Q.) Hi, Varian, thanks so much for being here with us today. If I’m not mistaken, you’re a relative newcomer to gay fiction—at least in terms of writing it, if not the reading of it—what tempted you to try your hand at writing about gay relationship? What planted that first seed of an idea and prompted you to give it a go?
A.) It’s true that as far as genre categories, Dangerously Happy is my first gay romance, but there have been gay lovers in all my novels. In Abduction and After, the gay couples were more minor characters in books that would otherwise be considered het romances, but the central relationship in Hurt is a triad of two men and one woman, and the relationship between Galen and Khalid is just as intense and loving as the connection between Vanka and each of the men. (By the way, I can’t tell you how tempted I was to have Conrad tie up Vaughn and give him a pounding introduction to the joys of gay sex in Abduction, but I digress… )
Tons of things draw me to writing about two men falling in love and screwing each other senseless, the most obvious of which is that it turns me on. It’s also a lot of fun, when writing, to play with different relationship dynamics within a gay romance, even if I tend to think a lot of our social behaviors as women or men are largely the result of social conditioning. And, just like I’ve enjoyed exploring encounters between young, inexperienced women and much more savvy men in my previous novels, in Dangerously Happy and Bad Things, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed pitting a couple sweet ingénues—Aidan and Carson—against men who are far more than their match—Dario and Xavier.
Q.) Your MCs in Bad Things, Xavier and Carson, don’t meet and fall in love in a lighthearted romantic romp. What is it that attracts you to writing about the darker side of romance?
A.) I seem to have a screw loose somewhere, because the only romantic encounters that really excite my imagination are ones that begin with a danger, a threat. With Dario and Aidan in Dangerously Happy, I experimented with backing away from that for the first time, although their initial encounters are still steeped in Aidan’s risk and fear, because he’s never been with a man before Dario—in fact, the idea of being with a man has never crossed his mind, until he realizes he’s attracted to this man he’s known for three years.
But you’re right, in Bad Things I went back to my predilection for high stakes conflict, and Xavier is far from the gentle and patient lover Dario is. The thing that makes him so dangerous is that—much like Conrad in Abduction, and Smith in After—he has a kind of Übermensch mentality: Xavier thinks he’s above the law and any reasonable notion of morality, because he’s convinced that his risky and sometimes cruel actions will ultimately have a beneficial outcome.
Q.) If you were casting the movie of Bad Things, whom would you choose to play Xavier’s and Carson’s roles, and why?
A.) Wow, this is so hard! I could think of a few actors who’d be awesome in the role of Xavier, if I could just transplant their intensity into a bigger body (Joaquin Phoenix, for one), but I think the only actor who could really play Xavier is Jason Momoa, because he’s got that ravenous intensity, as well as being physically intimidating.
For Carson, I confess I had to cheat and ask my Facebook friends for ideas because I don’t watch much TV or cinema these days, but I think I’d have to throw both Kostas Martakis and Matt Bromer into a steamy screentest with Jason Momoa, and see which couple has the better chemistry.
By the way, this question makes me want to direct the screen versions of all my books—how fun would that be?
Q.) What do you find sexiest about both Xavier and Carson?
A.) Carson is alluring, because he’s pure, unrealized potential, just waiting to be released and become. So when the protective shield he’s put around himself is breached, and he has this incredibly intense exposure to a sexuality he’s always longed for, he experiences everything as intense, monumental. Xavier, in total contrast, is so disturbingly attractive because he has almost no limits, no fear, and is insatiably hungry. He’s also the consummate empath, so when he wants to, he can take his lover right to the edge, perfectly playing not just his body, but also his mind.
Q.) Let’s pretend all the male characters you’ve ever created are lined up in a room together. Listing reasons why for each, which would you 1.) most want to have sex with, 2.) be a little scared of, and 3.) would you most want to settle down with?
A.) I think my head just exploded.
This works out great, because I have a lot more than three male characters, so I get a few for each question—lucky greedy me! I would want to have sex with Khalid from Hurt, because he’s radiantly sensuous, tender, and utterly gorgeous. And Conrad, of course, because he’d know exactly how to wring the utmost pleasure out of me, both psychologically and physically. The same goes for Xavier, plus he’s this titan of a man, tall and muscle-bound with a cock to match—I’d love to go for a ride with him. And if I’m being honest, what I’d really want would be to have a menage with Conrad and Vaughn, or with Dario and Aidan. Oh! To be Vera, that lucky, lucky girl!
It’s no surprise to me—or to you, if you’ve read a few of my books—that two of the guy’s I’d most want to have sex with are the ones who would scare me—Conrad and Xavier. Of course, I’m not alone, but it’s still a bit perplexing how intertwined fear and arousal are, for me.
Vaughn from Abduction, John from After, and Dario from Dangerously Happy are all versions of my ideal partner—beyond the strong libidos, they are the incredibly tender, endlessly patient and empathetic guys who are always there to take care of the ones they love.
Blurb: Xavier makes a lot of people nervous. The rest, he flat-out scares. More than his hulking, tattooed body, it’s his predator’s gaze that makes people feel vulnerable, as if he had the power to read their thoughts and see their soul. For his lovers, it’s Xavier’s ravenous appetite for all things carnal—for the taste of flesh under his tongue and the feel of a trembling body under his control, for whispered pleas and muffled cries—that makes him dangerous.
But recently, driven by a festering rage against the men who attacked his sister a decade ago, Xavier has developed a taste for a different kind of hunt and conquest: stalking men who do truly bad things and punishing the predators he sniffs out. The problem with vigilante justice, though, is sometimes the man in your trap is innocent.
Carson suspects he’s playing a risky game with dangerous men. But the lies are convincing, especially when they’re slipped to him among hundred dollar bills. He never guessed how big and dark the secret hidden under all the lies and money could be. And he has no idea he’s not the predator, but the prey, until it’s too late.
And you can’t beg for mercy when there’s a gag in your mouth.
But when Carson escapes from Xavier’s trap, he’s forced to accept that Xavier is far from his most dangerous enemy. Xavier may even hold the key to overcoming the painful past that has kept Carson prisoner for almost two decades.
Sub-Genre: BDSM, Romance, Contemporary, Crime Fiction, M/M Romance, Erotica, Menage/Poly, Thriller, Fiction
Author Bio: Growing up near Los Angeles, I spent much of my time frolicking in the Pacific Ocean and penning angst-twisted poetry. Now I’m living in sunny Spain writing pathos-riddled fiction.
I’ve always loved the music and substance of words, always loved writing in well-worn notebooks by hand, tapping at the keys of the computer, and, of course, conjuring up stories.
And from my earliest memories, I’ve always been fascinated—maybe obsessed?—with sex and sexuality.
In my writing, sex is the medium, the expression, and the tool of discovery for my characters’ insecurities, the needs that drive them, the comfort they can’t live without, the joy and relish of life that makes each of them intense, strange, and alluring.
The Giveaway: An E-copy of Bad Things
9/22: Rainbow Gold Reviews
9/25: Cathy Brockman Romances
9/26: Michael Mandrake
9/29: My Fiction Nook
9/30: Amanda C. Stone
10/1: It’s Raining Men
10/2: Romance the Night
10/3: Queer Town Abbey
10/6: Decadent Delights
10/7: Wake Up Your Wild Side
10/8: MM Good Book Reviews
10/9: The Novel Approach
10/15: Love Bytes
10/16: Inked Rainbow Reads