A conversation with Lynn Lorenz and Ethan Day

Lynn Lorenz and Ethan
Day are two of the five coordinators for the first GayRomLit
Retreat
being held in New Orleans, October 13-16th, 2011.
Lynn is an author of both gay romance and traditional romance.  Her most
recent gay romances include her ghost story, Cemeteries (Amber Allure
Press) and a shapeshifter novel Rougaroux Social Club: Bayou Dreams (Loose
Id). Ethan is also an author of gay romance.  His latest release is a
contemporary story, Anything for You (MLR Press).

Ethan: And he’s single…just throwin’ that out there. : )

Ha! at Ethan.  Hi, you guys.  It’s great to meet you
both!  Before we get into the retreat and questions about romance writing,
could you please tell us…anything you want.  I’ve read interviews you’ve
given, and you both claim to be uninteresting, which I find highly doubtful,
but please give us a funny story from your life.  If nothing comes to
mind, feel free to make something up entirely
.

Lynn:  So, I
took my daughter to San Japan in San
Antonio this weekend, where she dressed up as 4 different characters. On
Friday, I spent the afternoon finishing one of her cosplay costumes, instead of
writing a sci-fi novella full of sex. I earned “cool mom” points for that, but
hit the jackpot when I asked her to borrow her badge so I could go into the
dealer’s room and buy Yaoi books. “I have the coolest mom EVER!” she squealed
to her friend as they ran out the hotel room door. So on Sunday, she lent me
her badge and I bought two yaoi manga books and let her check out the back of
the book, with the understanding that she can’t read it yet. Not for 4 more
years, anyway. She didn’t seem too interested in them. And I bought her two
drawings of half nekkid characters, Russia and Germany, only to hear, “My mom
is so cool,” being whispered to the people running the booth.

Ethan: Hi Gavin!
Thanks so much for having us over for this interview. I’m shocked that I ever
referred to myself as uninteresting! Even if that were the truth…and I’m not
saying that it is…it’s unlike me to have publically admitted to it. We’ll chalk
that up to having been caught without my caffeine or a random head injury and
move on. Now on to that funny story, one time…at band camp…  

There is a gay
literary critic who has said something to effect of “Women shouldn’t write
gay sex because they can’t convey the essence of what a gay man feels during
sex no matter how skilled an author she may be.” As authors of gay
romance, how would you respond to such an opinion?

Ethan: I think
I’ll tackle this one if that’s alright as I know Lynn has had to address this
topic many times in the past. In my humble opinion, all this does is perpetuate
the same type of mentality that Hollywood uses when they tell a gay actor that
he or she would be unconvincing in a straight role. I think
the entire debate is unfortunate and I truly feel horrible for my female
counterparts who write gay romance. They catch a lot of crap from both sides of
the aisle – het & gay – for writing stories that obviously mean a great
deal to them, otherwise they wouldn’t put themselves through the trouble.

The point that gets missed most often is that writing is a
creative process, not a cause. I find it difficult to believe that any gay men
out there truly feel threatened
that straight women will somehow hijack their very existence and dictate who
and what we are. For thousands of years society has attempted to mold us homo’s
into what they believed we should be as opposed to who we are and thus far it
hasn’t altered anything other than our resolve to keep on sucking dick. : )

All I keep thinking is how wonderful it is that so many
heterosexual women, most of whom are also mothers, will be raising their
children to be accepting of gay people. Or better yet, will have gay children
who will be able to come out to them without fear of reprisal. All of this from
love stories. That’s something to celebrate not lash out against.

I think it’s fair to
say there’s a “raw” audience for gay erotica in addition to the romance
audience.  If an author of raw erotica wanted to switch
over to romance, how would you advise him or her as far as language,
explicitness, and the limits of “wildness” or kink when it comes to making sure
they’ve “gotten it right” for the average gay romance reader?

Lynn: First, stats
show (from publishers’ sales demographics) that the average gay romance reader is a woman, between
20 and 60 years old. Women want graphic, they just don’t want to read it
couched in raw terms. Remember, some of us claim to have a very sensitive gag
reflex, at least after marriage. I’ve heard from gay friends that they like
their descriptions more “rough,” however, in most of the writers I’ve read who
are gay males, I don’t find their writing that way at all. Like everything,
your mileage may vary and one size does not fit all.

Kink is something that women love. Doesn’t everyone? But just
as there are so many different kinds of kink, there are people who love it,
hate it, and everything in between. And writing kink well takes research. Lot
and lots of research. Writing kink, and making it sexy, is the challenge.
Writing any type of sex and making it sexy is very hard. (no pun intended)
Getting inside the character’s head (the big one, not the little one) happens
when a writer really knows his character, and can see and feel what and how the
character reacts when engaging in sex with a partner or themselves, or multiple
partners.

As writers, we have to write believable characters who
captivate our readers and make them care what happens to these people.

