First off, I want to thank Aisling Mancy for tagging me. I had a blast answering four intriguing questions about moi :)
What are you working on now?
It’s called A Place to Belong, and I’m currently at about 55k—definitely past the half-way point! (I’ve recently discovered that I write slower than I want to, so getting to 55K is an accomplishment I’m proud of.)
The idea started as a really simple one: a guy gets picked up in a bar by a much younger man for a one night stand and later on finds out that the younger man is a hustler, a street-level sex worker. To make matters more complicated, I decided that the man who gets picked up is an attorney with the County Prosecutor’s Office, specifically, the Family Court Division. Here in Oakland County, MI, that’s a part of the Criminal Court. (Most of what I write is set near where I live—research is *much* easier that way!)
Little by little, layers got added to both characters. Dillon (the attorney) lost his long-time partner to cancer a little over a year ago and hasn’t dated anyone since. Andy (the younger man) engages in self-injury. I took one of the incidents from his life from a page out of mine.
When I was a teenager, I took a job at a summer day-camp for kids (average, normal, suburban kids) and we had a young man—I think he was eight or nine—crawl into one of the big plastic trash bins we kept in the classroom. There wasn’t anything gross in it or anything, but when we asked him why he’d climbed in like that, we expected to hear something like he was playing a trick or playing hide and seek. Instead, he told us “because this is where the garbage belongs.” Talk about heartbreaking. Our boss called social services, but we never found out what happened. When I started building Andy’s backstory, I remembered that incident and started thinking about the kind of home where a kid would think something like that about himself.
How is your current WIP different from others in the genre?
I think I’m doing a pretty good job of avoiding some of the tropes or stereotypes associated with older, rich (ish) guy and poor young prostitute. Andy remarks several times that his life isn’t a movie and he sure as hell isn’t Julia Roberts.
Pretty Woman, beyond being unrealistic, glamorizes prostitution in a way that really bothers me. Street-level sex work isn’t the same thing as being an escort (call girl/rent boy). It’s a hard, extremely unglamorous life.
And remember I said Dillon was rich ISH right? He lives in a great condo in Royal Oak and has a good job, but he’s far from rich. As he tells Andy , yes, he has nice stuff but he also has a mortgage he can barely pay after losing his partner (and his partner’s income), student loans to pay off, and a stack of credit card bills.
No matter what I’m working on, I try to stay true to real life. Thankfully, I have some awesome friends who have let me pick their brains.
Why do you write?
I have all these stories in my head and they have to come out. Some are word stories, others are picture stories.
How does your writing process work?
Usually, it starts with a vague idea, like A Place to Belong. Man gets picked up at bar by hustler. Okay, who’s the man? What would be the worst job he could have to be in that situation? What about the kid? There’s more to him than being a prostitute. Where did he come from? What did he want to be when he grew up? What do these two have in common (because if I want an HEA, there has to be more than hot sex!)?
My first novel was inspired by a painting. I got a vague idea and started the same kind of line of “what if…?” questions.
Usually, my characters and story evolve as I write. I’ll get down the initial idea, 5000 to 10,000 words and then start creating official character bios, usually starting with “what astrological sign is this person?” Then I figure out how old they are, do the math, and zip over to astro.com to make a birth chart. Yes, seriously. *G* I’ll fiddle with the date/time a bit to get things that work and then use the rest to fill in some of the gaps of the character’s personality.
With A Place to Belong, I knew straight away that Dillon was a Capricorn like me. He likes rules and boxes and fences. Originally, I had And pegged as an Aries, but then I got to know him better and realized that he was a Virgo.
In case it isn’t obvious, I’m totally a pantster. I have some ideas of where things are going and how the *might* get there, but plotting it all out doesn’t work for me. Sometimes my characters say things or do things and it throws the entire plan out of whack. The most I do is jot down some notes so I don’t forget ideas that I have. Whether or not those ideas get used or not is up to my boys.