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, Sera Trevor – Sera Trevor is terminally curious and views the 35 book limit at her local library as a dare. She’s a little bit interested in just about everything, which is probably why she can’t pin herself to one subgenre. Her books are populated with dragons, vampire movie stars, shadow people, and internet trolls.
Thanks so much, Sera, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Sera Trevor: I spent my eleventh wedding anniversary in a cemetery to research my vampire book, Curses, Foiled Again. It wasn’t just any cemetery! It was Forest Lawn, the final resting place of many Hollywood stars. I live in the LA area, so it was not hard to get to. However, I have two young children, and since babysitters are hard to come by, I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and do our anniversary date AND cemetery research? It actually turned out to be a pretty good time! (It helps that my husband is a very good sport.) You can read about it and check out some pictures on my blog here.
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
ST: I do! I’m still not sure how I feel about people in meat space knowing I’m an author. If I used my actual name, I would forever wonder if people I meet have read my books and what they think of them. With a pen name, I get to decide who I disclose to and spare myself some anxiety!
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
ST: I am a hardcore plotter. Plotting is my favorite thing to do in the world, because it’s like writing the book without having to actually, you know, write the damn thing. Of course, my outlines inevitably get blown to pieces as I work my way through the book, but that’s all part of the process.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
ST: I would definitely sit down with Edmond Manning, the author of the Lost and Founds series. His books were so inspiring to me as a reader and as an author.
…and actually, I DID interview him! So you can hop on over to my blog hereto see what I asked him!
JSC: What do you like to read in your free time?
ST: I read mostly nonfiction. I’ve always been a big reader, and prior to college, I mostly read fiction. In fact, I liked fiction so much that I decided to get my BA in English Literature. I loved the program, but it kind of destroyed my ability to enjoy a novel for a while. I’m hyperaware of the moving parts that make stories work, and that can make getting lost in a novel a little harder. (It has however helped immensely in my writing!)
So I switched to non-fiction—I love history, pop science, memoirs, psychology…basically everything, now that I think about it. I’m very curious! My ability to read novels returned eventually, but my love of non-fiction stuck around.
JSC: Do you have any books out in audio?
ST: I do! The audio version of my book Consorting with Dragonscame out on July 10. I feel so incredibly fortunate – I had always dreamed of having one of my titles as an audiobook, but thought that it wouldn’t be feasible for me financially. However, a few weeks after the ebook of Consorting with Dragons went live, I received an offer from Tantor Media to buy the audio rights! It was a little scary handing my book over because I didn’t have any creative control, but they did an absolutely amazing job. The narrator, Philip Alces, brought the characters to life in a way I didn’t even imagine possible. It was one of the greatest experiences of my creative life. I’m going to do my best to get more books out in audio, so stay tuned!
JSC: What are you working on now?
ST: I’m currently writing Earthly Pleasures, which is a fantasy set in a Regency-esque alternate reality. It’s about Paurick, a hedonistic prince, and Laurel, an uptight monk, who are forced into a magical bond in order to combat a famine.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
ST: Before I began Earthly Pleasures, I made a list of all of my favorite tropes: marriages of convenience, sex magic, opposites attract, ugly ducklings, enemies to lovers, and first times. I chose a setting that I have always wanted to write (Regency—well, a Regency-esque fantasy world) and voila! I had the basic outline of the plot pretty much overnight.
In addition to writing all of my favorite tropes, I also wanted to ground my story in something a little closer to alternate history than my last fantasy, Consorting with Dragons. Consorting with Dragons was set in a fantasy world that has very little in common with any specific historical moment in our reality. While Earthly Pleasures is definitely a fantasy world, I tried to hew closely to Regency England. It’s been so much fun to do all the research.
As to how well I achieved my intentions…well, it’s still a work in progress. I was humming along merrily until I reached the 75% mark of my first draft and ran into a plot problem, so I had to back up and do some rewrites. Alas, that means that I am running behind—I had expected to have it published by now! I’m now aiming for a September release.
JSC: Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
ST: Natasha Snow! This is the third cover she’s done for me, and as usual, she knocked it out of the park. When we’re collaborating on designing a cover, I give her a general concept of what I want and the mood of the story, and then we go back and forth fine-tuning it. For Earthly Pleasures, I said that I wanted a sexy Regency hunk. Fortunately, there’s a lot of models to choose from! We settled on this guy, but the first pose she used was sultry and brooding, and she went with a more subdued, brown palette. However, Paurick is a very cheeky character, so I wanted a pose that was more flirty than sensual, and the book is more playful than dramatic, so I wanted to introduce some more color. And that’s how we arrived at this cover! And funnily enough, the cover ended up inspiring something in the story – I’ve made use of those blue satin sheets!
