Welcome to the Comfy Chair, Andrew, and thanks for being such a good sport about answering my questions.
Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?
First let me say thanks for having me today. So a bit about me. I’m boring, to be honest. My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years, married a bit over a year – thank you voters of Maryland for passing marriage equality. Our daughter—’lil q — turned three in September. I refer to her as ‘lil q because of my day job—I’m a criminal prosecutor. Beyond that, we have one dog—hopefully we’ll have two more soon—I like baseball and soccer, football to most of the world, like superhero comic books, high fantasy and the occasional MM Romance.
When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?
Not really, unless you consider singing poorly being creative. Once upon a lifetime ago I took piano lessons for a year as a kid and played trombone in school. I’ve not written about any of those, but I have written a fair bit about playing soccer. Something I’m still involved in.
What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?
Right now I’m reading A Heart for Robbie, by J.P. Barnaby. Not sure I can say I wish I’d written it, it’s kind of a tough subject for me as a parent to write about, but it’s still a great book. I’m a huge Anyta Sunday fan, so I wish I’d written Bird Meets Cage because it’s so sad and lovely and wonderful all at the same time.
In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?
Oh wow, that’s a good one. I’d say a situation comes up first followed shortly there after by the character. I think most of my stories have started as a vivid scene that I can see clearly. Then everything—forward or backward—follows.
Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?
Very few characters arrive fully developed. I think they ‘appear’ to me and I’ve always got this image of them that never changes even as they evolve as characters. They are almost always an image before a thought. I see them—sort of like the picture prompts for the Goodreads MM Romance group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event—then they get fleshed out as more than just a face.
Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? What inspired you to write about A Closed Door?
I prefer fantasy, with urban fantasy/paranormal a very close second. I love the world building, even if it’s a modern day story, but the idea of creating new things—like a society where paranormal beings are a part of life—is more appealing than a typical contemporary story.
I’d say I avoid mystery and comedy. Why you ask? Because I’m not all that funny and I suck at keep secrets.
A Closed Door was something of a challenge. I’ve wanted to write some contemporary stories—in fact the very first story I wrote and shared was a 300K freebie that I posted on Gay Authors. I think quite a few readers know me as a contemporary writer and are surprised to learn I prefer Sci-fi/Fantasy. I’m not sure exactly what inspired the story, but for whatever the reason, I tend to write stories that are grounded in loss and from that loss, a new love arises. Weird I know.
Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot
No. Can I leave it at that? No? Drats. Well no, there really aren’t any structural differences between them in my mind. Mostly because everything – no matter the type of story – needs conflict and tension. That comes in all forms. Then there are the sub plots that wend through the story – again, it doesn’t really change fundamentally, just the type of conflict or tension.
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?
Well since I’m so important, nothing less than the Silver Surfer would do for who I’d want to come to my rescue. 😀 Being a huge comic book fan as a kid and young adult, having him show up, let alone save me would be pretty damn cool.
But for something a bit more ‘normal.’ I’d really like for Will – the main character from Purpose to come save me. Him and Connor McLeod from the Highlander movie.
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 society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?
As you say, villains come in all forms. I think one of the pitfalls of writing is we sometimes make our villains over the top bad with no redeeming qualities. I suspect that is how we see our real life antagonists so why not write about them in that vein? The answer changes, however, depending on the genre. For fantasy/sci-fi they villains can be badder than bad, like Sauron or Darth Vader, but for contemporary romance, they need to be more realistic. For contemporary ‘villains’ I strive for something less evil and vile and more commonplace, something we all experience.
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.
Ugh, the problem is I have TOO much I’m working on. But let’s see. The second book in the Champion of the Gods series – The Eye and the Arm – is due out in April so I’m working on book three – Kings of Lore and Legend. I’m also trying to finish my first pure contemporary novel – Harp Strings. That is about a gay teen who decided to prove he was straight and ends up being a single dad. I’ve got a bunch more I’ve started but set aside so I can focus on those two for now and I want to have something for the Wayward Ink Publishing Heaven and Hell anthology so I’m working on something for that too.
Could we please have an excerpt of something?
Here is an excerpt from A Closed Door.
“Orin, I won’t.” Thomas stood a bit straighter and his eyes lost the sad, pleading shine. “I won’t hurt you again.”
“You can’t promise that. Things happen.” Orin watched as his words dragged Thomas back from the brink of hope.
“If you truly believe that, then there’s nothing I can do. You have to believe there’s a chance or else I can’t prove it.”
“That’s not what I’m telling you.” He locked his gaze on Thomas’s. “If I say yes, I’ll have to take down the walls I surrounded my heart with to keep it safe. Once it’s gone, I won’t be able bring it back if I get hurt. Not now.
“So what I’m saying is, think about what you’re asking me to risk. If you really love me, ask yourself if are you willing to risk what will happen to me if you can’t keep your promise.”
He knew how unfair he’d been, but self-preservation had been a skill he’d honed over the past fifteen years. He needed Thomas to know just how serious the repercussion could be for his actions.
“Orin, I . . . I . . . how . . .?” Their faces were inches apart, and Thomas moved in for another kiss.
This felt different than the first—less urgent, but no less intense. Orin trembled at the leap he was about to take. When they stepped back, Thomas rubbed his thumb across Orin’s cheek.
“I do love you, Orin. More than I can say. So much, that I’m not willing to risk what will happen if I fail you again. I don’t have that right.”
Thomas’s lips quivered and the tears welled at the bottom of his eyes. He kissed Orin’s forehead gently.
“Good-bye, Orin. Please be happy.” Without looking back, Thomas walked to the front door, opened it, and walked away.
Cover Artist: Lily Velden and Jay Aheer
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing.
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of eighteen years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.