Please join us in welcoming author Michael Jensen today to chat a bit about the upcoming release of his novel Man & Beast, book one in the Savage Land series. And be sure to pay close attention to the details on how you can get a free copy of the book.
I can’t shut up about LGBT stuff
Pretty much from the minute I kicked down my closet door and came storming out, I’ve been fighting for LGBT rights. Usually that meant using words: educating co-workers, doing political activism, or writing letters and articles for various newspapers and magazines.
But my real passion was telling gay stories. In 1999, I published my first book, a historical-adventure novel, Frontiers (Simon & Schuster). A few years later I published a stand-alone sequel, Firelands (Alyson Books). Both novels were set on the early American frontier.
That’s right, there were LGBT folks way back in the 18th century, though that’s still not something you’ll read much about in any American high school textbook.
Publishing those books were among the highlights in my life.
A few years later, I returned to journalism when a friend and I co-founded AfterElton.com, a website devoted to covering pop culture for gay and bisexual men. Soon we were acquired by MTV/Viacom, and the website grew into a full-time job.
For the next five years, I interviewed gay writers, director, and actors. (Matt Bomer is even hotter in person; Chris Colfer is a total sweetheart.)
I wrote plenty of articles, both praising and criticizing Hollywood for how they portrayed gay and bisexual men and issues. (Thumbs up to Spartacus; thumbs way, way down to The X-Files: I Want to Believe.)
By the end of my tenure, AfterElton.com was among the world’s largest, most influential LGBT websites. (Alas, MTV/Viacom shut it down after I left.)
Now I’m back to my real love: writing novels.
Up first: Man & Beast, the ebook version of Frontiers, which I have revised and renamed, and given a sexy new cover. (Firelands, renamed Man & Monster, comes out January 4.)
Why did I decide to republish Man & Beast now?
For starters, people have been asking about an ebook version for years. Once I finally secured the ebook rights (which took forever), I realized I had a chance to update Man & Beast, fixing a few things I wished I had done differently.
Yes, I added some more sex. But the revision also gave me the chance to make the main character, John, more active, more sure of himself, and maybe a bit more likeable.
I also updated the covers. Take a look at the original cover to Frontiers:
Looks like something my grandfather would’ve hung in his living room!
With a new cover, I had a chance to capture the book’s sexiness, as well as the plot’s mystery and thriller elements.
Lastly, I wanted to change the title. Frontiers wasn’t bad, especially when the book first came out and the idea of M/M romance was still pretty new. Back then, the name of the game for LGBT books was being “discreet,” at least with mainstream publishers like Simon & Schuster.
But M/M romance stories are much more common and acceptable now, and I wanted a title would grab the reader.
I hope you enjoy the Man & Beast as much as I enjoyed writing it. Feel free to reach out and share your thoughts with me. I love hearing from readers!
As for me, I’m still unable to shut up.
If you’d like to read Man & Beast for free, just sign up for Michael’s newsletter and he’ll send you a copy on Nov. 29th!
What is the line that separates man from beast?
The year is 1797, and 24-year-old John Chapman is lost on the American frontier with winter falling fast. Near death, he stumbles upon a lone cabin, and the owner, a rugged but sexy frontiersman named Daniel McQuay, agrees to let John winter over.
John and Daniel quickly find themselves drawn to each other, the sex between them unlike anything John has ever known. But as the weeks turn into snowbound months, Daniel begins to change into someone brutish, and the line between man and beast disappears.
With the arrival of spring, John flees, eventually finding refuge in the company of a group of frontier outcasts, including a brash young settler named Palmer. But in the wilds of this savage land, love is not so easily tamed, and John soon finds himself calling upon the raging animal within him to save the man he loves.
Man & Beast, which The Advocate calls “equal parts romance novel and history lesson, heaped with sex and violence,” is the first book in the Savage Lands, a series that celebrates the untold gay history of the American frontier. Man & Beast is for fans of Harper Fox, Jerry Cole, K.J. Charles, and Mary Renault, as well as anyone who enjoys pulse-pounding suspense and romance.
