Hello, L.M., can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Hi. My name is L.M. Brown and I hail from Merry Olde England. I am a relatively new female writer of male/male romances, and an even newer writer of male/male/male romances. I am one of many escapees from the world of fan fiction, though I have to admit I have not entirely left and do pop back once a year for a Christmas gift fic exchange. Chances are I will probably never leave the fandom entirely as I have made so many good friends there over the years.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first book was Touch of a Ghost, a novella which was released by Silver Publishing as part of their Halloween releases in 2010. Since I put off sending the manuscript in for a ridiculous amount of time it was actually published very quickly. It took less than three months from the time of my submitting the story to it being released.
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
I started writing male/male romances when I was still writing fan fiction. I had been writing stories in the Harry Potter fandom for quite a long time, before I ventured into ‘slash’. Then when J.K. Rowling outed Dumbledore it sparked an idea for a new story and I wrote my first male/male piece, a very short Dumbledore/Grindelwald story. It was very tame with nothing graphic in it, but I will always remember it as my first male/male story. It wasn’t long after that I found myself writing Remus/Sirius stories and was totally hooked from then on. When I decided to return to writing original fiction, something I had not done since my late teens, it was only natural for me to continue writing male/male stories.
I love the genre because romance has been one of my favourite genres for many years now. I believe that everyone deserves to have love in their lives and that gender should not matter.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
I have been very lucky and I know it. I submitted my first story to Silver Publishing one evening and when I got home from work the next day there was a contract in my inbox waiting for me. A little over two months later – two very hectic months – and the story was released.
I have written more books than I have published, but so far the published stories are:-
- One full length novel. (Between Heaven & Hell)
- One novella. (Touch of a Ghost)
- One short story. (Driving Me Crazy)
- Two stories in anthologies. (Hey, Baby (Gift of Love anthology) and The Watcher (Wicked Watchers: Looking at the Lads anthology))
All of the above are from Silver Publishing, save for The Watcher, which is from House of Erotica.
Do you write full time?
I wish I did. Though every day I spend at the evil day job only serves to reinforce my commitment to get on with writing so I can one day answer this question with a gleeful ‘yes’.
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 the profession chose me. I have written on and off since I was at school. I have so many stories buzzing around in my head I would probably go completely crazy if I didn’t write them down. If I could pinpoint the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a writer it was back when I was in school. I was thirteen and we had a creative writing assignment for English class. This particular week my story was chosen by the teacher for reading out to the rest of the class (something we all dreaded). I had written way more than the minimum word count for the assignment and consequentially the bell for the end of class rang before the teacher had got to the end of the story. After class one of the other students came up to me and asked me what happened next in the story. I think that was the moment I decided I wanted to be a writer, though it has taken a good twenty years to fulfill that dream.
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
I wouldn’t say I have any typical writing days at all. I tend to fit writing in around my day job and other commitments. On those rare days when I have got nothing to do except write I tend to like a nice quiet house, some music playing and full control of my laptop – my kittens have a habit of sitting on top of it if I’m not giving them my full attention. If I can get all of that then I just sit and write as much as I can, while I can.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
It depends on the story. For my shorter stories I tend to write the first draft straight through. For longer stories I revise as I go along.
When National Novel Writing Month comes around and I do the whole 50,000 words in a month challenge I try to write straight through and it usually ends up a bit of a mess and the order changed beyond recognition after November is out of the way in any event. So I prefer to revise as I go along whenever I can.
I also find that on occasions I have a particular scene in my head that I have to write down before I can concentrate on anything else. Those scenes are the ones that tend to be the least amended later on and so I have learned to listen to my muse.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I generally have an outline of where I am going with a story before I start, but my characters don’t always cooperate once I am writing. Generally I let them have freedom to go in their own direction and am not opposed to scrapping the plans and starting over if necessary.
Here is one example of when planning in advance didn’t work. One of my mermen in one of my works in progress (one that is on the backburner at the moment) decided he wasn’t going to wait around for his first love to get his act together and the entire plot for that story went right out the window.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
It depends on the story as to what I have to research.
For Between Heaven & Hell I read a lot about angels and demons, researching who was who, the hierarchies and the name meanings.
For my as yet unfinished mermen story I have been doing a lot of research into what plants and fish and mammals are found in which parts of which ocean.
The other research I have had to do a bit of, and anticipate doing a lot more of in the future, is the US/UK differences in speech/slang and everyday terminology. Silver Publishing is great in that they accept stories in British English (as well as American and Australian English). But they are very much in a minority and I know I will have to do a lot more research into US language before I am comfortable submitting anything to many of the other US publishers.
