Monday, June 9, 2014

Author Interview: Jodi talks stories with Sue Brown

We are very happy to welcome Sue Brown the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Sue Brown has two new books available: Isle of Waves, book three in the Isles series, on Dreamspinner Press and Stormin’ Norman, a self-published novel in the Lyon Road Vets series.

     Sue Brown has quite a few books published. Sue is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn't following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has gotten expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she's made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

I had the pleasure to meet and hang out with Sue when she attended RainbowCon 2014 this past spring. I am a big fan of her writing, and it was great to have the opportunity to meet chat with her and get to know Sue beyond the pages of her book.

Jodi    Thank you, Sue, for taking the time to answer some questions. Tell us a little about yourself and how you decided to write exclusively in the m/m genre.

Sue    Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m a mum with two monsters teenagers, and two useless guard dogs. I live on the outskirts of London about ten miles from where I was born. It’s a lovely area although my house is the size of a postage stamp.

I started writing in the Torchwood fandom at the beginning of 2007 after waking up to see Captain Jack Harkness kissing the real Captain Jack on screen, then I moved onto the Supernatural fandom. I didn’t even know MM existed until someone gave me a copy of Bareback by Chris Owen. My first books are all in paperback because I didn’t have an ereader. Since then I’ve read exclusively in the MM genre,

Jodi   You write both standalone books as well as series. Do you have a preference? Do you feel that series give you more leeway for character development?

Sue    I tend to write standalones which sometimes develop into series. I know from a professional point of view series are better but I hope you know my characters by the end of one book.

Jodi   In addition to having books published by professional publishing companies, you also self publish. Why have you chosen to do both? Do you prefer one method over the other?

Sue    I like doing both but I’ve been burned by a couple of publishers. I don’t think I need to mention any names. I’m happy now with Dreamspinner and self-pubbing the rest. I’m lucky to have a brilliant team who helps me self-publish because I don’t have the skills beyond writing.

Jodi   There are four novellas in the self-published Lyon Vet series. Peter Mitchell and Evan Wells are the focus for the first two stories, and, of course, they have an important presence in the rest of the series. What was the inspiration for this series?

Sue    Hairy Harry’s Car Seat came from one of my daughter’s friends, who told us about Hairy Harry, a dog that had its own seat in the car for its entire life. Of course being Sue I thought what would it be like for the owner after the dog had died? I lost my dog the same way as Harry died. It’s as much Peter grieving for Harry as it is the romance with Evan.

Jodi   The men in this series are a bit more lighthearted than some of the other characters in your books. However, in Stormin’ Norman, there is a lot more tension and stress. Do you have a favorite book or character in this series?

Sue    Either Harry or Norman. No, I like them all really. It’s great not to have high drama all the time.

Jodi   Okay, I have to ask this …. Is Bob based on a real-life dog?

Sue    Faith, my younger dog. Ten leads (leashes), five laptop chargers, four TV remotes and a sofa later…. The bloody mutt doesn’t stop chewing.

Jodi   Isle of Where? was released in the summer of 2012. The second book, Isle of Wishes was released in the summer of 2013, and the  last book in the series, Isles of Waves was released on May 16 of this year. It is typical for a series to be spread out with one release a year?

Sue    It does if the author can’t be arsed to write more than one book in a year in the series. In all honesty, it was a conscious decision on my part to make it a one a year holiday book.

Jodi   When Isle of Where? was written, did you know this would be a series?

Sue    Not initially but I knew it had potential. I’m never very good at thinking of books as series. I’m just relieved to get through one book at a time. I really admire authors who have a whole series in mind before one word has hit the screen.

Jodi   Why did you choose the Isle of Wight for the setting of these books?

Sue    I went on a short holiday with the family on the Isle of Wight. On the train I saw a gay couple with a dog and got chatting to them. They were nothing like Liam and Sam but it sparked my muse. You can tell where I went to by the details in the story.

Jodi   Tell us a little about the Owens family and what the inspiration was for these characters.

Sue    I’m part of a large family so the family dynamics I really understand. I think that the older vs younger part of the family is quite typical of the large families I know. I’m also the youngest. Paul is everything I always wanted to be, and Sam, I love Sam. As for Rose, I think she’s an amalgamation of a lot of older women that I’ve met. People make a mistake in underestimating older people.

Jodi   Wig and Nibs are interesting characters. They are very opposite in appearance and personalities, but what they have seems to work. Did you feel these two characters were a necessary catalyst for the Owens family?

Sue    Initially Wig was the one who made Liam and Olaf uncomfortable. I get fed up with this idea that you can’t have an effeminate man with a strong personality and attitude to match. I didn’t want to tame him down. I also wanted Nibs to be the type of man who wasn’t perfect (he’s tight with money and always puts his restaurant first) but they’ve been together for years and he adores Wig.

