Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Andrea Speed. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Well, I swore to the mole people I’d never divulge their secrets, so I can’t say. I will say sunlight is both more spectacular and more awful than I ever imagined.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first book was Infected: Prey, and it was a couple of years between completion and publication. Although that book was the second version of the Infected: Prey manuscript. (I felt the first variation was not correct. I was pleased with the second version.)
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
Ooh. See, I have a problem thinking in genre terms. Just write what you want to write, regardless of genre, and that’s what I do. I write in this genre ’cause that’s where the stories took me.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
Probably a couple years. I have a bad head for time, so I’m just taking random stabs, so forgive my vagueness. And do you mean books written or published? Let me just go with published, and in that case five novels (one on the verge of publishing), two novellas, and a couple of short stories.
Do you write full time?
No, but I wish I did.
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?
My grandmother was a writer, and I grew up around books. Looking back, it seems like fait accompli. I was either going to be a writer or a librarian. (Or both.)
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
Can I curse? If so, there’s much more dicking around than I care to admit. But after that, and putting out minor fires (mostly figurative) and getting through my emails, I actually write for a bit. Never as long as I’d like to. In fact, the only constant is I never write as much as I’d like to.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
It really depends. Usually I just write through.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I know exactly what I’m going to write and where the story is going to go when I start, but I don’t outline, so I have some room to let the characters do their thing. They’re going to anyways.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
It depends – oh man, I need to find a new word – on what I’m writing. If I do any, it’s just to make sure I get some details right.
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 think there’s a little of me in most of my characters (yes, even the evil ones). I mean, I gave Roan my horrible taste in music, and Josh has my “whatever” attitude, and I could probably go down the line. But I try not to give anyone too much, as that would make them same-y (not a word, let’s pretend it is), and really they’re all their own people, or at least as much as characters can be. More often than not – and I know this makes me sound crazy, but so be it – the characters basically create themselves, and I feel I have nothing consciously to do with it. Sometimes I cathartically write about people I dislike and have awful things happen to them, but I usually muddy the details enough that, even if they read it, they’d never recognize themselves.
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?
I’m a slow writer for the most part. It usually takes me longer than I’d care to admit to finish these things. I try and write all the way through, because I don’t want to stretch it out to absurd lengths.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
Not too much. Although counter-intuitive, you really need to write through it. And by that I mean write anything – a review, fanfiction, whatever it takes to get those channels open again. I swear it works.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
I just hope they enjoy it. I hope they find it entertaining.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
1. Connecting with readers is always a good use of your time. 2. Everyone needs an editor with a lot of patience. 3. There is an element of luck to all of this.
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?
I have a hard time with titles, so they’re often the last thing I settle on. Except in the Josh of the Damned series – I often come up with hyperbolic, pulp-y titles, and guide the story from there.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
Pervasive and broad. A lot of things make me laugh, and most have been referenced somewhere in my stories. If I make a reference to something, understand there’s a good reason why I’m doing so.
What is the most frequently asked question?
I think the lead question now is if Roan is a top or a bottom, which I find to be weird and hilarious. Roan would be offended as hell and not answer, but I’ll just go ahead and say I always imagined him as versatile, and leave it at at that.
What are you working on now?
Working on a fantasy novel for Riptide, with another Infected novel in the works, and this science fiction idea bubbling away in the background.
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?
Always write. It’s good advice, and I pass that along to everyone. Keep reading, keep writing.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I’ve actually conquered my own loathing of my voice to do podcasts. They were both really fun, though, so I’m willing to do others.
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?
Just keep reading, keep writing, keep active.
What kind of books do you like to read?
All kinds. Whatever interests me, I read. Much like I don’t write by genre, I don’t read by it either.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
I’d like to be a smart ass and say from a box in my attic.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
I’ve been very lucky in having some great cover artists. But I will say that Roan always looks a bit young on the Infected covers. Of course, now there’s an in story reason for why he might, so honestly, I can’t gripe.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
There’s things in life besides writing? Umm … well, I do like doing some DIY home projects. But only some.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
As far as I’m concerned, all my projects are special. This works best if you picture me saying this with a cheesy grin.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Same as I gave above. Keep reading, keep writing. Don’t be afraid to have other people look at your work, and be persistent.
What future projects do you have in the works?
