Monday, December 15, 2008

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Lee Rowan

JK: I want to thank you so much for offering to be my special guest today. How have you been? How was your weekend? Are you ready for Christmas?

Lee: Thanks for inviting me. Life has been … interesting. We had a new window put into my office last week… then the electricity went out in three rooms, the dryer died, and we had an 'American Thanksgiving' dinner for friends that same week. I'm really glad there's still a little time before Christmas, because "ready" is not in my vocabulary this month. We're going to have a very quiet holiday this year… I hope!

JK: So, with the niceties out of the way, why don’t you give us the juicy deets about your new book Eye of the Storm?

Lee: Eye of the Storm is about Will Marshall and David Archer, the two young heroes from the Articles of War series. It's set in a short-lived peace treaty during the Napoleonic Wars—the calm in the middle of the storm—and the boys are doing clandestine reconnaissance and courier work for the British government. But Davy nearly died in Winds and Will is having a lot of trouble dealing with the risks he'll be running when war breaks out again. His fear has an effect on their relationship, and before they can get things worked out, their mission separates them—Will's stranded in France and Davy is in command of their ship, with orders to avoid capture at all costs, even if it means abandoning his lover.

JK: Now here’s a question I’ll bet you’ve never had before. What inspires you to write m/m romance?

Lee: Pretty sailors. No, seriously—I love romantic adventure stories where both parties are equally capable. The partnership of equals is what resonates for me, and I think that's less possible for m/f couples, especially in historicals, which are my favorite. Traditional roles are restrictive. To describe it in a nutshell—m/m is the unity of Butch and Sundance leaping off the cliff together. That scene would not have been the same way if it had been Sundance and Etta. I'm not saying m/f can't work; I've written a couple of conventional romance stories, and they're fun in a different way. But I think it's very rare, and very difficult, for a man and a woman to have the same kind of affinity that can happen for a same-sex couple. I've had relationships with men, and they were okay, but what I have with my wife is of a completely different magnitude. M/M romance is a way for me to express that personal truth and at the same time play with the sort of adventures that always sounds exciting but would be hell to actually live through.

JK: How long have you been writing professionally? Have you ever tried your hand at other genres?

Lee: Ransom was my first professional work, so … about three years now. But I've been writing for my own amusement since I was about 12. I've written sci-fi and other adventures in fanfiction, and the next book in the Articles of War series is something of a murder mystery.

JK: You’ve got a healthy number of publications under your belt now, so what advice would you give to first-time authors looking to get published?

Lee: The big one is is: Read. There's no how-to book in the world that will give you a better sense of the rhythm and music of words than well-written fiction. Reread the books you most enjoy; analyze what those writers do that makes the story come alive for you. Another idea: get a critical friend to read your work. It's lovely when someone tells you how wonderful your story is, but it's helpful if a friend tells you when something in a story doesn't work. Check your facts—if your hero has a revolver, he can't click off the safety because that weapon hasn't got one. Details may not matter to most readers, but the more details you get right, the more real your world is. And proofread your work—spellcheck, of course, but actually proofread it too. I'm on an editorial committee for a charity anthology, and it's amazing what a difference attention to detail makes. A poorly proofed manuscript says that the writer doesn't care, and other things being equal, a well-prepared manuscript will have an edge over one where the author doesn't know the difference between lose and loose.

JK: Sometimes people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. I like to set them straight, so tell us what’s the most unglamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?

Lee: Oh, it's just one glamorous moment after another. My dog's 16 and she's got arthritis and an infected foot besides. When she goes outside to do her duty, sometimes she can't stay on her feet. So… this means I spend a good bit of the day holding up a pooping pooch and cleaning up when the poor old girl can't quite make it out the door. And did I mention one of the cats had a bladder infection at the same time? If things get any more glamorous around here, I'll need hip boots.

JK: What’s your sign, and do you think the traditional traits of that sign fit you? If so, in what way?

Lee: I’m a Scorpio, and yes it fits, to a degree. I'm critical, very protective of those I love, I never forget a kindness or an injury (though I don't generally waste time carrying a grudge) and there are areas of my personal life that are strictly off-limits to everyone but my partner. The whole 'intense, passionate' Scorpio image… Sigh. It is fairly accurate, but life would be more restful with a little less intensity.

