Monday, June 17, 2013

Manlove in the time of S. Patrick by Erin O'Quinn @dawnofireland @KMNbooks #Manlove

KAREN: Erin O'Quinn pens m/f steamy romances and erotic m/m historical tales where her fascination with the  Gaelic tongue, is reflected in many of her novels. She's here today with a behind the scene look at her series: The Iron Warrior. Let's give her a warm welcome! Take it away Erin!

ERIN: Thank you very much, Karen Nutt, for allowing me to share your lovely site. I’ll give you a short bio and then draw your attention to a couple of historical manlove novels that I wrote for Siren last year.

I  was born almost literally on the side of a mountain in Nevada and was hauled kicking and screaming into  the nearest town, fifty miles away, to attend first grade. To this day, I feel kindergarten-deprived.

I earned a few degrees from the University of So. California, but my real education began on the back docks of the Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal newspaper, and on the good-old-boy car lots in Abilene, Texas where I sold Chryslers and used cars.

I live outside a tiny town in central Texas, far from any locale I’ve ever written about.  But I’m blessed with a rich imagination!

If I had spare time, I’d spend it in a weed-tangled yard playing with my curmudgeonly cats. But nay, I spend most of the time in front of an iMac keyboard writing, writing, writing. Novels, short stories, blog articles, FB posts, and more.

I guess I’m  a changeable kind of person. One day I’m writing young adult history/fantasy, the next day mainstream romance, the day after that gay lit. But one pursuit is strong and clear: the dedication to writing novels, both historical and contemporary.

The following discussion is based on these two books:

 Find both on Siren Bookstrand along with two 5* reviews.

Manlove in the time of St. Patrick 
by Erin O'Quinn

As Erin O'Quinn, I have gained some recognition as a writer of M/F historical romances published by Siren Bookstrand, set in the Ireland of St Patrick.

Now, with the publication of two novels in the Iron Warrior Series, my romances have taken a dramatic turn—away from the traditional, even expected coupling of men and women and to the outright passion of two men for each other.

The M/F novels have followed a logical progression, from the time in ca. 432 AD when Caylith lands with a group of 300 immigrants in the area of present-day Belfast, to their migration to Armagh and the Hill of Macha where St. Patrick has established his ministry. From Armagh, the immigrants from Britannia make their way to Derry, where Caylith has been ceded land by the High King.

All the while my Dawn of Ireland novels track the immigrants, the characters Gristle and Wynn are on the periphery, sometimes coming into Caylith's focus and other times receding.

Forty year-old Gristle is Caylith's armsman, a professional ex-Roman soldier and former guerilla-style fighter who served a Welsh lord. Wynn is a man half his age, a pony trainer who once had the raw beginnings of a romantic relationship with Caylith. As soon as  readers pick up the first series novel Warrior, Ride Hard, they will see that these two characters have been close to Caylith all along. And they will see that during most of the time period covered by those books, the two men have been living together in a homoerotic relationship. For readers of the trilogy, this may come as a shock. Who'd have thought it?

The first question a reader might ask is this: Is it possible that two gay men could live together and establish a complex relationship in the context of the culture and beliefs of the time?

The short answer is yes. The centuries-old Brehon law did not proscribe gay relationships. In fact, the harshest "punishment" I have found for homosexuality is that a married woman who discovers that her husband is gay may be granted an automatic divorce. The law is silent on any other aspect of homosexuality.

Now, 1500 years later, we will never really know how people felt about the "morality" or propriety of gay relationships. I suspect that they were understood, tolerated, probably even largely ignored. He who sired no children did not enlarge his cenél, his extended clan. That left more property and cattle for the others.

And so all the while Caylith and her immigrants are having their own adventures, these two lovers discover each other, come together, and slowly begin to feel a deep emotional attachment to each other—all in the context of sometimes humorous, sometimes grim adventures in the beautiful yet dangerous environment of Old World Ireland.

