Please give a warm welcome to Pandora Pine, who is here with a brand new interview.
First of all, please would you introduce yourself to anyone lurking here?
I am a 40-something customer service representative by day. I live in Massachusetts, which I love eight months out of the year. Last winter we literally got 9 feet of snow in less than three weeks. We never saw bare ground until April. I would eventually like to abandon my shovel for Capri pants and flip-flops permanently.
Aside from writing, my other passion is nature photography. My favorite thing to shoot is fall in New England. I love the foliage and the bright colored pumpkins and apple trees bursting with fruit. We’re coming up on that time of year when both passions are at war with each other. It’s never easy to find a happy balance between the two.
I have been a Trekkie since I saw The Wrath of Khan when I was ten years old. Little did I know the impact the Star Trek franchise would have on my life.
I went to see the newest Trek movie, Into Darkness to see Sherlock alum Benedict Cumberbatch. What stood out more to me than Ben were the new Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy. This led me to Tumblr and Archive of our Own to read as many fics about McKirk (McCoy + Kirk) as I could get my hands on. From there it was an easy jump to writing them. I had wanted to write all my life and finally realized it was time to stop wanting and start doing.
A wonderful writing friend of mine, who also happen to be a fellow McKirk girl stopped writing fanfic and started writing original fiction. She encouraged me to do the same, so here I am writing MM romance.
What made you decide to start writing?
I have always been a reader. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood were trips to the library with my mother. Both of us would leave with overflowing book bags. I was fifteen years old when she allowed me to borrow books from her library bag. I spent the rest of my teen years devouring Johanna Lindsey and Jude Devereaux.
Writing was always something I wanted to do. I was the kid in school who was excited to get book reports or creative writing assignments. Once I graduated from college with my English degree, I no longer had a reason to write. It wasn’t until I started reading Star Trek fanfiction did I realize how wrong I was. I would read stories and think, “I can do that,” and so I did.
The best thing I ever did in the course of starting to write was to form a writing circle with other like-minded women. When I would read a story that I liked or particularly touched me. I would send a message to the author. It was through this correspondence I formed an amazing circle of friends who inspire me every day. I could not do this without those women having my back.
Is there any genre(s) that you haven’t written yet which you would like to? If so, which genre(s)?
I have dabbled a bit with MF romance during thirty day challenge prompts for Tumblr, but have not yet written it in novel length. The same goes for FF romance. The good news is that I am working on a series of novels that will put a checkmark in both boxes.
The Out of Time, series will start with Carter and Irish warrior Fionn. Book 2 will feature Carter’s sister, Cadence and Fionn’s right hand warrior, Donnall. Book 3 will feature the McCann’s foster sister, Bree and Islyn, Moone Castle’s healer.
To be honest, I’m scared to write the last two books in this series. I’ve written MM for the entirety of my writing career. So it’s certainly going to be a change of pace.
These books will also be my first attempt at writing historical romance as well as time travel romance. Fingers crossed!
Do you write your stories in order from start to finish or do you write out of order?
The short, easy answer to this question is both!
My ideas usually start with a whispered line of dialogue. I would say 80% of the time the dialogue belongs in the first chapter of my book. The other 20% is where the real fun starts.
When I get a chronological piece of dialogue, I can start to sketch the story and outline the next few chapters. There is a calm to writing like this for uber organized people like me.
However, all bets are off when it happens backward. My favorite piece of fanfiction started in this fashion. All I had was an idea to cross to fandoms and all of a sudden one of the characters was whispering the last line of dialogue he would speak in the story. So now I knew how the story ended. Great, right? Not so much, because I had no idea how the story would begin.
It’s a challenge saying to a muse, “Wow, that’s really great, but now it’s go back to the beginning!” Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
What I have learned over time is to roll with it. The story is being told the way it is being told for a reason.
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?
I usually make a rough sketch of what will happen of the first four or five chapters and then revise the plan from there when the characters take over and go off script! I would say this happens about 95% of the time. I know I’m going in the right direction when this happens. It’s the characters’ story and they are going to tell it their way. I am just along for the ride!
Where do you get your ideas from?
