Guestpost: Fighting the Muse by Aleksandr Voinov + Giveaway

Filed in Aleksandr Voinov , Giveaways , Guest Post , The HEA Lover Posted on August 22, 2012 @ 7:00 am 33 comments

Today it’s a pleasure to welcome Aleksandr Voinov on Book Lovers Inc.  If you’ve missed my previous raving posts about his work, here is your chance to learn more about Aleksandr and his new book, Skybound, which was released earlier this week.  Meet Aleksandr and his muse! 

Hi, I’m Aleksandr Voinov, and I’m happy to join you guys at Book Lovers Inc. It’s my first time, so be gentle. 🙂 You might know me from my dark and sexy mafia series Dark Soul, but today I’m going to talk a little about Skybound, my new release from Riptide Publishing.

Skybound is one of those stories that hit me like lightning. Now, that sounds about as much fun as it is (though, unlike real victims of lightning, I did not physically explode or my heart didn’t stop—sorry, too much research into killing people). I was perfectly happily minding my own business, working on a historical novel (which has been going for ten months or so), when the Muse showed up and demanded I should stop right now and write about a gay airfield mechanic falling in love with a pilot during the last dying days of the Third Reich.

I think my response was something grown-up like, “WHUT? R U kidding?”

Now, we’ve all heard the old cliché from the Muse kissing authors. In my case, my Muse is more like a gangbanger. He’s not gentle, he’s not polite, he grabs me by the shoulders wherever he finds me (asleep in bed, under the shower, at work, on the bus, attending family weddings), and is as excited as a kid when he shouts at me.

“But!” he’d go, “The idea is awesome! It’ll be a moody, literary piece and it’s all tragedy and horror and at the end it’s the triumph of the human spirit via love! You dig that! It’s Totally Your Thing!”

At which I told him that I’ve forsaken my literary pretensions when my German agent told me I’m too complex for the mainstream and too weak a stylist for the high-falutin “literary crowd”, or, as he put it, “Congratulations—you’re trapped in sales and reputation hell.”

“Screw that,” the Muse would growl. “You’re writing this, now. Selling is irrelevant. Your mortgage is paid. Who cares about money? Literary Immortality Awaits!”

(He can get dramatic like that.)

“Last time you told me it’s “just a short story”, it turned into a 70k novel. I can’t trust you. All my novels started as short stories, and it’s your fault!”

“This time’s different.”

“Yeah, right. Okay, so tell me more. Maybe I can make a few day’s time. No more than two weeks. I’m working on a really complex novel at the moment, As You Very Well Know.”

“Mortals! You moan when I’m taking a break, and you moan when I’m doing my job. Anyway. The story is awesome. It’s all first person . . .”

“Are you kidding? First person? Do you remember our last attempt to write first person? The character talked for fifty pages about his childhood and self-perception and nothing ever happened, and we killed the project as a waste of time.”

“. . . present tense, airfields and planes and . . .”

“Present tense? I’ve never done that. I can’t make it work. People think it’s pretentious. Reviewers hate present tense. The last thing I need is people hating it even more because it’s first person and present tense.”

“. . . and all the big stakes of World War II, with a totally new viewpoint! They’ve never read anything from the German point-of-view, which is why I think you should totally write it, with you being German and all . . .”

“I can’t do that. People much prefer the Regency period or the Crusades, and by the way, I really need your help with my Crusades action-adventure. Hey! Hey, are you listening?”

“No.” At this point, we entered the pouting stage. Then the passive-aggressive stage. He kept pushing the story into my head. I tried to argue I’d give it a shot, but only in third person and past tense. No go. It was first person, present tense of nothing.

We struggled like Jacob and his angel. Anybody ever tried wrestling a Muse? I’d say mine has thousands of years of experience dealing with reluctant authors. No trick works. He’s an Olympics-level wrestler, too.

So he knotted me into a pretzel and put me to work. And I sat down and cursed him, and while it was a short story, it was weeks and months of work, because I know nothing about either fighter planes or mechanics or even very much about Germany just before the war ended.

But I wrote it. There was just no winning that fight.

And you know what? The most grating thing of all of this—the struggle, the moaning, the whining, the hard, hard work, the being-struck-by-lightning-but-not-exploding part—is: He’s right. When I do trust him and let him do what he wants, nine cases out of ten, he’s right and the story is totally worth it. This one is one of those rare stories that I re-read and thought, “Holy mackerel, this is actually any good.” And: “Wow, I wrote that?”

