Today I have a wonderful interview for you! It’s from Choices, the new release from Grace R. Duncan! The characters in this book are wonderful (yes, I’ve had the pleasure of reading) and this interview takes place with my favorite character, Bathasar. So, I give you Choices!
Born and raised a gypsy in the late eleventh century, Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire—until one night they’re caught and their precious freedom is revoked. Given the choice between the dungeons or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday.
Bathasar doesn’t want the throne. He supports his brother instead, which suits their sadistic father, Mukesh. When Teman, the handsome slave Bathasar has secretly been watching, saves his life, Bathasar requests a slave for the first time. Before long, Bathasar and Teman fall in love. But all is not well. One day Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court, angering the empress of a neighboring nation. To appease her, he then offers her Jasim as a gift, and Teman decides to stay with Bathasar for now—despite the abuse he may suffer.
The peace doesn’t last. Mukesh plans to invade Jasim’s new country, and Bathasar must find a way to stop the destruction. But if he succeeds, he’ll ascend to the throne and have the power to grant Teman his liberty. Then Teman will surely leave him. What other choice could a gypsy make?
And now, the interview!! Bring out Bathasar!
GRD: Hello, Your Majesty… I mean, Highness. That’s what you prefer, right?
Bathasar chuckles. Yes, actually.
GRD: Why is that?
Bathasar pauses. Well, my father always insisted on “Majesty”. He was very much about the pomp and circumstance surrounding his position as malik, demanding the respect that came with it. He was also very good at not rewarding those who showed it. I want to be as much the exact opposite of him as I can. If there is a way I can distance myself from him, I will. This is one simple way. Beyond that, ‘Majesty’ just sounds so… pretentious. I know I am, that I am the ruler of our country, but it’s just too much for me.
GRD: Well I can certainly see that. I’ll be happy to address you as “Your Highness.”
Bathasar laughs. Really, there’s no need. “Bathasar” is just fine.
GRD: *grins* Alright then, Bathasar. How about we get to the questions? What was the first thing that drew your attention to Teman?
If I am to be completely honest, it was his looks. He’s a very handsome man, with an incredibly sexy body. He had all of these adornments on him for his presentation to my father – and, I suppose, me – and I found I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. After it was over, if someone had asked me what Jasim had looked like, I probably couldn’t have named a single feature. Teman? I probably could have spent the better part of a few hours describing and discussing him. In fact, Zalman could probably tell you exactly how much time I spent talking about him. Bathasar pauses and clears his throat. Color spreads over his cheeks. Yes, well. He had chains and jewelry and the gold looked gorgeous against his tanned skin. I must admit to wondering, even then, what he’d look like without even those.
Bathasar pauses again, a far off look in his eye, then he shakes his head and looks back up. I want to say, though, that it wasn’t just his looks that I noticed while he was there. I might have been able to forget, if I hadn’t seen the strength and determination he showed at holding out under my father’s horrible treatment.
GRD: *smiles* It sounds almost as if it was love at first sight.
Bathasar laughs. Not quite. I was definitely attracted to him, though I didn’t want to admit to it.
GRD: Why is that?
I had something of… an aversion to the slaves. It wasn’t that I had a problem with the individuals themselves, it was the concept, the idea of the pleasure slaves. And I’d told myself I’d never take one.
GRD: Are you glad you changed your mind?
Bathasar laughs again. Oh definitely! I can’t imagine where I’d be now were it not for Teman. He’s certainly made my life infinitely better.
GRD: *smiles* Teman seems to have turned your world around. Is this the first time you’ve experienced love?
Bathasar hesitates. I thought I was in love once. There was a prince from Rimal – our neighbor to the south who used to visit with us often. He came here to learn fighting skills and tutor under Zalman with me. We spent all our time together. We learned fighting, military strategies, history, you name it. It seemed natural that we would find ourselves eventually in bed together. We experimented, learned ourselves and each other. When he eventually had to go home – his father fell ill and the country needed him – I thought my world was nearly ending. But oddly, when he was gone, I found I missed the friendship – the sparring and laughing, the games we played, rather than the intimate part of our relationship. And I knew that it wasn’t the love I’d built it up to be.
GRD: How did he feel? Do you ever see him?
Bathasar nods. I do, occasionally. He’s visited a few times since his father died. He is married and it appears that it was actually a love match. I was glad for him. She seems good for him. I don’t know how he felt, he never said. If he felt more than friendship, I didn’t know it. Since then, that is all we’ve been. But that’s a good thing, as I now have the love of my life in Teman and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.
GRD: *smiles* It looks like they’re good memories. Bathasar nods. Speaking of memories, what is your fondest memory of your childhood?
Bathasar considers the question for a long time. Shortly after Seth was born – and I mean very shortly, within hours, I was brought into the room with my mother, who was holding him. I was only thirteen and after everything, felt a lot younger, even, than that. She had me climb up onto the bed next to them and when I was settled, she handed me the baby. I remember being terrified. I was sure I was going to hurt him somehow. But my mother – Jaida – insisted I could handle it. And I looked down into Seth’s face and… I have no idea how to describe what I felt. I just knew that it was strong and amazing. I don’t have Teman’s gift – I didn’t know that something was going to happen, but I promised my little brother that I’d protect him then. I remember my mother smiling this beautiful smile – she always looked beautiful to me, though I know she probably looked really bad. He laughs. I mean, she’d just had a baby, so, I’m sure she looked tired and such, but… she was beautiful to me. Anyway, she had this smile on her face and she put her arm around me and the other around Seth and just… He pauses and swallows, looking away. It’s probably the best memory of them. We didn’t have many times like that. She died shortly after that.
