Saturday, February 27, 2016

Quick Thoughts - Taste of the Forest, Dark and Sweet

In case I didn't annoy everyone enough about it on Twitter, my story "Taste of the Forest, Dark and Sweet" is out in the new Dreamspinner anthology, Simmer. Woo!

I'm fairly certain I've mentioned before that I'm a great fan of food. And cooking, really. And fun smuts. So when I saw that Dreamspinner was open for a cooking-themed M/M anthology I was all about that! Of course, me being me, it's a contemporary fantasy about Bastian, who runs his own restaurant, and a mysterious line chef named Colin (An aside: there were apparently three different stories that used Colin as a name for one of the main characters and because I was out of town when the email got sent asking who wouldn't mind changing names, my Colin was the only one to remain Colin…ah, the little weird things that happen in anthologies…). Well, after a rather disastrous night in the kitchen, Bastian finds things really weird when he goes to sleep and enters a strange dream-like world where Colin isn't exactly who he seemed to be.

Basically, I had a lot of fun with this story. To super serious foodies, I apologize, because I am all sorts of amateur and just sort of modeled Bastian after some chefs I've known from small (and really, really good) restaurants I've been to regionally. Hilariously, the first editor to look at the story seemed…not impressed with what I was having him cook, but I think I worked enough with the rewrites to leave everyone satisfied. I really have no training with cooking aside from messing around with cookbooks and on Pinterest-found mommy blogs. I was a cook at a bar/grill for a little while, but that's a whole different world. I actually got to contribute a recipe with my story, which isn't really the most inspired thing (a variation on bacon-wrapped water chestnuts), but OH MY GLOB THAT SAUCE. It has bourbon and buckwheat honey and maple syrup and is so good!

Ahem. This also represents my first attempt to write something a bit smutty without sex. YES YOU HEARD ME! So for anyone who does not like erotica but enjoys some romance, this is probably the work of mine you want to track down. I mean, I'm pretty sure some of the other stories in the collection have sex in them, but for whatever reason I tend to associate Dreamspinner with romance instead of erotica so the stories I've had accepted at the big DSP have been of the sweet variety. Which are also fun to write. Indeed, in many ways I get even more time to do world-building and develop side characters outside of the main pairing. Here it was just fun to get to write about some chefs finding each other. Also Legolas jokes, because I am mature (and the fae might be involved).

In the end, part of what I love about M/M romance is also what makes it frustrating at times and why I don't think I could ever write just it. It requires a happy ending. I tend to get away with just sort of implying the two guys are going to start dating and take it from there, but there is something both stifling and freeing about writing with the mandate of a happily ever after or happily for now. Most erotica/romance calls necessitate it, and for me it's an excuse to just sort of have fun and write drama and sappy love. In the face of the endless slew of rejections and how difficult writing non-smut SFF can be, sometimes it is just nice to sit down and write some happy stories. They're fun. And this one has some weird to it and hopefully a good deal of funny. I'm really not sure because feedback on smut is both easier and harder to come by that non-smut. Or perhaps I just tend to run in more non-smut circles.

Anyway…magic! M/M romance! Cooking! Go check it out and thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

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