We’re so excited to have the always delectable Amy Lane with us here at The Novel Approach today to celebrate the release of her latest book Forever Promised. Jackie wrote a fantastic review of the book, then she, Tina, Bruce, and I put our thinking caps on and came up with a few questions for Ms. Amy and, in her true super good sport way, she answered every last one of them and then shared some excerpts with us–both from “Forever” as well as a sneaky peeky from her current Work-In-Progress!
So, read on, and enjoy!
• With Forever Promised closing out the Promises series, are there any characters you will miss writing about more than others?
I think Shane and Mikhail. I mean, I loved Deacon and Crick and Jeff and Collin, but Shane and Mikhail are going a different way with their “grown up and mature” happy ever after, and I think I could live with them and see how that goes!
• One thing that I have noticed with your characters is that you don’t seem to have any one certain type of guy. There are cowboys, basketball players, porn stars and yarn makers. Out of all these men, do you have a favorite, or is there one man that pulled those heart strings more than another?
See, I’ve always wanted to DO ALL THE THINGS. So when I write characters, I enjoy writing characters that DO ALL THE THINGS—because honestly, there are only a few things I personally could actually do myself. (An office job is right the hell out, for example. And remind me some day to tell you why I don’t ride horses. High entertainment—it only took three broken bones, a broken nose, stitches, and two concussions for me to realize we weren’t meant to be.) So my “type” of man is mostly the good type of man. I like men with integrity, and even though they might have that pesky communication problem, I like characters that can work around that. And right there I think is my type. The type who means well, and wants to do good in the world. Ta-da!
• I loved “Truth in the Dark”: do you think you’ll write more paranormal/fantasy/fairy tales anytime in the near future?
Yes! I so have an idea for a couple of AU stories. One of them, Immortal is going to be the last thing I do before I write Quickening, which is part of my Little Goddess series. (This series is not m/m—but it does have m/m relationships.)
• Are you more of a plot it out from beginning to end writer, or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?
I’m a “road trip” writer. I have a beginning, a few stops planned in the middle, and an end. Everything else that happens on the trip is fair game—and I look for those moments as I go.
• What author do you feel has influenced your work, if any? Also, do you have a favorite author?
The authors I read as a kid influenced me a LOT—Lloyd Alexander, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Barry Hughart, Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings—I know they’re all fantasy, but they had such an approach to prose and storytelling and giving the reader a space to find their own words instead of filling that space with empty words—these are lessons I’ve never forgotten.
• I love that your passion for knitting shines through in so many of your books. How did you get started with your knitting?
Ooh! I LOVE telling people this! See, I had a couple of grandmothers who crocheted and knitted, and they tried to teach me, but, well, patience, not such a strong suit. Anyway, after the one who crocheted the most passed away, I had this dream. Not about grandma, but about the hook and the yarn, and how it fit together. I woke up, thought, “I can do that!” and went and bought myself some yarn and a hook and a how-to book. And then I saw pattern books in the store with crochet and knitting patterns. I bought the books, and felt sort of left out not knowing the knitting patterns while I had the book so I taught myself that too. And then I started reading The Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-MacPhee) and I’ve been completely obsessed with knitting and premium yarn ever since!
• I cry a lot while reading your books, mostly while reading the characters’ backstories. Does it affect you the same way as you’re writing about their lives?
Yes. I cry every damned time. When I’m writing, these people are a part of me. Finding out what happened to them always sucks.
• Which of your books is your favorite, and what is your all time favorite book?
Hm… which of my books is my favorite? I think my personal favorite is Truth in the Dark—for a lot of reasons. My all time favorite book? Is probably Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, or The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, or maybe Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart.
• What is the strangest thing you have ever knitted?
When I was knitting a sweater for Zoomboy, the front of the sweater had a duck’s face on it. The back of the sweater was blank, but I sort of thought I could do better than that—so I knitted a big square back with a duck’s butt on it. And even though all anybody saw was the front (and the fact that it looked ADORABLE on Zoomboy!) I kept calling it the Duck’s Butt sweater. So, well, yeah. That. I also knitted an afghan with a cat on it. The original pattern called for a black and white cat on a red background, but Chicken wanted pink with rainbow stripes. (Ask me what a nightmare this was—I dare you.) It was hideous—but she loved it very much.
• What’s the easiest and most difficult part of writing a sex scene?
The easiest part is what goes where. The most difficult part is why these two people are putting it there and why we should care.
