How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since the second grade when I first entered a short story in a local competition. I didn’t win, but I knew then I wanted to write a novel. Many years (and many stories) later I had my first release, MORE
, in March of 2010. I’ve been writing on almost a daily basis since 2007 when I began reading and writing M/M erotic romance.
What’s the biggest surprise you've discovered about the writing process?
That I’m constantly learning something new and refining my process. That each project might require a slightly different way of working to achieve the desired goal. That hard work and dedication are only part of this business, but they are a big part of it.
Do you plan out all your stories or do you write as you go?
I've always been a planner. Even as a child. I remember sitting outside every summer with two lawn chairs: one for me and one for an old manual typewriter. I'd type up character lists and story outlines for days before I'd start writing the actual story.
I still plan, just without the manual typewriter. Often, I end up using much less technology like pen, paper, and post-it notes.
I create an outline and scene lists and character interviews. My brain thinks in layers like that, even as I start writing the actual story.
I'm also learning that I love more free-form writing for shorter non-suspense projects.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that it is important to accept that nothing is set in stone. My process will likely evolve as much over time as my writing may.
What do you start with: the plot or the characters?
I usually start with a general idea for a character or set of characters. Or I might have an idea for a situation that could bring two people together. Then I build both the characters and the story from there. I switch back and forth between writing the character notes and planning the plot. One builds off the other and vice versa. It's such a fun time in the writing process, when the ideas are flowing, when the characters influence the story I'm telling, and the story influences the characters.
Where do you come up with ideas?
My ideas come from a lot of places. Life mostly. Daydreaming, photos, people watching, my dreams, blogs, music, news stories, even a snippet of a conversation can send me off on a tangent into my own world. Once I have my mind set on the characters, the plot ideas really start to flow. I have a folder full of ideas (some several pages long, some only one sentence). I turn to these when I want to start dreaming of a new idea and new characters.
I do a lot of pre-planning and outlining before I start the first draft. Actually, my outline is more of a rough draft than an outline. I’d never let anyone read it, but it has the bulk of the story, and in some scenes includes detailed descriptions, actions, and dialogue.
What was the most challenging character to write?
***** Warning: Spoiler ahead for MORE *****
I’d have to say Luke Moore’s father in MORE. Not that he was hard to write at the time I wrote that book, but I don’t think I did him justice. In hindsight, I wish I had revealed more about him and his true motives earlier in the story. His actions weren’t so much about a man striving for political office, they were about a man who hated himself and thus hated his son for openly being what he couldn’t be. I actually felt sorry for him in a way. I’m not sure many readers did, though. Which probably means I didn’t do such a great job in showing who that character was and why he was doing the things he was doing to his son. It was never meant to be about politics. Although that was one of the things he loved that he ended up losing. The story was meant to be about homophobia at its worst and most destructive: hating yourself for who you are.
********* END SPOILER *********
Who's your favorite of all your characters?
This is a tough one. I don't think I could ever pick just one. I have loved all my heroes. In fact I probably wouldn't have kept working on their stories if I hadn't fallen in love with them. For me each man is so unique, with his own set of admirable qualities that it's hard to compare them.
I have been surprised by some of my secondary characters, though. They came alive in ways I hadn't expected. I was surprised by how much I came to love Nancy and her kids, especially Adam, from
. I hear from readers all the time about how much they loved those characters, which makes me feel good. Especially after reading what Donald Maass said about too many secondary characters in fiction being weak (from The Fire In Fiction):
"Supporting players in manuscripts submitted to my agency are too often forgettable, as well. They walk on and walk off, making no particular impression. What wasted opportunities, in my opinion, especially when you consider that secondary characters aren’t born, they’re built."
What do you do when you are not writing?
I enjoy spending time with my partner (which
I never get to do enough). I’m never bored
when we just hang out together. We're big
into board and card games and going to
movies. I also spend as much free time as I
can reading or listening to audio books. I'm
a reader at heart.