Today I'm hosting the sexy, smart, and sassy Lia Michaels who is here discussing her new M/M romance "Forbidden Destiny." I've read it. I admit that this was my first gay romance so didn't know what to expect. It blew me away with its beauty. The characters are men who could easily be my friends and the storyline is so well done that I wanted it to go on...but, alas, it's a short story so I'll need to wait for the series. Well done, Lia! I gave it 5 stars without hesitation. Now we're lucky to have Lia here answering some questions for us. Enjoy!
Hello, Lia! I'm thrilled to have you here today to talk about your new release and upcoming series starring The Thunderbirds. I'd like to know more about your research on this Native American legend.
Thanks for having me today. I’ve done a lot of research on the Thunderbirds and the Great Thunderbird in particular. All Native American legends and teachings hold a special place in my heart. They really resonate with me, like I have this connection to them.
What about this particular legend inspired you to write a M/M romance?
The promise that one day the Great Thunderbird would return and save the Native people. I’ve assumed it was from the interference of the non-Native people into their culture, but it’s more than that. He’s to return to save them from themselves, from losing their heritage and not passing on the stories and traditions.
Yes, many tribes were wiped out when the Europeans came here, but those who remained held onto the promise that one day they would be free again. This freedom would mean they could live their lives as the Great Spirit intended.
The Thunderbirds in some tribes were thought to be able to take on human form. That’s where I got the idea to have Ethan be able to shift into a large bald eagle. Actually, he’s more a hybrid between a condor and an eagle. One Thunderbird legend in particular inspired that part. It’s said that when the Eagle and the Condor fly wingtip to wingtip, all will know balance and amazing things will happen.
What made me make the Thunderbird soul mates both male? In the Native American culture, the men are traditionally the warriors, protectors and defenders of the tribe. Who better to bring the story to life than two men? Now with the repeal of DOMA and more states granting same sex marriages, the time is ripe to tell their story.
I did a search on Native American LGBT community and found the story of the “Two Spirits.” They are neither male nor female, but both. They’re considered a third gender and at one time were honored and revered in all the tribes. Once again, the European invaders…er…settlers forced their beliefs on the Native people, attacking the Two Spirits and calling them evil. Some tribes adopted this mentality and to this day many of the younger generation have no idea what Two Spirits are or what they used to mean to their people. Those tribes who still honor the old traditions embrace the Two Spirits for their spirituality, looking to them as their healers and shaman.
Combining both into one story wasn’t hard to do. In fact, the characters kept pestering me night and day. Having the heroes come from different tribes and upbringings helped to add more obstacles for them to overcome in order to be together.
I know this is the beginning of a series, how many books do your foresee having? Will they star the same characters or are you going to introduce other leads along the way?
Forbidden Destiny is the companion short story to go along with Call of the Thunderbird (Fearless Love #2). I’m not sure how many books total, but I had hoped to do at least three full stories and their companion short stories. So I guess you could say there will be six.
Abraham and Ethan’s full story of course will be in book two. Now the rest of the Thunderbirds will realize their power. In some stories, their number is as few as six and as many as thirty or more. So far, I’ve written sketchy outlines for the stories of two more couples…all men of course!
Gay erotica is a new frontier for you as an author. Do you have any concerns about the LGBT community welcoming you since you also write M/F romance under another pen name? Or don't you think it matters in the big scheme of things?
I have been anxious about it, but with writing a F/F romance under the other pen name, I got a boost of courage. The M/M romance world is a tough one to crack, but as many of the LGBT authors have advised me, keep the focus on the RELATIONSHIP between the couple. Forget the fact they are gay or bisexual.
Hopefully by using another pen name, I can appeal to many more readers. It’s not a secret, but I didn’t want M/F fans to pick up one of my M/M books and get turned off. Same goes for any who pick up this series. If they like it, I hope they’d look for more but if they picked up a M/F romance, it could turn them off.
Of course there are readers such as myself who enjoy all the sexual pairings. I’m hoping I’ll have something that appeals to everyone eventually! LOL
Are there any other Native American legends that you plan on exploring in your work?
Yes. There are so many tales concerning the various animal spirit guides. The Great Wolf, The Trixter(like Loki in the Norse legends), Princess Raven…depending on the tribe, the stories change. You name an animal and there’s a story that goes along with it. This fascinates me and keeps my imagination on overdrive. Think of all the shifter possibilities!
Are there any other cultural myths or legends that you can see researching for future projects?
Roman and Greek gods and goddesses. I’ve plotted out a few of the books in my Guardians of the Sea series. This one is centered on the Coast Guard and will have F/F as well as M/M pairings…maybe a ménage or two. I haven’t decided yet. I should say, the characters haven’t told me all of their stories yet.
Poseiden and the other “minor” gods and goddesses of the sea will play huge roles in this series, interfering where they’ve been forbidden to interfere. You know, what all naughty immortals do. LOL
Who is your audience for this book? Are you writing it solely for the M/M audience, or do you see it having a wider appeal? Why?
