Jack Stevens makes his Xcite debut with the novel Dancing on the Edge. A slice of gay romantic suspense set in the world of all-male dance troupes, it mixes pulse-pounding thrills with hot bedroom action and a healthy dash of comic moments. We asked Jack to share some of his writing secrets with us.
Xcite: Tell us a little about Dancing on the Edge?
Jack: Dancing on the Edge is the story of a typical good-looking, gay, “exotic dancer”-cum-model, who’s happy taking neither life nor love very seriously until bitter rivals, an obsessed stalker and true love in a very unexpected form all force him to take drastic action in order simply to survive. Day-to-day stuff, really.
Xcite: Where did you find the inspiration for the novel?
Jack: I’d like to say it was from my own experiences as a good-looking, gay, “exotic dancer”-cum-model but frankly I have two left feet and a face perfect for radio so that wouldn’t be true. I could say the inspiration came from the single time I have seen an “exotic dancer” live and started wondering about the private life behind the smiles, gyrations and skimpy stage clothes – but that would make me sound creepier than the stalker in the novel. So can I say instead that I can’t really remember what the starting point was, and put it down to an (over) active imagination?
Xcite: There’s genuine suspense and danger in the novel as Rod tries to find out who’s stalking him, but there’s a lot of humour in the story too. How difficult is it to balance these two elements in your writing?
Jack: I have tried being gritty and dark but that just doesn’t come easy to a guy from Birmingham. (I mean, have you tried being noir with that accent?). So, while I do work hard to build credible, engaging and “serious” plots, the humour just seems to jump in of its own accord from some place often unknown, and my hardest task is to keep it reined in.
Xcite: Male/male romance is very popular with straight female readers, as well as gay men. Who would you say Dancing on the Edge is aimed at – men, women or both?
Jack: To be honest, it’s aimed at me. I write for pleasure and so, because I am a gay man, Dancing on the Edge contains an awful lot of those things that gay men rather like. I had therefore hoped that at least some gay men would enjoy it too, but I had honestly never thought about straight women reading it, let alone enjoying it, until the proofs fell into the hands of some female friends of mine and they said that they absolutely loved it. I thought that was great and I really hope that straight women will continue to enjoy anything else I write. Now if I could just get my straight male friends to see past all the sweaty stuff to all that clever plotting….
Xcite: What’s your next project?
Jack: I’m hopeless! I’ve always got a number of projects on the go and I tend to flit back and forth between them depending on mood and opportunity. Currently, I’m working on a series of short plays for young people and a horror/murder story spanning the centuries set in the gay quarter of a major English city. In the back of my mind lurk two more science fiction stories, one for young adults and one for gay males, but the one that is nearest completion is another erotic story set in the world of professional wrestling. Now, for many people that immediately conjures up the worlds of over-acting, American steroid monsters or over-weight, over-the-hill British “Big Daddies”, but trust me – there’s a lot of sexy athleticism out there in rings around the world, most of it dressed in little more than trunks and boots, and I feel it my duty to bring it to a wider audience.
Xcite: What are you reading at the moment?
Jack: I’d love to be able to say War and Peace or Homer’s Odyssey! In fact, I’m reading Marvel Comics the Untold Story by Sean Howe. I’m a lifelong fan of comics with an embarrassingly large collection, and this clear, thorough account manages to be unsentimental and yet affectionate at the same time, and is bringing back so many memories of stories, writers and artists I have enjoyed. (Did I mention I also have a superhero novel on the backburner?)
Jack Stevens is a graduate in English and a high school drama teacher
with some professional acting experience. He has written novels and short stories in a variety of genres, and also has a Judo brown belt, which he doesn’t expect reviewers to keep in mind when handing out any criticism…