~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~it's all about the love~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dec Author Interview/Giveaway #8~~Reno MacLeod & Jaye Valentine

My guest, actually guests, on my blog today are a spectacular writing duo who I constantly fangirl over (don't tell them that though). Welcome Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine to Chaos in the Moonlight. *tries not to squee*

1. How about we start with some basic information – tell me a little bit about yourselves? Where did you grow up? What kind of students were you? What were your favorite activities? How did you meet? ;) Anything you want to share is fine.

Reno: I grew up in Rhode Island, not too far from where I live now, and had a mercifully easy childhood. I'm the older of two, and my very understanding parents are still together, so I was pretty damn lucky. Growing up, I tended to be a student who did best with teachers who made learning interesting. Memorization has never been a strong point for me, and it's only gotten worse as I get older. I need to understand the reasoning behind something for me to grasp and keep it. The Discovery Channel is my eternal friend. I was terrible at math. I flunked algebra twice and they stuck me in what was considered a "dummy math class" but turned out to be knowledge everyone should have. Things like, oh, how to balance a budget and write checks. Which makes me wonder if the reason our country is so fucked is because all those honor students never took dummy math.

Jaye: I grew up in a small, blue-collar neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland that's famous for its residents calling everyone "hon." I was a straight-A student all through school, including an obscene number of college credits for which I have no degree. I've always been a major biological science geek, and my favorite college courses involved cadavers. If life hadn't gone screwy on me, I probably would've ended up as a forensic autopsy technician. I'm opposite Reno in the memory-retention department—I can remember the most mundane facts in detail forever. Sometimes I wonder if my brain will someday explode because of all the useless information I store. I'm awesome at Jeopardy, and a friend's father punched me out once because I kept winning our weekly game of Trivial Pursuit.  

2. How did you start writing m/m romance? I know you, Jaye, have some solo works out and Reno designs the covers for all your books, so did you start off writing together or separately?

Reno: Jaye was writing long before me. We met through an online roleplay forum. Yes, I was a geek like that too, once. We started writing offline together when the group fell apart as those so often do. We wrote this epic story between our characters, and while it still had all the issues of a bad role-play, we both felt it had a wonderful plot. We talked about how we wished we could share our world with people, and realized of course we couldn't with someone else's characters, so we set out on creating our own. 
Jaye had a very strong, private school education, and I was willing to learn what I should have learned in grade school about grammar and construction, so we wrote what would eventually become the second StarCrossed book. And no, the 400,000-word role-play story that started it all has never seen the light of day. Everytime we think we might salvage it, we read a few paragraphs and say, "We wrote that? Yikes."

Jaye: *laughs* Yeah, the head-hopping, it burns. Not much else to add there, other than to say that I've started dabbling in cover-art creation, too. I did the cover for SING! and for its upcoming sequel, the epic-length Karma With A Grudge (you heard it here first, folks) novel, and for my soon-to-be-released solo novel, Abomination. I'm becoming a whiz at changing cover models' hair color. PhotoShop has a steep learning curve like WHOA, but I've picked up some decent skills already, and I'm learning more each day.

Reno: He's being modest. He's a bloody whiz at Photoshop now and has a natural eye for what looks good!

3. Did you have any early influences either in this genre or any other when you were first starting out?

Reno: I read billions of books growing up and I have to say, the authors who inspired me most were:
—Poppy Brite, who had a creeptastic vision with strong homoerotic characters. I learned that being different is okay from her books, and discovered my love of New Orleans..
—Mercedes Lackey with her wonderful gay character Vanyel, which made it okay to be gay and strong, but emotional too.
—Stephen King, who I find is a magnificent storyteller and can still give me nightmares.
—Richard Adams, who wrote Watership Down. I read that book when I was about twelve and it struck me profoundly. It's basically about a bunch of rabbits, but it's more than that. It's about how humans treat the world and one another. It was not really a kid's book at all. There's a lot of death in that book. I still have the whole thing in my head, scene by scene.

Jaye: I love Ray Bradbury, the writing duo of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and Jeffery Deaver. Deaver's series featuring the quadriplegic forensic criminalist, Lincoln Rhyme, is my desert-island-keeper series of books. I really wish Hollywood would have made more movies after The Bone Collector (which had perfect casting for the two main characters in Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie). Another favorite book that I re-read periodically is Richard Matheson's What Dreams May Come (which is NOTHING like that terrible movie version with Robin Williams). It's a beautiful, profound story about the enduring power of love, and the prose is simply gorgeous. One of my favorite authors of gay erotica through the years has been Rob Rosen, whom I had the pleasure to work with on an anthology a few years back. I love erotica that can be sexy and make you laugh at the same time, and Mr. Rosen is a master of that in short form.

4. What is your favorite sub-genre to write and to read? For example – I can never pass up a story with a rockstar in it or more often than not, cowboys.