Ideas come, literally, from anywhere. We all walked past dozens of potential stories every day. The guy who bumps your arm in line for coffee, the jerk who cuts you off in traffic, situations like those can easily become novels.
The ideas that I pay attention to are the ones that make me go, “OHHH!” Time seems to stand still while I grab a notebook, sticky note, granola bar wrapper, etc to write it down. With the exception of my bathroom, there is a notebook in every room of my house. And if worse comes to worse, well, there is paper in the bathroom!
A perfect example of this happened the other day. I was looking at a list of different genres a publishing company offered and saw the line, Cowboy/Western. Thirty seconds later I had sketched an idea about a ranch foreman and the son of the ranch owner. Seconds after that, both main characters chimed in with their names. It’s always a good sign when characters name themselves. For me it usually means I’ve struck gold when they tell me the name of the book too. Look for this cowboy plot bunny to appear in novel format in 2016! YEE HAW!
Sometimes it really is that simple. You can spend hours staring at a blinking cursor and not get one idea or you can see a TV commercial about divorcing spouses and get an idea that will become a bestseller.
How did you get into male/male romances? What do you like about writing them?
I loved reading stories on Tumblr and Archive of Our Own about Jim Kirk and Bones McCoy from Star Trek. Once I had read everything written about them, I decided to start writing them!
There is nothing sexier than two handsome men falling in love with each other.
Despite the growing market for same sex romances, it is still a long way from being mainstream. Do you see a time when they make it to the bestseller lists?
I really hope so! My decision to write two gay romances in the Out of Time series with a heterosexual couple in the middle was done on purpose. I am hoping people who read the het book will so captivate by the universe I create and the characters that they will want to go back and Carter and Fionn’s story and want to pre-order the third book feature two women. Love is love and I’m hoping the outdated stereotypes about reading this kind of book will fade in time.
Why did you choose to go down the self-publishing route?
I knew people were reading MM fiction based on the hit count my fanfiction stories on Archive of Our Own were getting. I didn’t have the time or the energy to fight the good fight with traditional publishing houses, query letters, rejection letters and all that, so I looked into what Amazon had to offer.
A great friend and member of my writing circle was going the self-publishing route and urged me to try it as well. It is the best decision I have ever made.
What advice do you have for anyone who is thinking about going down the self-publishing route?
DO IT! Presentation is everything. Find an editor. My friend uses professional editors, which can be pricey. I send my manuscripts to my mother who is a retired English teacher. Utilize any resource you have at hand. You can even ask for beta readers or editing help through social media!
You can use a professional service to design your book covers, but I use Canva and purchase royalty-free stock photos from Shutterstock.
What are your favourite books?
To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book. I have not read Go Set a Watchman.
Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
I love the Harry Potter books!!
Anything by Stephen King. It still scares me to death!
The 8 book Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn
The 9 book Cut and Run Series
Do you like to travel? What are your favourite places to visit?
I love day tripping around New England. The New Hampshire and Maine seacoasts are gorgeous and only a short drive from where I live in Northern Massachusetts. It’s only a two hour ride west to get to the Berkshires and the Vermont border.
I would love to visit Carbury Castle in County Kildare, Ireland, which I used as the model for Moone Castle in the Out of Time series.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
You mean other than, invest in APPLE? LOL!
My advice to my younger self and anyone who has the dream of becoming a published author is to do it! Keep writing! Don’t listen to anyone who tells you can’t do it, because you can!
Please tell us about your latest book.
ER doctor Wyatt Jacobs moves to San Francisco to escape the pain of his mother’s death. He doesn’t think he’ll ever feel at home in California, twenty-five hundred miles from his beloved Georgia, but he hasn’t met his handsome but cocky neighbor yet.
Contractor Caleb Gregson is all about one-night stands and keeping his perfect record of satisfied lovers intact. He isn’t prepared for Wyatt, whose resistance to his charms makes him rethink everything he thought he knew about his life.
Caleb starts wooing his reluctant neighbor in hopes of getting Wyatt to sleep with him and restore his perfect record. As time goes on, however, he wants Wyatt to Just Say Yes to an entirely different question.
Where can we find you and your books on the web?