A while ago I saw a book on Amazon that grabbed my eye. I mean seriously, when you see a book with the title “Slay me,” said the dragon, how can you not be intrigued, right? So I grabbed it, read it, laughed, shuddered, and was thoroughly entertained. Not a bad thing considering I’d never read Stephen del Mar’s work before. I knew he was personable on twitter, we’d exchanged courtesies with each other often and that was nice. It was especially nice when he told me there were more books in his Slay me world—which definitely intrigued me considering his world building was curious.
So when I found out that Mr. del Mar was doing a book tour I jumped at the chance to be on it…I love bringing new authors and books to your attention…but absolutely love doing it with books I’ve already read. Think of it as a bonus for me.
So please welcome Stephen to my blog today. :)
Thanks, I’m very excited to be here. This is my first blog tour. Basic stuff about me: I’m a 54 year old gay man living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. I have a background in media production and attended seminary for a while.
I’ve just finished and released “Hunter Moon & the Red Wolf,” which is the last book in “The Live Oak Tales.” This series is a fun and, at times, a quirky take on contemporary/paranormal fantasy. We have witches, faeries and a number of shifter folk all trying to do the right thing and live together. All of this is set in the Bennett Bay area on the Gulf Coast of Florida. A fun little place I’ve made up. I wanted a place where I could condense all of Florida into one county with a tourist town and backwater villages. I’ve been very influenced by the southern literary traditions and setting is always one of my main characters. A strong sense of place is a must for southern fiction, as is a bit of spirit, in whatever form that may take.
What are your thoughts on literacy criticism, specifically with your books?
I take it seriously. If someone has taken the time to buy one of my books and leave feedback, the least I can do is take their views into considerations. The only ones I ignore are the obvious trolls on Goodreads, especially the one who obviously didn’t read the story. One reviewer pointed out a word I was using way too often in dialogue, it slipped by me, my beta readers and my editor. And I noticed I was using it in the book I was working on at the time. Yeah, I really appreciated that note. I should have sent her a box of candy.
I understand that my stories aren’t for everyone, no book is, and I take that into account. Overall I really appreciate feedback. (Don’t be shy about saying hi! We writers love to hear from our readers.) Writing is communication and communication is a give and take thing. I think it’s exciting we now live in an age when I can finish a book and click on a link at the end and send the writer a little note and they answer back. I think I would have wet myself if I could have done that as a kid. Imagine getting an email back from JRR Tolkien or Arthur C. Clarke?
Now as I already stated, Slay me really grabbed me with its title and I had to read it. What’s the genius behind how you title your books?
Don’t know it’s one of those mysteries of writing things. I usually have a title before I begin. It’s some kind of thesis statement for me. “Slay me,” said the dragon was this line I had in my head. What if a dragon asked to be slain? Why would it ask that? How could it ask that? And the short story that launched my paranormal series was born. “Dark Love” is a metaphor for gay love, back when it had to be hidden. For too much of history, gay people had to find their love in darkness. They often didn’t have love, just quick sex in dark places. It’s a story about love coming into the light.
There are lots of new authors in the M/M genre. What new ones have grabbed your interest?
Well, new as in new to me, I just started reading Angel Martinez’s works. Very good. I need to read some more of Bellora Quinn’s stuff. I’ve beta read part of a story of hers and really liked it. I need to download some of her published work. I recently read Brandon Shire’s “Summer Symphony” and really enjoyed it. I need to read more of his work. A very strong writer. I find the men in his books very believable.
What part of this whole writing gig drives you batty?
Probably what everyone says, finding the time to do it and keeping focused when I do have the time. I have bouncy brain syndrome. I can lose myself on social media or researching something and then I look up and hours have past. Sigh. I need a keep sometimes.
I love that! Bouncy Brain Syndrome it is. :) Last question then we’ll get down to the *clears throat* serious book business…name your four most important food groups.
Fried, curried, BBQ, and roasted.
Book Names: The Live Oak Series: Dark Love; The Bear, the Witch, and the Web; and Hunter Moon and the Red Wolf
Series: The Live Oak
Should be read in order
Release Date: Book 1: Spring 2015, Books 2 & 3: May, 2015
The Live Oak Tales is a paranormal/contemporary fantasy series set in the wider Stories from Bennett Bay collection by Stephen del Mar. The series consists of one short story (“Slay me,” said the dragon.), which serves as a standalone prequel and three novels, Dark Love, The Bear, the Witch and the Web, and Hunter Moon and the Red Wolf.
“Slay me,” said the dragon. is a tongue-in-cheek look at a romantic encounter between a dragon and a slayer. It sets up the mythology of dragon shifters that runs through the rest of the series.
