Kendall McKenna’s Brothers in Arms
Recently Matthew had a bit of a chat to Kendall McKenna, writer of military and military werewolf stories about her books and writing, which in her own words, is about a lot more than just romance. He started by asking her why she wrote:
Kendall: I write because I’ve always had stories in my head. I enjoy forming sentences and selecting words that say something specific, or that sound a certain way. I write because I just love to do it. I love being creative and constructing story arcs and developing interesting characters. I love the feeling of completing a story, it’s a powerful sense of accomplishment. It’s also pretty gratifying when readers appreciate what I’ve written.
Matthew: You say you wrote your first story at the age of nine. Can you tell us what that story was about?
Kendall: I suppose it was a form of fanfiction, only I didn’t know what that was at the time. There was a song that was popular, or had been popular in the recent past, I can’t recall. Anyway, I realize now that the song was nonsense. However, back then, I thought it was telling a story in a vague way. I thought it was deliberately non-specific for creative reasons. I was intrigued and I wanted to know the entire story. The only way to do that, was to write my interpretation of the story. And that’s what I did. I incorporated some aspects of the song and expanded on them until I had a full story.
I wrote it in a journal that I kept as a class assignment, and I have no idea where it is now. Somewhere, I have a spiral notebook that holds a Return of the Jedi fanfic that I wrote when I was about 12, but I’m not sure where that is, either.
Matthew: Do you have a personal connection to the military? What makes soldiers your characters of choice?
Kendall: I’m going to get technical on you. Soldiers are army. Marines are Marines, and are a subset of the Navy. It seems nitpicky, but every Marine you’ll ever meet will correct you. A fellow author wrote a story about a Marine and called him a soldier through the entire story, and she gets email from readers correcting her!
I have never served in the armed forces, but I have been around them in some capacity, my entire life. The grandfather I was closest to was a Recon Marine. He was an original member of Third Recon when they were formed in WWII. All the men in my family served in one branch of the military or another. I grew up in San Diego, which has more Navy and Marine bases than I can easily count. Coronado is the home of the Navy SEALs, MCRD is the west coast intake facility for the Marines, Camp Pendleton is the home of First Recon. My social circles growing up . . . → Read More: More than Romance: Kendall McKenna
Today we bring you Matthew’s interview with Author and Illustrator Ana Bosch, who considers herself a writer of more than just romance, and currently working on a trilogy about, well, why don’t you just wait and find out? Matthew began by asking her why she wrote:
Ana: There are so many reasons! Primarily, I write because I love crafting stories. I love exploring the ways characters interact with each other, and I love being able to step outside myself and into another world. I also find it cathartic. While none of my writing can be considered anywhere near autobiographical, I often find ways to make sense of the struggles of my daily life by twisting and translating them into fiction—often in surprising and unpredictable ways. Also, as someone with tastes that usually don’t fall within the realm of mainstream American entertainment, it’s really important to me to be able to share stories that are a little outside the norm and serve an audience that is often neglected by the mainstream.
Matthew: You’re also an illustrator, correct? Do you find your writing informs your illustration or vice versa?
Ana: It really does go both ways. My artistic background was a source of inspiration for Art of Death, Bonds of Death, Lifelines (the upcoming third book in my undead series), and even my Christmas story, Lucky. Art is a big part of my life, so many of my stories involve art or artistic characters. Riley, the main character from the undead series, shares my profession. But ironically, he had the job before I did. I didn’t become a freelance illustrator until after I wrote the draft of Art of Death, and I’ve had a lot more luck in the field than poor Riley. I also think my artistic background has helped my writing itself. It’s much easier for me to visualize and describe characters and settings now than it was when I had less artistic experience. On the flipside, my desire to be a storyteller definitely influences the way I create my illustrations as well. While every job is different, I prefer to create conceptual illustrations that suggest a story and raise questions in the viewer, rather than just displaying something pretty. It’s easier to do this when I’m working with my own stories, but when I’m given enough information and freedom, I try to do it with all my work.
Matthew: What makes a story worth reading for you? Worth writing?
