The boys :) There is something extra beautiful, sensual, and emotionally gratifying in M/M romance that I never found while writing M/F romance. I adore my "boys" as if they were flesh and blood, and they are just that real to me. Until I began writing M/M romance, I never connected to my characters on this level. The boys occupy my thoughts 24/7, regardless what I am doing. They have brought great joy into my life and, now, I don't think I could live without them.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are everything. The wind beneath my "creative" wings :) Without their encouragement and support, I wouldn't have gotten this far. I love having interaction with my fans, hearing their thoughts and ideas. it always touches my heart deeply when a fan tells me how connected they feel to my boys and how real the boys are to them. I feel the same. I want my boys to be truly "alive" to the readers, and so many have told that they indeed are.
What are you working on next?
I have multiple projects underway. I also write as CJ Bishop for an independent publisher, so I'm almost always working on one of those books as well. Concerning the books under my own name, I am currently working on the 4th and final installment of "The Brokenhearted Necklace" of the 'That Which Was Lost' series. I am also starting Book 5 of my "Boys of Porn" series - "Royal Flush" (part 2 of the ROYAL volume). In shorter works, I have begun part 4 of the Soulscape series - Deadly Devotion.
I have many, many books I want to start, but am trying to pace myself so I don't get overloaded and end up leaving the readers waiting too long for upcoming books - which, regrettably, I've done in the past.
Who are your favorite authors?
Hands down, my favorite author is Dean Koontz. My favorite book he has written is "Watchers". I've learned a lot from his writings, and I think developed much of my characters' emotional bonds through reading his works. His characters are amazing and their bonds of friendship, family, and love are so strong and beautiful. I think that is the one thing I admire most about his books. And the fact that he is an exquisite talented author.
Describe one unusual fact about yourself as a M/M romance author?
I think what readers and fans might be shocked to learn is that I have never read a full M/M romance book. I have read a few short stories - it was, in fact, a M/M short story trilogy that drew me to this amazing genre - but I've never read an entire book/novel length M/M romance, though I am steadily gathering print books by some very talented M/M romance authors and plan to do some reading when I can find the time :)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am rarely not writing, but when I do take a break, I enjoy designing my own book covers. I am also an artist and enjoy working with graphite. Sometimes it's nice to just relax and watch a movie from time to time as well :) But for the most pat - I write :) and love it.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
lol Lord, yes. The VERY first story I wrote was in 1st or 2nd grade, titled "Little Chief", and I believe I still have it packed away somewhere lol. My first "M/M" story was the novella I wrote of 'The Brokenhearted Necklace', which inspired the series. It was life-changing for me and I never knew I could fall in love like that :) Lonny and Paul were my very first "gay boys" and to this day remain extra-special to me, although I do love all my boys equally. But these two showed me the way :)
What is your writing process?
Honestly, I don't have one lol. I just "write". On many occasions, I have tried (and failed) to do extensive outlining and such, but it just doesn't work for me. As long as I know where I'm headed, I let my boys tell me their story - rather than try to "force" them into a planned outline. They rarely cooperate anyway :) I find that I end up with a much more interesting story when they lead the way.
How do you approach cover design?
I design my own covers. I usually have an idea in mind of what I'm going for, but often the cover will evolve gradually through trial and error until I have exactly what I'm looking for.
Do you simply write M/M romance for fun, or is there something deeper that drives you?
Although I have lots of fun writing M/M romance - and I think that's very important, to have fun - there is much more to it. I was raised in a conservative Christian home and for most of my life believed it was wrong to be gay. I never felt any form of "hate" toward gay people, not at all, but I did believe it was against God's will. When I finally became "enlightened" back in 2012, I believe it was God who opened my eyes. And not only opened my eyes (and mind) but at the same time gave me a deep passion for the LGBTQ community. Although it is at times subtle in some of my books, I want my stories to reflect the fact that God loves ALL, and all love is beautiful. So many Christian gay kids are ostracized by both their church and their families, told that God hates homosexuals and that they are going to hell if they don't seek "healing". This is a very sad fact and breaks my heart for these kids, and that they are driven to despair - to the point of suicide, at times. I will never stop doing my part to debunk these life-destroying myths about God and how he views love. Some of my books are directly related to this subject (i.e. Made to be Broken and my upcoming YA series 'Love Conquers All') and there will be more to come that address this aspect head on.
Do you think readers will take your God element serious when you also implement erotica into the stories?
I've never had readers give a negative comment or observation on the matter. Along with the 'God loves everyone' apsect of my books, I also like to write about those in the sex industry, and attempt to show that these are "real" people rather than scars on the face of society. I'm sure there are some - probably many within the Christian community - that would condemn the way I mix God into these types of stories. But the way I see it...this is exactly where God needs to be. And to tell anyone that God doesn't love them or want them is one of the greatest sins of all. So many "Christians" won't allow these people to come to God just as they are, so someone needs to take God to them and show them that they are beautiful in His eyes and He loves them as much as He loves everyone else. Maybe I could try and accomplish this with less explicit sex and language, but these aspects are a part of reality, and tip-toing around these details don't make them any less real. I leave it up to God - if He wants me to change how I do things, then He will let me know. It is no one else's place to do so.
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