Hi Nessa, and thanks for stopping by POR today.
Hello! Thanks for having me!
Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.
Um. Wow. Okay. I live in Southwest Ohio with my two cats and honestly geek is one of the first words I always use to describe myself. I’m geeky about traditional stuff like Science Fiction and Fantasy books/movies/television shows and going to Renaissance festivals and Dragon*Con, but I’m also a big wine geek. I love going to wine tastings and learning about the different kinds of wine and the differences in what different vineyards produce with the same grape. It’s fascinating what the mineral content in soil or oaking wine can do to the flavor, for example.
Let’s see, what else. I just recently escaped from an Evil Day Job of Doom and now I work for Harmony Ink Press when I’m not writing. I’m stoked to be part of the Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink family and I’m passionate about what Harmony Ink is trying to do with getting books in schools and libraries where gay & lesbian kids can read them. I now do the social media, I read submissions (but I don’t make the final decision), and I’m going to be running the editing queue shortly. It’s exciting stuff.
Was gay fiction something you always wanted to write? Or did you develop it as an interest over time?
It developed as an interest over time. Like many people writing in the m/m genre, I came to it via fanfiction and I remember that first moment when I discovered m/m romance was possible. I was reading on a Lord of the Rings fanfiction archive, I clicked on a link, and I read a couple paragraphs and realized it was Legolas/Gimli. I’ve never hit a back button so fast in my life. Except, the idea stuck in my head, and a few days later I went back and… kinda decided it wasn’t so bad. And then my interest in it grew. And grew. And now that’s all I write and practically all I read, though I do read other YA stories to stay abreast of the market.
It's Geek Week here on Pants Off Reviews. Tell us what geeks mean to you.
To me, a geek is someone who is extremely passionate about something they enjoy. Most people think of geeks as the people who are into comic books or Science Fiction or Fantasy and who run around cosplaying at conventions. And those are geeks. To me, those are the traditional geeks, and I proudly consider myself to be one of them. But there are people who are geeks about other things too—cars, wine, sports, really anything you can think of. And that’s where the broader definition comes in as far as someone who’s passionate about what they love.
Would call yourself a geek? If yes, can you tell us why?
I am absolutely a geek. As I said above, it’s always one of the first words I use to describe myself. I do run around in costume at conventions, I go to renaissance festivals (the best thing about my friend moving to Houston from Ohio was a place to stay so I could visit the Texas Renaissance Festival). I go to Dragon*Con every year.
I’m also a geek in the sense of being passionate about my interests too. I’m a wine geek. I have more bottles of wine at home than I have space for, but that doesn’t stop me from buying it. I rarely drink it at home because I want to share the experience with people and compare notes on the taste. I go to wine tastings at least once a month, more if I can manage it, and I adore restaurants with an extensive wine list, particularly when they offer flights.
So, yes. I am a geek and I am proud of that fact.
Do you feel that there is a better opening to write geek characters in YA than say in adult themed gay romances?
I think there’s probably a bigger opening for the traditional geek character in YA fiction rather than adult themed m/m romance. A lot of teenagers feel like they’re geeks or feel like they can relate to geeks because they’re similarly ostracized for other reasons, so I think there’s a big market for it. Also, without the limitations of a romance, there’s more room to explore the character being a geek.
I think there’s plenty of room for geek characters in adult themed romance as well, though, particularly with my expanded definition. A character who is geeky about something is interesting. If it’s done right, it can teach the audience about that thing while still drawing them into the story. The challenge can be not letting the character’s geekiness take over and derail the romance. In YA an author doesn’t necessarily need to worry about that, because the romance is secondary in a lot of YA stories.
Tell us a bit about Harmony Ink Press and future plans (releases).
Harmony Ink Press is an imprint of Dreamspinner Press. It released its first book last March and currently releases two books a month. That will increase to a book a week in mid-May. The focus is on positive LGBTQ Young Adult fiction, and that includes the entire spectrum—gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, and questioning. We publish books about teenagers who know they’re LGBT and teenagers who are discovering their sexuality, which means that the book might not end with the teenager in an LGBT relationship. We want the books to focus on positive character growth, not the relationship.
As for upcoming releases, Beau Schemery is releasing the second book in his Verses of Vrelenden series, which I’m very excited about. There’s a prequel to The Thunder in His Head by Gene Gant called Everything We Shut Our Eyes To. We have a couple more lesbian titles coming out this summer. We also have something big and exciting coming that I can’t tell you about yet, but watch the news coming from Romantic Times. There’s going to be an announcement there from one of our authors.
Any works featuring geek characters (existing or upcoming)?
Well, for me, Sauntering Vaguely Downward, obviously, which is part of your giveaway. Both Brendan and Dylan are geeks and they meet at Dragon*Con. I have a new series that will be published soon called All Corked Up. The first book, Syrah, is out in August or September of this year and one of the characters there is a wine geek.
For Harmomy, I’d say that Lucas from Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker is a geek. So is Wesley in You Belong with Me by Jeff Erno. The Seventh of London and the Verses of Vrelenden books by Beau Schemery feature characters that I’d call geeks and they’ll also have a lot of appeal for the traditional comic book/Science Fiction & Fantasy geeks. So will the Lords of Arcadia books by John Goode.
Who has it better Top or Bottom?
I’d say switches have it best. *winks*
Pants, is it better to write with them on or off?
It’s definitely more comfortable with them off. Probably, though, it depends on where you’re writing. It wouldn’t be good to write without pants if you’re sitting in Panera, for example. At home, though? Off.
Top 5 geek characters? From either books, movies, tv shows etc....
End with a hard one, why don’t you? Okay. Agent Phil Coulson from the Marvel Cinematic Universe/Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television show, the Doctor from the television show Doctor Who, Richard Castle from the television show Castle, Abby Schuto from the television show NCIS, and Penelope Garcia from the television show Criminal Minds. And lots more, since having a geek character is a great way to get me to love something.
Thanks Nessa for stopping by today, lovely to have you. If fans want to keep in touch, how can they get in contact?
It’s been my pleasure. I’m on Twitter and Facebook as nessalwarin, and my email is Nessa.firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always thrilled to hear from readers. And, of course, you can reach me via Harmony Ink Press as well.
Win Sauntering Vaguely Downward in the Giveaway...