Friday, April 29, 2011

Welcome Eden Winters!

Settling the Score

MM: Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Eden Winters. Thank you for joining us today.

Eden: Thank you! It's good to be here.

MM: So tell me, how long have you been writing?

Eden: I used to make up stories to entertain the family pets before I could even write. Once I could hold a pencil and string words together – look out! My first poem was published in a school newspaper when I was seven. Thankfully it bore no resemblance to my latest dirty limericks. It wasn't a very progressive school.

MM: What is your favorite subgenre to write?

Eden: That's a tough question because I'm still exploring. I do love angst (is that a sub-genre?) but mostly I'm fascinated with mixed genres. I've written several contemporaries, but really stretched my creative wings with Duet, a novel that's part historical, part contemporary, and very paranormal. The Wish is a contemporary featuring a ghost as a secondary character, and The Angel of 13th Street contains elements of action adventure. Settling the Score marks my attempt at light romance. No one died, which is a big change from my usual novels. A flash of inspiration even had me trying my hand at humor, with The Match Before Christmas and the upcoming sequel, Fanning the Flames. And keep your eyes open for Galen and the Forest Lord, a humorous shifter story.

MM: Is there one that you haven’t tried that you see yourself doing in the future?

Eden: I've drafted most of the plot in my head for a futuristic novel that, believe it or not, deviates from my committed couple norm and branches out into ménage.

MM: I’m of the opinion that erotica doesn’t have to be real all the time to make a good story, what are your thoughts?

Eden: Sometimes when I pick up a book I want to escape reality – totally and completely. Well written plots with believable, sympathetic characters are what I'm looking for. The rest is up to the writer's imagination. I just want to read a good story.

MM: Who are the authors that you look up to?

Eden: This is a tricky question, because there are so many authors that I admire and I'd hate to leave someone off the list. First and foremost is P.D. Singer, who gave me the shove to write a story for publication, and who now devotes a lot of time and effort to helping me make my stories the best they can be as my beta reader. Then there's Tinnean and Mara Ismine. Though relatively new to publishing through a publisher, I was a huge fan of both on internet sites, and they helped me tremendously to craft my own stories. I must mention Laura Baumbach, author of the first M/M book I read, A Bit of Rough. J.M. Snyder wrote a book called Scarred, which I still think about years after having read it for the first time. It definitely made an impact, as did The Devil's Fire by Sara Bell. I thoroughly loved Jet Mykles' Heaven Sent series. G.A. Hauser, M.L. Rhodes, J.L. Langley, D.J. Manly. Hmmm… seems like I have a thing for authors known by their initials, doesn’t it? Oh yeah, and Josh Lanyon, whose seven-year-old answer to my fan letter I still cherish. I'm also a huge fan of Jordan Castillo Price's PsyCop series. For my YA fix, I turn to Carole Cummings and D.H. Starr. Marie Sexton broke my heart with One More Soldier, and Heidi Cullinan created a character so believable that I channeled him for a week, and found myself seeing the world through Mitch's eyes. Angela Benedetti has kind words and pats on the back for new writers and a keen eye for fantasy. Amy Lane's Talker books are must-reads. There are so many more I could name, both for their excellent fiction and for their mentoring, but I think I should stop before this one question overwhelms the whole interview.

MM: What are you working on now?

Eden: I'm one third through my first draft of Return to 13th Street, a sequel for The Angel of 13th Street, and have several other works in various stages of drafts. I've a short shifter story called Galen and the Forest Lord in the beta process that I hope to submit to a publisher by June 1. Losing Jimmy (tentative title) tells the story of Ryan from my first novel, The Telling, and I've been working on it off and on for two years now. I have my one lone attempt at het/comedy/bdsm in Betty's Arrival, a story begun with a challenge. I'm also crafting a shape shifter trilogy that may start out as young adult. Oh, and did I mention that a reader is urging me to write a story about two men from India? I'm in the research stages of that story, and live in fear of not doing it justice.

MM: When creating your characters, do you have models in mind or are they totally fictional?

Eden: I may start with a picture I found on the internet, or particular traits of someone I know, then once I start writing my characters take on their own personalities, often surprising me.

MM: Tell me more about your latest release, Settling the Score.

Eden: After writing so much angst, I needed a break. Several separate news articles caught my eye and the basic plot of Settling the Score was formed: a rising star dumps his Joe Average boyfriend once he's famous. It's a Pygmalion-esque story of transformation while remaining true to yourself. It's also about learning the difference between true love and an illusion.

Joey Nichols, closeted Georgia mechanic, is given notice by his actor boyfriend (now safely ensconced in Hollywood) during a televised interview that outs him to the world. Now he has to face his family and the bigoted townsfolk alone.

Author Troy Steele watches Joey's real-life drama on TV, and it bears an uncanny resemblance to his latest work in progress. He and his assistant take Joey under their wings and make him over, intending to turn him from diamond-in-the-rough to polished jewel. Their hopes are that Joey can confront his ex and leave the arrogant two-timer regretting having lost such a wonder man – all documented for the pages of Troy's book. Only, when conjuring the plan, Troy never counted on losing his heart to his protégé.

MM: Congrats on being author of the month on the Goodreads M/M romance group list. When you receive an honor like that, is it redemption for the times you’ve been rejected by other publishers or given a bad review? *laughs*

Eden: *Laughs with you.* Actually, even negative experiences can be learned from. You can't please everyone no matter how hard you try, but well thought out, informative reviews can reveal what you're too close to see in your own writing. And those rejection notices sometimes come with well expressed reasons why your story wasn't taken. It may be as simple as "not enough sex" for certain publishing houses, other times you get valuable and free advice from a professional editor. Priceless.

But I value each honor (thanks Goodreads!), and am very grateful for them. I wouldn't say redemption, I just say it rocks my world, and definitely gives reason to keep on going.

