A new week is here with a new batch of interviews and giveaways! We're starting with a wonderful author interview with L. B. Shimaira, who tells us all about her newest fantasy book, My Lord, shares some of the challenges she was met with when writing the story and talks to us about not only indie publishing but also Wattpad!
Don't forget to check our Instagram to enter Shimaira's giveaway, where a lucky winner will receive an ebook!
If you bought a paperback of My Lord, send your proof of purchase to email@example.com and you will receive a signed bookplate and other goodies!
Tell us about your newest book, My Lord, and what inspired you to write it.
My Lord is a queer, slow-burn erotic gothic horror novel about rediscovering yourself after trauma—with kinky, blood-drinking immortals and polyamory.
When I first started writing it, it was more of a challenge for myself (after some ranting with a friend) to see if I could manage something akin to 50 Shades (but with focus on consent). I’m normally a dark fiction writer and that challenge? I failed. As I started the first version of My Lord I quickly found I couldn’t rush to anything sexual—the characters simply refused—and I also couldn’t manage to keep horror elements at bay. So, deciding to forego the initial challenge, I instead embraced my dark side and ended up with a Dracula-inspired story. 🖤
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? Which, if any, did you identify with most and why?
Lord Deminas was a lot of fun to write, as I didn’t want him to be instantly likeable—instead, he has to grow on you (and for some readers, he won’t and remains an ass). He’s used to behaving a certain way, also because of his position, and actually liking someone—let alone romantically—is not something he stops to even consider. (He’s definitely on the aro-spectrum.)
Nina’s such a total sweetheart who will kill for you, but if you tell her no, she’ll listen (even if begrudgingly so). She knows what she wants and will do what’s needed to get it—if that involves sneaking around, theft, or even seduction, she won’t shy from that.
When it comes to Meya: she’s too kind for her own good. Luckily, she has Nina to help remind her of that (even if she seldom listens). I identify the most with Meya because of her journey: dealing with PTSD and its effects on sexual relations. I used my own experiences with trauma when writing this story and Meya. How she deals with her trauma is in a lot of ways similar to how I’ve coped with mine, and having a character go through all that and rising above it? So cathartic. 🖤
What initially drew you to the gothic horror genre?
Honestly? I don’t even know. I’ve been into horror for as long as I can remember—the first stories I “wrote” as a kid (which were mostly squiggly lines instead of words) were about a cannibal girl living in a cave in the woods, who would decapitate hikers with a guillotine and eat them. She got lonely, though, and eventually ended up abducting another girl and slowly turned her into the same kind of monster as herself.
Romance tends to make me gag, but make it dark/gothic and suddenly I’ll eat it up. (Honestly, I just need something monstrous or dark to make it palatable. Sprinkle some queerness and <chef’s kiss> perfection.) As a teen I couldn’t get enough of movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Queen of the Damned, or The Crow.
Maybe it’s the trauma-at-a-young-age thing, but horror has just always brought me solace and the gothic aesthetic is just... 😩👌 I love that darkness, that “corruption”, and how it tends to actually be a way to rise above things and finally live—thrive.
Did you come across any challenges while writing My Lord? How did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge was writing the ending… The current book has ending #3. The first ending had me killing off a certain character and thinking I was being clever, until I found out it was a huge trope—and not a good one. (I was uneducated, let’s keep it at that.) I changed it and that was the ending published for the first edition, but it still felt a little rushed and sudden.
When I got to rereleasing the second edition, I was thinking hard about adding a new epilogue to maybe help the ending feel better. Instead, about a month before I wanted to send out ARCs, I got a dream with a whole new ending. It was perfect and also matched the ideas I had for the sequel, so I went and wrote that, binning the old ending and epilogue. A lot of my stories are inspired by or retellings of dreams and nightmares, so this felt very “on-brand” for me to do.
Other challenges I ran into were more of the small-details variety that end up being one sentence in the whole book. 💀 Think things like what kind of food people would eat in 13th-century Europe, the undergarments worn, what kind of mattresses people slept on. Did they have plumbing? Soap? Hell, I even spent several nights doing a whole deep dive into the type of armour warriors had (and how it was stored), Mongolian horses, and their riders. The latter had me amending several scenes from the first edition.
Your story features a polyamorous throuple (F/F/M). Why is this representation important to you and how does the relationship impact character dynamics?
They’re indeed polyamorous, but not quite a throuple (yet), but more a V. Though, it gets a little complicated as there are sexual relations between them all and the M character is still… figuring out the whole romance thing. (He also has a sexual relationship with another M character. They’re definitely not romantic, but it’s also not just friendship. QPR anyone? 😆 At any rate, including a polyamorous relationship is important to me as I myself am polyam and there’s not enough representation of this in media (especially mainstream—luckily, indies exist 💪).
Character dynamics were a lot of fun as it’s established pretty early on that F1 doesn’t consider sexual relations to be something that needs to be restricted. She’s also pretty confident in her relationship with F2 to not feel threatened by M, though there is a moment where she worries M might be asking F2 to restrict (he does not—he too doesn’t see any reason why they can’t all do what they like). F2, however, does go through the motions of worrying if she’s doing the right thing and if it’s possible—and okay—to be romantic with two people at the same time.
Is there any representation you wish you saw more of in media?
Definitely love to see more polyam rep. 🙌 On Twitter I’m keeping a list of indies who have polyam in their books, and every day I look for people who want book recs featuring polyam. It makes me very happy whenever someone wants “the list” and I get to yeet it out there (it’s 2 tweets long by now). Even happier when the person asking for recs is ecstatic and ends up expanding their TBR.
We’d love a hint about any of your current projects! Are you working on anything that might please or even surprise your readers?
