It has been a while since I have had a guest doing an interview here, so please make sure to welcome Renee Stevens who is in the hot seat today.
Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties. Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal. When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on GayAuthors.org in her capacity of admin and Anthology Coordinator.
Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters. Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works. When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts.
When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors. She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby. Once back at home, it’s back to writing.
Which do you find easier to write: series or standalone stories?
I would have to say standalone stories. That’s not to say I haven’t done series, I have, but I always have to keep going back and forth between stories to make sure I don’t change some kind of fact.
Do you write your stories in order from start to finish or do you write out of order?
I mostly write them in order, but if I get an idea for a scene, I’ll write it out while it’s fresh in my mind, whether or not it’s actually the next scene.
Do you plot out the stories before you start writing, or do you let the characters take over? Or is it a bit of both?
It’s a bit of both, though I don’t write out an outline. I know in my mind where I want the story to go, but as I’m writing, things can change a bit here and there. That’s the reason I don’t do outlines, because I can never stick with them.
Which of your own characters is your favourite and why?
From all of my stories, I’d have to say Vik, from my vampire novel Joined by Blood. It’s currently in revision and then I hope to submit it. It’s hard to explain Vik, he just draws you to him. In No More Hiding, it would be Robert, all the way. I just love the way he’s ALWAYS there for his brother. He’s the first one to be willing to help, no questions asked (or very few questions), regardless of what it is they are doing.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Most of them just come to me. I might be sitting looking at a prompt and come up with an entire story for it. Others come from something I’ve seen or heard. I don’t really think I have any specific inspiration for the majority of my writing.
What kind of research do you do?
I tend to not do a ton of technical stuff in my writing. I would say most of my research is simply from talking to people I know. I have friends who are a vast well of information. Friends that have been in the medical field, or the military, or just do a lot of research themselves and are more than willing to help. When I can’t find the answers I need, I google it and look at numerous results from the search. When I do that, I try to only actually use the stuff that is repeated in multiple areas.
How did you get into male/male romances? What do you like about writing them?
I used to write M/F romances in my very early twenties. I enjoyed it, but there was something missing. Then I read a story by Sara Bell called the magic in your touch. There weren’t as many stories out there with M/M pairings as there are now. I just decided to try my hand at it. One the best things I’ve found about writing M/M romance is other authors of M/M romance are so helpful. I’ve made a lot of friends in the M/M writing community and it’s great.
If you also write male/female romances, which do you find easier to write?
I haven’t written a M/F romance in over 10 years. I sat down recently to try and work on one of my old ones and I just couldn’t focus on it. My mindset now is too much into the M/M romances.
There seems to be some controversy about heterosexual women writing male/male romances, and whether they should or not. Have you encountered this and what is your opinion on the matter?
Maybe once or twice, but overall those I’ve met have been extremely supportive. As far as my opinion on the matter, what does it matter who writes it? As long as the crafting of the story is well done and their sex scenes are believable, it’s a story just like any other.
What is your favourite genre to write/read?
I read and write a lot of contemporary, but I actually prefer shifter/paranormal stories to read a lot of times. I have a few shifter stories in the works, but not many completed.
If you were a shape-shifter, what animal would you be?
A Jaguar or a Tiger. Both are very majestic and graceful.
What is your favourite kink to read/write about?
I read a lot of BDSM stories, I don’t know why, but I enjoy them.
What do you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing?
I spend a lot of time camping, fishing, four-wheeling, and just about anything that puts me in the great outdoors. If the weather is horrible, I spend time sewing and making quilts.
Do you enjoy films and/or TV shows? Which are your favourites?
Oh yeah. I really like the NCIS series, and I also watch shows like Wicked Tuna and Deadliest Catch. I watch quite a few movies, but I think my favorite at the moment is American Sniper.
Do you like to travel? What are your favourite places to visit?
I enjoy travelling, but don’t get to do it as often as I’d like. I’ve been to Canada once, have gone and seen Mt. Rushmore, and also spent a week driving the west coast from Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA. I want to go back to the coast because it rained the entire time we were there.
Is there anywhere you would like to visit which you have not had chance to yet?
Oh yeah. There are lots of places, but the one that tops the list is Yellowstone National Park. I’ve lived close to it for much of my life and yet have never gone. Neither has my husband and so we’re both looking forward to that trip.
What are you working on at the moment, and what are we likely to see from you in the coming months?
Currently I’m working on revising my vampire novel, Joined by Blood. I hope to be ready to submit it by August or September, but we’ll see how that goes. I’m also working on a military story called Thwarted, and I’m planning to finish up another contemporary story I have on there. Most of my free fiction can be found on GayAuthors.org, including my newest short story “Are We There Yet?” which is a part of the Summer Anthology. It’s actually a short story sequel to Line of Sight (also found on GA), but can be read as a standalone.
Please tell us about your latest book.
Phillip Jorgensen tried to live the straight life and ended up divorced. But he wouldn’t trade his two kids, Jacob and Samantha, for the world. His ex-wife has kidnapped them and he’s been searching for them for six long years. But he’s not giving up—never, not for anything. His twin brother has encouraged him to start living again, but how is he going to find romance with all his baggage?
When he meets Vance Pierce at the new gym, Phillip sees a chance to find some happiness.
Phillip has to explain the whole sordid mess to Vance and pray that he understands that he’ll never stop looking for his children. That’s easier said than done. Telling Vance might be risky. Is their connection strong enough to convince Vance to stay? Or will he think that Phillip is too damaged to love? This is Phillip’s chance at the life he never thought he could have. But is it possible?
His feet felt like weights had been attached to them. He walked through the kitchen and up the stairs to the sanctuary of his room. His gaze fell on the wrapped package sitting on his bed, and tears threatened. He closed the door softly, walked over to sit on the bed, and pulled the package into his lap. He’d almost given up hope that the kids and their mother would ever be found, but each year he bought Jacob and Samantha gifts, just in case. Your kids will never know you, his mind told him.
“I haven’t forgotten you,” Phillip said quietly to the photo by his bed as his hands gripped the birthday present. Another year, another package that would most likely never be claimed. An indescribable pain blossomed in his chest. He was missing yet another milestone in his kids’ lives. Jacob would be turning ten in two days, and once again he wouldn’t have anything from his father for his birthday.
“I never should have confirmed what her mother saw.” Phillip set the package down next to him and picked up the picture that never left its place on the nightstand. He ran his fingers lovingly over the faces of his two precious children and wished he could physically reach through the glass and touch them. He didn’t realize he was silently crying until he saw the first teardrop fall on the glass. “I love you. I should have known what she’d do.”
Phillip used the pad of his thumb to wipe the tear away. He set the picture back in its spot and walked to the window to look down at the scene in his backyard. His niece and nephew couldn’t replace his own kids, nor did he want them to, but at least they helped to fill a little bit of the hole in his heart.
Phillip wiped his tears, took a minute to compose himself, left his room, and shut his door firmly behind him. Peals of delighted laughter greeted him as he made his way down the stairs and toward the backyard. He steeled himself against his emotions as he opened the back door and stepped onto the porch. He was unprepared for the spray of ice-cold water that slammed into his chest. His mood of moments before was temporarily forgotten.