To which he’d say, “Actually, I did, but I’ll let you take he credit, even though you fought making this with all you had. Next time, just trust me, willya?”

I guess that’s fair enough.


Love soars.
Germany, 1945. The Third Reich is on its knees as Allied forces bomb Berlin to break the last resistance. Yet on an airfield near Berlin, the battle is far from over for a young mechanic, Felix, who’s attached to a squadron of fighter pilots. He’s especially attached to fighter ace Baldur Vogt, a man he admires and secretly loves. But there’s no room for love at the end of the world, never mind in Nazi Germany.
When Baldur narrowly cheats death, Felix pulls him from his plane, and the pilot makes his riskiest move yet. He takes a few days’ leave to recover, and he takes Felix with him. Away from the pressures of the airfield, their bond deepens, and Baldur shows Felix the kind of brotherhood he’d only ever dreamed of before.
But there’s no escaping the war, and when they return, Baldur joins the fray again in the skies over Berlin. As the Allies close in on the airfield where Felix waits for his lover, Baldur must face the truth that he is no longer the only one in mortal danger.


Biography :

Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he makes his living editing dodgy business English so it makes sense (and doesn’t melt anybody’s brain). He published five novels and many short stories in his native language, then switched to English and hasn’t looked back. His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk, and fantasy to contemporary, thriller, and historical erotic gay novels.
In his spare time, he goes weightlifting, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He singlehandedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects and interests. His current interests include World War II, espionage, medieval tournaments, and prisoners of war. He loves traveling, action movies, and spy novels.

Visit Aleksandr’s website , his blog , and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.

 Thank you for reading and stopping by!

If you have any questions, I’ll be here to respond.



To celebrate the launch of Skybound, Aleksandr is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one commenter on the tour, with two more receiving book swag

(so please leave your email address so he can be in touch).

All you have to do is leave a comment and/or question for Aleksandr Voinov

Open internationally

The giveaway for this tour ends on August 26th

Good luck everyone!

About Caro The HEA Lover

Caroline is a HEA loving, yarn addicted French who's desperately hoping to get a HEA of her own. If she's not reading then she can be found knitting while listening to Audiobooks or watching Tv shows. Her secret addiction is reading websites that make fun at other people's expense (DYAC, Failbook)! Caroline also blogs at the Secret HEA Society with Susi.

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Join the Discussion
  • Carole-Ann August 22, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Wheeeee…..never been first before….:)
    Lovely, funny blog Aleks, thank you! (and thank you for all those ‘dark’ novels too! just love ’em!)


    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 10:43 am

      I think the chances are slim to none that I’ll ever stop writing dark stuff. That’s just the kind of people I hear in my head. 🙂 And thank *you* for the support. Without readers, none of the stuff I do comes truly alive.

  • Adara O'Hare August 22, 2012 at 8:42 am

    That post was a ton of fun to read. Maybe you could write something where your Muse is a character like that. I loved his voice. =)

    adara adaraohare com

    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

      He’s halway between trapped in his Napoleon complex and halfway excited child. I swear, there are mass-murdering psychopaths who are less scary than my Muse when he has a fixed idea in his head. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Mandy Harbin August 22, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Great post, Aleks! And thanks for giving us a glimpse at your muse. Mine is still waiting on coffee.

    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Knowing Muses, is he expecting you to make it? Typical. Can’t get any fully-qualified help around the house. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • Jeanne Miro August 22, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Aleksandr –

    I wish that I was at home when I read this instead of at work because my husband would know just the right questions to ask you!

    From the post it sounds like you developed a personal connection to your characters in the story. My husband served in the Navy on aircraft carriers and also later on P-3’s and from his discussing some of the situations he was involved in helps me to relate to certain stories I’ve read over the years.

    Did you draw on any of the emotions of relatives or people you know that were involved and/or affected by war (whether past or present) when creating your characters?

    Skybound is one book I’m buying – and I’ll even let my husband read it first!

    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 10:58 am

      Oh, I always build a really strong connection to my main characters – they turn into old friends, because I learn so much stuff about them (their dreams, what drives them, how they respond in a crisis), so it feels like they are almost family. I am the kind of writer who laughs and (rarely!) cries in front of the screen. I’m the method actor kind of writer. I cackle, I’m down all day if somebody dies… that kind of madness. I mean, it’s really fun, until it’s not, but I think it takes a controlled kind of madness. Certainly does for me – I know there are conventionally sane writers out there – or they are better at hiding it.