I have only submitted one American English story to a publisher so far. I am still waiting to hear back about whether it is accepted or not, but strongly suspect the Brit speak in it – that I don’t even know is British – will stand against me. I know a lot of the spelling differences – favourite/favorite, labor/labour etc, and the whole pants/trousers, fries/chips terms. But I know there are a lot more I don’t know about. Words like fortnight, which I used regularly for years before someone in the US asked what it meant. Two weeks for anyone who doesn’t know – coming from fourteen nights – just like the sennight comes from seven nights, but while the latter has fallen out of use in favour of week, the former is still widely used in England.
Researching US language is a continuing job for me, though like I said, I am lucky Silver allow me to write in my ‘native tongue’.
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 haven’t, at least not consciously, manifested anyone I know into one of my characters, though the threat of killing off someone in a story if they have annoyed me in real life is always there.
There is probably a bit of me in many of my characters, even though I am a straight female and not a gay man. That being said, if you spot a female with a snarky sense of humour in one of my stories, there is a lot of me in that one.
When it comes to development of my characters, my main characters tend to wander into my mind and take up residence as they are. They are pretty much in control throughout the writing process. More than one has taken over the story and sent it in a different direction to the one I had initially planned. I give them free rein and tend to find my stories are better for it.
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 on the length of the story. The shorter stories can take me about a month to write in the first draft, the longer ones can take a year or more. I never show the first draft to anyone though. I am really picky and tend to take a long time pulling the story to pieces before I show it to anyone else. Unless there is a deadline that I need to meet I would say I have a good four to six months of editing a story myself before anyone else sees it.
I already answered the second part of the question above, but again, it depends on the story. The shorter stories I tend to write straight through, the longer ones I revise as I go along.
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 am lucky enough not to have suffered with this yet. Some days I might not be in the mood to write and will go and do something else instead, but I have never actually run out of things to write. If the humour isn’t there when I need it for one story, then chances are the angst will be there for another. Since I write a lot of different genres I can almost always find something to write.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
Firstly, I hope they enjoy the story. Nothing disappoints me more than seeing or hearing that someone felt one of my stories was a waste of their time or that they couldn’t even finish the book.
Secondly, I hope those who do not already believe it to be the case, might come to see that love sees no gender. Though how many of those who don’t already believe it would read one of my books is debatable.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
I am still learning a lot and I think that the first thing and most important thing I have learned is that when you are a writer you are ALWAYS learning. Your editors are there to help you and make your story better, so listen to their advice.
Secondly, promo – now this I never even considered until I got published. As I explained above I was very lucky to get published so quickly, but it meant I was caught completely on the hop when it came to promotional stuff. The work is far from over when the book is published and I don’t think I am alone in not realising that.
Finally – reviews – to try not to take them to heart. This is something I admit I struggle with and I actually don’t even try to track down any reviews of my stories as I start to second guess my writing when I see someone hasn’t enjoyed one of my books. One thing I have learned I need, but am still working on, is a thick skin.
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?
It depends on the story. The title either comes to me immediately or I struggle to find it at all. I have one story that is actually complete save for a bit of editing to polish it before submitting it to Silver Publishing and I am desperately trying to find the title for it. On the other hand I have a story that popped into my head last week and is barely started where the title came to me right away.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
My sense of humour is very sarcastic. Maybe it comes from being a Brit but I find a lot of people don’t get my humour at all.
I find humour in a lot of things but the subtle humour tends to get more of a reaction from me than your basic slapstick comedy. When it comes to stand up comedians Jasper Carrott is the one who cracks me up the most. Even the old repeats make me laugh, which is a good thing since there hasn’t been any new shows from him for a long time now.
What is the most frequently asked LM. Brown question?
Probably, ‘Why do you write m/m romances?’ My answer is usually ‘why not?’ I enjoy writing the stories and there are at least a few people out there who enjoy reading them, so why shouldn’t I write what I enjoy?
What are you working on now?
I have quite a few projects on the go right now.
Firstly, there is the still untitled Christmas story about a young man who returns from university for the holidays and wants some answers from the boyfriend he left behind.
Next on my to do list is finishing polishing up my NaNoWriMo story from last year. The story is entitled Only in your Dreams and is a contemporary paranormal which I have been wrestling into shape for months now.
I am also still working on the first sequel to Between Heaven & Hell¸ which is titled Between Good & Evil and picks up where the first book left off. There are plenty more twists and turns to the tale to come and I am hoping to get this sent in to Silver Publishing for them to consider prior to the end of the year.
As if I didn’t have enough on my plate I also got irresistibly tempted by a warrior vampire open call and have started the story Guarding the Guardian which may or may not get finished in time for the call.