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
ST: Definitely Mister Rion Rummel, fashionable man about town and Prince Paurick’s ex-lover. Originally, he was supposed to be a standard antagonist, but he evolved into something more interesting. With every break-up, there’s two sides to the story, and once Rion told me his version of events…well, let’s just say Rion had a pretty good reason to dump Paurick. The two of them are still friends, sort of, and exploring what they mean to each other now, post-relationship, was an unexpected pleasure to write. Rion still causes a lot of problems, but he is not your standard Vengeful Ex, and I would love to write his love story someday. I’ve just got to dream up a character who can handle him!
Thanks so much for having me, Scott! It’s been a blast!
And now for Sera’s forthcoming book: Earthly Pleasures:
Prince Paurick is a hedonistic degenerate—or at least that’s what his father and the rest of the royal family thinks of him, and he’s happy to live down to their expectations. But when the crops of their kingdom start failing, the king commands that Paurick be joined to Brother Laurel, a monk, in order to combine Paurick’s royal magic with that of the Goddess, and thus bring fertility back to the land.
The union is only meant to be temporary, but Brother Laurel is so ugly and prudish that it might as well be an eternity. However, as they get to know one another, Paurick realizes he has misjudged Laurel and finds himself falling for the thoughtful and sensitive young man.
The fate of the kingdom relies on their sexual union, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that the fate of their hearts is in jeopardy as well.
Sign up for Sera’s newsletter here to be notified when Earthly Pleasures releases.
Paurick had just finished his preparations when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, he found Laurel standing there, dressed once more in the green acolyte robes. His expression was grim as usual, but Paurick did not let that deter him.
“Good evening,” he said with his most charming smile. “I’m so glad you’re here. Please, come in.”
Laurel gave his customary reply—nothing at all. He entered the room swiftly, brushing past Paurick with hardly a second glance. Paurick muttered a brief prayer before shutting the door. Since this was all in service of the Goddess, surely She would offer him a little help.
Laurel stood in the middle of the room, frowning at everything. Paurick cleared his throat and gestured toward the sofa. “Why don’t you have a seat and join me for a glass of wine?” Paurick paused as something occurred to him. “You haven’t taken a vow of silence, have you?”
“Excellent,” Paurick said, relieved. “Then sit, please.”
Laurel did not move toward the sofa. “Is there somewhere I can disrobe?” he asked instead.
Paurick blinked. This was moving along more rapidly then he had anticipated. “Certainly. There’s a dressing screen to your left there.”
As Laurel got undressed, Paurick settled on the sofa and poured them both a glass of wine. Laurel emerged soon afterward—he was not nude, but dressed in a strange garment. It was like a nightgown, except that the sleeves were long and snug, and it had a button collar that was done up all the way up. It was not the most erotic of garments, but that did not dissuade Paurick. He patted the sofa beside him. “Come, sit. Have a drink.”
“No, thank you.” Laurel headed for the bed and got in under the covers. “Could you put out the candles?”
Paurick frowned. This was not going as planned, but if Laurel wanted to jump right into it, he supposed that he could accommodate him. Perhaps it was best to get their first time over with—it would take the edge off the situation. After all, they had several months together. He snapped his fingers, extinguishing half of candles, before approaching the bed. “Is that better?”
“I meant all of them.”
“But if I put them all out, how am I to see you?”
“I thought seeing me wasn’t something you would want,” he said stiffly.
Ah. So he was still hung up on that. Paurick sat at the edge of the bed. “I know we got off to a somewhat rocky start, and for that, I apologize. You have to understand that I was taken quite by surprise with the whole situation.” He leaned down, only a breath away now. “I am more than happy to have you in my bed.” He went in for a kiss.
And was shoved backward. “No kissing,” he snapped.
Paurick blinked at him in surprise. “What?”
“No kissing, no touching, other than what is strictly necessary. You might be happy to have me in your bed, but the feeling is not mutual. I am not here for pleasure. I am here in service to the Goddess and to the people. So spare me your seduction. Put out the candles and do your duty.”
It was a truly shriveling outburst. Paurick gritted his teeth. He had promised himself he’d be patient, but this was really testing his resolve. With another snap of his fingers, the candles all went out. He removed his dressing gown, taking care first to remove the vial of oil from its pocket, and hung it on the bedpost. Then he got into bed.
But once he was there, he had no idea what on the Goddess’s green earth he was supposed to do. No kissing—he could understand that much. But what constituted “necessary” touching?
Paurick gave his own cock a few strokes, attempting to coax himself into arousal but was only half successful. He slipped his hands under Laurel’s garment. His skin was clammy to the touch. Paurick caressed his thighs before moving upward, brushing a hand over his flaccid prick—
Laurel jerked away. “I said no touching!”
