Author Interview & Giveaway: Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau Discuss The Flesh Cartel!

Welcome to the virtual book tour for the second season of the gripping psychosexual thriller The Flesh Cartel! Join authors Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau all week long as they kick off season 2, Fragmentation, with the release of the third episode in the serialized story: Choices. One lucky winner will win an awesome Flesh Cartel t-shirt—just leave a comment below with your name and email by 1/13/13! Follow the whole tour & comment at each stop to earn additional entries.

Today we are thrilled to have Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau with us, the dark and twisted (and supremely talented!) minds behind The Flesh Cartel—a  serial series that is gripping and terrifying and... forceful. I have questions for these ladies that I’ve been dying to ask, so, without further ado, let’s get this interview started!

It’s gut wrenching to read the kind of torture Mat and Dougie endure. Do they (and your readers) get a breather with this next episode?

Heidi: Um, well… A little? Sort of? In the next episode Nikolai becomes a major POV character, which kind of breaks up that claustrophobic sense of constant suffering you get when the story centers only on Mat and Dougie. But do things get easier for Mat and Dougie? No. Definitely not this episode, although the nature of their suffering changes.

Rachel: The first episode of season 2 is, in a lot of ways, just as harsh as season 1, and perhaps even worse for it because there are some serious mind fucks going on with Dougie and some serious, well, coming of uppance with Mat. But as the season progresses, I do think it very much gentles. Just, not in a comforting way at all, I’m afraid.

What can we expect in Season Two? I'm also terrified to know after that auction scene...

Heidi: You’ll discover a little more of the worldbuilding as the story expands. You’ll learn more about who Dougie and Mat are as people, beyond their circumstances. The story becomes much more psychologically complex as brute cruelty gives way to Nikolai’s careful manipulation and we get into the meat of the story Rachel and I wanted to write, which is how do you break a person and reshape them? And yes, eventually, we also intend on writing how a person COMES BACK from that.

Rachel: One of the things I found the most fun about writing season 2 was the chance to explore not just Mat and Dougie as people, but also Nikolai. He’s still shrouded in his share of mystery when the season ends, but if we’ve done our job right, he’ll be sympathetic, too.

I love the way that you both have shown and explored the brotherly bond between Mat and Dougie. Is it hard to write the scenes that push and test and nearly break that bond?

Heidi: Yes, definitely. Some of the stuff coming up in season 2 is outright heartbreaking.

Rachel: There were a few scenes where we sort of teared up a little writing them, but by and large, it’s those most taxing scenes between the two brothers, where they’re willing to sacrifice or endure the most and where they risk losing the most, that are the most dynamic and interesting scenes for me to write. The higher the stakes, the higher the tension, and for Mat and Dougie, there really are no higher stakes than each other.

What can you tell us about the mysterious Nikolai? What can we expect now that the boys have a new owner?

Heidi: Nikolai is a character that we hope you’ll simultaneously hate and find compelling. The villains in S1 are utilitarian (cough, okay, some critics have said ‘flat’, but hey, this is a promo tour so I gotta try and flatter myself) in that they come and serve their purpose and then they go again. Nikolai is much more of a cypher. He has a backstory and motivations for why he does what he does, and why he does it how he does it. We hope you’ll find him intriguing, even if you also spend the entire time wishing for Mat to strangle him to death with his bare hands.

Even though I know not to ask, I feel I must! Do Dougie and Mat get a happy ending? Their well-deserved revenge?

Heidi: I don’t want to promise anything specific, especially this early in the game, but I will say this: the story will end with Dougie and Mat as free men. Our intention is absolutely to give due care and attention to how they recover from this ordeal and repair their relationship with each other.

Rachel: I don’t know how much revenge there’s going to be, per se, but Heidi and I have talked a lot about where the boys will end up—free, as she said, and trying to repair themselves and their relationship—and I suspect that part of that process of growth and recovery will result in revenge not being such an important thing for them anymore.

How did you research the human trafficking slave trade? And how close to the truth is this story?

Heidi: Ah, this is a very tough question for me. Honestly, I’ve avoided most information about human trafficking since beginning this story, because while I’m (sort of) okay with myself writing this subject matter, I’m not sure I’d be able to continue saying that if I incorporated real people’s stories and suffering into the narrative. I have a baseline understanding of human trafficking just from being a relatively socially aware person, but I really didn’t want to draw on that knowledge for this story. In essence, we’ve created a fantasy alternate-reality version of human trafficking to tell Mat and Dougie’s tale.

