Hi, Vona, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born and grew up in South Africa. I’ve worked let see . . . in admin, as a legal secretary and then in the pharmaceutical industry. About eight years ago our family immigrated to New Zealand where we now farm dairy cows. I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of cows and am about to study towards a diploma in Health and Beauty.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
Well, that’s really funny actually. I decided to give writing a go and went to almost all the eBook publisher’s websites I could find on the internet. Looking at their submission guidelines I found the ones accepting the lowest word count, because I didn’t want to write a novel and then have it rejected. So I tried short story first in response to an open anthology call from a different publisher. Rock Hard was born. They rejected it – apparently not quite what they were looking for in the anthology. I was encouraged to lengthen it to the required 15 000+ word minimum and then resubmit it. However, I felt it was great as it was and didn’t want to spoil it by changing it too much. So, I tweaked it a bit and submitted it to Silver Publishing. They loved it and it’s been a truly amazing journey since then.
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
Rock Hard was my first attempt at m/m romance although I had been reading them for a long time. What got me interested? I thought that goes without saying lol. Two (or more) guys getting hot and heavy, I think that’s wickedly hot. I also have very great gay friends and family in my life and they’re awesome people. They’re sincere, loyal and incredibly strong and I’ve learnt much from them. All these things inspired me to delve into the world of sexy, hard and hot men overcoming the odds to love one another.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
Well let’s see – from the 1st time I submitted it about three months? From January 2012 to the end of March 2012, when Silver accepted it. Since then I’ve submitted two more manuscripts of which one has been accepted just last week. Ooooh, I’m so excited! The other one is . . . should I say it? Mmmm – oh okay! The sequel to Rock Hard.
Do you write full time?
Yeah, as full time as it can be between raising kids and being married (broad smile). It wouldn’t be full time in a couple of weeks when I go back to school for a year full time though. But I’ll do my best to write whenever I can, because it’s food to me. I can’t not do it and be sane lol.
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?
As a young girl growing up I saw many things go wrong in relationships all around me. It shocked and saddened me, yet I still believed that two people could be happy in love for the rest of their lives together here on earth. I was a romantic at heart, and refused these ugly realities changing my views on this. As I said before, I started reading Mills & Boons and other similar material and consumed one after the other. Danielle Steel, Johanna Lindsey, Penny Jordan and I always said: “I wish I could do what they do – write like this.” Then a few years ago I enrolled for a short, informal writing course to get an opinion and my tutor liked me and believed I could do it. So I did. Now here I am writing my very own happily-ever-afters and I couldn’t be happier.
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
Well, I’ll have my morning coffee, switch on the pc and open my writing documents. Then I’d do a bit of house cleaning, sit down, write a bit. Get up to stretch my stiff neck, have another coffee, feed the guinea pigs, and forget about my coffee. Sit down and write another chapter or two. Get up and look at the clock only to realize I hadn’t had breakfast. Then I’d feed myself, warm up my cold coffee etc . . . . . I think you get the idea. Once the kids are home, I hardly write at all, too much noise – I really need an office lol.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
For every story I’ve written, it’s been different. With Rock Hard, I had the whole story in my head and sat down to write it from start to finish. With the others I’d write and then think about where I’d want it to go next and then continue. Once it’s all done, I read it through and revise. If I change in between writing I end up spending too much time revising with no new writing being done.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I sort of plan everything in advance by writing it all down, but that says nothing. I might come up with better ideas and thoughts along the way and vary it from what I’d originally planned.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
If I don’t know anything about something I want to write about, for example the rock climbing in Rock Hard, I do proper research beforehand. For that story I phoned and interviewed the owner of a rock climbing business in Queenstown, New Zealand. I asked him all kinds of questions about the gear, routes, falls, and off course equipment failure. I also have Google open all the time while I write to look up something if I come across it.
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?
That’s a hard one. I live and love passionately and always throw myself into everything I do wholeheartedly. I don’t believe in wasting time when it comes to life, because life is precious and we never know if we’ll have tomorrow. So, naughty, stubborn, independent characters are usually always present in my stories. But I also love the big softies, not to mention the strong dominant alpha males. My characters develop in my books like I’ve experienced life’s journey as well. We all have issues and baggage, but to be happy, at peace and free we have to progress one step at a time. I don’t want my characters to be stuck in one place, they need to be happy, at peace and free too. Where do I draw the line? I don’t know if there is a definitive line for me yet. I write from my gut if that makes sense?
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?
My first one took me a day of writing, but the story was written in my head over a few days. The other two took me about 3-4 weeks to finish typing them, but then another few weeks or so revising and tweaking before submission.
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 haven’t encountered writer’s block yet, and I really hope I don’t lol. What I do find sometimes is that when I’m starting a new book, I have to take a day or a few hours just sitting there thinking on how I’m going to start it. How do I capture my readers from the get go. I ask myself what type of entry paragraph would draw and hook me. When I figure that out, I sit down and start typing. I must be honest also, that some days I wake up and don’t feel like writing at all. And that’s okay with me; I try not to be too hard on myself when that happens, because I think I need the break. But then I’ll suddenly be inspired again and write for days non-stop.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
I long to draw them into the story – as if they are really part of it. They must hang there on the cliff with Aidan; be a fly on the wall in the bedroom or a spectator during the arguments. Reading is an escape and my intent is to let people achieve that while immersed in the worlds I write about. I want them to know love in all its forms is good. And off course, I like to hear: “I loved it!”
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
Wow, where to start. The staff at Silver works hard to make my work a success.
Promoting your writing is of utmost importance. I don’t write because of money, but I write because I love it.
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?
