Ann Lister writes erotic love stories using beautifully drawn characters; flawed and emotionally damaged, and at the height of their careers, each in search of the one thing that still eludes them: love. The Rock Gods series gave her Bestselling Author status on Amazon. Each book in this seven book series brings her two favorite elements together: musicians and the love between two men. These stories focus on what it truly means to love; love unconditionally, love without restrictions or labels, love without fear or judgment – to just simply love.How long have you been writing and what inspired you to do it seriously?
I have been writing professionally since the early 1990's. Back then I had two young daughters under foot and my time to write was limited which meant I was mainly writing short, erotic MM stories. I sold a number of them to various magazines and it was a lot of fun, but soon my daughters needed more of my attention and I had to put the writing away for a while. In the late 1990's I had a very vivid dream involving me and a famous rock star. In the dream I had won a contest and the prize was a few private guitar lessons from this famous musician. It was during one of these guitar lessons that we ended up having an affair. I woke up shortly after that but I entertained my friends with the details of this dream for a very long time after that. It was them that urged me to write a story from the dream. I thought about their suggestion and realized I actually did have enough material to write a full-length novel. It took me a while to write but when finished I had Sheet Music: A Rock 'n' Roll Love Story, my first full-length novel. The story ended up being about 10% of the dream and the other 90% came from my imagination. This set the stage for several more books, and almost all of them have a rock star theme.When choosing a name for your characters, what do you consider about them that determines what you finally call them?
I love this question because in all honestly (and this is going to make me sound crazy) but the characters usually tell me their names and personalities. In other words, I don't typically need to pick a name for them. When I do have to select the first name for a character, I like to go for a name that matches the character's persona. A good example of this would be Dante Dupont. He was one of the main characters in Fighting His Fire, Book 6 in The Rock Gods series. Dante's personality is fiery, explosive, and his passion runs deep. This all reminded me of the title for the famous 14th century poem about Dante's Inferno or hell. When it comes to the last name of the characters I like to have fun and use the last name of people I have known in my life.Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
My stories typically have a large cast of characters. As I get deeper into writing a story certain characters become more visual to me or have a larger presence in the story than some of others. If I feel that particular character has more to say beyond that story, I will write a story for him down the road. The other more quiet characters will then become secondary characters with their role being a support to the main characters. I don't go into a project thinking this will be a five book series or a stand-alone book though. All that comes to me as I write.How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?
For me, that is all decided by how loud a characters voice is inside my head. The longer I work on a story, the more visual a character becomes to me. Some of them become very vocal and insistent on me telling their story. Sometimes the voices of those characters become such a distraction to me that I have to stop writing the story I am working on to begin another story involving the bossy, loud character taking up too much space inside my head. I prefer to write one story at a time, though, and focus on that group of characters before I start writing new characters. Otherwise it can become a little overwhelming for me and then I feel as if I am being pulled in too many different directions. To maintain my focus on the one story I will take lots of notes for another story so the thought or plot point isn't lost. That way, when I'm ready to begin the other story I will have a good framework already created for the new story.Do you have a “reader” in mind when you write stories?
I primarily write MM romance and my stories are heavy on the erotic elements and the romance. Yes, my stories are about the love between two men, but my reading audience largely consists of women. Some of my non-author friends find that demographic hard to believe. They assume that because I write gay love stories my reader audience would be mostly gay men. I do have a following of gay men who enjoy my stories and I love them for their support, but most of my readers are women. Putting that aside, I don't write my stories with a particular demographic in mind. It just sort of works out that women are my primary audience.What do you do to get book reviews? what is the best review you ever got?
I honestly wish I received more reviews than I do, but I'm grateful for the ones I do get. I'm not sure I have a “favorite” review but I love the reviews that describe how my story made them feel or how it might have enlightened them in some way. Sometimes the best reviews come to me in personal emails, when the reader will go into great detail about how my story affected them, or maybe they had gone through a similar life event that I write about in the story, etc. In Book 7 of The Rock Gods (Beyond The Music), I write about the main character having multiple sclerosis. I received many emails from people living with this disease to thank me for putting a face to this chronic disease, or others that thanked me for shedding some light on the disease for them to better understand it. Those are the types of reviews that stay with me and make me feel good about the stories I am telling. Book 6 in that series has a character that is dealing with the after effects of childhood sexual abuse and I received similar private emails about that story. Even a bad review is important to me, as long as it isn't a personal attack. If I can read the bad review and walk away with something I've learned, then I still consider that a “good” review. The reviews that offer nothing constructive and merely want to offer their doubts on whether or not an author passed junior high English serve no purpose at all and are only meant as a means to trash an author in a public forum. Fortunately, the “real” reviews greatly outnumber the hateful reviews and I think any author would agree we would all love to see more “real” reviews posted for our books.What does the word “story” mean to you?
