Today we’re fortunate enough to have an interview with Andrew J. Peters, author of the Werecat series and the book The Seventh Pleiade.
So how many books have you published?
I have three books out in my Werecat series, the début book in my Atlantis series The Seventh Pleiade came out last year, and its sequel Banished Sons of Poseidon is forthcoming in 2015. I also recently published a free short story called Mike’s Pond on Smashwords.
Did you start out writing MM fiction?
Some of my books, especially the Werecat series, are tagged or labeled MM, and I certainly don’t have any problem with that. I don’t consider myself an MM author however.
I write primarily gay fiction. That’s probably an overly fine distinction for a lot of people, and I’m not advocating one over the other. But there is a difference.
MM has its roots in female-authored fan/slash fiction that romanticized and eroticized relationships between popular non-gay male characters like Captain Kirk and Spock. The genre has expanded, but it typically focuses on romantic and sexual relationships between two men, written by women and for women readers.
Gay fiction portrays gay men’s lives including and beyond their romantic and sexual relationships. There doesn’t have to be an MM. There could just be an M.
I started writing fiction when I was in elementary school, and I wasn’t writing gay fiction back then. I scarcely knew that I was gay myself so I wrote stories that interested me at the time like mysteries and dramas and comedies. When I came out in college, I broke out of my shell in many ways and started writing stories that featured gay men. Those were the kind of stories I wanted to read. It’s a narcissistic thing for writers, I think. We write to please ourselves first and then we hope that what we wrote pleases other people.
Do your stories fall more into MM romance or genre fiction?
Most of what I write is genre, fantasy specifically. My writing will probably always include gay characters, but beyond that, a lot of genres interest me: sci fi, romance, contemporary, literary, humor and even horror.
Tell me about the Werecat series.
Werecat is the story of a college senior who goes on spring break to Montréal and meets a handsome drifter who pulls him into the hidden world of feline shifters. It’s a gothic story that asks the question: what if an arcane magic, borne from cat mysticism, was suppressed nearly to extinction by European colonization?
The main character Jacks is kind of a lost, ungrounded young guy who is scarred by family problems and looking for someplace to belong as an adult. When he’s ‘turned,’ he finds himself with unfathomable powers and a connection to Native traditions that he never knew he had. But it’s also a frightening new existence for him. If his friends and family discovered his shifter nature, they would think he was a freak. The werecat world is deep underground and pretty brutal, and there’s a faction that wants revenge on mankind.
We were just in Montreal and loved the city – how did you do your research for that series?
My husband and I have been to Montréal many times, and it occurred to me as a great setting for a gothic and romantic shifter story. There’s an intriguing combination of European and Native (Inuit) sensibilities there. It seems like the perfect place for werecats to be hiding amidst the monolithic animal sculptures in Mont Royal Park and the narrow, 18th century cobbled streets of Vieux Montréal. It’s a place of sometimes conflicting identities — French and English, modern and Old World, seedy and cosmopolitan — so that fit well with the themes of the story.
Some scenes take place in the gay Village and Mont Royal Park, which are areas that I always visit when I’m in the city. I did have to study the layout and the history of the park since Jacks spends a lot of time there.
What’s The Seventh Pleiade about?
I took the Atlantis legend from an ancient world perspective. It’s a prehistoric kingdom that nearly spans the globe and predates the Egyptians and the Greeks by thousands of years. The story explores what happened to that massive civilization that was founded by a man who was believed to be a god, Poseidon. While Aerander’s world is upheaved by tremors and storms and a faltering campaign against barbarian invaders, Aerander discovers a secret history that’s responsible for everything falling apart.
The title comes from astrology. The Pleiades are a star cluster that played a role in mythology around the world. To the Greeks, they were the seven daughters of Atlas who were placed in the sky by Zeus to protect them from the amorous hunter Orion. Native Americans have a similar legend that involves seven daughters being saved from a giant bear. What intrigued me about the Pleiades is that one of the stars seems to disappear at times of the year, which inspired a myth about a lost daughter. In The Seventh Pleiade, figuring out who that girl was and why she disappeared is Aerander’s key to saving his country.
What’s next on your list?
I’m busy polishing up the follow-up to The Seventh Pleiade, which is titled Banished Sons of Poseidon. It’s coming out in late 2015 from Bold Strokes Books. The story picks up after the rescue of a few survivors from Atlantis, and it’s told from the perspective of another young gay man named Dam who was a kind of an edgy foil to Aerander. Dam had tried to make his way in the world as a novice priest, which is pretty much like growing up in a home for wayward boys.
Besides that, I’m also shopping around a prequel to the Atlantis saga called Poseidon and Cleito. That’s a two-part novel that imagines the early life of a man who would become one of the world’s best-known gods and his wife, whose story was curiously ignored by Greek myth-tellers.
Twenty-two year old Jacks is on a mission to drown his past and avoid his future when he meets a handsome drifter Benoit on a lost weekend in Montréal. It’s lust and possibly something more. Jacks never suspects that a drunken hook-up will plunge him into the hidden, violent world of feline shifters.
There’s no turning back when Benoit traps him in an arcane ritual to be joined as mates. Jacks emerges with fantastical abilities and a connection to Native traditions that were buried by his family. But his new existence pits his human instincts against his wild animal nature. When Jacks meets a young medical student Farzan who accepts Jacks as he is, Benoit’s feline jealousy rages like an inferno.
Jacks has to figure out how to survive with his dual nature and a boyfriend who will kill any threat to their relationship. When a secret society called The Glaring shows up with a plan to exterminate humankind, Jacks will have to work quickly to gain command of Benoit’s magic before the world is fractured into a war of man against beast.
From The Seventh Pleiade:
Atlantis is besieged by violent storms, tremors, and a barbarian army. For sixteen-year old Aerander, it’s a calamitous backdrop to his Panegyris, where boys are feted for their passage to manhood.
Amid a secret web of romances among the celebrants, Aerander’s cousin Dam goes missing with two boys. With the kingdom in crisis, no one suspects the High Priest Zazamoukh though Aerander uncovers a conspiracy to barter boys for dark spiritual power. Aerander’s proof — an underground vault that disappears in the morning — brings shame on his family and suspicions of lunacy. The only way to regain his honor is to prove what really happened to the missing boys.
Tracking Dam leads Aerander on a terrifying and fantastical journey. He spots a star that hasn’t been seen for centuries. He uncovers a legend about an ancient race of men who hid below the earth. And traveling to an underground world, he learns about matters even more urgent than the missing boys. The world aboveground is changing, and he will have to clear a path for the kingdom’s survival.
Andrew J. Peters is the author of The Seventh Pleiade, its forthcoming follow-up Banished Sons of Poseidon, and the Werecat series. He grew up in Buffalo, New York, studied psychology at Cornell University, and has spent most of his career as a social worker and an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
A lifelong writer, Andrew is a former Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow and has written short fiction for many publications. He has also been a contributing writer at The Good Men Project, YA Highway, Reading Teen, Dear Teen Me, La Bloga, GayYA, and Layers of Thought among other media. Andrew lives in New York City with his partner Genaro and their cat Chloë.