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, Belinda McBride – Belinda is an award-winning, top selling author of erotic romance, speculative fiction and LGBTQ romance. She lives in far Northern California with her family and a pack of Siberian Huskies.
Thanks so much, Belinda, for joining me!
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
Bel: Gosh, that’s a hard one. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some intriguing writers and ask some questions that were on my mind. (I asked LKH if she planned for Nathanial to become a primary character—she said no, he just refused to be ignored.) But I think I’d really like to quiz Georgette Heyer about her amazing father/son anti-heroes: Avon and Vidal. I don’t know what questions I’d ask…I’d just like to hear her talk about them!
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Bel: I write multi-genre and will often cross genres. For example, I will put Earth-based wolf shifters in space. Or I’ll cross fantasy into sci-fi. I generally write romance, and when I don’t, there’s a romantic thread in there somewhere. As to my style, that’s hard for me to define. I like to write punchy action interspersed with lyrical narrative. Humor doesn’t come easy to me, but I love irony. I try really hard to lose myself in the voice of my characters so my style can differ from book to book.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
Bel: My eyesight. I’ve always had problems with my vision but its growing progressively more problematic. I have frequent migraines and they screw up my eyesight, and eyestrain is a trigger for migraines. I can’t write when the headaches hit, I don’t have enough mental organization to even dictate. So everything stops.
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
Bel: I take detailed notes. If I don’t have a notebook, I’ll put it in my phone. But I never ignore it or let it get away. When I wrote Blacque/Bleu, I had notes on a plot and character that were to go into a humorous story (a vampire with insomnia) but it fit beautifully into the winsome, star-crossed element of that book.
JSC: If you had a grant to write any book you wanted as a freebie without worrying about sales, what kind of story would you like to tell?
Bel: It’s actually a series I’ve been slowly working on. I wanted to write a book about someone like me. Not necessarily me, but someone who grew up not fitting in. I was the white-skinned girl in a dark-skinned family. I used to go to pow-wows with my father and I just stuck out like a sore thumb. I think different than my siblings. I never quite fit in at school or in adult life. So I decided to write a paranormal historical about a man named Jericho Wyeth, a half Muscogee Civil War veteran. Everything about him is liminal. He’s a completely non-conforming person—not through choice, but just by who he is. I absolutely love him and his story.
JSC: Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes in “Uncommon Whore.” What makes them tick?
Bel: I think that both Helios and Griffin are driven by duty. Grif just wants to protect Helios, to elevate him and see him on the throne of their people. He has implicit, blind trust in Helios, which isn’t always a good thing for either of them, or for their relationship. Helios is also driven by duty. He really doesn’t want to be the king, but due to his training and his heritage, he can’t refuse his responsibility. He’s easy-going on the surface, but if something’s not done the way he wants it done, he’ll get out and do it himself.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in “Uncommon Whore,” and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Bel: As most readers know, this is a re-release. I took the opportunity to expand on the book, to show what was at stake for not only Helios and Griffin, but also for their people. I wanted to show how close they’d come to complete annihilation. I sent Helios home to witness what had happened to his planet and people, so he understood that failure was not an option for him. He had to process the importance of the role he’d been thrust into.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
Bel: Yes, I certainly was! My bedroom housed my uncle’s collection of books from his childhood, so I was surrounded by countless stories. My first book was Black Beauty, and I read that as a second-grader. I skipped the picture books completely.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
Bel: Most folks know I have a houseful of dogs, but my constant companion is my Siberian Husky Wyatt. He sleeps at my feet. Always. And my Saluki Ero is generally nearby as well.
JSC: What fictional speculative fiction character would you like to spend an evening with, and why?
Bel: Well, that’s a tough question, because the fun characters tend to be on the crazy side! I think I’d like to hang with Asil from Patricia Brigg’s Alpha/Omega-Mercy Thompson universe. He’s very quaint, but crazy as a bug. It’d be interesting…
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
Bel: Kill? Well, there’s a villain behind the scenes of Uncommon Whore who needs killing. Don’t want to spoil the story though. Marry? Griffin Hawke. He’s got that bad boy thing going on, but he’s supremely loyal and a great dad. Fuck? Well, most of my characters are people I’d spend time in bed with! LOL! But it would be Lefi Drahan from The Bacchi. He’s truly equal opportunity when it comes to sex!
JSC: What are you working on now?
Bel: I’m doing revisions on When I Fall, the second Helios and Griffin book!
And now for Belinda’s new book: Uncommon Whore:
An Uncommon Whore Story
Pasha is a slave, whoring for travelers at the most treacherous bar on Warlan. The day Pasha spots the dangerous pirate in the bar, he knows he mustn’t let the stranger slip away, no matter what he must do to draw his attention.