The word “story” to me is a fictional place where an author can transport me with nothing more than the perfect usage of their words put onto paper. With a simple description I can “see” the world the author has created and I can “feel” every emotion their characters are feeling right along with them. To me, that is entertainment at its best. When I can be in that story with the author it is damn close to being magical. And, as a storyteller being able to create these beautiful, fictional landscapes and having your readers disappear into the world you've created for them to enjoy for a few hours and fall in love with the characters you've introduced them to . . . that is the best damn job in the world.What are you working on now?
Book 7 in The Rock Gods series completed the stories I had outlined for the musicians in the two bands, Black Ice and Ivory Tower. The next several stories I have planned are about the men that work behind-the-scenes of the bands. Because these new stories have main characters that aren't musicians it didn't feel right for me to call them a “Rock Gods” book. That led me to begin a new spin-off series titled, Guarding The Gods. I am currently writing Book 1 in Guarding The Gods. The title is, Zac's Mulligan and I hope to have this ready for a late June or early July release. Zac is a personal security guard for Lincoln Stallworth from Book 7. The readers were introduced to Zac and his team of guards in that story. Being around the guys in Black Ice and Ivory Tower bring back a lot of childhood memories for Zac and a friendship he had with his best friend Ben that turned into something a lot deeper. Zac decides to try and find Ben to see if they still have the chemistry they once shared. Essentially, what Zac is looking for is a “do-over” which is where the title of the book comes from.Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Writing is my full time job now and in the last few years it has really grown into being a business that requires a lot of time and attention to keep going. My day usually begins with the business end of things in the morning. Today I'm answering your interview questions and then I'll spend the afternoon and evening writing. Other days I'll answer email, sign and package up books or swag for shipping. Tasks like that are usually done in the morning and then I write in the afternoon. Then there are those days where I begin writing early in the morning and don't stop until I have to eat or get some sleep. When I am in full-on “writing mode” nothing can distract me from writing that story. If I disappear for a few days it is usually because the characters voices inside my head have become really loud and they won't shut-up until I get their story told. That is period of time in the writing process when the author lives and breaths their stories to the extent they become one in the same. It can be all-consuming and exhausting, but being able to share the characters we've created with the readers makes it all worth it in the end.How do you promote your work? How Quotesrain help you in your book promotions and sales, would you like to refer this platform to your author friends?
I have a personal assistant (Joanne Swinney) who helps me with a lot of the administrative tasks with this business. She's also highly skilled in the numerous social media platforms and keeps my “brand” active there. She is now largely responsible for all the promotion for my books on these various social platforms. I also have several readers and fans that create promos of my books and they will share them all over social media for me. I would not be able to do this without their enormous help and dedication and I am so grateful to have them beside me for this journey. Their relentless daily work to keep my books in front of potential readers allows me to stay in my cave and keep my focus on the writing. It was my assistant who introduced me to Quotesrain and I have to say I was not anticipating how much promotion Quotesrain does for the author. It was a wonderful surprise and I'm thrilled your services crossed my path. I would absolutely recommend Quotesrain to other authors! We need all the help we can get to promote our books!Would you like to share something with your readers and fan?
I am so full of love and appreciation for my readers! When I started this journey I never expected so many people would read and enjoy my books! The love they have for my characters rivals the love I have for them myself and I thank them every day. It is an honor to sit in this writer's chair and one I will never take for granted, because if it weren't for their dedication and desire to read my books, I would not be where I am today. They are my rock stars!!
Ann Lister is a writer without pretence or prejudice. She just wants to tell the stories in her head and she has done a marvellous job. She is the best-selling author of erotic MM novels and takes immense pride in her work. She is well-known for The Rock gods series, which does not only sates sexual fantasies but also showcases the harsh realities of life like child sexual abuse and diseases like multiple sclerosis. Adored by her readers, Ann Lister does justice to her own idea of what a story should be.