Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Arthur Griffin – Arthur Griffin fell in love with mythology as a six-year-old when his mother, not able to find a sitter, took him with her to her art history class. They were studying Renaissance paintings of Greek and Roman legends, and he learned two very important things that day. One – that there was a whole new world of thrilling stories and myths for him to explore and be enchanted by. And two – dude! A lot of people were naked back then!
Thanks so much, Arthur, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Arthur Griffin: I think I discovered I wanted to write when I was about six. Growing up, my parents would played a lot of Peter, Paul, and Mary (hippies), and one song they played a lot was “Puff the Magic Dragon.” I liked the song but I hated the ending. It was so sad! Jackie Paper left—forever—and Puff was miserable and depressed, alone in his cave, for the rest of his life. Really, Peter, Paul, and Mary? You’re going to drop the truth bomb that life is an unending suckfest in a song for kids? WTF, dude!
So I wrote another verse where Jackie Paper came back everything was chill again. My parents made a big deal about the fact that the verse rhymed and was in the correct meter to match the song, so that might have been my first inkling I was actually good at writing.
But I think the first time I really knew I could write (and more importantly, be funny when I write) was when I wrote a Jerry Springer sketch for this night of vignettes my high school theater group put on. Springer is a pretty easy mold to follow – just amp up the ridiculous revelations as the scene goes on – but looking out in the crowd and seeing people really slapping their knees with laughter at my jokes was an awesome feeling. Nay, it was THE awesome feeling.
So I really came to writing through the world of music, theater, and film. It was a long time before I believed I could actually write prose—scripts and lyrics we more my jam—but now I love it.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
AG: My writing idol is Joss Whedon, and my writing style is entirely attributed to him. I love him for many reasons, but two primary ones. The first is he has such an incredible ability – probably the best in the business – of landing the jokes in scenes of high drama that are hilarious but somehow never undercut the tension. If you can make me laugh and cry and feel afraid for your characters all at the same time, I’m a fan. So that’s what I try my best to do with my stuff.
That’s reason number one I love Joss. Reason number two is his explanation of why he writes urban fantasy, science fiction, action-adventure, and even musicals. Someday I’ll track down this exact quote, but he once said something about how he loves stories that shed some light on the truths of the real world by showing us wildly exaggerated, unrealistic reflections of it.
I think that’s so damn beautiful and inspiring, and such an affirmation of speculative fiction. I find writing realistic living room dramas really challenging, but give me a deserted Burger King with a portal to other dimensions inside of it and I’m good to go.
Basically, I try to write sexy, funny, dangerous situations and throw clever hot guys into it. I’m new to the world of erotica, so it’s a little weird to me that my first published book is in that genre, but I’m just gonna roll with it.
And speaking of…
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
AG: Yeah, how about that segue?
My first book, which came out March 9th through Dreamspinner Press, is called The Lusty Adventures of Theseus. I describe it as a gay erotic fantasy adventure set in the world of Greek mythology. It’s a liberal take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, and before you ask—no, Theseus doesn’t have sex with the Minotaur. (He does have sex with a satyr, though.)
I take some liberties with Greek mythology—for example, in my story there are male nymphs, which don’t actually exist in the original legends. All nymphs in my story are basically just Tolkien elves called by another name. But for the most part I steer pretty close to all the beats of the actual myth, and just add… like… a lot of sex. So much sex, you guys.
I do weave a few other stories from the Greek canon into the narrative. For example, even though he doesn’t feature in the Minotaur legend, there are stories about Theseus having a relationship with a man named Pirithous, and so that’s the central love story in my book. I also touch on the mythologically accurate gay relationship between the god Pan and a youth named Daphnis, who in my version is a very Legolas-like male nymph (that—spoiler alert—Theseus totally bones).
