I’m thrilled to have Amy Lane as my guest today. I can honestly say I have never read a book of hers that I didn’t like and more often than not, I get way over-the-top invested in her characters (that would be why I formed the Deacon-fangirl-club) because she writes them broken and emotional and with a whole lot of love and hope. Amy has two holiday releases this year both from Dreamspinner; The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-bearing Critters (cutest cover ever!) already out now, and Puppy, Car and Snow on December 21.
Welcome, Amy. Please excuse me if I fangirl a little too much. J So are you ready for Christmas? Have you exhausted your knitting needles for the holidays?
LOL—actually, I was doing GREAT, until I had, like three emergency baby hats to finish. It was my fault—I knew those babies were coming…
1. How did you get started writing m/m romance? Did you always want to be a writer?
Oh yeah—always wanted to be a writer. As for m/m romance? I was taking a master’s class in creative writing when Prop 25 was being voted on. In California, it was the FIRST proposition that dealt with banning gay marriage, and it was voted down (which is why Prop 8 was such a crock, but that’s another story.) Anyway, I started getting angry (and passionate!) about why we couldn’t just let people be who they needed to be. In the meantime, I’d finished a short story called Vulnerable, and when I went to add on to it, I suddenly realized that Adrian had a past with an elf named Green—if you ever read that book (and forgive me for the shitacular do-it-yourself-editing) you’ll see that their relationship took me as much by surprise as it will take the reader. But I loved writing that relationship, and the rest sort of went from there.
2. What were your early influences either in this genre or any other?
Mm… Robin McKinley, Guy Gavriel Kay, Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn and C.J. Cherrye to start. Yeah, I know—all sci-fi/fantasy writers, but I loved them terribly! In strictly m/m, I’d say Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux.
3. What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Constant self-doubt. Constant. When I’m writing, it’s not so bad—the characters are talking, and yeah, sometimes doing unexpected things, but that’s okay. It’s when I’m thinking about what’s coming. It doesn’t matter which story I’m working on—the stories are always a challenge in some way. I always try to do SOMETHING I haven’t done before. So, I’m always wondering if I’ve got the chops to do that thing I have planned to do. It’s what makes taking criticism so hard. On the one hand, constructive criticism is essential to improving a craft that SHOULD be constantly evolving. On the other, the bad shit? The mean shit? That just seems to echo every doubt I’ve ever had.
4. Does any one of your books hold a special place in your heart more so than the others?
Vulnerable, of course, because it was my first. Bitter Moon, I & II, because they have a fictionalized version of my family in them, and because the second one is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, in any capacity, ever. And after that, I think it’s a toss up between Making Promises and Clear Water, because they’re sweet and joyful and still painful in their ways.
5. Tell us a little about your new releases and I just have to know who picked out that adorable picture for the cover of Critters.
LOL—okay, I’ve got two Christmas releases this year. One is for the Advent Calendar, which I REALLY enjoyed writing—it’s called The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur Bearing Critters, and it involves knitting as a form of communication for a VERY grouchy alpaca rancher/fiber mill owner named Rance Crawford. It’s a short little novella, but I really loved it—and I got to design a knitting pattern for it, so that’s a plus! And the cover? Well, it was my idea—Lynn, who is in charge of the Advent Calendar, always asks us what we’d like. I said I wanted an alpaca wearing a hat and a scarf, and the art department set about to make it HILARIOUS, and damn, they did a fantastic job of it. I mean… Seriously. One reviewer called it “epic-ly awesome” and I’m inclined to agree. Who needs man-titty when you’ve got an alpaca, looking at you with disdain and a knit hat?
The second story is a novella featuring two guys who have previously only been in short stories. Ryan and Scotty originally showed up in a story called Shirt, which appeared in the Curious Anthology, and the short story Phonebook, both from Dreamspinner Press. In Shirt, our two boys meet in a bathroom, and their relationship rapidly progresses until Ryan is running through the house late to pick his parents up from the airport. He gets tangled up in his shirt, and interesting things ensue. Phonebook involves a business trip and a conversation with Scott that has petered out, but neither of them wants to get off the phone. Scott proceeds to do things to a phonebook that no one anticipated—and, yes, interesting things ensue. Both stories feature a simple, no angst relationship—and how sometimes the very simplest things in our lives can lead to our most exciting and best experiences. Puppy, Car, and Snow does the same thing. Ryan and Scotty are snowed in with Ryan’s parents—and Ryan’s mother does not approve of Scotty as a mate for her son. (It’s not the gay—it’s the ambition, which Scotty doesn’t have a lot of.) Basically, these characters are all about each other—and sometimes family is less of a blessing than others!
