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Why I wrote A Taste for Poison
Hi, I’m Aleksandr Voinov, and here to talk about my newest release, A Taste for Poison. Thanks for having me!
A Taste for Poison is the third and last part in my Memory of Scorpions gay fantasy series. And it’s a bit of a miracle that it happened at all, to be honest. I’ve told the story about how Scorpion happened – I was on holiday in Turkey, it was very hot, I actually wanted to write a different book, and then Kendras showed up in my head and I wrote about 18,000 words in a week just writing down what he told me (that’s about a third of a novel).
Scorpion stood on its own. It has a bit of a romance story, as Kendras saves his future lover, Adrastes, and escapes the attentions of a lover he doesn’t really want and barely respects, Steel. At the end of the book, they decide to build a kingdom together. Happy end.
Only, it wasn’t, not really. But at that point, it was all I had.
It went off to be published by Dreamspinner, and then I got a new job that was really busy and got sidetracked by other projects (such as co-starting a publishing house), but I had a bit of a niggle, that never died down, even when Scorpion moved over to Riptide. It feels a bit like that niggle you get when you leave the house. Have I forgotten something? Sure?
But Scorpion wasn’t a massive seller. I’m not always or exclusively motivated by sales numbers, but I knew if I wanted to live off writing one day, I should really focus on stories that’ll sell more than Scorpion was. Plus, every sequel sells less than the book before. It’s a bit of a rule. Some series pick up over time, but there’s a “fade” in numbers. It became pretty clear that fantasy isn’t huge in gay fiction or gay romance.
Also, Kendras as a character is more going through a coming-of-age story than a love story. He has lovers, falls in and out of love several times in his life, but generally speaking, it’s about his growth as a character, a leader, and a warrior. Not the easiest sell.
However. That niggle was still there and wasn’t shutting up. It’s like going on holiday and you’re on a different continent and wonder whether you’ve closed the fridge or switched off the coffee machine.
Then, at a conference, I was talking to a reader, and she said she loved Scorpion and really wanted to know what happened next. We got chatting. And her enthusiasm woke up some of those ideas – the love of readers really makes a difference, much more than the sales numbers. A book might have few readers, but when they’re all really, really into it, that is a huge motivation to keep working on it.
So, yeah, even though Scorpion was never and will likely never be huge seller, it’s steady as clockwork, and when I talk to readers, many love the book. My heart opens every time when somebody tells me their favourite of mine is Scorpion – I tend to love my stranger, weirdest, crazier books more than the easier ones.
Bottom line: The readers made me do it. And thank you for that.
About A Taste for Poison
Even a king gets stung when he reaches for a scorpion.
After barely surviving an assassination attempt, King Adrastes is a changed man—one who mistrusts even his allies and friends. He readies his empire for war against an enigmatic enemy, the Elder of Vededrin, but not everyone approves. While courtiers dare only to whisper dissent, an outrider called Death foments rebellion in the mountains, aided by a prophecy that promises he’ll stop the Black King.
Kendras—former lover to Adrastes and leader of the Scorpions—is sent with his elite mercenary force to bring Death to justice. But when Kendras learns who’s hiding behind the mask, he must choose between his lover Graukar, newly-appointed general to the king—and King Adrastes himself.
With no man to call master, the Scorpions could flee the danger and intrigue. But Kendras cannot abandon the man he once loved—or the man he’s growing to love—without first uncovering the real threat to the Empire.
About Aleksander Voinov
Aleksandr has been published for twenty years, both in print and ebook. He has ten years’ experience as a writing coach, book doctor, and writing teacher, and until recently worked as an editor in financial services.
After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write gritty, edgy, sometimes literary M/M and gay fiction (much of which is romance/erotica)—the only way he can use his American Literature degree these days.
He’s been published with Heyne/Random House, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, and others, and is an EPIC Awards winner and a Lambda Awards finalist.
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