huge moment for me, and one I'm not entirely over yet either!
The ebook can be bought here, the print book here, and  a free chapter sample here, for anyone who's interested.
6. I write because ____...
It's more socially acceptable than pathological lying.
Seriously. I made up really crazy shit as a little kid. My sister dubbed me 'the storyteller' before I even started school. Learning to make (vaguely) legible words on paper turned lies into stories, and once my five-year-old brain worked out you never got smacked with a wooden spoon for writing down a story, that was it. I've been writing ever since. The stories have gotten better, but the handwriting is still shoddy.
So...I guess I write because I do. It's not as vital as breathing, but life without writing would be like a life of work-eat-sleep-work-eat-sleep. No joy, no love, no friendship. I'd survive, I'd live, and I would be pretty fucking miserable while I was at it!
7. What is your favorite type of character to write about?
Thoroughly British ones in company with their close friends. The British are generally incredibly nasty (banter!) to their friends and it's really fun to write dialogue that's heavy on the insulting and banter, whilst the body language and tone is being affectionate. It makes for interesting relationships.
8. What is the sexiest scene you ever wrote?
A particular 'game' played by the main characters of Thicker Than Bone. It came out of nowhere, involved restraints and toeing very close to the edge of a comfort zone for one of them, but it was weirdly hot given it was such a short scene. Apparently filthy talk followed by loving aftercare does it for me! Hopefully that scene will be available to read next year - provided I get Thicker Than Bone polished and accepted by a publisher!
9. What advice would you give new authors in the erotica/romance field?
Don't be neurotic. Seriously.
There's been a lot of neuroticism going around lately - authors attacking reviewers, readers ,other authors, publishing houses going to hell, bloggers going crazy - just don't. Don't get involved, don't be 'that guy' who goes batshit because someone one-starred your book. It hurts. It does, I won't lie. But it will happen - because honestly, if you never get a negative review ever, your book has flopped and only your buddies have seen it. Someone is not going to like it. If one person says 'your dialogue is crappy' then big deal. One person doesn't like it. Accept it, move on. Only when several people have the exact same complaint do you have a problem with your actual work that you might need to fix. And even then, do not go nuts in public about it!
There's way too much crazy in the world already, and this industry will not forgive an author for behaving badly.
10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
I am currently polishing up an adult manuscript, Thicker Than Bone, and a young adult manuscript, In The Blood. Neither is as creepy as it sounds! Thicker Than Bone asks this: if you could someone's life, would you? What if that person was your own brother? And what if that brother nearly killed your boyfriend? In The Blood is about finding happiness even when the entire world - and you - say you're not allowed it. They're both intense books about intense issues, but were loads of fun to write and hopefully will be polished up and finding homes soon.

About Matthew
Matthew J. Metzger is the front for a British author working a difficult day job and from the inside of a closet. When he's not writing or working, he's asleep. That, really, is how six books in two years is possible. Matthew writes LGBT fiction about contemporary issues, from 'gay issues' such as coming out through to wider issues such as domestic violence, racism and terminal illness. Matthew is open to some low-level stalking once in a while, and can be stalked on Twitter, Facebook, and at his website.

Enough - Blurb
Jesse has never had a real boyfriend before. He's a firefighter, and that's all that anyone's seen before—a quick and thrilling screw, and a story for the future. So when he lands Ezra Pryce, the most beautiful man in the whole of Brighton, Jesse can't quite understand why Ezra is still here eight months down the line.
Not that he's going to complain. Ezra's sexy, sarcastic, and doesn't treat Jesse like he's stupid, but Jesse can do the math. Ezra is nothing short of perfection; and Jesse falls a very way short of it. Jesse isn't going to be enough for someone like Ezra in the long run, and he is living—and loving—on borrowed time. When a disastrous weekend in Norwich introduces Jesse to the staunch disapproval of Ezra's family and the six-pack of his ex-boyfriend in one fell swoop, Jesse's fate is sealed. He cannot hope to live up to an ex who has every intention of getting Ezra back, and all the looks and charm to do it too. Jesse is not enough for Ezra and he's never going to be.
Until the accident forces Jesse to re-evaluate, and shows him exactly what he looks like through Ezra's eyes.