6. Do you have any writing quirks? (ie computer has to be facing a certain way, cup of coffee on the left, certain music playing, etc)
If I am not careful, I could eat myself out of house and home—that’s a writing quirk, right? Seriously. The kids have learned not to put cookies on the table—I’ll totally snarf them all down and then look up blankly and go, “Cookies? We had cookies?” And my biggest quirk is talking to myself. I’ll be doing laundry (sometimes) or sitting in the car and I’ll be having total character conversations. My husband has finally learned that this is “writing”, not to be confused with “schizophrenia” by virtue of the fact that I can jerk myself back to reality at will. Maybe.
7. Do you have any writing or reading squicks? Things you don’t like to read and can’t see yourself ever writing?
I don’t know—eleven years ago, I never would have seen myself writing m/m, so I’ve learned to be careful. But I think an irredeemable protagonist would be hard to do. I came close with Chase, from the upcoming Chase in Shadow, but when all was said and done, Chase was more damaged than evil, so I think I’m safe. I think something with an ultimately pessimistic ending—I hope I’m never that jaded. (Even death at the end can still have some optimism—something I’ve been trying to convince my publisher for a year!) Really awkward prose. At least I hope not—I always fear getting too comfortable with the process. It’s a hard balance between being confident enough to say, “I know that’s different than what we’re used to but I’m keeping it because I like the difference,” and so arrogant I don’t see I just wrote crap. Writing crap is definitely a squick.
8. What are your thoughts on some of the speculation going around the m/m romance genre that stories and ideas are just being recycled and new authors aren’t bringing much “new” to the table. (don’t feel intimidated because I’m new :P)
Oh no. That’s not intimidating at ALL. (*g*) I think that as more people are drawn to this genre, we will find that different writers have different things to offer—that’s a given, and a positive one at that. I do think that new writers have to be careful of making the genre too incestuous (and not in the yummy Wincest way, either.) What I mean is that I worry about a generation of m/m writers who have ONLY read m/m literature. Josh Lanyon, Marie Sexton, Heidi Cullinan, Damon Suede, Mary Calmes—they’ve all truly loved other genres first, and have literature, all literature, including poetry and non-fiction, running through their veins. It’s fine to write m/m because that is your passion, but the more—and more variety—you read can only improve your writing. I worry that we’ll create a generation of m/m writers who know only m/m tropes and m/m expectations, and that’s not good for any genre.
9. What can we expect next from you? Are you already working on something else?
Oh ALWAYS. Let’s see… I’ve got a brief break from releases in January, and then, I’ve got two projects that I found to be VERY interesting. The first is the novella form of Super Sock Man, which was my free story offered on the m/m group at goodreads.com. The thing is, I sent this to my publisher thinking that it was simply cute and that she’d want to read it. She liked it very much—but wanted it longer. And she wanted the socks that were figured in the story. So I designed the socks, knit a pair for the cover, and sent them to her, along with the pattern. I’m EXTREMELY tickled about this—but I’m also nervous. Besides wanting the novella to measure up to the short story (which people really loved!) I also hope the pattern is sound. I had it vetted by a couple of knitting pros, but nothing near what they do in the larger magazines, and I’m nervous.
The other thing that I’ve got going is sort of an offshoot of that—and it’s an example of characters taking on a life of their own. When I wrote the short story, I mentioned that Donnie, the protagonist, had given a few handjobs to a buddy. When I wrote the novella, I talked about that buddy, and he seemed to have a story to tell as well. When I told Chase’s story… ye gods, are ye listening? The fury ye unleashed upon the world, it was fearsome and frightening, and it shall rain blood and redemption down upon the reader! (Sorry about that—but seriously—what happened with this character!) Chase’s story was not pretty, it was not comfortable, and I’m seriously thinking about rewriting the ending to make it less happy. (My beta readers just took out a hit on my life, and so did my publisher. Maybe I’ll save that for another book, when I’m out of the country.) The novella, Super Sock Man, and the novel, Chase in Shadow are going to be released in the same month, and I hope that at some point, someone will look at both of them and marvel that they came from the same brain. I know I do. (I also worry. Geez, talk about your fractured psyches—yeesh!)
10. Finally – a few quick choices:
a. Coffee or tea—neither. Diet Coke.
b. Dog or cat--Cat
c. Beach or mountains--Beach
d. Pecs or abs—Abs!
e. Smile or eyes--Smile
f. Cowboys or rockstars--Rockstars
g. Who would win in a fight – vampires or werewolves? And why.
In my books, they work together with the sidhe and fight anyone who threatens them. After all, they’re all the Goddess’s children!
Amy has generously offered up an ebook copy of The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-bearing Critters OR Puppy, Car and Snow (IOU) to one lucky commenter (winner’s choice of one of the two). BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT.
But if you don’t win you can pick up The Winter Mating Rituals of Fur-bearing Critters at Dreamspinner - The Winter Mating Rituals of Fur-bearing Critters