I created my pen name, Erin O’Quinn, because it reflected a life-long infatuation with Ireland. But my real name is Bonita Franks…“Bonita” because my father loved everything Hispanic! I was born almost on the side of a mountain in Nevada, a miner’s daughter. I never lost my fierce love for raw nature and the pioneer spirit, both of which show up in my work. Now retired, I live in a rural environment in Texas, surrounded by cats, cedars, and very wild flowers.
So, what have you written and How many books to your series?
I have 37 titles—novels, novellas, and a few short stories—all but ten in the M/M genre of GLBTQ-themed lit. The following graphic shows those M/M works. To make for an easy grouping, I divide them into three sets: those centered in Ireland, Scotland, and Nevada.
In four novels, I journeyed back into the “pre-history” of Old World Ireland and Scotland, back to the time of St. Patrick himself. One of those works is Stag Heart, my latest novel and the one I’m highlighting today.
Stag Heart is the natural follow-up to Warrior, Come Again—the story of five men who reluctantly return to Cambria, northern Britannia, in pursuit of something very personal. So you could say that my featured book is the fourth in a series, but it’s definitely a stand-alone.
How has your writing evolved since your first book?
My first gay lit effort was a two-series historical work I call “The Iron Warrior,” written for a publisher, for which the contract has since expired. When those two novels were freed from bondage late last year, I re-wrote, re-formatted and re-covered them; then I wrote a much-needed third novel and published all three of them with my own “company,” New Dawn Press. Those works are
Warrior, Ride Hard
Warrior, Stand Tall
Warrior, Come Again
Those first two books were rife with sex…what the publisher demanded…which I toned down when I held the editorial and publisher reins! By the time I wrote the third one last November, the sex had become only part of the tapestry, although of course central to the main characters’ odyssey. And when I penned Stag Heart(in the same universe) a few months ago, I allowed the sexual content to be just as vital and yet not the driving force of the book.
How else has my writing changed? I find I am much more lyrical, even sometimes poetic. I have evolved a keen ear for dialog, and a sharp eye for the natural world around my characters. Those “talents” have always been there in my writing; but now I strive for them—a certain cadence and rhythm, a subtlety of language missing in my early efforts.
The last important way I’ve changed is the use of humor. Oh, the comedic was always around. But now, every work is rife with irony and tongue-in-cheek humor.
Five things people wouldn’t know about me and what places are on my Bucket List?
Stepping back for a moment from the literary side of Erin O’Quinn, I thought I’d reveal a few deep, dark secrets about myself.
I actually like spiders.
I cannot find my way on my own street.
I once sold Volvos and Saabs literally in a forest in Germany.
I taught college English for about five years.
My favorite job was driving a forklift and hauling pallets for a garden shop.
And l have a few places on my Bucket List, in no particular order:
Edinburgh, Scotland (the hub of my time-travel M/M novel Come Again, My Love)
Inishowen, Ireland (the crux of some early novels)
Stirling Castle, Scotland (especially the Unicorn Tapestries, which I’ve seen only in my novella The Unicorn’s Secret)
What do you think makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Today I want to talk about my most recent novel, Stag Heart.
It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter kind of book. First, it’s set 1500 years ago, on Ireland’s sacred Hill of Tara. But the shenanigans and the intrigue are anything but sacred! What happens when a wilding, a natural soul, is thrown together with the bad-boy son of a king? What could go wrong…?
I managed to write this novel in three distinct voices, each man having his own pov in alternating chapters.
~Dub, an actual historical figure, is the warrior-scholar ollamh or wise man to Leary, a real historical high king in the mid-fifth century. He was baptized by Patrick himself and has a certain spiritual gravitas.
~Oisean, a complete innocent with the heart of a young wild animal, is the brother of Dub’s dead wife. He’s a young man whom Dub brought back to Tara at the end of Warrior, Come Again and who are now living with Dub and his twelve-year-old son.
~Fergus is a drunk and a rogue, the youngest son of King Leary. Circumstances force him to train with Dub, to live in his household. And his sexual preference is clearly for his own. Sex, that is!
The conflict (and tension) in the story is clear. Dub is tasked with training the king’s son. But the king’s son has a strong attraction to his brother-in-law, the wilding Oisean…And to make the conflict even more ironic—unknown even to him, Fergus is on a secret mission whose purpose is to assassinate Dub.
My biggest challenge in writing this novel was not just the juggling of three distinct points of view. The pov of Oisean had to reflect his unschooled, utterly alien understanding of the “civilized” world he’s now facing….and the unfamiliar pull of intense sexual excitement…in words that are simple yet evocative.
This brief excerpt may give a sense of Oisean, his way of seeing his new world, and his confusion about the smoldering sexuality of another young man.
Their eating ritual was different tonight. They ate where they sat, cross-legged in a circle, the same as always. But instead of taking up their food with their fingers, Dub showed them how to use a metal object to take it from the trencher to their mouth.
Oisean understood without asking. Because of our guest.
The man named Fergus seemed to ask a bird-sky full of questions with his strange eyes, but he said nothing. Not wanting to stop the music that sounded sweet here, deep inside the heart place, Oisean stayed quiet also. But he could not take his eyes from their guest.
Fergus was shorter than himself, by half a hand. His hair seemed to shelter fire and sunbeams among the acorn-brown strands. From time to time, he pushed it from his brow with the thumb of his left hand. His shoulders did not show the same swells and ridges as his stag-brethren, and Oisean guessed he did not use his bow very often. His face was pleasant to look at, with its neat little nest of red-brown hair on his chin and his upper lip. Not very often, his mouth seemed to crook in an unwilling smile, like a child who knows not whether to laugh or cry.
How different he is from Drust, with his storm of hair…or Brenn, raven-black of eye and mind…or my other stag-brethren.
The guest kept his eyes on his food, but sometimes he looked up. When that happened, not once but twice, Oisean felt an arrow pierce his deepest core, lower than his belly…
His eyes were not just brown, but dappled like stones in a river bed—where flashes of gold and green and sable seemed to mingle and flare, like dancers before a ritual flame.
The second time, he dropped the metal thing in confusion. His thoughts had never been so…so full of dreams.
Thank you kindly for allowing me to take a bow. You’ll find my social media and links to my works following this article.
Novel Stag Heart, blurb:
What happens when an innocent, natural soul is thrown together with a highly attractive but morally corrupt young man?
Stag Heart tells the intertwined story of three men.
Dub is a scholar-warrior seeking inner peace in an often brutal world.
Fergus is the bad boy son of a king who needs to learn how to become a man.
Oisean is an innocent, a wilding whose soul stirs in rhythm with raw nature.
These three are forced by circumstance to live and learn and finally survive together on Ireland’s sacred Hill of Tara, where mischief and mayhem lie hidden by ancient stones.
An M/M historical romance fantasy-adventure
It’s all here at QRI: (all links, reviews, explicit excerpt)
SeaToSky (pdf or epub)
Erin O’Quinn’s author pages:
*Queer Romance Ink (links, reviews, etc.)
Sea to Sky (epub or pdf links, excerpts)
*QRI is the best because everything is there at a click. You just have to wait a few moments for the data to kick in!
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