Interview with EM Lynley

Jen: This week are happy to have EM Lynley as our guest at the blog. EM, will you please share a short bio with us?
EM: EM Lynley works in the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing hot, sexy man-on-man action. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.

Jen: Tell us about Emerald: Rewriting History and where it’s available.
EM: I’ve very excited about this one. It’s a novella, just out from Torquere Press and the first in a new series. The main characters are Tobin, a museum curator and his ex-boyfriend Pierce who may be the elusive art thief called Jaguar. Tobin has to keep Pierce from stealing the centerpiece of his new exhibit, an enormous emerald, recently discovered after being lost for centuries. I did a lot of research about art and jewel heists, forgeries, museum operations, art history and the black market in antiquities. The field is just fascinating and I found I had so many additional storylines that it needed to be a series, and my editor at Torquere was thrilled with the idea.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
EM: I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child. I loved creative writing assignments in school though during college and grad school I didn’t write except for class assignments, all non-fiction. It wasn’t until a few years ago I got back into fiction writing, specifically m/m romance on a dare from a friend and it turned into a novel-length story I posted online chapter by chapter. Since I’m such a better writer now I’m revising it into shape for a publisher.

My first published novel, Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells got published in a completely roundabout way. I had been emailing with Lori Perkins at Ravenous about a short story idea I had, and offhandedly mentioned a novel I had available as well. She wanted to read the novel and to my great surprise she offered me a contract on it the day after she got it. I didn’t realize until much later how extraordinary it is to get a response from an editor that quickly! Now it’s torture waiting weeks or months for a decision if I send something to other publishers.

Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
EM: When I first got up the courage to tell my mother my books are gay erotic romances, I expected to hear a gasp over the phone, instead she laughed for about a full minute. “You get paid to write that?” Now she’s thrilled I’ve had more titles published and still writing. While no one’s given me comments on the books themselves, I know they’re excited I’m succeeding at something I love to do.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
EM: I do a bit of both. Generally I start with two characters and a conflict caused by their jobs, since that’s realistic and it gives a good opportunity to explore how they feel about their jobs and themselves. I’ll do some preliminary character outlines and work out a large story arc in advance, then jump in. If I detail too much in advance the writing doesn’t feel as fresh. The characters reveal themselves to me as I write, and I’ll go back in and layer characterization once I know them really well.

Jen: Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
EM: No. For me it’s more a matter of “must not have” which would be the TV. I’m just able to focus on writing when it’s on. I can typically revise and edit with the TV, in which case I tend to need some Law & Order re-runs.

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?
EM: I love reading and writing about the way relationships develop. They are rarely smooth and predictable, in real life or in fiction, but for my characters they will always get their happy endings, even if might not seem possible. Love has the power change a person, for the better when it’s the right person, or the worse, when it’s not. Exploring those changes fascinates me as a writer. As a reader I love to see the couple overcome their obstacles, internal or external, and be better off for it.

Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
EM: I do have a list of names I like and I’ll go through it to see if one catches my attention and fits for the character in mind. I try to have two names that sound good together and I’ll read some of what I’ve written out loud to be certain the names work. One of my biggest issues is finding good nicknames for characters with 3-syallable names!

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
EM: Absolutely. I often wake up with entire scenes playing in my brain like a film. Sometimes it’s great, but other times it’s frustrating since we aren’t to that spot in the story yet! If the characters don’t talk to me or invade my thoughts I know they aren’t fleshed out enough as real people. I work on shaping them into individuals more clearly, and then the story often tells itself once this is done properly.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
EM: I’m a huge mystery fan, but I’m afraid I couldn’t do the genre justice. But I’m not against giving romantic suspense a shot. I can’t guarantee the mystery part will be as unique, but there will be plenty of romance in it!

I also enjoy historicals, but I’m intimidated by the amount of research needed to do one properly. That might be a long-term project for me to work on at some point in the future. I have recently taken a leap and written a sci-fi piece, which was a huge departure for me in that I don’t read much of it. I do love sci-fi TV shows like Stargate Atlantis and both incarnations of Battlestar Galactica.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
EM: There is no one author who has really influenced my writing but I recall being awed by Joseph Conrad’s use of words. For a writer who is not a native English speaker, he weaves incredible images and evokes so much. I’d say his talent put me off thinking I could actually write anything for a long time!

I do owe a huge debt of gratitude to the dozen or so of my favorite authors whom I was lucky enough to meet at signings and readings. The one thing I took away from of all them was authors aren’t superheroes; they are just regular people who have the perseverance to sit down and write until their story is finished. That is truly the hardest part of writing: getting a finished product you can then sculpt into a better story or book. Unlike a real sculptor who finds a piece of marble and shaves away the unnecessary bits, writers must make the block themselves. It’s daunting the very first time, but as so many multi-published authors told me: you can do it only if you try. If you never try, it’s impossible to succeed. And so I gave it a try!

Jen: If Emerald: Rewriting History was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the main characters?
EM: Pierce would be played by someone who’s a cross between Daniel Craig and Matt Bomer: he has the James Bond confidence and suavity to get you to want to give him whatever he wants, and thank him afterwards. But he’s not as hard-edged as Bond, but I can’t give too much away about what happens. Tobin is a bit harder to cast. Maybe Ewan McGregor. He can play that mix of sexy-as-hell yet still a bit naïve about the way things work, all the while wanting to believe the best of someone he can’t stop falling for.

This was the most difficult question, Jen! And I’m glad to realize there isn’t already a character out there who really mirrors either one.

Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?
EM: The e-book release was pretty stressful and I didn’t really feel like celebrating, even when it hit #1 on the publisher’s website the first day out. But when I got the print version in hand, champagne was definitely involved, and I celebrated with a local author-friend who is with the same publisher. Would we sound too geeky if I revealed we also did a Buffy musical sing-along that evening?

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
EM: The most interesting isn’t necessarily the best or most flattering! I have had many people tell me they stayed up all night or put off important tasks to finish reading, including one woman who left her kids at daycare a few extra hours so she could find out how it all turned out!

Jen: What’s next for you?
EM: I’m putting the finishing touches on RARER THAN RUBIES, a gay romance/adventure set in Thailand, with a Romancing-the-Stone vibe to it. But the food is better, and spicier. The whole thing is spicier! I’m also working on the next Rewriting History novella, as well as a few other projects that don’t have homes just yet. One is the sci-fi story and another is a shifter novel.

I’m also editing two anthologies: RUMPLEDSILKSHEETS (lesbian fairy tales) and a volume of gay angels and demons, tentatively titled WICKED GOOD. I have one of my own stories in the latter. Both of these should be out by the end of the year from Ravenous.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
EM: I love Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/emlynley. I am on Twitter occasionally but I really have to limit myself or I’d never get any work done. I have a website, http://www.emlynley.com, where you can find links to my other online activities.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
EM: What sets a great book apart from one that’s just really good? What gets you staying up late, then emailing your friends they just have to read it, too? And what’s the last book that got you this excited?

Jen: Readers, EM is giving away a download of Emerald: Rewriting History (or any of her others if the winner already has it). Due to the content of the book, the winner must be over the age of 18. To enter the contest, you first must leave a comment or question for EM. Then to finish your entry, you need to either leave your email address in your comment or send at message to contest.bookblog@gmail.com. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, September 26.