The Flesh Cartel:Choices Tour ~ Authors Interview and Giveaway! Exclusive AUDIO Excerpt!
Welcome to the virtual book tour for the second season of the gripping psychosexual thriller The Flesh Cartel! Join authors Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau all week long as they kick off season 2, Fragmentation, with the release of the third episode in the serialized story: Choices. One lucky winner will win an awesome Flesh Cartel t-shirt—just leave a comment below with your name and email by 1/13/12! Follow the whole tour & comment at each stop to earn additional entries: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/events/tours/flesh-cartel-season-2-virtual-book-tour.
Heidi: Maybe! I definitely want to write with Rachel again, but I don’t know if I’ll revisit the serial format so soon. It’s a very time intensive process!
Rachel: Yeah, I’m with Heidi on this. I loooove writing with her, but a serial story is big and sprawling and time-consuming, and you get locked into it for a long time so we’re really putting our energies into it for the long haul. And since the format is best suited to only a very few specific kinds of stories, I’m not sure I’d hop into that again so soon. I’m having a ton of fun with this one, but I get the sense that I’ll have had my fill for a while when the Flesh Cartel is done.
Q2. What was the hardest thing for you two when writing this serial?
Heidi: For me? Some of the tricky psychological stuff. I’m obsessed with the payoff and tend to jump the gun on having characters achieve specific arcs. Rachel is much more slow and thorough. If I were writing this story, it’d probably be over in 50 thousand words!
Rachel: For me, it’s less about the content and more about the discipline of sticking to a fairly rigorous writing schedule that isn’t so easy to put off or change because your partner’s depending on you to be there when you say you will.
Q3. Some of the scenes in these stories are sadistic. How do you balance between sadistic enough to move the story forward and too sadistic?
Heidi: Well, although the overall experience of reading the story is one of brutality, if you actually sit down and break the story up objectively, we often fade to black on scenes, or recount them in exposition, or even gloss over them! Basically, if a certain scene or event doesn’t further the character journey in some important way, we don’t get into it in detail on it. Just like writing anything else, wasted words and wasted scenes are nasty pointless filler. To write a successful thriller, you need to lean toward the taut/tense end of the scale, not the gratuitous one.
Rachel: Exactly what Heidi said. And that’s something my editor-self has to rise up and remind the rest of me of constantly, because I really am a sadist and I want to have fun with all the mucky details, but 90% of the time, the mucky details serve no purpose at all except titillation and thus have no business being in the story. I just play them in my head and let the story march onward ;-)
Q4. What inspired this serial?
Heidi: It was just one of those scenarios that grabbed my head and wouldn’t let go. I probably never would have written it down if not for Sarah Frantz egging me on. Not that you should blame her or anything.
Rachel: OMG, totally Sarah’s fault. I don’t even really remember anymore how we started talking about this, but Sarah was definitely involved. And I remember Heidi telling me about this thing she wanted to write and me basically going, OMG that is my every bedtime fantasy ever—and I mean that, like, I had quite literally been making up stories very very similar to FC in my head every night in that wonderful time right before you drift off to sleep—and so we were like, Great, let’s do this thing.
Q5. What kind of research goes into this type of storyline? Where do you find information?
Heidi: More reading about psychological torture methods than I care to recount, honestly.
Rachel: It’s a ton of psychology, yeah. We also did a lot of research into the MMA scene, down to stupid little details like how much a fighter’s agent would make, because it’s referenced in the story. Most of what you need you can find online—whether going to professional websites or maybe even watching some MMA fights on Youtube—though I picked up some great print books about PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome, and Cold War-era breaking techniques. I also hit up a local MMA gym, where the owner showed me how to use the equipment (hand wraps, gloves, various training gear, etc.), let me participate in a lesson, and then let me talk to his fighters afterward. That was a pretty awesome experience.
Q6. Do you ever find that when writing a story, you try to convey a subliminal message? If not, would you consider writing a book with a “message” in it? And if so, what would it be?
