Wednesday, November 01, 2017

When authors interview each other: A.M. Leibowitz, Debbie McGowan, Emily Alter


We - A.M. Leibowitz, Emily Alter and me (Debbie McGowan) - got together and interviewed each other today.

Here's the result!

~ QUESTION 1 ~

Amy
Okay, so how's the weather?

Emily
Cold. I’m freezing and I don’t like it.

Amy
Cold and gloomy here.

Debbie
It's a typical mid-autumn day - sunny, not quite warm enough to go out without a cardy.

Amy
Sun would be nice! It's supposed to warm up a few degrees later...and then rain. Blah.

~ QUESTION 2 ~

Debbie
OK. So, can I ask 'where in the world are you?'

Amy
Gah! Now I have the Carmen Sandiego theme song stuck in my head.
I'm in western NY. I usually say I'm near Buffalo because people have heard of that city but not mine. I'm really in Rochester.

Debbie
gone to look up Carmen Sandiego theme
That's so great!

Emily
Spain, a city (cough cough town) in the north (you know, the part of Spain which is always completely ignored).

Debbie
The top comment on the Carmen Sandiego YT clip: "If she and Waldo ever had a child, that kid would be virtually impossible to find."
Spain has a north? 😉

Amy
ROFL! There is a meme of that. https://imgur.com/gallery/bpJoR5Z



Debbie
It's a bit like that here [the bit of the country that's completely ignored] - or it would be if I wasn't so close to Liverpool. England is: London and Liverpool and some green bits in between.

Amy
LOLOL...I told someone I was going to England, and they were like, "Oh, London?" Uh...no, and even I know that's not the only place there!

Emily
😂

Amy
New York is basically "Oh, what part of the city are you from?"

Debbie
LOL.
Well, it is a big city... 😉

Amy
It IS most of our population.
(But they get their wine from us.)

Emily
Good to know 😂

~ QUESTION 3 ~

Emily
I guess it is my turn, so... What are you currently reading? (Or what’s the latest book you’ve read?)

Amy
Just finished County Vices by A.M. McKnight. Lesbian crime/suspense, but more literary than action. Really, really good.

Emily
Nice

Debbie
Who Loves You by Emily Alter. 🙂 Very much enjoying it so far!
Pieces by G. Benson (Bi YA romance? fiction with a female MC)

Emily
I’m reading (finishing, to be honest) Up for the Challenge by Devon McCormack and Riley Hart. MC1 nicknamed MC2 Straighty and so now I’m in love.

Amy
Wait...wait...bi YA with a female MC????? OooOh.
"Straighty"??? LOL

Emily
Yep. They’re the cutest.

Amy
I think I'm missing something? Why is he nicknamed that?

Debbie
I've only just started Pieces - will let you know how it goes! So far, she has a BF but is quite enthralled by a girl in her school.

Amy
Niiiiice. 🙂

Emily
Okay, so both of them are bi, but one of them (Straighty) wasn’t really out -he did stuff in college but sort of didn’t connect the dots?-. Anyway, they meet in a gay bar and at first he says he’s straight (hence the nickname). But it’s not GFY or anything like that. He’s attracted to Sean and he doesn’t question it.

Amy
Ah, got it. That makes sense. And two bi guys? Fab!


~ QUESTION 4 ~

Amy
So, what's everyone writing these days?

Debbie
[insert manic laughter here]

Amy
ROFL!

Debbie
OK, so I'm writing on Tabula Rasa - and resisting the urge to drag it into the trash. It's...a book? LOL. I dunno what it is, tbh. LGBTQIA contemporary fiction with white-collar crime and romance?
And today, I...started a NaNoWriMo novel. 😮

Amy
Brave! I'm not NaNo'ing this year, even though I have 2 WIPs I could work on.

Debbie
Not sure about brave... 😀 I've got Alumni (HBTC #8) on an almost-impossible-to-ignore backburner, and I also had a (potentially) genius idea this morning about getting a couple of characters to, um, move house.

Emily
I’m finishing to edit Top of the World before I send it to proofreaders/betas (or just someone? I don’t know). It’s a contemporary romance with a Broadway actor, a political journalist, a dog and a baby and I don’t know.
And WIP is about two Psychology juniors (one of them is pan ✨) and one of them has generalized anxiety disorder so yeah. That’s gonna be fun.

Debbie
They both sound fab!