“There’s a bar of soap by the bed,” said Daniel. “Get it.”
As I handed it to him, he seemed to be studying me.
“You’ve got blood on your face and hands and arms,” he said. “Take off your shirt. Your shifting as well.”
He wanted me to do what?
Daniel dipped the soap into the water, lathered it up, and rubbed it over his forearms and chest.
“Come on, Chapman. Didn’t your mother teach you to wash up before you ate?”
She did, but I didn’t usually do it half naked. Hoping my eyes didn’t betray my arousal, I did as he said.
“Sit,” he instructed as he continued to wash himself. The soap smelled sweet, balmy, as if some herb or flower had been added when it was made.
I sat. “Where are we? Are we far from Warren?”
“This is upper-northwest Pennsylvania, not too far from the Allegheny River.” He motioned with his head. “About a mile that way is a tributary, Conewango Creek. It runs fairly shallow and is frozen over already. It flows into the Allegheny, and that will take you just about anywhere south.” He rinsed off his arms, wrung out the cloth, and advanced toward me.
I reached to take the cloth, but he pushed my hand away. Suddenly gentle, he washed my face, leaving the soap’s sweet smell lingering on my skin.
What the hell was going on?
“Are we close to anything?” I managed to ask.
“Depends on what you mean by ‘anything.’” His voice was low, sonorous. It reminded me of a gentle zephyr on the hottest afternoon of the year.
“Outposts, forts, Warren,” I said.
His hands were warm and tough and gentle all at the same time. I prayed he didn’t notice I was quivering.
“There’s some Indian villages not too far from here,” he said, rinsing out the cloth again. “Sometimes they’re friendly, sometimes they’re not. Mostly not, these days. Otherwise the nearest white settlement is Franklin.”
I didn’t care about this Franklin. I wanted to know where the hell Warren was. Had I become even more lost than I’d realized? “Then there’s no other white settlements besides this Franklin?”
“Ain’t a one.” He lathered up the soap, then knelt in front of me as he washed my chest. Rivulets of water slipped down my stomach.
“Sorry about that,” he said, running the cloth leisurely along the waist of my pants. For a moment I forgot about Franklin and Warren and anywhere outside of these walls. Was Daniel like the Major and me after all, or was this a trick, some sort of test because he suspected the truth about me?
Or perhaps he was one of those men who sought their release with other men when no women were available. The Major had told me that happened a great deal on British forts far from civilization. It made sense it would also happen deep on the frontier.
Desperate to avoid betraying myself, I said hoarsely, “How far away is that?”
“What?” he said, washing my hands with the cloth.
It was all I could do to sit still, but I managed to stammer, “Franklin. How far is it?” Was he intentionally trying to have this effect on me?
“A long ways, I expect. Twenty leagues or more. It’s southwest of here. Finished,” he said, standing.
I sat there unmoving, desperately wanting him to continue, greatly relieved that he’d stopped.
Feeling nothing other than utterly bewildered, I managed to nod.
“Good. By the way — welcome to Warren. You can stay as long as you want.”
About the Author
Michael Jensen is an author and editor. His books of gay historical fiction include two series, The Drowning World, which is set in 5500 B.C., and The Savage Land, which takes place on the American frontier. Man & Monster, the second book in The Savage Land series, was a Lambda Award Finalist (under the title Firelands).
Michael is also the co-founder of AfterElton.com, which covered pop culture for gay and bisexual men, and eventually become one of the largest and most influential LGBT websites on the internet. In 2006, AfterElton.com was sold to MTV/Viacom in a multimillion dollar deal. As editor, Michael interviewed hundreds of writers, directors, and actors, breaking numerous stories and advancing the issue of LGBT visibility in Hollywood.
Michael lives in Seattle, WA with his husband, writer Brent Hartinger.