I’m currently still recuperating from the My Lord release, but after that I plan to edit They call him Lucius. This is a contemporary horror novel that takes place in the same universe as My Lord and also features several familiar characters (under a different name, though, due to several centuries having gone by). It’s currently available to read for free over on Wattpad, but after I edit it (and have a professional editor go over it after that), I plan to publish it, too.
In They call him Lucius the concept of transcendence (what makes my “vampires” what they are) is explored further and also scientifically explained (which was a lot of fun as my breadjob is in science). I should add that both novels are stand-alone.
Another project that I had going before I had to switch to rereleasing My Lord due to my former publisher closing is Nightmare Stalker: a dreampunk horror novel featuring sapphic aces. It features a disabled camgirl MC (because aces can be sex workers too) and an MC who can share dreams. Fae had to use these powers to get faer friend out of a coma, and now they have adventures in the dreamworld together. But, of course, their happy life gets disturbed by some asshole infiltrating their dreams and turning them into nightmares.
How did Wattpad impact you as an author and do you have a preference between publishing there vs. on more traditional sites such as Amazon?
Wattpad helped me to write a lot more thanks to all the reader comments I received—comments are such powerful motivators. I truly love interacting with readers and seeing their reactions to certain passages and chapters. What emotions was I able to evoke? Was this specific scene liked? What do people think of these characters? I guess you can compare it to having a sort of public beta-reading experience.
I love seeing my works be a “real” thing, though (give me a physical book please to put on my shelf 🥰), so self-publishing is something I will definitely continue doing. With the first edition of My Lord (where the Wattpad version of it got reduced to a sample) I really missed getting comments and seeing reader reactions. Getting book reviews is very different (as those are aimed at other readers and not directed at the writer). On Wattpad, the interaction with a writer is what makes reading a story extra fun, and I’ve made several great friends (hell, I even met my (now ex-)girlfriend on Wattpad).
You describe yourself as a horror addict. What are some horror works that stand out for you and did any of them play into My Lord?
Funnily enough, one of the horror works that influenced My Lord is Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the movie, I should add, as the book is very different). However, the last time I watched it I found myself quite critical of the whole plot and characters. I’ve become quite critical in general in the past years when it comes to judging plots and character development, which has been a pain and reduced my enjoyment at times of certain works.
Growing up, several of my favourite horror series were A Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser. The former has played a role in another work of mine, though not for My Lord (to my conscious knowledge). The latter however… Perhaps a little of the queer kinkiness seeped through along with that desire for the abusers getting their just deserts. But I guess that theme is something present in multiple horror movies.
Some movies that stand out to me are: El Orfanato and Pan’s Labyrinth (I just love a bittersweet ending that leaves me in tears). The Babadook is another that did horror justice, along with Midsommar and the sci-fi horror Event Horizon. I’ve long since become desensitised to horror, but those are always in the front of my mind when it comes to actually scary/unsettling horror. Another great horror is Let the Right One In (the original, not the remake).
I love how for non-American movies it's much more common to go for the “quiet” horror, the “if you see it, you’ll shit bricks” kind. No music to betray that something is happening, you just need to spot it yourself.
Have any other shows, movies, books, or games influenced your own work at all?
Probably a lot has affected me on a subconscious level, and as a lot of my work is inspired by or a retelling of dreams and nightmares…
I’ve played several MMORPGs and ARPGs for way more hours than is probably healthy, and those have surely also influenced me (like magic use and fighting styles, as would probably be more apparent in Nightmare Stalker). For my dark fantasy WIP, there’s a clear influence from A Nightmare on Elm Street as being harmed in the dreamworld ends up harming the MC in real life (eventually). For Nightmare Stalker, there’s no direct harm from dreams, but the whole “someone being able to stalk you and wanting to hurt you in dreams” is surely influenced by Freddy too.
If you could give any advice to authors set to make their debut, what would it be?
If you can, try to be as loud as possible. Get friends involved, send out ARCs, do all the promo. Get people hyped. 🙌 But also: ensure the release is of good quality. Check, check, double-check everything. You don’t want to have a typo on the cover or in the blurb. Invest in a quality cover and an editor if you can. Sadly, people will judge a book by its cover.
Also: post-release blues is a thing. Be prepared for that and have fun/comfort activities at the ready.
Oh, and when you get your first 1-star rating and find it hard to cope? Look up your favourite books and check their 1-star ratings. Hopefully it’ll help you realise that you can’t make everyone happy and that that’s okay. 🖤
Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, games, or podcasts you’re enjoying this Pride month? Any recommendations for our audience?
Current read: Undergrounder by J.E. Glass
Current show: Supernatural (I’m on S3—yes, I’m late to the game, shhh)
Current game: Timberborn (I just love my little post-apocalyptic beavers)
Current podcasts: The NoSleep Podcast (I’m still catching up (S17) but loving all the short horror stories and how they’ve made it very clear they’re pro-LGBTQ+. The first time a story came on with gay characters my heart just went !!!, and when later the show started with a little announcement that bigotry wasn’t tolerated? Instantly made the show a fav. 🙌 And also the podcast Eldritch Girl, by C.M. Rosens. I absolutely love The Crows and it’s serialised in audiobook form on the podcast, as are the other books in the series. I already bought book 3 but plan to listen to the audio version via the podcast. I’ve listened to book 1 (The Crows) so many times, even back-to-back, I’ve lost count. Highly recommend checking out the podcast and/or book if you’re into queer gothic stuff.
L. B. Shimaira draws inspiration from dreams and nightmares, and a month before the release of My Lord a whole new ending came to her in the early morning. Staying true to her muse, she had to include it.
With a lot of her short stories available for free online, go ahead and have a taste of her subconscious mind via shimaira dot com or dive straight into the queer, slow-burn erotic gothic horror My Lord.