Q: Do you have a difficult time getting into the different characters heads when they're arguing and trying to see both points of view or not take sides when you love them both? Do you take a lot of ideas from your own personal life and experiences?
Wow, that’s a great and multi-layered question. First of all, I have to say that I live quite a bit in my head – I’m sure many authors have the same experience, it’s what drives us. When I’m in the car, or falling asleep at night, I can have entire debates between characters in my head, and they progress naturally. In some ways – it feels a little schizo! And many of my own beliefs and stances end up coming out of my character’s mouths – but I also add what others close to me have told me about their lives and experiences. I’ve had many gay friends over the years, and I’ve lived with a gay man for the past seven years whom I’m co-parenting with, and he is my absolute closest friend. He’s shared so much with me about his own struggles, and he supports the emotion that I try and convey through my characters.
Q: Character development is important to me when I read. I am always curious whether characters are based on people the author knows and research, or if they are based are pure fiction.
I suppose I answered a bit of this one in the last question! But I do want to clarify that I don’t just completely lift people’s personal lives and plop them onto the page. It’s more subtle than that. If there’s an issue my partner has struggled with, and we discuss it at length, sometimes he will say “That would make a great line in one of your stories” or “What if that were to happen to the guy you’re working on right now?” Other times, my own struggles will come into play. It isn’t all about the sexual identity of the person; we’re all human and all have conflicting emotions and issues we deal with in relationships.
Q: Do you take notes all the time on your ideas, and how do you keep them organized into story ideas? Do the ideas cross over from one book to another (i.e. you have an idea for a book, then as you're writing the book, you don't use that idea, but use it in another book), and how do you keep track of that?
Seriously, I am not the best organizer. I have my own convoluted way of keeping track of things that I would recommend to absolutely no one. In my garbled world, I have a system. It basically becomes random thoughts, conversations, ideas, whatever pops unbidden into my head – and if it’s practical, I type it into a doc that is already labeled something along the lines of “Random ideas for sci-fi dystopian romance”, and in no particular order they end up there to be dealt with later. If I’m out and about when the ideas hit, then they end up on backs of receipts, napkins, business cards or whatever else is handy. Those end up in a manila envelope labeled much the same way. I never go back and deal with them until I’m ready to tackle that story. Then the real fun begins – har har har.
Q: What do YOU like to read? How do you find satisfying reading stuff, when you have whole worlds in your head? Do you read completely different genres, or do you read m/m? And can you even do that without thinking at some point that you could do better?
I love all types of genres, and it is very much mood driven. If I’m currently neck-deep in an MM erotic romance, I won’t touch it – it messes with my head too much. So I’ll read something completely different, like a celebrity memoir. If I’m editing, or taking a break – then I’ll devour my TBR list of erotic romance. I’m not just into MM – I like ménage, paranormal, sci-fi, MF – really whatever looks like a captivating story.
As far as thinking I can do better – sometimes that thought occurs to me, but then I remind myself just how relative it all is when it comes to art. There have been major bestselling novels that I think are pure dreck – but seriously – the writer was able to tap into millions of people’s emotions, and left them feeling immersed in an imaginary world that they didn’t want to leave. When I’ve been able to do that – maybe I’ll become more judgmental!
Q: Do you ever compare yourself to other authors and feel like you're lacking and if so how do you overcome that feeling of being not good enough?
Yes, all the time. But I remind myself of the above, and stay as true to the heart of the story as I can. Believing in the world that I’ve created, and believing in the characters is what I try and stay focused on. I also have a great editor who provides wonderful feedback. She lets me know when I’ve hit the mark – and also when I’ve missed it.
Q: How do you feel when it comes time to end the story? Sad? Happy? Relieved?
Truly, all of the above. The relief comes from managing to make a deadline! The happiness is the feeling of achieving something that is a complete thing. That may sound weird, but for years I struggled as a writer to complete one frickin’ story or book. I had partially written manuscripts numbering in the double-digits – and hadn’t completed anything! Now, when I complete something, it is a huge feeling of happiness. But I do feel sad leaving behind these people I’ve become so immersed in, and so attached to.