Heidi: An author I met in college once told me not to sweat the “message”, but to write a book you were passionate about and the message you truly felt in your heart and your guts would shine through. Hopefully when all is said and done on Flesh Cartel, there will be some piece of me inside it, some theme that justifies its existence. Or it may wind up just being pulp, who knows!
Rachel: I’ve heard similar advice throughout my entire writing career, and I’ve really come to believe in it—write characters and plots, not themes. If you write the first two well enough, the themes will shine through on their own. Otherwise you end up sounding didactic, shoving a message down the readers’ throats. The Flesh Cartel is about a lot of things, and I think themes like brotherhood and the strength and importance of family bonds and the fragility and resilience of the human spirit all shine through, but we didn’t sit down and say, “Hey, let’s write a book about brotherhood and the human spirit.” We sat down and said, “Hey, let’s write a story about these two brothers who have nothing but each other and go through something awful. Let’s explore how they lose each other and then find their way back.” We set out to write about people; the themes, hopefully, just naturally follow.
Q7. How have the responses been so far with a serial versus a series? Is this a surprise?
Heidi: Not a surprise at all, honestly. Some people love it, some are wary but willing to give it a try, some people hate it but are putting up with it because they like our writing or they’re attracted by the subject matter, some people are just waiting until it’s all out so they can read it in one go, some people are choosing not to buy it at all based on the format. That’s the case with any format decision you make as an author. You’d get a range of responses if it was a short story, or a novel, or a screenplay, or free-form poetry, or whatever else.
Q8. Who’s the one coming up with the deviant torture scenes for the two brothers? Do you fight to see who can torture one brother more than the other?
Heidi: Rachel and I never fight. We exist in a perpetually harmonious state based on the fact that I know my place, and she placates me with praise and chocolate. And just for the record, I don’t enjoy torturing any of my characters, because I’m the class of person who identifies with the person being tortured, if you get my meaning.
Rachel: I just read her answer and spent like five solid minutes laughing and wiping my eyes. And also agreeing ;-) Torture’s fun for me, so I’m all over that, but when you’re not just writing some PWP whump fic (which we’re very much not), you really need to make sure everything you do serves a very clear and necessary purpose. We both have our individual kinks and our things that we really wanted to write into the story, and we discuss those and try to find a place to work them in where they’ll make sense. And sometimes we end up doing things specifically because they’re necessary, even if they’re a little squicky to us both or we’re really caught up in the emotion of the scene and feeling awful for the boys. And sometimes the things we’d originally planned to do, and maybe were even really excited about doing, just don’t work at all for the scene by the time we get to it, and we have to let that thing go because it no longer fits. But Heidi is right that all of those decisions come very naturally to us as a team, and we play off of and support each other very well in that process.
EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW AUDIO EXCERPT
EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW AUDIO EXCERPT
Blurb: The Flesh Cartel returns for a compelling second season with "Choices." Brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael thought nothing could be worse than being snatched from their home and brutally dehumanized in preparation for sale as sex slaves. But they learn their suffering has only just begun when they’re shipped to their new master’s home.
Professional trainer Nikolai Petrovic is a master of his trade. His ultra-rich clientele pay him to create perfectly tailored playthings, and Mat and Dougie are the latest in a long line of men who have walked into his remote mountain home as terrified victims and left it permanently altered: subdued and obedient, ready and even eager for a life of service.
To achieve this, Nikolai must take a drastically different tack with each brother. Dougie, manipulated with affection and denial. Mat, controlled by pain and fear. The one thread in common for both men is choice. Nikolai prides himself on never forcing, but will Mat and Dougie submit willingly to his vision, or will they first need to learn the price of disobedience?
Rachel Haimowitz is an M/M erotic romance author, a freelance writer and editor, and the Managing Editor of Riptide Publishing. She's also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.
When she's not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.
You can find Rachel at her website, Tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Fantasy Unbound. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.