Hey everyone, today I (as Greer Thompson) am interviewing K.L. Noone, one of my fellow authors in the Coffee: Hot anthology! We talk about her adorable (and sexy!) story “One Mocha, with Enchantment,” about a man named Nate and his boyfriend Gavin, a retired god who runs a coffee shop, as well as consent between fictional characters, how she likes her coffee, and romantically-involved characters who actually like each other.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Anything you like, so feel free to range further afield than the general age, occupation, location stuff. Maybe in your past you ran off to the circus and trained performing pygmy goats?
A little bit about me…hmm, well, I was a lifeguard and swimming instructor for seven years; my PhD areas are fantasy fiction, medieval literature, and popular culture and adaptation studies; I sing along to Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” in the car; and I’ve published academic articles on all sorts of geekery, from Joss Whedon’s series Dollhouse to medieval references in World of Warcraft. How’s that?
How did you hear about the Coffee: Hot anthology? What made you want to write a story for it?
How did I hear about the anthology? A friend (a friend I know from fandom writing days, in fact) sent me the link and said, “This sounds like exactly the things you write!” And she was right.
Can you pitch your story for the readers? Every time I try I just devolve into “It’s so cute you guys everyone read it right now” and tug them towards the nearest e-reader, which isn’t a particularly effective summation.
Cute! I’ll take it. 🙂 I always hate writing summaries/synopses, I admit–it’s a certain kind of skill! Let’s see…it’s about things that happen in a relationship, really: the extraordinary in the mundane, and vice versa; the jump from ‘boyfriend’ to ‘moving in together;’ the ways people learn to live together (even when one of said people is magical and one is an artist), and commitment. Also coffee. Also erotica. That’s not really a good summary, is it? Um, established-relationship erotica-with-emotions, artist’s creative-block woes and sympathetic coffee-cups, and jokes about magical cows.
I loved that Gavin was specifically a *retired* deity. What in particular drew you to that idea? And what drew you to the Celtic pantheon in particular?
In reverse order: I’ve always liked playing with Celtic mythology (I’ve taught a course on it, in fact) and the absolutely bonkers joyful imagination of it–let’s write an epic about a cattle-raid! why not? and did you hear how Queen Medb used to reward her warriors?–and anyone who pokes around on Wiki a bit will find the god Goibniu and his Welsh counterpart Gofannon, which might tell you a bit about Gavin and his family. I’ve kind of blended traditions a bit, given the feast of immortality and the cow (very Irish) and (not that you explicitly get this in the story; it’s not necessary for this specific storyline, but it’s in the background) the Welsh counterpart’s having unknowingly killed his own nephew. Which is in part an answer to the rest of this question, about why he’d retire and walk away. The other part of that answer just has to do with the place of ancient gods in a new world, and where they go and what they do–we worship coffee these days, right? What better place for a god of hospitality? This probably owes something to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, of course, even if unconsciously so.
The world implied throughout this story seems like a lot of fun, with Gavin casually having irritated a thunder god the week before, to the descriptions of all the different sorts of gods and creatures that show up as the coffee shop’s clientele. Did you do a lot of this world building explicitly before you started writing, or did you just throw it in as it seemed appropriate? What sort of research did you do for the world building in this story? Is everything based off specific myths, or did you just take inspiration from the original myths?
As far as world-building…I didn’t do research specifically for this story, as such–I basically started out thinking, well, coffee-shops, what supernatural being would run a–? Which led me to the things that I teach and semesters of medieval Celtic literature in grad school, so I suppose I’ve spent years doing research, really! 🙂 But as far as writing I mostly just sat down and wrote–I tend to write dialogue first, and I knew who Gavin and Nate were when I opened the laptop. I went back and filled in some of the detail–the items hanging on the walls in the coffee-shop, say–after checking on a few elements, but mostly it was implicit world-building, not–I don’t want to say not deliberate, because everything in there has a purpose, but not pre-planned except in the sense that it’s very much what I study for a living. If that makes sense. Or you can say I just sit down and write words as they come to mind, which is pretty much true. Mostly they come out okay, I think.
