BDSM and Character Driven Romance with Anna Martin

July 9, 2015

A big thank you to Anna Martin, who agreed to do this interview and answer the questions of her readers. I also want to thank you, the readers, who came up with the questions and thus made this interview possible.

AnotherWay

Thank you Corina for translating for me! Although I studied some German at school the only phrases my tiny brain has retained are “Ich bin 12 jahre alt”  and “Es is windig.” Neither of which have been particularly useful to me as an adult.

First of all, name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.

I did a post-graduate degree in Stage Management and Technical Theatre, and as part of that I became a qualified electrician. At one point I had to make a choice between my career in theatre and my career as a writer, because both were simmering on the verge of being successful. I’ve worked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (which is one of the biggest theatre festivals in the world) for the past 7 years, so I still get to dust off those skills every now and again. Even though I love the theatre I think I made the right choice! ;)

What made you start writing M/M novels? How long have you been writing, and was it a long process to become a published author?

I was introduced to M/M via fan fiction about thirteen years ago. I started writing Harry Potter ‘missing scene’ fan fiction stories, and that spiraled to Harry/Draco stories, and the rest is history I suppose! I’ve been making up stories since I was a little kid, these days I just write them down.

I’ve never been able to figure out what the draw of M/M romance is to me. I think it might have something to do with how it seems like there are so many unexplored avenues. If I come up with a concept for a M/M story, I can be fairly certain it hasn’t been done before, or if it has, I can put a new twist on it.

I was incredibly fortunate with getting ‘Another Way’ published. A dear friend of mine, Tia Fielding, was already published with Dreamspinner Press and suggested I submit the novel to them. And they took it! Four years and fifteen novels later, and here we are.

I hope this question is not too personal; if yes you of course don’t have to answer it. How do you unite your writing with your private life (family, friends, partner, etc.) without neglecting anyone or anything?

I don’t have any friends.

Ha!

Well, I have a full time job in marketing, so my writing life has to fit in and around that. In a way I’m lucky, because I write fairly quickly. I wrote ‘Summer Son’ in five weeks and ‘That I Should Meet a Prince’ (which is coming out in English later this year) in about nine weeks.

I’m also single, childless, and live on my own, so that probably helps!

I’ve never felt like I was at war with myself, trying to fulfill my desire to write and earn a living at my day job and make time for my friends. I’m a very lucky person.

Do you work at several books at the same time or do you rather focus on one?  How long does it take you on average to write a story and what does your daily writing routine look like?

I don’t have an answer to this. Sometimes I’m working on two or even three books at a time. Sometimes it’s one or none. I’ve written a book in a month and I’ve been working on one for almost two years. I don’t have a routine at all. I suppose the closest thing I have to a routine is writing in the evenings, because of that darned day job, and editing in coffee shops where I can’t be distracted by tumblr. But it really depends on a lot of different factors. (Sometimes I wish I was one of those writers who writes five thousand words every morning with her cat at her feet and a mug of coffee at her elbow, then carries on with her day. Then I’d have a better answer to this question! But I don’t think I’ll ever be that girl.)

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses as an author?

I think they’re the same thing, actually. I write very character-driven novels. I am interested in the lives of normal people and what upsets their routines, what makes them step outside of their comfort zones, what makes them fall in love. I don’t write stories with complex plots and sub-plots and gunfights and werewolves and explosions and surprise pregnancies… it’s just not who I am.

Probably the most consistent negative feedback I get on my novels is “nothing ever happens!!!” and that’s fair. Give me two interesting guys and an unusual situation any day — that’s what makes me tick.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A good imagination. Here’s a fun story – my university refused to let me take a Creative Writing degree because I didn’t have the right qualifications. Instead I took English Literature. I graduated aged 21, and had my first novel published at 25. So qualifications aren’t everything! I think if you’ve got the desire to write, then practice get feedback, learn how to edit your own work, and write some more. All you have to do to be a writer is write. It’s that simple.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

With a tattoo! I have a traditional gypsy lady on my thigh with ‘alis volat propriis’ on a banner underneath – it’s Latin for ‘she flies with her own wings’. It was my reminder to myself to do things my way and not let anything hold me back.

Is there any specific type of man that fascinates you more than others? If yes, do you often tend to use that type in your stories?

I love bold characters. I’ve got quite a few big, brash personalities in my backlist! The men I’m drawn to writing are actually quite different to the men I’m attracted to in real life. I could write men like Liam from ‘Solitude’ forever. He’s sassy and bitchy and a little bit mean, and I adore him! I think the only time I’ve ever written a character who is my perfect ‘type’ of man is Ryan from ‘Cricket’.

Are you one of the authors that get kicked by their muse all of the time, especially when she wants something that doesn’t really fit into your writing timetable in that situation?

I have a lot of ideas, yeah. I get inspired by people, by thinking ‘okay, so what sort of person would be really interesting to write in this situation?’ Generally when I’m working to a tight timescale my muse wants me to write fan fiction!!

Do some protagonists grow dear to your heart more than others? If yes, which are the ones you like best?

Oh, God, yes. Will and Jesse from the Another Way series. I dream about them, and they’re the only characters I’ve ever written that I dream about. I know so, so much about them. Stuff that would never make it into the books because it’s so trivial. I also know how they die, because I had to let my mind go there and find out. (I cried a lot afterwards.) There’s also a real-life couple out there who I see as Will and Jesse – I saw a picture of them on tumblr and had something of a nervous breakdown because it was my boys looking back at me. Their expressions, the way they connected to each other, everything was just how I imagine Will and Jesse to be.

If you could have a drink with any of your book’s fictional character who would it be? Why?

I’m going to say Boner from ‘Jurassic Heart’. Because he’s fun and crazy and wild and let’s face it, I’d probably end up in bed with him.

Which character do you think most closely resembles your own personality?

I always used to say Robert from ‘Tattoos & Teacups’, because at the time he was very much a reflection of me. I’ve changed quite a lot since then though, and I ended up pouring a lot of myself into George from ‘That I Should Meet a Prince’. So my new answer to this question is George!

Have you ever got insulted because of your books? Or have your books ever got insulted? If yes, how did you react to it?

All the time, it’s part of being a writer. I think this is where my background in fan fiction has helped me a lot, actually, because I’m used to constructive criticism and amending my work  based on feedback. One of my favourite reviews ever was fairly negative: “No desire to read a gay Cruel Intentions populated with self indulged batshit crazy teenagers. I’m way too old for this shit.“ – this was for ‘Les faits accomplis’. I read it and just thought “Yes!! Exactly!” The reader just perfectly summed up what the book is about. If it’s not for her then that’s absolutely fine. But she captured the essence of the book with that statement, and I love it.

Last week DSP published the german translation of Another Way. What inspired you to write this novel?

Well, it’s taken a while to get the German translation of this book; I wrote it originally about six years ago! So I can’t quite remember exactly what made me want to write the book at first. It’s definitely the characters that keep me coming back to the series though – I completely adore Jesse and Will, they feel very real to me and I don’t seem to be able to leave them alone.

What was the most touching scene to write in this series?

I think it’s probably the opening scene of book 3 (‘To Say I Love You’). Jesse is jogging and going over stuff in his mind. He’s literally running away from his problems because he doesn’t know how to cope with what’s going on in his life. There’s quite a lot of emotional highs and lows in the series though, so I’m sure some of my readers will disagree with me!

Who was the most difficult character to write in the Another Way series?

I’m going to say Jesse’s dad. He’s a very quiet, insular, introverted sort of person, and he doesn’t show affection very well. So trying to write any sort of open communication between him and Jesse is difficult! I like him though – despite being from the southern US he’s very okay with Jesse and Will’s relationship and defends them from his homophobic peers.

If you had to pick a theme song for the series, what would it be?

This one is easy! ‘Forever’ by Ben Harper. I thought I’d used a quote from this song in the front of one of the books from the series, but I’ve just checked and apparently not! The song ‘Walk Away’, also by Ben Harper, was very influential on the first book.

Your novel Devil‘s Food at Dusk, a collaboration with M.J. O’Shea,  was released on 22 June. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Oh, those books were so much fun. It’s the third book in a three-part collection we called ‘Just Desserts’. The three books are ‘Macarons at Midnight’, which is set in a bakery in the West Village in New York, ‘Souffles at Sunrise’, which is all about a reality TV baking show in LA, and ‘Devil’s Food at Dusk’, set in a tiny café in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Each book has its own location and set of characters, but they’re all about falling in love and baking and there’s some great recipes in the books too! MJ is a great friend of mine so getting to write with her was fantastic.

Are you planning to write more series or novels dealing with BDSM?  

The short answer is yes. I originally planned for Another Way to be a five part series. There’s one more book from Jesse’s POV, then a prequel told from Will’s POV. I have every intention of writing these books but I have absolutely no idea when I’ll have chance to do so. My life both as a writer and beyond is very busy at the moment!

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

I’m really not sure. Usually for me the hardest point is getting past 15-20 thousand words and turning a whole jumble of ideas into a coherent story. I tend to start writing a book, then abandon it, then come back and finish it!

Last but not least: What are you currently working?

Nothing solid at the moment, actually. I’m currently teaching myself how to write a screenplay and I’m still chipping away at ‘The Impossible Boy’, which is a novel I’ve been working on for about two years at this point. I’ve got a few other “plot bunnies” but I’m not sure which one will turn into my next project!

Thank you to everyone who sent in questions – I hope you enjoy the German translation of Andere Wege and all the other fantastic German language titles from Dreamspinner Press.

Leave a Reply