No, it doesn’t come before I begin. I write the story first and then mull over it as a whole before choosing the title and that goes for the series titles too. I’m really fussy about my titles, they have to draw attention and make someone want to read my book.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I have a sharp, naughty and witty sense of humor. Lots of things make me laugh. Spontaneous tongue stumbles, wipe-outs, funny noises and off course books. I sometimes laugh myself to tears in books, waking my husband up in the process.
What is the most frequently asked Vona Logan question?
That’s easy. “Oh, you’re an author. What do you write about?” And as you know the answer isn’t always an easy one for more conventional people.
What are you working on now?
I’ve started writing my next book just yesterday. All I’m going to divulge is that it’s not as light-hearted as the Hard, Hot ‘n Sweaty series. It is still m/m genre, but deals with deeper issues of the heart.
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?
This one: “Don’t tell a story – show it. We are all voyeurs wanting to see your boys on display.” I take out all the “saw’s” and “felt’s” and show the readers what my characters are seeing and feeling.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I don’t consider myself a technology nut, but I never realized how far behind I was until I got published. Since then I’ve started my own blog, took part in a blog hop and signed up on Goodreads. I think Facebook is next on my list for sure. I am also in the process of getting together a group of authors from down under (New Zealand, Australia and Asia) to do a combined blog amongst us. That is going to be heaps of fun, can hardly wait.
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?
Firstly, I read as many books as I can. In addition, everywhere I go I notice more than ever before. I find myself watching people and their behavior like when I’m at a mall. I notice the way they walk, talk, the color of their eyes, their hairstyles and other small mannerisms. Just like that with the click of a finger I can feel a new story spark to life. For example a few weeks ago my husband and I attended a large exhibition in Hamilton here and we looked at items displayed at a certain stall. The young guy assisting us was not drop-dead gorgeous or extraordinarily different than the next person, but his eyes and his smile lit up his whole face – even my husband looked at me and said: “There’s a guy for your next book.”
What kind of books do you like to read?
Oooh. I like everything m/m romance and just this week two of my favorite authors released new series books. One of them is m/f erotic romance. As long as there is love, action and hot sex I like to read it.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
Very unhappy? Lol. Sorry, but that’s a hard one – I can’t imagine not writing now. I’d probably get back into pharmacy.
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
Rock Hard was based on a hero theme. With me writing contemporary I thought hard on how someone can become another person’s hero today, especially physically. I talk to people a lot and bounce my ideas off them. And I brain storm and daydream especially late at night, with the house quiet and everyone asleep.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
I only have one cover thus far (grin), and it’s a Silver Sparkle with a yummy guy with pierced nipples. It was my favorite option by far. I know for my second accepted submission the artists are gonna do something awesome and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I like playing tennis, watching a movie, playing Pokerstars (not with real money) and Sims. In spring and summer I enjoy planting my veggie garden too.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
Oh yes! Watch out for my second book, Return to Destiny. And most definitely for all Aidan and Matt fans who were disappointed because it was so short – the sequel is done and submitted.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
I am new myself and in no way very experienced, but I would say: Keep trying until you get it right – don’t be discouraged. Start a blog and reach out to fellow authors, they’re awesome and always willing to help.
What future projects do you have in the works?
A third book in the Hard, Hot ‘n Sweaty series, a second book in Return to Destiny’s series and another whole new series dealing with deeper hurts.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Sure, my blog can be found at: http://vonalogan.blogspot.co.nz and on Goodreads I can be found at: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6124774.Vona_Logan
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
Sure, here you go:
It felt like an eternity, but when he felt his head starting to spin and saw white spots in front of his closed eyelids, he slowly looked up at the cloudless blue sky and prepared to die.
“Don’t you fucking dare!” The voice was breathless, strained and definitely pissed off.
Aidan didn’t know where he found the strength in him to hold on. Everything in his body fucking hurt and he was so tired. Aidan tried to see who the asshole was who dared interrupt his peaceful descent and splat on terra firma.
He couldn’t see anyone but heard furious muttering and swearing amidst the sounds of physical exertion. What followed was some scraping and he looked up to see another man rappelling down the rock face at a fast pace almost right above him. He felt dirt rain down on his head and shut his eyes against it. At that moment, his sweaty fingers decided they’d had enough and slipped off. He tried scrabbling for a new hold and the next few seconds were a blur.
Just when he thought he was history he heard a loud grunt, felt more bits of dirt and rock fall on him and then a heavy solid weight hit him from behind to slam him hard into the wall of rock.
The impact pushed his cheek into the unforgiving rock and he was sure he passed out momentarily from the agony shooting through him when his ribs got crushed between the jagged edges and the hard, warm body moulded to his back.
“Fuck! That hurt.”
“Sorry. It was this or let you fall—this seemed the better option. I’ve already activated the beacon. Just hang on. I clipped you onto the rope and if we just keep very still it will hold our weight. With a little luck we might both come out of this alive, so just fucking hold still.” The guy was out of breath and the husky voice close to his ear gave him goose bumps.
The strength and heat of the muscled form plastered to his back, ass, and thighs gave him comfort and added some much needed warmth to his shivering body.
“Matt Raine at your service. By the way, for this you at least owe me a date.” God, this guy was a head case.
“Aidan Walker. Nice to meet you too. And I’m not gay.” Talking hurt, but at least he knew he was still alive.
“There’s always a first time.”
“Sorry mate. I don’t swing that way otherwise I would be all for it. I can still take you out for dinner to show my gratitude.”
“You won’t know until you try. Believe me—I’ll make it worth your while.” That raspy voice oozed with self-confidence and knowledge and Aidan felt a strange stirring in his belly.