The sex in your story (and the lead up to it) feels very natural, like just one more thing Gavin and Nate do to show their love to each other, with them continuing to banter and joke with each other even as they start to get hot and heavy. Is there anything in particular you did to craft that dynamic?
As far as sex scenes, I always think those have to come from the characters: this scene has to be about these two (or more, or whatever you like) people, wanting each other, being themselves with each other; you should never be able to suddenly replace them with any two random people and not change a word. (If you can, it’s not working.) And for this story especially I wanted it to be a real established relationship: they have shared jokes, they have routines, they genuinely like each other–which isn’t always the case in romances! It’s sexy (or I hope it is) because they find each other sexy, and they make each other smile. And have orgasms. Which is quite often important.
In relation to that, I noticed your characters do a lot of communication throughout their sexual encounter, making sure what they’re doing feels good and that they have consent. Many stories just sidestep this with implicit looks, or the narration reassuring the reader that yes, everything is fine and dandy. What went into making that explicit dialogue between the characters? Was it natural for them, did it feel important to you as a writer to include that, and/or something else entirely?
As far as communication and consent…well, for one thing, it’s always important! But why here, specifically–because, as you say, it’s something that gets brushed past a lot, and I think we’re all aware, in a post-50-Shades-of-Grey world, that in fact we need to emphasize the communication aspect more, not less. And given this particular relationship there’s always a little bit of concern: if you have one partner who’s literally a god, that’s a pretty big power imbalance. Though in this case Gavin probably worries more about that, given his backstory, than Nate does.
I will also give credit to my experience as a writer of published D/s romance (where consent is absolutely mandatory and a part of the love and honesty suffusing the scene), and also my experience as a fandom writer (about which I am not ashamed–it’s a brilliant creative space) and the massive and wonderful conversations and concern for warnings and tags and thoughtful discussion of consent that goes on around the creation of fanfic. I’d say both of those elements have made me much more thoughtful in turn, as a writer.
Are we going to see more of Gavin and Nate in the future? I adored their dynamic, and squeed when the story ended on a high note. I’d love to read more!
Is there more for them? Um, not…at the moment, let’s say. I know it’s a story that works when I have tons of bonus headcanon and detail about the characters that never makes it into the story, which is definitely true here. For one thing, this story ends with them agreeing to move in together. Imagine the shenanigans. Imagine all the sketchbooks scattered around everyplace, and jeans next to golden elfin robes in the closet (the robes are from that time they went to an Underhill party; the jeans are Gavin’s because he’s still a fan of the more rock-star nineteen-eighties look, obviously). Imagine Nate not actually having very much to move in because he got used to not having much, after his father threw him out, and the scene in which Gavin looks at those few boxes and suddenly feels sort of helplessly guilty about vanishing all of Nate’s clothes. Imagine the consolation sex. But I don’t know if there’s a place to send that story for publication, anyway, as a sequel; and it would be mostly self-indulgent adorable fluff. Do people want to read the self-indulgent fluff? Would you? 🙂 [I would! — Greer]
I mean, I’ve got the world set up and would happily play in it; but then there’s also this other new half-written story over here, that opens with this line… “Kyle Raines, glancing out the kitchen window at six minutes past three on a Thursday afternoon, saw the musician coming up the lane, and felt his heart flutter.”
How do you like your coffee? How about your tea?
As far as coffee, I like mine disgustingly sweet and flavored with flavors that make it not taste like coffee: raspberry, hazelnut, peppermint, blueberry, chocolate… I have a Starbucks membership card that earns bonus stars, as does my husband. It has been quite helpful for grad school and teaching. I also have a lot of tea at home–everything from Earl Grey to pineapple hibiscus to chocolate chai! I like interesting flavors. 🙂
Where can readers find your other work? Where can they get in touch with you?
As far as finding my other work, or messaging me, I am on tumblr over here: http://thekrisnoone.tumblr.com/ or on twitter as @KristinNoone, and this post has links to most of my stuff (not all the academic articles, of course): http://thekrisnoone.tumblr.com/post/125853929266/
Anything else you’d like to add before we sign off here?
Any last words… I’m excited to be a part of this anthology, full of such lovely creative authors and diverse voices! *waves hi to everyone*