What is the name of your hometown and what do you think is the best thing about the place?
My hometown is Chicago. The best thing about growing up there were all the museums, and the fact they always had one day each week that were free so everyone had access to the knowledge stored in them.
What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
Travel abroad. Every time I leave the US and visit somewhere new, I learn more about this wonderful planet we live on.
How often do you write? What inspires you to write?
I write something every week. Whether it’s adding to a novel I’m working on, writing a blog post, or contributing an article to an online news site, I’m always writing something. Ideas for stories and articles come to me more frequently than I have time to write them all down. I guess what inspires me the most is life and living.
What books inspired you to become an author?
It wasn’t a book, it was a video game, that inspired me to start writing. The game is called Dragon Age and it has a very rich storyline, and I was inspired to add to that storyline with the first story I wrote. Eventually I began to have story ideas completely unrelated to the video game and that’s where my first novel came from.
[Note: I removed the ‘genderqueer’ part of your question. I am a genderqueer person, but I write gay romances, not genderqueer romances].
What was the biggest challenge of writing your first LGBT book?
Writing it was easy. The story flowed out of me as I wrote it, and I finished it in about 5-6 weeks. The biggest challenge has been to market and promote it.
How did you come up with the title of your book, "Coffee-to-Go"?
The title “Coffee-to-Go” refers to the nickname that the barista, Leo, gave to his romantic interest, a male nurse named Andy. Andy always hurries into the coffee shop and merely orders a simple cup of coffee, to-go. That stood out to Leo since everyone else always ordered fancier coffees, like cappuccinos, espressos, and lattes.
In what ways do you relate to Scott in "Mark My Soul?" Who is your favorite character in this book?
In “Mark My Soul” I love both main characters equally. I would say I relate to Scott a little more just because he’s also a novelist, who came from a single-parent household.
What are some under-represented themes or people you feature in your books and why do you think it is important?
Gay romances featuring bisexual characters are underrepresented, which is why often I include one bisexual character in my stories. In “Coffee-to-Go” that’s Andy, and in “Mark My Soul,” that’s Scott. Often bisexual characters are viewed as either straight or gay once they settle down with a partner and I think it’s important that people understand that a bisexual character doesn’t become either straight or gay depending on their partner. They remain bisexual and they need more visibility in the mainstream media.
Did you take inspiration for the character of Leo in ‘Coffee-to-Go’ from a real-life character?
No, Leo is completely fictionalized and not based on any real person I know. I always come up with the plot of my stories first, and then I write characters that fit the plot.
How do you decide when a story is over and how to end it? What're the most times you've changed the ending of a book because you weren't satisfied?
Once all the main plot points in the story have been resolved, that’s when I end them. I tend to prefer happy endings, so I always leave my characters on a happy note. Honestly, I’ve never rewritten an ending yet. I’m usually satisfied with how my stories end. I may revise the wording, but the overall intent of the ending remains the same.
Tell us about your creative process. How do you organize yourself and manage your time when you are working on a novel?
When I sit down to start a new novel, I remain focused and try to write at least 2,000 words each day until it’s complete. My first drafts take me about 4-6 weeks, and then I move toward the editing process. When I’m editing, my work is more sporadic. I begin by running the manuscript through a grammar software tool, followed by a complete read-through to fix any issues I find. Then I recruit beta readers, anywhere from 5-8, to read and give feedback on the pacing, plot holes, and other issues there may be with the narrative. I repeat this process at least 5 or 6 times to make sure the manuscript is as close to flawless as possible before I begin prepping for publication.
How often do you cook? Have you ever thought of creating a character of a chef in any of your books?
I cook several times each week. I enjoy the creative process of handcrafting a good meal. I have not yet been inspired to include a chef in my novels, but if that profession lends itself to the plot, I would be open to having such a character.
What was the best advice you've ever received related to writing?
Don’t stop. Keep writing. Don’t go back and edit while working on the first draft. Just get the story out. Editing is for after the first draft is complete. That advice is what helps me complete my first drafts so quickly.
What book ideas are you currently working on?
I have a dark erotic romance I plan to write next, although at the moment I’m taking a little break to recharge before diving in to write it.