I'm delighted to host a special guest on my blog today. We just recently met on Facebook and I was intrigued by the blurb of his book - and the fact that we share a cover model - so I'm thrilled that he's agreed to sit down for an interview with me.
Ladies & Gentlemen, please welcome Richard S. Charles Raines!
Hi Richard, thanks for being my guest. Please sit down and make yourself comfortable while I put the kettle on. Here are
The business ones
Please give us a short introduction about yourself
Hi! I’m Richard S. Charles Raines, a gay author who lives in England. My ancestry is European.
What genre(s) do you write in and why?
I write novels with varying degrees of mystery, romance, and erotica which feature gay or bisexual men.
I use specific author names to distinguish between two quite different styles of writing and a different bias in content.
As R.S. Charles, I pen stories where gay and straight characters intermingle in exotic, more mainstream mysteries 'with a liberal sprinkling of racy romance'. And as Charles Raines, I concentrate on m/m erotic fiction/romance, usually with a mask of mystery.
The genre seemed to suit my interests, experience, and lifestyle, as well as my fantasies! Authors tend to write what they like to read.
Tell us about your first m/m book.
“Stranger In Translation” is a story blending my kind of erotica with mystery and romance. It’s about a young Englishman in Marseilles translating a ‘bestselling’ novel into French. He hates the futility of his work and the banality of his life. Awkward, scratchy, and inexperienced, he feels like an outsider in every respect. Sheltering in the serenity of the local cemetery, then loitering in the darkness of the beckoning back streets, he slowly yields to his smouldering, unfulfilled desires. And his life begins to change. Essentially, the title says it all.
You said ‘my kind of erotica’. What do you mean?
I think there are many shades of erotica. Some readers like gentle innuendo within heartfelt romance. Others prefer full-on porn. I tend not to use language that is too crude or descriptions that are too graphic. I love to hint, build up lustful anticipation, use anonymity, develop sensual expectation, and take the reader to the very brink of fulfilment, then allow him or her to ‘finish off’ in whatever way (s)he sees fit. Don’t get me wrong, there are scenes that readers find extremely ‘erotic’, but they aren’t always the ones where the picture is fully painted. Imagination is sometimes more powerful than the written word. GLBT Reviewer Amos Lassen said that I manage to ‘stimulate the mind as well as the body’.
Do you need a special setting to write in or do you have a ceremony to get you in the mood? What does it look like?
I have to be in the right frame of mind to write. And the mood may vary. I have no routine. It’s usually whenever I have the time, inclination, and inspiration. But I will take advantage of different emotions/experiences as they occur to jot down notes for scenes I will write later.
Generally, the reader and I share the same experience. We never know what’s going to happen next.
Where do you find inspiration?
I like things to develop, to be real and believable. I am a visual/observational writer and love nothing more than to sit in continental cafés, or hang around street corners, people-watch, and gather material for characters and plots. Films stimulate me too. But my greatest inspiration is my imagination. If I can’t ‘see’ it, I can’t write it! The first 5,000+ words of “Stranger In Translation” were written in one single session. I was ‘in the zone’. I just couldn’t stop. The words came flooding out.
Describe your feelings when you learnt that your first book was accepted for publication.
Of course I was excited. But I knew the real work was still to come. Books don’t sell themselves. Marketing is a chore I detest and the nemesis of many a good author.
Who is your favourite character and why?
Probably Raoul in ‘The Palms’ series (R.S.Charles). Let’s just say he’s ‘very close to home’!
My present WIP is actually fusing characters from the pen of R.S.Charles and Charles Raines into one novel.
A favourite line from one of your books.
“It was so noisy I thought we were in an Italian restaurant!” Lady Laetitia Lascelles (Palms).
Your favourite drink and food when writing.
Cup after cup of green tea. I tend not to snack.
Ah, tea, that's my cue. Here, have a cuppa and let's move on to
The nosy ones
How much of the real “you” is in your stories?
I think all writers hide/feature themselves, or who they’d like to be, somewhere in their work. I’m no exception.
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Who was it?
There’s something I fancy in all the characters I write, even the women!
Who is your least favourite of the characters you’ve written? Why?
There’s something I detest in every character I write. I hate arrogance, but it can be a turn-on!
The steamiest scene from your books.
It depends what you find steamy. Every reader has a personal erotic trigger. For example, I think a man can be more seductive keeping certain items of clothing ON. You’ll find the scene that suits you in either “Stranger In Translation” or the follow-up, “Falling For Forever”. I imagine it will be different for each reader.
Favourite comfort food?
Sausage and mash!
A person you admire.
My mother. (Such a cliché for a gay man!) I owe her everything. Sadly, she’s no longer with us.
If you could ask any person in the world one question of your choice, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’ve already asked that question. And he said “Yes!” (This is one of my favourite answers! ~S)
The fast ones
Favourite colour? Blue.
