How long have you been writing?
I haven’t really been writing fiction all that long; I was the person mostly likely to read my friends’ work. My first published story came out in 2009, and I have only a few years’ previous experience in fandom before that. I was blessed with a classical education that included a lot of literature and writing, so I had the background to understand what needed to be in the story a long time before I tried putting anything together. I still had to write my million words of crap.
Are you in agreement that writing fanfiction is a great way to practice one’s craft?
Using someone else’s characters and world can teach you how to tell a story with a beginning, a middle and an end without throwing in the complications of characterization. Learning that is not a given; it can also teach you how to type a complicated masturbatory fantasy if you aren’t thinking about the fundamentals.
Characterization is harder to learn but can be done. The canon characters are already laid out for you, they don’t need to be developed from scratch. I’ve seen stories where I thought the characterization was flat or missing, and found out later that it was converted fan fiction. If the characters are supposed to be original, then the author can’t assume the readers will fill in the blanks. OCs are a bit of a landmine. It is a grand opportunity to get the Mary Sues and Gary Stues out of your system before you start asking people to pay money to read.
Another pitfall is starting to write original work in the same genre as your fan fiction, and doing most everything right except forgetting that you have to spell out the rules for your shape shifters or space travelers or whatever, because again, you can’t assume that everyone already knows the rules for these shape shifters or space travelers.
What is your favorite subgenre to write?
Most of my work is contemporary m/m romance, but I do have a couple of m/m historicals. Writing them is both rewarding and complicated, because of the research; I as the author need to know oodles more than ever hits the page just to get the details and the flavor right. I like to take a real incident and build around it, which is how Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy came about. This one is a Titanic story (no, not a whiff of Jack and Rose about it!) and does have a happy ending. The MCs were involved in building the ship, but it gets complicated from there. The Titanic obviously was real, but so was another small incident that turned out to be pivotal. Anyone who reads Maroon and can’t pick it out, email me and I’ll tell you privately so as not to spoil it for everyone.
The Rare Event reads contemporary, but it’s set in 2006 during some real economic turmoil, and if you think the sums of money in that book are off, they aren’t. Large amounts of money are sexy, hehe.
What is your opinion on the “chicks with dicks” analogy? In your opinion, is it wrong for your males to be emotional or romantic?
I have no problem with male characters being emotional or romantic as long as they are doing it in a recognizably male way. Present me with a male character who swoons on page 6 and stays more or less like that until “the end” and I won’t be happy, but I won’t like a female character who does that either. Just don’t give me a stereotyped character of any flavor.
What books are you reading at the moment?
I just finished reading the third installment of Carole Cummings’ Aisling. Wonderfully written fantasy, very character driven but with a high-level quest, just gorgeous! She uses the language exquisitely and is a fabulous storyteller. I have her Wolf’s-Own in the TBR pile too.
What are you working on now?
I’ve been extremely busy getting Fire on the Mountain and the rest of the Mountain stories ready for publication with Dreamspinner! Fire required a major overhaul and not only has it acquired new plotting, it has a companion novelette to explain Kurt’s background. The Mountain stories will start coming out in June, 2012, so I was a touch frantic and obsessed with rock climbing, something that figures into Kurt’s background. Blood on the Mountain is my main project right now; another Kurt and Jake story, with much worse dangers than a forest fire.
What is your opinion as to why publishers only want to group all manlove stories under erotica?
I don’t think the publishers necessarily want to do it, I think the distributors haven’t warmed to the idea that stories can have same sex couples without being sex-fests, and it’s easier to sequester the stories under the wrong heading than think about it enough to do it right. That pisses me off. Erm, it provokes me into using that sort of language, that’s how bad it pisses me off. I was ecstatic to hear that ARe is changing their policy.
Do you feel this is a hindrance to our genre?
Absolutely. Same-sex stories run the entire range from sweet to total raunch, and they don’t belong lumped into the same category any more than Twinkies and asparagus have the same nutritional content just because they’re long, tubular, and you’re supposed to put them in your mouth.