Warrior, Ride Hard is not just the story of Gristle and Wynn. It is also the story of Gristle and a lost love—Tristus, the runaway whose parents have been killed by Picts. This is a man whom the Roman soldier Gristle met ten years prior to the present story. He disappeared from his watch one night, instilling an immutable sorrow in Gristle's deep subconscious. The story, then, revolves around the complex relationship among these three men.

Warrior, Stand Tall is more straightforward in its adventures, yet more complex in the conflicts between Gristle and Wynn. The younger man feels shame over a possible violation by two immoral druids. Not voicing his inner turmoil, he allows it to come between him and his lover. Gristle, meanwhile, is plagued by deep jealousies and by a heartfelt fear of the goddess Fortuna—she whose wheel revolves, changing good luck to bad and happiness to despair.

All the while exploring the psychological barriers and conflicts of Gristle and Wynn, the books take a reader from St. Patrick’s famous monastery at Armagh, north to the settlement called Derry, then to the famous hill of Tara, home of Ireland’s high king.

In all, the two novels explore old world Britannia near Hadrian’s Wall; Wales and its Cairn Mountains;  and northern Ireland as the adventures take the characters to places both achingly beautiful and rife with peril.

In a rare interlude from the dangers around them, Gristle and Wynn take a side trip into Wales’ Cairn mountains in search of wild ponies.  

Here is an excerpt from that section of Warrior, Stand Tall:

They did not wait for dawn, and they did not build a fire. Both men saddled their horses by touch alone, and Wynn tied two loops of rope behind the saddle of his palomino. Last night he had selected a four-foot, limber birch branch. Now he fixed it behind the saddle and mounted the stallion.

Without a word, they guided their horses around one side of the rocky summit toward the east face where the rising sun might catch a pony trembling in the new day. Wynn noticed that Gristle was letting him take the lead, as though quietly asking to be taught. He grinned at the notion of the trainer allowing himself to be trained.

Wynn would not allow his horse to walk quickly. Only the hooves of a mountain pony would find safe purchase in the sliding, treacherous rocks. By now, a wan light had caused the stars to disappear, showing the coarse ground under their horses’ hooves.

After about ten minutes, both riders stopped on a high, flat outcropping. The eastern horizon had become a saffron-pink, and tendrils of blushing clouds spread and raced in the direction of the wind. 
Wynn sat erect, his ears tuned to the slightest sound of falling rock or the breathy whffle of an excited pony.

And then he heard a familiar snort and whinny, the kind he had heard every morning for three years on Marrie’s wooded estate. He raised his hand and pointed so that Gristle could look in the same direction as the sound.

A shallow canyon lay about thirty feet to their right and perhaps twenty feet below the spot their horses were standing. Wynn stroked the palomino’s neck, reassuring him with his touch, knowing that his stallion had sensed them, too. He hoped there were no ready mares among the ponies. Otherwise, the palomino would be worse than useless—he would probably destroy their chances of snaring their prey.

He rode his horse closer to Gristle and spoke in a low voice. “The days grow longer. A mare may be in season. We need to find a place to tether our horses.”

Gristle waved his hand briefly to let him know he understood. Wynn directed his horse slowly off the outcropping and into a little copse of stripling pines whose deep roots, along with the hungry roots of the alpine flowers, had somehow taken hold in this place of stone. They tethered their stallions. Wynn handed Gristle one of the rope loops. He seized the second rope in one hand and the slender birch limb in the other. Together, they walked on feet of shadows into the canyon.

Wynn motioned Gristle to a standstill and surveyed the scene below. There were five ponies just twenty feet away. Two were standing on the canyon rim, and three were browsing the ground cover in the rocky trench.

Wynn’s eyes felt the sudden sting of salty tears. The ponies, sleek and spirited, had probably never smelled or laid eyes on a man. They were calm and confident, not knowing what danger lay in the hands of two crafty hunters.

KAREN: Erin, thank you for joining us today and sharing a behind the scene look at The Iron Warrior series. I wish you the very best with your books! 

You can find Erin O'Quinn at:

Erin’s Blogs:  Gaelic Spirit   The Man in Romance  
MM: Gaslight Mysteries:
Erin’s Historical Romances: SirenBookstrand

Including The Iron Warrior (MM) series
Erin’s Contemporary MM Romances:
FB  Erotica Writers & Readers group founder. You’re invited to apply.