Ana: I don’t have as much reading time as I would like, so I have to be selective. For a story to be worth reading, it has to be fresh, new, and different. It has to be either wildly creative or from a different perspective, and it has to challenge me to think. I don’t read a whole lot of fluff . . . → Read More: More than Romance: Ana Bosch
Art by Christine Griffin
It’s nearly here. I’m going over the final galleys now and the novella should release on the 2nd of January 2013 (well, the 3rd for us Aussies given Dreamspinner works on American time). You can Pre-Order the eBook now for $3.99, or $2.99 if you catch the Christmas sale. And because it’s Christmas, here’s an excerpt from the story–the very first time our friend Leon (that’s him in the blue hoodie), meets Warrick the student nurse, AKA the guy in the green box on the cover. Not the footnotes start at seven because this section is already six footnotes in.
The room wasn’t what Leon had been expecting. For starters, it was mostly bare, with two ward beds empty and the third containing the limp figure of an aging matron, a thin, white cotton sheet doing little to conceal her bulk. Leon focused his gaze on the furthest corner of the room, where a yellow privacy curtain had been drawn back, allowing sunlight from the nearby window to play over the unmoving figure in the fourth hospital bed. The bed was large to Leon’s eyes, and the patient it contained looked a bit like a child in comparison, even though Leon knew Rook to be at least six inches taller than himself. The bedsheets were tucked around the recumbent figure, still neat and crisp, as if they had just been fitted around his body. Obviously, coma patients didn’t move much. An unused tray table and a soft chair—upholstered in the poo brown that had been ever so popular in the 1950s or some other decade before Leon’s time—sat off slightly to one side, a bunch of wilted flowers on the bedside table, and a small stack of get well cards the only personal touches in the otherwise institutional space. Leon would have expected a scrunched tissue or indented cushion or something—anything—to indicate the presence of parents, but apparently they lived far out in the middle of Woop Woop7. The last few days hadn’t been kind to Rook—or as he was known on his patient chart, Travis Rookford. The left side of his face was still swollen and bruised, the skin lacerated with a myriad of cuts that, according to newspaper sources, had been inflicted by a smashed bottle. One source8 said Rook was lucky to not have lost an eye. His right leg was elevated and in a heavy cast, and Leon knew that somewhere under the chest bandages were a number of broken ribs and a lot of internal bruising, and a significant amount of internal bleeding. “H-hi,” Leon said. The only response was a triple-fluted snore from the lady in bed three and the steady beep-beep-beep of Rook’s heart monitor. “You probably don’t remember me. Actually, I’d be surprised if you did,” Leon said, eyes wandering over the tubes that led from Rook’s muscled arm to the bag of intravenous . . . → Read More: Pre-Order ‘The Way You Are’ Today!
Today we bring you the first in what will hopefully become a series of interviews with writers who publish under the gay romance banner, but consider their stories to be more than romance novels, much in the way Matthew’s own writing tends to not foreground romantic relationships. We are incredibly happy to present Matthew’s recent interview with Kim Fielding, author of the Ennek trilogy and the just released Brute. Matthew began by asking her why she writes:
Kim: I don’t have much choice in the matter. I’ve had stories inside my head, clamouring to get out since I was a little kid. It’s only in the last few years I’ve found the courage to share them with others. When I go without writing for very long I get itchy typing fingers. It’s a huge plus for me that readers seem to enjoy my work, but frankly I’d probably keep on writing even if nobody ever saw my words but me. It’s all probably some kind of diagnosable compulsion, but not one I ever want to be cured of.
Matthew: Is there any particular reason you decided to write about two men?
Kim: Well, I like men! Seriously, I have very little control over who my characters are and what they do—or who they’re attracted to. And I think there are some specific advantages to writing about two men. It allows me to play with power themes and tropes and also to challenge stereotypes. It also creates a distance between myself and my characters that I think is a good thing. Nobody is going to assume there’s something autobiographical about my novel when the protagonist is a male, gay, maimed giant, for instance. Also, I write the kinds of things I enjoy reading. I’ve never liked het romance very much; it tends to bore or frustrate me. I think some of the ideas in gay romance are a lot fresher.
Matthew: I know you say you write more than ‘just’ romance. What then do you write and how do you feel it differs from traditional romance stories?
