interview with Naomi Aoki

This week Naomi Aoki has popped in for a chat. Welcome and thanks so much for visiting!

Why are you doing this interview? (A new book? A new website? A re-release? Just for fun?)

For fun 😊

What started you writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and at sixteen declared I was going to publish a book. At the time I was thinking non-fiction history and would never have considered romance even though I read it quite a bit. But as always happens, life got in the way and it was shoved to the way side until I went back to University and discovered how much I loved putting pen to paper… began dabbling in fanfic and then got the confidence to write original works.

Where do you write?

I’m either at a table I hauled into the lounge so I could work while my computer is charging or sitting on the couch. My cat prefers it when I’m sitting on the couch so she can curl up on my legs.

What do you like to read?

These days the books I read are very much queer and romance. I read very little MF and usually only if a character is transgender. Sub-genre wise… I love romantic suspense, historical romance and paranormal.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Does my kindle count as a single book? (EDITORIAL COMMENT: No! No cheating! 🙂 )

Okay, but choosing three books is hard as a lot of my favourites tend to be a part of a series. But if I have too…. Anna Zabo’s Just Business (Takeover Series Bk2); Tal Bauer’s Whisper; Drake/Elliot’s Shiver. Why? Easy they’ve all got memorable characters who no matter how many times you read the book, you never grow tired of.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to my local writer’s group and while some days not much writing gets done or shared, listening to the older members talk about their life can be just as interesting… plot bunny fodder.

Online I belong to New Zealand Rainbow Writers. They are a really supportive bunch of authors who are all ready to lend a hand, an ear or even a virtual shoulder when needed.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I’m usually reading, gardening or watching anime—or rolling my eyes at my youngest dd’s umpteenth viewing of Gilmore Girls. I love to eat Chinese or Japanese food, especially trying all the weird and wonderful flavours of chips the Chinese shops nearby stock.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

My most recent release was Rueben (Men of Science Book One), an historical novel set in Shanghai, 1878. The idea came about as I thought there really wasn’t many historical novels that involved scientists—or anyone who wasn’t a Lord or a Duke—and the Victorian era is also when a lot of discoveries and theories on the natural world were made, including the theory birds evolved from dinosaurs. Setting it in China was easy. I’ve always loved learning about Chinese culture and graduated with a BA in Chinese earlier this year. (Though my speaking skills are woefully out of practice.) Many stories set in China tend to be during the Song Dynasty or Romance of the Three Kingdoms-esque, but I’m more intrigued with the social and political upheavals associated with the 19th Century. I think it took me four or five months to write. I loved being able to weave Mandarin into the story, but there wasn’t as much as in my previous book.


Reuben, Men of Science #1

Rueben would be the first to admit he was stubborn. He hated being told something wasn’t possible when there was no scientific basis for their claims. So, when his peers told him searching for fossils in China wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavour, instead of quitting Rueben doubled down his efforts to raise the necessary funds to travel there.

But his arrival in Shanghai started with embarrassment and left Rueben fearing his distracted clumsiness had scared away his translator and guide, Yuan Xi, before they’d even left for their destination: the Taihang Mountains in Shanxi Province.

Yet Rueben hadn’t imagined the most important discovery he’d make in those mountains would be about himself. An overwhelming and confusing discovery that had Rueben wanting to run… had him never wanting to leave Yuan’s side.

Yuan Xi prided himself on being a sought-after translator, capable of hiding his anger despite the way his European employers treated him and his countrymen. Knew how to keep a smile on his face while being treated like a servant; remaining invisible until needed.

But this latest job could be hazardous to his health, and Yuan didn’t mean physically. The endearingly clumsy scientist employing Yuan made him question whether he wanted more than emotionless, casual relationships… and whether taking a risk with his heart might be worth it.

Buy Rueben!


Visit Naomi online

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Thank you so much for blog-visiting, I really enjoy getting to know people through these interviews. And Rueben is now on my tbr list!