So a lot of dudes are gettin’ it on. And it’s funny! Like I said: clever hot guys in a sexy, funny, dangerous situation.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
AG: I make my living as a ghostwriter, and I live in LA, so of course I’m a screenwriter. Basically, my ass is in front of the keyboard a lot. (Thank God for my gym membership.)
I attack everything I write the same way. Come up with an idea. Flesh it out. Jot it down in a notebook or on my phone. Then, when I get a very rough idea of the story, I write a basic outline that’s mostly just bullet points. Then I revise the outline and rewrite it in full. Then I revise it again, fleshing out moments where I can add foreshadowing or other story devices, and charting each character’s emotional (and, if necessary, geographical) journey.
Then when I consider the outline locked, I copy and paste it into a new document. I start writing, and when I finish a section, I delete that part of the outline, and move on to the next. Usually I write in order, but this way if I feel like writing a particularly juicy scene, I can just skip ahead and write that part. But it’s always clear exactly where I am and what’s going on.
I’d be lying if I said I never make a discovery about the story as I’m writing it, but I really try to make all those discoveries during the outlining process so I don’t mess up my ability to write quickly. And after the first draft is done, I revise like a son of a bitch and keep hammering it out until I’m happy with it.
It can be kind of a slog, but it’s the best kind of slog there is.
Incidentally, this is also how I work with my ghostwriting clients to get their stories into shape. Cough cough I also offer story consulting and several other services cough cough email me at MrArthurGriffin@gmail.com for more info cough cough. Cough cough cough.
Sorry, I had something in my throat.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
AG: Oh, boy. Okay, here goes. When I was eighteen I shoplifted a metal skull ring from Hot Topic on a dare and the guilt of that still weighs on me and oh, God, why did this life of crime choose me as its unholy vessel?
JSC: Do you write more on the romance side, or the speculative fiction side? Or both? And why?
AG: Well, my first book is erotica, so there’s a lot of sex and romance in that. Normally I lean more towards plot and action than love stuff, though. I’d rather see a gay character kick a bad guy’s ass than find true love. Preferably he does both, but if I had to choose I’d go with the former.
I think it’s because I’ve always loved action movies and superhero comics and heroic fantasy novels, but it’s only been very recently that gay characters have even been allowed to exist in those stories. If they show up at all, it’s usually as secondary or tertiary characters. It’s important to see gay characters fall in love and have sex, of course, but we’re getting that now with more standard dramas and rom-coms. So for me, it’s much more satisfying to see a character that would normally be straight – a bad-ass space captain, a chivalrous knight, etc. – have adventures and beat the bad guy and just happen to be gay.
That having been said, maybe I should just write romance, because it’s fun to come up with euphemisms for dicks. Like man-tentacle. Or meat-whip. Yeah, that’s a good one.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
AG: My boyfriend and I adopted a rescue dog named Dexter, and he’s so boss. He’s a mutt—definitely part terrier, but he’s bigger than most terriers. He also lived on the streets for about a year, according to the shelter. He’s a sweetheart, but he won’t stop trying to steal my wallet. You can take the dog out of the streets, but…
We’d been wanting a dog for a long time, and it’s good we got one, because before I had to make do with my two imaginary dogs. They were named Buster and Skip, but I hated Skip because he was such an asshole. I had an imaginary cat for a while, but she died heroically saving orphans from a fire.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
AG: If it wasn’t clear from my writing process, I’m a plotter all the way. Huge plotter. If I were a boy wizard I’d be Harry Plotter.