Kim: I think a lot of what I write defies neat categorization. Maybe that’s because the books of many of my favourite authors, such as Neil Gaiman, Isabel Allende, and Kurt Vonnegut, also cross genre boundaries. A lot of what I write has elements of magic or paranormal in it, but those elements tend to be blended in pretty thoroughly with everyday life. I suppose if I had to choose a category I felt most comfortable placing myself in, it might be magical realism. In my newest novel, for example—Brute—magic definitely exists. People can be healed by it and one of the main characters has dreams that foretell deaths. But most of the book centers around more everyday concerns, such as how to earn money, how to find friendship and love, and how to weigh conflicting duties.
One thing that sets a lot of my work apart from more traditional . . . → Read More: More than Romance: Kim Fielding
Still from Confessions of a Drunkard by Film By Democracy
So it’s the middle of NaNoWriMo, and Matthew has more or less left us to our own devices. We understand he’s passed the half way mark of 25,000 words, and is apparently four or five chapters away from finishing the draft of Prophecy, which will hopefully then make it into print after he finished editing it. Other than that, he says he’s struggling to make his word count targets and keep on top of everything else.
In more interesting news, Matthew is about to make his Big Screen debut in Film by Democracy‘s Confessions of a Drunkard, their entry into Melbourne’s 2012 48 Hour Film Festival. Matthew previously auditioned for a web series that never quite got off the ground, and was recently invited by director Monte Macpherson in the 48 Hour Film Project shoot. The Film By Democracy crew were given a film genre of Black Comedy, the character of an activist, the prop of a magnet, and the line “Let me tell you a secret,” all of which had to be included in the final film. Matthew played a largely improvised role of a partygoer–a metrosexual who was planning on being just gay enough to get the girl. He also possibly ended up murdered.
If you’d like to see him in all of his potential acting glory (we’re still dubious, but don’t tell him we said that, he won’t find out until he checks his website in December), you can come along to the second screening of 48 hour film festival entries:
Where: Cinema Nova, Lygon Street, Carlton When: Wednesday, November 14, 8:15 PM for an 8:30 PM start Tickets: General Admission $22, Concession $18.70, bookings here.
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In addition to Confessions of a Drunkard, you’ll also be able to see fifteen other short films. If Confessions of a Drunkard gets through to the top twelve, you can also come along to the Awards night on Friday the 16th of November. We can’t show you a video preview of the film, sadly, but we can show you film director Monte rushing to get the film finished and handed in on time.
We’ve also added the option for you to follow The Writing of Matthew Lang on Facebook via Networked Blogs–just click the follow button over on the right and you can access the latest from Matthew’s site directly from Facebook. Or you can just click here.
photo credit: a.drian via photopin cc
National Novel Writing Month sweeps around the globe and starts very close to me here in Australia. In some places, it’s already started, but here, it’s less than 1 hour away, and I’m wondering if I’m going to be staying up for a midnight start.
For anyone in the writing community who hasn’t stumbled across it yet, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an event that, last year, was celebrated, participated in, dreaded and lauded across the globe by over 250,000 writers, myself included.
The basic tenet of NaNoWriMo is the attempt to write a novel, or perhaps more accurately a novella in the month of November. The suggested word target is 50,000 words, or 1667 a day for 30 days.
Personally, I throw the guidelines out the window and aim for 2000 words a day and plow on with whatever writing project I’m currently working on, and this year, for the third time, I will be working on Prophecy, in this case, on the third draft, which I am happy to report is the first draft I’m happy with.
Now if you’re like me, and would like some visual encouragement, I’ve put together a tracking sheet for NaNoWriMo 2012 for rebels like me. Of course, it’s pretty much just like my 2011 spreadsheet, but if you’d like ready made for you, you can download it via the link below.
As per my annual tradition, during November, word count comes first to just about everything. I apologise in advance if I’m unresponsive, and I will do my best to catch up when I slow down in December. Until then, see you on the other side, and if you’re being as crazy as I am and diving into the writing, feel free to add me as a buddy.
NaNoWriMo Rebel Report Card 2012
MIXED TAPE – an anthology based on love songs
Okay, be honest…how many of you have made one? Have you had one given to them? What? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Way back when, when you needed to tell that special someone how you felt instead of writing a note you put together a compilation cassette tape of music. Songs that reminded you of that special someone, songs that told them how you felt so you didn’t have to say it to their face (just in case they didn’t feel the same). MLR Press Executive Editor Kris Jacen is putting together a mixed tape of stories inspired by love songs (especially from the 1980s). So break out those cassette tapes, acid wash jeans and neon colors.