Well, there’s the fantasy novel, the science fiction thing, more Infected, and more Josh of the Damned.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Check out my site at http://www.andreaspeed.com . And I’m fully social networked too: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001496290042
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
This is from the last published Infected novel, Infected: Freefall. Somehow, Roan goes from flirty/snarky to dangerous in seven seconds.
Roan started reading the first few pages and wondered what the fuck he could do. So far, it looked like the investigation was pretty solid. Was he really prepared for failure? Could he take it? Roan knew he could get too personally involved in these cases, and he told himself to back off, but it was never that simple, was it? He already felt he had to turn up something, but he also knew he probably wouldn’t. If he was smart he’d quit now… but he wasn’t renowned for his genius.
His cell phone went off, and he dug it out of his pocket by the third ring. It was Dylan.
“Hi, uh… are you busy right now?”
“Not at the moment, no.”
“Do you think you could drop by my place this afternoon? There’s something I wanted to show you.”
“If it’s what I think it is, I’ve seen it. It’s very nice though. Wouldn’t mind seeing it again.”
“Very funny. I’m serious, Ro.”
Dylan sighed, and Roan grinned, wondering if Dylan knew he had just become a pleasant distraction from an unpleasant reality. “Enough with the double entendres. It’s for the gallery showing. I need your opinion on it because… well, you are the picture. I want your consent before I submit it.”
“Is this the sketch you drew of me sleeping?”
“No, this is a painting. You haven’t seen it.”
For some reason that sounded slightly ominous. But how could it be? The sketch he’d done of him was very nice; he hadn’t even been drooling on a pillow or anything. “It’s your painting, Dyl. I’m not gonna tell you not to use it.”
He hesitated. “You might. Please come see it.”
He really didn’t like Dylan’s sudden squeamishness—this was making him nervous. Did he paint him killing a bus full of nuns or something? Fucking Robert Mapplethorpe? Dylan should have known better than to be so vague, because now he was getting paranoid. “What did you do to me?”
“It’s nothing bad… or at least, I don’t think it’s bad. You still might not like it.”
Oh, this didn’t sound good. “Am I naked?”
“Shooting Dick Cheney in the face?”
“Every time I try and draw Dick Cheney, he ends up looking like the Penguin from the old Batman TV series. I have nothing against Burgess Meredith.”
“Yeah, well, I guess I don’t either.” He sighed, wondering exactly what Dylan had done to him on canvas. “I’m in the area, so I’ll be over in a few minutes. Is a quickie off the table?”
“Yes, mainly because the table’s too flimsy to take it. We’ll have to move it to the couch.”
“Fine by me. See you soon.” He ended the call and started gathering up his papers, wondering how unflattering Dylan’s picture of him could possibly be, when his phone rang again. He thought Dylan was calling to rescind the invitation—maybe he’d decided to hide the painting rather than show it to him. “Yeah?”
“You have Elijah Prophet’s computer,” a voice said. It was being processed through a voice changer, which you could buy at a spy store or a toy store. It was a cheap one; the guy sounded like Darth Vader with a severe case of asthma. “Return it, or we will take it by force.”
“Whatever. Get a better voice changer and call me back.”
“You ignore us at your peril.”
“Do I? What d’ya got, boy? Whip it out and show me, or fuck the hell off before I rip off your face and eat it.” He flipped the phone shut and dropped it in his pocket, picking up the piles of paper. Once he’d gathered them up, he noticed a female barista who had been walking by had stopped and was staring at him, looking shocked, probably due to his threat. He flashed her a friendly smile and headed for the door.
What? He never said he was Miss Congeniality.
And this is a bit from the Josh of the Damned Triple Feature novella, where Josh and his boyfriend Colin have a heart to heart conversation, while lounging around on the roof of the Quik-Mart.
“Bothered by the yeti lately?” Colin asked, presumably trying to be conversational. Was there anything weirder than post-coital small talk? Or maybe it was just him.
“It’s come around once or twice. Don’t worry, I haven’t accepted any gifts.” He didn’t tell Colin, but he was sort of flattered by the attention, and the yeti actually seemed kind of sweet in an oversized, insanely-powerful-monster sort of way. Like Frankenstein, but fuzzy.
There was a scuffling noise down below, and Colin looked over the edge of the building. After a moment, he slapped the wall and yelled, “Get!”
