J.R. Loveless Author Interview

September 26, 2014


DSP: What is the inspiration of your October 1 release, Forgiving Thane?
Forgiving Thayne is the follow up to a previous release called Chasing Seth. In Chasing Seth, Seth’s best friend Nick Cartwright is introduced. Throughout the story, Nick encounters his own mate who immediately rejects him. The inspiration for the actual storyline came from the idea of having to let go of past traumas, mature and grow enough to face your mistakes and fears head on instead of running, and learning that loving someone and needing them does not make you weak. Something inspired from my own past, really.

Why did you decide to write romance stories?
I’ve always loved romance stories. I used to read Harlequin novels back to back whenever I could. I love the initial stages of a relationship, the way the fire slowly builds eventually smoldering to an inferno that can’t be held back! The slower the better!

How were you introduced to M/M fiction?
I began reading M/M fiction when I stumbled on an anime genre called Yaoi. It led me to writing it and eventually falling into the western M/M romance world.

What are five of your favorite books/series?
I’m sure everyone has heard this from more than one person, but I am in love with the Change of Heart series by Mary Calmes! Definitely one of my favorites. I’ve read them more than once. :) I also love the Timing series by Mary Calmes. I’m a huge fan of paranormal stories. Toni Griffin’s Talking with the Dead series is also amazing! Outside of the m/m world, I would have to say the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling and the Gone series by Michael Grant.

Can you describe your writing space and when you write?
I write in multiple places, but the majority is done at my home computer. It’s a pretty messy space most of the time. LOL. It’s a glass desk with black metal frame. I game some so I have a gaming rig, and a 27″ monitor. There’s also inspirational/motivational photos and papers hanging on the wall behind my desk. I write as much as I can, but sometimes my muse decides to gag and hog tie herself so that can vary. I can go for weeks without writing and then end up inspired to where I write every day for hours. It’s random!
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J.R. Loveless is a native Floridian who spends her days in an office physically but mentally is frolicking between the pages of her imagination. Writing has been a lifelong passion that escaped from her in the midst of life until she discovered yaoi. After following breadcrumbs of the anime style, she discovered a forum dedicated to the world of yaoi. Inspired, she tried her own hand at M/M romances, spending hours building worlds of her own with the newfound support of other forum members. She can never write enough of the electrifying emotions that blaze across the hearts and souls of her characters.

She is a self-confessed Dr. Who addict with a spastic dog and a neurotic cat for companions on her long journey through the many chapters of her life. One day she hopes to visit far off places and have grand adventures like those of the characters in her stories.

Author Interview with Brad Boney

September 5, 2014

Dreamspinner Press: Let’s start with your first novel, The Nothingness of Ben. If readers know your name, it’s probably because of that book, wouldn’t you agree?

Brad Boney: Absolutely. Lots of readers in this genre have read Ben, and it continues to sell two years later. I’m fortunate to have had that experience.

DSP: What’s your response to critics who claim The Nothingness of Ben fails because Ben Walsh is something of a dick?

BB: [Laughs] I’ve read a few of those reviews. The first thing that struck me was how engaged with Ben they were. People wrote about him as if he were real, and that felt like a win to me. I also noticed some of those reviews were marked DNF at 30%. I understand—life’s too short. If my writing doesn’t grab someone, they should bail and move on. I’m the same way. But Ben does grow in the book. I don’t think he’s a dick at the end. He’s a flawed person who was lucky enough to meet a man who is truly his better half.

DSP: So you think Travis is the better man?

BB: Is that wrong? I kind of do, at least for me. Ben is brilliant and charming and funny, but he’s also rudderless. He needs someone like Travis to steady him. I would date someone like Travis before I’d date someone like Ben.

DSP: Is that because you and Ben are too much alike?

BB: In some ways, yes. I’m pretty self-absorbed, but I can also be worthy and faithful and true.

DSP: What about the criticism that the tone of the opening chapters, given the death of their parents, is too lighthearted?

BB: On that one, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I understand those comments and where they come from, but maybe those people aren’t Catholic. My family has a powerful sense of denial around grief and sadness. We don’t express it. We cover it with humor. We act out like Cade does, or withdraw like Jason does. And then at some point, it boils over and brings us to our knees, like it does with Ben when he kisses Travis in the street and breaks down crying.

DSP: How do you feel about the M/M genre as a whole?

BB: It’s easy to trash romance novels because so many of them are awful. But the argument that they’re all bad is ridiculous, and I don’t even have to include my own books to defend that. T.J. Klune won a Lambda award this year. Jay Bell has been nominated twice and won once. Anyone who points to those books and calls them trash is an idiot, and should be dismissed as such.

DSP: We’ve heard you have some issues with the term M/M.

BB: Where did you hear that?

DSP: People talk around the office. Are you saying you don’t have an issue?

