What inspired you to start writing?
Writing is one of those things I’ve been doing since I can remember. When I was little I loved anything that involved creating something, and I spent most of my time drawing my own characters, and coming up with profiles and backstories for them, everything from princesses to pirates. If I really liked the characters, I’d create storybooks for them. I very clearly remember one story about two mice that fell in love, and the evil rat who tried to keep them apart!
I don’t think there was any one thing that inspired me. I drew inspiration from everything around me, and just went with my imagination. The need to create has always been there--and luckily still is, but out of everything I did, writing was the one I thing enjoyed doing the most. Even when I hit the real world and couldn’t draw as much as I wanted to, the writing continued. I just couldn’t leave it behind.
What did it feel like watching your first book fledge and leave the nest?
It was both exciting and terrifying. At the time, I knew little to nothing about the publishing world, and although there’s a whole lot of information out there, when you’re new, it’s tough to know where to start. My background is in art, so everything I know about writing has been self-taught. The fact that I love to read and always have, has also helped. As for being published, everything I learned has been through research and first-hand experience.
Despite all my writing over the years, few people had actually read my work. I’ve always been very shy about it. So of course when my first story got picked up by a publisher I could barely sleep. I told myself if it was rubbish, then it wouldn’t have been contracted, but every little self-doubt you could possibly imagine went through my head. I’m one of those people who look at their own work, and no matter how good it may seem, always thinks it could somehow be better. The hardest part was when it was no longer in my hands. There are all these pieces of me out there, waiting to fall into someone’s hands. It’s pretty damn scary, but whenever someone tells me how much they enjoyed one of my stories, or reading about my characters, it makes it all worthwhile.
Why this particular setting and era?
I’ve always been fascinated by the 1920s and 1930s. Yes, a good deal of it has been glamorized by Hollywood, and with some stories I’ve taken that golden age of Hollywood approach, but all of it just enthralls me. I love the clothing, the music, the architecture, the personalities, and of course the history. So much change in twenty years, so much inspiration. Cary Grant is what started it all, so you can blame him for my obsession.
Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?
I’m most definitely character driven. When I sit down to start a story, it always begins with a character, usually one of the main protagonists. I get an image of him and soon he starts to talk to me, tell me his troubles, who he is, and what he does. Then the rest of the cast starts making an appearance, and they all start getting fleshed out. I approach all my books like a movie, seeing everything play out in my head like one.
As for the tangents, it’s happened plenty of times. I’ve decided a certain path for a character and suddenly he just digs in his heals and decides he’s not going to be who I decided he was going to be. Sure, there’s always small changes, like he starts out in a certain profession and ends up in something else, or his name or hair color changes, but characters who have completely changed who they were meant to be has happened too.
I’ve had two secondary characters in two different stories do that to me recently. They were supposed to be real jerks, not villains, but unredeemable, because let’s face it, not everyone is nice. And well, these fellas decided I wasn’t giving them a chance. There were reasons they were like this, behaved like this, and they wanted me to know it. So I ‘sat them down’, and talked to them, heard them out. One conversation went sort of like this:
Me: You did something really selfish, Danny, something that hurt the person you least wanted to hurt, and you knew you were doing it. People aren’t going to like that, yet you think I’m being unfair.
Danny: I know, I’m a heel. But I ain’t all bad. He really meant something to me. I missed him, and I wanted him back. I hurt him, screwed things up, I know, but I spent a long time in a really messed up place. You don’t know what it was like being there. I needed him, needed… someone. I know it doesn’t excuse what I did, but I’m scared. I’m a balled up inside and so… alone. I just don’t know what to do anymore. You gotta help me.
Me: Damn it.
So Danny is getting his own book. He’s not the world’s most likable guy, but he has his reasons, good reasons, and most importantly, he wants to change, he just needs help doing it. Danny has turned out to be one of my grittier, more troubled characters. He’s an ex-WWI soldier turned Prohibition agent turned Bureau of Investigations agent. He has a drug addiction, and anger management issues. He’s got tattoos up the ying-yang, and an “I don’t give a f**k” attitude. But he’s real, complex, and underneath all that anger and pain is a good man. I’m glad he took a stand on who he was going to be.
If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?
Well, lucky for me, I’ve got some pretty hardboiled fellas who are always ready for a good brawl. There are a few prohibition agents, a few detectives, a cop, some legionnaires, and most of them were soldiers at some point. Of course they all have their strengths and weaknesses. If I was in a tight spot, and I had to rely on one, I think it would be Harlan Mackay. Harley’s a prohibition agent turned bureau of investigations agent. He also fought in WWI. He’s pretty much as tough as they come, but he’s also a good guy willing to stand up for what he believes is right, even if it might not be what the government wants from him. He’s pretty damn good at cutting through all the bull, and at six and a half feet tall and two hundred and forty-five pounds, he can give ole Dempsey a run for his money. So yeah, I think Harley would be my go-to guy.
If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?
That’s a tough question, but I would say something epic. A huge, complicated, multi-book series with lots of characters and world building, like a fantasy, but set during the Roaring Twenties instead. One day.
Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?
I may get in trouble for this, but Lord of the Rings. I tried, I really did, but I couldn’t get through it. It may be because fantasy isn’t really my thing. I enjoy it, but it’s tough for me to get into, especially if it’s a really, really long book, which obviously a good deal of fantasy novels are because of the world building. I respect authors who create these immensely complex worlds and characters, but there are just some books I have trouble with.
What’s your favourite gay fiction book? And why?
Well, I’ve been reading romance for ages, historical in particular. I grew up with them, loved them, so it’s no surprise I’m drawn to the Gay Romance genre. I’ve read some Gay fiction, but it’s a genre I’m still exploring, so recommendations are always welcome. As for Gay Romance, I don’t think I could pick just one. I’ve read so many that I love, and every week I come across a new favorite.
What's your next project?
My next project is A Rose by Any Other Name, which is Book 2 of my Fallen Rose series. The first was Roses in the Devil’s Garden (Harley’s book, and features Danny) which is a free novella you can download from All Romance eBooks. I’m currently wrapping it up and it’s been started by my wonderful betas.
I’ve also started Johnnie and Henry’s book, two characters from The Auspicious Troubles of Chance, which is my first novel. After that, there are quite a few other fellas waiting for their next books. So it’s all about series at the moment.
The Auspicious Troubles of Chance.