If I don’t get Guarding the Guardian done in time, it will probably be because of the months around the open call deadline being rather hectic. I have a new novella called Let Down Your Hair coming out from Silver Publishing on 3rd November. I may also have a release from another publisher in October and may have a Christmas story coming out with Silver in December. The latter two are dependent on whether the publishers want the stories, but if I am lucky enough to get contracts then Guarding the Guardian may have to take a back seat.
And that list doesn’t even include the projects I have put aside to work on next year or later.
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?
I have received a lot of great advice from all my editors. The best piece of advice I have received is probably not to overuse certain words. I have a nice little list, which is constantly growing, and before sending in any manuscript to my publisher I do a search on each of those words and try to replace them with another whenever I can.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
Well, I personally consider signing up on Facebook as the greatest length I have gone to with regard to promotion. I always swore I would never sign up to the site, but I caved last year and now try in vain to avoid wasting too much time on it, since I doubt posting pictures of LOLcats and the like are even remotely helpful when it comes to increasing reader-awareness of my work. Even if they are soooo cute!
I am also trying to be more active in various Yahoo reader groups, something I struggle with as I have always been more of a lurker on such groups.
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 do a lot of reading of many different genres and I also travel quite a bit, mainly to places of historical interest. I hope, one day, to venture into the historical romance genre and although I know that day is quite a long way off, I want my stories to be as rich in history as I can make them.
Right now I am new enough that the creative spark is more akin to a roaring fire and it doesn’t take much to bring it to life.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I read pretty much anything. My shelves contain everything from Terry Pratchett to Catherine Cookson, Stephen King to Sherrilyn Kenyon. Horror and sci-fi, biographies and guidebooks, romance and fantasy, history and true life stories, young adult and poetry, pretty much everything.
At the moment my favourite books to read are male/male romances, whether they are sweet or erotic.
It is always the case of so many books and so little time.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
Ideally I would like to be a photographer, but realistically I would probably just be slaving away at the evil day job just as I am right now, only without the writing in my spare time and the hope to do that full time.
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
My ideas come from all over. Some of my recent ones have simply been sparked by open calls from publishers. Either the call speaks to me or it doesn’t. If it does, I write the story, if it doesn’t I work on something else.
Sometimes the stories simply take on a life of their own. Between Heaven & Hell started off as a short story about a demon and an angel fighting over the same mortal man. It was sparked by a Halloween open call. Unfortunately it got way too long and turned into a ménage somewhere along the way.
Mostly the stories just pop into my head without my even realising until they are well and truly demanding to be written.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
I love ALL my covers, though my favourite has got to be the cover of Between Heaven & Hell as it is the first cover that is just mine alone. Reese Dante is amazing and I consider myself very lucky to work with her. I can’t think of a thing I dislike about my covers.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Top of my list is reading, which I think is probably the case for most writers.
I also like photography and had some of my photographs published before I was published as a writer.
I also enjoy watching films and any TV series with a paranormal twist, my favourite being Supernatural, though being in the UK I am a series behind the US – and getting quite impatient for series 7.
I also enjoy playing computer games when time allows, but have not really had the opportunity in recent years as the games I enjoy tend to be rather time consuming.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
I don’t know about a special project, but until my new book comes out in November I will be continuing to participate in both the Silver Publishing free reads project and also the Wednesday Briefs. I don’t have the time to participate in both projects every week, or even one or the other of the projects every week, but I do try to join in with each once a month. All the free reads are available on my blog and the Silver Shorts are available for download on the publisher’s site.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Since I am very much a new writer myself I am not sure how valuable any advice I can give will be. I will say though, that if you want to write, then write. Getting those first words down on a page are always the toughest, but once you get started you’re a writer.
Also, write the story that you want to. You will never be able to please everybody, so don’t try to.
Now, if only I could take my own advice.
What future projects do you have in the works?
Most of the immediate future projects are ones that I am already working on at one stage or another and referenced above. Other projects that are very much on the back burner right now are the final book in the Heavenly Sins series (Between Life & Death); a story about getting a second chance with the one that got away by going back in time (The Life Not Lived – tentatively titled); and Forbidden Waters, my merman story which keeps getting pushed back as it is whispering in my ear that it wants to be a series and I already have one of those on the go with Heavenly Sins. Once that series is out of the way I will probably be getting back to my mermen.
There are also a few other plot bunnies nibbling on my ear, but I am trying to ignore them for the moment.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
I can be found most days on Facebook – if not for any other reason but to make my moves in the numerous Words with Friends games I have on the go.
I also have a blog and a website, though the later takes me a while to update as I am still getting to grips with the system. The most up to date information is that on my blog.