      Regarding the emotions. There’s one thing that struck me about my grandfather (who was the NCO of an anti-aircraft gun, and he was deployed in the Balkans and then Greece and then Russia – where he got shrapnel in the knee and was flown out before the Sixth Army was crushed in Stalingrad). You have this wizened, shrunk and bowed old man with his wide brown eyes, and when he related the stories – sixty years on, he got so agitated and passionate, suddenly speaking some Russian and unaware that he was doing it (or that nobody understood him). Considering how withdrawn he was (PTSD, survivor’s guilt) nomally, that was the most lively and emotionally engaged I’d ever seen him. For him, it was fresh and he was shockingly grateful that I would listen to him, justw ith an open ear and an open mind. I’d never connected to him much, but that evening, I did, and it was very nearly miraculous.

      I did hear other stories, of being bombed (my father’s side was in/near Dresden when it was fire-bombed) and the stories of other grandparents of my friends, of fleeing the Russians out of Eastern Prussia, which is a gruesome story, and there were lynchings and corpses stacked high in the streets. But I’m a military historian by training – I don’t carry any of the bitterness, really. It’s not constructive or allows us to move on and learn from the past. I’m fascinated by it all as a writer who’s interested in people’s experiences, but I’m taking these from many sources, and some of it is just putting myself into those circumstances, or people I know.

      Does that make sense?

      • Jeanne Miro August 22, 2012 at 11:23 am

        Aleksandr –

        It absolutely makes sense! Two my uncles fought in World War II, one was a PT Boat Captain with John Kennedy and while one served in the Army. While one of them could talk openly about his experiences the other would never discuss it at all.

        I also had a great Uncle who was a Captain in the Coast Guard who ship was hit by a German submarine off the east coast near New Jersey and I never knew the details until after he died and left me his scrapbook which included personal notes as well as newspaper clipping of the incident as well as ship logs of is enlistment going from serving in the merchant marine at the age of 15 up to retiring a Commander in the Coast Guard.

        My husband served on an aircraft carrier during Vietnam and then later while in the reserves was on P-3’s. I think he’s read Hunt for Red October at least four times (and made everyone know read it as well). While he often talks about his time in the Reserves there are time before we met when he was on active duty I know not to even bring up.

        I think through the ages that it depends on not only the circumstances that have been lived through whether as a civilian or member of the armed forces but also the person’s ability to come to terms with what they had to endure.

        One of our friends relatives was able to talk to my husband about having survived the Bataan Death March and how he survived living at Camp O’Donnell. My husband was later told that it was the first time they knew of that their uncle was able to talk to anyone about his experiences there. I think that he was able to identify with my husband at a kindred level.

        I hope that you keep writing about experiences that some of us have never had to acknowledge before and further our understanding on circumstances we couldn’t ever begin to understand.

        All I can say is Thank You!

        • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 11:39 am

          See, I love sharing those stories. Thank you, that was really interesting! (And German u-boats cruising NJ and NYC? I only recently learnt about that and sat there with my mouth hanging open.) There’s so much to share – not just the gruesome stuff, but also a huge amount of unexpected kindness or, yes, the “kindred spirit” of the experience overall. The US never understood why Germany was so violently opposed to bombing Baghdad, for example. The thing was, it was a few months away from a huge anniversary of the bombing campaigns over Germany, and those are still inside what historians call “living memory”. Just one example how these things continue to shape our attitudes. 🙂

          I’ve also learnt of Germans being decent to people, protecting them or getting them out of harm’s way. My grandfather was genuinely distressed that Soviet soldiers who were ready to give themselves up would be shot by their own kommissars. (Regardless of what would have happened to them in captivity, which I’m not sure he’d have known.) There are some amazing things, and it strikes me that just three generations on, I can be on the internet and be friends with or chat with descendants of the same guys who tried to kill my grandfather or vice versa. If that’s not progress and encouraging, very little is.

          And regarding the soldier experience – I’m quite fascinated by how “primitive” societies “purify” their warriors when they come home. There is an acknowledgment that war and peace are separate and that good people do bad things (and for good causes, more often than not) and that they require purification. It would be interesting to study if other societies have as much PTSD as “modern” western ones. I think that re-integration and support is sorely lacking overall – all sides, really. It took me forever to understand the huge psychological impact of WWII, and we keep seeing it in Korea or Vietnam or Afghanistan. You send a whole generation of men into war and expect them to cope on their own when they come back. It’s just not right.