I don’t know how in the blue hell anyone could ever write anything longer than a page without a clear plan of exactly how it’s going to go. I make plans about the plans I intend to make. I think charts and graphs are fucking sexy. Bullet points give me an erection. These are things that make me feel in control. If I just tried to sit and write a novel with no predetermined course it would be, like, maybe three hours before I would have to be committed to an asylum. Which would be cool for my super-villain origin story, but not so much for my writing career.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
AG: Probably Me Day. Not where everyone celebrates themselves, but literally a holiday all about me, where people give me gifts and talk about how rad I am and how stoked they are to be in my presence. I mean, you said I get to create whatever holiday I want, right? Shit, go big or go home.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
AG: I’m working on the sequel to Theseus, because of course it’s Book One of a series! I’m actually going to spoil the ending of my book a little and say that someone comes to Theseus, after his adventure is over, and recruits him for another well-known mythological quest. I’m basically following the mold of what the Marvel movies did with The Avengers— trotting out a small handful of heroes in their own individual stories, and then bringing them together for a massive team-up. So it’s The Avengers but everyone’s naked a lot and it’s, like, super gay. Lots of meat-whips flying around.
Not sure when the sequel will be done, but I imagine it should probably be coming out around the new year. Believe me, I’ll blast out that news on Twitter and Facebook like a mofo at every opportunity.
And now for Arthur’s new book: The Lusty Adventures of Theseus:
The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur has never been quite this steamy!
Handsome Theseus journeys to Athens to claim his birthright as heir to the throne, and along the way he meets the roguish Pirithous, who teaches him all about matters of the heart—and body. When they reach the city, Theseus is shocked to discover that his father, the king, has a tradition of sacrificing youths to the Minotaur, the monster that inhabits the island nation of Crete.
Theseus and Pirithous set out to slay the Minotaur. After learning Crete is ruled by a mad tyrant with a fetish for orgies, Theseus puts his skills to the test by fighting, flirting, and fornicating through the ranks, working his way past soldiers, satyrs, and gods alike as he attempts to accomplish his goal and save his city.
THE DAY was hot, and so Theseus threw his traveling cloak back over his shoulders, letting the sun pour down on his otherwise nude body. If he spied any women coming down the path, he would be sure to lower his wool covering—it was unlawful for a woman to behold a naked man in public. But for now he was alone, and so he marched along, cloak back and cock forward, carrying his sandals so he could feel the well-trodden grass between his toes.
Theseus looked down at his compact torso, at his genitals bouncing happily as he walked, and at the strong legs below. His body was hard and chiseled from a life of rigorous farm work, and pleasingly brown from the sun. He smiled, knowing he made an impressive figure.
And impressive was exactly what he needed to be, considering he was about to claim future ownership of the throne of Athens.
He heard a great rumbling in the distance. Up ahead, the path curved around a hill, so his view was blocked. The sound made him nervous. It grew louder, and before his astonished eyes, a herd of cattle rounded the bend, heading straight for him! Behind them, a lad of an age with Theseus was riding a magnificent white stallion, yelling at the cattle and cracking a whip. When he saw Theseus, he ceased his yelling, and as one, the cattle slowed to a lumbering walk.
The young man was clad in a vibrant red chiton tunic that draped from his right shoulder to his waist, leaving half his chest exposed. His body was all ropy muscle, lean and sinewy, and his chest was tanned and glorious, the one exposed nipple soft and brown. There was a mischievous glint to his eyes, which were greenish blue and remarkably pretty. His hair, a light sandy brown, fell to his shoulders, and a day-old beard dusted his chin.
“Hello, there, handsome stranger,” the youth said. “A fine day to you.”
“And to you,” Theseus said, mimicking his pleasantries. The youth had an Athenian accent, crisp and polished. Theseus suddenly felt ashamed of his rough countryside dialect.
The boy looked him up and down, his eyes feasting hungrily on the muscles in Theseus’s abdomen before lowering to rest on Theseus’s cock. He licked his lips. “I am Pirithous of Athens,” he said. “And who might you be? From the markings on your cloak, you are no Athenian. Where do you hail from?”
“Troezen,” Theseus said. “But Athens is my destination.”
“You’re a long way from home,” Pirithous said.
“Not exactly. Athens is to be my new home.”
“Is that so? Well, bully for you. I’m leaving Athens, as it happens.”
“Athens is the center of the world. Why would you leave?”
