Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Julia.
Hi, there! Thanks so much for having me. It’s always great fun here at Top 2 Bottom, and I love to hang out! (Feel free to come by anytime!)
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first published novel was Manners and Means. I had been writing short stories for years. It took about a year to publish. I wrote it for Nanowrimo, and then looked for a place. No one was publishing m/m back then, so I had to form a company to publish it! Torquere Press was born. (CLAPS!!)
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
I started back in 2000. I fell in love with homoerotic books when I began reading Anne Rice and Poppy Brite in the 80s and early 90s. I didn’t know you could write m/m romance for a long while, though. When I finally figure out I could do that, I wrote like a fiend. I love m/m for a long of reasons, chief of which is the pretty. I love the very idea of men touching. I also like that m/m takes me, the female reader, out of the position of having to try to identify with a heroine, which oftentimes I can’t.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
Oh, my gosh. I got my first story published when I was about 15. It was a literary journal. I worked in newspapers a good bit, too. Now, as far as my first adult story, I was in my early 30s when I finally broke the market. At this point I’ve had hundreds of ebooks published, but only 20 or so of them are full length novels, I’d guess.
Do you write full time?
I do! Well, and I publish. I was able to quit working for someone else about six years ago, though, which was really exciting! I can work in my PJs and drink mai tais at my desk. It’s the best job ever.
Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?
I think I had no choice. My mom was a big storyteller in the oral tradition. She taught me young to love sitting around the campfire telling tall tales. As I learned to read and write, I started to make up my own stories. I really don’t remember the first one. So, I think it was just in me all along.
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
I work on publishing stuff after morning yoga and until early evening. Then I buckle down from five pm or so to midnight. That’s my writing time.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I write straight through. I learned early on that if I tried to revise as I went I never got a story done. There was always this tweak or that. Then I hand it off to my partner, BA, and get her to look it over before re-writes.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I’d love to say I have more than a general idea of the plot when I start, but that would be a lie. I’m character driven, and I go where they, and deadlines, take me.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
Depends on the book. Sometimes I do loads of research (always verify your source, folks! I worked in library systems!) and sometimes I wing it, writing what I know, like Colorado mountain boys or Texas cowboys. For new cities, I buy travel guide books. (Colorado! Woot!)
How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?
There’s always me in there somehow. Oftentimes it comes out in what I just experienced. A trip to Boston, for instance, yields a Western boy going to the east coast and discovering how he dislikes Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (sorry, y’all. It’s foul) I put a lot of people I see and hear in books, too, but rarely people I know closely. That way leads to madness if they’re unhappy with the way they’re portrayed.
How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?
Oh, that depends on the book, too. If it’s a novel, it can take a month or six. A short can take a day or a month. I let people read all along the way. They make it better, no matter what. I write straight through, as if I revise as I go, it will never get done!
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
I never have a lack of ideas. I do occasionally lack time or concentration. Sometimes I’m too busy. But I’m never really blocked.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
I just hope they’re entertained. That’s my job as a storyteller.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
The very first thing I learned is that publishing is not creative. Writing is, but publishing is a cutthroat business. Then I had my first signing, where I learned that loyal readers make it all worth it. Then I learned that I would still be writing, even if I could never be published again.
Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?
Hmm. Most of the time I turn to my partner BA and ask, “What should I call my new book? It’s about this guy…
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I’m a big goof. I love Muppets. I equally adore fart jokes. Most often, my basset hounds are the laugh inducers.
What is the most frequently asked Julia Talbot question?
When are you going to write the sequel to (any book). Sometimes I even plan to write one and don’t…
What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?
Write like no one is reading. Sort of like dance like no one is watching, you know? If I let what I think the market wants influence me too much, it wrecks me.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I have worn corsets to book signings. Ugh. (Brave lady!)
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
I eavesdrop. I travel. I sit at the mall and people watch. People are fascinating.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I love mysteries and serial killer books. I adore romances, though, and never count those out.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
A librarian. I worked in libraries for years.