Ethan: Um…what she said! : )

When it comes to your own writing, what do you
feel distinguishes your work from other authors?  Which aspects of
writing, such as dialogue, voice, characterization or description do you enjoy
the most and which do you find the most frustrating?

Lynn: Okay, this sounds sort of writing
technical/geeky but this revolves around the concept of “Brand” – what does a
reader expect when they pick up a Lynn Lorenz book? I hope it’s lots of
emotion, sprinkled with humor, hot sex, a great sense of setting, wonderful
characters and a good story told well.  Example: When I think of Ethan
Day’s work, I think of screwball comedy, fast-paced and snappy dialogue and
laugh-out-loud moments. That’s his brand. No one else that I know of (and
granted I don’t know a lot) writes like he does.
I
enjoy the entire process, and I know some people will cringe, but I love the
editing process. I write a chapter at a time usually, then print it out, read
it, edit it, then repeat about three more times, adding in layers, changing
verbs, creating visual images.

I
think I’m most frustrated by the plotting, since I’m a pantser (as in fly by
the seat of your pants). When I turn in a synopsis of my story before it’s
written, it’s always with a “this may turn out to be completely different when
I write it” warning to my editors. I write the story that comes to me, and
sometimes I have to sit back and say, “Wait! I’ve hit the middle and where the
hell did my plot go? It took a left turn and headed over there.” That’s when I
know I have to do something horrible to my characters. Once I’ve tortured them,
I feel much better and I can continue to the end.

Ethan: Thanks for the lovely compliment Lynn &
right back at ya!

I’m
not sure I’m qualified to answer this question. For one, I haven’t read every
other author out there. I do however
,
continually tell myself that I’m special and blindly mosey along, traveling
down the road of life in blissful ignorance if that happens to not be the case.
: )

Hopefully,
I make people laugh and keep them entertained for the duration. As long as I
can do that, I’m happy. I personally find setting and research to be the most
frustrating, mainly because it requires actual work on my part and what fun is
that? I do enjoy writing dialogue and inner dialogue – what someone says vs.
what they think can be tons of fun.

Back
to Lynn’s comments about a brand – I do think that is extremely important and
useful considering we do a lot of our own marketing. I would also add though
that as an author writing romance – while there are certain rules to follow –
with regard to sub-genre I think it’s fairly carte blanche. That’s very
appealing to me as a writer. It’s nice to know you can jump off the
contemporary train for your next book and write a sci-fi, murder mystery, or
ghost story and the readers are willing to follow along and take that trip with
you. I think that’s something which is fairly exclusive to the romance reading
audience.
 

Do you have any favorite characters you’ve
created or favorite stories?  If a reader is new to your work, is there
any particular title you’d recommend they read first?

Lynn:  I love my guys. I think my favorite hero
is Edward Paul Beauregard III, of the Atlanta Beauregard’s. He’s adorable, but
what I love about him is the fact that no matter how many times he’s been
beaten by love (or his incredibly bad choice in men) he still keeps looking.
He’s so vulnerable, but puts on a façade to fool everyone. And I loved that he
was very gay, in a sea of manly men, and he knew it, and continued despite his
doubts. I love how he grew as a person throughout the story.

For
a new reader, I’d recommend a stand alone like David’s
Dilemma
. If they love contemporary series, I’d say go with the Common Powers, starting with Soul Bonds and ending with
Edward, Unconditionally
. If historical is more their thang, then In the Company of Men, starting with The Mercenary’s Tale.

Ethan: I loved Edward too, Lynn! The way he interacted
with his dog – too funny. I think when people are alone
,
talking with their pets – so much comedy to be found there.

As
far as my own characters, I like them all in one way or another. Writing a
character is like dating – if I’m going to commit to spending that much time
with someone I’m going to need to love them. It’s at least part of the reason I
don’t have a boyfriend in real life. Random hotties don’t tend to end up on my
doorstep all sweaty and in need of only what I might be able to provide
them…damn it. It’s difficult to meet men when I’m stuck behind a computer
living vicariously through the imaginary people in my head. LOL! The fact that
I just admitted to spending most of my time with imaginary friends might be
another reason I have no boyfriend. It’s for my art, I swear!!! : )

I
think Boone from the Summit City series (Sno Ho
& Life in Fusion) is a lot of fun. I
like that his character has never actively been hunting for ‘the one’. He’s
sort of my version of a romantic comedy anti-hero. He’s sarcastic and mouthy,
uses his snarky humor to deflect seriousness the way Wonder Woman does bullets
with her golden bracelets –  who doesn’t love jewelry that’s functional as
well as pretty?

Boone
is the fish out of water that refuses to drown – he can’t resist eating the
worm which inevitably leads to him becoming caught. He wins people over and
makes them accept him for who he is as opposed to conforming to who they think
he should be. I love that about him.
 

Could you tell us about the GayRomLit
Retreat?  What do you want authors and romance fans to know about events
you have planned?
 