Captain Griffin Hawke spent the better part of a decade searching for his lost king, only to find Helios Dayspring crouched between his legs, swathed in the robes and shackles of a whore. Though he is appalled by the downfall of his king, Grif falls for the sensual creature who has taken his place. After a brutal invasion stripped his people of nearly everything, they desperately need Helios to lead them. But returning him to throne means smuggling him off the planet, disabling the chip that keeps him submissive and forgetful. They will face old enemies, traitors, and greedy opportunists who’d like to strip their new planet of its wealth.
It might mean Grif losing his lover… and they’ve both lost too much already.
First Edition published by Loose Id LLC, January 2010.
By the Sun above, it was Lio.
I stood outside the door, my legs weak, my breath short. I leaned against the cool earthen wall and shuddered, unable to support my own weight.
Alive. A slave. A whore. But it was Helios and he was alive and I—oh Sun. He didn’t know me.
He didn’t know himself.
I slid to the floor, squatting on my haunches, my face buried against my knees. Leather rubbed against leather, and I pressed the heel of my hand to the patch, imagining the burn of tears there. Helios had never seen me this way. Not the patch, and not the scars underneath. He’d never seen me cry. He hadn’t been there when—
Another thought I shoved aside.
I wiped my face and sat quietly, struggling to make sense of the situation. We’d come to this planet not as part of the search for Helios Dayspring, but for supplies. For Markus. He’d suggested we take a break, restock. He’d been overly casual with his suggestion, and my suspicions had flared.
Obviously, my copilot knew something and hadn’t opted to share. I’d given him the rope. Now I had the proof of his treachery. And he would pay.
My fury collapsed and my shame rose. Helios. My best friend and first love. My prince, and now my king. He didn’t know me. And I barely knew him. The Lio I’d known for so long would never have gone down on his knees for another man. He’d never before shown the sly, scheming genius that had obviously allowed him to survive whatever atrocities he’d experienced. He’d never acted sexually submissive.
So it was Helios, but a man who’d been changed on a deep, perhaps permanent basis. He had no memories. But surely his essential personality was still intact? If not, we should be looking elsewhere for our king. But we couldn’t.
Markus might be a traitor. Diedre was too broken and Alexander too young. There was only Helios.
I looked at the door to my left.
He was in there alone, possibly wrestling with all this new information while I was supposedly out fetching food. As though I could eat. I dragged in a deep breath and rose to my feet. But I couldn’t move. I couldn’t walk to the kitchen, though I should. I couldn’t return to the room, though I must. I stood in the hall, letting the wall hold me up, letting guilt, fear, and gratitude hold me paralyzed.
My face. The scars. My eye. I touched the eye patch again. Traced a finger down the scar that snaked under the leather. I didn’t need to touch down thereto feel what else they’d done. The physical pain had faded. But the pain of torture never left one’s psyche.
I should go find Markus. But I couldn’t leave Helios’s side. Not for a minute. But I had to know what Markus was doing. He’d led me to Helios. Had he known? What had he planned to do to the missing king?
Awareness of the danger Markus posed triggered me into action. I dragged in a breath and straightened, automatically checking my weapons. I could stand guard here.
Or I could go inside. I could go and answer questions, fill in the blanks and do what I could to help Helios along. We had to get him off this goddamned planet.
I opened the door and froze, looking in. He was asleep, sprawled out on the bed as he’d always done. His face was softened by sleep. Even in the dim light, the tattoos around his eyes were visible. He was tangled in those stupid robes and the long rope-like braid of his hair snaked around his body, crossing over his chest.
“Helios,” I whispered. He didn’t stir.
His sleep wasn’t natural, and I remembered: this was a planet where slavery was the norm. The mines were harsh work and large, powerful men were the majority here. The sylph-like slave masters controlled their property with barbaric methods, most notably, mind-washing.
Helios had a chip embedded in his brain.
I groaned. Between the cuffs on his wrists and a chip in his skull, this escape was looking less and less likely to happen.
I shoved my hand into my vest pocket, assuring myself that the tiny bag of gems was still in place. When all else fails, there’s always bribery.
I sat on the edge of the bed and pried off my boots before lying down. I closed my eyes, knowing that I couldn’t sleep. I shouldn’t sleep. I looked at the man on the bed next to me.
If it meant looking away, even for a moment, I’d rather stay awake the rest of my life, just so I could look my fill.
I probably fell asleep with my eye still open.
Belinda is an award-winning, top selling author of erotic romance, speculative fiction and LGBTQ romance. She lives in far Northern California with her family and a pack of Siberian Huskies and a few rogue Salukis
A graduate of CSU Chico, she managed to attend the notorious party school without once getting drunk, arrested or appearing in a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Her main focus of study was classical and archival history, cultural anthropology and theatre arts.
After several years in the workforce. Belinda purchased a laptop computer and from there, never stopped writing.