Six days, six authors will be interviewed and each are giving away a story. All the stories are from the Boughs of Evergreen charity anthology and all proceeds from the book will go to the Trevor Project. You can buy the anthology here
Today our interview is with Amelia Mann
About the Author:
Amelia Mann was born in Scandinavia, and has worked in theatres all over Europe and the US, before returning to live in the cold, dark North. Writer of MM romance, her hurt/comfort-themed novel ‘Count Your Blessings’ has recently been nominated for the Goodreads MM Romance Member's Choice Award 2014 in two categories.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
I have a plan. Boring, isn’t it?
Before being published, long time ago, I dreamed of writing a book, sitting under an apple tree with some white sheets of paper and a pen. I would begin with ‘Once upon a time’ and keep on writing – there was hopefully several days of good weather - until I reached the words ‘The End’.
That’s not how it works. At least not for me.
There are certain milestones in a story, and they must be very clear to me before I can start working. When I’m ready to begin, I know the way a new story starts, I know how it ends, and I know most of the major turning points. I have an idea about characterization, but the main characters are still quite roughly outlined and a bit square. Their personalities haven’t yet appeared in full detail.
In making a first draft, I never work on the scenes in chronological order. I always start with writing the beginning, then on to some of the plot points and from there I connect the scenes. Very early on I finish the final chapter, because I need to see if I’m going to reach my goal in a way that is believable, and if my characters develop the way I want them to. Maybe I will need to change some scenes, let different things happen along the way that motivates my heroes, but the beginning and the end stands, and pray I’m on the right path. By the time I’m working on the second draft I know my characters thoroughly and can go into much more detail about everything.
I see my first version as a very detailed plotting – not as a badly written first draft in need of a terrible amount of re-write.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
One thing I’ve learned is this: the scenes where my character interacts in bed between the sheets – or in a back alley, for that matter – show me their true colors. A friend once told me: “You know, when a person drives a car, it’s the only time when he or she shows their true personality. The barking at other drivers, the nose picking, the singing behind the wheel – so totally different from the person you meet at work or at home. It pours out from their inner core when they think no one is looking.”
It’s the same with sex. My heroes are never as true as when they are intimate, and I need to learn from them. So writing the steamy scenes is prioritized – I never know everything about my main characters until then. The outcome might slightly change the way they are portrayed in the novel.
What drew you to the M/M genre in particular?
Besides the privilege of filling a novel with true love, and the steamy scenes everyone is expecting, writing M/M romance gives me a chance to make my voice heard in the fight for equality. Falling in love is always a big adventure. Falling in love when you don’t fit the mold created by society is an even bigger adventure.
Do you write in other genres besides M/M?
I’ve sold some short stories for ladies’ magazines in my home country. It was sweet little stories about old ladies and their cats and similar themes and it was a very long time ago. I find it hard to believe I did actually manage to write something without a strong love story. Today I know I’m going to stay in the gay romance genre, because that’s where I want to be and where my life experience is useful.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
It’s 2 a.m. as I write this. I would say a night owl.
Do you listen to music while writing?
No. I want it nice and quiet. Kids in bed. Dog sleeping at my feet. Husband gagged.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
“Always Have, Always Will” is a part of the holiday anthology Boughs of Evergreen. The proceeds are being donated by the 24 writers to The Trevor Project, so it is very important to me that readers buy the book and support the project.
At the time when I outlined the story, I was deeply engaged in helping a friend who went through a rough time, breaking up from his man. It was chaos, emotionally and financially. Listening around, I was surprised that so many of my gay friends in long-term relationships never bothered about paperwork. And the story was born.
Since it is a holiday themed anthology, some of the scenes in my story of course take place around Christmas. But it can just as easily be read all year around. You won’t choke on eggnog or get prickled by Christmas trees. I promise.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Getting one of my manuscripts back from another round of editing, there was a note from my wonderful editor at the end of a chapter:
“Not so long, Mrs. Tolstoy. War and Peace has already been written.”
The few words, all written with such humor, taught me a lesson for life. I thought writing was a lonely job and/or a job for those with tough skin. Oh boy, was I wrong!
There are many working on my scribbling before it’s on Amazon:
I love my two American betas, helping me read and comment the manuscript until it reaches a stage where it’s okay enough to be submitted to a publisher for the next editing process. I’ve worked with my betas for a long time, through different stories, and I can always imagine them on the other side of the world, tearing their hair when opening a mail from me with 65,000 words for correction and me wanting their input yesterday. We laugh together when they don’t shy away from proofreading language of all calibers. “Honey, I think you should go with cock here instead of dick.” I have gotten grammatical corrections in sentences that would make anyone blush. But never my betas.
I love my editor for her talent and never-ending enthusiasm. She does her special kind of magic, and suddenly she’s lifted the writing up to a much higher level. When she’s done with my novel, it shines with a new glow I never imagined I was capable of. She’s so kind she still claims it’s all my doing.