MM: As an M/M writer, do you feel that the trend is changing where it is becoming more mainstream?

Eden: I honestly believe it is. There are so many sub-genres now that there's something for nearly everyone. In talking with some readers, I'm thinking that this genre helps engender tolerance and acceptance of others, for some of the most endearing characters I've ever met have been in the pages of M/M fiction, and overcoming tremendous obstacles on the way to happy ever after.

MM: As a fellow fem in the genre, what is your stance on the difference between male and female gay writers?

Eden: With pseudonyms and writers using initials it's hard to determine gender. What has proven surprising are the readers. Female readers, in my experience, often mention "wish there was more sex" in their comments, and many men have said, "loved the romance and the story." Some of the sweetest, most sentimental M/M romances I've read have been written by men, while some of the most erotic by women, but really, we're all authors here, loving the same genre. On a personal note, I have received quite a few emails addressed to "Mr. Winters."

MM: I read a blog about M/M writers' losing their imagination because they are writing the same subjects repeatedly, what are your thoughts?

Eden: Many years ago a creative writing teacher made the profound statement that no matter how many books you read, only three basic plots exist, it's how a writer treats the plot that makes a book a page turner. I wish I could remember what three plots he mentioned.

I think that what publishers are looking for and what readers are tending to buy does play a part in an author's plot selections. They write A) what sells, and B) what publishing houses have requested in their calls for submission. Let's face it, in order for a story to be published, it must first meet a publisher's criteria. Who knows how many fantastic, totally unique books remain unpublished because they don't fit those requirements. Rejection letters have been issued because manuscripts don't contain enough sex or because the protagonist isn't classically attractive, for example. The writer must then either adapt the work or let it languish on their hard drive. More explicit sex scenes get added, and Joe Normal now sports chiseled features and washboard abs.

Also, some reviews send mixed signals. I've read commentaries in which the reviewer said that the book in question would have been better if the author had handled a certain situation like another writer had, or if their style were more like another's.

Personally, I have over five hundred M/M books and only a handful have a sameness. Maybe I've just been lucky in my reading choices.

MM: Recently, a writer sabotaged her career by answering a bad review on a blog. How would you have handled this and do you think authors should answer their reviews?

Eden: On a review site, I would have thanked the reviewer for reading and reviewing my work. On a site like Goodreads, I often have very enlightening conversations with the commenter, never negative or defensive. I may start out with "Sorry you didn't like it" and if they respond, I may come away with some fuel for thought about things I hadn't noticed about my own work... In one case with a self-published book that wasn't professionally edited, I was able to correct a few errors, thanks to commenters' critique, and offer future readers a better, more error-free read. Constructive criticism can help a writer to grow, and I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to connect with a fellow book lover. It could be that they may give me another try and love my next book. It has happened.

MM: Do you think it’s time for publishers to begin calling gay fiction/erotica what it is instead of m/m? Why or why not?

Eden: That I'm not too sure about, for there are so many sub genres falling under the heading of M/M. When talking with other authors I've noticed a trend to call the genre I write "Gay Romance," or "Alternative Romance" even though I really set out to write a good story, in which the lead characters just happen to be gay and, oh yeah, they have boyfriends and do what comes naturally for two men in love (or lust).

MM: What is it about M/M that pleasures you to write it?

Eden: I've never identified with any of the heroines of the books I've read, I've found more of a connection and kinship with the man. With M/M I have two of them, and two are always better than one in romance, right?

MM: Where can we find you on the web?





GLBT Bookshelf:

MM: Thank you for taking the time to spend with us today, Eden, and continued success on your work.

Eden: Thank you!

Settling the Score by Eden Winters

Closeted mechanic Joey Nichols' life is good. His boyfriend landed a major Hollywood role, and is well on the way to superstardom. Joey's bags are packed and soon he'll leave small town Georgia and join the man of his dreams in California, to live out, proud, and together. Days before his planned departure, his lover outs Joey during a televised interview and announces that they've broken up, leaving Joey to face the bigotry of the locals alone.

Bestselling author Troy Steele knows all about having life turned upside down by the media. Now a recluse, Troy shuns all the trappings that come with writing books made into blockbuster movies. He spends his time exacting revenge on a former flame via his novels and hiding out in rural South Carolina, watching celebrity gossip shows. Joey's fifteen minutes of fame bear an eerie similarity to the plot of Troy's latest work in progress. What if Joey could be transformed into everything the fickle ex wanted, as Troy is writing for his fictional hero, and secretly wishes for himself? Once polished, could a diamond-in-the-rough good ole boy confront his ex, then walk away, pride intact? These are Troy's questions, and he's counting on Joey for answers.




What an awesome interview! I look forward to reading the books by Eden very soon. My guest tomorrow will be, LA Witt!


Lucia said...

I really liked reading the interview :) Very interesting questions too!

Tina Donahue said...

Love your cover - your book sounds fascinating. Here's to wonderful sales! :)

Rawiya said...

TY both for stopping in and thank you, Eden for the interview.

Rie McGaha said...

Nice interview. Thanks for sharing your new book.

Rie McGaha

Sarah J. McNeal said...

The cover looks so mysterious. I like it. The story line sounds excellent. Nice review. i wish you every success, Eden.

Eden Winters said...

Thank ya'll so much for your kind words. I should have mentioned that, as an introduction to my work, I have a full length novel that is a gift to readers. The Telling is about an Iraq veteran dealing with PTSD, survivor's guilt, and coming out in small town in Alabama. I am also offering the short sequel, Night Watch. These are both free to download if anyone is interested. Just select one of those on my Goodreads site, and follow the URL link to he PDF.

Rawiya said...

TY all very much for visiting Eden and me today.