          So, uhm, yeah, that’s one of my overarching themes in my work. I’m endlessly fascinated by these complexities. It’s also driven by a genuine thirst for knowledge and understanding, but I see people as people rather than as “Germans” or “Americans” or whatever. Light and dark form a very mottled picture, which is the space where stories grow. 🙂

  • Jbst August 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Your posting was very funny about your demanding Muse, but the result was well worth it. I planned on getting “Skybound” on the weekend, but your blog tour just made me want to get it late last night.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks! Life with my Muse can be fairly bizarre at times, I’m happy to entertain. 🙂 I hope you enjoy the story as the result of my Epic Battle. 🙂

  • Christine August 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Wow, your muse rocks. My kind of crazy! I’m currently reading the Soldier/Merc/Vet’s books. O.M.G. I can’t gush enough about these books and I can’t bloody stop reading them! The house is a mess! The kids don’t have clean clothes! You really should have a warning lable with your books. I read the Dark Souls books first and then dived in to Soldiers right away. Is there a paper copy of these books? I must have!

    Great books. They have everything I love – darkness, intensity, violence, and of course GAY MEN!


    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      I’ve heard of marriages threatened (though often an uptick in kinky sex), neglected children and pretty radical weightloss when people read Special Forces. (Somebody one wrote me it was, quote “the best diet I’ve ever tried!”) Special Forces has two version – a more carefully edited Director’s Cut (which also has some research mistakes fixed) and the “old version”. The DC has “Soldiers” out in part 1 and part 2 (links should be on my blog/website, but you can ping me at vashtan at gmail com for more info), and the old version has four volumes, Soldiers, Mercenaries I & II and Veterans. I’m still editing Mercenaries, but I’m having to make the decision to write new stuff or fix old stories, and right now – well, you’ve seen the Muse in action. I’m too busy writing to revisit those one million words.

      But generally speaking, if you like those things, you’re in good hands with me (and Manna Francis, who’s a genius, and her The Administration series is amazing). Also, Rachel Haimowitz, whose stronger on the BDSM. I’d suggest Power Play for starters, which she wrote with Cat Grant.

      • Christine August 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        ha! @uptick in kinky sex – um, let’s say my HUSBAND doesn’t have all! lol Poor kids though. I have had Manna Francis’ book Mind Fuck in my ereader for about 2 1/2 years and have been putting it off and putting it off, but since you just mentioned it and reminded me of it, I’m going to read that series after I finish yours. I also have a Rachel Haimowitz book on my TBR pile! I DID get the DC of Soldiers, but then I wanted to continue the story so I am reading the Orig version of your Merc and Vets books. Dan and Vadim are fantastic to read about. Delicious comes to mind a lot! lol Whenever the series becomes dead tree books I am very much getting them, then possibly petting them frequently.

        Keep your muse happy! Write new stuff! I can wait!

  • Trix August 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Good to know the Muse knows best, even if he’s a bit high-maintenance!

    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      I guess all True Artists (TM) are. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Jeanne Miro August 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Aleksandr –

    My husband and I were both brought up in multi- cultural homes. He is Italian and English – his father was one of 15 surviving children and one of 3 born in the US – his mother was English and her great-great grandfather was one of the colonial governors of Rhode Island.

    My father was Scotch-Irish (the family emigrated from Glascow) and my mother was English and German and I am related to Ethan Allen and John Rolfe.

    We are still trying to find out more about both our ancestry but the only thing I could find out about my German grandfather is that he ship he was on arrived in NYC, NY. His name is Harnischfeger and my Mom and Aunts tried to find the link and never were able to find out where they left Germany from. When ever anyone searched all they could find out was Germany but never a city or port. I sometimes wonder how we can know who we truly are until we know where we came from and what our ancestors had to go through to survive during troubling times.

    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      Wow, interesting. 🙂 I’ve just done a search on (basically a German clone). Here’s the link for Harnischfeger. It should the distribution/frequence of a certain name in the region. Thankfully, Harnischfeger is nice and medieval and old and fairly rare (means Armour Polisher – pretty sure about the latter, though it might be a different skilled metal worker job – I can investigate).

      Here’s the map:

      The name is registered around ~200 times in phone books, so you’re looking at about ~500 people who are potential relatives, which is a population that could actually be researched (Schmitt or Smith would be pointless, but you stand a good chance there). I’m pretty sure all intercontinental shipping would have departed from Hamburg, and I’ve spotted links on the German ancestry website that indicate there’s might be a Hamburg-departing passenger or more with the name. I’m not sure how helpful I can be – also, most Germans speak/understand enough English that you could actually talk to potential relatives. 🙂 However, if you need/want any more help with that, drop me a line at vashtan at gmail com. I’ll do what I can.

