Happy Friday 13th! Today, it is my pleasure to host M. Crane Hana, artist and author of gritty science fiction, fantasy, and erotic romance. She’s here introducing herself and talking about her contemporary menage novella, Maestro, which is available now from NineStar Press.
Before we get to the interview, here’s a little bit more about Maestro.
Over the last ten years, gay and happily married Leo has helped manage a large, influential nonprofit arts foundation. He has a distant but friendly rapport with the elderly billionaire who began it, in an age of different social customs. Everyone in the foundation has heard about the morality clause buried in the employment and grants contracts…but the clause has never been used against anyone.
Leo’s birthday is February 13, which has always meant candles on heart-shaped cupcakes and birthday cards with ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ crossed out. To celebrate properly, Leo’s mystery writer husband Andrew arranges a single tryst for Leo with Mel, a gifted violinist who is one of Andrew’s biggest fans.
What started as mere pleasure becomes a three-part harmony as Leo, Andrew, and Mel privately explore their deepening relationship.
Until Mel is outed by paparazzi, and enemies within Leo’s foundation attempt to use the morality clause to force Leo out. Leo’s only way around them is to go right to the top, and argue for his job, his men, and the foundation’s soul.
TSC: Now let’s hear from M. Crane Hana. Please tell us a little about yourself.
MCH: I’m an artist and writer based in the American Southwest.
TSC: What made you choose to write in the MM genre?
MCH: I’ve been writing M/M fanfiction since the early nineties, and original fiction with M/M themes even longer. For about 10 years I was in a phase where I felt actively ‘allergic’ to M/F fiction, but I’ve swung back to a more ‘pan’ enjoyment. For me, it’s not the gender of the character but the depth of the relationship. Plot is my foreplay.
TSC: I see similarities abound. What is the most taboo thing you’ve ever written?
MCH: Probably the scene in an original fantasy story where a human male encourages his best friend, a lionlike alien shapeshifter, to mount him in nonhuman form. This was about 25 years before wolf-shifter novels and Chuck Tingle became a Thing.
TSC: Interestingly enough, that sounds like something I would really enjoy reading. How far have you gone in the name of research? (For example: Participated in a BDSM scene to get the details right; Traveled to a remote location; Reenacted scenes from your manuscript with a S/O)
MCH: Hmm. I have done research on stories and situations, but nothing that I can legally talk about in the open.
TSC: Maybe you can shoot me a private message. I’m curious now. *wink* What does your daily writing schedule look like? Do you plan when you write or do you write when the mood arises?
MCH: I work 10 hours a day at a non-fiction writing job I love, so I have to write scenes in my head during down-times. When I do have chances to write, I try to jump straight into it. Writing is a job…I can’t waffle about waiting for the right ‘mood’, so I ‘make the mood’ with some handy psych tricks that take me back into emotional involvement with my story.
TSC: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
MCH: Don’t worry about writing something awful, because nearly all first drafts will have some faults. Revision is your friend.
TSC: So true. Lastly, what can we expect from you in the future?
MCH: I’ll be writing some novella sequels to my contemporary M/M/M erotic romance menage Maestro in the next year, and I’m shopping the first book in a M/M/F fantasy romance series to literary agents and publishers right now.
TSC: Sounds great! Also, good luck with finding an agent/publisher. Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you today! Now, here is an excerpt from Maestro.
Excerpt: Half an hour later, above the din of subway crowds and canned music, Leo heard a thread of sound so lovely and incongruous he stopped in the turnstile. Somewhere out on the platform amid the echoing tiles and concrete, someone attempted Gershwin. On a violin. Rather well. From only a few bars, Leo placed Porgy and Bess.
“Sir? Are you okay?” said one voice among the stalled commuters behind him.
Then another: “Get moving, man. We don’t got all morning!”
Leo risked some nastier comments when he backed out of the line. He “accidentally” rapped the angriest of the commenters with his briefcase on the way. Once free, he stopped caring about the subway, his job, and the meeting. Only the music mattered, as it shifted into “Rhapsody in Blue” before he rounded a corner.
A broad-shouldered young man in worn khakis and a tan flannel shirt made love to a violin. Rapt, swept up in a world of his own, the violinist paid little attention to the commuters hurrying along. The black vinyl instrument case lay open at his feet, its scarlet lining forlornly framing a few scattered one-dollar bills.
Leo felt insulted on his behalf. Then he looked beyond the young man’s beautiful hands to his face.
Freckled ivory skin. Short red-gold curls brushing against a clean-shaven square jaw. A full mouth currently set in concentration and such long copper eyelashes, fluttering half-closed in musical ecstasy! Leo had seen the man before, but couldn’t place where or when.