Amy
Those both sound good!

Emily
flustered Thanks

Amy
I'm supposed to be finishing edits on Drumbeat, which is third in my Boston series.
WIP #1 is the fourth in that series. WIP #2 is Tree of Life, which is a...sad road trip with a happy ending? Sort of. And it's based on a specific religious myth, but I don't want to spoil it. There's photography, unusual traveling companions, and general queerness throughout.

Debbie
I'm very excited to read both of those. I never thought I'd say that about Mack from NfB [Notes from Boston - Amy's series]...he's definitely grown on me.

Amy
Ha! Mack is actually pretty cool, but it's Amelia I love writing. And Jomari is very sweet. Mack's about to meet him.

Debbie
Is Jomari the one who worked in Andre's office? I'm terrible with names.

Amy
No, he's Cian's fiddler.

Debbie
Ah, yeah. 🙂

Amy
But ugh, his name is very similar to hers. 😛

Debbie
Also terrible with genders... 😀

Amy
Hahaha! She wasn't in it much. I don't think she's been back since.


~ QUESTION 5 ~

Debbie
What's your favourite kind of scene to write?

Amy
That's easy: I love writing families interacting. There's usually a lot going on under the surface, and you can learn a lot about a character by how they relate to family.

Emily
See, at first it was angst, but now I’m all about the fluff and cute sickeningly romantic stuff (as in, I may have orchestrated a proposal somewhere, and now I wanna be hired just to write those).

Debbie
I love your family scenes, Amy. 🙂 There's one in Keeping the Faith where Micah is with LR, Jamal and kids - lots of typical family stuff going on.
LOL, Emily. That would be a great job!

Amy
Yep, that scene was fun to write. There's usually one in every book, which I'm just now realizing.

Emily
I know right?

There has to be someone out there who would pay for it. 😂

Debbie
I really enjoy writing dialogue where it's between two characters with a rapport - it can be an argument, flirting, relationship breakdown, two friends chatting - as long as the connection's there and it's flowing, it's all good.

Emily
Yeah, I love dialogues too.

Debbie
I've just read one of yours between Ben and Claude.

Amy
Yeah, those are always fun when done well.

Debbie
Claude deserves their own story.
[hint]
[really strong hint, more of a request]

Amy
Emily, you'll get used to this...I got a "really strong hint" today too, LOL. A fairly persuasive one, I have to admit.

Emily
Mm... they may have it, at some point. I really liked them.

Debbie
💛

Emily
Good to know. 😂

Debbie
💛

Amy
😂

Debbie
One each for humouring my demands.

Amy
😊

Debbie
Only if there's story to be told, of course. It would be awful to force it.

Amy
I was looking over stuff last night for book launch and realized Ike + Dyl...

Emily
Okay, but there’s this girl on WIP I wanted to give an own story to, too. That might work really well actually.
There’s another character in WIP already I wanted to have an own story so... maybe I have to start a series? 😂

Amy
UGH, this is what happened to me, hahaha!

Debbie
* nods *
Yeah, me too.
Twice.
😃

Amy
Yeeeeeppppp. I think this happens to a lot of us, at least if we have a decent ensemble cast.


~ QUESTION 6 ~


Emily
Oh, it’s my turn isn’t it? Uh... When/how did you start writing?

Amy
I was 8. I wrote a story about a space-pilot tarsier named Madeline. LOL!

Debbie
I've been trying to, but I don't remember. I know when I started writing Champagne, it was no great leap to be writing a novel, but aside from the script for the stage version of that, I can't recall what I wrote before.
*bamboozled*

Emily
I don’t know how old I was (but I couldn’t be older than eight). I used to watch lots of Xena the Warrior princess and I’d write like half a page on my mom’s old laptop and I went from there. I used to write some fanfic too before I decided I was going to “publish for real”.

Debbie
Xena. 🙂
A lot of authors write fanfic first, don't they?

Amy
Yes, agreed. Xena. 🙂
I'd been writing short stories for ages, but when I decided to write "for real" I did some fan fiction.

Debbie
I was just thinking...sequels are really fanfics of our own work. [Discuss?]

Amy
Heh, yeah, I can see that.

Emily
Yeah, I guess, especially if they’re not planned out from the start.
And especially if it’s going to be a crossover of two apparently unrelated books. 😂

Amy
And they can be fan fiction suggested by others. That's how I ended up writing Tree of Life. Several people asked.