“Well, I’m going to have to do some touching,” Paurick snapped in exasperation. “I can’t just shove my prick in you with no preparation.”
Laurel was quiet for a moment. “All right,” he finally said. “Just don’t-don’t touch me…there. Just where you need to.”
When Paurick resumed, Laurel was shaking. Paurick pulled back and rubbed his face. This wasn’t going to work. His prick had completely wilted; he had never felt less aroused in his entire life. With a snap of his fingers, the candles lit again.
Laurel, whose eyes had been screwed shut, gradually blinked them open. “Why did you stop?”
“We need to talk.” Paurick grabbed his dressing gown and stood. “Come on, get out of bed. Let’s go sit on the sofa, and I’m afraid I must insist this time.”
Once they were both settled on the sofa, Paurick picked up the wine glasses. “Are you sure you don’t want some?”
He shook his head. Paurick downed his glass, and Laurel’s too. He rubbed his face again before speaking. “Are you here of your own free will, or have you been coerced?”
Laurel worried the hem of his garment. “No. I mean, yes, I agreed to this. No coercion.”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes. I volunteered.”
That surprised Paurick, considering how unhappy he clearly was. “You volunteered? Why?”
“Because my connection with the Goddess is among the strongest anyone’s seen in a century,” he said. “The High Priestess herself said so. How could I say no when such a small sacrifice will save so many lives?”
“A noble sentiment,” Paurick conceded. “But it seems to me that it is not such a small sacrifice for you. You’re terrified.”
“I am not,” Laurel said, some of that earlier ferocity back in his voice. Paurick was glad for it—it was certainly more appealing than the frightened fawn demeanor. “I have pledged myself to the Goddess to do Her work on this earth. I will endure whatever I must to end the famine.”
Paurick felt a headache coming on. “That’s all very well for you, but I’m afraid I won’t be up for such an arrangement, if you catch my meaning.”
Laurel’s cheeks flushed. “All right,” he said quietly with his head bowed. “You can kiss me if you need to.”
Paurick considered him. “No, I don’t think so.”
Laurel looked up, confusion in his eyes. “Then what must I do?”
“Nothing for tonight.” Paurick stood. “I’m going to bed.” He made his way to the bed without looking to see if Laurel was following.
Paurick took off his robe and got in under the covers. With a snap of his fingers, the candles extinguished, leaving the room only dimly lit by the fireplace. After a few minutes, Laurel joined him.
When several more minutes had passed with Paurick saying nothing, Laurel spoke up. “I’m ready,” he said, his voice shaky.
“No, you aren’t. And that’s the issue. I’m not touching you until you are comfortable with this.”
“But I am!” Laurel protested.
Quick as lighting, Paurick rolled onto Laurel, supporting himself with his arms on either side of Laurel as he loomed over him. Laurel cried out in surprise and flinched. Paurick looked down at him grimly. “That’s what I thought.” He moved off of him and lay down with his back to Laurel.
“I’m sorry! I’ll do whatever you want—”
“What I want is to get some sleep. I suggest you do the same.”
“So that’s it then?” Laurel’s voice raised in outrage. “You’re just going to abandon your duties and let all those people starve?”
“I doubt very much that we will end the famine in one night. It can wait.”
Silence fell between them. Paurick thought that that would be the end of it, but then Laurel spoke again. “Everything I’ve heard about you is true. You care nothing for duty—the only thing that matters to you is your own pleasure!”
Paurick wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. Was it a genuine outburst of temper, or an attempt to goad him? He rolled onto him again, taking a wrist in each hand. Laurel didn’t flinch this time; he glared up at him, his face flushed and his jaw clenched tight, his chest heaving. Interesting. Paurick made a mental note of his reaction.
“I am your prince,” Paurick growled. “And you would do well to remember that before you speak in such a manner to me again. And if you think you can shame me into doing what you want, you’d best think again. It doesn’t work when my brother does it, and he’s the crown prince. It certainly won’t work coming from you.” Paurick released him. “Now go to sleep, or get out. I don’t care which.”
Paurick rolled over and shut his eyes. Laurel remained where he was for a few long moments, but then he got out of bed and made his way to the sofa. Which was fine with Paurick. He sighed. Goodness, what a mess. But it was a mess that could wait until morning.
Sera Trevor is terminally curious and views the 35 book limit at her local library as a dare. She’s a little bit interested in just about everything, which is probably why she can’t pin herself to one subgenre. Her books are populated with dragons, vampire movie stars, shadow people, and internet trolls. (Not in the same book, obviously, although that would be interesting!) Her works have been nominated for several Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards, including Best Contemporary, Best Fantasy, and Best Debut, for which she won third prize in 2015.