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
Everywhere. Rafting trips and horseback riding. Walking to the store and driving to yoga.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
I always like something. The characters can never look like they do in your head, but the artists put a lot of effort into my vision.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I love to stitch (cross stitch and knitting) and of course I love to read. I hike with my dogs and garden with my partner BA.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
Hopefully! I have a novelette coming out from Torquere Press called Crazy in Love, a werewolf story, and a new Mixed Breeds book from Changeling Press called Tiger by the Toe, which is about big cat shifters.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Write. A lot. Every day. It can take hundreds of stories to find the right one, the one that works and sells, too.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
Sure! Here’s a tiny bit from An Itch to Scratch, which is the first in my Bloodrose series at Torquere Press.
The owner of the very exclusive club Deke had applied to smiled at him, making a note in a leather bound folder. The place was like that. Leather portfolios and leather chairs, the smell of expensive booze and tobacco strong, even this early in the day. “Deke, then. Your application looks perfect, and your references are impeccable. So we only have two things to talk about.”
“Okay.” Deke twisted his key ring around his fingers, trying not to look nervous. Normally he wouldn’t set foot in a swanky place like the Bloodrose, but he had this itch that he just had to scratch, and it was getting tough to find a safe place to do it. So, there he was, sitting in front of an amazingly hot guy named Jonny, who had gone over his file with a fine toothed comb. Jonny smiled, revealing a set of tiny, needle-sharp fangs, reminding him that he’d chosen the damned club for a reason that went beyond private membership and a free massage.
“First, we need to decide exactly what you want out of your experience at Bloodrose. It says here that you would like to try to defer your membership fees by entering into an exclusivity contract with one of our current members.”
Deke’s cheeks heated. You didn’t have to be broke to be unable to come up with the kind of fees Bloodrose charged, damn it. “Uh. Yeah. It’s an option on the application. I mean, I assumed people did it all the time.”
“They do. Not to worry. I just want you to understand that, barring any incompatibility, this will lock you into a year’s worth of commitment.”
“I do. Understand, I mean.” That was the reason Deke was there, in fact. With an itch like his to scratch, he ended up at a lot of skanky bars, picking up a lot of nameless guys, and he was getting tired of it. Not to mention the fact that it was becoming dangerous. Oh, he didn’t worry any about disease or anything. That was a fortunate side effect of being a werewolf. No, what he worried about was the weird little packs of vamps and other things that were banding together out there. A man could get himself in real trouble if someone had bad intentions working, and there were more and more vamps out there who would like nothing more than to lock him away somewhere and treat him like their own little Energizer bunny.
“Well, then, we have a few options. I can try to match you with a member and you can do a few interviews. Or, if you really want to go for those membership fees, I can choose more than one patron who might meet your needs, and we can have an auction.”
“An auction?” Whoa. Whoa, what did that mean? He had a sudden image in his head of some dude talking really fast and blabbering on about how he was from sturdy stock and how he could mostly control his wolf shifting, even on the fullest moon. “Wait. If someone… what? Buys me for a year, what if we don’t get along?”
“All auctions have a two week guarantee.” Jonny leaned his elbows on the giant mahogany desk, looking as earnest as a vamp with a three hundred dollar haircut could look. “I also happen to be very good at placing members with partners.”
“And this is the best way to defer my fees?”
“For you? Yes. You’re a valuable commodity, Deke. It also helps me, I admit. You could simply come to the club on a temporary membership and meet someone, thus taking a member away. Instead, you’re willing to allow me to find someone to pay for you to come here.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, that’s kind of the point. I need a safe place to do this, you know?” He didn’t want to take someone to his apartment, didn’t want to go someplace private without a security fail safe in place. Bloodrose had private rooms, good steaks, and lots of vamps to choose from. From what he’d heard.
“Well, then. I’ll get the ball rolling on the patrons. That just leaves us one thing to finish up.” Something in the air changed, the whole feel going from business-like to sexual. Predatory. Jonny went from all business to slinky, growly…
Deke liked it.
Thanks so much for having me! (Thank you for being here!)