Thursday, 13 February 2014

Cover Reveal & Interview with Cover Photographer: Elena Giorgi

Image & Cover Art by Elena Giorgio

This is such a rare pleasure for me. It’s not often that an author is given the opportunity to have a photographer provide an original image for one of her covers, and when I heard that this lady in particular might just be interested in working with me to revamp the Lost in the Echo cover, I couldn’t have been more ready to grab my work, sit down beside her, and just see where her imagination would go with a photo shoot.

The photographer in question is Ms. Elena Giorgi. A few weeks later -- with a delicious new cover for Lost in the Echo on the table in front of us -- I’m still reluctant to let the very artistic Ms. Giorgi walk away, not without finding out a little more about her and her work. So...

Elena, It’s really good to have you here.

Elena: My pleasure! Thanks so much for the opportunity to work with you!
Besides providing the image for Lost in the Echo, I have a few of your prints here that show the scope of your talents.

Girl in Green (c) Giorgi

Turquoise (c) Giorgi
The shape shifting, surreal effect to the print above is one of my favourites. I know you’re a photographer from these, but can you tell us a little bit about you? The person behind the camera?
The story of my life in a nutshell: I was born in the UK, I grew up in Tuscany (Italy), and lived in 4 different European countries and 4 different states in the U.S. before settling in beautiful New Mexico. As for “what” I am, I’m first and foremost a scientist -- that’s how my brain works. But I wouldn’t be who I am without my two creative outlets: writing and photography.
There’s a lot of scope for inspiration in all of the places you have lived, and it’s sparked a writing talent too. How long have you been a photographer? What influenced you to first pick up a camera?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I could hold a pencil and paintbrush. My first camera was a Sony point and shoot, which I used mainly to take pictures of things and people I wanted to paint. Painting is a demanding activity, though: you not only have to find the time to do it, you also need to have the right space. It’s a lot easier when you can afford a studio where you can keep up your work in progress for as long as you need. In my case, life took over: for about a decade we kept moving every other year, and the paintbrushes and paints ended up in a box, and, well, they stayed there. All those pictures I was still taking never turned into paintings. It finally dawned on me that I might as well perfect the one thing I was already doing: photography! I bought a used DSLR from a colleague, and once I discovered the freedom of being able to choose my own settings (aperture, ISO, exposure time, etc.) I felt like I had a whole new world to unravel. I started doing landscapes. I live in a place (New Mexico, USA) that offers staggering views and incredible skies, so it was the natural thing to do. I progressively moved on to macros, portraits, and now I’m doing the one thing I enjoy the most: photo composites, images that I create combining different pictures and backgrounds. It’s as if the cycle closed back, because compositing allows me to do what I used to do with my paintbrushes, except now my canvas is a JPEG file and I no longer need a studio. All I need is my laptop.
You recently won the December Self-Portrait Challenge over on G+, and you won it by submitting this self portrait here:

selfie (c) Giorgi
Can you tell us about this print and what influenced the self-portrait?
Believe it or not, the one thing that truly brought my photography to a completely new level has been joining G+ (the social network created by Google). First, because through G+ I met a lot of photographers whose work I truly admire. I learned a lot by studying their work and engaging in conversations with them. But also because G+ offers a lot of events – one being the self-portrait challenges – where you can push yourself. This particular event is a monthly challenge organized by “The Art of Self Portraiture” community. For the longest time I have been repelled by the idea of taking self-portraits. I look horrid in pictures, so I hide behind the camera viewfinder instead. But then I started doing composites and that’s when I discovered that taking a self-portrait is not about taking a picture of myself so I look pretty. You can use a self-portrait to tell a story. And yes, you could do the same with just any model, but what makes it easier to use yourself as a model is that you know the story you want to tell and you know what to do to re-enact it. And the fact that I’m not too fond of the way I look has forced me to be especially creative in the way I disguise myself, which, I confess can be a lot of fun! G+ has also given me a lot of exposure. One of my composites was picked as “popular” and currently has over twenty million views. That’s when I started getting requests for book covers.
As for the December challenge, it was a “seasonal” theme so I took a photo of myself in a Santa hat holding candy canes. It was quite challenging because I wanted to focus on the candy canes, not my face, and I wanted the candy canes to form a heart around my mouth. I used textures in Photoshop to add the snow effect and the “over-exposed” effect on me while keeping the hands and candy canes in focus.
Twenty million views – that’s staggering, and a stunning seasonal print. G+ looks as though it’s been a good social and commercial outlet for you. Can I ask, who are your influences in general, and why?
Between Facebook and G+, I follow a lot of amazing photographers. My favorite landscape photographer is Jeff Sullivan. I also love surreal photography and fine art portraits, and the people who awe me and inspire me the most are Brooke Shaden, Kirsty Mitchell, Reylia Slaby and Thomas Dodd. But really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I keep discovering new talents online – the creativity is endless. The communities I mentioned above on G+ are an incredible source of inspiration. All the photographers I met on G+ have influenced me at some point during my journey, and the best part is that we support and encourage one another – that’s what makes us strive to keep doing better.
Now, the image for Lost in the Echo took you into a new and challenging area. I’ve seen the gorgeous result, but I’ve got to ask -- what was it like for you from behind the camera? Did it test your professional side at any point?
It’s always hard to work with a new model. You have to gain the model’s trust, make him/her feel comfortable knowing that you will make them look at their best. We started off chatting about the story premise—I wanted him to know what the story was about and why I had to blindfold him, [laughs]. Then off to the setting: I begin with my first idea, which, turned out to be the one I used for the cover. However, I never know ahead of time whether what I have in mind will look good on the screen, so we also tried some other poses. The hardest part was to keep serious—we both kept bursting out in laughter.
I think you have to keep that level of humour present when you have a model’s trust over being bound! With any work from your portfolio, if you had a choice of Galleries, where would you most like to see your prints on display?  
That’s a hard question! You know, I’m very lucky because I live one hour away from Santa Fe, which, I’m told, is the second largest art market here in the US, second only to New York. I feel very privileged that last year I could do my first solo exhibit right here in Santa Fe. I think my next goal is to try and be represented by one of the galleries in Santa Fe. Probably in spring I’ll haul a few of my works and drive down and just beg, er, I mean introduce myself around and see what happens.
[Chuckles] Along with your photography skills, you’re also an agented author. What kind of novels do you write?
Thrillers. I love action and I love to get my characters in a lot of trouble. I think it makes up for my long days spent in a cubicle at work.
Can you tell us about the novel you’re working on?
I just finished writing the first book in a new series set in the future. It features a murderous and sexy computer hacker, the biothreat federal agent who’s after her, an eccentric medical examiner, and a deadly pathogen. The world building was daunting at first. Even when I’m writing fiction, I research everything (location, people, history, etc.), but here I actually had to make up a whole society on my own. I solved the conundrum by doing both: I researched all the current state-of-the-art technology and then tried to imagine what it would look/be like one hundred years from now. I actually ended up having lots of fun with it. My agent just started shopping the book around, I’ve got fingers and toes tightly crossed!
I can hear the scientist and a love for facts in there. Do you think you’re more comfortable with writing from a male or female point of view, or doesn’t the gender of the MC hold any barriers for you?
The real “barrier” (though it doesn’t stop me from writing, so more than a barrier I would call it a challenge) is the voice more than the POV. No matter whether it’s male or female, young or old, I strive to give my POV characters their own voice. Success comes when you can tell the gender from the voice without knowing the character’s name. My first book series is written in first person, and the main character is a male LAPD detective. One of the agents who offered representation made me the best compliment ever: she said she had no idea I was a woman until she read my full name. At the time I wrote the book I’d read all the Philip Marlowe books and loved the voice. Like Marlowe, my detective is also from Los Angeles, so I wanted to continue in the noir tradition with the first person, witty and sarcastic narrative. I guess the ultimate judges will be the readers.
Knowing you’re both photographer and author raises a curious conundrum. Do you find there’s anything you can express more in photography than you can in writing, or vice versa?
That’s an interesting question. There are instances when I can picture the setting of a scene very vividly in my head but I struggle to find the right words to describe it. I find myself thinking, “If only I could take a picture…” But for the most part it’s the other way around. Photography has made me very aware of the light around me, and it does affect the way I write. I’m often describing light sources in my scenes and how the light falls on my characters and how it affects their vision.
The concept for Lost in the Echo came from a photo supplied by a reader through an annual "Dear Author, write-for-me" challenge on Goodreads. Have you ever used any of your own prints to inspire your writing?  
Not my own pictures, but I do browse images to inspire my writing all the time. For example, when I was researching the world building for my last book, I browsed a lot of futuristic buildings and architecture and I had a lot of fun doing that. Whenever my brain draws a blank on a particular setting for a scene I go to Google images, type a few keywords, and then inspiration suddenly comes to my screen in the form of beautiful images.
And lastly, where can people find you to look at your artwork or contact you if they are interested in using your works for cover art?
My photography website juts got a makeover and it’s got everything, from landscapes to composites: I also post new images regularly on my blog (together with a lot of other musings on science, writing, etc.):
All images on my website are available for licensing. Anyone interested can use the contact form on the website or contact me directly through eegiorgi (at) Please let me know which image you are interested in and how many prints you would need to produce. And of course I’m always open to new projects!
Elena, thank you so much for stopping by and having a chat with me today. It’s lovely getting to know you better. When your novel’s released, I’d love to have you back for a chat -- find out what it’s like for a photographer being on the author side and working with a cover artist!

