|"I am passionate about my Call of Duty games both online and off but they don’t inspire my writing at all, in fact they hinder it because I will play for hours on end."|
Lesley Davis is the author of several erotic short stories, a string of sci-fi/fantasy novels and one “normal” lesbian romance – her own words so don’t shoot the messenger. In her latest fantasy novel, Truth Behind the Mask (winner of the 2008 Lesbian Fiction Readers’ Choice Award), Davis created a superhero for lesbian readers, roaming Chastilian - an urban fantasy setting reminiscent of Gotham City - where evil is rife and Guardians defend the citizens from crime. In her most recent publication, Playing Passion’s Game, Davis sets her love story in the unlikely—and not generally thought romantic—setting of the world of gaming. A passionate gamer herself,it seemed natural for her to choose this setting. But it is truly romantic? We managed to drag her away from the clutches of Mario and co. for a chat about her writing, fans and of course, superheroes...
Your first Bold Strokes Books novel, Truth Behind the Mask was a fantasy novel. Your latest novel, Playing Passion’s Game is primarily a romance. Do you prefer one genre over the other?
I don’t see romance as a separate genre to be honest as there is always romance in my books! I do like the fantasy genre though. I’m very fantasy minded and like playing in those worlds.
Do you find one genre more challenging than the other?
I did challenge myself with Playing Passion’s Game to see if I could write a ‘normal’ romance, for me that means no people with special powers, no vigilantes fighting crime, no ghosts or magic spells, just two women who meet and fall in love. I was very pleased with the story I came up with, it’s become a personal favourite.
If you could be any one of the characters you’ve created, which one would it be and why?
There are many who would expect me to say Trent from Playing Passion’s Game because of my own passion for playing video games and I admit she got a lot of my gamer personality when I created her. However, I would pick Rogue from Truth Behind The Mask, she is my ideal hero and I could only wish for a fraction of her calmness and courage. She’s my love of superheroes all rolled into one.
Do you ever base your characters on real people?
No, I prefer making the characters my own rather than having a pre-set personality from someone else. Besides, you just know if you write about someone specific and they read it they are going to complain because you didn’t make them perfect enough…
You have a character called Trent. I imagine most Nottingham readers will think about the river when they hear that. How do you choose your character’s names?
I like to have my less-feminine characters to have names that define them, strong names not easily identifiable as female. I can’t recall exactly where Trent’s name came from but the River Trent never even crossed my mind! The story explains why she was given a very masculine name. As for the other characters I really enjoyed naming Elton who was blatantly named after a certain singer. I particularly wanted my gothic man to be named after a famous singer so Playing Passion’s Game far removed from what he himself was into and Elton just fit him so well. I think my character rocks the name and makes it his own!
What do you find to be the biggest challenge about being published—and edited—by an American publisher?
To be perfectly honest being published and edited by Bold Strokes hasn’t been a challenge at all, it’s been a joy. I was thrilled to be taken on board with Truth Behind The Mask which was the first book I brought to them - I have five other books with another company. My editing processes have been a fantastic learning experience, allowing me to strengthen my writing. The only challenge, if it can be called that, is I am British therefore I tend to use British descriptions. had ‘gardens’ but it was changed to ‘yards’ because in America their back garden is their yard. And don’t get me started on the differences between all the parts on a car we have!! Boot-trunk, bonnet-hood! Thankfully, I’m remembering to Americanise my work and my editor is fantastic at “Brit Alert”-ing me when I’m using good ol’ Black Country sayings.
|Jump, duck, left, right - everyone knows how to defeat Bowser...|
When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?
I am sat before my gaming consoles chasing either Mario around to rescue Princess Peach or online playing Call of Duty. I eat, sleep and breathe gaming. I also research games online so am a font of knowledge on them. I’m great at Christmas time if you ever want to know what game to buy someone!
On that topic, I think a lot of people would find the gaming world an unusual setting for a romance. What do you say to that?
I’ve had some marvellous feedback from readers about just that subject. I made sure that the gaming aspect of the story was fun, it shows the social side of it and how it can bring people together. Yes, it’s unusual but I’d already set myself the challenge to write without resorting to fantasy, I had to have something I could still relate to. And I know games best of all. It’s been fantastic having people write to me saying that the book made them want to game. I can’t think of a better compliment.
That said, which games do you play the most, and do you find they inspire your writing? Any favourite characters?
I am passionate about my Call of Duty games both online and off but they don’t inspire my writing at all, in fact they hinder it because I will play for hours on end. But it made it easier having an intimate knowledge of gaming to write the gaming scenes for Playing Passion’s Game. My favourite characters have to be Super Mario - I am a huge Nintendo fanatic - and then my superhero leanings would have to dictate I pick Batman from Arkham Asylum. Oddly enough, I’d choose no female characters; Lara Croft’s style of game just doesn’t interest me.
Which writers inspire you?
Radclyffe inspires me immensely. I haven’t read anyone who can tell a tale quite like she can. I love her Fated Love story best of all. I also have a deep respect for Chris Anne Wolfe whose Shadows of Aggar showed me you could indeed write lesbian fantasy. I’ve heeded that call ever since and it was indirectly through her I got my first book published. Her death was a great loss to the writing world.
Do you think a romance has to have a happy ending?
Yes. I can’t stand to get to the end of a book and have someone die, or for the romantic leads not to live happily ever after. I want the happy ending, life’s hard enough.
Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
Yes. I have my next book Dark Wings Descending due out 2012, which is a supernatural crime story. I am working on a spin off to that one at the moment, then will pay a return visit to the characters from Playing Passion’s Game because I have had lots of requests to go back to them already.
It sounds like you listen keenly to feedback from your readers. What does it mean to you to be able to meet them at events like the one at Waterstone’s?
It’s always fantastic to meet people who have read my books and want to share what they enjoyed with me. I love that, it inspires me to continue to write. I have a lot of contact via email with readers and getting to meet some face to face is always an added bonus. I’m glad that Waterstone’s is giving us the opportunity to meet readers here in the UK. So here’s to July, I hope everyone can come see us all.
Lesley Davis will be attending the Bold Strokes Books author event at Waterstone’s, Bridlesmith Gate, on Saturday 23 July (from 3.00pm onwards) and Sunday 24 July (from 11.30am onwards).