In fact, I think that using the pairing as the top level category for deciding genre is completely wrong; it’s a detail. Het contemporaries have more in common with m/m contemporaries than they do with m/m science fiction or m/m urban fantasy, and we perpetuate the error when we call it m/m science fiction etc etc. It should be science fiction or urban fantasy, and further refined as m/m or m/f after that. I can go on quite a while on this. *tries to behave*
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?
While I can understand the hurt and frustration that went into that tirade and others like it, I don’t ever want to participate in such a thing! Fortunately, I’ve had mostly positive reviews, and those that weren’t positive at least taught me to rant in private. It’s really better not to respond in the public eye, although my mama did raise me to thank people for a kindness done, so my work-around is to respond privately, and to leave it at “Thank you for taking the time to review” for the most part. I can tell you that every reader who’s ever taken the time to drop me a note has left me walking on air for ages. Reviewers are writers too, and volunteers to boot, so a polite note probably won’t come amiss, or so says a friend whom I’ve
corrupted introduced to m/m romance, and loves it so much she reviews now.
As a fellow fem in the genre, what is your stance on the difference between male and female gay writers? Is it important to know the gender of the author?
I think both write excellent stories, but if the character starts doing a lot of housework, I’m sure it’s a female writer. Wishful thinking? I read books by both and don’t make that a criterion for choosing. In certain sex scenes, I may wince because the female writers are projecting a more female experience, which runs counter to how the men tell us they really do it. I have been guilty of this myself, but am trying to do better. The “Just Us Boys” forums are really instructive.
I write under my initials, but a woman who signs notes “Pam” isn’t obscuring gender, I just don’t want that to be the first thing people think about with my books.
Fun questions pick at least 3
Do you feel that celebs who are gay or bi should come out the closet?
Only if they feel like it. I don’t think anyone has any sort of right to demand to know about another person’s private life. How much to share should be a personal decision, although I admit that the pictures of Neil Patrick Harris, his husband, and their twins turn me to mush.
Are you tired of Lady Gaga yet?
I get her in small doses, usually one song at a time at widely spaced intervals, so overexposure isn’t a problem. I did see a really hilarious time sequence of her changed appearance, which ended up at “hobo mess” projecting a couple years into the future. She is one hell of a performer and marketer.
For the men in your books, commando or underwear?
I’d say “depends,” but I haven’t written any “snow on the roof” characters. *rimshot*
Actually, my boys like underwear, unless there’s a specific reason to go commando. Ricky’s first scene in The Rare Event turns out to be commando: he has a purpose in this, and it’s really not appropriate on Wall Street. Jake has a commando sequence in Fire on the Mountain, but it’s not his choice and it drives him crazy.
Here’s the news on my latest novel from Dreamspinner:
The Rare Event
Hedge fund trader Ricky Santeramo has it all: money, looks, and fellow trader Jonathan Hogenboom. The two couldn't be more different: Jon is from old money, while Ricky clawed his way out of blue-collar New Jersey. Jon hedges his positions; Ricky goes for broke. Jon likes opera and the Yankees; Ricky prefers clubbing. Jon drinks wine with dinner; Ricky throws back a beer. Jon wants monogamy… but Ricky likes variety.
Bankrupt airlines are facing strikes, the housing market is starting to crumble, and Jon can’t wait any longer for Ricky to commit. One last night alone and one last risky trade make Jon say, “Enough.” Then Jon’s old friend Davis comes to New York City, ready for baseball and forever. The whole world is chaos, but there are fortunes to be made—or lost—and hearts to be broken—or won.
Faced with losing it all, Ricky must make the savviest trades of his life and pray for a rare event. His portfolio and Jon's love are on the line.