Excerpt from new release
Here is an excerpt from my new MM release, “Set Ablaze” from the Uniform Encounters series published by Total E Bound. In this scene, the new young firefighter recruit, Tom, is meeting Fire Chief Eric for the first time. He’s just embarrassed himself by dropping the new hire forms he was filling out all over the floor, when he saw the Chief and was instantly attracted to him.
“Keri—I think our recruit here has finished up the forms.”
As the chief passed the doorway to her closet of an office, he handed her the papers. When he turned back around to the still-mute Tom, he gave him a little wink.
“Let’s talk in my office for a minute, shall we?”
The chief indicated towards the open door.
As if on some sort of time delay, Tom finally found his voice. “Sorry, Chief Anderson.”
“Nothing to be sorry for. Please come in and sit down.”
Tom took a seat in one of the chairs on the other side of Chief Anderson’s desk. The office was much bigger than Keri’s. It was almost the size of the waiting room. There were a few cacti, a couple of framed black-and-white photos of early Mesa on the wall, bookshelves and file cabinets—what one would expect. But what jumped out at him was a picture of the chief with a lovely blonde woman and a younger man who must’ve been his son—the resemblance was striking—in a frame on his desk. He stole a glance at the chief’s left hand as he looked through a file he had in front of him. There was a tan line where a ring should have been. Either he was getting divorced, or he was a player. Or maybe he’d just taken it off for whatever reason. Either way—a straight guy.
What the fuck am I doing? I can’t afford to think like this about this man. I’m here for a new start, not to get myself in another mess.
“Well, Tom, it looks like we’re very lucky to have you, even on a temporary basis. I see two commendations here and several good remarks from your former chief in his recommendation letter. You also have your national EMT cert, which is great. We’re placing a larger emphasis on our medical services these days, as many of our calls involve med assistance. As a matter of fact, we recently renamed the department Mesa Fire and Medical. Your CPAT is up to date, so obviously you’re in tip-top physical shape.” The chief looked up at Tom and smiled after that comment, which only served to make Tom’s cheeks flush hot again. “Is there a particular reason you left behind a good position for one far from home that isn’t even permanent?”
Eric looked up at Tom again, those stunning blue eyes threatening to steal his speech once more. Tom took a breath and focused on forcing himself to keep it together.
“Essentially, I lost a close member of my family, and I felt it was time to move on. There’s no one left to keep me in Austin anymore.”
“I see. And you have someone in Mesa?”
“No, actually I don’t. I guess I was feeling adventurous. Mesa seems like a really nice city. I looked online before I came here, and I see there’s a lot of good hiking trails and such. It’s a little smaller than Austin, but not by much.” Tom laughed a little. “Half a million is still pretty healthy.”
Eric chuckled in response. “Yes, well, we’ve had quite the growth spurt in the last couple decades. I remember a much smaller city growing up. It’s slowed down a bit since the economic downturn, but I think we’re regaining our foothold. We’re still a nice, clean city with a lot to offer. I think you’ll like it here. I’ve been to Austin once before, and there’s a few similarities.”
“So you’ve been here your whole life?” Tom found himself talking to the chief the way he’d sworn he wouldn’t—he was getting too personal. It was dangerous. Even if there weren’t the professional considerations—a big deal—messing with straight guys was always a disaster to be avoided.
“Born and raised. I love Arizona. I love the history, the weather, the hidden beauty of the desert. And, like you, I love a good hike. You’ll find the Superstition Mountains a great place to go, but for the occasional weekend trip there are a lot of national parks you can get to. Even the Grand Canyon isn’t too far out of reach.”
If this were any other situation, any other, Tom knew he’d be falling in love.
Fuck me sideways—so unfair.
Publisher Buy link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=2022
Available at all the other usual outlets beginning today!