Lynn:  Instead of craft workshops
and lectures on the business of writing, the retreat focuses on readers. Gay
romance has such a small market niche, and the readers are just incredible, we
organizers wanted to do something completely different…we wanted to say thank
you. Carol Lynne had been doing a small
intimate version for her readers, and we all said, wouldn’t it be great to
expand that? So the weekend is all about face time with readers, making
ourselves available, and giving them a fabulous time in New Orleans. They’ll be
hosted by authors for tours of the cemeteries, haunted houses, riverboat rides,
and wonderful meals. What more could you want? I’m really looking forward to
sitting across from readers at a lunch at the Napoleon House and discussing
what they love about reading gay romance
.

Ethan: Being at a romance conference that’s 100%
arms-wide-open and welcoming to gay romantic fiction was the biggest reasoning
for jumping on board with GayRomLit. This really was Carol’s brain child. This
con is about thanking the readers and showcasing the writers and publishers of
Gay Romance. That’s the beginning and end of it – it’s all we’re about. No one
is making money here, aside from the businesses of the cities we choose to host
our shindig. It’s all about the genre. The events that aren’t covered by the
registration fees are being funded by the very generous publishers and authors
attending. We’re basically all going on vacation together – it’s like a big gay
love boat. I can actually use that since we’re conducting the book signing
during a cruise on the Creole Queen Riverboat. Honestly, I don’t believe
there’s another event out there quite
like ours.
 

It makes sense for GayRomLit to be in New
Orleans since Lynn is originally from New Orleans, and it’s one of the most
gay-friendly cities in the country.  But my understanding is that
GayRomLit will be a roving conference.  What other locations might be
serious candidates in the future? 
 

Ethan: We’re hoping to move it around the country in
the hopes that everyone who wants to will have the opportunity to attend.
Basing it out of one city means the same people living farthest away will
always have the most difficult time and expense trying to get there. So
changing locations just seemed like the best way to be fair and more inclusive.
Certainly doesn’t mean we’ll never go back to New Orleans, though. I know Lynn
and myself both love it there. There’s no place else like it. I’d totally move
there if it weren’t for the humidity, but my hair wouldn’t stand a chance! : )

We’re
trying to decide where we’re going for year two as we speak. We’ve tossed
around Vegas, doing a cruise, San Antonio, Kansas City, Chicago, Santa Fe, San
Diego, just to name a few. We’ll be announcing the location of year two during
the farewell brunch at the close of 2011 in New Orleans.

 

Lynn:  Ethan’s right…moving the
venue makes sense, for both authors and readers. We’re thinking maybe every 5
yrs to return to New Orleans. But for our next year, we want to be accessible
to more people, so it’ll probably be somewhere centrally located.  And
finding a place where we can host fabulous events and keep the costs down in
the real challenge. The registration fee for readers is only $100, and we’re
trying to keep it the same for readers next year.

But
we’ll be announcing the location at the closing breakfast during the retreat,
so stay tuned!!
 

Going back to your personal careers, what would
have to transpire for you to feel that your writing dreams have come
true?   What goals do you have set for the near (and far off) future?
 

Lynn:  I’m a big believer in
setting goals. I think we can use them to guide us, and to decide what we
really want from something, like our writing. So I have 3 sets of goals…
Short term or immediate – what books will I write, how many, over the next 12
months. This is a sliding goal…as books contract, are written and published…a
moving target, so to speak. My mid-term goals are more of a bigger view to my
writing career– do I want to try to go to NY, get an agent, change my
publishers (either more or less), try to write a manga yaoi book. And then
there are my “big dream” career goals… These are my “if everything was perfect
what would I want?” goals. I’d love to retire and write full time. I’d love to
sell some of my stories to the Logo channel to be adapted into movies or
series. I’d love to have a string of manga yaoi series books.

I’m
a believer in goals and dreaming big. Why not? It’s just dreams and they can
change. A few years ago, I dreamed of selling just one book. Before that, I
dreamed of writing just one book. We have to grow with our dreams, or we become
stagnant. And that’s sort of stinky, you know. And I don’t look good with
algae; it makes my ass look big…er, bigger.

Ethan: For me they kinda already have come true – at
least some of them. I honestly didn’t have to alter what I’d been writing ever
since college that much in order to make it fit into the romance genre. The
only thing I did do was beef up the sex from the paragraph or two that was
already there into a page or two instead, lol. I’ve always enjoyed writing
about love and relationships and the stupid things we do as people in order to
find and hold on to them. It’s what has always interested and amused me
personally.

I
think my biggest problem is that I’ve never been good at dreaming big for
myself. I’m terrific to my characters that way, not so much to myself. Being
able to continue writing and being able to do it full time someday would be
enough to keep me happy for the duration. Anything else would be icing.
 

Thanks so much, Lynn and Ethan!

Thank you, Gavin!  

Find out more about Lynn Lorenz and her books at
lynnlorenz.com

Keep up with Ethan Day and his fiction at ethanday.com

To learn about the 2011 GayRomLit Retreat titled
“Get Steamy in the Big Easy,” visit gayromlit.com 
 


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