I think Forbidden Destiny appeals to all open-minded people who believe everyone has a soul mate, even if it’s someone of the same sex. It’s the love story and their fight to be together that appeals to the reader. You can’t control who you fall in love with and it may take a few lifetimes before you can have your happily ever after, but it’s worth fighting for every single time.
As an author with an established audience under another name, what compelled you to go out of your comfort zone to try new territory?
I read my first M/M erotic romances and fell in love with these strong men drawn to each other even though society labels it taboo. I found my happily ever after with my husband and being the hopeless romantic that I am, I wanted it for everyone. These stories show men overcoming their own insecurities and doubts to be with the one who completes them heart and soul. It’s what all of us yearn for. Plus it helps they’re sexy as hell! LOL
What other genres (you don't need to list the pen names if you don't want to) do you write?
It’s not a secret I have a split personality…er…multiple pen names. ;)
As Lia Michaels, I’ll explore erotica and erotic romance concentrating on the LGBT stories and ménage. Most of my stuff will have a fantasy and/or paranormal twist to them.
As Tammy Dennings Maggy, I write poetry and erotic romance with M/F pairings and a few F/F pairings in there too. I do have a paranormal undertone to all of them as I’m a very spiritual person and believe in the guardian angels and the Goddess Fate watching over us. Why not put them in my stories? They seem to enjoy it!
As Stephanie Ryan, I’ll write mainstream fiction, sweet romance, YA and New Adult. Basically, Stephanie is the “good girl” of the alter egos. She’s in charge of some of my unfinished manuscripts from years ago I’ve taken out of storage.
Do you work on multiple projects at once or are you a focused one-thing-at-a-time author?
I really shouldn’t do it, but I do work on multiple projects at once until I get to a point where one just consumes all of my time. With that and getting “our” fledgling publishing house up and running has pretty much wiped me out on most days. Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to concentrate on writing and publishing more than just part time.
Why should someone read this series? (yep, go ahead and give us your best pitch!)
The Fearless Love series centers on couples who battle against all odds to be together. They fight their own fears and insecurities and those of society to be with the one promised to them when they were created. Their journey to find each other begins in their dreams and carries over into real life when they finally meet face to face.
Dreams become reality and legends of old come to life in these stories, reuniting soul mates and saving an entire race of people from extinction. Not a literal extinction of course, but one of the spirit and of the heart.
If the Great Spirit, Destiny, the Goddess Fate, or the Creator feel we deserve to have our happily ever after with the one who completes us heart and soul, who are we to argue?
Great interview! Thanks for being here, Lia. Now let's take a closer look at "Forbidden Destiny."
Ethan Quaderer is the Great Thunderbird, the creature of Native American legend. From childhood, Ethan soared high across the land, as one with the majestic bald eagles—only larger and more powerful. Great Thunderbird has one mission, to save the Native American people. But first, he must find his Chosen, his soul mate.
Abraham Tuttle grew up in a household where being different was unacceptable. Forbidden. He hid his true nature, a Two Spirit—not male or female, but both. For many Native American tribes, being Two Spirit is a blessing, one to be honored and revered. Not so for Abraham.
Through the Thunderbird dreams each finds the happiness they long for. One dreams of the Great Warrior who’d someday rescue him. The other dreams of the one he’s searched for through many lifetimes.
Dreams turn into reality when both men come face to face in the real world. Can Abraham find it within himself to let go of his past and embrace his future with Ethan, or will his doubts and fears of who and what he really is cause him to lose the only one who could ever complete him heart and soul?
“Come to me, Abe. Together we’ll save our people.”
Abraham scanned the shoreline for the source of the deep, haunting voice. He walked up and down the trails in the woods surrounding the lake and so far he turned up nothing. That is, nothing but the bald eagles soaring high in the sky.
As he watched the aerial display, one of the largest birds of the group broke away from the trio circling overhead. Abraham’s eyes followed the majestic creature through every dive and swoop back up toward the treetops. His breath caught in his chest each time the free fall began. “So beautiful.”
“Join me now, my Chosen. Together the Thunderbirds will bring peace and hope to all our people.”
Abraham’s heart raced and goose bumps immediately covered his bare arms. He spun around quickly to catch the owner of the voice he swore came from behind him. “I don’t understand. Where are you? And how can I hear you so clearly if you’re nowhere in sight?”
“I’m with you always. You hear me in your mind and in your heart. Turn around and look to the sky.”
A moment of fear nearly caused Abraham to run away from the lake and the voice as fast as his legs could carry him, but his curiosity won out. Abraham did as the voice commanded. Just as he turned, all three of the eagles dove toward the water. While two of them soared skyward again, the largest bird flew in his direction.
The huge raptor came to a stop within a few feet of Abraham and simply hovered in midair, talons extended forward and wings fully expanded. Its voice reverberated through Abraham’s mind. “I am the Foretold, the One our people call the Great Thunderbird.”
A brilliant flash of light burst forth from the creature, nearly blinding Abraham as he sank to his knees. Stunned by the vision before him, it took a few moments for Abraham to find his voice again, albeit one that stuttered and stammered. “The legends are true? You’re really here with me now and this isn’t all a fantasy playing out in my head?”
