Sunday, January 30, 2011

LoveRomancesCafe Interview

Reno and I were recently featured guests at the LoveRomancesCafe Yahoo group. The following were interview questions asked by the moderator, Dawn Roberto, along with our responses.

The group's website is as follows should you wish to join:

January 16, 2011

DR: Please tell us about your latest book.
JV: Our most recent release is a solo effort by me (Jaye Valentine), a short story entitled "D.N.A.: Double Helix." This story is actually the first few chapters of a novel that will be released in late March 2011. (As a side note, the price of that novel will be adjusted to reflect the containment of the previously released short story). The short is currently the #1 bestseller and #3 gay title on All Romance eBooks/OmniLit (and has been so for well over a week), and is the #7 bestselling erotica title there regardless of genre. I'm not one to spam groups like this, touting my own good fortune, but I'm pretty damn proud of this achievement. As a warning, this story deals with a very specific kink (twincest) so it's not for everyone, but it's apparently for more people than one might think. :-)

DR: What can we expect from you in the future?

JV: The next release from M&V Tailz, which is the name Reno and I have given to our collective projects, is a full-length vampire novel entitled "The Visionary." We've taken quite a few liberties with the origin of vampires and have re-written some Biblical history, so we hope readers will find this a refreshing take on the vampire genre. This book will be released at some point in February once the edits and cover art is completed. Reno is in the process of hand-drawing the cover art, which is absolutely gorgeous.

DR: How do we find out about you and your books?

JV: We have a website:, and our backlist can also be found on the GLBT Bookshelf Wiki at

DR: How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
JV: That depends on the story and the characters. Obviously, we aren't vampires or demons (and certainly not angels), but we are gay, so life experiences from that perspective do indeed filter into our writing.

DR: When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?

JV: We've both been writing for many years, but only after meeting in person did we decide to collaborate professionally.

DR: What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
JV: We watch more competition reality shows (Survivor, Project Runway, Top Chef, etc.) than would generally be considered healthy. :-) We recently bought a house near a huge lake, so we'll probably get into boating and fishing once the tundra melts.

DR: Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
RM: We just go with the flow. I work and have other obligations and sometimes when I come home at night I'm just not up for writing. We try and write a little every night, but learned early on not to push at something that isn't coming easily. It's hard to force creativity.

JV: Whenever Reno says so.

DR: What is your writing routine once you start a book?
RM: On the nights we feel like writing, it's usually dinner, clean up, and then right to the books. It's just the two of us at the house, so we don't have to deal with family on a day-to-day basis. We'll write generally until midnight or so.

JV: What Reno said.

DR: Does your family bother you when you are writing - are there constant interruptions?
RM: Oops. I jumped the gun there. The only family to bother us is our two cats. There are some nights, especially close to the full moon, when Anakin is particularly needy and active. We call him our two year old. Sephiroth, the other cat, is much less high maintenance.

JV: Two words: calming treats.

DR: What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
RM: My biggest relaxer is to go to the barn and ride. I've made some great friends out there, both on two and four feet. It's such a shift in activity and mind exercise! Great mental and physical therapy.

DR: What truly motivates you in general?  In your writing?
RM: Great characters and getting to write with my partner.

JV: My multiple personalities.

DR: Where do your ideas come from?
RM: Honestly? Dreams. I'll wake up and tap Jaye on the shoulder. The book we are currently working on was that way. I dreamed a scene between the two main characters and a book was born.

JV: See previous reply.

DR: Among your own books, have you a favorite? A favorite hero or heroine?
JV: That's a tough question. If I didn't like the characters or stories, I wouldn't have been able to write them in the first place. That said, I do have a particular fondness for our StarCrossed series because that's the first project Reno and I worked on together. If nothing else, it's my sentimental favorite.