Reno: Six months ago I would have said my favorite sub-genre would be strictly supernatural stuff. And to a large degree, it still is. But I have really loved writing Nick Vangard, my rock star of SING!, and I will eventually want to go back to Germany and explore more of the historical happenings there.

Jaye: I'm having a blast with our rock stars right now. I can't really see myself ever writing a cowboy, though. Brokeback Mountain sort of ruined cowboys for me, I'm afraid. As soon as I see a hot cowboy, I start hearing that annoying, repetitive theme music from the movie, and I just want to cover up my ears and run. We're currently percolating an idea for another supernatural book, but we're keeping the premise close to the vest on that one for now. 

5. Do you have any writing or reading quirks or squicks? Anything that you just can't read or don't think you'll ever write. Anything you have to do before you start or as you write – certain music, computer facing west, etc.

Reno: Reading/writing Squicks: I think we've already written the taboo topics we're likely to. If you've read our books, you know we can be violent and we're pretty open-minded. As far as writing quirks go, I like to be near a window, and I usually have something alcoholic on hand. I have a laptop, so I tend to write in different places.

Jaye: I'm fairly squick-proof, but as Reno said, we've already gone pretty much as taboo as we can go while retaining the ability to sell books in a reasonable number of markets. As for my writing quirks, the area around me has to be without clutter or else I can't focus. My desk is one of those office-in-an-armoire things, and it's in one corner of our kitchen. My morning ritual consists of cleaning up any leftover dishes from the night before, going through sticky notes left on my desk the previous night and discarding the ones I no longer need, and generally neatening up everything in my field of vision. And yeah, booze.

6. Are you plotters or pantsers? How do you handle the situation of writing together?

Jaye: Both. For our co-authored stuff, we tend to start off with a certain scene as a jumping-off point, and from there we let the story unfold organically. However, once we feel like we're approaching the end of the story, we tend to plot how to get there so we don't leave any loose ends dangling. For my solo stories, some of them were very carefully pre-plotted and some were total seat-of-the-pants jobs. Hopefully, readers can't tell the difference.

Reno: That about sums it up.

7. I won't assume you celebrate Christmas but if you do, what are your favorite parts of the holidays?

Reno: Jaye is always making fun of me because I'm about as religious as a frog, but I love Christmas. I love decorating the tree, I love the food and the carols and the Fa-La-La. I didn't grow up in a religious home, but we always did the Christmas thing. I believed in Santa for way too long. But my favorite holiday is—big surprise—Halloween.

Jaye: My favorite part of Christmas is that Reno always takes a big chunk of time off from the day gig. We get seventeen days home in a row this year, so I'm ecstatic. We'll probably do some shopping, work on a small project in the house, and we'll most certainly be ready to start on the aforementioned percolating supernatural book by then. I'm looking forward to a cozy staycation.

8. Tell me about your muse – if you have one of course.

Reno: Sometimes I wonder how many voices I really have in my head. They're all very different. Karl, who you will meet in the upcoming Night and Fog novel, came to me at a very intimate moment with an entire story. It brought our other works-in-progress to a halt, demanding to take precedence. Night after night, Karl told me what to write. Now you have to realize, I knew nothing about the concentration camps of Germany aside from what I learned in American public school—not much. Everything we wrote organically, we went back and researched and found 90% of it accurate. It was as if someone were feeding us their life stories.

Other muses are far less work. Jace is loud 24/7 and comes when I call.

Jaye: I tend to treat each character I write as a separate, unique muse for inspiration. They all seem to have their own needs, wants, desires, and demands, so it's hard for me to look at an intangible like that as a single entity. But if I did have a singular muse, he would have a cool name like Eulenspiegel.

9. Have you ever based any of your characters on real people? Do you have a  favorite character to write? (you know I love your StarCrossed series – looove)

Jaye: None of our characters are based on real people, but there are some that possess an amalgam of traits from people we know. Which of my characters is my favorite is a difficult question to answer. I guess my favorite is the principal character I'm writing at any given time, but I have to admit to having a weak spot for Jericho in the StarCrossed series. He has such a tragic backstory, and I hope to tell it someday in a novella format.

Reno:  Jaye's covered this pretty well. We're influenced by people, usually famous ones, but no character is ever supposed to be a certain real person. The SING! books have characters who represent certain aspects of our culture, like talk show hosts and rock stars, and we've taken bits and pieces of different people we enjoy to create our characters.

I'm not sure I would call them favorites, but I have four characters who seem to pop into my head, WWJD-style. Jace Barton, who says WWJD actually stands for, "What Would Jace Do?" Fallon, whose actual inspiration came from our cat, Anakin, and his antics. Karl, who hates stupid people and can be my darker side. And now Nick, who I think will be joining the ranks of the never-going-away staff.