The violinist lifted his chin and stared right at Leo, through him, seeing only the music. Until Leo moved, and the other man’s pale blue-green gaze went from Leo’s face to the scarf draped around Leo’s shoulders. One note, not quite missed, revealed the violinist’s sudden intake of breath. Then he smiled hesitantly over the last bars of “Rhapsody.”
Leo recognized the violinist’s incongruous tie, the fall of ice-blue silk jacquard woven in the same crystalline Art Deco pattern bordering the scarf. Andrew had commissioned them together, two ties and two scarves, matching a motif they’d both loved since honeymooning in Barcelona. It wasn’t likely the old haberdasher had made a duplicate set since then.
So, Andrew gave the boy his tie? Leo shuffled through possibilities, settled on “they already know each other,” and waited for a sick jolt of jealousy to claw up his spine. He and Andrew, they’d had their rough patches early on. What couple hadn’t? Instead, low heat settled in Leo’s belly, as he thought of his husband and this young man together.
Where the hell did that come from? He’d known about Andrew’s rare, careful trysts. A one-man guy, Leo had never wanted to be involved in them before.
The redhead was something special, and oh, that music! No wonder Andrew had been frisky. Andrew’s recovering libido was a gift Leo wanted to experience over and over, whatever the cause.
He could so clearly imagine his husband and this milky-skinned musician, twined together in bed. God, yes. If it had already happened, good for them. If it hadn’t, it needed to happen. Preferably with Leo in the room. Hell, in the bed, please.
That image made Leo’s cock throb almost instantly. When he shifted on his feet, a damp spot dragged along the front of his knitted silk briefs. The fabric rubbed him in almost the right way. He swallowed and forced himself to fall back into the music. God, he might come like this, standing clothed on a subway platform in public! Leo swallowed, trying to throttle down this new, overwhelming need.
Train cars emptied, a few more people paused for a moment or three, but the latest crowd didn’t break ranks in their march toward the subway exits. Finally, Leo and the violinist were alone on the platform.
After one final trill of music, the redhead lifted his bow from the strings. “Mr. Leo Ellson?” he asked in a Northern Irish lilt, before swallowing. The nervous movement did wonderful things to the long column of his throat.
Leo stepped closer as he surfaced from music and sensual hunger. Perhaps Andrew had fucked the guy, but Leo was certain those two had followed the basics of common sense and medical safety. Andrew liked the rougher edges of sex. But even he wasn’t stupid enough to bareback a stranger.
Or were they strangers? How long had this little arrangement been going on? And why bring Leo in on it now? Andrew knew a lot of very strange, compelling people. For the first six years of their relationship, Leo’s intermittent jealousy had met Andrew’s promises of emotional fidelity. In the end, he had to trust Andrew. That if he gave the man away, Andrew would always come back with a renewed hunger for Leo.
Figures, Leo thought. Only two years married, no trysts for four years, and now my husband is having an affair?
Leo eyed the violinist for telltale bulges of gun or Taser in those battered tan pants. The man could have lied to Andrew, could have accomplices waiting nearby. Leo wasn’t that important or wealthy, one functionary of a respected global arts foundation. But his face and Andrew’s were known. Leo put back his shoulders to get at least the illusion of height and command. “Who are you, and why are you wearing my husband’s tie?”
The violinist swallowed again, his beautiful face tight with obvious anxiety. “He loaned it to me, Mr. Ellson. So you’d know.”
The world shrank to just the two of them, alone in a noisy river of uncurious humanity. “I’m your birthday present,” said the violinist as a blush crept across his freckled cheeks. “Ah, Andrew Ellson hired me to play for you. The violin, that is—”
Leo suddenly recalculated his entire morning. “So keep playing, Irish,” he quipped, mostly to hide conflicting surges of guilt and lust.
Being watched by a slim, put-together blond in a thousand-dollar suit made no real difference in Irish’s music. Perhaps if the young man paid more attention to him, Leo could believe he or Andrew inspired some of the magic weaving and sparking along the strings. But no, as soon as Irish launched into Leo’s favorite Vivaldi, the violinist was gone again, dreamy eyed and distant. Andrew had that exact look when chapters cooperated.
Leo’s own interest transmuted into something higher, almost more powerful than mere desire, helped along by the music. He didn’t want to climax on the damn subway platform. Or waste the slow-building thrill of this musical foreplay. And maybe Irish felt the same way?
Leo thought: What am I doing? I never do this sort of thing. Then: Andrew sanctioned this. This is for me.
And oh, he wanted it.
Guys, Maestro is available now at NineStar Press.
Connect with M. Crane Hana: Website
Thanks for dropping by! Until next time,