LGBTQ Romance Giveaway

This week, a very brief post to direct your attention to the LGBTQ Romance Giveaway going on over at Bookfunnel this month. There are more than two dozen of us authors who have put books and stories in to the pot. We have all kinds of romance about people across the rainbow spectrum of sexualities, genders and relationship dynamics.

Pop over and see whether there’s something new that takes your fancy!

interview: Kristin Noone

A warm welcome to Kristin Noone, who has subjected herself to my author interview questions this week!

A warm welcome to Kristin Noone, who has subjected herself to my interview questions this week!

Firstly, what prompted you to let me ask you nosy questions?!

A recent release and a re-release (or two)! My first F/F romance, The Ninepenny Element, just came out from JMS Books, and JMS is also re-releasing my former Less Than Three Press stories – the first M/M shapeshifter story, Port in a Storm, is out now, and the sequel, Fire and Ink, will be available again September 4… followed by the M/M/M polyamory superheroes of Sundown, Holiday, Beacon, also in September. Which I have to say contains some of my favorite characters of mine ever.

What started you writing?

I’ve been writing for ages – in kindergarten I wrote a five-page short story about a girl who loses a tooth – and the Tooth Fairy brings her a baby unicorn, instead of money! (I was a strange and apparently very hopeful child.) More seriously, I started writing in grad school – fanfiction first, as an escape and as a way to play with characters and universes that I loved. And eventually that built into my own original characters and world-building, and I sold a couple of short stories, and then I thought, oh, maybe I can do this! (I do still write fanfic, though! But much less than I used to.)

Where do you write?

If it’s just me home, mostly in the family room with my laptop and music! Otherwise, sometimes upstairs where the actual desk is. Or in a Starbucks, if I’ve got a break from teaching and want to leave campus for a couple of hours!

What do you like to read?

Lots of things! Quite a lot of romance – a lot of M/M, a lot of paranormal, a lot of historical, mostly Regency or Victorian – but also a lot of fantasy and historical fiction, and quite a lot of nonfiction, both for the professor day-job and for pleasure. That’s usually somehow related to scholarly studies of fantasy, romance, monstrosity, comics, gender, and medievalism, though I’ve most recently been reading Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet for fascinating linguistic explorations of internet grammar, just for fun!

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Only three? Oh dear! Hmm…Patricia A. McKillip’s The Book of Atrix Wolfe, KJ Charles’ The Magpie Lord (can I have the whole trilogy count as one book?), and…some sort of three-way toss-up between Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, Neil Gaiman’s collected Sandman graphic novels, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in a single edition.

The McKillip is beautiful – lush, lapidary, fantastic prose, full of magic and redemption and also kitchen magic and so many words for both food and love. KJ Charles writes such fabulous romance, with a gorgeous and detailed and diverse magical England and also crackling chemistry. Every time I read Pratchett I find him more profound – that rage, that love, that humor, that fierce compassion – and Night Watch is my favorite Discworld novel. Gaiman’s Sandman is sprawling and epic and weaves together mythology and heroism and grief and loss and family, plus the art is spectacular. And Tolkien because there’s so much to savor and linger over (and occasionally critique!) and have long mental conversations with.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to a few facebook groups for authors – romance, M/M, LGBTQ – and also a few for professors and grad students, plus my academic association memberships in popular culture and romance fields! They can be helpful for motivation, advice, and also sometimes just sympathy.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Reading, probably! And working on the next scholarly book, which at the moment is about Star Trek tie-in fiction. But other than that…

Awesome Husband and I are sci-fi geeks and watch a lot of that genre of television and movies, but we’re also beer geeks and can be found wandering local craft breweries. Or playing some good tabletop games, along the lines of Pandemic or Ascension, or doing jigsaw puzzles.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

For The Ninepenny Element, the idea was a combination of about three things: wanting to write something for the “nine” theme for the JMS Books ninth anniversary, and a sequel/spin-off for Elemental starring the older sister of Sterling from that book, and wanting to have some fun with medievalist folklore trivia about ninepence and magic! Unusually for me, the title came pretty early on – this one just knew what it was about. And it felt like it flowed easily; I already knew a lot about the world and Verity’s family (and annoying but adorable clairvoyant younger brother), so that part was easy. The trickiest part was figuring out the “villain” – he’s not really evil, just awful, but I always have a hard time writing characters I dislike! It did give me an idea for a third story, though…

And you can keep up with Kristin in lots of different places!

