Saturday, September 3, 2011

Featured Spotlight Eden Winters

Sheila has done a great interview with Eden Winters.

I recently had the opportunity to interview the wonderful Eden Winters.  Come join us as I chat with her on her books, thoughts, and future works.

SG:  I had the opportunity to read six of your works this month. Each was of a different sub-genre.    When you start a new work do you know what sub-genre the story will be or does the story reveal what sub-genre it will be? 
EW:  Six? Wow! I'm a "seat of my pants" writer, so although I have a basic idea of the genre at the onset, it can change drastically. The Match Before Christmas wasn't intended to be humorous at first; that just sorta happened.
Duet started to be just the contemporary half of the story, written as a novella, until one of my betas asked, "Where's the other half? You say they're in love but you don't show it." Back to the drawing board and, voila! Aillil is heir to a Scottish laird and Malcolm is a Kentish tutor.
SG:  You are a prolific writer within the m/m genre compared to many who are writing within the genre today. You have five novels and fourteen shorts published. Do you find yourself running out of ideas or thinking that’s been done before? How do you keep your writing fresh? 
EW:  Plots just seem to find me. I worry about running out of ideas some day, but I currently have ten novels in process on my hard drive, so hopefully it won't happen anytime soon. Besides, an old teacher of mine once said that there are only three basic plots to begin with, it's how the author treats the plot that's important. Too bad I can't remember the plots he mentioned.
SG:  The novels I read are darker than your shorts. When I say your novels are darker I mean that, for me, they bring out emotions that cause me to cry. I needed Kleenex for a couple of your longer works. I’m not ashamed to admit it. As a reader I need to identify with a character in a book to enjoy it and when I do I start feeling what I think that character will feel. Do you find that as you write the darker stuff that you take on the emotions within your story? Do you find yourself identifying with a specific character within each story, thinking that character is you? 
EW:  That depends on the characters and the stories. In The Wish and The Angel of 13th Street, there were multiple personalities and points of view that kept me from fully living in any one of them. In Highway Man, however, told only from Killian's POV, I had a hard time pulling out of the character, channeling him and seeing the world through his eyes for days. I may have been just a little bit cocky around that time too.

I did bond with Troy from Settling the Score, and Erica, his assistant. I wish I could channel her more often. She's tough, while Troy and I have very, very much in common. But yes, I've been drawn so far into my characters that I hurt when they do, and cried when they cried.

SG:  Like I said when I read some of your novels I cried. I cried as Michael grieved in Raff’s office for Jimmy in The Telling. Alfred’s dying made me cry during The Wish. The deaths during the scarlet fever epidemic in Duet brought me to tears. When you write these scenes how do you handle the emotions of them? Do you want to create an emotional upheaval for the reader as we read? Do you think, “I want the reader to feel the pain of these deaths and live it as the characters live it,” or do these scenes just become “this is just part of the storyline” and you do not think of giving the readers an emotional upheaval? 
EW:  I don't think I intentionally create an upheaval for the reader; my goal is to capture what the characters are experiencing and make it believable for the reader. For them to, maybe not feel Aillil's pain, but to understand it, know that he's feeling it and why. As a reader, I don't want to be told "So and so died," I want, "Tired, so tired. He reached up a trembling hand to cup his lover's face, dismayed when his fingers wouldn't do his bidding. With a raspy breath he managed to croak, 'Please don't cry.' Uttering those three small words left him exhausted. He lay back on the pillow, struggling for each tiny inhale. His hand fell uselessly to his side, warm fingers clutching his colder digits. He looked up once more into eyes the color of a summer day, willing Derrick's dear face to be the last thing he saw. Pain lanced his heart, sharp and hot, not for his own life slipping away, but for the man he'd leave behind to bear the burden of living alone. Gathering the pitiful remaining fragments of his strength, he whispered, 'I love you,' then closed his eyes and knew no more."