The truth about human trafficking is that it disproportionately victimizes women and children, and that right now in your own city, there are probably people living in sexual slavery. We have a cultural image from movies like Taken where it’s foreign bad guys and evil sheiks paying exorbitant prices for beautiful virgin (white) women, but the truth is, sexual slavery often takes the form of fake job offers and coercion and forced drug addiction. Women in developing nations, women without a lot of options or comforts, are offered the chance to go somewhere better, start a new life, get an honest job, and what they wind up with is abusive pimps who threaten their lives and wellbeing if they don’t prostitute themselves.

The Flesh Cartel is something entirely separate from that. It’s a constructed fantasy Rachel and I have created so we can explore the human psyche and human suffering and maybe most importantly the whole concept of “brotherhood”. It’s thrills and chills. But it’s not real. As hard as FC is to read and write, our real world is so very, very, very much worse.

Why did you decide to break this story up into serial episodes? Because, I have to say, as a not-so-patient person, these cliffhangers kill me!

Heidi: Ahahaha, now that is all my fault. I so wanted to write a serialized story! It’s an interesting format, and I think the idea of piecing out an intense narrative such as this makes a lot of sense, which I talked about in a blog post I wrote for our season 1 tour. Basically, it was a risk we decided to take in the hopes of bringing the narrative to another level. Some people love it, some people absolutely hate it—either because they hate cliffhangers or they think it’s a cash-grab, which is another issue I addressed in that S1 tour post—but ultimately I stand by giving it a shot. I’m all about taking risks, and I do it with the full knowledge that sometimes taking risks means failure. I hope Flesh Cartel isn’t a failure!

Rachel: What she said; all her fault ;-) But I do think the intensity of the story lends itself really well to the format, because you don’t want to present this kind of material in such large chunks that people become insensate to it, like how after a while you can’t detect a strong smell anymore, for instance. The serial format also lets us stretch out a bit and explore some aspects of the story that would’ve gotten left behind if we’d presented the material as a standard novel.

What is it like to write as a team? How do you decide who writes what?

Heidi: It’s very stimulating! Um, not in the sexual sense. It’s great to bounce ideas off of another person. To challenge each other. To build on one another’s spark. There’s disagreements, too, lots of ‘em, but it’s so worth it. When you find the right co-writer it’s like lightning in a bottle. And as for how we decide… Rachel is totally in charge.

Rachel: LOL! Nah. Mostly what happens is we write in google docs, and when one person stalls out, the other one just hops in. That might happen in the middle of a scene or even in the middle of a sentence. It’s an amazing thing, because—if you find the right partner, which for me Heidi absolutely is—your co-writer covers your weaknesses and carries you when you’re spent, and then you get to do the same for them. So not only do you get to revel in the other person’s creativity, but you also get to finish stories really, really quickly, because all that time you’d normally spend staring blankly at your screen or watching squirrels in the yard (which, for me, is probably 75% of my writing time), your co-writer’s filling in the gaps you couldn’t figure out how to fill and everything just flies along.

What is the most unusual resource you have ever used while writing?

Rachel: Hmm. I can’t really think of anything terribly out of the box; generally, resources are found on the internet, in libraries, or via people. Sometimes I’ll hunt down an object, if I want to know, for example, how it feels to shoot a fully automatic weapon or the like. Once I listened to a bunch of .wav files of arrows being shot so I could come up with the proper onomatopoeia for it. I guess that’s maybe a bit odd?

If Flesh Cartel was made into a movie, who would you cast for Mat and Dougie?

Rachel: I think we’d both cast very different people, but when we were trying to describe them to the cover artist, we agreed on Andy Whitfield for Mat. (Although now I totally see him as a ripped Jensen Ackles. Mmmm . . . Jensen Ackles . . .) I originally saw Dougie as a very young James McAvoy (circa Children of Dune), but Heidi saw him as Johnny Rapid (so, SO NSFW), and after watching Johnny in, um, action, so to speak (he’s a power-bottom porn star), I could definitely picture that too. Since James is way too old to play Dougie now, I guess Johnny Rapid would take that slot, and since Andy Whitfield is sadly dead and, let’s be honest, I’d sell my writing partner to Satan to see Jensen Ackles as a naked tortured hero (but I totes love you, Heidi!), Jensen would get the Mat role. And Nikolai would go to Christian Bale. You’d shell out $8 for a ticket to that, right? ;-) Or even better, $12 for the 3D version!