I’m also going to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks for providing your visual concept to Lost in the Echo. It’s very special to me, not only because of its originality, and that it was taken with the novella specifically in mind, but also because it’s just been such a pleasure working with you. Thank you for the opportunity. 
It has been my pleasure, Jack. I love making images and I love the concept of Lost in the Echo; it inspired me as soon as I read the premise. So intriguing! And of course, I can’t wait to come back in vest of a published author <insert huge grin here>.
Just as a final reminder, Elena's website can be found: here, and her blog can be found, here.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Unique New Release: My Brother's Lover by Lynn Kelling

New Release
Oh boy... it's the release of Lynn Kelling's latest work: My Brother's Lover, and, well -- you better hold onto your hats with this one (soon to be two), ladies and gents.  

Forbidden Fiction is celebrating two years of production in true style, going twin release with Ms. Kelling's new series: Twin Ties (one release this week, one next week on the 11th). I'm giving nothing away about the twins (okay, novels), other than the blurbs, excerpts (below), and possibly a huge grin at the offer of quadruple the heartache and sexed-up adrenaline that Kelling's novels are known for. I just hope you're up for one hell of a tale of tender loving, with a huge side order of lust.

As mentioned, it's a twin-fest production celebration by Forbidden Fiction, and My Brother's Lover has a sequel due out next week (11th February) called Twin Affairs. But first things first: this beauty:   

Title: My Brother's Lover 
Series: Twin Ties: Book 1
Genre:  Bisexual Contemporary Gay Erotica
Pairing: M/M, M/M/M, M/M/M/M
Sequel: Twin Affairs (pre-order here)
Author Website: Lynn Kelling
Publisher: Forbidden Fiction
My Brother's Lover Blurb: 
Growing up gay in a small town with no mother, Evan Savage learned the hard way to cherish his secrets above all else. Now he's 18, not even his father can hurt him anymore. When his long-lost twin brother Brennan shows up out of nowhere looking for a new home, Evan's world, and his very identity, comes crashing down around him all over again. Brennan treats nothing as sacred in his search for a family connection after their mother's death.
Frustrated and reckless, anonymous sexual encounters are just the first step on a journey of self-discovery for both Evan and Brennan. The sweetness of first love with twin brothers Alek and Luka leads them find in each other things they never knew they had lost and lures them all into danger.
And for a sexy snippet:
Evan tiredly shuffled into the house with just enough sense left to know to try to be quiet. He’d started to fall out of practice with slipping inside late at night without being detected, not that Charlie ever went out of his way to give Evan a hard time about breaking rules. To get to his room, he had to walk past Brennan’s room first. The door to Brennan’s bedroom was mostly shut. Instead of going right by, tiptoeing around the squeaky boards, Evan pushed it open a few inches. Inside, he saw Brennan sprawled on his stomach across the big four poster bed wearing only a dark pair of low-slung boxer briefs. Instinct told Evan to indulge in enjoying the fascinatingly taboo sight of a near-naked body—whether it was a relative or not—overriding any moral responsibility to give Brennan his privacy. Evan tried to force himself to stop staring at the set of dimples denting Brennan’s lower back.
      I wanna lick those. Or maybe just fit my thumbs right in there to hold him and just—

      He broke the thought off right there. The dimples were right above the tight swell of what might have been the most perfect ass Evan had ever seen.
    Stop looking, you perv, it’s your brother. He’s your goddamned brother, and worse, he’s your twin brother. What the fuck’s wrong with you?
    But it was just looking after all. He wasn’t hurting anyone by lingering and making sure Brennan was all right, or so he told himself. For some reason it hit Evan how incredibly young Brennan seemed with his face soft and peaceful with sleep. It made Evan wonder if that was how people saw him, too.
     The word ‘Jailbait’ rang in his head, affecting him in a plethora of different ways. That’s not who I am, Evan thought. Or maybe he was just in denial. Most of the people in his life had no idea he was gay and he intended it to stay that way. But he couldn’t help but enjoy the way it made butterflies knock around in his stomach, remembering how it felt to have Alek call him Jailbait and treat him like someone unspeakably desirable. That wasn’t the first time he had let someone fuck around with him just because it seemed like fun at the time. It was the first time he really enjoyed it, though.
The heat doesn't stop as My Brother's Lover's sequel, Twin Affairs, is released on the 11th of February. Now, I'm one for cover art, and I love the theme that Twin Affairs continues to play with:

And sneaking a look at the blurb, we can understand why:
All Evan Savage wanted was a quiet night at the bar, waiting for his boyfriend to finish his shift; what he gets instead is a nightmare. Things were complex enough when his biggest problem was the tangled sex life he and his brother Brennan share with twin lovers Alek and Luka. When a selfless act ending in terrible violence lands Evan in the hospital, Brennan and Evan's father returns to loom over their lives, asking questions none of the four want to answer.
The young men’s relationships to each other begin to unravel as carefully drawn boundary lines are blurred and crossed. The four must question the nature of their commitments to each other, what they each want, and what to say to those relentlessly demanding the truth. When the most dangerous thing you can do is admit to who you love, and jealousy is a luxury you can no longer afford, brutal honesty is the only remaining key to salvation... or damnation.
And for a teasing excerpt:

The world was bright and sunlit when Brennan did wake. Thankfully, no tears came that morning. Dry-eyed, Brennan stared at the shifting clouds through the window’s sheer curtain; thinking of his mother, of Evan, and of the future.
  He was aware of Luka lying behind him. Gentle, skittering movements of fingers over Brennan’s body entranced him. They went along the side of his arm, just inside the cradle of his hips and down his thigh before dragging back up to do it all over again.
   “You have to work today.”
   “I do,” Luka agreed.
   “I have to get back to the hospital. Maybe they’ll release Evan soon. I can always drive him back home myself, when they do release him, but do you think Alek can be there to help me?”
    “Yeah, shouldn’t be a problem,” Luka assured him.
   “Good,” Brennan exhaled, rolling onto his back. His chest rose and fell with quickened breath, and his eyes were half-closed with something other than sleepiness. Spreading his legs when Luka shifted to lie on top of him, Brennan almost smiled. “Can I ask a favor before you go?”
   He raked his fingers back through Luka’s long, dark hair, brushing it back from his face, tucking it over Luka’s ears.
   “You want me to drop you off?”
   “Well, yeah, but….”
   “But what?”
   “But, I want you.” He swallowed a soft moan when Luka rocked in a slow drag against him. Brennan’s hips stuttered, rutting up into Luka, whose pelvis was pinning Brennan to the bed. Luka reached down and caressed Brennan’s hipbone, peeking out from under his low-slung briefs. “You were amazing, you know. Staying there at the hospital with me that whole time, making those calls for us, handling everything I couldn’t, and holding it all together when Alek and I were freaking out. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
   “You’re welcome,” Luka grinned softly, pressing a kiss to Brennan’s lips. “So, is this my reward? I get to ravage you for being the dutiful boyfriend?”
   “Fuck no,” Brennan scoffed, his head thrown back as Luka slipped lower to suck a mark on Brennan’s pulse point. Simultaneously pushing Brennan’s underwear down in front and tugging him free, Luka squeezed slowly, firmly, repeatedly up his shaft. “I just really need you in me right now. Like, right now.”
    I want to feel something else, besides fear.
  I’m sick of it. I want to feel good, feel something tangible, vital, and alive before I have to go back there and face my nightmare—the wreckage of someone else I love so much.
  Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you won’t lose them. I almost lost him, just like I lost Mom.
  But this was worse, there was no warning. No build up. No slow burn, just a call in the night that Evan was dying.
   Evan was dying.
  Please, Luka. Give me that. Make it last. Make me feel before the numbness sinks bone-deep and nothing can touch me, ever again.
   Some of this flickered in his scared, child-like, trusting gaze as he hid behind crude words. “You didn’t bring a cock ring, did you? Cause that’d be awesome if you did.”
   “Filthy slut,” Luka breathed, playing along, choosing passion over heartache.

If you can't wait until next week and you want to pre-prder this one, here are the details.

Title: Twin Affairs

Series: Twin Ties: Book 2
Genre:  Bisexual Contemporary Gay Erotica
Pairing: M/M, M/M/M, M/M/M/M
Sequel to: My Brother's Lover
Buy Link: Pre-order here
Author Website: Lynn Kelling
Publisher: Forbidden Fiction 

As with any erotic work: please read the content tags!! My Brother's Lover and Twin Affairs content tags are available on the Forbidden Fiction Publishing website.