Website Twitter Instagram Goodreads

Thanks for coming to chat, Kristin!


Read about some of Kristin’s books:

Port in a Storm and the new re-release Fire and Ink

Port in a Storm: A M/M paranormal series, with a runaway kitten shapeshifter and the kind neighborhood witch who rescues him in the rain.

Fire and Ink: Three months ago David Stanton rescued a runaway kitten in the rain. Now he’s got an infamous — and infamously powerful — feline shapeshifter living in his house, helping with his white-witch business, and making him smile. David’s falling in love fast, but there’s still the problem of Colin’s past … and the secrets he’s obviously keeping.


Elemental and The Ninepenny Element

Elemental is a M/M paranormal romance with a blocked writer, a novice witch and a surprise exorcism.

The sequel, the recently released The Ninepenny Element is a F/F paranormal, with a witch, a lawyer, a hexed earring, and a ghost puppy.

(A ghost puppy, people!)


The Extraordinary Series, out soon!

Sundown, Holiday, Beacon & sequel Homecomings

Three superheroes in love! Or one superhero, one former sidekick, and one redeemed supervillain, at least.

Ryan, John, and Holiday have been partners — in every sense of the word — for two years. They’ve saved the world, fallen in love, and remodeled the secret base to include bookshelves and a bigger bed.

But Ryan and John have always been the public face of the team. The world still believes Holiday’s a villain. And he’s been using that reputation to stay undercover and share information. Tonight, though, Holiday comes home injured, and his partners aren’t sure the mission’s worth his life.


reading roundup: august

I’ve had a real ‘head in a book’ month this August. Partly because it’s been the school holidays and quite frankly I’ve needed the distraction; and partly because I have found so many lovely things to read.

Mainly by Moonlight by Josh Lanyon

What do you do when you fall in love with someone who doesn’t know that you’re a magician? In Cosmo Saville’s case, you panic a bit and your friends do more harm than good trying to help you.

I have always been a huge Josh Lanyon fan and it’s great to see her on form again with this new series. I’m looking forward to the next book.


Sword Dance by A. J. Demas

I really love A. J. Demas’s not-quite-Classical-Europe world. Her protagonists are always beautifully drawn with a realistic complexity that makes them easy to like; and if you don’t like them, you understand why.

As usual, there is lots and lots of plot alongside the romance. First of a trilogy!


A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian

A lovely historical f/f novella that is part of Cat Sebastian’s Regency ‘Turner Series’.

Molly and Alice are both charming characters. We have met Molly before and although she’s a reformed from her career as a petty thief, she is still the same person we met previously. I am really pleased she gets a happy ending!


Why the Devil Stalks Death by L. J. Hayward

I really like this series. It’s full of wounded heroes and people who don’t communicate and sexual tension, which put it bang in the middle of my ballpark. I do like my romance with lots of plot!

One of the things that makes this a really engaging read is the timeline. We have alternating before/after chapters… and you aren’t quite sure what the before and the after are being built around when you start reading. I was irritated by this for about three chapters before getting completely sucked in and finishing it in one sitting. Hard recommend!


Quill Me Now by Jordan Castillo Price

I have only just discovered this series of novellas. It has a really interesting magic system based on writing your spells with special quill. This one was a freebie and I’ve now got the others on my TBR. It’s kind of paranormal cross with a cozy mystery, I guess?

