Thank you for taking the time to be here with us, Trina. Will you share a little bit about your background with us?
Well let’s see, I was born on mid-fall night many moons ago, and my mother claims that I began my midnight capers from the moment I spouted out of the cabbage patch. I tried to get along with all the other folk in the school house but more often than not found myself wandering the prairie alone. This lead to countless hours of quiet reflection during which the plot bunnies in my brain began humping like mad and my search for the forever elusive happily ever after was born.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
The first full length book I wrote was SEALing Fate. It’s currently available through Red Rose Publishing. Since I was a virgin to the publishing world I really had no idea of how to go about getting published and in fact only submitted the book at the encouragement of my best friend who’d read it chapter by chapter as it was written. It was accepted by Red Rose about three months after it completion and was released for publication a little less than a year later.
How many books have you had published thus far?
I currently have eleven books available through three different publishers; Total-E-Bound, Dreamspinner Press, & Red Rose Publishing.
Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you try to dedicate to writing?
I don’t write full time. My every day job is in the medical field and that is my full time work. Writing is my escape from the stress of everyday life. I sometimes write during the week, but not necessarily every night. I generally try to write at least some on the weekends. Sometimes this could mean a marathon session that ends up forcing my husband to send out a search party, or sometimes it means I only get 5 hours all weekend. It depends not only on my schedule but where I’m at in a project. If the characters are screaming at me to get back to the computer then it’s very easy for me to have a bit of tunnel vision as my eyes get glued to the monitor in my cave. If I’m working through the plot I may get a little scatter brained and write while flipping back and forth between my email, facebook, update my website, or watch funny cat videos on YouTube.
Is there a defining moment in your past that you see as having influenced you to become a writer?
Being a writer is I think a natural extension of all those years I spent telling stories in my mind. I don’t think I ever had a moment where I said to myself, “Someday I’m going to write a novel.” When I wrote my first book it started out as just another story in my mind that I told myself during my daily commute. At the time I was already spending a lot of time on the computer since I was working on a graduate degree, so late one night I opened up a new word document and started typing. Two months later the first draft of SEALing Fate was done.
Did you start out writing in the Male/Male genre? If not, what prompted you to begin writing gay fiction?
I started reading gay erotic romance about three and half years ago. I immediately fell in love with the genre, and started devouring everything I could find, spending waaayyy too much money in the process. There was something about reading a story where the focal characters were two men that really appealed to me. As long as I can remember in every story I’ve read I always focused more on the male lead, searching out his voice in the story. Trying to understand the plot from his point of view. When I got to the point where I had two books (both Male/Female) in the can, and wanted to start a new project it seemed natural to branch out and try my hand at writing a gay romance. Taking the Chance was released from Total-E-Bound in March of 2010, and I’ve been extremely satisfied with the response.
Do you write straight through, or do you find that you revise/edit as you go along?
While I do some minor editing of the storyline as I write, I am one of those authors that writes from beginning to end. I guess that in spite of my fanciful imagination I have a very linear brain. I need to get from point A to point B, but have the most fun when the road is full of twists and turns along the way. After I complete a first draft then I go back and fine tune the editing and fill in any plot holes, tighten up the flow, or quadruple check my research.
How much of yourself, your experiences, and the people you know do you find making their way into your stories and characters?
Oh there’s always some little tid-bit that makes its way onto the page. An expression here, a look there, a personality quirk. My friends and family have pretty much accepted that everyone’s fair game. Most of them don’t read my stories though so what they don’t know won’t hurt them. When it comes to experiences I’ve yet to write a plot that is directly taken from my real life, but aspects of some stories have been real. Feelings for example or thoughts I’ve had in certain circumstances. Sometimes it’s fun to have my characters say or do something I would never have the guts to do in the real world.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they feel, experience, or gain from it?
That’s a tricky question. I would have to say it depends on the book. Some of my books for example In Dreams He Came or Love’s Return are very fun and romantic, with minimal angst. I’ve been criticized for this in the past, but don’t necessarily see angst free stories as a negative. I love a good tension filled book as much as the next person, but personally feel it should not be a requirement for a well received and respected story. We all need a little romance in our lives and given the right reader and their needs I would hope that if they picked up that book at the end they could smile and maybe have a really crappy day be a little brighter. Some of my other books like Capturing Perfection are more serious and tackle the darker aspects of life such as post-traumatic stress disorder. A first time reader may feel a connection to these characters and be able to intimately experience their pain and ultimate pathway to healing. For my books that revolve around Dominance and submission, such as Shield’s Submissive or Paradise of Pleasure, I would hope that the reader experiences an erotic journey that maybe gives them a new respect for an aspect of some relationships that is often delegated to the dark corners or teaches them something about themselves that they had yet to acknowledge. And then I’ve written books such as The Perfect Balance and The Perfect Union where the characters are on a journey of growth and moving forward at juncture in their lives. My hope would be for a reader to take the lessons learned by my characters and maybe apply part of them to an aspect that they possibly struggle with in their lives. Regardless of what the subject matter is, my one true hope for any reader is to not only enjoy the story I’ve written but be able to put my book down at the end of the day and reaffirm their joy of reading.
