Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, BA Tortuga. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m a ranch kid that grew up with a bohemian momma, a cowboy daddy, and a great big family. I love to cook, to ride, to knit, and to travel, but more than anything, I love to read. I’ve lived all over the country, but I settled in the freak capitol of Texas, Austin, with my partner, Julia Talbot.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first book was Stress Relief and it was published in 2005, two years after I started my publishing company, Torquere Press. It took Julia and my best friend, Sean Michael, about 2 years to convince me to put the book out.
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
I started writing m/m romance with Julia and Sean back in 2000. I had been writing literary fiction and publishing a lot of poetry, but I was looking into writing for writing’s sake and just trying to have some fun when I ran into those two hooligans and we all started becoming friends. I love the tension in m/m and I absolutely love the dynamics of traditional romance when two boys are involved.
And explosions. Writing m/m explosions are FUN.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
I published my first books with three different publishers in 2005. Right now I have 6 different publishers I work with and I have nearly 200 pieces out there – from short to long.
Do you write full time?
I do. I split my time between writing and publishing, devoting 40 hours weekly to the writing career.
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?
Oh, writing chose me. I’m the queen of “what if”. Ask my mom. I was born a storyteller and there’s never been anything else I wanted to do.
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
I’m not sure I have a typical writing day… I spend so many hours per week on marketing, so many hours in edits, rewrites, research, but the lion’s share of my time is simply letting the boys tell me what they need to say.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I write through, then go back in for a lengthy rewrite process. My manuscripts are approximately twice the size they started, post-rewrite.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I’m a pantser. However, I did just read a great book on outlining your novel and I’ve tried it twice and found it helpful. My editor found the outlining process VERY helpful.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
It depends what I’m writing about. If I’m writing about cowboys, I don’t have to. If I run into questions, I call my daddy. I’m much more likely to discover something neat, learn about it, and then a book idea shows up.
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?
I’m not huge on the self-insertion, although I think my voice absolutely 100% shows. I tell everyone I know, “Be good. You’re going in a novel.” I never use real people as main characters, but secondary characters? *grins* They can be based on characteristics of people I know.
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?
It depends. I have written a full length novel in 13 days. I have taken 12 months. I work organically. Also, as the owner of a publishing company, I write to fill holes a lot.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
Nope, and I give thanks for that every single day.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
I hope a reader understands that I’m writing what I know – good, bad, and ugly – and that I love these characters, where they live, what they do. I have a huge amount of respect for cowboy culture, for western culture, and I write it as I know it.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
1. It’s a small world.
2. Nobody loves everything and you can’t write for anyone else.
3. Just tell your truth and trust your heart.
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?
Depends on the book. Just like Cats and Dogs was a title before it was a book. Racing the Moon was going to be titled “Rhymes with Snot” until Julia made me change it.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
Julia makes me laugh. My hound dogs. My sister. Experiencing your personal joy is the reason to be alive. Laughing should be the norm, not the exception.
What is the most frequently asked BA Tortuga question?
What does the BA stand for? (What does it stand for?)
What are you working on now?
Right this second I’m finishing up a piece for Cereus: The Opening, a Coke and Dillon short, and the beginning of the Tag Team series.
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. Every day. Whether or not you want to.
It’s the only piece of advice I ever give and the only one I ever took to heart.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
Well, Julia and I did dress up as redneck fairies for the Romantic Times con…
I’m not a big marketer. I go out on social media, but that’s more about getting to know folks, talking, having some joy. The world is an amazing place these days – you can have friends and fans all over the place.
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 travel. I eavesdrop. I read. I have long, weird conversations with strangers on the street and in the coffeeshop. I spend hours in my backyard watching birds.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I love horror novels and serial killer books. Love them. As in stupidly, amazingly, totally.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
An artist. That’s what I went to school to be.
