Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L.A. Witt/Aleksandr Voinov blog tour for the latest installment in the Market Garden series, On the Clock!
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one eBook off each of our backlists (excluding On the Clock) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 18th, and winners will be announced on July 19th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Please include your email so we can contact you if you win!
TNA: Welcome to TNA, L.A. and Aleksandr. Thanks for stopping by on the tour, and for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Let’s get started.
“Sex sells” is a well know refrain in the world of advertising. In the Market Garden series your characters sell sex. When it comes right down to it, why do you think there are more socially acceptable uses of sex at certain times and in certain situations than in others?
Mostly because I think sex is a social taboo, not a personal one. Meaning, society has declared what is acceptable and what’s not, and most people go along with it, but secretly, they have fantasies that they know would be met with horrified responses. I think that’s why erotica is so popular—it’s a chance to live those fantasies vicariously and harmlessly. Why does sex sell products? Because a person can be attracted to a particularly sexy model or some erotic branding, and buy the product, but then they can use the product to defend it—I’m buying it because I need/want it, not because they put Gerard Butler on the poster!
L.A./Aleks: As far as using sex for advertising and such, I have a hard time getting my head around why people get so bent out of shape over it, or why there are such double standards. Why female nipples are scandalous and male nipples are on everything. Why it’s okay to tap into that particular primal urge to sell things, but it’s not okay to actually tap into that primal urge to, you know, enjoy it for its own sake.
Market Garden is a place where sex is sold, blatantly and unapologetically. There’s no shame at Market Garden. There’s no deception—when they use sex to sell a product, sex is that product. So I guess for me, in a way, it’s thumbing my nose at the contradictory “sex sells, but don’t sell sex” societal norms.
TNA: One of the things I love about this series is that your characters aren’t working at Market Garden because they have no other choice. They’re all so well suited for the roles they play and are unapologetic for liking what they do… until they find the one person they’re willing to give it all up for. What do you find most interesting about creating these characters in their roles, and then bringing someone into their lives that can make them want to leave it all behind?
L.A./Aleks: To me, (L.A.) there’s something intriguing about someone who’s willing to buck societal norms and say, “No, this is what I want to do, and I’m not going to be ashamed of it just because you tell me to.” Sex is such a taboo, that to brazenly make your living from it takes a type of chutzpah that makes a really, really fun character. It’s entirely possible it’s subconsciously an allegory for brazenly making one’s living writing about sex, but I haven’t dug deep enough into my brain to figure out if it is. LOL
Of course there are absolutely sex workers who are forced into that line of work, and Market Garden isn’t an attempt to paint over them or pretend they don’t exist. This is just a different aspect of the sex industry, and one we chose to focus on for this series—characters who do what they do consensually and confidently.
Naturally, our guys are pretty strong and ballsy, and they make no apologies for what they do. So when someone comes along who rattles their foundation and makes them consider giving up their job, you know that connection has to be a powerful one. And what’s not to love about playing with two characters who can rock each other’s worlds like that?
As far as when they find someone who makes them leave it all behind, that’s the tricky part. It’s important for me that if and when a sex worker gives it up for a partner, it’s on his terms, not because his partner gave him an ultimatum.
I’ve received criticism before for having sex workers give up their jobs at the end of a story because they want to be with the person who accepted them as a sex worker in the first place. After all, if you’ve accepted that someone is a sex worker, why do they have to change to be in a relationship? I’ve also received criticism when a prostitute has continued to work as such even after deciding they want to be with that person because it’s disrespectful to the partner. When it comes to that, I think it really depends on the character if they’re going to stick with it or move on and why. A prostitute can be completely okay with his job, but once he’s got that really strong bond with one person, he might decide he doesn’t want to have sex with other people before going home to his partner. Or he might be the type who can completely compartmentalize—sex with a client is on a totally different plane than sex with his partner, so as long as everyone plays it safe, there’s no reason to give up one for the other.
It really, really depends on the person and on their partner. Just as some people are okay with open relationships and some aren’t, there are people who’d be fine with their partner continuing as a sex worker. I’ve personally known sex workers in real life who have partners at home, and everyone’s happy with the arrangement. I’ve also known sex workers who’ve retired from the trade (whether it’s porn, prostitution, stripping, or what have you) when they settled down with a partner. As long as everyone involved is happy with the arrangement, it works for me.
TNA: Finally, which has been your favorite couple(s) to write, and why?
L.A./Aleks: We both rather love Frank and Brandon from Capture and Surrender. As far as our favorites go, I’d have to guess (since Aleks is traveling while I write this) that his favorite would either be Frank and Brandon or James and Cal from If It Drives.
Mine would be, appropriately enough, Blake and Jason from On the Clock. I’ve been pretty attached to Blake since we first wrote him as Rolex in Quid Pro Quo, and every time he came back for a short story, I really, really wanted to write his happy ending. It’s hard to explain what it was about him that intrigued me, though. Maybe because we both have the same taste in watches.
Blurb: When Blake Raleigh’s favorite rentboys retire from Market Garden, they’re sure their friend Jason will be a perfect replacement. Though Tristan and Jared are a tough act to follow, Blake returns to London to test out their recommendation.
Jason is right on the money. Negotiations turn him on. Getting paid turns him on. The higher the stakes, the hotter things get. Each trip to London is more expensive than the last, and the webcam sessions don’t run cheap, but Jason is well worth the sticker shock.
The more time they spend together, the more Blake wants, and not just sex and transactions. But Jason’s been burned before by men who thought they were in love with him, and he’s not making that mistake again. When the lines between personal and professional start to blur, it’s going to take more than money, jewelry, and sports cars to keep Jason from clocking out and walking away.
Buy Link: Riptide Publishing
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .
EPIC Award winner and Lambda Award finalist Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he works as a financial editor. His genres range from science fiction and fantasy to thriller, historical, contemporary, thriller, and erotica. His books were/are published by Random House Germany, Samhain Publishing, Riptide Publishing and others.
If he isn’t writing, he studies hypnotherapy, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He single-handedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects. His current interests include special forces operations during World War II, the history of chess, european magical traditions, and how to destroy the world and plunge it into a nuclear winter without having the benefit of nuclear weapons.