• How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
Sometimes really inappropriate things—I’ve had to seriously monitor my sense of humor to keep from being a creepy little spazzmonster who would scare people. But mostly what makes my sense of humor perk up is a playing with words, unexpected takes on things, and boldly stated truths. And wiener jokes. I can never get enough of wiener jokes. And weird pet names. That’s one of my all-time faves.
• What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever done for you or to you?
Well, I’ve had a surprising number of them cry on me (*wink*) so that’s no longer strange, but it’s still sort of awesome and humbling. I’ve had fans make fan art (one of my favorite things ever) buy me lunch, make me sock knitting bags, and knit me scarves. I’m like a big, fat, lazy cat—if a fan wants to stroke me I will roll over and purr. I’m just always so grateful that what I do makes other people happy! *(Wink Note: Amy is a real sport when people ugly-cry all over her. You should try it sometime. Just sayin’.)*
• What famous person would you most like to have in a room…naked? ::waggles eyebrows::
Jensen Ackles, hands down. But once Tyler Hoechlin hits 30 and I can consider him fair game, I’m taking that fantasy and adding a hotbody!
• Have you ever written something and then thought, “Oh my goddess, I can’t put that out there for people to read?!”
Yes. Absolutely. I think I have a moment like that with every book. But I was working on Wounded and inwardly spazzing over the sex scenes (which, at that time, were some of my most explicit) when someone asked me about Vulnerable in front of my husband. I turned red and muttered something about “explicit” and “alternative” and “you might not like it because of, uhm, guys and guys” and Mate said something that I’ve carried with me ever since. “Own your sex scenes. They don’t make you a bad person, they just make you a creative writer.” So now, before I go back and take it out (Ace’s cold, calculating description of how he has sex with women is one of the moments that sticks in my mind at the moment) I run it by Mary. Usually the stuff that makes the chubby soccer mom in me cringe the most is the stuff that makes Mary (Calmes) as well as my other readers say, “That was amazing and brave.”
• Have you ever seen a picture of a beautiful man (men) and known instantly that you have to write a book based on that picture?
Chase in Shadow, Dex in Blue, Ethan Gold, Racing for the Sun—ah, Corbin Fisher, the many gifts you’ve given me!
• You have been called an evil genius before, by someone in this very interview. Are you an evil genius, or just a misunderstood writer of heartbreaking angst?
(crosses eyes) Well, I think I’m someone in between. I can think of two instances where I did something heinous in print because I thought it would be “interesting in a literary way” instead of sticking to the rules of storytelling that I know in my bones. Both times beta readers said, “No. No, that feels forced. Please take that out.” I never even thought of myself as a “writer of angst” until the reviewers started pinning me with that after Keeping Promise Rock. The only thing m/m audiences had really seen from me at that point was If I Must. I think I surprised people, going from the cute and light to the sturm and drang—all I’ve ever really striven to do as a writer is to write real. I hear about as much news as I can stand, and I hate watching it because it always feels exploitive. What I actually do when someone tells me a story about something awful or something painful that happened to a friend or herself is internalize. “How does somebody survive that situation? How do they walk away and interact with other human beings?” That’s often what drives me to write broken people. I want to see these broken people fixed—or at least in a place where someone else can help them with their brokenness, and they can thrive.
• What’s the one thing about you that might surprise us to know?
I suck at keeping family albums. One of the reasons I started keeping a blog is so I could document my children growing up because putting pictures in a book just seemed to be so beyond me.
• Do you have any works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?
I’m currently working on Ethan Gold, and it’s currently breaking my ever-loving heart. Here’s a little snippet, where we see Jonah, who knows nothing about Johnnies, and his interaction with some people we know very well:
“Who are we meeting again?” Amelia asked for like, the five-hundredth time.
“A guy I met at work. He’s a friend of the new manager’s.”
“Whom you like.” She was looking at him suspiciously, and he couldn’t blame her. He’d simultaneously bitched about Tommy and felt bad for him over the last four days.
“He’s a good manager,” Jonah said after a few moments. “He’s just… I think he’s really tightly wound right now.” It had taken him a while to put stuff together, but that blond guy had come by a couple more times and every time he did, Tommy, the god with the bright eyes and the abrasive manner, seemed to become Dex’s favorite little brother. Jonah had overheard a few more conversations, and he realized that all of the hushed references to Tommy’s boyfriend and his illness had actually been references to mental illness, and Jonah wasn’t sure what to think about that. And then he’d heard “not suicidal anymore” and he was sure that Tommy, who was starting a new life and taking care of someone who couldn’t take care of himself, deserved whatever break Jonah could give him.