Of my solo efforts, I'm crazy in love with Isaac and Jeff from "Firecracker." On one hand, it surprises me this story hasn't done better sales-wise, but on the other hand, theirs isn't a conventional romance story. I love it and had a blast writing it, and there will be a sequel even if I'm the only one who reads it. :-)

RM: I have to agree with Jaye. In addition I really enjoyed writing "Little Japan," because I love the Japanese culture and the characters in that book became so vivid for me.

DR: Which of your books has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?
JV: I think one of the easiest books to write for us was "Little Japan." I can honestly say that book wrote itself, flowing from start to finish. As I recall, we never had an "Oh brother, that was really crap we wrote last night" moment during the first draft for that book. And trust me, that happens frequently, and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise. :-)

The one we're working on right now is very hard to write due to the time and place the story occurs. It's taxing emotionally, and the research has been a real eye-opener. I don't want to say anything more about it now, but I think our readers will enjoy the book.

All our books have been fun to write from my perspective, in one manner or another, so I can't really cite one as being more enjoyable to write than another.

RM: The easiest books are the ones Jaye and I blow through in a weekend. We've had a few of those. "Purple Hearts" comes to mind. We originally wrote that story for an anthology about physically challenged characters, but the book was never released and we decided it was good enough to push out on our own.

The hardest, I have to go with Jaye's answer all the way. Historical novels are very time consuming to get them right. But it's been worth it. I love this new book and it might become my new personal favorite.

The most fun? Hard to say. The gang at StarCrossed are easy and fun for me.

DR: Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
JV: I'll field that one for both us. That varies from book to book. Sometimes a particular character and their situation comes to mind first, other times it might be a location, and still other times it might be a plot. And sometimes it's just a picture of a hot guy that spurs us to write.

DR: What part of a book has been the easiest to write? The hardest?
RM: I think writing the opening lines are actually the easiest to me. I love setting the stage and painting the vision of what I'm seeing in my mind's eye. For me the hardest part is making sure all those little loose ends in our more complicated stories get wrapped up—that we don't forget a character somewhere or have continuity issues. "What color was that character's shirt again?"

JV: The opening paragraph is the hardest part for me, which is why I usually let Reno do it.

DR: What are the elements of a great romance for you?

JV: For me, the crucial element of a great romance are two characters that, deep down, know they are meant to be together regardless of what anyone else might think or what their societal situation might approve. Finding love in the face of adversity trips a major trigger for me. Reno nodded as I read that to him, so this reply comes from both of us.

DR: What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?
RM: The easiest part of writing, and the most enjoyable, is creating the characters and finding their voices. We try very hard to make sure each character has his own personality, and writing up little bios for each one helps a good deal. The hardest part is writing "The End".

The easiest part of writing for me is the first draft. The hardest part is going back once the book is finished and "killing our darlings." Writing a great scene but realizing later that it has to go, for whatever reason (usually having to do with pacing), is really rough.

DR: Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
RM: As I answer this I have about thirty pairs of eyes glaring at me from the back of my head to make sure I answer the way they want. Answer enough for you? I fully admit to not having a leash on my characters. They run free and constantly pop up in my daily life.

JV: Intellectually, I know that I am in control of my characters, but sometimes that seems far from the truth. We've had instances where one of us has written a big chunk of text, and then says, "Crap, that's what I wanted to say, but so-and-so is telling me different." Some characters speak to me louder than others in my head, and those usually end up being the characters that resonate best with readers. So now, I always listen to my various muses. And I'm really glad Reno's answer makes him sound a little bit crazier than me.

DR: Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?
JV: Yup. Not for shorter works, but for novels this happens all the time. When that happens for either of us, we just switch to another story for a while and let the other one simmer. We're never at a loss for new ideas, but it seems like we hit about the 35,000-word mark when we feel the need to step away temporarily. Reno adds that when we come back to those abandoned stories, re-reading from the beginning after some distance always clears up any problems we were having.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview guys! I must say I giggled at Jaye's 3 and 4 word answers. The new book sounds great by the way. :)