Oh, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be hosting Sarah Granger today as part of the A Minor Inconvenience book tour. I recently reviewed her wonderful M/M historical romance and I couldn’t sing its praises highly enough! I’m not the only one, either! Gay Guy Reading Reviews calls it ‘a breath of fresh air’, and I have to agree. I consider A Minor Inconvenience one of the best M/M romances I’ve read in 2014. 🙂 Be sure to read through the entire post to find out how you can enter the Rafflecopter for some cool prizes!
Welcome to my website, Sarah! I’m delighted to have you here today, sharing with us something about your historical M/M romance, A Minor Inconvenience. I’ve been looking forward to this interview and book tour so much! I can’t say enough wonderful things about this story, but I want to make sure that I don’t get too spoilery here. I want everyone to read this story and enjoy it as much as I did!
First, a couple of questions about this particular story. Correct me if I’m wrong, but A Minor Inconvenience takes place at the time when Napoleon escaped from Elba and started a second campaign, is that correct? What was your inspiration for this story?
Thanks for having me here, Sarah, and I’m truly delighted that you enjoyed A Minor Inconvenience so much!
The book is set in 1813, though the date isn’t mentioned in the book itself. It’s actually just before Napoleon was banished to Elba, taking with him an eye-watering number of his favourite horses, but not, so far as I’m aware, his wife. My choice of year for the book was in some ways a little random. It needed to be far enough through the war for campaigning to have taken up most of Hugh’s adult life, but my ultimate choice of 1813 was due to my rather wistful longing that none of the military men who returned to the Peninsula after the events of the book would face too much more war.
As for inspiration, I wanted to write an M/M Regency and I have something of a weakness for military uniforms. That led to the overall concept, but once the characters came into being, they shaped the story in somewhat different ways from those I’d envisaged. So I guess my original moment of inspiration was down to those darn military uniforms!
Hugh is such a wonderful character! He seems like such a deceptively simple man, which is probably why so many underestimate him, including members of his family. He leads a quiet life and had has fairly low expectations for life outside the measures decreed by society. He believes in honor and duty: duty to his country, his family, and his position in society. He is a fairly self-contained man as well, but this doesn’t mean he is dull or without brains. These fundamental characteristics are what make it so tremendous when he decides to go against everything he believes in for love. What was it like to write such a character? Were you ever concerned as to how he would be perceived by your audience?
In a word, yes! You’ve summed him up so beautifully here. I was definitely worried that people picking up the book might take him at face value – which might also lead them to question what qualities he possessed that could attract Theo. As you say, he’s deceptively straightforward and one has to look beyond his self-perception to see who he really is. But each time I wondered if I could persuade him to be a little more forthcoming and open, it was very clear that doing so would violate his character.
By necessity, Theo had to remain a bit of a dark horse in this story, yet he comes across as a completely three dimensional character. Did you create a backstory for Theo in your mind when you were writing this?
I do have a backstory for him, because he’s full of such vitality that I needed to know where he came from and how he got to where he is at the time of the book. But his history in my head isn’t detailed – his personality seemed to me to shape him more than events. (I’m happy to share his backstory, but I haven’t set it out here because I know some people prefer to have their own ideas.)
Why M/M romance? What’s the attraction there for you?
I find that a difficult question to answer because I don’t really know. 🙂 When I first started reading M/M, there was just something about it that appealed to me straight away. As a writer, I struggle with the concept of writing a female main character I like – even while part of me is curling up in horror at that statement.
I think what ultimately attracts me is something in the different dynamic between two male main characters, and the way M/M relationships aren’t bogged down with the same societal baggage as M/F.
Why historicals? Is there a particular period in time that you feel drawn to, and if so, why? Once having thoroughly researched an era, do you find yourself drawn to writing other stories in the same time frame?
I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, so the Regency is always going to have a special place in my heart. I love the formality of it for its own sake, but also for the way in which all that unresolved sexual tension bleeds through. It’s also close enough to our time to be able to write in a reasonable facsimile of the language they used rather than being faced with the choice whether to render old speech into today’s idioms or to try and make it sound somehow ‘old-fashioned’ without writing it in Middle English!
I definitely hope to write more stories set in the Regency. I love Regencies, and the thought of writing M/M Regencies opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities.
Have you written in other genres besides M/M romance? Besides historicals?
My books so far are all M/M. My first novel was a contemporary, set in the world of professional tennis. As with A Minor Inconvenience, it required quite a lot of fact-checking, but I can truthfully say that the research was a sheer joy from start to finish. I mean, going back and rewatching some of my favourite tennis matches on YouTube and not feeling guilty for wasting time? It doesn’t get much better than that!
What is the most difficult scene you’ve ever written and why? What was the most fun?