  • Alyssa Linn Palmer August 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Reviewers hate present tense? Really? … well, call me clueless. 🙂
    As a reader I don’t mind it, as a writer it’s a fun challenge.

    Also, your gangbanger Muse made me chuckle. Not sure what mine’s like. Probably some 1920s flapper purring in my ear, suggesting I write a little something whilst sampling the latest cocktail.

  • Jeanne Miro August 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks so much for all the information. I have a cousin who has also been trying to find the link and I’ll also copy and send a copy of the information you supplied to him as well.

    One of the down falls of our education system here is that students aren’t encouraged to study more foreign languages. Here there is usually only a year or two of a language is “required” in order to graduate from High School. The ironic thing was the year we had a Spanish exchange student my son that took 2 years of Spanish couldn’t understand him but my son who took 2 years of Italian could! On the other hand my husband seems to have the knack of figuring out what people are saying even if he doesn’t know the language! I think he can “read” what a person is asking by their body movements and expression.

    Thanks again for the offer of assistance!

    • Aleksandr Voinov August 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Just be in touch if you need help on the German side. But it could be very easy. The phone numbers should all be there. Good luck on the hunt!

  • Sarah August 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I’m normally a bit wary of present tense stories – it takes a bloody good writer to pull it off. Before I was even done with the first page of Skybound I was engrossed…you went a long way past bloody good writing 🙂
    Your muse may be difficult to live with but I’ve enjoyed all I’ve read by you so far 🙂

  • Leigh August 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Great post!! As you know (from my flurry of Tweets today), I just finished Special Forces, and while it was crazy intense and induced an ulcer from all the heartache, angst, and emotion, I loved it! (And much like Christine, above, my children subsisted on cereal and Mac-N-Cheese for many dinners!). I am definitely looking forward to reading more of your work, the dark and the light. 😉 And this one sounds really great! I’m glad I saw the post to this on your Twitter account. 🙂


  • Susan August 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Your Muse sounds like a stern taskmaster. (Hmm. Could be another book there.)

    I downloaded Skybound as soon as I read Caroline’s review. I’ve enjoyed all the other books of yours that I’ve read, so you’re pretty much an auto-buy author for me anyway. I’m right in the middle of a series right now, but I’m starting Skybound as soon as I’m clear.

    I’ve been a number-cruncher all of my professional life, but my degree was in history and I’ve never gotten over my first love. History isn’t just dates and events, it’s about real people–both the ordinary and the extraordinary–living their lives. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts here about their and their families’ experiences.

    In my family, I’m the repository for all the photos (back to the Civil War), letters, Bibles, relics, etc., and have tried to collect the stories and oral histories from my relatives, as well. I have to admit, tho, that I failed miserably with my father. He was a kind person, but also the most untalkative, uncommunicative man I’ve ever known. He was career military and NEVER talked about anything. My mother and I both almost had seizures when we were all watching a documentary about Iwo Jima and he uncharacteristically blurted out that he was there (aboard a ship). I think he was shocked at his behavior, too, because he immediately clammed up again and we got no further details. We still laugh about his secret life.

  • Amara Devonte August 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I do love your muse. Yes, yes I do.

  • Gyn August 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I think this sounds glorious! I love that I often learn something about history when I read your stories! I have to get in contact with your muse to convince him to make you write a story about ancient samurai warriors!! Does he accept bribes??

  • SusieQ August 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Your mind must be a very scary place sometimes, Aleks…..thank goodness, lol!
    seritzko AT verizon DOT net

  • bn100 August 23, 2012 at 3:34 am

    This sounds like a fascinating book.


  • Mary Preston August 23, 2012 at 3:50 am

    WWI is a fascinating period in history & from a German POV. Bring it on. Sounds fabulous to me.


  • Aija August 23, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Aww, thanks for the laugh! ;D I feel for you whenever you let us glimpse your fight with the Muse, but yeah – it’s kind of obvious that those fights are futile. 😉

    P.S. Must admit I like your Muse verra much. 😀

  • Victoria Zumbrum August 23, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I would love to read your books Alex. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me.

  • Jen B. August 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I knew your name was familiar! I have your Darksoul series on my wish list. This book sounds like another possible addition to my wish list. Thanks for the interview and giveaway. jepebATverizonDOTnet

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