“The center of the world? Oh, but you are from the provinces, aren’t you?”
Pirithous kicked a leg over his horse’s neck, and as his tunic flew up, Theseus caught a quick glimpse of a low-hanging scrotum and dark, inviting hole.
Pirithous dropped to the ground and approached Theseus. He looked down at Theseus’s cock and said, “You know, in Athens it’s said a man is only truly naked when his skin is withdrawn and the head of his penis is exposed.”
“The same is said in my village.”
“I would see all of you.” Pirithous licked his lips once again.
Theseus saw a bulge beginning to form in the front of the other young man’s tunic. “Tell me why you’re in such a rush to leave Athens,” he said, dodging the advance.
Pirithous smiled wickedly. “Can you keep a secret?” When Theseus nodded, he continued, “The cattle belong to Aegeus. I’m… liberating them. For a small return, of course.”
“You stole from the king?” Theseus was shocked.
“Liberated. Stealing is such a nasty word. Anyway, Aegeus deserves that and more. If you knew anything of Athens, you’d know that.”
“You slander your own king?” Theseus’s blood started to boil. “And you dare condescend to me? Thief!”
“What’s it to you anyway?” Pirithous seemed surprised by Theseus’s anger. “You’re not even Athenian. You hold no allegiance to Aegeus.”
“I am his son!” Theseus shouted.
Pirithous cocked his head to the side and stared at him. “The king has no son.”
“He does, though he’s never laid eyes on me. I go to claim my birthright.”
“A bastard. Fascinating.” Pirithous returned to his stallion, reached into a cloth bag tied to the saddle, and produced a small clay jar. “Well, wayward prince, let it never be said I’m not a fair youth.” He laughed. “For I am fair—both to look upon and when following rules.”
“Indeed, rules. Can I assume you mean to challenge me for possession of the cattle?”
Theseus regarded him warily. “I do.”
“Right, very good, then. Are you acquainted with the sport of wrestling?”
Theseus’s eyes narrowed. “I am.”
“Well, we’ll have a nice contest, then. The first to pin the other wins the cattle. I’d say that’s fair, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Completely.” Theseus smiled cockily. This youth had no idea of the strength Theseus possessed.
“And this is no pancration match, mind you. No striking or kicking of any kind. Pure wrestling. Civilized. Do we have an accord?”
Pirithous untied the rope that belted his tunic, and with one sweeping motion, he pulled the chiton up over his head and threw it over the horse’s back.
Theseus felt his heart quicken when he beheld the other boy in his nudity. Pirithous was spectacular to look upon: two large square muscles made up his chest, finely woven bumps lined his stomach, his thighs were long and lean, and a thick cock hung low and heavy, clearly half-alive from when Pirithous inspected Theseus so closely. Though he tried to set his mind to the task at hand, Theseus couldn’t help but feel his mouth water at the sight of the other young man.
Despite his anger, he wondered what it would feel like to take that long, thick cock in his mouth. He had never done such a thing himself, but he had heard other boys in his village talking about it because it was expected of them by their erastes mentors.
Pirithous uncapped the bottle and poured the contents—some sort of oil—onto his chest, letting it drip down his body. He spread the oil all over himself, working it deep into his skin until he shone, slick and wet, in the sunlight. As Pirithous smeared the oil onto his penis, Theseus felt his own cock immediately begin to stiffen.
Pirithous’s eyes drank up Theseus’s hardening cock, and he smiled that wicked smile once again.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Pirithous said. “In Athens, we fight completely nude.”
He gently pulled back his foreskin and rubbed the oil onto the fat head of his penis until it was as shiny as the rest of him. Pirithous’s cock twitched, growing larger in jerky motions, swiftly rising to point in the direction of Theseus. He also reached around behind him, spending some time slicking his buttocks and even darting between them, which made Theseus curious.
Pirithous then capped the bottle and tossed it to Theseus, who caught it.
