We are very happy to welcome EM Lynley to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Lynley’s latest novel Bound for Trouble is available on Dreamspinner Press.
EM Lynley has worked in high finance, high-tech, and the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing sexy man-on-man romance. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.
EM Lynley writes gay erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. Her Precious Gems series is “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone”— only gayer. The Delectable series is Gay Romance with Taste. Her books are available in print and e-book from Amazon & other book distributors.
Check out EM Lynley’s books and blog at http://www.emlynley.com/.
Jodi: Thank you, EM, for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Tell us a little about yourself and how you decided to write exclusively in the m/m genre.
EM Lynley: First off, thank you so much for having me over today and asking such fun and challenging questions!
I’ve always loved coming up with story ideas, and up until college, I wrote quite a lot, mostly for class assignments, but a few stories I didn’t share with anyone else. I had a few novel ideas, but never felt I could write well enough, so I shelved that idea.
I first discovered m/m about seven years ago. A friend introduced me to the genre and we read tons of stories on LiveJournal and fanfiction.net. After maybe six months of reading I made up a crazy story idea and that same friend dared me to write it. It turned into a novel-length story, and I really haven’t looked back.
I love writing m/m because of the relationship dynamics. I never much liked traditional romances, usually because I didn’t care for the heroine all that much. Writing m/m gives me the chance to avoid those annoying female leads, and work with two really hot guys. I can fall in love with both of them, and hopefully so will you!
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?
EM Lynley: I used to write only standalones. For me, getting the two guys together, whether that was into bed, or into a relationship, had been the goal of those stories. There isn’t always a whole story to tell afterwards. As much as readers want to read more about a couple, for many novels, the end really is the end of what makes that pair interesting.
It’s a challenge to keep the interest and tension high in any sequel or follow-on book. But Rarer than Rubies lent itself well to being the first in the series because while they all focus on Reed Acton and Trent Copeland, each of the Precious Gems books covers a different case/mystery for them to solve. It also gives the opportunity to delve into Trent and Reed’s character and the changing nature of their relationship. Because it’s more a mystery/action/adventure series, there’s less time to cover those aspects than in a contemporary.
I do love Trent and Reed more with each book, and I’m in the planning phase for Book 4.
I go back and forth on which I like more. It always depends on what I’m writing at the moment!
Jodi: If someone is not familiar with your books, which book would you recommend they read first?
EM Lynley: If you like some mystery and adventure along with your romance, Rarer than Rubies would be a good start. Since it’s the first in the series, it’s easy to choose what to read next! It’s set in Thailand, where I spent a few months and was able to incorporate many of my own experiences—especially the food!
If you want a contemporary, Out of the Gate would be a good start. It’s got a lot more romance, and it’s set in the world of Hollywood and horseracing. Never a dull moment in either.
Jodi: Bound for Trouble, like many of your books, is 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?
EM Lynley: I’ve actually never written in first person and don’t usually like to read it. Perhaps it is because I want to get into both MC’s heads and learn who they are and how they think. It’s fun to see what they hide from each other. In first person, it’s a lot harder to keep some aspects of a story secret without cheating the audience or tricking readers.
Jodi: Although your books are all in the m/m genre, the style of your books is very varied. Is this the first BDSM style book you have written?
EM Lynley: It’s the first novel-length BDSM-themed book. I did a novella about five years ago, and did some hands-on research: flogging classes, visits to a local dungeon and letting an experienced friend try out a variety of whips and toys on me.
Outside of the physical aspects, I quickly understood the psychological side of BDSM. It was just as intriguing to me. Without participating I wouldn’t have been able to portray that accurately—or as exciting as scenes can get.
Jodi: What was your inspiration for this book?
EM Lynley: The first inspiration was watching a television show where one character fell for another while watching them during surveillance. Voyeurism really turns me on. I love reading it and writing it. The idea that the watcher could learn enough about the subject of the surveillance to form an attraction fascinated me. I wanted to put the characters into situations where they had to interact, with one knowing a lot more about the other. It’s another relationship dynamic I enjoy working with.
Jodi: In Bound for Trouble, Deke and Ryan are very different from each other. Both men are a bit lost though and neither has a great track record with making wise decisions. Was it a challenge to develop their relationship?
EM Lynley: Oh absolutely. It was really tough to extend the relationship beyond the physical and make sense. It was clear from the minute they met there was some sexual chemistry. But how on earth does a career FBI agent fall for a rent-boy? I had to tap into Deke’s need to protect, and find the part of Ryan that made Deke see him for much more than a gorgeous body and a big tease.
Putting them together in the same room was always such fun. They rarely had the same agenda, but they still would wind up wanting the same thing—each other.
Jodi: What were your inspirations for these men?