GRD: I can imagine how that feels. Bathasar looks up. My mother is gone. He nods. So… how is your relationship with Seth? Do you think that sharing/losing your mother strengthened your bond with him?
Bathasar nods. I’m sure of it. We’re very close. I feel, in a lot of ways, that I raised him. I had to fight my father in a lot of ways, since I didn’t want Seth to be as mean and… just ugly as my father was. With Zalman’s help, we kept him away from Mukesh as much as possible and I’m thankful that Mukesh wasn’t really interested in children. He still tried – and we found ways to intervene. It was a constant battle, but I’m proud of the way Seth has grown up, so we must have done something right.
GRD: I’m sure you did. He seems like a great kid.
Bathasar smiles again. He’s not much of a kid anymore, really.
GRD: I guess not. So, growing up in that environment – with Mukesh the way he was, what shaped you the most? Least?
My mother did her best to do for me what I did for Seth – keep me away from Mukesh. She often told me that she recognized the type of man he was the moment she met him. She had no say in the marriage, but she was glad to do it for her country. I can’t imagine something like that and especially now, being with Teman, I’m even more sensitive to the idea of people being given like property. He surprised me with his ideas about the slaves – the idea that they should stay, but I understand that he – and they – don’t think of it as slavery so much as an alternate punishment that is, while still punishment, much better than the dungeons.
As for what shaped me the least, I would hope it is my father and his selfish, tyrannical ways. My grandfather did a lot to keep my father from being too much of a tyrant, but Mukesh still did is best to strike fear into everyone he could. He lived – thrived on it. I would like to say that he had the least influence on me.
GRD: I would certainly have to agree. Let’s try for a few light questions, yet, if you don’t mind. Bathasar chuckles and nods. Alright then, what is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Bathasar blushes and clears his throat, obviously thinking of something he doesn’t want to say then he smiles and looks up. I love to listen to Teman play his oud. On the occasions that Jasim is there and has his flute as well, they make the most amazing music. But even alone, Teman is wonderful. He has the very limber fingers that can just fly over the strings. He’s played for Seth and Zalman, as well as a number of other people in the palace and they all think he is very talented, as I know he is.
GRD: You are very lucky. Your lover–
GRD: –mate, my apologies, is very talented in a lot of areas, isn’t it.
Indeed. He is gifted in a way we can’t name very well. But he is aware in a way of danger and things going wrong that has really helped us. He is an amazing musician, as well as being talented in… uhm… other areas.
GRD: *laughs* I see. Speaking of that. I have to ask. What is your deepest, most secret sexual fantasy? What is something you haven’t done with Teman that you fantasize about? And you’ve already tried to tell me he makes you happy! We know this. We want just a little more.
Bathasar hesitates and frowns. There really isn’t much that he doesn’t already do for me. I… can admit that I might want to be a bit more, um… forceful? With him, though I’m not entirely sure that’s an accurate description. Bathasar pauses, looking uncomfortable. I am aware that Teman likes pain, to a point. I have to admit to finding the idea of giving it to him… interesting. But… I’m not sure I am the right person to do it. Despite my mother’s work and my own determination, there are parts of my father in me. I would not want them to come out at the wrong time.
GRD: I can understand that. I am sure they wouldn’t, but we must do what we feel we’re capable of, don’t we? Bathasar nods. Well, then, let’s try a one more light question yet. If you had to name one thing, what is the best: food? animal? color? position?
Bathasar laughs. I saw you slip that in there. My favorite food is the lamb that Cook makes. I’m not sure what he does to it, but it is amazing. Well, I seem to be partial to sweet cream and honey but… He blushes. That seems to be in very specific circumstances.
He clears his throat before he continues. I love horses, that is no secret. I have been in charge of the royal stables since I was old enough to understand animal husbandry. I am very proud of our stable, of the herd that we have put together. Teman’s mare, Asima and my stallion, Aiman are the crown jewels of the herd.
For color, my favorite was always blue.
GRD: Has it changed?
Bathasar chuckled. It seems to be changing. I find myself wearing a lot of green as it is Teman’s favorite color and it seems to be growing on me. It helps that Teman looks wonderful in green, himself.
And… alright, position. I like to be behind him with both of us sitting up. The color rises on his cheeks again and he clears his throat but continues. I can touch all of him. Every bit of our skin is against each other’s. From our toes all the way up. I just love that closeness with him, the ability to feel every little movement, every reaction, every shiver and twitch.
GRD: *smiling* I can certainly see why that would be. Thank you, Bathasar – Your Highness – for spending the time with us away from Teman. We appreciate the insights you’ve given.
You are welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to talk.
* * *
Be sure to leave a comment and even a question for Bathasar to answer if you like! Anyone who leaves a comment is entered to win a swag bag with great stuff and the swag winner is entered into the grand prize drawing for a signed paperback copy of Choices to be chosen at the end of the month! So make sure you leave a comment!
For more opportunities and to follow the rest of the blog tour, be sure to check out my schedule!
Thanks, Trish!! 😀 😀
Thank you, Grace! I look forward to more work from you!
Grace R. Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age—many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children—both the human and furry kind. She also teaches information technology classes at a local college.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance, and other erotica, or even dabbling in art.