BB: I don’t understand the term because I don’t come from a romance background. I’ve never read an M/F romance in my life, and I assume that’s where it comes from. M/F, M/M, M/F/M, M/M/M, F/M/F. I don’t know why M/M is necessary when the word “gay” works just fine. Those designations seem very tab/slot to me, like it’s all about genitals. In some cases, I also think it gives writers permission to divorce their stories from the lived experience of real gay men, including all the social, medical, and political baggage that comes with it. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what I’m doing. Ben Walsh is recognizable to me as a gay man I might know. Maybe that’s why some readers have a problem with him. He’s not an idealized romantic hero.

DSP: How does it feel being a gay man in a genre dominated by women?

BB: [Grins] It depends on the women.

DSP: Do you think a woman can write a good story about two men falling in love?

BB: Yes. I’ve read them. I’ve been vocal about my admiration for books like Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels, and Promises by Marie Sexton. The female factor is unexpected, that’s all. When I tell my gay friends that most of my readers are women, they’re very surprised. They don’t understand it, and at first I was the same way. But I’ve gotten to know many of my readers, and that changed everything. I love them and I now understand what draws women to these stories—both as readers and writers.

DSP: You mentioned you don’t come from a romance background. What are your influences?

BB: I spent years in the theater as an actor and director, which explains why my books are so dialogue heavy. Most of the gay fiction I’ve read were books by Violet Quill authors like Andrew Holleran and Edmund White. I’m a huge fan of rom-coms and directors like Cameron Crowe. I think as romance writers, we’re all trying to create a moment like John Cusack holding that boom box over his head.

DSP: We’ve noticed on Twitter that your second book, The Return, has a smaller but more passionate following.

BB: The Return was a tough sell. It doesn’t have a conventional set-up. It spans two generations. It’s got a huge canvas—someone pointed out there are actually 10 main characters. The romance is resolved at about 75%. I had to keep the blurb vague, and once you read the book, you understand why. But that only hurt it in terms of sales. I get it—people like to know what a book is about. I don’t blame them. Still, the people who did read it are grateful I didn’t give anything more away. It’s a story I’m very proud of, and the fact that some readers have embraced it in such a profound way is extremely satisfying to me. I don’t think I can write a better book than The Return, which is why I took a totally different approach to The Eskimo Slugger.

DSP: What do you mean?

BB: The Return was that book every writer has in their back pocket. The one they were born to write. I didn’t think I could top it, so my only option was not to try. As a result, The Eskimo Slugger tells an intimate story on a small canvas, about two simple guys caught up in an impossible situation. It takes place over ten days in the summer of 1983. It’s like a pop song. Readers who are expecting another symphony like The Return should brace themselves for disappointment.

DSP: But you set The Eskimo Slugger up in The Return, which leads us to our next question. Are you writing a series or not?

BB: Yes and no. I believe you can pick up any one of my books and enjoy each as a standalone, but there is certainly something to be gained by reading them all. That doesn’t mean they have to be read in the order I wrote them. I’m a child of postmodernism and enjoy a certain random element. The order in which you read them will determine your experience. If someone out there has never read one of my books, I’d say jump in with The Eskimo Slugger. Chronologically, it’s actually the beginning.

DSP: Is it a book about baseball?

BB: It’s a book about a baseball player. There is only one scene set inside a ballpark.

DSP: Were you a baseball fan before you wrote it?

BB: No. I didn’t know anything about baseball.

DSP: Really? What did you do for research?

BB: I watched the entire Ken Burns documentary twice—all 18 hours of it. I went to a lot of baseball games in Austin and elsewhere. I talked to my dad and a friend of mine at work who used to play college baseball. I read the Billy Bean autobiography called Going the Other Way, about his time as a closeted gay man in the major leagues. I listened to the Baseball Tonight podcast for an entire season, just to hear and understand the way guys talk about baseball.

DSP: Are you a fan now?

BB: Oh, absolutely. I’d love to meet a guy who thinks a baseball game is a great date.

DSP: You mentioned Austin, where all your books are set. How long have you lived there?

BB: Twenty-six years. I’m a naturalized Texan. But as many people have learned from my books, Austin is nothing like the rest of Texas. It’s the blue center of a red state. Austin is very gay friendly and boys walk around holding hands all the time.

DSP: What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

BB: My weaknesses are easy. I have virtually no powers of description. I’ll never be L.C. Chase, the way she can take you into a horse stable and bring it to life. But I also believe that writers should draw the outline and readers should fill it in, so at least my practice matches my theory. I’m very bad when it comes to narrating the internal life of a character. I’ll never be J.P. Barnaby, the way she can spend pages and pages inside Aaron’s head and make it interesting. I can’t do that. But I think most readers would say I spin a good yarn. I understand set-up and payoff. I’m a better-than-average storyteller.

DSP: Of all the chapters you’ve written, which is your favorite?

BB: Do you have one?

DSP: Yes, but we want to hear yours first.

BB: “Cover Me” from The Return. In every season of Mad Men, there’s that one episode when everything happens. The shit hits the fan. That’s what “Cover Me” is. Topher has his inter-dimensional phone call, then he sits down with his bandmates and explains what’s going on, then Stanton shows up, then Topher sings…. It’s just bam, bam, bam. It made my head spin writing it.

