The first thing I noticed about Michael Rupured was his sense of humor. What I would give to have the gift of the gab! You don’t want to know. Seriously.
I’m a serious writer. I write romance stories, but need a good dose of angst. I’ve been told I love to torture my characters and yes, I admit, they do need to go through a few harrowing experiences to get to the Happy-Ever-After. They need to really deserve it. Why? I’ll answer that one for you a little later.
The question I get asked most, though, is: why gay romance?
I usually counter that question by asking: why straight romance? They can pave the streets with straight romance stories. My mother reads about three (straight) romance novels a week and she still hasn’t begun to chip away at that tip of the iceberg.
The real answer is a multi-faceted one. I’m an Aquarius, which means I couldn’t conform to anything even if I wanted to (and I don’t particularly want to). I started writing stories when I learned to write and they were never quite… mainstream. My teachers scratched their heads often enough for me to notice.
I was also raised to be a lot more open-minded about same-sex relationships than my peers were. I didn’t notice that until I was in college, though. Even now a lot of my friends are part of the LGBTQ community. Almost all of my male friends are gay men. Are they my inspiration? Yes and no. I decided a long time ago never to write about people I knew, because I’d be mortified if anyone recognized themselves in my stories. Flattered, but mortified, so I don’t take that chance. But they are an inspiration because they are balanced, mature men who are perfectly capable of having an adult, interesting conversation with a woman (namely me) and treat them as equals, something their straight peers could learn a thing or two about. Quite a few of them are in long-term relationships and some of them are married (where I live we’ve had same-sex marriage for almost 10 years and the sky is just fine where it is, thank you). They are the most inclusive, encouraging and loving people I know, so why wouldn’t I write about them?
The third reason why I write gay romance is that I write what I like to read. I wasn’t a big reader in school, at least, not in my mother tongue (Flemish, which is a form of Dutch). When I discovered English books I devoured them. It was the same with romance. After three romance novels they all started sounding the same. And then I read my first gay novel and I was sold. I haven’t looked back since. It’s still what I love to read most. I love stories that make me cry, which brings us back to the angst (told you I’d come back to that, right?)
I love reading stories written with a sense of humor (looking forward to yours, Michael!), but I can’t write them myself. I love reading historicals, but the research and the chance of getting things wrong are too daunting to me.
But if I read a story and I have to sit up (while reading in bed at night) because I can’t breathe anymore from crying so much, I want to get up and write more myself. The biggest compliment anyone who’s read my books can give me is: “You made me cry.” It means I did my job and invoked emotion in another person. And whether it’s laughter or tears, this is all we want as writers (okay, I’m speaking for myself, mostly, but I’m sure many a writer will concur).
My latest novel promises to be a tearjerker too.
The Hand-me-down is the story of Jez Robinson who gets stranded in Barcelona by a certain Icelandic volcano and decides to look up Nick, an old friend who lives there. He is introduced to Nick’s young lover, Jamie, a man so shy he can’t talk to strangers. Within 24-hours of arriving at Nick’s house, he is asked by Nick to take care of Jamie, since Nick is dying. But Jez can’t even commit to a houseplant, let alone another human being. Jamie isn’t just a pet you hand off to another owner so at first Jez tells Nick he can’t do it. But then Jamie makes it clear that this is his decision too and he uses all of his powers of persuasion to make Jez see it his way.
The Hand-me-down is out tomorrow (Sept. 14th) at Dreamspinner Press and available as a paperback or eBook.
You can find me at www. zahraowens.com and almost all my books are at ww.dreamspinnerpress.com
[I cry for commercials and will have a box of tissue by my side when I read The Hand-me-down. Thanks for stopping by and know you're welcome any time, here at...
My Glass House]