Nell Iris is back! Today, she’s talking about Strike a Pose, and for the record, I don’t mind marble penises on covers, in rants or in blog posts LOL. Welcome, Nell!
Hi everyone and a huge thank you to Ofelia for once again letting me come for a visit and talk about my latest book, Strike a Pose. You’re most kind! 😘
Strike a Pose is written for World Naked Gardening Day which occurs on the first Saturday in May annually. I stumbled upon it somehow last year and told my lovely hostess’s alter ego Holly Day that she should write a story about it since she writes stories for all the weird and wonderful holidays out there as you know. Then A.L. Lester said we should all write stories with naked gardeners, and I promptly said yes. We enlisted a couple more people, the awesome K.L. Noone and Amy Spector, and started writing. So on May 7th, five stories with a Naked Gardening theme were released. The stories are all standalone and not related in any other way than the theme.
“Can you put marble penises on a book cover?” I asked Ofelia in the morning office one day, and I’m sure she almost choked on her coffee at my question but she’s too kind to complain. But I had a valid reason for my question. MC Didrik in Strike a Pose is a photographer, and he’s doing a photoshoot of his best friend’s father, Johan, for World Naked Gardening Day, and the theme for the shoot is statues. Didrik has Johan posing as famous (naked!) statues in his garden, so I wanted to put a picture of a statue on the cover. And for accuracy’s sake, and to connect it to the theme, I wanted it to be naked.
Hence my question.
As a Swede, I’m not bothered by pictures of genitalia (unless we’re talking dick pics: don’t send me one of those!!) like people can be, but when I browsed books about Michelangelo’s David on Amazon, he was conspicuously cropped so his marble junk wasn’t showing. It made me suspicious, which is why I asked Ofelia. She, as a fellow Swede, was on the same page as I (it’s marble, what’s the big deal?), but by then Ally Lester had joined us, and since she’s a sensible Brit she said, “you can probably not put marble penises on book covers.”
That made me sad. I had found some awesome stock photos I wanted to use. This glorious marble ass for example, but most of all I wanted this lovely, full-frontal, discus thrower. But even though Ally was adamant, I decided to ask my publisher JMS Books anyway. They promptly told me that no, you cannot put marble penises on book covers. Amazon does not approve…and they knew this from experience! 😁
But, despite not being allowed to put the full-frontal discus thrower on my cover, I’m very happy with the results. JMS Books’ cover artist, strategically put the title over the unacceptable marble body part (that was already covered, btw, here’s the original) so no one at Amazon would be offended. Everyone is happy!
Except for maybe poor Ofelia, who’s not only had to listen to me rant about marble penises on several occasions, but now I also write about them on her blog. 😁
Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.
After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.
Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?
M/M Contemporary / 17545 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
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His gaze is immediately drawn to my drawings. “I’ve been curious since last night, please tell me what you’ve got.”
I nod and launch into an explanation of how I couldn’t make any of the actual gardening themes work, how they all felt wrong. “I promised you art,” I explain, “and that wasn’t it. It felt more like something the local gardening association would do. Not that it’s anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t right.”
He nods along with my explanation, his attention fixed on me. “So you came up with something else?”
I bob my head. “Statues!”
“Yes! I took a break from sketching because I was stuck and ended up watching a documentary about Michelangelo. The idea is that you pose as famous statues. It was David that sparked the idea—” I thumb through my sketchbook to find the drawing I’m talking about and turn it to him when I find what I’m looking for, “—like this. And then I started researching more classical statues. I found a bunch of them we could recreate. Hang on, I downloaded pictures.”
I hand him my phone when I’ve found the folder with all the statues and watch him as he swipes through them. “There are more than twelve,” I say, “because not everyone might work. And you can pick which ones you like, and the ones you think CM would’ve liked. And of course, the ones you’re comfortable with. Or we can shoot them all and choose what pictures to include when we know how they turned out. And if you know of any statues I haven’t included, I’m open to suggestions.”
He gives me back my phone. “Show me more of your sketches.”
“I haven’t sketched them all out, but here, let me show you what I’ve got.”
We go through all the drawings, and I explain my thought process, and he nods and hums in all the right places. He even offers some input, tapping his finger on the discus thrower. “I know a better spot for this one.”
He stands and jumps off the porch, and I grab the sketchbook and my phone before I follow him. He takes me to a part of the garden I hadn’t paid attention to, a portion of the lawn that’s relatively free of other vegetation, and I see what he means. It’s easy to frame it like a sports field, with no trees or bushes that would catch the discus when thrown.
“You’re right,” I mumble, and open the sketchbook to a blank page, but mutter when I realize I haven’t brought a pencil. “Let’s try it.”
“Mhm. I can use my phone for a test shoot.”
“Oh, okay. So what do you want me to do.”
I grab his wrist and tug him gently until he follows me. “Stand here.” I fiddle with my phone until I find the image of the discus thrower. “Can I help you into the pose?”
I proceed to mold and shape him like the statue; back arched, knees bent, his left hand resting against his right knee, and his right hand pulled back as though he’s about to hurl a discus across a field. His empty hand disturbs the vision, so I tuck my sketchbook into his hand. “Pretend this is a discus.”
He nods and I step back, crouching on the ground to see his pose from a different angle, opening my camera app to snap a few pictures to keep as a memory. I move to my left. “Look up at the discus,” I say. “You’re an athlete. A champion. You’re going to hurl that thing with all your strength and beat all the other champions.”
He twists his head until his steady gaze is locked on the sketchbook, his eyebrows knitted together as though he’s concentrating on his mission. As though he’s mentally preparing himself for the throw of his life, and I start snapping some pictures.
The light isn’t optimal, my camera phone is pretty crappy, he’s wearing modern clothes instead of being naked, and he’s not holding an actual discus, but none of those things matter. I can see it before me. The end result is going to be fabulous. “Yes,” I mumble. “Yes.”