EM Lynley: I didn’t have any specific inspirations. I like to work with types based on jobs and internal character traits. Then I’ll build a more three-dimensional person from that basis that’s not really like anyone I’ve seen either in real life or in fiction/films.
Jodi: Did you have a difficult time mingling the sex and violence in the story?
EM Lynley: You certainly hit on another key challenge. It was tough to balance the non-violence of BDSM with the violent nature of Petrov, the Dom who Deke is trying to capture. It made him an interesting character, and he added to the tensions between Deke and Ryan. Deke always saw him as dangerous, while Ryan finds himself wanting to be dominated by Petrov. I can’t really say much more about the violence without spoilers, but it was necessary to change some of those dynamics.
Jodi: Was it difficult for you as a writer to develop the multiple sides of Ryan’s character: the rent boy, sex-addicted extrovert versus the abused, compassionate man?
EM Lynley: Actually, this is the fun part of writing. Every character needs some kind of paradox within his personality. Peeling back Ryan’s layers to who he is under that façade shows him for the kind of man that Deke could love. As Deke learns more about who Ryan is under that sass, he’s lost that neutrality he needs to do his job. I loved this shifting relationship between them.
Jodi: Tell us a little about Deke’s character.
EM Lynley: Deke grew up as a military brat and felt a sense of duty from a young age. It permeates everything he does and how he looks at his world. He sees black and white: what he should and shouldn’t do. What’s right and what’s wrong. He’s thrown for a loop when he meets Ryan, who’s all gray area. Deke doesn’t relax and he doesn’t indulge himself much. He seems to thrive on denying himself anything until he’s earned it. Watching the effect Ryan has on him is fun!
Jodi: The ending of this book is intense. Will there be any more books with Deke and Ryan?
EM Lynley: I have a few ideas, but I don’t know for sure if there will be. I’ll only write a sequel if there is another very powerful story to tell about them.
Jodi: The issue of dominance and submission plays an important role in this book. Some of the BDSM scenes are gentle and loving, while others are brutally violent. Why did you choose to explore the lifestyle in this way?
EM Lynley: I wanted to explore how the nature of BDSM play is completely determined by who is playing. Since trust is a huge part of safe and enjoyable BDSM, I also wanted to look at what happens when that trust is violated. This was also a way to differentiate Ryan’s relationship with Petrov from his relationship with Deke.
Jodi: Abuse and submission is not the same thing as the men in the series, especially Deke discovers. Was there a message you wanted to impart to readers?
EM Lynley: Not specifically. For readers who have stayed away from BDSM, I wanted to show that it’s a lot more than pain, and there are a lot of nuances. For me, the idea of someone wanting to be dominated was very powerful, and I hope I can show some insights into how that feels.
When Deke is required to take some classes to join Dungeon 69, it was a way to show that the whole environment is designed to be safe for all involved and that the community is overall very welcoming and concerned about all participants.
Jodi: Bound for Trouble is very different than your other recent release Out of the Gate. Do you have trouble shifting gears from one style to another?
EM Lynley: I tend to write one project at a time and become completely immersed in the world, the story, and the characters. It can be tricky to switch to something completely different. Bound for Trouble was so much more intense than anything else I’ve written, so it was even more difficult. I had to take a break for a few weeks before I could really think about the next book.
Jodi: What is your next project?
Em Lynley: The next one slated for publication is Spaghetti Western, a novel in the Delectable series. This one has a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who goes from Paris to being a chuck wagon cook at a guest ranch (one does not call them dude ranches), and ends up falling for a sexy cowboy. Look for that one in September from Dreamspinner.
I just finished writing a fairly smutty novel called Dirty Dining, about a grad student who works as a serving boy at a sexy dinner club and one very special client who makes him want to do more than serve dinner. It should be coming out early next year.
I’m working on a rewrite of my first novel, Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells. I’ve grown as both a writer and a storyteller, and it needs a makeover. Reading this one again is like visiting old friends who I haven’t seen for years, but never want to leave again.
Daniel “Deke” Kane is a broken man, facing the end of his career in the FBI. He’s on desk duty after a botched drug raid left the suspects and two children dead. He’s got one chance to prove himself, or the only thing he’ll be investigating is the Help Wanted ads.
Ryan Griffiths has been on the run for ten years. Forced onto the streets when his father kicked him out, Ryan earns his living in other men’s beds. Finding his john dead in a hotel room drives him under the radar until a favorite client gives him a chance at a safe, clean life. But Ryan’s relatively stable new world shatters when Deke Kane catches up with him.
When Deke’s tasked to take down a drug dealer with terrorist ties and a taste for the dark side of BDSM, his only chance to get close is the suspect’s interest in Ryan, and he convinces Ryan to become a confidential informant. In return, Deke offers Ryan immunity from his past. As Ryan falls under the drug lord’s domination, Deke finds himself falling for Ryan.
Now Deke has to choose between Ryan’s safety and his own future.