“Go on, then,” Pirithous said. “You can’t properly wrestle unless you’re oiled up.” Trying desperately to ignore his straining erection, Theseus tipped the bottle and poured the oil into his palm. He smeared it onto his chest, abdomen, and legs, avoiding his throbbing member as it twitched away
“Oh, for goodness sake.” Pirithous walked to Theseus, took the bottle from him, and poured it directly onto Theseus’s erection. “You mustn’t be so modest.”
Pirithous wrapped his fist around Theseus’s prick and rubbed, and for a moment Theseus felt his knees go weak. What felt like fingertips danced along his spine. Nothing in his life had ever felt so good. Slowly, Pirithous eased back Theseus’s foreskin until the head was completely bare. Theseus knew he should be ashamed of this exposure, but his cock felt so right in Pirithous’s hand that he couldn’t object.
Pirithous brought his face close to Theseus’s, his mouth agonizingly within reach, and Theseus wanted nothing more than to press his lips against the other young man’s, to savor the taste of his tongue—
Pirithous released his cock and pulled back. “And now we wrestle.”
Pirithous immediately hit the ground and grabbed Theseus’s ankles, pulling them toward him while pressing his shoulder against Theseus’s abdomen so that Theseus fell on his back. Pirithous leaped onto him, their bodies slickly sliding against each other. He shot out his arm and wrapped it under Theseus’s leg, and as his hand passed by, Theseus felt Pirithous’s fingers sliding over his cock, then under the fork of his legs, running down his strong thighs. Pirithous was going for the pin already.
Theseus reached under Pirithous’s armpits and, with superhuman strength, tossed the youth off him.
Pirithous landed a few feet away, dazed. He looked around as if trying to figure out how he had ended up there.
“That all you got?” Theseus said cockily.
Pirithous flashed a wicked grin and launched himself at Theseus once again.
Theseus, greater in strength by far, outmaneuvered him at every step. He could have won ten times over, but found he was enjoying rubbing his oiled-up body against Pirithous and was in no hurry to end it. Over time, though, he began to tire and was amazed that Pirithous was still fighting as hard as he was when they had begun.
Finally, Theseus had had enough. He caught Pirithous underneath him and turned him around so that his chest was on the grass. Then he took Pirithous’s arms and held them back, forcing him down even harder, all the while trying to ignore the fact that his own throbbing erection was sliding between the oiled-up cleft of Pirithous’s buttocks. “Do you yield?” he asked, panting.
“I yield! I yield. And thank the gods that’s over.”
“Because after all that rubbing, I can’t stand to not have you inside me any longer.”
Before Theseus could register what his opponent had said, Pirithous reached behind him and grabbed ahold of Theseus’s oily member. He brought his knees up underneath him, lifting his bottom upward, and drew Theseus into himself. Both men cried out in sudden pleasure, especially Theseus, who had never had contact with anyone in this way before.
“Fuck me,” Pirithous said, gasping.
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Arthur Griffin fell in love with mythology as a six-year-old when his mother, not able to find a sitter, took him with her to her art history class. They were studying Renaissance paintings of Greek and Roman legends, and he learned two very important things that day.
One – that there was a whole new world of thrilling stories and myths for him to explore and be enchanted by.
And two – dude! A lot of people were naked back then!
Since then, he’s always enjoyed the steamier side of stories of the ancient world, and is thrilled to be exploring them in his writing. Sometimes his stories are set in a fictional version of the past, or sometimes the gods of old come knockin’ (boots) in the present, but almost always there’s some element of mythology visible in his work.
Arthur lives in Los Angeles with his boyfriend, and works as a ghostwriter and screenwriter. When he’s not writing fantastical tales of two (or more) dudes doing the bone dance, he enjoys hiking, karaoke, superhero comics, getting drinks in West Hollywood, going to the beach, going to the gym, going to the movies, and writing non-smutty screenplays. (But for the record, smut is WAY more fun.)