Erin OQuinn said... Best Blogger Tips

Karen, I'm thrilled to be here on this exciting site!

My historicals are known as much for their treatment of history and the land as they are for their blistering look at homoerotic warriors. I hope readers will find something in the Iron Warrior novels both to entertain and to inform.

Questions? I'd love to answer any your readers may have. Enjoy!

Lindsay Townsend said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful blog, Karen! Erin, I love your Irish stories and the way you capture wilderness in your work. Kudos to you!

Erin OQuinn said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Lindsay,

Thanks for stopping by! I'm one of your biggest fans, as you know, so I'm thrilled that you took the time to visit today.

Yes, the wiilderness calls to me even now, after a lifetime, having grown up in some pretty out of the way places. Call them the boonies and be done with it!


Glynis said... Best Blogger Tips

What a fascinating post. Interesting.
Glynis Smy: Author

Miriam Newman said... Best Blogger Tips

This is a new take on love in the long-ago ages, very different and poetic.

Erin OQuinn said... Best Blogger Tips


Good morning Glynis,

Glad you like my post, and thanks for stopping by.


Erin OQuinn said... Best Blogger Tips

Dear Miriam,

I have to chuckle at the words "new take," but yes—'tis the old urge, but a new set of lovers. Still, those lovers have really interesting personalities and adventures, both separately and together.

You grace the page. Thank you for visiting.


Morgann Peters said... Best Blogger Tips

Such a beautiful blog, a perfect backdrop for Erin's wonderful writing. I've a question, actually - while writers are often asked it and it's probably boring, I'm going to go ahead and ask it anyway - re: the idea of Gristle and Wynn interacting so closely with Caylith - did you INTEND for these things to happen, or did they just sort of ... occur as you were writing the Twilight Magic saga? (I'm fairly sure that's the one which came second; I remember seeing your Iron Warrior series on your pages when I first met you, did I not?) If you did not intend it, how did you feel about the characters pulling such a thing on you? Loved the interview, love this blog. Beautiful stuff.

Erin OQuinn said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Mo,

Your question is a little bit complex. First, most readers don't know that I created a four-part saga based on the character of Caylith, Gristle's student/armsman. Those were/are YA historical fantasies.

The idea that Gristle was gay did not come to me when I was writing the YA books. But later, looking back on both him and Wynn, I could see that both characters were clamoring to be pulled away from the redheaded hellion and to have their own lives.

Mind you, I didn't know this until I was completely through with the YA quadrology and the entire romance trilogy. And then it struck me that there was a reason why good-looking, personable Wynn ran away from Caylith. And why Gristle spent so much time in his hide-away in the woods. And why Wynn sought to become a student of the grim-jawed trainer.

That's how characters can sometimes reach in and slap a writer upside the head.

Great question! xErin

Morgann Peters said... Best Blogger Tips

@Erin OQuinn

And a great answer, to boot! Awesome stuff. :)

Erin OQuinn said... Best Blogger Tips

@Morgann Peters

Your reply gives me a chance to correct a sentence: Gristle was Caylith's armsman and trainer. She "used" him and also trained under him . . . quite a dichotomy that of course rankled the independent Caylith and gave Gristle a few moments of inner satisfaction.

But those two characters were truly saved from the scrap heap, all because I must have been channeling them and heard their cries. In those days, a gay man would not come out of the closet, but out of the clay and wattle hut. :)

Erin OQuinn said... Best Blogger Tips

Before my time is up on this lovely site, I want to thank Karen Nutt for her kindness in letting me post my article and excerpt.

I got a huge pleasure in being here, Karen. I hope we can do this again, perhaps for my retro ((roaring 20s) historical novels.

Best of luck to you, and to these marvelous readers who took the time to visit. All hail! And farewell,


Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips


It was a pleasure having you here. I would love to have you come back and share a sneak peek at your retro ((roaring 20s) historical tales. :)

Best of luck to you!!