Many thanks for visiting, Erin. Here we go with the interview.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Hello, Elin, and thanks for the opportunity to expose a bit of myself in public. I feel a little naughty, showing my undies like this. The avatar you see here is one I use on purpose, since it’s a tad androgynous. I’m a woman who writes tellingly of men.
I’m a frustrated scholar, with a few degrees from the University of Southern California; and yet I long to expose the layers of emotion which surround our hearts and souls. So in all my works, whether I plan it or not, I find myself delving into mythopoeia, language, culture, psychology—whatever seizes my fevered imagination at the time.
I began my romance writing career by penning a series of four YA historical fantasy sagas, a kind of odyssey of a young girl … from the ignorance of magic in the fifth century AD Britannia to the dawn of Christianity in Ireland, as moulded by St. Patrick. It’s a pretty ambitious series, not confined to the middle-grade and teen audience where I have to market it. And it’s been a colossal failure. Readers seem to be saying, “Who cares about a time 1500 years ago?”
From the YA series, I took my characters to a trilogy of M/F works, “The Dawn of Ireland.” And one day I realized that two of the men were silently crying out to be lovers
Long, long story … but I went from YA to M/F romance to male-on-male romcom in the space of a few years. Ever since I began to write about the special relationship between two men, I have written eleven novels and three short stories. And I’ve never looked back. I’ve found my niche.
The image you see here is an ad I created to sell my M/M series The Iron Warrior. It turns out that the stories are a bit too literary, too complex in their plot structure, to win a wide audience. Yet I would change them very little. Looking back, I think I’d at least give my lovers some sort of grease for their exuberant love making.
When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?
I confess, I’ve become a fixture in the corner of our living room where my iMac looms on a desk. I used to love to do gardening and landscaping. At one time, I loved learning about and practicing Chinese calligraphy. For many years, I found great joy in walking, hiking, collecting rocks and other outdoor pursuits. But now? There are roots growing from my rump to the chair as I continue to write something every day.
The gardening has found a place in my historic romance writing, because I made my heroine an herbologist/quasi-healer who uses strange poultices and mixtures to help her overcome circumstances. The hiking, the rocks, the mountains … those loom large in many of my books, as I’ll mention in a while. Most of my fascinations find a place somewhere in my books. In that way, I’m no different from most writers.
What are you reading? Fiction or non-fiction? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?
These days, I’m afraid I don’t read much at all outside of my own edits. But in general, I prefer non-fiction—mythology, astronomy/cosmology, language and linguistics. I wish I had written Watership Down and any one of Lois Bujold’s space operas. These are works of the imagination which take us to worlds beyond any four walls we’ve ever been. Imagine finding adventure deep in a rabbit burrow!
In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story, which comes first? Plot, situation or character?
With me, Elin, it always starts and ends with character. I am fond of crisp, efficient plotting; I thrive on irony of situation. But without the unique chemistry between at least two characters, I find I have no story.
Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly, or do they develop as you work with them?
Even my best-wrought characters (Michael and Simon from the Gaslight Series) did not spring full-blown from the forehead of Zeus. That’s why it took me three books to fully explore these two men and their evolving relationship.
To answer more directly, I find myself crawling under the skin of my principal characters, exploring their motivations and sensations, more and more understanding why they are who they are and what directions they need to grow. So in every book the characters end up subtly changed or very different from where they began.
Do you have a crisp mental picture of them, or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?
Good question! My image of my characters is always sharp and clear. In my early works, they were wholly imagined. I can hardly believe I created my best characters, Michael and Simon, entirely from imaginary scratch. Now, since I’ve discovered those marvelous stock albums, I find a face I like and adopt it (buy the photo) and go from there. Often, a photo of a face has actually been the spark which started the novel … for instance, the photo of the man whose face dominates my novel Nevada Highlander. That distinctive scowl, the rough texture behind the face, the piercing green eyes—all tell a story I found inside my heart and head.
Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? What inspired you to write a murder mystery set in 1920s Ireland?
Since the Gaslight Mysteries, I find myself more and more attracted to mystery/suspense. Avoid? Yes, I think I would shy away from transgressive lit, from fanfic, and from any genre which relies on either the grotesque or the grisly.
I’ve been attracted to Gaelic subjects throughout my life, probably an influence of my father,. who loved the famous Irish tenors of old. And mysteries have been a fascination for me since I read my first Edgar Allen Poe story. I’m toying right now with the idea of taking my current novel in a sequel into an old Scottish castle and weaving a murder mystery, using my cop character Alex as the sleuth.
Put together your ideal team of men/women, drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?
Muggers: I’d have them face Bruce Lee, Bruce Willis, and Judi Dench.
Alligators: Who better than Chris Hemsworth?
Fundamentalists: Would be vanquished by any number of dazzling Renaissance men and women, starting with my hero Neill deGrasse Tyson and certainly including my stalwart pals Nya Rawlyns and Susan Wylie Wilson.
Villains are incredibly important in fiction, since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The bigoted society. What sort of villains do you prize?
