Mel and Tim from Mel And Tim Books
join us once more for the launch of their latest book, Beaux, Belles – Grind and Punishment. Next Wednesday, 31st July, they'll be taking over Dalston Superstore and even doing readings from their raunchy new book. Ahead of the party we caught up with them to find out more!
"London, England. Ben Barlettano is a successful lawyer in the new firm created by the merger between Beaux Aspen and Dickerhint Strudel. So far, so dull – but the past rears up, in the shape of Amber Bluett, ex-convict, now a cynical Human Resources Manager bent on revenge.
Juggling leadership of the LGBT group, a long-distance relationship with Kelly, his Paris-based girlfriend from Louisiana , and the problems behind the scenes at Outrageous Fortune, the gay bar managed by Ben’s ex-boyfriend, are all par for the course.
Will Ben retain the confidence of his bondage-loving boss, survive the humiliation of his mother dating a toy boy, navigate the shoals of relationship challenges, and keep his career alive in the face of hard partying?
Turn again, Ben. A lot will happen within earshot of the bells of St-Mary-le-Bow."
Is there a real-life inspiration for your main protagonist Ben Barlettano? Or is he a composite or people you actually know?
Tim: Ben is a wholly fictional character. Obviously, we hope that people will recognise traits of themselves or people they know in him, but he is a stand-alone character. We hope people will follow his development from his first outing in Big Ben.
Mel: We try not to base any characters too closely on people we know as this feels like a bit of an invasion of their privacy. It's always funny to me how, after writing them for a while, fictional characters seem very real to us in their own right.
In terms of writing as a duo do you both play to your strengths (eg prose, plot, characterisation) and split tasks or is it totally shared?
Tim: We plan the book together and then jointly decide how we take it forward. We tend to each take the lead on scenes where we have more knowledge. So Melanie would write about all the gay sex scenes in the sauna, whereas I led on the girls' night out in Paris.
Tell us about your fictional gay bar, Outrageous Fortune...
Tim: This is partially based on a cocktail bar called Detox Retox that my partner and I had in Spain a few years ago. In the book we've tried to capture the illusions and the realities of running a trendy West End bar. As you'd expect, there are sharp contrasts between the business needs, the inevitable scheming, and the problems of going into business with friends. Outrageous Fortune plays a substantial part in the story, particularly with regard to Rubens, Ben's Brazilian ex-boyfriend. And of course we haven't forgotten a few fab drag queens!
Did you have to do much practical research for that and just visit a ton of gay bars...?
Mel: The field work that we undertook was military in its precision.
Tim: Let's say I have been giving Melanie a bit of a course on homo-etiquette.
What's the gayest, raunchiest thing that happens in the book? A little teaser please!
Tim: That's a difficult one! We try to make sure that all of the sex scenes are there for a plot reason and we spice them with as much humour as we can cram in.
Mel: One of my favourite scenes concerns Ben's exploits with a barman at a boots-only party. In fact, we will be reading a little bit from that at the launch...