Josh didn’t even need to ask, although he did anyway. “Are the werewolves back again?”
Colin sighed loudly, shaking his head at whatever he was looking down at, which was probably a werewolf peeing on a car. “Yeah. What pests.” Glaring down, he shouted, “Go home, you fleabags! Don’t you have some hikers to maul?”
It had been a bad werewolf night. It wasn’t true they came out during full moons; they seemed to come out whenever the hell they wanted, and they were tremendous pains in the ass. They were basically big, ugly dogs. Oh sure, they could probably wolf you if they bit you, but for the most part they just chased cars and peed everywhere, although sometimes when they caught a car they tore it to pieces. Wasn’t as bad as tearing people to pieces, Josh supposed.
They liked to hang around the cars they damaged—many of which were so trashed they got abandoned in the parking lot, making the Quik-Mart look busier than it actually was.
But they rarely if ever came into the store. They just prowled the parking lot, digging through the dumpster and using bumpers as chew toys. Even the zombies seemed to dislike them, and the zombies didn’t dislike—or react to— much of anything. Colin once said werewolves were the sewer rats of the supernatural world, and while Josh thought maybe that was some kind of vampire vanity, he was beginning to see his point. He would love to arrive at the Quik-Mart one day and not find the outside ice machine reeking like a flophouse mattress. And don’t even get him started on the piles of werewolf poop! Not only did they stink like really bad dog turds, they were also twice the size, and often had recognizable chunks of things in them—bumper hitches and rocks and Taco Bell wrappers, and occasionally a finger. He wanted to leash and muzzle the lot of them, but he wasn’t brave enough to try.
Annoyance seemed to take the edge off the haze, so Josh was able to crawl over to his pants and retrieve them. He wasn’t quite ready to stand up, though, so he had to squirm into them. “There’s no, like, werewolf repellant?”
“Not that I know of,” Colin replied. “They don’t like silver, but they’re so stupid they all but have to lick it to even determine what it is. If you were to be honest, you’d call them weredogs, not wolves, but I don’t make up the labels.”
“So if they bite you, you become a werewolf?”
Colin looked back at him with a shrug. “I have no idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a venereal disease.”
“Ouch.” Finally finished squirming on his pants, Josh started looking around for his shirt. They hadn’t accidentally thrown it off the roof, had they? “So how did you get turned into a vampire anyways? You’ve never said.”
Colin shrugged on his shirt, covering up the nice view of his chest. “I don’t remember.”
“C’mon, pull the other one.”
“No, Josh, I really don’t,” he said, reaching down to scoop Josh’s T-shirt from the shadows. “I know I existed before being a vampire, but I don’t recall any of it. I just woke up a vampire one day.”
Was Colin finally lying to him? But why? Had he been such a horrible person when he’d been human that he didn’t want to admit it, or was becoming a vampire so traumatic he couldn’t relive it? Josh wished he knew more about Colin so he could judge accordingly, but all he knew was he was a fucking hot guy who liked candy bars and old punk rock. Oh, and that according to his own estimation, he was “probably” three hundred years old. Actually, a lack of memory explained the probably in that sentence. “Hey. You know, I can’t remember having sex. Do ya think the process that turns you into a vampire, like, floods you with the drug? That would explain why you can’t remember.”
Colin looked at him with a scowl, eyebrows dipping low over his eyes as he tossed him his T-shirt. “I— wow. I never thought of it that way before,” Colin admitted, sounding oddly subdued. “I think you’re onto something there. I figured it was just ‘cause I was so fucking old.” He scratched his head. “You can’t remember us having sex? You mean, just now?”
“Yeah. Should I have?”
“Well, yeah! I —”
Whatever else Colin said was drowned out by a loud engine noise that could only belong to a motorcycle. A couple of them, by the sound of it. There was also another sound, something like a yip, and Colin spun on his heels to look down. Josh pulled on his shirt, sufficiently awake now to crawl to the edge of the building.
In retrospect, what had he thought he was going to see? It was just four men on motorcycles pulling into the parking lot, wearing leather and denims and looking as disreputable as you might expect. Two wore helmets, but in defiance of helmet laws, the other two didn’t. The werewolves had retreated to the shadows, which they usually did when presented with something loud and moving.