Emily
It’s almost like prompts for fanfic writers.

Amy
An Act of Devotion was basically fan fiction requested by the author. She doesn't write MM and asked me to write about the character.

Emily
Ohh. Interesting.

Debbie
Taking Him On was requested by readers of Checking Him Out...as was The Making Of Us (by readers of Taking Him On).
Hiding Behind The Couch #3 was my editor's fault (although she wasn't my editor at the time). After that, I can only blame myself.

Amy
See, and now you have me to prod you about when the next one will be out. Even though I really just read them for Josh. And Shaunna. And Sean. And...okay, never mind. 😉

Debbie
LOL!

Emily
You can also write another book with Noah and Matty. 😇😇😇

Debbie
😄

Amy
LOL, I just went and looked at my review of THO to see if I'd said anything about wanting a follow-up. I didn't, but I distinctly recall thinking it. My review is so...boring, LOL.

Emily
See, you have two readers already. 😏

Debbie
I did start a novella from Matty's POV - didn't get very far...yet. It'd be another crossover, and would be Matty and Libby, with Noah, Jesse and Leigh. Probably? Pantsing...
Heh. The way TMOU sold, it might only be two readers. 😀

Amy
I should've titled it "I loved the book and hated Noah, and I didn't want to sound like I hated the book, so I'll just kind of...fake it."

Debbie
LOL
Noah was not an easy chap to write.

Emily
I still don’t understand how anyone could hate him, but sure. 😂

Amy
But I loved him in TMOU!
I didn't like him because he frustrated me.
But not in a "please kill this character off" kind of way, LOL.

Debbie
It's more...he doesn't say much, and trying to connect with his thoughts was harder than I expected. Sol doesn't say much, but he is constantly chunnering in his head.

Emily
I mean... yeah, but I don’t know, I was still rooting for him.

Amy
Yes, I was too. I wanted him to grow up a bit, and I think he did. Plus, he's such a good friend, which I got to see more of in TMOU.
I could seriously talk about this series forever. There's just so much going on.

Debbie
💛

Emily
Same 😍

Amy
Which is funny because on the surface, they shouldn't appeal to me at all, LOL. When I did reviews for a website, I was that one reviewer who did all the non-romance.

Debbie
Thank goodness!

Amy
Ha! Yep. Well, I still kind of am. So many people come to me because they can't find as many sites that will read non-romance.

Emily
Lol. At first I was that reader who could read and liked all genres, but then something switched and now it’s only romance for me.

Debbie
Stories *with* romance in amongst the mix are my favourite. I do like a bit of blossoming love.

Amy
I like love stories. So that means friendship and family, too. And new love is good, but I also love established couples.

Emily
I still read pretty much every sub genre, but for example, I used to read lots of mystery whatever, and now when I try to read it, I’m just like, okay, but what about the pairings? Do these two fit together? Wait, no one's going to even kiss? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY DON'T LOVE X?

Debbie
That's one of the great things about a series like Notes from Boston, where the focus moves but we get to catch glimpses of the relationships 'born' in previous instalments.

Emily
Yeah, I like established couples too. But there has to be couples or polyamory, or something.

Amy
I suppose after being an Official Reviewer, I just sort of burned out. I read all the non-romance we got as requests, but there weren't that many. Now I read more of a mix, and I'm much happier.
Heh...we way sidetracked. LOL!

Emily
Maybe we can ask one final question each and... see what happens?


~ QUESTION 7 ~

Amy
OK.
Um...
What do you do for fun when not writing?

Emily
I watch more performances than I care to admit of Broadway actors in bars or wherever too (and I cry because Broadway is expensive and far away, but that’s not fun).

Amy
Aw. 😞 FWIW, I live in the same state as Broadway and can't go there.

Debbie
I have no idea how to answer this question, LOL.

Emily
I’m just a musical nerd, which is why, when I went to world pride this year, I spent most of the evenings at the theatre.

Amy
I don't do musical theater myself, but my kids both do. I'm a violinist with a community orchestra. And I just started learning Irish dance this year.

Emily
That’s cool 😌 I used to play cello in the conservatory but I had to drop it so...

Debbie
OK, lately, I've started watching some TV again (Netflix is guurd). I read - whatever words arrive in front of me. Academic, Wikipedia, newspapers, fiction, blog posts...I start reading without realising, and then it's too late. I listen to music - often the same tracks over and over, because I get hooked on a favourite. I watch random YouTube stuff. I very occasionally get my flute out of its case and practise for, um, a few minutes.

