I’ve been writing since I was little, but I’d only ever done it for myself. In high school and college I wrote a lot, but I was too shy to ever show it more than a few trusted folks. When I did, I was lucky enough to be encouraged to take my writing further, and after I started a het historical romance with the intention of getting it published, a funny thing happened: one of my characters came out as a gay man. I hadn’t expected it, somehow he knew and he told me. It felt right. The only problem was, he and his lover where starting to take over the book, and my story was no longer about my main character, but his gay best friend and his lover. By then I was reading m/m romance, and as I have a passion for the 20s and 30s, I was trying to find more m/m romance written during those periods. I came up with a list of authors, but soon I had exhausted that list. I then started wondering if I couldn’t find the stories I wanted to read from these periods, then maybe I should write my own. So I started The Auspicious Troubles of Chance and then The Amethyst Cat Caper, though the latter was my first contracted story. It was an amazing experience and I learned an incredible amount about the publishing world from that one release.
The first person I told was my mom and she was incredibly excited for me. We hugged and then she ran to call my dad. It was a surreal day. I’ve been very lucky to have parents who have always supported me and my creativity. They’ve never tried to push me in a different direction or told me what I did wasn’t a ‘real job’. I come from a culture where there are certain expectations for women, and I’ve been fortunate enough that my parents have never tried to force those expectations on me. It took a great deal of struggling, and nowadays even into my thirties I still have to put a firm foot down with certain folks who think they know what’s best for me, but I can be a tough cookie when the time calls for it.
Where does your inspiration come from for your books?
I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes from a movie, a song, a photograph, or sometimes a random thought. It can strike at any time, though it has a habit of striking when my head hits the pillow at night after an exhausting day, which is why I sleep with a pen and pad nearby.
How do you make the important choices when it comes to writing your stories? Point of View? Voice? Theme? Title?
I think it’s no secret that I’m very character driven, so I listen to my characters when they start talking to me. Some fellas are louder than others, so for some of them, I start getting a clearer picture of what they’re like sooner, and that helps me determine the voice for the story and the direction it’s going to go in. Certain characters have very distinct voices which just take over, and those are the ones I tend to write from a first person point of view. Characters like Chance and Johnnie, I can’t imagine writing any other way than from their view point. I can easily get into their heads (which may or may not be a disturbing thing), and then the tough part comes in making sure they don’t drown out everyone else’s voice. I try to make sure each character is unique, so if you were reading nothing but dialogue, you would still be able to tell who was who.
As far as theme is concerned, it depends on the story and characters. My stories tend to be about characters who are flawed, some with more baggage than others, as well as the struggles they face against society and themselves in order to attain love, and how no matter how tarnished they may be, they’re worthy of being loved.
Are your characters purely fictional, or do you sample from people you’ve met in real life? Which one of your characters is most like you? How so?
My characters are—for the most part, fictional. For me, it would be too weird to completely base a character on someone I knew or know in real life. Having said that, I do end up giving my characters certain traits or quirks from folks I know, a certain sense of humor, likes or dislikes, hang-ups, aversions to certain foods or animals.
I think like with most authors, a lot of my personal traits end up in my characters, whether I realize it or not. The fact that I seem to be able to connect with Chance and Johnnie the most, is pretty disconcerting. I’m nowhere as tarnished as they are, pretty far from it, but I think we share that explosive emotional passion. I’m fairly shy and quiet, but if I feel deeply enough about something, especially if it upsets me, I can’t hold it in and it’s got to come out somehow. Maybe it’s the Leo in me. I can probably be a little grumpy at times too, but really I’m just a big softie. With these two fellas, I think a lot of my traits show up amplified to like the hundredth power. Pretty scary.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
I think for the short time I’ve been published, I’ve had a few moments I consider great accomplishments, but one that stands out to me the most is from last year when I attended GRL for the first time. I had readers and fellow authors come up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed my books, and then to be told some folks were looking for me because they wanted to meet me just blew my mind. I don’t think I stopped smiling once the whole time I was there. It was an incredible feeling. This year I also received a Best Author Award from Speak Its Name which I was over the moon about. It was an amazing start to a new year.
If you could co-author a book with any other writer, who would it be?
Boy, that’s a toughie. I’ve never collaborated with anyone as a writer, but I imagine it could be fun, and motivational. I suppose it would have to be an author who I felt I could chat to comfortably.
What is the one book that you think that very few people have read but everyone should read? What are you reading right now?
I’m not sure about what book few people have read and should read. There are a lot of books out there I believe are underrated. As for what I’m reading, I’ve had to put a hold on reading in order to make the launch date for the new site, along with a host of other things, but I’ve been reading Jordan L. Hawk’s Hainted. I’m not a huge fan of horror, but I’ll always give a good story a go even if it’s not my typical genre. Paranormal I’m enjoying more and more these days. Anyway, Jordan is awesome, and what’s even better, her work is awesome. I’m loving Hainted, even if her descriptions are so darn amazing that I find myself having to read during the day. I will state that I am a complete and utter wuss when it comes to ghosts and such. After that, I plan to start Widdershins.
What do you find the most difficult part of the writing process?