I think the scene I struggled with the most was when Theo tries to explain himself to Hugh in the carriage. Finding the right balance between Theo saying enough for readers (if not Hugh) to understand while keeping true to his character and period was difficult. I ended up wanting to throttle the pair of them for being so oblique in their conversation!
I’ve had an absolute blast writing Hugh and Theo, but my vote for the scene I had most fun writing has to go to Ryan in The Unforgiving Minute and his observations when he’s been given morphine. He’s a fairly stream-of-consciousness narrator in any case; removing such filters as he has was instructional, to say the least.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all the characters in it! Will we see more from Hugh and Theo? Lady Emily?
I hadn’t planned on writing more of these characters because I felt that, although their story wasn’t done, my part in telling it was. But it’s always possible that a story set in the same universe might demand to be written, especially as I’d love to see Hugh and Theo from Lady Emily’s perspective! Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂
What are you currently working on? Tell us a little bit about your next story and the writing process for you as well. What can readers expect from Sarah Granger in the future?
Well, I’ve just made the very difficult decision to shelve the story I’ve been working on for some time, and the reason for that decision ties in directly to my writing process. I wrote it because it fitted with a submission call, not because I had characters turn up in my head and demand that I tell their story. The story’s quite enjoyable, I think, but I’m not happy with it, despite a massive rewrite and an eye-watering number of tweaks. That’s not to say elements from it might not find themselves reworked in another book.
The result of that decision is that I’m currently looking at a completely clean sheet and deciding what to write next. I’d love it to be another Regency, but I’ve learned from my mistakes—I can’t force anything. Once I know what it is, I’ll definitely share! 🙂
Thank you, Sarah, for joining us here today! I have to point out that one of the BEST parts of a Regency M/M romance is breeches and how well they show off the male form! I’d long known of the practice of some women in that era dampening their muslins in order to define their, um, attributes, but I was unaware (until I read your blog posts) that men did the same to highlight their—assets. 🙂 Long live the desire to show strut your stuff!
Hugh was so turned about by the time the next set of dances ended that he had lost sight entirely of Lindsay. He retreated to the edge of the room, seeking a wall to stand against, only to find a hand placed in the small of his back and Lindsay’s voice close against his ear. “Escaping already, Fanshawe? I cannot permit that. We must present a united front if we are to prevail.”
Smiling, he turned his head. Lindsay looked even more handsome than Hugh had remembered, the silver buttons on his uniform coat sparkling in the light and his grey eyes filled with warmth along with the lazy amusement they so often showed.
“Does your united front permit a strategic regrouping?” Hugh asked.
“Music to my ears, Fanshawe. What have you in mind?”
“I was thinking a glass of punch and perhaps some cool air in the hall.”
“With a tactical brain like that, I can’t think how you have not yet been gazetted as general.”
Procuring a glass of cold punch each, they escaped to the hall that ran the length of the house. It proved to be a busy thoroughfare, used by those seeking to move to the card room or the dressing room, or simply to take some cooler air. In unspoken agreement, they moved to the far end and the large window onto Grosvenor Square, where they would not be disturbed. As Hugh turned to speak to Lindsay, he spied a familiar and extremely unwelcome figure reaching the top of the stairs. Stanton was here, and although Hugh thought he cut a most peculiar character in his striped waistcoat, he was fairly sure Sophia would be less discriminating in her taste.
“Damn it,” he said, momentarily forgetting he was in company.
Lindsay followed his line of sight. “Ah,” he said. “I had the impression the other night that Stanton was dangling after your sister.”
“In a manner of speaking,” Hugh concurred grimly.
“I suspected as much. Perhaps what gave me the first clue was when he likened her eyes to the beauty of stars sparkling like bright diamonds in a sky of black velvet and her smile to the sunrise that graced the dew of Eden’s first dawn.”
Hugh turned a revolted eye upon him. “No,” he begged. “No, for God’s sake, even he would not be so—so—”
“Lost in the poetical throes of passionate romance?” Lindsay suggested.
“I was about to say making a cake of himself,” Hugh said. “But Sophia—I am sure that no matter how handsome she might think him, she would never hear such nonsense without succumbing to giggles.”
“It’s possible I exaggerated his words a little,” Lindsay confessed. “Perhaps he merely mentioned how prettily her eyes shone and that her smile could light the room.”
“Well, that’s bad enough,” Hugh said indignantly. “What sort of a fellow spouts such claptrap?”
“I take it you have never courted a lady,” Lindsay said. “At least, not successfully.”
Hugh choked on his punch. And then something, whether honesty or some inner demon, prompted him to answer. “No, I never have.”
Lindsay fastened his eyes on Hugh’s suddenly, and the look in them was such that Hugh found it difficult to breathe.