I invented a villain once who was so compelling (to me) that he became a powerful force in at least four subsequent novels. What fascinated me about Owen Sweeney Mac Neill was this: he was a cripple in the days of full-bodied heroes; he was a scholar in the days of muddled ignorance; and he had more layers than Shrek, each of which took a book to explore.
What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished?
I mentioned above that I’m playing with the notion of moving my protagonists of Nevada Highlander from the mountains of Nevada back to the area of Angus, Scotland, where the novel ends. The cop, Alex, will definitely be a fish out of water; so I want him to come into his own even alongside his larger-than-life lover, the castle laird Rory Drummond.
Could we please have an excerpt of something?
Here is an excerpt from Nevada Highlander. Rather than a sex scene, I’d rather present one which plays on the theme of finding something once lost, the precious memories of love and youth. Alex Dominguez is walking along a snowy road with a visiting Scot, Rory Drummond. Each man has found his deepest soul resonating in the other.
On the road, walking hand in hand with his lover, he watched and listened for the young Alejo to come bounding through the trees. Alex thought his heart would burst as he shared some of his vision with Rory. And he was sure the big Scotsman, his eyes bright with understanding, was seeing it too.
The voice of Ramón had come back to him for the first time in ten years. “Hijo. You must always be so aware of everything around you, nothing can surprise you. Even the soft eyes of a doe watching from a stand of mountain mahogany. Sí? Comprendes? And when you walk, let it be with care and understanding … with knowledge. Like seeing everything and knowing it well. Before it can know you.”
His father had taught him slowly, his words like pitch oozing from a white pine, and every day had held some wonder. He remembered as he walked, just how much of what he’d learned had become part of his everyday breathing and seeing and thinking.
Today Alex knew, more keenly than ever in his life, how his father’s patient love had prepared the boy for losing him. Prepared him to become a man. During the four years of gut-deep anguish, being shuffled from one foster home to another, from one set of parched hearts to the next, he’d somehow survived okay.
He’d managed to be on time for his classes every day. He’d been able to remember everything the teachers said, even reading after school as he walked back to what the state agency people had called “home.” He wouldn’t be allowed to study once he closed the door to the alien house, so he relied on his memory and his inborn cunning. So his grades were good, sometimes even outstanding, in spite of the neglect.
He’d built up his body in secret, certain his closeted attraction to men would bring trouble if he couldn’t defend himself. He’d been patient, letting the pain lie too deep to pull out and examine. And now, all of a sudden, it was all bubbling to the surface. Not just the tamped-down pain, but the stifled love too. What was happening to him?
He’d stopped feeling love as soon as his parents had died, up until a few days ago. Until this moment, actually.
No sense shutting out the healing, the way he’d shut out the hurt. Just walking along a freaking road halfway up Mt. Moriah, on a day when the sun was melting patches of snow and warming the frigid ground, on this astonishing day as he held the large warm hand of a remarkable man, he knew he could love someone. He was almost sure someone loved him, at long last.
Gay romcom action-adventure
For some men, love comes hard. But deceit comes even harder.
A Scottish castle laird decides to attend a big game hunt in the mountains of Eastern Nevada. His covert, and reluctant, babysitter is a governor-appointed state trooper.
The exuberant Rory Drummond needs no protector. He is a trained hunter, in addition to having several other entertaining skills. The state trooper Alex Dominguez is reserved, shrouding his past—even from himself—out of a need to seal off old memories.
Inevitably, the men find each other irresistible, and soon certain sparks begin to affect both of them. As the attraction between them grows, so does their sense of commitment to each other. Only one thing stands in the way of a mature relationship … Alex’s fear of telling Rory his secret assignment. The tension between his sense of duty and his newfound passion is a factor which threatens to tear them apart once the truth is known.
And the facts must eventually come out.
What will happen when the hunter finds he’s being spied on, thousands of miles from home?
And what will the trooper do when his cover is, ah, blown?
If you would like to follow Erin elsewhere her links are below.
Erin’s Blogs: Gaelic Spirit The Man in Romance
Accent: Gay Lit Authors
MM: Gaslight Mysteries: http://caitlinfire.wordpress.com
Wilderness Men: http://wilderness-men.weebly.com/ With Nya Rawlyns
Erin’s Gay Romances:
The Iron Warrior Series
Warrior, Ride Hard
Warrior, Stand Tall
The Noble Dimensions Series
Noble, Nevada: On Amazon On AmberAllure
The Chase: On Amazon On AmberAllure
“A Hard Place” (short) On Amazon On Amber Allure
The Gaslight Mysteries
Heart to Hart: On Amazon On AmberAllure
Sparring with Shadows: On Amazon On AmberAllure
To the Bone: On Amazon On AmberAllure
The Wilderness Trail Series (with Nya Rawlyns)
“Merry Christmas, Utah” on Amber Quill On Amazon (super short)
“Cowboy and Kilts” (short)
Nevada Highlander (self-pubbed)