Wow, there are quite a few aspects of the writing process that can be difficult, but I’d have to say for me, the hardest is the synopsis. Wait… Did you hear that? I think it was the collective groan of thousands of authors. One would think writing a 100k manuscript would be the toughest part, or maybe editing said manuscript or coming up with a title. Nope. It’s getting that 100k you just wrote and trying to squish it into five or six pages, making sure to fit in your characters, the important plot points, action, everything that you believe makes your story great.
What is a typical working day like for you? Where do you write? Do you wait for inspiration? Do you set certain writing goals? Are there any specific tools you use to help you write?
A typical working day for me depends on what I have going on at the time. If I have deadlines, that work takes priority. Any editing, interviews, or posts due will come first. After that, it’s trying to find a balance with social networking, writing, and anything else writing related. It can get pretty hectic. I work from morning until late in the evening with the necessary breaks in between. I also work Monday to Friday and take the weekends off, unless I have something pressing. It’s a full-time job for me.
I have a small office with everything I need, where I know I’ll be able to concentrate and do what I need to do. I’m not good with distractions, especially noise. I have to be able to hear myself think which nowadays isn’t as easy as it seems. As for inspiration, I don’t wait for it. When it strikes, awesome! I go with it, but if not, I keep working on something, anything. If I have a day when it’s just not flowing, then I’ll do research or something else, but I’ll always be working. If I don’t have anything else going on other than writing, then I’ll set myself goals. I have a spreadsheet that sorts it all out. Mostly it’s good for motivation because I can see my target, what I’ve achieved so far, and what I need to do to get my butt in gear. My writer tools are pretty usual. To write, I use Microsoft Word, and as I’m paranoid about losing my work, I have it backed up with online servers like Dropbox and Google Drive. I’m always connected to the internet so every time I save, it’s getting backed up. Being connected also means if I need to research something, I can quickly look it up without breaking my stride too much.
What is your greatest guilty pleasure (literary or otherwise)?
Hm, I don’t think I have any literary guilty pleasures. I read pretty much anything that catches my fancy. I think listening to 80s music and watching cheesy films is probably a guilty pleasure of mine, though not something I’m ashamed of. I can be pretty sappy and I’m okay with that.
And…last but not least: What are you working on now and what can we expect to see from you in the coming year?
I sort of had to take a little break from writing to design my new website, but now that it’s finished, I can go back to what I was working on, which is the second book in The Auspicious Troubles of Love series (Johnnie’s book) and a new contemporary/shifter series which I’m really excited about as it’s my first venture into contemporary. I hope to finish the next book in Remi & Hawk’s adventures and another contemporary story. So lot’s to do! I also recently submitted a historical romance set during the roaring twenties, so fingers crossed we’ll know more about that soon.
The Auspicious Troubles of Chance
Genre: Historical 1920s/1930s
I couldn’t believe how blasé he was about the whole thing. As if someone had just asked him if he wanted salt with his eggs. Meanwhile, I was ready to blow. I surged to my feet and started pacing just to keep from planting a fist in his face. I wasn’t about to let anyone make a sucker out of me. “So, what? I was the next best thing?”
Jacky got to his feet and shook his head at me. “You really need to stop thinking so little of yourself. I’m not going to lie to you. Yeah, I wanted him at the time, but that was all it would have been, a momentary fling. We were friends, but I didn’t feel about him the way I feel about you. I care about you, Chance. Even if nothing comes out of this other than friendship, I would still be happy. That fire you have in you, your spirit, your smile, your sense of humor. That’s what turns me on, not just your face or your body. You’re one of a kind, Chauncey.” His arms wrapped around me, and all at once I was enveloped in radiant warmth, his soft breath tickling my neck. He pressed his lips just under my ear, and I melted.
“You’re a real heel, you know that?” I turned in his arms and dropped my head down against his chest with a heavy sigh. How could I ever let myself get close to a guy with such a dopey grin? If it had been anyone else, I would have told him by now to go sit on his thumb—after planting my fist in his face. What was it about Jacky that had me acting like a fool? Was it because he was the first truly honest person I had met since….
“I know, but like I said, I don’t want there to be any secrets between us, all right? You believe me, don’t you?”
“Apparently more than you believe me,” I muttered. He chuckled and I let him kiss me. It was sweet and slow, and I found myself releasing a little moan. Damn him. Every time I was ready for a fight, all he had to do was touch me, and my body turned against me. That didn’t mean I couldn’t have him at my mercy in other ways. I started a trail of sensual kisses up his neck as I whispered to him, “If you ran into him again and he told you he had changed his mind….”
“I would say ‘Sorry, pal, but I’ve got something much better going on, and I wouldn’t trade him for all the tea in China.’”
“I’m hoping that means you really like tea,” I teased, running my tongue over that full bottom lip. I knew he did. Something about English tea with milk and sugar and something or other. It was probably best I not mention that I had stopped paying attention after he had said the word “tea” and instead let my thoughts wander to whether my sash was made of sufficiently durable material capable of keeping his wrists bound.
“I’ll let you in on a secret. I don’t drink coffee.”
I genuinely gasped in horror. “The devil you say. Java is the nectar of the gods. I don’t know if I can be with a man who doesn’t drink coffee.” I knew there was something sinister about him. I had no idea it would be that bad.
When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
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