The great bird landed at Abraham’s feet and changed into his human form. The deep brown skinned man stood tall before Abraham, naked except for the eagle feathers braided into his long black hair. “Everything your Elders have told you is true. I’ve been waiting for you to find me for many lifetimes. I can’t do any of this without you, Abe.”
Abraham allowed the Mighty Warrior to help him to his feet. The well-muscled man before him had to be at least six three, a good four inches taller than himself. Abraham tilted his head up slightly to look him in the eye. “I don’t even know your name let alone what I’m supposed to do to help you. What if you’ve made a mistake and I’m not the one you’ve been waiting for all this time?”
“There’s no mistake. You are my soul mate promised to me when the Thunderbirds were first created. I’m known by many names, but when we find each other again, you’ll call me Ethan.”
Abraham tentatively touched Ethan’s chest with both hands, still not entirely convinced his dream lover really stood there before him. Ethan’s muscles flexed and rippled beneath his exploring fingertips. “I’ve fantasized about you every night since I was a kid, but never before have I been able to touch you. Usually, I’m with you in flight. Why is this time so different?”
Both of Ethan’s hands covered Abraham’s as they settled over the Warrior’s heart. “Very soon we’ll be together outside of our dreams. We’ll need to be able to recognize each other when we first meet. Tonight however, is the start of our courtship ritual. Just as the eagles have danced for you in your dreams, you and I’ll finally experience all of it together in our true forms. Are you ready?”
“I’m afraid.” Abraham’s voice broke as tears rolled down his flushed cheeks. Once again the old fears gripped his heart and soul, filling him with doubts. “One wrong move and I could kill us both.” Abraham’s body shook uncontrollably as the sobs tore through him.
Ethan wrapped his arms around Abraham and held him tight against his chest. The embrace provided Abraham with a much needed boost to his confidence. “This is our destiny. There’s no right or wrong. Trust in yourself and in me. I’ll be with you every step of the way.”
Abraham filled his lungs with a deep cleansing breath and then slowly let it out again before he nodded. “Let’s do this before I think twice about it and wake myself up from this dream.”
Ethan’s chuckle rumbled in his chest.
The feel of it against Abraham’s skin brought a smile to his face and yet another boost of courage.
“That’s the spirit!” Ethan held Abraham’s trembling hand tightly as they walked to edge of the lake. “Look to the eagles above us now. Watch how they move around each other with ease, never worrying they’ll make a bad move and injure the other.”
Abraham’s eyes monitored every move the birds made. “Each time they get closer and closer to each other, without fear or hesitation. I wish I could be that free.” Abraham’s body swayed with the same rhythm, back and forth, following every move the birds made. He closed his eyes and opened his mind to them.
“That’s it. Talk to them with your thoughts. Let them join with you.” Ethan’s grip tightened. “Do you feel me there with you? Experience the wind against your body, lifting you higher and higher.”
Abraham’s mind reached further and further until a bright flash of orange light filled his mind. He held his breath as sights and sounds flew through his brain as if someone flipped on the fast forward button. “Oh my God! I can hear them and see everything they see. Why’s it so fast? They’re making me dizzy.” Abraham wobbled as he lost his balance.
Ethan moved to stand behind Abraham and held him up, preventing him from toppling over to the ground. “Give it a few more moments until you get used to it. They just want to share everything with you at once. It’s not every day they get to fly with a Thunderbird.”
“But I’m not—” Abraham’s heart raced and he clung to the bulging muscles of Ethan’s arms around his chest. His legs weakened again and Abraham leaned back against Ethan’s hard body for support.
“Yes, you are. I can only choose another Thunderbird to be my mate. Embrace who and what you are, Abe. I need you to truly believe, not just in me, but in us.” Ethan’s hoarse whispered plea pierced Abraham’s mind and broke down the last resistance within him.
Ethan hugged him closer to his naked body. His hard cock pulsed against Abraham’s bare ass and lower back. “Go on and connect with one of them. One day you’ll fly with me on your own, without the aid of our feathered brothers, but for tonight we’ll let them be our guides.” Ethan nibbled on Abraham’s right ear lobe before trailing down his neck. His left hand slowly stroked Abraham’s now stiff member. “That’s it. Let yourself fly with your guide.”
Abraham moaned and swayed with Ethan as they sank to their knees into the warm water of the lake. “I can feel and see everything—the ruffling of my feathers, the wind flowing all around me as we glide. I can even hear the deer running through the brush on the other side of the lake.” Through the eagle’s eyes, Abraham watched as Ethan flew next to him, the tips of their wings barely touching. In that moment, Abraham no longer knelt in the lake within Ethan’s arms, but soared high above the earth. “Unbelievable.”
“Feel your talons extend as we twirl around each other in the wind.” Ethan entwined his fingers with Abraham’s and held him even tighter, molding their bodies into one. “Now we fall…”
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGVFLi2scpA
WHERE TO FIND FORBIDDEN DESTINY
WHERE TO FIND LIA