SG:  How much research do you do with your stories? Where do you do your research--books, on-line, talking to people? In The Telling you show Michael dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome. In Duet you spend a lot of time in the late 1750’s and other periods of history. I had a writer of Regency romances tell me that readers with backgrounds in the Regency period will let her know if she gets her facts wrong. Do you worry about that as you write books that deal with illness, disease, or history? 
EW:  Oh, goodness yes, I worry. Duet required a lot of research. I researched castles, tartan patterns, and scarlet fever. I spent a good deal of time reading up on Scottish family names, for I wanted an authentic one, but not one that's frequently seen in Scottish themed novels. Ditto for time time-appropriate first names for my characters, and I even enlisted the aid of a friend across the pond for details, like the fact that Aillil wouldn't have heard a wolf cry in the grove (as I'd originally written), for they'd been hunted to extinction at that time, to what type of tree made up the grove. And I know there are a few history scholars who read and write this genre, so my facts had best be straight. I checked books out of the library, talked to people, searched the Internet. I lived and breathed Scotland for awhile. My editor was very helpful with the dialog, and I'm blessed with an amazing friend who also happens to be an amazing violinist.
The Telling took place in more familiar surroundings, and I'll confess that Michael's PTSD springs from first-hand experience. Settling the Score required less research for it's mostly based on places and people I'm familiar with. I did have to do a bit of Googling for the Hollywood movie part, however. 
By far the oddest research I did was joining a dating site to gain background information for The Match Before Christmas. Brrrrr… I let Barry off way too easy, comparatively speaking.

SG:  When you have to do research how long does it take to feel sufficiently educated on the research before you can put “pencil to paper” so to speak? What do you do when the research bogs you down and you begin to think you are writing a research paper for school instead of a novel? 
EW:  Actually, I write the story while the muse is willing, leaving myself notes like, "insert castle description here." Then I do the necessary research to bring the environment to life. When I'm not writing, I'm often reading books and articles on my subject as I have a tendency to become genuinely fascinated, so some of the research is incidental.

SG:  I just finished The Angel of 13th Street. There was a dark undertone to it. You did such a wonderful job describing the neighborhood where Jeremy lived and the rent boys worked, and where Noah’s bar/laundry was situated. That undertone was a much a part of the story as Jeremy and Noah and the others. As a writer do you decide you want readers to feel certain emotions/feelings as they read? Is it an unconscious side effect when putting a story in a seedy neighborhood with characters that are doing what they need to do to survive? For me the undertone of The Angel of 13th Street was the fear, the desperation of the lives of the rent boys, the abuse of the “big boys” towards the young men. Do you see your stories as readers do? Or am I reading too much into it? 
EW:  I simply lose myself in the world I'm creating, and bring the reader along with me. Sometimes I go too far and my trusted betas bring me back. I've always had an active imagination, and while writing, I envision far more than ever makes it to the page. I can picture the Tub of Suds from Angel clearly in my mind, as I can the Twelfth Street Bar and Grill.

SG:  I loved the covers of Duet and The Angel of 13th Street. They were perfect for the stories. With Duet there is the shape of the violin with the castle in the middle. The Angel of 13th Street is done in black and white--a good and evil contrast. Do you control what goes on the covers or do you rely on your art directors at the publishing houses? 
EW:  I'm very pleased that I'm permitted an input on the covers. A dear friend did a mockup of what I wanted to see on Angel's cover: basically, a gritty alleyway with a man leaning against a wall. I also wanted it in monochrome. I think Alessia Brio did an excellent job on the cover, and I cried happy tears when I saw the results of her efforts.
The Duet cover, also by Alessia Brio, is in keeping with my request of "two violins and a castle" however, due to a bad cut and paste job from Angel's are request form, I accidentally asked for monochrome for it too. Again, I love the results, although readers have commented on finding it a bit bland.