Dark Love, a metaphor for gay love, takes us from the ordinary world of the Bennett Bay, a Gulf-side tourist town in Florida, to the tiny, backwater village of Live Oak. Dieter Reinhold, the proprietor of a trendy café in Bennett Bay’s Spanish Quarter travels back to Live Oak to deal with the death of his great uncle, the man that raised him as a father. While there, he learns there are more interesting creatures in the woods than he ever imagined. He discovers that magic, witches, and undying love are real.
In The Bear, the Witch and the Web, Innes Callahan and the circle of witches we met in Dark Love are facing a number of crises. The greatest of which is that the faeries are missing. In fact, all the enchantment seems to be gone from the Jumble, the wild woods adjacent to the farm. They need to find the faeries and discover who the new Witch of the Wood will be.
The final book in the series, Hunter Moon and the Red Wolf, finds the Circle still in disarray as Janos Pac tries to come into his own as the new Witch of the Woods. This is complicated by a plot by the dragons and wolves returning to Florida after nearly a hundred years, but are they really wolves?
These books are on the lighter side of the paranormal spectrum with a fair bit of humor. However, they do touch on deeper issues. Dark Love explores loss, grief, and what it means to hide one’s love. The stories also explore what it means to make hard choices about our path in life; and, an overarching theme is the changing nature of family as we move through life. How we move from our family of birth to the family we create with friends and lovers.
Pages or Words:
“Slay me,” said the dragon: 45 pages
Dark Love: 398 pages
The Bear, the Witch, & the Web: 153 pages
Hunter Moon & Red Wolf: 249 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy. (Book two also includes an older main character.)
Excerpt from Dark Love: Book 1 in The Live Oak Tales
Setup: Dieter is alone at the family’s old farmhouse after the death of his uncle. His ex-lover and still good friend Innes comes over to comfort him. Innes finds the mysterious silver box Dieter found out in the barn, which seems to have human ash in it. Innes warns him that it might be dangerous. Innes is a witch and Dieter thinks magic is bull. Innes calls in his mentor, Flora May Crawford, to help him convince Dieter there is danger afoot. It doesn’t work. Later, Innes calls back with another warning for Dieter. It doesn’t make him think Innes is any less crazy.
Of course that was the moment my phone made the little nose-twitch tinkle-tinkle. I sighed, go with the flow and remember you love him.
I picked up the phone. “Hello, Innes.”
“Didn’t you get my text?” He sounded flustered.
“No. I haven’t looked at my phone. I’ve had other things on my mind.”
“Oh. Right. Well, what are you doing?”
“Sitting naked in the kitchen having soup and a sandwich.”
“Because I was hungry. What do you want?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment. I heard the creak of a screen door and the chirping of frogs. He must have moved outside onto Flora May’s front porch. “Look,” he said, “Flora May just got back from the faeries.” He paused like he expected me to comment. I had nothing.
“She’s not telling me a lot. Said they’re pretty agitated about the whole thing.”
Again the pause. Again I was silent; although I was worrying my grip on the phone would reach its crush point.
“Dieter, you gotta promise me to take this seriously.”
Actually, I didn’t have to promise him anything.
I heard him swallow. “Tonight is a full moon.”
“So? It happens every twenty-eight days from what I understand.”
“Fuck.” He was agitated. “Listen, whatever you do, don’t jack-off in that box under the full moon.”
My mind kicked into neutral and spun its gears as it tried to make sense of the string of words it just received. Because they didn’t make any sense and they kept coming.
He continued. “I mean it. Whatever you do, do not mix your semen with that ash in the full moonlight.”
Some emergency back-up system took over. My thumb slid over my phone and ended the call. I stood up, opened the fridge and pulled a beer out. I twisted the top off and dropped it on the table. I pushed my way through the swinging door into the living room. As I fell back onto the couch, I tried to imagine a world where the idea of masturbating into a box of human ash existed, let alone the need to warn someone not to do that. Ohhh, I’m gonna cum, make sure the drapes are pulled and the lids are on all the urns, ‘cause we don’t want our spunk and ash and moonlight to mix! ‘Cause that will start the zombie apocalypse or something.
You can find The Live Oak series here:
Learn all about Stephen del Mar:
Stephen del Mar is a fresh voice in Southern Gay Fiction. His Bennett Bay collection of books and stories explore life in that unique corner of the American South known as Florida. He also writes fantasy and science-fiction. Del Mar lives in the Tampa Bay region of Florida and enjoys Key Lime Pie and mango margaritas, but not at the same time.
Find Stephen here:
Time to play with Stephen’s Rafflecopter…
Thank you Pride Promotions for making my day :)