The Flesh Cartel #3: Choices by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau

Blurb: The Flesh Cartel returns for a compelling second season with "Choices." Brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael thought nothing could be worse than being snatched from their home and brutally dehumanized in preparation for sale as sex slaves. But they learn their suffering has only just begun when they’re shipped to their new master’s home.

Professional trainer Nikolai Petrovic is a master of his trade. His ultra-rich clientele pay him to create perfectly tailored playthings, and Mat and Dougie are the latest in a long line of men who have walked into his remote mountain home as terrified victims and left it permanently altered: subdued and obedient, ready and even eager for a life of service.

To achieve this, Nikolai must take a drastically different tack with each brother. Dougie, manipulated with affection and denial. Mat, controlled by pain and fear. The one thread in common for both men is choice. Nikolai prides himself on never forcing, but will Mat and Dougie submit willingly to his vision, or will they first need to learn the price of disobedience?

About the Author

Rachel Haimowitz is an M/M erotic romance author, a freelance writer and editor, and the Managing Editor of Riptide Publishing. 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.

You can find Rachel at her website, Tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Fantasy Unbound. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the Author

Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centered on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.

You can find her tweeting as @HeidiBelleau, email her at (at), or visit her blog:

You can find all of our reviews for this series here.


All comments from now till January 13th will be entered into the giveaway for an awesome Flesh Cartel t-shirt! Please leave your broken-up email address in your comment in order to be entered into the drawing (ie. nickname AT gmail DOT com, etc).

Made To Order T-Shirt


  1. landale AT me DOT com

    I really, really, REALLY need to start reading this series. I think I'm building up my courage to deal with it, though. ^^

    1. It does indeed take some courage!

      Thanks :D

    2. You should! It's worth it. :) Mat and Dougie are amazing heroes. And after Heidi explained why they went the serial route, I completely understand. It would kind of numb you if you read it all at once.... maybe.

    3. I guess we'll know whether it does when it all comes out and people do start reading it all at once!

  2. Looks like a really great book..Thanks for a Great Giveaway!!

  3. OMG, Really? How come I've never known about this series before??!!?? Just reading the excerpt for Choices had my neck muscles all tied up in knots! Thrilling, intriguing and so totally...well, don't know if to say exciting. But one I know is that I want to read them!
    Thanks for the giveaway which I learned through Jason at Goodreads. Otherwise I would not have found you!!!


    1. Shoot, forgot to break the email... taina @ yahoo dot com

    2. Jason at Goodreads is a rather helpful fellow, isn't he?

      I'm really happy you found us and we're writing what you want (are compelled?) to read! Hope you enjoy them, Rush, and thanks for stopping by!

    3. Yes! You will love Mat and Dougie. They are the heart and soul of Flesh Cartel. :)

  4. I am intrigued, fascinated, curious...and ready to read this. The more I read about it, the closer I come to working up the nerve. Also, Christian Bale as Nikolai? Um, yes!

    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

    1. Well thank you Urb, we are ready for you to read it too! ;)

      And ohhhhhh yes.

    2. I know! I love Heidi and Rachel's casting! Jensen Ackles? Christian Bale? Holy hotness.

  5. I've only read the first story so far - but I love this concept. I look forward to reading more of Mat and Dougie's journey (and really REALLY liked your movie casting!)

    -Mandy Beyers

    beyerlein (AT) sbcglobal (DOT) com

    1. Thanks Mandy! I hope you do read on and the writing does the concept justice!

  6. Great casting... I would totally pay to see this...
    contact at mchoule dot com

  7. I can't wait to get to this series, and the shirt looks awesome!

    Kyreadinggirl at yahoo dot com

  8. Looks like a really great book..Thanks for a Great Giveaway!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoy it!

  9. I like the serial format, even though it's painful to wait. Rachel is right that too much becomes an overload, and either you have to stop reading it or you become desensitized. A couple of newer releases in this genre have had this problem, being 300+ pages is too much for the subject matter. I actually lost interest after a while and just stopped caring about the suffering of the characters.

    So, in short (too late), good choice!!

    rosemaryomall33 AT gmail DOT come

    1. Yes! Thank you Rosemary, that's EXACTLY what we intended with it! Separating stuff by a month keeps it fresh. I think time for a breather is helpful, and it's great for suspense, as well. :)

  10. I kinda sorta complained to Amamzon your stuff was not available
    if that helps any

    1. Thanks PM350! I don't know if it'll ever make them change their minds, but it's still a nice thought. :)

  11. Thanks for sharing more about your research.



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