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
Life. Stories are everywhere just begging for a writer to share them.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
Well, no cover with a model on it can *be* the character in your heart and head, but I’ve rarely been unhappy with a cover.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Cooking, knitting, traveling, reading, crocheting, gluten-free baking, drinking coffee.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
I’m very excited about Cereus: The Opening. Julia and I co-wrote the stories in those, and I’m interested to see how they read.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Write. Grow a thick skin. Smile. Experience your own personal joy.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
My website is: http://www.batortuga.com
My twitter is batortuga
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
From Rain and Whiskey:
Man, the joint was rocking — the new band loud enough to make the bar mats vibrate all along his legs and up through his balls. Jake and Lee both fucking showed up and were working — Miss Lynn must’ve torn them new assholes after their last little Saturday night stunt — pricks.
Shane grabbed a bottle of Cuervo and started pouring a round of shots, laughing at Vic’s lame assed joke about titty bars and avoiding old man Robert’s roving hands, all the time moving to the music, knowing his ass in those jeans in the big mirror behind the bar? Money in the bank, baby.
Everybody who was anybody stopped by, chatted him up a second, grinning and trying to talk over the music. Jake kept giving him that ‘how do you do that’ stupid-ass, monkey-face look. Shit, he’d been tending bar here for a good long time — since Spring Break in ’95. He’d come down to play with a couple three baby-faces from college and sorta stuck in the sand and the surf and the good life.
He was thinking he’d not go home after his shift tonight. He liked the crowd, liked the band, got his booze for free. And that way he wouldn’t have to deal with that… smell in his apartment.
Whatever the hell it was.
”Can I get a whiskey?” He could hear that voice right through the music, maybe because it had a drawl that wouldn’t quit. Brown eyes, cowboy hat pulled low, and tall enough to lean right over the bar.
”Sure enough. You got a preference to type?” Oh, now, that was just fine enough to lick off a spoon.
”I’m not picky. Jack is fine.” Fine and looking right back, too. Those sloe eyes went from his face to the mirror behind him and back, not a bit shy.
He flipped the bottle, singing along with the band, distracted by tall, fine and studly enough that old man Roberts managed to sneak a feel of his pecs. ”Watch yourself, man. You know the rules — Miss Lynn don’t allow that at the bar.”
”Thanks. He do that a lot?” The fella nodded toward their pervy old fixture, hat just dipping.
”Yeah, he tries. Was better when Keith was here. Kid had a nipple ring and kept him busy.” He winked, pulling his rag from his back pocket, wiping the bar down.
”Well, I can see why he’d be after yours.” Well, now, that was bold as brass and twice as shiny. Shane flexed a little, knowing that he managed just fine, even after a full shift and a shitload of beer splashed on him. Shifting, Mr. Brown Eyes looked down the bar then back at him. ”You working all night?”
”Nah. I’m off in…” He craned his neck to see the clock, back popping as he stretched. ”Eighteen minutes.”
”Good.” There was a wealth of satisfaction in that single word. ”You want to do something when you get off, you come on over to the corner over there.” And the guy was gone, turning and showing him a fine, fine ass in Levi’s on the way.
Fuck, he was easy as ‘Come to Jesus’ in whole notes.
He did his side-work and got his share of the tips before slipping upstairs and stripping off his black t-shirt, throwing on something whiter and nicer, grabbing his own hat before bebopping back down the stairs. Sure enough, his admirer was right where he said he’d be, sitting in one of the cushy old chairs in the corner farthest from the bar, kicked back, legs spread wide and feet planted. Watching him.
He resisted the urge to smooth his shirt down, nudge his too-interested prick and tell it to be good. No, he moseyed over, chatting a bit, tipping his hat a little. Looking at Fine and Sexy a lot from under the brim of his hat.
Well, he might be feigning a little disinterest, but there wasn’t any playacting on the other end of that stare. It was like a laser, cutting through the gloom and the smoke and the dance floor lights, just like a physical touch. And fuck if he didn’t just head right over, moth to the flame, body buzzing like he’d had a hit of something wacky.
”Hey.” Nodding to the chair next to him, the guy looked him over again, and damn. Obviously the once over he’d gotten at the bar had been restrained, because this one made him feel naked, and half-fucked to boot. He got offered a hand to shake. ”I’m Galen.”
”Shane. Pleased.” His own Tennessee upbringing started to show a little, sort of like the heat in his jeans, which was starting to show a lot.