Amy
Reading stuff I've chosen, or blog posts or news, is definitely good. I can turn off the "read for reviews" part of my brain. And yeah, Netflix! Still watching Stranger Things S2, and I just started watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend, which is hilarious and kind of weird.

Emily
Crazy ex girlfriend is great!

Debbie
Stranger Things is queued up next, after Suits.

Emily
(But now I don’t know what I can say without making spoilers.)

Debbie
I'm going to check out Crazy Ex Girlfriend too.

Emily
White Josh 😍😍😍

Amy
Heh, I've only gotten two episodes in, but it's awesome.

Emily
Oh, well, then you’ve not reached that point yet.

Amy
Nope. I started because a friend suggested it.
I watched a couple episodes of Crazyhead, too. It's very, very weird.

Debbie
ST Discovery...got me.
Took six episodes, mind you.

Amy
So it's good after all?

Debbie
Yes - still a bit off-piste and I could do without reading subtitled Klingon, but there are some interesting characters.
And the stories aren't bad.

Amy
Well, that's good.


~ QUESTION 8 ~

Debbie
OK. Question:
Pick one of your characters. What is their song?

Emily
Uh... Published characters?

Debbie
Any.

Amy
That's easy too. Micah's song is Amy Grant's "The Prodigal." Almost literally, LOL. I listened to that song a lot while writing Passing on Faith.

Emily
Oh, wait, I don’t know why I was sweating it. Ben’s song is “Who Loves You” - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
I don’t know, I had no idea what title it should have, and I started to scroll through my music and that’s how it happened.

Debbie
LOL
I was listening to "The Prodigal."
That's kind of made me a teeny tiny bit sympathetic towards Micah's father. 😮

Amy
Ha! Sympathetic toward his father...interesting. Because that is not a song I would associate with him. It does make me really sad, though.

Debbie
Yes - it's quite an interesting additional layer to Micah, actually.
[Listening to Frankie Valli]
OK, I have a playlist...I was trying to pick one in particular. Three are very strongly associated to the characters (Underneath - Josh; Hunting High and Low - Kris; Ashes to Ashes - Andy). Here's the list: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF2sOAYcR-wi7ehy0cqeVQQ5ymhpflM45


~ QUESTION 9 ~

Emily
Last question then? Uh, hardest character to write and what did you learn from them? (If you learnt anything. It counts if you just learnt you hated them.)

Amy
Hardest character to write was Cian, in my recently finished WIP. He felt kind of...too nice? Boring? I'm not sure. I couldn't get in his head very well.

Debbie
He's a great character. 🙂

Amy
He grew on me. 🙂

Debbie
I'm not sure who's been the hardest to write. A few have for different reasons - Noah, because he wouldn't talk to me, Jesse because he wouldn't shut up... I think, probably, I'd say Kris is hardest because I'm always under duress to redeem him from his not-well-thought-out decisions. And death.

Amy
Hahahahaha! Maybe he and Noah should have a talk about that last one.

Debbie
😃

Emily
For me, I have two “stories”. There’s Ben. I didn’t have a problem with his “dual persona” (online/offline), but there was this scene... There’s this moment where he basically panics, and the reason he panics is, let’s say, strongly associated with a memory of mine. So in my head it made perfect sense because I’d have (probably) a full on anxiety attack in that situation, and Ben has also gone through bullying so it made sense, but it was a beta reader who pointed out to me how the reaction was too specific to make sense without a background or explanation. So I added it and softened the whole thing, but there’s the lesson I guess. Just because a character has traits in common with you, they’re not you.

And now there’s MC2 in WIP (the one who has generalized anxiety disorder). He’s not difficult per se, but he’s just moved to New York and is a bit unsettled, which I’m plastering on his POV and it’s actually kind of anxiety-inducing to write (not just for obvious reasons but because I want to make sure the pace is different in each POV but he’d been coping until then so it can’t go too far either).

Emily
Well, they all turned out great so... 😊

Amy
🙂

[Amy left in a pastel beanie hat...]

You can find us here:
Twitter: A.M. Leibowitz | Debbie McGowan | Emily Alter
Website: A.M. Leibowitz | Debbie McGowan | Emily Alter [Amazon]

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