Jodi   At the end of Isle of Wishes, Paul and Olaf have a more HFN ending than an HEA. There are a few unresolved issues with these two in the last book also. Without giving away any spoilers, why do things remain unresolved and will there be another book in this series?

Sue    Everyone asks me this but there is a very simple explanation. Isle of Waves takes places directly after the Isle of Wishes. There isn’t time to resolve Paul and Olaf. Immigration is not that fast. However I have plans…. Not for an Isle book but for a new series.

Jodi   Let’s talk a little about the sensitive subjects of homophobia, homelessness and domestic violence in the books Final Admission and The Sky is Dead. What prompted you to write each of these books?

Sue    Final Admission started out as light and fluffy. At least the first chapter was. I wrote it three years ago and I must admit, I can’t remember what the initial prompt was. I just remember researching the effects on the psyche of men who are abused. I think I wanted to write about a man who presented a mask to the outside world but who was broken inside. In the end, James wasn’t broken but he was in need of help.

The Sky is Dead was a reaction to all the suicides from young LGBT teenagers, and the awful statistics on homeless LGBT kids. In fact, I wrote a blog over here.  This is a snippet. “I wrote The Sky is Dead because I saw story after story of parental rejection on the Internet. Not one or two, but hundreds and hundreds. Some people have never spoken to their parents from the day they came out, and the pain echoes even from a few brief words. Danny isn’t one person but the amalgamation of their stories dripping into my psyche. I cannot think of the pain they have suffered at the hands of the people who should have loved and protected them.”

Jodi   Family plays a large role in many of your books, whether that family is traditional or created. What is your inspiration for including multi-generation families in your books?

Sue    Probably losing my mum at eighteen. We were not a multi-generational family with older generations. At one point, there was just me and my siblings and their tiny kids. I guess I write about what I would have liked to have been part of. Now we range from 71 to 3 months.

Jodi   On that note, although there is some traditional family portrayed in the Morning Report series, the close knit family of men is actually more of a creation of Luke’s and Simon’s doing. What inspired this focus?

Sue    The fact that not all gay people are lucky enough to have families that love them. Initially, the Lost Cow Ranch is just about Luke and Simon, but as the series goes on it becomes a home and sanctuary to other gay men who need a family.

Jodi   If someone is not familiar with your books, which book would you recommend they read first?

Sue    I hate this question because I’ve written so many different styles. If you want fluffy read Frankie & Al or Hairy Harry. If you want social issues read The Sky is Dead or Final Admission. If you want to know me read Nothing Ever Happens. If you want real life read The Night Porter.

Jodi   These books are written in third person point of view. Does writing in third person point of view provide more opportunities to explore each character’s personality than it would if the books were written in first person?

Sue    I much prefer first person to get to know the character. I write third person because people don’t like first person.

Jodi   Do you have any new series planned?

Sue    Ed & Marchant is a follow up to Frankie & Al. If you’ve read Frankie, you might remember he has a really nasty boss. This is his story. I have another Kit Stone story planned. Next year there will be the follow on from the Isle series.

Stormin’ Norman
Lyons Vet Series” Book Four

Dan had been Jesse’s partner for many years, and always there for Jesse on his return from difficult assignments. However, after breaking his promise not to leave again, Jesse learns to his cost that Dan can be pushed too far. When he returns home, broken in body and spirit, Jesse finds his house empty and Dan in the arms of someone else.

To fill his life, Jesse decides to get a dog. His friends and neighbours take him to choose a puppy. What he doesn’t expect is for Norman to choose him. As Jesse takes on a new job, with Norman’s assistance, he realises that Dan isn’t far away, and he still loves him. Dan has moved on with his life. Can Jesse do the same?

 Buy Links: COMING SOON! 

Isle of Waves
The Isle Series: Book Three

Wig Tobias and Nibs Tyler have been together for a long while, but this year their love is about to be tested. Their business, the Blue Lagoon Restaurant on the Isle of Wight, is vandalized, and it may or may not be a coincidence that the neighbors want to buy them out. Making matters stickier, the police don’t seem interested in investigating until a friend of the couple, an out of town copper, prods them to take action.

Their friends, Paul and Olaf, Liam and Sam, and the whole Owens family come to help Wig and Nibs in their time of need. But Paul and Olaf may need a nudge from Wig and Nibs to keep their relationship alive. Meanwhile, a dear friend falls gravely ill. And if that’s not enough, Nibs has been hiding his own medical problems from Wig. When a gale strikes the Isle of Wight, the Blue Lagoon and its owners could be facing the end—unless they and their friends can unravel the knot of misfortune one hitch at a time.

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