Range between 5 and 40k Be inspired by a love song that plays a part in the story. Flashbacks, paranormal, contemporary, historical (apparently the 80s counts), all genres are welcome Must abide by MLR submission guidelines
Stories due by March 15, 2013 to email@example.com
Questions should be sent to Kris Jacen at KrisJacen@mlrpress.com
Sneaky Sound System performing at Spinout
It’s been a while since I went anywhere–near on a year actually–and I decided it was high time I had a holiday. And if I could work some actual work in with it to justify the trip to myself and the tax office, so much the better. As it turns out, my ebook cover artist, Richard Stansfield lives in Sydney, and we’re currently working on a cover for a standalone version of Screens, so visiting made perfect sense, especially as I was also able to drop by The Bookshop to sign some copies of The Secret of Talmor Manor for them. I’ve also spent the last few days hanging out with Matt Akersten of SameSame, who I’ve been corresponding with–keep an eye out for my review of the Scissor Sister’s concert and my entry for Q in their ongoing Gay-to-Z features, and ended up heading to Daywash, one of the big dance parties on the gay calendar. More importantly, I got to see Sneaky Sound system perform live, and if you haven’t heard Miss Connie remix herself, I recommend checking her out.
This Sydney trip is also my attempt to find out once and for all if I can survive without a PC. I’m currently running around with my HTC Sensation phone and my Asus eee pad transformer (with docking station), so essentially a touch screen netbook running an Android Operating system. I’m happy to leech wifi where I can, use apps to make blog posts, read and respond to emails, and even keep writing my next novel. Frankly, I bought the tablet because it was lighter than my laptop, had better battery life, and promised the excitement of being one day able to sign ebooks and manage esales if need be. I’ll keep you all posted on my progress, but so far it’s been brilliant for procrastination and reading and working in the QANTAS lounge, and not so good for the writing, largely because I’ve yet to find a decent MS Office app for Android that lets me use the Track Changes function I need for getting edits back to my long suffering editor. Polaris Office, the default is too basic, Olive Office was too slow, and Documents To Go refused to download when I needed it. Frankly, until something better comes along, I’m going to have to seriously consider refurbishing my laptop–for you geeks out there, it’s running Vista.
Anyway, it’s nearly 4:30 AM and the Scissor Sister’s videos are nearly uploaded. Happy Big Gay Weekend everyone, and I’ll see you on the dancefloor if you’re in Sydney!
There’s more to Australia Day than hunks in swimwear…but hey, he’s nice to look at
It’s been a busy time over for Matthew, but we are very happy to announce that two more of his short stories have been accepted for publication. His Australia Day short, following Trent from The Secret of Talmor Manor, will be coming out early next year from MLR Press, and his new, first person short story, To Lovers Past, will be released in Midsumma 2013 as part of banQuetpress‘ 2013 queer men anthology. With The Way You Are tentatively scheduled for January with Dreamspinner Press, that’s three short stories that you can look forward to in the new year. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!
We are very happy to announce that Matthew’s novella, tentatively title The Way You Are, has been contracted to Dreamspinner Press. This will be Matthew’s first story available through Dreamspinner, and we are all very excited to be working with them.
The Way You Are follows Leon, a shy, self-effacing business student at the University of Newcastle, who starts to visit coma patient Travis ‘Rook’ Rookford, a heterosexual student who gets gay bashed by a group of bogans*. At the hospital he meets, falls in love with, and has a lovers tiff with hunky male nurse Warrick, in that order. Then, when Rook finally wakes up, Leon is surprised to find Rook convinced that he and Leon are dating. In the midst of dealing with loving a man in conservative regional Australia, Rook’s upcoming court appearance and his own studies, Leon has to come to terms with what he wants, and gets to find out whether every gay man’s dream of having a hot straight guy fall for you is everything it’s cracked up to be. And he hasn’t even started Christmas shopping yet.
*Bogan, according to the 2012 Oxford English Dictionary, is a ”depreciative term for an unfashionable, uncouth, or unsophisticated person, especially of low social status”. It’s a very Australian term, and has, so we are told, nothing to do with the town of Bogan in New South Wales.
Stay tuned for updates and eventual cover art from this exciting new development!