SG:  Even though your shorts were lighter than your longer works you deal with issues in those also. In Valentine Wish you deal with abuse within a gay relationship. In The Pirate’s Gamble you deal with older/younger man as well as an interracial relationship. What draws you to a subject and makes you write about it? 
EW:  To be honest, I just started writing. In The Pirate's Gamble, I had no idea what Ian's lover looked like until I wrote that scene where he enters the bedroom and sees David lying beneath the mosquito netting. As Ian stood by the bed and looked down, David is what I (Ian) saw.
As for Valentine Wish, I'd originally hinted at an attraction between Anton and Thierry in The Wish, but the scene was cut. Anton, however, didn't give up easily and kept prodding me to write his story. It's not often I read stories about bears, and I loved the idea of the buff Anton falling for cuddly Thierry.
As far as issues, I began The Angel of 13th Street after reading an article on teens that'd aged out of foster care. At the young age of eighteen, they're turned loose on the world. How many of us were prepared to live on our own at that age, without guidance and the occasional financial assistance from family? The percentage of those youth who end up homeless is staggering. While I don't want to be preachy in my novels, I do like to raise awareness of issues that some folks may not be aware of. And yes, many of these "aged out" individuals had not yet finished high school.
In an upcoming installment of The Angel of 13th Street, a character deals with meth addiction. My hope is to do the topic justice, and show the man's struggle in a way that readers can relate to, even though his character may do things they'd never dream of. I read the issues in newspapers and magazines, and before I know it, a story is unfolding in my mind.

SG:  Have any of your stories taken on a life of their own? Have any fought with you to go the way they want to go, never mind your thoughts on the subject? Or do they all behave perfectly and go the way you want them to go? 
EW:  Yes, sometimes my stories do take on a life of their own. In The Angel of 13th Street, Noah wanted to get back with Billy. He absolutely refused to fall for Jeremy. I discussed this with my writing partner one night, who came up with a simple solution. "Kill Willie," she said. I hated to, but it worked. Noah snapped right back in line. Kill a character and the rest behave.

SG:  What are you working on now? I read that you have a sequel coming on The Telling and The Angel of 13th Street. When will they be available? 
EW:  I have two works coming out this month: Galen and the Forest Lord, a fantasy/shifter/humorous novella, due out on the 10th  from Torquere Books, and Summer Boys, a short story that's part of Torquere's Annual Charity Sip Blitz to benefit the It Gets Better Project. Look for that story to release on the 17th.
The Telling sequel is slow going, and I've been working on it for three years so far. It will feature Ryan, who, if possible, is hurting even worse than Michael. I've no idea when it will release, for I'm taking my time, hoping I adequately capture his love for Jimmy.
The first sequel for The Angel of 13th Street: Fallen Angel has been drafted and will be in the hands of my beta next week. My goal is to have it submitted by the end of October at the very latest.
Believe it or not, I'm also working on a het, BDSM spoof that began as a challenge I entered on a fellow writer's blog. I lost the challenge, but the short story I'd written just keeps growing. Isn't it ironic that I write M/M loving on a regular basis and have never written a het scene? This will be a bit of a departure for me.

SG:  Where can we find you on the web? 
EW:  My website:

Let’s play 10 questions for fun since we’re way over 20 questions anyway with the top part ;) 

Favorite dessert? I love Rocky Road! (Sung to the tune of Weird Al Yankovic's song by that name.)

Favorite music and group/singer of it?  I love everything from Ambient to Zydeco, but am a Bob Seger fan from way back.

Spring or fall? Fall

Morning or night? Morning

Favorite color? Bright, shiny bronze

Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere but at work.

Favorite accent? Scottish, followed closely by Australian

Favorite TV program of the past? I don't watch TV now, but back in the day it'd be a toss up between Quantum Leap and Bakersfield PD.

Favorite comfort food? Vegetarian lasagna

Favorite horror movie? I don't do horror movies, but laughed my way through House 2: The Second Story.

Thank you, Eden, for being with us this month.  I cannot wait to read the rest of your books.  Good   luck with your current WIP.  I’ll be looking for your sequels and new writings.

1 comment:

She said...

Thank you, Eden, for a great interview. It was fun!