10. Finally just a few multiple choice questions: (you can take them any way you like and I'd love to see both your answers)

Rock, country or classical?

Reno: All three, depending on the day and mood I'm in. I grew up with classical being played in the house.

Jaye: Oh God, you LIBRA! You just can't choose, can you? Given a choice of the three, I have to say rock. David Bowie got me through puberty. Not personally, of course, but via his music. :-)

Giraffe or monkey?

Reno: Giraffe. No, monkey. Wait, what? Ironically, my sister-in-law and my mother are both monkey fanatics. I was told this weekend how unfair it is that Animal Practice was cancelled.

Jaye: Monkeys creep me out, ever since I got one of those stupid animatronic monkeys with the cymbals when I was a kid. Messed me up almost as much as the clowns did on my first trip to the circus. So, I like giraffes better, especially when they run.

Tea or coffee?

Reno: Both, although if I had to choose, it would be tea.

Jaye: Coffee. I like tea, but I'd be one cranky bastard without my pot of coffee in the morning.

Who would win in a fight – vampires or werewolves?

Reno: At the risk of being sucked dry in the middle of the night by our vampires, I have to say I think werewolves would win in a fair fight.

Jaye: No way! Vampires would win, hands-down. They have super speed, super strength, and they're super smart. The werewolf has teeth and a surly attitude. Not even a contest. 

Series or one-shot?

Reno: Is this a trick question?

Jaye: Series. I have a hard time letting go of characters.

Beach or mountains?

Reno: Beach. I would die if I had to move away from the salt and surf.

Jaye: Hey, we agree on something! Definitely the beach.

Eyes or smile?

Reno: Eyes. You can learn more from them.

Jaye: Again, I agree.

Cowboys or rockstars? (yeah, I have to ask)

Reno: Rock stars, at least to write. I would have liked to have been a cowboy though. Hell, being a rock star wouldn't have been a bad gig either. Have you seen some of those multi-million dollar homes?

Jaye: Rock stars, because God, there goes that damn Brokeback Mountain theme song in my head again. Thanks for that! :-) (damn - is it too late for me to cancel the soundtrack I ordered for you?)

11. Finally, tell us about your next release or what you're working on now.

Reno: I'll leave this one for Jaye.

Jaye: Next up for release is my solo novel, Abomination. After that, our World War II historical, Night & Fog, and after that will come Karma With A Grudge (the SING! sequel). It's going to be a very busy two months for Jaye, with much more on the horizon.
(I adore the cover for Sing!)

Thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to your next releases – all of them.
Reno and Jaye's Bio

Jaye Valentine (a.k.a. Acer Adamson) and Reno MacLeod live in a quaint, lakeside cottage on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Reno's hobbies include cultivating their sandy garden and building massive bonfires, while Jaye's hobbies include thinking up reasons not to kill the summer tourists. Their first book, Demon Tailz, began the StarCrossed series which has recently celebrated the release of a fifth volume, Revelation.

You can see their full backlog of books at http://www.macleodvalentine.com, and friend Reno on Twitter @reno_macleod or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/reno.macleod.tailz, and Jaye on Twitter @jaye_valentine and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jaye.valentine.  

Reno and Jay have kindly offered up a give-away to on winner's choice of an ebook from their backlist on their  http://www.macleodvalentine.com. Leave your name and email address for a chance to win - don't forget the email or we can't get ahold of you. Contest will run from December 17-20 - winner will be posted on the 21st. Good Luck!


  1. Love the tag-team banter, these look like excellent books!


  2. Great interview ^.^ Love your Star Crossed series and I've been ogling Little Japan for a long time now (or ever since I saw it as an avatar when we were playing Sims Social together).

    It must be easier to co-write a book when you're living together. I think I'd like to try to co-write a book... maybe.

    eripike at gmail dot com

  3. I've just read Sing! and really enjoyed it, so I!m looking forward to a sequel.

    diannakayAT gmailDOTcom

  4. Enjoyed the interview! Love your books! Some of my favorites are Little Japan, A Perfect Game, and Soft Focus. SING! is definitely on my wish list right now. :)

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  5. I'm glad to be introduced to new authors. Thanks for a chance to win the giveaway!

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

  6. Co-writing together is easier in the sense that discussions occur over morning coffee, and transpire much more quickly. Of course, face to face, one cannot hide one's emotions as easily. Although Jaye and I are usually in sync when it comes to our stories and if something isn't going as planned, we can reboot to the point where we jumped the rails.

    Ironically, we wrote 'the end' on the sequel to Sing! this past Sunday. We already have dozens of ideas for a third book, but we're taking a break to write a few others before we jump back into the world of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

    Thanks for the kind words, Diannakay and Lisa!

    I hope everyone out there is having a good holiday season!

  7. Eliot, the growl-sexy randomizer, picked...



    Thanks for hanging out with Reno, Jaye and I everyone.

    Happy holidays.