I love my cover designer, and I love my proof readers. I love my beta for setting up my website. There is a lot of love around. A lot of people.
It’s the collaboration that makes writing fun.
I also love being nicknamed Mrs. Tolstoy, by the way. If you didn’t get the joke, google the phrase “longest novel ever written.”
Is there anything you would do differently?
Besides wishing I was born in an English speaking country, making English my first language?
M/M romance is a wonderful genre with so much potential for the future. I wished I had started writing romance in general much earlier. I’m a genuine hardcore drama-queen with a severe case of angsto-holism, always ready for a sweet romance, and I tried to hide it before. But I am much wiser now.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
I know I should rank world famous authors here, and I do admire them and get inspired by them. But there are other heroes, and some are very close to me.
I have two buddies I’ve known almost my entire life. They’re now pushing ninety and have been a couple for almost sixty years. They have done it all. They came out to their parents when being gay was illegal and classified as a mental illness. They moved in together when believing in a legalization of same-sex marriages was regarded as pure science fiction. They were never allowed to bring their life partner to work functions since they weren’t the expected “Mr. and Mrs.” They've experienced how the fight for equality slowly changed their lives until that day when they could stand in front of everybody and say “Here we are.”
My friends have spent their lives supporting each other, loving each other, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, always putting the other one first, even though they were never allowed to call each other “husbands.” They are my role models, and they are my inspiration. Thanks to them I do believe in love.
I attended their wedding last year. They now qualify for the same privileges as any old married couple. I think it is wonderful to finally see the new shiny wedding bands on their hands marked by a long life. Go marriage equality!
When it comes to surviving the workload of writing, it’s my sister-in-law who is my hero. She wrote a thriller, years ago, and I thought, if she can, damn, so can I. I sat down and wrote my first novel. The result was infantile and terrible, so its best asset was the fact it heated up my house one evening when I burnt the script in the fireplace. But I didn’t give up. I’m still grateful to her for showing me just how much effort you have to put in if you want to finish a novel.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Read! Read, read, read. As much as you can get your hands on. Read the genre you want to write so you are updated on the current style. Read the classics, read a play, read poems, read everything that can help you find your own voice. Try to read poorly written books and analyze what it is you don’t like and have to avoid. Read the steamiest books and analyze what exactly it is that turns you on and why. At the end of the day, it will help you become a better writer.
And remember – some say it’s the eighth novel you write that makes it through the eye of the needle, and it’s the truth, so don’t give up. Never give up. Keep on writing.
What are three words that describe you?
Stubborn. Softy. Too kind.
That was four words.
What's your favorite book or who is your favorite writer?
Will you be upset if I say Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë? It’s very conventional, I know. The storyline has everything, and the language, ah… wallowing in Brontë’s words is as pleasant as sinking into a hot bathtub on a Friday evening after work. If you look closely at everything I write, you will find a small reference to Jane Eyre, but in order to do it, you have to know the book forwards and backwards. It’s my little gimmick.
A story from Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology
ALWAYS HAVE, ALWAYS WILL
by AMELIA MANN
Jay thinks official commitments aren’t necessary in a relationship. For the last fourteen years, he has loved waking up beside Gabriel, watching their two adopted kids grow up—even enjoyed painting the fence once in a while and paying his part of the mortgage on their New Jersey home. To Jay, that’s a family. No papers or ceremonies will make their relationship better than it already is...though Gabriel has a different opinion. Their lives are turned upside-down a month before Christmas, when he collapses in the plumbing aisle of the store. In the aftermath, Gabriel discovers that Jay’s only legal next of kin is his long-time absent father, and later Jay has to confront the painful memories of growing up, and the real truth behind his parents’ divorce. But perhaps now Jay might be ready to give Gabriel a Christmas gift he will never forget.
ABOUT BOUGHS OF EVERGREEN
Boughs of Evergreen is a two-volume collection of short stories celebrating the holiday season in all its diversity. Penned by authors from the UK, the USA, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, these are tales of the young and the not-so-young from many different walks of life.
Themes of family, friendship and romance take readers on a journey through some of the major holidays, both past and present, including Thanksgiving, Advent, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Eid, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas and New Year. In each we find at the very least hope, and often love, peace and happiness.
Proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization [USA] providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. For more information, visit: www.thetrevorproject.org.
List of previous books if any
Count Your Blessings, 2014. Published by M/M Romance Group@Goodreads
Nominated in two categories, Goodreads Member’s MM Romance Choice Awards 2014.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web
Matthias Williamson — Holidays with Drum and Bell!
Amelia Mann — Always Have, Always Will
Debbie McGowan — A Midnight Clear
Jonathan Penn — Homme for the Holidays
K.C. Faelan — A Little Christmas Magic
Ofelia Gränd — From All of Us to All of You
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