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Ask An Author 3.0 #19



Well, well, well... This silly, overused introduction that sparks an uneasy feeling into weak hearts. Maybe I should add a slow-clap. Ehh, it's also overplayed. Anyway, I must say I'm proud of y'all. My tease of dropping Ask An Author into the fiery pits of Mount Doom encouraged some of you to ask questions. What I did not expect was the surge of comments from last month's altered edition. Some of you even messaged me, asking for more of the comment section-driven pandemonium. Further discussion with the blog-squad is needed, but for now, we have questions! 

@Tim Hobson joined us back in March 2022, and he's comin' in hot with a trilogy to start his Gay Authors adventure. 


Tales Along the Way
Tim Hobson

3 Stories / 140,622 Words / Rating: Mature / Status: All Complete

Tales Along the Way is a series of three novellas loosely inspired by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The Knight's Tale tells of Lord Henry Sandringham, a British nobleman who is a secret agent for MI6. He is sent to Tehran to rescue the son of the Foreign Minister, who faces a death penalty for being gay. The Priest's Tale follows the struggle of Father Peter Ruxton, a Catholic priest who can no longer toe the party line about gay men being loved by God but forbidden to have intimacy in their lives. The Squire’s Tale introduces us to Keiran Bronson, an 18-year old gay soccer star who goes on a graduation trip to Peru and is kidnapped.


I love the concept of three stories being told by each of three passengers who have just met on a long flight. How did you come up with the concept?

First, I have to confess that the trilogy was born at a time when I was trying very hard to find a publisher or to self-publish. I had started writing about Lord Henry, and I liked the story that was emerging, but I was finding it impossible to come up with enough material to make it a novel (i.e., in the neighborhood of 100K words). I concluded that the most I could get out of the story was a novella (25-50K words), and I pondered how I could make it “book-length.” I thought of a writing a collection linked together by some common theme, and the vehicle of something along the lines of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales immediately came to mind. Instead of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St Thomas à Becket, I needed a contemporary and “worldly” reason for travelers to be together for a longer period of time. And that reminded me of the longest flight I have ever been on—from Australia to NYC. I titled the first story in the trilogy, The Knight’s Tale, and that led me to come up with the other two.


Which tale was the hardest to write and why? Which was the easiest?

As I said in my apologia at the beginning of The Priest’s Tale, I have never been very successful at writing romance. I took online courses, joined a couple of writing groups, and struggled. I hesitated to include Peter’s story at all, but writing it forced me to work hard to come up with a passable romance. I agree it is the weakest of the three stories, but I’m not sorry I tried my hand at the genre. I don’t think I’ll ever do it again—I accept that it’s not my forté.

The Knight’s Tale was the first story I ever felt was good enough to publish (some of its predecessors were pretty awful). The characters intrigued me, the sexy parts were fun to write, and the adventure in a foreign land (which took a lot of meticulous research to get the details right) were all a real joy, so up to that point I would have said it was easy to write. Then I had to edit the damn thing, and I learned that the hard work only begins when the draft is solid, and you think it’s “almost ready”—not! I spent a lot of my career writing and editing technical articles, and I have to say editing fiction is ten times the work!

So, I give the prize to The Squire’s Tale. It was a genre I know and love to read, and I went in aware that the editing would be work, but knowing that fact in advance made it seem easier when the time came. And, perhaps, the editing became easier because I self-edited as I wrote, trying not to make the same mistakes I had made constantly in the first two stories (see the next answer for the gory details).


What is the area of writing that you feel you have grown/improved the most?

I cannot fail to mention the outstanding support of my beta reader / editor @kbois. She came on with Peter’s story, and really set me on the right path. I had trouble with showing versus telling, and her clear examples helped me a lot (I am slightly dyslexic and have to read something dozens of times before I fully understand it—if ever—but a picture or sample breaks through and I get it). Like many writers, my story plays like a movie in my mind, and in a film it’s always clear who’s speaking and when someone else speaks, but words on paper/screen don’t work like that—all of which is to say I had to learn to establish and maintain clear POVs, again with @kbois' help. Finally, I took an online course in writing erotica, and some “rules” were ingrained in me regarding sentence and paragraph length. I know it frustrated @kbois, as evidenced by her insistence that I combine short sentences, which my course instructor had claimed helped accelerate the pace and build excitement. I did so grudgingly at first but now can see the wisdom in her words. Again, this is now something that I consciously self-edit as I write those damn seven-word sentences!


What's next?

I have to say how thrilled I am to have found GA and been able to write for this audience. I never expected to make money publishing, but I thought it was the only outlet available to me as a writer. Writing for GA, and especially interacting with readers, is pure delight. I’m still new to this, and I plan to stretch my boundaries and go into areas and genres where I’ve never tried to write. By this I mean that I might go silent for a time, while I’m learning what I can and cannot do well (and I don’t intend to post anything that I’m not proud of). However, two new stories are bubbling in my creative cauldron:  one is a second adventure for Lord Henry and his friends, and the other is a gritty, noir crime drama set in San Jose, CA, where the main character (anti-hero?) is a gay police Detective Lieutenant—sort of a gay Columbo with a Joe Friday attitude and the intuition of Adrian Monk. 


Ooooohh! A gritty, gay noir! Sounds like a lovely read with a glass of bourbon and a cigar. I'll be keeping my eyes open for that. 

Another Ask An Author in the books, and there's another ready to go for next month. As I said up top, some of y'all were interested in the more public, comment-eccentric edition last month. Don't think it's going unnoticed. The blog staff is paying attention, but while we have a queue of questions for articles, we'll be keeping up with the ongoing format. Once the well dries up, I'll be dangling y'all by your toes over the volcano again.

Until next month, ta-ta!

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8 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Some great questions and answers. When I find time I'll try to give these a read.

I know what you mean about finding time. I swore I'd take the rest of the summer off before attempting to write anything more, but the damned ideas keeping popping into my head (and even my dreams), so I've started the detective story. In addition, there are three great authors I'm trying to catch up with, i.e., reading everything they've posted up to the present, so I'll have all the background for their latest stories. Add to that the usual summer interruptions - visits, vacation, getting ready for the next season - and I'm as busy as ever! Oh, well, I guess that's better than sitting on my ass with nothing to do.

sexy tom hiddleston GIF

Edited by Tim Hobson
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Thank you, astone2292 for asking me to answer these questions. It was fun, and it made me think about the process of writing these stories. I look forward to your next blog post!

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Jeezum... I meant to comment on this when it was posted and got totally sidetracked. 

It was a pleasure helping you out with this. I could see the improvements in your writing as the story progressed. I was never frustrated, but rather proud to see you taking my suggestions in a positive way. 

Good luck with the new story, it's funny how once an idea takes hold you just have to act on it. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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I hope you do find the time to read, and that you continue to enjoy my stories. My new series Wearing Green on Thursday is almost at the end of book One, "Coming of Age."

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