Monday, June 20, 2016

Blogtour: Casto (Gods Of War) by Xenia Melzer

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Gods Of War #1

About the series:

All is fair in love and war. Or is it?

On the world called Ana-Darasa, the gods of war engage in a desperate search for their lost hearts while waging a battle against the Good Mother for supremacy. But theirs is not the only struggle as dominant men, powerful rulers, and demigods clash, fiery passion erupts, and destinies are shaped on the battlefield and in the bedroom. In a war between pride and love, no victory is ever simple.


All is fair in love and war. Renaldo has lived happily by that proverb his entire life. But he has finally met his match, and he’s about to discover how unfair love and war can be.

When demigod and warlord Lord Renaldo takes a beautiful stranger captive during an ambush, he is delighted to have found a distraction that will keep him entertained during the upcoming siege. Little does he know, Casto is keeping more than just one secret from him. Slowly, Renaldo gets sucked into a turbulent roller-coaster relationship with his mysterious prisoner, one that begins with hatred and soon spirals into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. And when it seems that things can get no worse, an old enemy stirs right in the heart of his home.

Determined to keep Casto by his side, Renaldo has to find a balance between the capricious young man and his own destiny as a ruler and god to his people.

Get the book:

Why do I write M/M novels?

After I got my contract with Dream Spinner, I started telling people about my book. The one question I came across regularly was why I chose two male characters as the leads. Initially my answer was that Casto and Renaldo had simply walked into my head and refused to leave. My story had started out as a ‘regular’ heterosexual romance but then those two took over. It’s a good answer, a true answer and it reflects what probably every author has experienced at least once: that our characters can have a mind of their own.
I also happen to have a university background (curse or blessing? I haven’t figured it out yet.) and that taught me to not only see layers in everything I read but to actively look for them. So, after the hundredth time I had heard the question, I started thinking. The first thing I realized was that none of the people who approached me were averse to the idea of a M/M lead at all. They were genuinely interested in my motives and given how writers of gay books were treated only a few years ago, I honestly think our society has made a great step in the right direction. After all, diversity is what makes life interesting. The only thing those people didn’t like was the fact that the book is in English which would give some of them trouble reading it.
I also went to the Love Letter Convention in Berlin this spring and was surprised to be approached by quite a lot of fans who told me they were happy about finally having a M/M author at the convention and how much they loved reading books with gay leads. (Again the language barrier was something they weren’t happy about.) I realized that the question why I chose male leads was probably not as political as I may have thought. So I wondered what other dimensions I had missed.

There’s also always the underlying question how and why a heterosexual female should/would write about gay love. So I sat down and did some internal research. As I already said, the first idea for Gods of War had a F/M lead and Renaldo and Casto were just secondary characters. After a lot of thinking and forcing myself to be honest, I realized that the F/M couple was simply too generic. Their story was easily told and, to me at least, there was no spark I could turn into a flame/interesting read. Renaldo and Casto provided not only a spark but a blazing fire that has carried me through almost five books so far. Part of my fascination for a M/M lead is definitely the chance to explore a relationship where the characters’ roles are not as fixed as they usually are in F/M romances (which, I want to stress, is not necessarily a bad thing, it just wasn’t helpful in my case). Add the fantasy aspect and I have a whole world of opportunities and plot twists just waiting for me to pick them up. Purely from a writer’s perspective, this is like Christmas and birthday in one. There is literally no place I can’t go and that makes writing about Ana-Darasa the fun ride it is.
Then, of course, there’s always the fact that with only male leads I can drool all I want without getting jealous of imaginary female partners whom I have to attribute in a way that they fit the males. In a certain way, M/M stories appeal to women because when they read about men only, they don’t have to think about any implications they might find disturbing in a F/M story. As a visitor at the Love Letter Convention pointed out: ‘When I read about two men having sex, I can relax and just enjoy the scene. I’m a feminist, so when I read about a heterosexual couple having sex, I often get angry about stereotypical sex scenes. When it’s two men, I don’t have that problem.’
As a writer, I realized I could totally relate to this point of view. Seriously writing about a relationship between men does have its own difficulties, but stereotypical gender traps ingrained by gender studies and political correctness are off that list. Which is liberating, to say the least.
I’m not saying that gender studies are not important, far from that, and I did my fair share of them. I’m just stating that thinking too much about all those possible implications can ruin an otherwise good read. People tend to use stereotypes as a way of classification because that gives them a sense of security. There are a lot of stereotypes about gay men out there as well and avoiding them is not always easy. Here the fantasy aspect comes in handy again, liberating me from creating scenarios where the rejection of a stereotype is plausible. In my world, virtually all of the characters are bisexual which allows for another treasure chest of plot twists and a very relaxed approach at stereotypes.
As you can see, I did a lot of thinking on a seemingly simple question and after I was done, I realized that all that pondering was a nice exercise but doesn’t change the facts.
I wrote Gods of War because Renaldo and Casto are two very interesting men who keep me on my toes all the time.
I do M/M because that’s how it turned out. It was not a deliberate decision. I didn’t go out, researched the book market and decided to write what could make me money (if I had done that, I would have probably written a thriller and even more probably failed; the story knows whether you truly love it or not).
I put a lot of energy and time in my writing and I do that because I really love telling stories and I can’t just leave my characters alone (I’m a bit of a mother hen in that respect).
When people read my book, I want them to have a wonderful time, to relax and escape reality for a few hours. If they get invested in the characters and feel with them, that makes me happy.
Telling and reading stories – what better way is there to spend your time?  

Meet the author:

Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she's not writing stories. She doesn't like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn't discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.

Promotional post. Materials provided by the author. 

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