Favourite pet? Any dog or cat I have ever owned.
Coffee or tea? A coffee to start the day, then tea all the way!
Quickie or candles? Quickie…outside!
Hunky or chunky? Depends on my mood.
Suit & tie or jeans & boots? Depends on my mood!
Walk in the park or chat over cocktails? Walk on the beach!
Wow, some of those answers could have come from me - it's funny to see that we have so much in common but maybe that's what got me interested in your book, Stranger in Translation. Let's take a closer look at the title that's next on my tbr-pile:
Stranger In Translation by Charles Raines
Hesitant and frustrated, his ambivalent sexual desires are untapped, but always bubbling below the surface. Feeling like an outsider, the only way to cope is to find a distraction, try to blend in, and strive to fully embrace the French way of life.
The local cemetery offers shelter and serenity, and the backstreets of Marseilles offer danger and excitement. Exploring the two, he meets a succession of men and has a series of erotic encounters which gradually mould him into exactly the man he secretly always wanted to be.
“Salut!” His whispered greeting seemed reassuring. “Viens! Assieds-toi!” Patting the sand next to him, he offered me a chance to take a breather. I wiped the drips of sweat with a handkerchief from my back pocket. He seemed interested in the colour. I didn’t know why. Or perhaps I did. “Ça te plaît??” He nodded at my hew hairstyle. The one he’d created. I nodded. Yes. Yes, it was growing on me. I did like it. He stretched out his hand and ruffled the bristles. My scalp wasn’t the only thing that reacted with a tingle.
An awkward silence suggested this was not going to be easy. We were alone in a clump of secluded palms. I knew there’d be eyes everywhere, watching, waiting. He took off his vest, cupped his hands behind his head, lay back, and stretched out in the sand. His body was tanned, lean but muscly. The bulge in his trunks caught my eye. And he knew it. I stayed sitting, cross-legged. I wasn’t being unfriendly.
“T’as chaud?” Yes, of course I was hot, but I wasn’t going to take off all my clothes. And his fingers skimming the back of my neck only made me hotter. Lapping up the sun, he closed his eyes. He knew the unspoken invitation to look him up and down would be easier to accept if I thought he wasn’t scrutinising my every move. I was intrigued… at how different he looked. His hair was no longer hanging in greasy strands. It was scraped back into a neat ponytail accentuating the bold features in his face. His skin was cared for, but not overly. It didn’t look obvious. It didn’t look feminine. It looked rugged enough to match the seductive, macho image he had adopted. The pleasing portrait now had just the right frame.
A few moments later, he turned over onto his front. His dreamy, big brown eyes once again caught mine as he slowly raised his head and arched his lower body. His hand adjusted the front of his trunks. Broad shoulders, toned legs and butt cheeks you could park your pushbike in between writhed as he made himself comfortable in the sand. Was this a practised look for a potential conquest or was it sincere? I couldn’t really tell. I wasn’t going to be a notch on anybody’s bedpost. I wouldn’t allow fleeting, physical flirtation to triumph over the emotions of true love, or what I anticipated true love should feel like. My vibes made this clear. Maybe that’s why I was always alone? No-one had ever managed to get close enough to test the waters.
“Salut!” A shadow cast itself over us. The figure wearing just fitted, square briefs and a flimsy cotton top with a hood momentarily blocked the sun. The barber forced a smile. The arrival was ill-timed. An awkward silence followed. The hovering friend with the mousy brown, crinkled fringe was invited to join us. Pleasantries were exchanged, but no introductions, no names. That’s the way it worked.
BUY LINKS **Stranger in Translation is currently available as a special offer**
Amazon - US
Stranger in Translation (Reviewed by David, excerpts):
"I won’t repeat what has already been said pretty eloquently by others. Instead, I will limit my comments to why I thought this book was such a great read... What Charles Raines has done with STRANGER IS TRANSLATION is to paint a rich and complex world with such darkly sensual imagery (without being vulgar) that it is wholly believable and so “real” you can almost touch it—the sights, the sounds and even the odors of Marseilles. STRANGER is written in first person narrative, a risky endeavor for many authors but a risk in this case that was well worth taking... I have to say that of all of the books and new authors that I had a chance to read in 2012, STRANGER IN TRANSLATION was one of the most pleasant surprises. It was the first time I’d had a chance to read Mr. Raines’ work and I am always overjoyed when I encounter an author who writes so beautifully that time stands still. I look forward to many more releases by Charles Raines and I recommend this novella enthusiastically."
View more Amazon Reviews
About the Author
Richard S. Charles Raines writes GLBT novels. As R.S. Charles, he pens stories where gay and straight characters intermingle in exotic mysteries 'with a liberal sprinkling of racy romance'. His alter-ego, Charles Raines, concentrates on m/m erotic fiction/romance with a touch of mystery.
Author website: http://www.gay-books.com