Love Bytes says hello and welcome to author Marek Moran joining us today to talk about his first release “The Sparky”.
Welcome Marek 🙂
Aaron’s been living in what his friend Howie calls a sexual desert. But an oasis appears on the horizon when Paul, a divorced electrician with a five-year-old daughter named Sam, moves in next door. He’s a country boy from northern Australia, and although he’s never been with a guy before, he has an impression that anything goes in the city. They find that the ordinary things in life—books, footie in the park, looking after Sam—lead them into an unlikely relationship.
But as their relationship slowly deepens, with Aaron spending time on Paul’s family’s cattle station, it becomes clear that Paul might have a harder time leaving the country behind. To him, happiness means a conventional life—including a mother for Sam. Being with his old friends convinces him he’s on the wrong path with Aaron, and he starts a relationship with a girl from his hometown. If he cannot find the courage to go after what he truly needs, he and Aaron will become nothing more than awkward neighbours.
Writing Style and Character Realism
Hunter lowered the gun: they were finally safe, now that he’d made his thousandth career kill. Then he caught his breath at the wanton look Nick directed at him. ‘Are you ready for this?’ Hunter growled, gesturing to his mammoth arousal. ‘Yeah, you’re ready for this. But first I’d like us to process how you hurt me by flirting with James even after you said you love me.’ A tear glinted in Hunter’s eye.
Nick drew a shuddering breath. ‘Hunter, I haven’t told you—I have an evil twin. He held me captive, and pretended to be me, flirting with James and … Hunter, I’m so sorry you thought …’. The tears rolled down his cheeks.
Hunter’s emotions roiled through his body. He now knew that the purity of their love remained untainted. His heart throbbed. So did his enormous erection.
If you read the blurb at the start, you’ll realise that this snippet of dialogue isn’t from my book. Really. I promise. I was having an email conversation with author Dal Maclean—it started with a fan letter I sent her—and I wrote the above dialogue as a jokey part of our discussion about having psychologically realistic characters. Having psychologically realistic characters is something I really aim for, but I don’t know how to actually characterise what makes for psychological realism, although I’ve read a couple of interesting posts on it. I’m a first-time author, not a critic: “I know it when I see it”, as US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart put it, although he was talking about spotting porn in movies. I can really only characterise it by looking at examples and saying, Yes, this one’s great; No, this one isn’t. I wrote the above as an example of something that isn’t (as well as being an example of many other bad things—you can probably imagine, even with only three brief paragraphs, what an appalling plot it would be).
On the other side, I thought I’d list a few M/M authors who I think have done some great characterisation, so you, dear Reader, can get feel for what I think counts, and consequently whether you might like my writing. I make no claims that my writing is actually like any of these authors’. And this is by no means a list of all authors of romance I like. (I could do a whole other series of posts on Jane Austen, E. M. Forster, Mary Renault and Georgette Heyer.) But here goes.
- Josh Lanyon. If you’re already reading M/M romance, you’ve probably read one of her books. For a well-known instance, the Adrien English books have a great couple of main characters, so different from each other but both appealing and believable.
- Harper Fox. Also prolific, she writes historical and fantastic fiction as well. Favourites (maybe, hard to say for sure): Life After Joe, Scrap Metal.
- Aleksandr Voinov. Return on Investment is really unlike other M/M romance I’ve read: it’s longer, it has lots of detail about the non-romance aspects (like finance), and main character Martin is so imperfect but still likeable; and it all works. Voinov also does good WWII stories.
- Eli Easton. A Second Harvest is a very nice romance with a rural setting. Mine’s very different though, really. Easton’s also written fun shifter stories.
- JL Merrow. She’s so funny! I’d like to be that funny one day.
- Ginn Hale. Writer of speculative fiction, like the Rifter series. In both SF and M/M romance it’s easy to have characters become cardboard cutouts, especially when they have world-shattering powers, but the two main characters of the Rifter series manage to be both fantastic and human at the same time.
- Dal Maclean. First-time author last year, of Bitter Legacy. Full of surprising turns, both in the thriller strand of the plot, and in the romance one.
This time Paul sits in Sam’s beanbag, on the floor in front of me. We’ve watched about an hour of the movie, when his head rests on my leg. So there are a couple of possibilities here. The first is that this is what a guy in the closet might do. Especially after the footie incident. It’s the kind of thing ex-boyfriend Trent did, the seemingly accidental bumps and touches from a supposed straight guy until I figured it out—we were young then, and clueless. Since then I’ve only been with guys who are out—serious Alexander and artistic Leo for two years each, crazy Gunther for a European working holiday romance of five months—so this is mostly outside my recent experience.
He hasn’t moved while I’ve been considering this. And then his breathing starts turning to snores. Faint at first, the sound of a lip flap with each exhalation, then louder. That was the other possibility, which turns out to be the case without the necessity of further speculation by me: the sun, fresh air, and beer that had me dozing earlier, working on someone who usually goes to bed early anyway.
I sit there and keep watching the movie. He moves a couple of times, but doesn’t fundamentally shift. My hands itch to run over his head, but I think to myself, That’s creepy. It was justifiable in the fumbling relationship beginnings with Trent. I can look back at my younger self and not judge it too harshly, but now—terrible idea. Plus it would really get me hard. His hair’s just the right length that brushing it at the back, up and down, with and then against the direction of growth, would go straight to my dick.
And I think to myself, What kind of a sad individual have I become to be thinking this? I acknowledge now that I like him more than I expected, that the liking has snuck up on me. But that doesn’t justify my thoughts.
I suddenly have an image in my head from the movie Maurice. That’s the movie where the quote came from about the unspeakable vice of the Greeks, I remember. The image is of Maurice the city professional with the gamekeeper Scudder in the boatshed, at the beginning of their implausible romance. I wonder if it’s been bubbling away in my subconscious, and somehow started this ridiculous speculation of mine. Paul as Scudder.
I can live in the desert, I remind myself. I’m made for it.
The movie ends, and I move my leg so that Paul’s head falls. He jerks up suddenly.
“Is it finished?” he asks, not sounding entirely with it.
“Yep. I think you fell asleep.”
“Yeah, that happens. Sorry. Dull for you.”
“No worries. I like it when guys fall asleep on me.” Shit. Why did I say that? Just after I’d finished excoriating myself. It’s the sort of thing I’d say to Axel or Howie, but I really shouldn’t here. Still, he laughs. “On that note, I’ll see myself out. G’night.”
Marek Moran is, in his day job, a computer science professor. If you want to know about shortest path graph algorithms, he’s your man. However, that’s probably not why you’re reading this. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia, and has previously lived in France, Germany and the US, enjoying travelling around and listening to people talk: he’s learnt to respond to enquiries after his wellbeing with a ça va merci, sehr gut danke or copacetic, thanks.
The only member of his book club to like George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, he’s discovered that he enjoys writing romance as well as reading it; the other members of his book club don’t yet know this. He plays piano, squash, and his cards close to his chest. The Sparky is his first novel.