Almost against his will, Jon’s arms slipped around his wandering lover. “I don’t know that. What I know is that any man around you is either someone you’ve fucked, someone you’re going to fuck, or someone too straight or too contemptible to fuck, though they might do in a pinch.”
“Those aren’t bad categories. Jon, yeah, I like variety. But I keep coming back to you. Out I go, back I come.” Ricky stroked his fingers through Jon’s wet hair. “I always come back to you.”
“What if I did that?” Jon pulled away, but Ricky wasn’t letting go easily. “What if I had sex with someone else now and then?”
“You’d be entitled, I guess.” Ricky looked sideways into Jon’s eyes, confused. “But you haven’t. You wouldn’t.”
“Why? Why wouldn’t I?” Anger gave Jon the strength to jerk back, and knowing the answer made him want to pull more clothing on, to cover himself.
“It’s just… that’s not who you are.” Ricky shook his head minutely.
“Damned right that’s not who I am.” That wasn’t how Jon would have explained it had Ricky asked. “But what I don’t get is why who I am isn’t enough for you.”
He wouldn’t press more; he couldn’t say another thing without demanding something that Ricky couldn’t or wouldn’t give him, and if he stayed another second without demanding it, he’d either punch Ricky or cry. Or both. He shoved out the bedroom door, past Ricky, whose mouth was hanging open, and fled barefoot for the beach.
Ricky came outside about twenty minutes later, carrying a fried egg sandwich wrapped in a napkin. “You’re bonking after your run. Here.” Jon put down the stick he’d been using to randomly draw and dig in the sand and accepted the peace offering. “It’s all worse when you’re hungry.”
Maybe the hollow pangs in his gut weren’t just misery. Jon ripped off a corner of toast, hating that Ricky had a point.
Ricky sat down in the sand, assuming the same cross-legged position Jon had, and picked up the twig. Jon ate silently, feeling his blood sugar coming back up point by point. He licked his fingers, knowing that he’d lost control of his tongue earlier because of how much his exercise had taken out of him; he’d met other men wearing that knowing expression and kept silent. The encounter with the stranger in the beach house wasn’t the first such, and hadn’t Ricky come as close to declaring his affection as he ever had? Jon had given up the jealous scenes after the first he’d pitched, a year ago, when he hadn’t touched Ricky for a week after and had only seen him in the office in passing.
“It is,” Jon finally admitted. “But it’s bad enough the rest of the time.”
“You really hate that we’re not exclusive, don’t you?” It wasn’t really a question. Ricky dug the twig deeply into the sand, finding the damp, dark layer under the surface.
“I try not to push, but yeah. I do.” Jon crumpled the napkin in his hand just for something to destroy. He looked out at the water in the bay, not at Ricky, or he’d need the napkin to wipe his eyes.
“I don’t know that I can ever be, Jon. Home base with you is as close as I’ve ever gotten.” Ricky smoothed the dry sand over, hiding the damp below. “I won’t make you a promise I can’t keep.”
“That’s something.” Jon sniffed in spite of himself. “I don’t want broken promises. Or lies.”
“I’ve never lied to you.”
“No, you’ve been more open than I can stand sometimes.” Ricky had never hidden his adventures, but he’d been more sparing with details after that week’s hiatus. Jon didn’t want to know more than “Did you use condoms?” There’d been a six-week gap and some blood tests before they’d been intimate again the one time Ricky had said no.
“Jon, what you want and what I want are… aren’t the same. Would you be happier if… if we didn’t see each other?” Ricky’s voice was low, almost lost in the mumble of the surf.
“Yes.” Ricky jerked around to stare at him. “No.” Jon wrapped his arms around himself, shivering in spite of the warmth of the day, and leaned into Ricky. “I don’t know.”
The hell of it, Jon thought, with his face buried in Ricky’s neck and their arms tight around each other, fallen backward onto the sand, was that he truly didn’t know.
You can find my news and musings at http://psdinger.com
Thank you for being a guest on Tabooindeed or IRM!
Thanks for having me!