Enough  - Excerpt
Jackie's was a loud cross between a bar and a club, with a sticky dance floor populated by both straight and gay couples, and a tiny LGBTQ flag above the bar with a sign declaring it to be a "safe space." Jesse had no idea what that meant, but he grasped that it was okay to be gay in here, and slid an arm around Ezra's waist at the bar.
"You're clingy," Ezra said lightly, but tucked his head briefly against Jesse's neck in a kind of half-hug pose. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Jesse said, and slapped Ezra's hand down. "I'll get this round. I want you to get tipsy, and you'll never do that if you stick to your bloody lager."
"Mr. Dawkins, are you trying to get me drunk?"
"Yes," Jesse said, handing over a twenty to the bored bartender. In the pause as the guy wrestled with the till, he twisted to kiss Ezra soundly, transmitting his exact intentions with his tongue and his hand possessively low on Ezra's hip.
"Mm," Ezra hummed as he pulled back, and his eyes were just a little darker. "Maybe I'll get a little bit drunk."
"You do that," Jesse said, and pressed the glass into his hand.
Jackie's livened up a little as the bar slowly filled and the money kept changing hands. Jesse kept Ezra on the vodka, relishing the chance to be able to get him drunk. Ezra didn't like to get drunk if Jesse couldn't, and Jesse often couldn't drink because of the risk of being called to an emergency at work, so it was nice to get to let go a little, to drink a bit more than the two-pint maximum, to feel the first fuzzy edges of poor coordination and disjointed thinking take over his brain. The music was kind of shitty - late nineties stuff he hadn't heard in years - and the bartender was stingy with the doubles, but it was fairly cheap and it was nasty enough to work, and when that wide, beautiful smile bloomed across Ezra's face when a tiny little lesbian and her girlfriend dragged him to dance with them, insisting they knew him as insistently as he said that they didn't, Jesse felt happy. Despite Mrs. Pryce, despite Audrey Hepburn being a lesbian, despite the crucifix on the gatepost, he felt happy.
He drained his glass and went to the bathroom, relieving himself clumsily in a definitely nasty bathroom with the telltale streaks of sticky white powder on the counter that said that at least one part of the sex, drugs and rock and roll was going down in here on your average evening. Rinsing his hands off, he wondered if another round was called for, or another bar. Obviously they'd keep going a bit longer. He could still think, for one. And thinking was counterproductive for later, when he'd get Ezra's long legs wrapped around his waist and try and suck all the alcohol back out through his mouth. Or his neck. Or other places.
Then he left the bathroom, and saw him.
Ezra had escaped the tiny lesbians, and was leaning very precariously against the bar, a fresh drink in hand, and smiling—beaming—at a man who was just offensively good-looking. He looked like one of those underwear models or something. Tall in a too-tight-T-shirt, with spiky dark hair in a style that could have been achieved with an electric razor but he'd probably paid fifty quid for at a salon aimed at women. A waxed chest, judging by the naked v of skin that was visible below his neck. He was flashing a chiseled, perfect, cologne-ad smile at Ezra. People could model cologne and underwear, right? Because this guy definitely did.
Jesse hesitated at the bathroom door, and felt a shaky warmth bubbling up in his stomach as the underwear model reached into his back pocket and passed Ezra a thin bit of card. His number, maybe? Why the hell was some underwear-cologne model giving Ezra his number?
Why the hell was Ezra putting it in his pocket? Ezra turned from the bar, eyes scanning the room, and that placid, drink-smudged smile widened when he locked eyes with Jesse. He leaned back against the sticky wood, weight on his elbows, and beckoned with one long finger, and it was like an invisible rope reeling Jesse in. The underwear model glanced Jesse's way and melted back into the crowd on the dance floor and Jesse's anger went with him. He planted his hands on either side of Ezra's waist, bracing himself against the bar, and crowded Ezra against it to kiss him and taste the drunken want on his tongue.
"You ran away," Ezra accused, tugging on Jesse's hair lightly.
"You started talking to other guys," Jesse murmured, and yet with Ezra's hand playing with his ear and the wide, blissfully peaceful expression he wore when he was drunk, it somehow didn't matter.
"Only because you ran away," Ezra teased, and bumped his nose against Jesse's clumsily.
"Can we go?" Jesse whispered, dropping a hand to slide it around Ezra's hip and down to the top of his leg, rubbing against the denim of his jeans lightly. "Back to the hotel? I have designs."
"On what?"
"On you and the bed and being bendy."
Ezra grinned, and downed the rest of his glass in one expert motion, his back and neck flexing like liquid in suspension. "I knew you got me drunk," he accused, and Jesse laughed, putting a hand into Ezra's back pocket to hook him in and guide him out. The night air was cold after the heat of the bar, and the underwear model had vanished like an ugly, sexy mirage.
"You shouldn't talk to underwear models," he blurted out, and Ezra laughed too loudly in the street.
"I only talk to your underwear," he retorted, and then all the sense of it was slipping away, and Jesse simply forgot in favor of other things.
For the moment.

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