I really liked it and I’m looking forward to finding out more about both how the magic works and the MCs adventures.


Stumptown Spirits by E. J. Russell

A contemporary paranormal romance, with wounded heroes (my favorite!) wrestling with both the supernatural and their own emotions.

I really like the folk-lore basis of this one, although I did get cross with Logan because honestly, wouldn’t it just be better to talk to your boyfriend instead of being all self-sacrificing and mysterious?

Nevertheless a five star read for me and I have just bought the sequel.


Spellbound by Allie Therin

Spellbound was on my TBR long before it came out, and it was certainly worth the wait. 1920’s New York is full of concealed magic. Our protagonists, Arthur and Rory, are both doing their best to keep their loved ones safe from it, initially without revealing what they know to each other.

I loved the historical setting- obviously the ’20s are my thing– and the love story weaves in and out of the paranormal mystery seamlessly. Another one that’s the first of a series to come!


And that’s it for this month. September kicks off to a start off with an interview with Kristen Noone next week!

reading roundup: July

I’ve been oxer-deep in reading this month and have seven books to share.


The Cricketer’s Arms, Garrick Jones

A gay romance/murder mystery set in 1950s Sydney. I loved this. I’ve probably said before that I think Garrick Jones’ historical detail is second to none. The combination of a murder mystery and romantic shenanigans is basically my ideal read. Hard recommend. I understand there is a sequel in the wind in the future.


Thrown to the Wolves, Charlie Adhara

The third in Charlie Adhara’s wolves series. Cooper finds out a lot more about wolf pack behaviour and Oliver Park’s slightly bonkers family. I have a complex relationship with shifter books – some I love and some don’t grab me at all. This trilogy falls in to the ‘love’ category!


Tournament of Shadows, S. A. Meade

I went looking for Tournament of Shadows because I met S. A. Meade at an Author Thing a couple of months ago.  Published in 2014, this ticks all my ‘historical detail’ boxes. Set in the mid-nineteenth century in what is now Uzbekistan, it follows two minor characters in the Great Game played between world powers during that period. It has gay romance, political intrigue and journeying through locations I knew nothing about and had to research. A definite re-read.


Hither Page, Cat Sebastian

Set just post-WW2 Hither Page features a shell-shocked country doctor and a spy who need to team up to solve a murder. Of course, they fall in love in the process. There is beautifully realized historical detail with vulnerable and emotionally wounded main protagonists and a richly sprinkling of well drawn supporting characters.  Also, lady assassins. *taps nose meaningfully*


Outbreak, Melissa Olson

This is the final book in the Nightshades trilogy which is a vampire power-struggle-cum-straight-romance with the FBI thrown in for good measure. Vampires have been hidden from humanity until very recently. Hector is still trying to manipulate both vampires and humans for his own nefarious, control-grabbing purposes and the Bureau of Preternatural Investigations is still trying to stop him. But the FBI are also investigating Lindy and Alex. It’s a really good end to the trilogy.


Rebellion, Naomi Aoki

Intricate historical detail about the Boxer uprising from Naomi Aoki in this gay romance set at the end of the nineteenth century in Singapore and China. Alfred falls in love with a Chinese soldier he meets in the public gardens. The tension in their love story is entwined with the rising of the political and eventually military tensions. Neither my historical period or my geographical area, I really, really enjoyed this. Recommend.


Owl and the Japanese Circus, Kristi Charish

The first in the Owl series. Owl is an archaeologist-thief in a world where magic is real and digging up ancient artifacts can get you killed. Obviously the authorities suppress all this knowledge from the general public. Owl doesn’t do supernatural jobs, but this time she gets sucked in to something that she can’t avoid. There are dragons, vampires and (straight) romance. I have got second one in the series on my TBR list but haven’t got to it yet. I thought this was brilliant – really good world-building.


That’s all! Next week, an interview with Nell Iris.