So it was MLR Press author chat day at the LR Cafe yahoo group yesterday, and I thought I’d post the Q&A here for you all to enjoy, or laugh at. Either one’s good really.
Please tell us about yourself. What got you interested in being an author?
Well, about ten years ago, I was living in Hong Kong–my dad got a job over there and moved the whole family–and I ended up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia because of Model United Nations. I honestly can’t even remember which country I was representing. Possibly Sudan, although I think that was the year before. Anyway, it was cool because the host family I stayed with was Australian–I’m an Aussie, by the way, hello from down under–and it turned out Simon and I both liked writing, Australian comedy (can’t wait for the festival) and Warhammer (okay, I’m a geek). Anyway, he introduced to an PBeM egroup called Imperial Secrets (IMS) that is now sadly defunct, but um… I got home to HK, was up at 2 AM in the morning and created a character to post with and discovered what I
wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Can you tell me a bit about your most recent/upcoming release?
My debut novel is called The Secret of Talmor Manor. It’s a modern paranormal mystery–although some people are classifying it as historical–the main conceit is that my main character, Jake, falls asleep and finds himself in a Victorian era manor inhabited by a number of ghosts–and then one of them (the hunky one) appears in Jake’s living room. Then it’s a case of, why is the ghost, Nathaniel, in the waking world? Why is Nathaniel corporeal? WTF is up with this sexual chemistry thing, who is trying to kill them, and what should he wear to the upcoming Halloween party? You know, all the important questions!
For any readers who may not have read any of your books, can you just give us a little sneak peak into world (i.e. the type of genre you write, type of stories you like to write…etc)?
So that would be every reader here, right? Um…well see, typically I write fantasy fiction, so this novel was a bit of a departure for me, and of course it’s the one that Laura and MLR went ‘Yes Please’ to. Um… I guess I like to write stories that are really less ‘romance’ stories than other stories that just happen to have a male/male romance built in to them as part of the overall plot. I tend to push myself to give characters real reactions, and I also like to be funny, which sometimes doesn’t work with the real reactions, so it usually comes down to finding the place where the story sits and forcing myself to stick to it. It usually works.
How much of yourself, if any, do you put into your characters?
That depends entirely on the character. Jake got a few of my pet peeves, but there’s bits of me in just about every character, even the antagonist(s). I find that my characters start off somewhere in me and then move rapidly into their own little world and space over the course of writing and drafting.
Is there a genre you haven’t done that you would like to explore in the future?
Science Fiction. I just don’t quite trust my technobabble skills enough to knuckle down and do it. Plus I have a number of fantasy stories I want to get done first.
If you could throw a party with any five people (living or dead) who would you pick and why?
1) My boyfriend, because it’s not really a party without him.
2) Carmel–you know, I don’t know her last name, but there’s this really nice lady from central Victoria (Australia) over on Goodreads who just offered to sponsor me into the Emerging Writers’ Festival, i.e. donate the author’s fee that would pave the way for me appearing in it. I don’t even know if that’s allowed, but I’d really like to meet her, because I’ve known her less than a week online and she offered me that much support.
NB: This does NOT mean I will be appearing in the Emerging Writers’ Festival, only that I have contacted them about the possibility of appearing and Carmel has contacted them about the possibility of sponsoring that appearance. If anything comes of this, I will let you know.
3) Whichever producer out there in existence would listen to and want to produce my musical theatre work, Son of the Son. Yep, I have written a full fledged musical which I’d like to get off the ground one of these years.
4) Kei–Kei is the other me. She’s a year younger than I am, absolutely nuts, and Japanese, and the only thing you really need to know is that it’s a bit like one person in two bodies–me and her. We get on like a house on fire. No wait, that’s just the smoke alarm from us cooking badly…
5) Smittens AKA Gollum AKA Smithy AKA Mark–a friend of mine who moved to the UK and can do perfect Lord of the Rings Gollum impersonations.
*Looks back over the list* Wow okay, so celebrity doesn’t really mean much to me. Go figure.
What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?
Well, I currently have a fighter fish, but I’m tempted go with Ferrets. I mean, you get to take a ferret for walkies, what’s not to love about that?
Do you hate how you look in pictures? Why or why not?
Oh yeah. I look strange in pictures. That’s why there aren’t many of me.
Do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your Rs or dotting your Is with heart (or anything like that)?
I tend to write in all caps, although I’m not sure if that counts as strange or not?
Boxers, briefs, boxerbriefs? Or commando on a man? Why?
Boxerbriefs–trunks–for the mix of support with functionality and because I don’t like how boxers can twist around your legs. Plus, let’s be honest, I’m not likely to have biological kids anyway, so who cares about spermcount? Commando if I’m just lounging around the house–AKA writing–and not planning on going out anytime soon.
What is your strangest habit?
I have been known to sing and dance in public. And when I say public I mean…at random without thinking about it in the middle of the street.
Who are your literary heros and why?
Terry Pratchett (could Alzheimer’s please go find someone else to hassle?). The thing I love about Pratchett is that he takes something and critiques it while being amazing funny and he educates people while making them laugh. He’s one of the smartest writers I’ve ever read.
What would you tell aspiring young writers about the publishing business?
It’s a business. If you’re not willing to treat it as such, perhaps you ought to question if you really want to be in it.
As an author your job is to tell a compelling story that’s going to make people want to recommend your book to their friends–preferably to strangers in the street–and if you’re not committed to that you’re not going to produce your best work. Also, your editor is your friend, even–especially–when he or she is pointing out gaping plot holes in your baby. If you don’t have an editor or aren’t good at critiquing yourself, try to find a friend who is capable and
happy to give you their unbiased and unvarnished opinions.
One good piece of advice I remember seeing was ‘When you finish your draft, put it away and take it out maybe a month or so later, so the characters aren’t running around in your head, and then read it as if you really hate the person who wrote it’. Then see what edits you think should be made…
Tell us five random things about yourself.
1) I have done drag-well, played Angel in RENT, but that’s still drag.
2) I knit.
3) If anyone here is in Australia, I’ll be in Daylesford this weekend for ChillOut! giving a reading for banQuet Press. *plug plug*
4) I’m a gamer and I’m waiting for Dragon Age 2 to arrive in my mailbox
5) I like cheese.
What type of writer are you? The one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
Um, well technically 6 years, although if you go from the point where I decided it would be a published book, rather than me mucking around with storytelling, about 18 months?
When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?
Night owl. 2 AM in the morning is creative time.
How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?
Do you research. MLR Press was actually the first and only publisher I approached. I looked around at all the places I could find that published m/m writing, and MLR Press stood out for a number of reasons. First and foremost
they stated that they would take the time to read and respond (with feedback) to any manuscript sent to them, and they also published print and eBook copies concurrently, where most of the others were eBook only. I decided if I was going to get published, they were my preferred publisher, so I submitted to them and then went and had a nervous breakdown. Okay, just kidding on that last bit, but it was a scary experience for someone who had no idea what he was doing. It’s going to be scary. The entire journey of going from aspiring to published is frightening, but don’t let that stop you from doing it.
What book are you reading now?
I’m rereading Planescape Torment. And I think I should just dig out my copy of it again and play though it on the PC. The problem with me is I can read a book in a day, so I’m always running out of books.
And that’s it. I also posted an exclusive excerpt of The Secret of Talmor manor over on the LRC group–find it here if you want to have a peek!
Anyway, off to Daylesford today. See you all on the other side!