1. The books of Ganymede Quartet are unlike any I’ve read before, containing elements of non-magical fantasy, gay romance, and historical fiction. Tell us about the books, especially A Superior Slave and A Most Personal Property, your two upcoming releases, and what they’re like.
The Ganymede Quartet series is set in New York in 1900, and it’s a recognizable version of turn-of-the-century New York except that a system of slavery that resembles an intensification of Britain’s servant classes is part of the culture. The books tell the story of a relationship between a young master and slave.
A Superior Slave is a prequel written from the point of view of the slave. It introduces the character, but also introduces the slavery scenario for the universe. Slavery is based on economics, not race. It isn’t like American historical slavery, and it’s also not a BDSM version of slavery. The reader gets to know the slave and his world right before he’s auctioned off to a master. He’s a smart, capable person who’s quite ambitious in his own way.
A Most Personal Property is written from the point of view of the master, as are the other three installments in the quartet. The book details the master’s struggle to reconcile his far-ranging desires with what is allowed and considered proper behavior. The master is a young man, not entirely sure of himself, and quite concerned with other’s opinions and judgments. He doesn’t feel he can simply fall in love with whomever he pleases, so there’s a bit of an internal struggle!
2. You’ve said that the idea for the book came from a popular television show. What show was it and how did that influence these books?
The initial impulse to write this story came when I saw the first season of Downton Abbey sometime in early 2011. I was extremely taken with the setting and the costumes, of course, but I was also intrigued by the way the servants deferred to their masters and the degree of devotion and near-reverence they showed. Even Thomas and O’Brien, with all of their scheming, only schemed against other servants. The psychology of servitude and the way the servants seemed to buy wholeheartedly into the class system brought up so many questions for me.
I don’t really know why my brain made the leap to thinking, “Huh. What if those were slaves instead of servants?” but once I started thinking that, I couldn’t stop. I imagined slavish devotion amplified to an interdependent extreme. I imagined a slave who was well-trained, proud, and eager to prove himself, and then a master who was bashful and nervous and afraid to make full use of the slave. Obviously, the story veered pretty far afield of Downton Abbey right away!
3. Your book does not depict American historical slavery. How is slavery set up in your universe?
Slavery in this universe is not based on race. While there are black slaves in this series, there are also black masters. The two main characters in the Ganymede Quartet stories happen to be white. The slaves readers will meet in these books were bred and trained by slaving Houses; they know no other life, and for the most part are eager and willing to serve. This is not a story about slaves railing against their bonds!
4. What research did you do on the historical elements of the book, and how did you make your fantasy world fit in with the actual history?
I did a lot of research into Gilded Age New York, the history of sexuality, late-Victorian/Edwardian men’s clothing, the history of restaurants and fine dining, Coney Island, turn-of-the-century baseball, boys’ adventure stories, robber barons’ mansions, and virtually everything to do with daily life circa 1900. Even though this is a fantasy series, I wanted everything that wasn’t related to the slavery fantasy to be as realistic as possible, to give a real sense of the era.
It was surprisingly easy to fit slaves into the landscape. The people who own slaves in these stories are the sort who would have had grand houses full of servants in reality. Giving them an additional, very personal servant who was a combination social secretary, valet and bed partner wasn’t really such a stretch.
The FREE prequel to the main four books in the series!
Martin of House Ganymede, trained as a companion slave, is eager for a master of his own. Everything he’s done in his short life has been to prepare him for auction day, and now all that waits is to be chosen. In being sold, he’ll be separated from the boys he’s lived and trained with his entire life, and it’s possible he won’t see them ever again. Goodbyes are hurried and emotions are raw as the slaves go on display for prospective masters. Martin has ideas about what he’d like in a master, though of course he’ll have no say in who will buy him. When he meets tall, handsome Henry Blackwell, he’s found the one he wants, but does this shy master want him?
A Superior Slave is a prequel introducing the books of the Ganymede Quartet, a fantasy of Gilded Age New York in which young men from the richest families form intense bonds with the slaves who serve them.
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In the heat of August 1900, Henry Blackwell—rich, handsome, and painfully shy—anticipates the purchase of his companion slave, that most personal of properties, with equal parts excitement and dread. There are limits to what a gentleman might do with his slave and still remain a gentleman, and what Henry craves goes far beyond what’s allowed.
Martin, a slave from House Ganymede, is the most beautiful young man Henry’s ever seen, and he’s ready and willing to do as Henry commands, but Henry’s afraid to ask him for what he really needs. A master needn’t care what a slave thinks or how he feels, but Henry can’t help wanting Martin to like him anyway. If Henry could be certain Martin wanted the same things he does, he might be bold enough to reveal his secrets.
Unfolding against a backdrop of progress, privilege and turn-of-the-century amusements, the four installments of the Ganymede Quartet present an erotic coming-of-age fantasy of Gilded Age New York in which young men from the richest families form intense bonds with the slaves who serve them.
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