And that included nodding his head and saying, “Yeah, sure!” even when Tommy was more gruff than tactful.
“Dammit, Jonah, could you get the fucking fish food? I don’t know who forgot to stack it but I wanna spank them with a four-by-four.”
“Fuck it—I don’t give a fuck when we’re scheduled to clean the cat cages, they smell now! Get someone to—no, dammit, you don’t do it, you’re the only reason I don’t fucking kill everyone in the fucking store!”
And finally, tonight, actually, “Dammit, Jonah—Ethan’s gonna be hella fuckin’ bummed if you don’t get your ass outta here and get ready for your date—”
“It’s not a date!”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever. Get the hell outta here. I’ll finish the stocking.”
“Yeah,” Jonah said, finally realizing that Tommy’s gruffness, his manic intensity (and his overuse of the F-word) did not actually make him a bad person. It just made him gruff. “Sure, Tommy. Thank you.”
“You been a good helper this week, kid. And Ethan needs a good night out, even if it’s a not-date. Get your ass outta here, kay?”
Jonah smiled tentatively, and Tommy’s grin back was truly remarkable. Pointy teeth, glittering black eyes—no matter how shadowed—and hard-apple cheeks. Jonah’s heart beat just a little faster, but he didn’t linger over that smile.
He really wanted to see Ethan again.
Sure—here’s one of my favorite sequences, because Mikhail doesn’t do bad dialog!
Mikhail eyed Martin with deep suspicion, especially since the boy had obviously not heard a word he’d said two and a half years earlier, and had eaten enough to grow to the size of a house. Any boy who grew that big was obviously a person not to be trusted.
“You understand, this is a very special vehicle,” he said sharply.
Martin, to his credit, eyed the giant purple Chevy van with the freehand pink lettering without batting a thick black eyelash.
“I understand,” he said, and his voice was soft and low, but Mikhail still scowled.
“You understand that this is a special vehicle, or you understand how to work on such a thing?” he demanded. “The other boy—”
“Collin?” Martin asked, confused, and Mikhail waved his hand.
“Pfft—yes, he is still a boy. You are all children. I am surrounded by children, and disrespectful ones at that, or that boy would not have gone off and on a holiday when my car chose to break down.”
Martin thrust out a pink-chocolate lip and turned big soulful eyes on Mikhail without the slightest twinge of impatience. Martin had been able to make it out for the wedding, and he’d been a mechanic in a garage down south during his entire junior year of high school. Although technically an adult, this was the summer before his final year of high school, and he’d come out to attend the wedding and watch Collin and Jeff’s house and Collin’s business. The two of them were spending a week in Manhattan, seeing plays and museums and generally boring Collin to death (or so Mikhail assumed).
It appeared that Martin had earned enough self-possession in the years to not succumb to Mikhail’s little temper tantrum about his beloved Purple Brick. “They’re on their honeymoon,” Martin emphasized, “and Collin wouldn’t have left me in charge if he didn’t trust me.”
Collin, in fact, had told Mikhail that this boy was planning to come to California permanently once he’d graduated, where he would live in Collin’s old flat above his mother’s garage and assist Collin and Joshua with the business. Next June, he would be a high school graduate as well as an adult, and right now, he was practicing for the job. Mikhail had trouble believing that—the boy had been the next best thing to a delinquent when he’d first arrived at Levee Oaks, and he had certainly hated Jeff’s queer ass with everything inside him. But still, Mikhail was walking, irritated proof that people could indeed change.
“This van is very special,” he conceded. “When I brought it home, my cop took one look at it and called everybody we know to come out and fix it. It took them four days.”
Martin’s eyes got a little wider, and he looked under the hood of the van again. “You got off lucky, little man. If you’d brought that thing to me in any worse condition than it’s already in, I would have gotten Collin’s gun out of the safe and shot it dead.”
Mikhail grunted and narrowed his eyes. “You say that, but you? You do not have the guts. It takes a Russian to make a mercy killing, but only on a good day. I have no mercy in me. You’d better fix it, or the damned thing is going to haunt you like whatever small city you ate for breakfast.”
Martin grinned. “I frickin’ missed you, you grumpy Russian bastard.” He straightened up and wiped his hands with one of the cloths he and Collin seemed to sprout from their pockets. “Do you have a ride, or do I have to send you into the garage to make Joshua’s life a living hell?”
Thanks for stopping by, Amy, and congratulations on the new release! Don’t be a stranger!