Oh My Shelves welcomes author Tali Spencer to the blog with the release of her latest book in the Pride of Uttor series, Victory Portrait and she gratefully answers a few of our questions.
* * * * * *
OMS: Hi Tali, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
TS: Thanks so much for having me visit! I’ve got my cup of coffee here and will answer any question (including any in comments)!
OMS: Tell us about your book.
TS: Victory Portrait is an alternate world fantasy, a world much like Earth but with differences in history and culture. Peta’s family used to rule Sebboy, now a conquered kingdom, and he lives in Uttor as an imperial captive. The one thing he’s always wanted, but has never managed to do, is meet the famous general who conquered his country: Darius Arrento. In this book he does. And he falls in love. And Darius, war-hardened and in some ways bitter, finds Peta a breath of fresh air. He thinks Peta is an artist’s slave and he wants to possess him for himself.
OMS: How difficult was it to get into the main character’s head?
TS: Darius can be a handful. I did best when I channeled my inner grump—I NEVER allow my inner grump out to play—and gave him time with other characters, like Gaspar, the emperor, who is his best friend. Darius doesn’t get grumpy with Peta, except once, because Peta brings out his generous, patient side, the side that wants to nurture and protect. Darius needed someone to be grumpy with, so the other characters gave him ample reason.
OMS: Is this book a standalone or do you plan on visiting it again?
TS: I try to write every book, even in a series, so readers can enjoy it and understand events without having to read the other books. This is especially true with this series, which has two books that are M/F and two that are M/M. The next will be menage. These characters have appeared, and will appear again, in other books, but only this one focuses on their story.
OMS: Why did you choose to write M/M stories?
TS: Even in M/F stories I am drawn to the hero, and I enjoy writing men’s stories. Exploring the relationships between people, including sexual relationships, fascinates me. In an epic fantasy I was writing, two characters simply appeared one day and told me they were a couple. I soon discovered they had a lusty sex life and troubled history within the world I had created, a history and relationships (including with each other) I wanted to explore. After writing their story, I realized I wanted to write more stories like that. So I ventured into M/M.
OMS: Where do you find your inspiration?
TS: I’m not sure where my inspiration comes from. An image can spark a whole empire, as happened with Victory Portrait. Though the fourth book to be published, it was the first to be conceived. Real life also inspires me. I have three strapping sons and two even more strapping brothers. I love to travel, and those locations breed story possibilities. Events from my life have led to what became original characters and novels. Ancient history, mythology, and a lifetime of reading speculative fiction also lead to story ideas. Same with dreams; one of my stories came from a dream I had a few years ago.
“You want me to assist the painter. Only that?” Peta asked.
“Yes. I just want you to understand you will be naked and…Brazzi will want you to be sexually aroused.”
“It’s what Brazzi does. Not for himself—not unless you’re a woman—but for his method. He was tried three years ago on charges of obscenity because he uses…sexual fluids for mixing his paint. He truly is a genius. His colors are astonishing.”
“No.” Gaspar was being firm. “I want a portrait of my general. And I happen to think that the sight of you will keep his ass firmly planted for whatever sittings the painter requires. You see, Darius has one weakness—only one. He cannot resist a thing of beauty—and you, my pretty slave, are the most breathtaking young man I have ever had the privilege to look upon.”
Peta flushed. Gaspar wasn’t smiling. The man was serious.
Could he do it? Did he want to do it? Peta knew he was pretty. His looks had blessed and cursed him all his life. His beauty had attracted Kesme as a fellow cadet and was what Kesme had praised that last night when they’d made love…and Peta’s face was what Lukacz, his own father, had sought to destroy, thinking that doing so would release him from predation and unnatural desires. And now Gaspar, too, wanted only one thing…
“Just sit there and look pretty,” he said, heart sinking as he grasped what Gaspar was asking him to do.
“Only if you’re willing. I’m not completely oblivious to what this sort of service might entail. It could be rather…awkward. On the other hand, it might not be for long. Darius can be stubborn. It’s possible he won’t show up.”
And just as possible that he would.
Peta wanted to say no but he could not get his mouth to form the word. He might never get another chance to see Arrento, perhaps hear his voice. Be in the same room with him.
He’d be silent…naked…terribly exposed even in his utter worship.
But he would at least be able to say he had seen the great man.
“I’ll do it,” he said.
Victory Portrait by Tali Spencer
Series: Pride of Uttor, Book Four
Release Date: April 6, 2016
Pages: 244 • Cover Artist: Melody Pond
Published By: Resplendence Publishing
Resplendence • Amazon • ARe
Imperial captive and former Sebboyan prince Peta Kordeun has one great wish: to meet Darius Arrento, conqueror of his country and a man he has idolized since childhood. That wish comes true the day the Uttoran emperor assigns Peta to assist the artist who will be painting the great general’s official portrait.
General Darius Arrento would rather take a crossbow bolt through his flesh than sit for a portrait, until his friend the emperor forces his hand. The notorious artist, Brazzi, uses semen and other sexual fluids to bind his colors—and Arrento is captivated by the artist’s pretty helper. Before long he is driven to possess the gorgeous young man who draws battle maps and whose naïve charm has won more hearts in Uttor than Arrento has won battles.
When Arrento learns that Peta, the slave he covets and wants for his own, is one of the despised Kordeun princes, he storms from Uttor toward a far corner of the empire—where he quickly finds himself embroiled in a plot to tear Uttor’s empire apart. His emotions and loyalties frayed, the great Arrento is in the battle of his life…and Peta may hold the key to his survival.
Tour Dates & Stops:
18-Apr: Prism Book Alliance
19-Apr: Decadent Delights
21-Apr: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
22-Apr: Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
26-Apr: BFD Book Blog
27-Apr: My Fiction Nook
29-Apr: Oh My Shelves
4-May: Alpha Book Club
6-May: Molly Lolly
9-May: A.M. Leibowitz
10-May: Divine Magazine