The Crimson Outlaw: Alex Beecroft Guest Post and Blog Tour
The Saucy Wenches are pleased to welcome Alex Beecroft on her fifth and final stop of The Crimson Outlaw’s Blog Tour! We’re so excited to have Alex as a fellow Wench for the day! Click through the jump to learn a little about her latest book, what it takes to be a writer, and your chance for a little swag.
Hello and welcome to everyone who’s reading this, the fifth stop on the blog tour for The Crimson Outlaw, my historical m/m novella set in Transylvania. If you’re still reading from this point on, thank you for that! And thank you to The Saucy Wenches Book Club for having me. I’m not sure what being a Wench involves, but hopefully I can be an honorary one for a while. ;) If you’re following the whole tour, quintuple thanks, and you may find it easiest to do so by keeping up with the schedule on this page.
Since I’m terrible at thinking up things to blog about, I’m going to default to answering more interview questions. Seriously – getting the ideas is the hardest thing for me, whether that’s for stories, blog posts, or suggestions about what to do with a Sunday afternoon. Suggestions really help!
Did you always want to be a writer? What else did you want to be?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 11, which probably counts as ‘always’ since before that I don’t know that I was aware that you had to be anything other than yourself. I did, however, also want to be an astronaut. ‘Astronaut’ was what I put on my careers guidance form at school, which was quite an ambition for someone in a country that doesn’t have a space program. I also always wanted to be one of Tolkien’s elves, but I was aware that this was a dream I had no hope of achieving. So ‘writer’ is the only real-life thing I’ve ever wanted to be.
Do you think anyone can write a novel? Why/Why not?
Anyone who is capable of writing a grammatical sentence in their own native language is capable of writing a novel. All novel writing involves is putting one word after the other for 100,000 words. Preferably with a coherent plot in there somewhere, although the example of James Joyce proves that isn’t always necessary. The question is whether they should.
I think that if you study how to construct a story, in the many ‘how to write’ books out there, you put the work in on practicing writing dialog, constructing characters, conveying information without info-dumps, building your scenes and worlds, pacing your conflict and your mysteries, it’s possible to learn to write just as it’s possible to learn to play music.
A lot of people seem to think that writing should come naturally – that it should just flow out of you in an unstudied work of genius. But that’s not how the human mind or body works. You don’t just sit down to do something you’ve never done before and expect to be good at it with no study, no application, and no work. Or if you do, you are often disappointed.
Anyone can learn how to write a novel. Whether that novel will be interesting or original or a work of genius or worth reading at all is another matter. And it’s a matter on which the answer is subjective. Millions of people love 50 Shades of Grey, millions more think the author can’t write for toffee. Who’s right about that? By what metric are they measuring it? I can’t say. But yes, I think anyone can write a novel as long as they’re willing to put in the work.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
I click away from them and then never look at them again. I don’t refer to them on my blog or website, or anywhere where I might give them more exposure by mentioning them. I then go and watch some comfort TV, eat some chocolate, complain to my husband, and often take the rest of the day off. Then the day after, I determinedly forget that it existed at all and go back to writing as though nothing has happened.
If the review says something that genuinely makes a good point and could lead me to improve, I try to take the advice in future. But I usually find that negative reviews are lacking in constructive criticism and it’s safest to just ignore them wholesale.
If someone wrote your biography, what would the title be?
“Read Something Else!” It never ceases to amuse me that people think that writers must have interesting lives. From my own experience, we are the kind of people who live inside our heads a lot. We don’t need exciting lives. In fact, exciting lives get in the way of writing. What we need is peace and quiet and space to allow all the universes and heroes inside our imagination to come out.
It’s possible that I think this because I’m an introvert, and my ideal life involves sitting in front of the computer on my own for eight hours a day. It’s possible that there are writers out there who write by having exciting experiences and then simply recording them, but if you wanted to be out in the world meeting interesting people and doing dangerous things, how would you also be the sort of person who was willing to then spend years alone sitting in a chair typing about it?
What fascinates you most about writing LGBTQ romance?
I’ve always been an outsider. I suspect I’ve always been queer, though the language wasn’t there to describe myself when I was growing up in suburban England in the 70s. I thought I was transgender until I was in my forties. (I’m still sure I’m genderqueer. I’ve just been getting in touch with my feminine side recently.) My sexuality is m/m even though my body is f, and that’s probably got something to do with the fact that sex is not something I really want to do in real life. So I’m asexual too.
All of which is a way of saying that het romance has never been something I could wrap my head around. I’ve always been out of step, on the outside looking in, and I’m therefore very interested in how people who are not of the mainstream manage to exist without being destroyed by it. How can they be true to themselves? What kind of compromises do they need to make to be safe, and how much do they have to pay for that? What kind of valuable new perspectives can they bring to society, that have been overlooked by the majority? My heroes are not like me, but they’re closer to how I am inside than I am... if you see what I mean. So I guess I’m exploring society and I’m exploring myself.
Which sounds like a worthy place to stop. ;)
I ran something very complicated with my last tour. This time I think I’ll keep it simple. If you would like to win your choice out of my backlist titles (any one novel, or two novellas) comment below to be put into the hat. At the end of the tour I’ll draw a name from all those who have commented during the week and post an announcement of the winner on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter so that you can contact me with your choice and your email address, and I can get your prize to you.
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
Connect with Alex:
Love is the greatest outlaw of all.
Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.
Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.
Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali, and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.
– You can read an excerpt and purchase The Crimson Outlaw here.