Thursday, July 7, 2011

Guest Blogger - Rachel Haimowitz

Playing In the Sandbox

If you ask a speculative fiction author what she enjoys most about her genre, it’s a good bet she’ll tell you “worldbuilding.” Creating a fantasy or sci-fi world from scratch is, at least for me, one of the most exciting steps in the writing process. Even more interesting, though, was the process of creating an alternate universe: a modern-day America with a twist.

In Anchored: Belonging and my new release, Where He Belongs, I’ve had the pleasure of building a contemporary world wherein slavery is legal pretty much everywhere. As part of that exploration, I built a very self-serious website,, that treats the visitor as a citizen of the world of Belonging.

Along the way, something extraordinary happened. My dear friend and occasional co-writer Aleksandr Voinov asked a question fanfic writers—but not, for some reason, original fic writers—hear quite a lot: “Can I play in your sandbox?” He wanted to write a story set in the Belonging-verse about a slave boxer named Brooklyn Marshall. I was tickled. How could I say no?

So rather than talk on and on about my own books today—which, let’s face it, authors do an awful lot of when they’ve just released a new one—I thought I’d give a shout-out to Aleks and his brilliant book, Counterpunch. Here’s a taste:

Fight like a man, or die like a slave.Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he's the “Mean Machine,” a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummeling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn's services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it “love”—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn's conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.

It won’t be out until November, I’m afraid, but you can read all about it—and about Brooklyn, his owners, and the stable where he trains—right here. And if you’ve ever thought about investing in your own slave boxer? Well, Fitzhughes Boxing Stable is the way to go.

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The hottest name in network news is Daniel Halstrom. He is a sensation, a rising star. He is also a slave, owned wholly and completely by NewWorld Media.But before he was a star, he was a frightened child from a bad place with a promising, if limited, future ahead of him. In The New Kid, young Daniel begins his schooling. Then, for a slave, the simple pleasure of a Bathroom Break is sometimes the only pleasure to be had. Later, Daniel doesn't know it, but A Chance Encountermight be the most important of his life. Next, in Camera Obscura, one of Daniel's colleagues reflects on the fact that as much as the camera may show, it can hide even more. Finally, when you're a slave, Independence Day is just another day.

Available at Storm Moon Press.

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Rachel is an M/M erotic romance author and a freelance writer and editor. She's also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.
When she's not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.
She's a twitter addict (@rachelhaimowitz), and she blogs every M/W/F at Fantasy Unbound. She also keeps a website, of course, with all her current and upcoming projects. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.


  1. I loved Anchored and can't wait for this Where He Belongs!!!


  2. Wow Rachel! The website you created for your world is amazing. Best of luck with your newest release.

  3. @Julia: Thanks kindly!

    @Pati: Glad to hear it :D Where He Belongs is basically a quick bite--6000 words--since the Anchored sequel won't be out til early next year.

    @Nina: Thanks for the kind words! The Fitzhughes Boxing page was actually done by Aleks, but the rest was me avoiding edits ;-p We had a ton of fun with it and hope to be able to fill it in more completely some day.

    And to Amber, thanks so much for hosting me today!

  4. I'd like to point out you're teasing me with "Counterpunch" again...but anyway..

    I think most original authors don't ask to play in another's sandbox because they either feel intimidated or expect rejection (or expect crazy parameters or something). The Belongingverse seems like an awesome place to play though!

  5. @Alex: LOL, what can I say, I'm a HOPELESS tease. But yeah, you're probably right about the sandbox issue with original fic. Aleks did check in with me about a lot of things, because everything he did held the potential to alter canon, but it was a painless process for both of us. Plus it was actually quite the pleasure and unique opportunity to have someone that sharp to discuss and help frame out the world with. He created some BRILLIANT additions to canon, including some things I'll be carrying over into future Belonging stories. The little crossover bits are fun, especially the cameos of my characters in his story and his characters in mine.

  6. What a lovely compliment to want to play in your sandbox! Congratulations.

  7. Definitely helps to already have a good working relationship with the author who is playing in your sandbox :) Look forward to seeing the crossy-over bits.

  8. @Anny: I was pretty flattered by it :D And also crazy excited. It's a wonderful thing to sit back and watch parts of your world unfold without having to do any of the hard work!

    @Alex: Very true. It's not exactly the sort of thing I could see allowing without a lot of trust. I mean, it's fine if it's fanfic because that's just something the fans are sharing, but when it's getting published, it adds to/alters "official canon," and of that I am a careful guardian.