JK: Would you still be a writer if you won the lottery tonight and could do anything you wanted to do? Even if you still wanted to write, what other career do you think you might have been good at?

Lee: Oh, I'd write anyway, absolutely. That is the one thing I always wanted to do. But I was a massage therapist for 25 years—I'm still licensed in Ohio—and I've done publication production and I ran a mail-order department for a college organization for a couple of years. I think I'd have enjoyed journalism–back when news reporting was more about getting at the facts and not just spinning stories to favor one viewpoint or another. And I think it might be fun to run a bed-and-breakfast, but only for a few weeks in the summer, not full-time.

J.K.: Lee, thank you so much for being here, and before we go, please let my readers know your pertinent info and what’s coming up next for you.

Lee: My website's www.lee-rowan.net, and I need to update it yesterday. Sorry… I'm a storyteller, not a web-wizard.

Coming up next … I just signed a contract with Perseus Press, an imprint of Running Press, for a gay historical romance novel. It won't be out until Autumn of 2009, so that's a long way off. The next Articles of War story with Will and Davy will be written after that, but with Samhain acquiring Linden Bay, I have no idea what the publishing schedule will look like beyond Eye of the Storm. And I have a very short story coming up in I Do, a charity anthology in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. That's Alex Beecroft's brainchild; it's being published by ManLove Romance Press and is scheduled to be in print around Valentine's Day.

Short Author Bio:

Lee Rowan has moved from the American Midwest to the Great White North and is still sorting things out. She acts as chef, chauffeuse, gardener, masseuse, and pet-nanny to a geriatric dog and four assorted-needs cats. In between crises, she writes.

Short Blurb of Eye of the Storm:

Winter, 1802. The long war between England and France has entered a fragile and temporary truce, but the lives of Commander William Marshall and Lieutenant David Archer, have become more complicated than ever. Sailing in His Majesty's secret service, they must deal with the misunderstandings that nearly tore them apart when the truce was signed. Will almost lost his lover in battle, and though Davy has healed, the responsibility of command makes Will question whether he can give orders that will surely put his love in harm's way once more. And Davy is tormented by doubt. Will walked away once and never even read the letters Davy sent, trying to end their relationship for Davy's own safety. Can he trust Will again—not only to stay with him, but to believe that their love is worth the risks?

Links:
www.lee-rowan.net
http://www.lindenbayromance.com/storeSearch.html
and I sometimes blog at The Macaronis: http://historicromance.wordpress.com/

7 comments:

J.K. Coi said...

Good morning Lee and welcome! Busy weekend wasn't it? I saw some awesome excerpts for your books yesterday and WOW!

mamasand2 said...

Great interview Lee and JK! It takes two to do it right and you did just that. I was fascinated, and I totally agree with you Lee on the proof reading. The wrong word will jolt me out of a story until I figure out what they meant. My pet peeve is the misuse of there, their, or they're.

I really enjoyed chatting with you both yesterday until I got hopelessly behind. For your info we had 987 posts on the Samhain Café yesterday. WOW!!! You Linden Bay authors really rocked the café.

Sandie

J.K. Coi said...

Hiya Sandie! Thanks for checking out the blog today. I had a great time yesterday, the Samhellions sure know how to make an author feel welcome.

Shelley Munro said...

Hi Lee and JK,

Eye of the Storm sounds like a great story. I agree with what you say about two men being on equal footing. It makes the story dynamics totally different.

Lee Rowan said...

Hi, JK, Sandie! That was a massive chat yesterday. Thanks for the reminder.. I have to pull a name soon, and send someone a book...

Charlie Cochrane said...

Always interesting to read about you, Lee. Learn something new every time.

And you're right about the advice in re reading. You've hit the nail on the head.

Charlie

Lorna Barrett said...

Hi, Lee. Hey, I want to run a B&B, too! At least in fiction. I think the day-to-day cleaning would kill me. And I don't have the people skills, either. But this is fantasy, right?