Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
A: Depends on what you mean by “first.” My very first series—yes, series—was written when I was eight years old. It featured a character named George Groundhog, and it followed him and his friends on a number of interesting adventures. Well, interesting to an eight-year-old, anyway! The inspiration came from reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.
As to the inspiration behind my first published book, that came from a friend of mine who lived through some pretty horrible things when he was young. My main character, Allen, is based on him as far as his tattoos and the fact that he was abused. The journey that Allen takes in the story is different than that of my friend, but the overall feel is the same.
I have also always wanted to find an outlet for some of my personal views regarding sex, love, and ménage, and writing a romance novel was the easiest way to convey those concepts.
Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: The title came from Allen’s explanation of the tattoo on his back, when he tells Sidri that the basic translation of the Latin words is “Angel Without, Demons Within.” I felt it was appropriate because all three characters have “demons” in their pasts, and the story follows their struggle to overcome those demons in order to be together.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: The biggest would probably be that there should be no limits placed on love. Gay, straight, crooked, sideways---labels only apply where you choose to let them apply. Too many people cut themselves off from opportunities to find true love simply because they fear the label that will be attached to them if they allow themselves to admit what they want. Secondly, I want people to realize that the past doesn’t define the future unless you allow it to do so. Allen went through some horrible, terrifying events in his young life, yet he pulled through to become a sweet, lovable man. You can choose to let your past define your personality, or you can choose to forge ahead and make your own future. Easier said than done, I know. But it is possible!
Q: How much of the book is realistic?
A: The book is contemporary, set in Houston. The districts, buildings, and descriptions of Houston that are found in the book are 100% accurate. I would know, since I live there!
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: Either Cameron Dane or Joey W. Hill. Both of them write evocative, contemporary romances that feature a lot of the same elements I am trying to convey with my stories. The two of them are my heroes in the romance genre. Someday I would love to be as prolific and well-loved as they are.
Q: What are your current projects?
A: I’m working on books 2 and 3 in the For Love of Authority Series. Book 2 is about Allen’s sister, Amber, and her struggles with accepting herself as a sexual submissive. Book 3 features some old college friends of Sidri and Tatum and follows their struggle to form a lasting triad.
Q: Do you see writing as a career?
A: I wish. I really, really, really wish. Writing is and always has been my first love. But, as much as I would wish to become a professional writer with no other job, I have too many other artistic venues to participate in. In addition to writing stories, I make jewelry, clay figurines, custom fondant cakes, paper crafts such as scrapbooks, and sewing projects, among other things. I’m an advertising guru by day, and my job consists of coming up with snappy headlines and making visual graphics for a wide variety of clients. Maybe someday writing will pay the bills, but even if it does, I will still pursue my other artistic outlets!
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Sometimes I let my characters wax eloquent on topics that I’m passionate about. One of my biggest pet peeves about modern BD/sM novels is that most authors assume that vanilla readers will automatically understand the emotional reasons behind what’s happening between the Dominants and submissives. I wanted to add a little more explanation to my stories so that people who don’t understand the concept of D/s intrinsically can gain a little more insight. That said, I have a tendency to over-explain, which the editors at Siren-BookStrand have been wonderful helping me pinpoint. There’s a fine line between conveying a concept and beating it to death. Sometimes, I get WAY too wordy because I don’t know if my point has come across or not.
Q: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
A: Not as of yet. Maybe someday I will branch out and write a series that doesn’t take place in my home town. In that case, I would definitely travel, because it’s so much easier to write about a place you actually know. As of now, though, I have no travel plans.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A: Actually sitting down to write it. I had the story in my head for almost a year before I finally managed to find time to sit down and write the whole thing. Now that I’m published, I have made a commitment to sit down and write every single day, though having a family, two jobs, and my own business certainly make that difficult. But, writing is my passion, so I believe I will be able to make it all work out. Somehow.
Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
A: Branch out. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a single genre. For most of my writing career, I wanted to write fantasy novels. I wouldn’t be a published author if I hadn’t branched out and taken a hand at writing romance. Writers need to spread their wings, tell as many stories as they can, and try different things. You never know what kind of manuscript will catch the eye of a publisher or agent.
Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A: BD/sM doesn’t have to be about pain. That’s probably the biggest thing I want readers to learn from my books. Most modern novels in this genre concentrate on specific acts such as whipping, caning, and spanking, and they make it seem like those acts are the end-all be-all. And yes, they are part of the lifestyle, but they are by no means the only expression of it. I wanted to bring back the gentler, psychologically-based D/s in my stories so that readers could see that it’s not always about masochism. Sometimes, a sub simply needs to know someone else is in control. I also want people to understand the basic dynamic of a true D/s relationship. The way Sidri and Tatum treat Allen in my story is the way it is in real life.
Q: Were there any psychological or logistical challenges in bringing your story to life?
A: A few. I had two main goals: tell Allen’s story, and convey the concepts that I described in the previous question. I wanted to tell a fantastic story while also including some real-life experiences. Figuring out realistic timeframes for the main story arc was my biggest logistical challenge, simply because it’s such a temptation to have all the important events take place right at the beginning of the story. I had to figure out the best way to reveal Allen’s dark past without destroying the pacing.
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