DSP: It took us awhile to figure out that all the chapter titles were Bruce Springsteen songs.

BB: I tried not to use the most famous songs. Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite?

DSP: Chapter seventeen from Nothingness. We call it “the earth is flat.” Anyone who’s read the book knows what we’re talking about. We don’t really know exactly what Travis is thinking, but it doesn’t matter. Ben’s surrender is delicious.

BB: That’s where point of view worked to my advantage, since we only get to know what’s going on inside Ben’s head.

DSP: We noticed you favor third person and past tense, with a single point of view. Is that a conscious choice?

BB: Yes. The Return is actually told from two points of view, though.

DSP: Okay, technically that’s true, but it’s almost two separate stories, so… We’d argue that each of your stories is told from a single point of view.

BB: That’s fair. Single point of view works best for me. I’m looking for stylistic choices that foreground the story, not the storytelling, and sticking with one character does that. I find it jarring when the point of view shifts back and forth within a chapter, simply because the author thinks I need to know both sides of the story. I don’t. A good writer looks at single point of view and sees opportunities, not limitations. What can I hide in the negative space? As far as tense goes, past tense is the most “invisible” way to write. I know present tense is all the rage now, and I have no problem with it. I adapt pretty easily when I pick up a book that’s written in present tense. But I do notice it before I adapt. The writer’s hand becomes visible to me, and that’s something I’m personally trying to avoid. I also think first person is vastly overused, and in too many cases exposes a writer’s weaknesses. I may take that risk someday, but only after I’ve written several more books.

DSP: We can’t all be J.D. Salinger.

BB: Exactly. Unless you can write a first-person narrative with a voice as distinctive as Holden Caulfield, stick with third person.

DSP: Your stories seem to have a spiritual undercurrent to them. Is that intentional?

BB: I think so. I’m not trying to beat people over the head, but it’s there. It’s also there in The Eskimo Slugger, but by the fourth book, I’m just trying to have fun.

DSP: Tell us about that.

BB: It’s called Yes. I finished it last week, so now it’s in the hands of my beta reader. It’s about a man on his 40th birthday who wakes up twenty years younger. It’s like that Tom Hanks movie Big—only gay and in reverse.

DSP: Thanks for sitting down for this interview. It’s been fun to get to know you!

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Brad Boney lives in Austin, Texas, the seventh gayest city in America. He grew up in the Midwest and went to school at NYU. He lived in Washington, DC, and Houston before settling in Austin. He blames his background in the theater for his writing style, which he calls “dialogue and stage directions.” His first book was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He believes the greatest romantic comedy of all time is 50 First Dates. His favorite gay film of the last ten years is Strapped. And he has never met a boy band he didn’t like. Visit Brad on his website and on Twitter

Newsletter Quickie: Hug by Clare London

September 5, 2014

“Hug,” said Harry, arms thrown wide.

“What?”

“Hug!” Harry demanded, his head tilted to one side, his eyes wide. “That’s what you need! Come here and make it happen.”

“For God’s sake.” Spencer grumbled. “What am I, your kid brother? It’s not like a hug is going to make any bloody difference.”

“You know that for a fact, do you?”

Spencer frowned. Harry was always so … bold. So challenging. “You know what I mean. Look, it’s just been one of those days. I can sort things out myself.”

“Let me help, Spence.” Harry took a couple of steps forward. His arms were still wide open, there was sympathy in his eyes. He was close enough for Spencer to feel the warmth of his body heat. “Don’t be the stupid arse everyone else thinks you are.”

Spencer opened his mouth to protest and in that moment Harry slipped his arms around him and hugged him firmly. His head rested against Spencer’s temple and he sighed, gently. “That’s better, see?”

Spencer stood rock still for a second. Harry was such an idiot. Such a play actor. Such a … Spencer’s frustration gave a small shudder inside him and morphed into something very different. Very deliciously different. Harry’s chest was tight against him and he could feel the steady heartbeat. Harry’s arms were strong but surprisingly comforting. His breath was brushing at Spencer’s ear.

Then Spencer lifted his own arms and slid them around Harry. He wasn’t sure why he did that, but it seemed the right thing to do. It seemed to make them fit better. And it felt really, really good.

“Spence?”

“Mm?”

“There’s no way I think of you as a kid brother.”

Harry’s voice was muffled but Spencer felt the tension in his shoulders, heard the hesitancy in his voice. He smiled. “I know.”

“No way.” Harry seemed to think it needed more emphasis. “Never. In fact …”

“I know.” Spencer repeated. He smiled again, though now his head was nestling into Harry’s shoulder and knew his friend couldn’t see it. His best friend. His much-more-than-best-friend. Turning his head, Spencer pressed his lips to Harry’s neck and felt the goose bumps rise under his touch.

“Spence?”

“Yes,” Spencer whispered in answer to an unspoken question. As Harry turned his head as well, Spencer kissed him on the mouth. It was a bit clumsy, it was a bit crooked, but … oh God … it was the best thing ever.

“You’re right,” he murmured. “This is better.” And he tightened his arms around Harry.

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Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy.