~How do you come up with a title?
Some just come to me, for instance, my next book, Purpose, I just knew that was the title and in fact much of the story evolved from the title. The current book, The Last Grand Master, that has had three title changes. The first 'title', The Lonely Wizard, seemed right at first, but then as someone pointed out, Farrell was only lonely before the story began, so it wasn't a good title after all. Chosen of Honorus, was next, and it was a fine title, except the made up name wasn't likely to draw in readers, so we settled on The Last Grand Master, because a) it didn't a made up name, b) was true, and c) seemed more catchy.
~Which character caused you the most difficulty to write?
Will/Gar from Purpose. When the book starts, Will has hidden behind the persona of Gar, an unemotional, cold person, uncaring person in order to stay sane as the host for a spirit of vengeance. But as the story progresses, Will starts to re-emerge, until eventually he sheds Gar entirely. Making that transition smooth and 'believable' was very hard. Too much, too soon wouldn't work, but too little would leave people wondering why his lover stays.
~Out of all the stories you’ve written which one are you most proud of?
Second Shot, which is posted for free on Gay Authors wbesite. It was the first novel length story I completed [Novel length is a joke as it's almost 300K words long.] I learned so much from it and the feedback from it encouraged me to push forward with my goal to be published. It's the only contemporary story I've done to date, but I hope to return to that genre, if not those characters, soon.
~Do you plan your stories and, if so, to what extent?
No and yes. No in that I don't do a storyboard, but yes I have a definite plan for the story, where it's going, how it will end, etc. I probably do something of an informal storyboard when I write out the ideas to bounce off people, but that's about it.
~How many stories do you work on at any one time?
I have five stories in the various stages, most are just rough ideas and first chapters. But I find I can only really work on one story at a time. Otherwise the characters in the different books start to sound and act alike. I guess that isn't too much of a problem if they are different genre's because there isn't a lot of cross over, but I think if the MC all sound and act alike, readers go get turned off. It's why I've tried to do so many different types of stories, so the characters will have their own persona.
~Is there anything you’d like to tell? Maybe something in the works you would like to promotion? Feel free!
Hmm, just one? LOL I think readers will find most of my stories are very character centric. It makes stories a bit too long at times, because I spend perhaps too much time developing the characters. For The Last Grand Master, which is out now, that's not too much of an issue. It's a full length novel and the story is going to take several books to complete.
But for Purpose, which comes out in May/June, and other stand-alone books I plan to write, it was harder. I'm rather light on sex in my books – which maybe a problem for your readers given how hot and steamy your books tend to be – but I try to make up for it by showing the more romantic, playful side of the characters and letting everyone figure out what exactly happened between the sheets for themselves.
~ What was your favorite character to write, and why?
Farrell from The Last Grand Master. Embarrassingly enough, most if it is because I kind of always saw myself as a wizard in my 'other' life. If I'd ever gotten into WofW, I'd have been a wizard for sure. Maybe that's why people comment on how detailed the magic is in my stories. I guess maybe I've given it a bit too much thought?
~So tell us about yourself. What got you interested in writing?
I've wanted to write fantasy since I read Lord of The Rings at age 12. After that, I read as much as I could and always thought I could write a story at least as engaging as some of the published books I'd read –not Tolkien or some of the other biggies, but some of the others I'd read.
~How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
It really depends. There are elements of me and my life experiences to varying degrees in every character – how could there not be? But I wrote I a short story as a follow up to Second Shot that was the trial of someone from the story. It was written from the prosecutor's perspective, so that drew heavily on my life and work experiences. For Purpose, the location drew on the fact I live in the DC area, but the character, only in small ways.
~When you sit down to write a book, do you go with the flow? Or do you outline and plot all the important details out first?
I rarely have an outline when I write. There have been many times when I've started to write something, thinking the scene would go one way and as I started writing, it seemed stupid, unbelievable, too easy, or it just stunk and I'd have to shift directions. That happens probably more often than not when I write. Hmm, maybe I do need an outline.
Most of the things that surprise people are fairly well known. But for those who don't know:
· My husband and I have a toddler we had with a surrogate. She is biologically one of ours – we just won't say who's the dad.
· I'm a soccer referee. I've worked the gold medal games at a couple international gay soccer championships, the last being the Outgames in Vancouver in 2011.
· I'm a fairly good cook and baker. Someone has to make sure everyone in the family eats. I’m Italian after all.
~Want to tell us about any projects you have in the works? Or any releases coming soon?
My next release is Purpose. I've touched on it a bit already, but it's a paranormal with a romance element. Will was 26 when his lover died the day after the spirit of vengeance chose him to be its host. Forty years later, Will is nothing like the man he'd been when David was killed. He's hidden behind Gar, a fake persona he created to avoid living with what he's become. When he meets, Ryan, Will and all his emotions start to re-emerge. But Ryan also seems to calm the spirit Will spent forty years serving. Unable to explain how or why, Will and Ryan set out to understand the bond they share and why they are drawn to each other.
Beyond that, Book Two of Champion of the Gods – the sequel to The Last Grand Master – is in the works. I'm half way done with the rewrite of the first draft. I also have two contemporary stories, another fantasy and a paranormal story in various stages. I doubt any of those will be out before 2014.
~ A lot of your writing contains non-human elements. What draws you to that?
I think a lot of it comes from my love of comic books and super heroes as a kid. I don't think 'superhero' novels sell that well for some reason, but if you dress them up as fantasy stories and change them to elves and wizards and whatever, you can get away with it. I like the paranormal, superhero, magic angle. I think it allows readers to escape from this world and if the 'world' is well enough developed, you can immerse yourself in a bit of day dreaming and 'what if' thinking.
~ Have you ever doubted yourself as a writer and if so, how did you overcome it?
Often. When I submitted The Last Grand Master, I wasn't sure it would be accepted. In fact I was so sure Dreamspinner wouldn't want it, I was lining up cover artists and formatting services so I could self publish it. Then when it was released I didn't expect anyone would want to read it. It has sold better than I expected – in fact, on Valentine's day, when Dreamspinner offered anyone with an account a free eBook, during the three giveaways, ten people selected it as the 'one' book they wanted. That really shocked me. With all the other very good books in Dreamspinner's big library, that anyone would want mine over all the others, was really a surprise.
Which doesn't answer the how do I over come it. I decided that doing nothing meant I'd never know, I decided to put my work out there and see. The worst that could happen is someone would say – you stink – and them I'd know. But I had to try to be know if I could or not, so I just took a damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead, approach.
An author friend, Helen Chappell, told me the best way to improve was to put your work out there and get feed back. So I joined Gay Authors and posted things to get feed back. Most of it was positive – which surprisingly enough was not terribly helpful. I don't need to hear – oh that's good – from people who I'm asking for help from. I mean I love hearing that people like something or think it's good, but I needed to know what I wasn't doing well to improve. The people who told me what wasn't so good, those people helped me enormously. The positive reviews helped me keep going, but the negative comments, mostly in private, were what helped me get to the published author level.
~ What's your guilty pleasure?
Doritos – Nacho Cheese. I also love baseball. It's something my husband and I both enjoy so it's something we plan to share with our daughter and hope she likes it too.
~ What part of the writing process do you dread?
The same as everyone else I suppose. Marketing. The dirty word of writing. In the build up to the release of The Last Grand Master, I had to put everything else on hold, no new writing, not much reading, no other hobbies. Granted that was my first foray into marketing so there is a lot of 'infrastructure' I did that won't need to be repeated with future books, but it is a huge time drain and I'm still not very good at 'getting the work out.'
~If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?
Italian. I'd probably make manicotti. Of course I'd make the sauce first. For desert, we'd probably have pie. I like cherry or pecan, so you'd probably get one or both of those.
I'm totally a winter person. I hate hot humid weather. Just hate it. I spend years in Minnesota and found I don't mind the cold, I just bundle up, or snuggle in and all is good. I'm grouchy in the summer, have been since I was born according to my mother.
~ Are you a romantic?
Very much so. I love planning something romantic. It's harder with the baby, I mean I can't just tell the husband to pack a bag and I'll tell him when we get to the airport where we're going – I've done that before. But I can still bring home something that he'll like or make something special for him just because. I think romance is what keeps relationships alive.
~Do you listen to music when you're writing?
Not so much anymore. When I write at home, the baby is usually sleeping so I need to be able to hear if she cries. But whenever I can, yes I love to listen to music when I work or write. And not soft, or classic, usually it's rock, alternative, punk. Don't ask me to explain how I can tune that out, but I can. And the harder the beat, the better I write. Go figure.
~ What are your future ambitions?
Retire soon, move somewhere cheaper where we can let 'lil q [our daughter] grow up and be happy and write for the rest of my life. Maybe open a B & B somewhere. My husband's job is portable so when the housing market recovers enough, we'll probably ditch the corporate world and retire somewhere.
In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity. But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master's will.
One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.
While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell's mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.
Dreamspinner Press: The Last Grand Master.
Barnes & Noble: The Last Grand Master
Amazon: The Last Grand Master
It took the pair several minutes to wade through the throng of well-wishers. When they reached the central staging area, Farrell scowled as he scanned the stage.
“Didn’t Horgon tell the organizers we wanted all newly-joineds to meet us here?”
Miceral’s smile faded when he looked around. “I heard him dictate the request.”
Searching for the festival organizer, Farrell readied a searching spell when he noticed the official at the head of a large group of confused couples.
“Guess that answers that,” Miceral whispered in his ear.
After an obligatory first dance with the other couples, Miceral led Farrell to a long table set aside for them. Swimming through the sea of well-wishers, Farrell let out a sigh of relief when they reached the far corner of the hall.
“Farrell?” He turned when he heard his name, scanning the crowd for the speaker.
Miceral pointed to their left, just as Ostert and Lillian made their way through the crowd.
“Congratulations on entering the ranks of the joined.” Ostert clapped Miceral on the back while Farrell gave Lillian a hug. Reaching for Ostert’s hand, Farrell stepped back.
“A dress tunic and no sword?” Farrell smirked. “You even wore your uniform when we came to dinner. I didn’t know you owned anything else.”
Lillian rolled her eyes and shook her head. “If you only knew the effort it took to get him to wear this today.”
Miceral reached out to hug her. “You only have yourself to blame for the monster you created.”
She nodded. “I know. You remind me every time I complain. If I hadn’t let him wear the uniform to our union ceremony, he wouldn’t think it’s acceptable everywhere.”
“At the risk of upsetting you,” Farrell pulled out a chair for Lillian, “I think he looks rather handsome in the uniform.”
“Thank you.” Ostert gave his wife an exaggerated nod. “But I still don’t find you attractive, Farrell.”
Farrell laughed, remembering their conversation when they first met. “That’s a good thing, since you’re about to become a father soon. I would hate to have your lovely wife vexed at me.”
“Hey.” Miceral poked him on the upper arm. “You should be concerned about your new life partner. Telling other men you think they’re handsome on our union day is not the best idea.”
Realizing the mistake he’d made, Farrell couldn’t think of a good comeback. He must have looked as confused as he felt because Miceral pulled him closer for a long kiss.
“Do that some more and I won’t even notice other men exist.” Farrell leaned in for another kiss before he let Miceral step back.
“Were we that bad?” Ostert asked his wife.
“We? No, we weren’t, but you were worse.” She smiled at him.
“Oh, yes.” Farrell pointed at his friend. “For days after the ceremony you wore a smile as wide as your face.”
“So how’s the baby?” Miceral asked.
Ostert’s face broke into a grin. “The healers say he’s doing great.”
Farrell turned to Lillian. “He? I thought you said you didn’t want to know the sex.”
She let out her breath and turned to her husband. “I didn’t, but I agreed to find out if he agreed to dress properly for today.”
Miceral laughed. “I think she played you.”
Turning from his wife to Miceral, Ostert looked deflated. “Really?”
Putting an arm around his friend, Miceral shook his head. “If she really didn’t want to know, do you think she would have bargained just to get you in a tunic? She obviously didn’t mind finding out, but used it to get you do something she knew you’d resist.”
“Miceral!” Lillian’s eyes narrowed as she fixed her stare on him. “You’re not supposed to tell him my secrets.”
Gently taking her hand in his, Miceral brought it to his lips for a brief kiss. “My apologies, Lillian. Ostert is like a younger brother to me. Someone has to teach him what to expect.”
In the process of taking a sip of wine, Farrell sprayed the red liquid all over the table when he coughed. When he recovered, he waved his hand to clean up the mess. “You’re teaching him the ways of women? Where did you come by this knowledge?”
Turning Ostert away from Farrell, Miceral glared at his partner for a moment. “Don’t mind him. Just remember to ask me next time.”