Does the title of a book you’re writing typically come to you as you’re writing it, or do you title your stories before you even begin the first sentence?
As I read this question I actually laughed out loud because typically coming up with a title is the very last thing that I do. It’s like the setting of a capstone on a pyramid. If it not exactly right the whole structure could look rather flat. I like to come up with titles that are relevant to the storyline, not only clever sayings. I’ve actually been know to stress over the titles of my books more than the storylines themselves. Probably a bit backwards, but there you go.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
I always did want to be an astronaut growing up. I actually did go to space camp-yes I know, I’m a geek. However, the fact that I’m blind as a bat and hate calculus kept my feet firmly on the ground. I love photography and travel so working for something like National Geographic would be really cool. I can carry a passable tune, but my eternal shyness prevented me from trying out for Star Search or American Idol. But when my head comes out of the clouds I generally end up right where I am now, working closely with my patients to improve their quality of life.
When it comes to the covers of your books, how much creative control do you have over them? Do you design them yourself or work with a graphic artist?
The artists I’ve worked with so far at all my publishing houses have been absolutely fantastic with the cover designs. Generally when we submit a book we give them a summary of the story and a general description of our characters and maybe some ideas of what we’d like to see on the cover. Then we wait for that magical day when our inbox says there’s a present waiting for us. I’ve been very fortunate that any suggestions I’ve made after seeing the first draft of a cover have been minor-at least I think they’re minor - and are generally welcomed without rancor. There are so many talented artists out there and all us authors are lucky that some of them enjoy designing sexy book covers for us to all squee and drool over.
What future projects do you have in the works?
I just started a new wereshifter series entitled, Phantom River, for Total-E-Bound. It’s my first dip in the shifter pool as all my books up to this point have been strictly
contemporary. So far I’m having a blast. I have four books planned, two will be male/female and two will be male/male, and have recently submitted the first to my editor. As soon as I finish decompressing, I’ll begin work on the second book. My ambition for 2011 is to write five more books by the end of the year, including two single titles.
Now some questions just for fun:
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
Not really sure how I’d classify my sense of humor, maybe a little sarcastic-but not in a mean way. I love to laugh and in general am very easily amused. Stick me in front of a bugs bunny cartoon or marathon of the Three Stooges and I’ll be happy as a clam.
What’s your all-time favorite movie?
I love movies! I could never choose just one. I have Dean Martin and Fred Astair in my DVD collection right next to Disney Classics and high explosive action thrillers. And really could you ever discount a comedy such as Princess Bride or Caddy Shack, and yes there’s even a place in my heart for a couple of the American Pie movies.
Who’s on your iPod/MP3 player?
Everything from Mozart to Metallica. I love a good opera as much as a trendy pop song with a heavy beat. Sometimes I just need to bang my head and other times I need to mellow out to the hypnotic rhythms of Enigma.
If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit and why?
I’ve always had a fascination with history. So I’d probably go back in time and take a tour of various civilizations from ancient Greece all the way up through nineteenth century. And since we’re talking about science fiction here I’d make sure that I could spend enough time in each stop to have a perspective of life both from a man’s and woman’s point of view. Maybe I could do like a quantum leap thing and inhabit a contemporary body. I used to love that show!
Trina, thank you again for taking the time to be with us today; will you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Would you care to share a favorite excerpt with us from one of your books?
Here’s an excerpt from In Dreams He Came, available now from Dreamspinner Press.
THE bass pounded in Gabe’s skull, and the flashing lights gave him a headache. The cranberry juice he drank tasted like it had more sugar than juice in the blend, but at least the scenery was everything Phil had promised. Gabe’s eyes kept shifting from one gyrating body to the next. There were miles of bare skin glistening with sweat in the hot crowded club. They’d been there for a little over an hour. Gabe had been approached by a couple of prospects, but hadn’t been inspired to give up his perch at the bar. One young man who had approached Gabe had been so hyped up on something, his blue eyes had glimmered with whatever drug was coursing through his system.
He looked across the dance floor and sighted a target with possibilities. Tall, broad chest, defined arms bulging beneath the tight short sleeves of his shirt. With the distance that separated them, Gabe couldn’t make out the man’s facial features. He had a bead on the dark head, until the room plunged into a cacophony of black and white lights. In the melee, Gabe lost sight of his object of interest. When the strobes stopped, Gabe tried to find Phil in the pack of revelers on the dance floor. His friend was freaking with a cute blond. Phil’s hands roamed the thin chest of his dance partner as he ground against the barely legal ass in front of him.
Gabe turned around toward the bar for a refill, and in his peripheral vision he caught a second sighting of the man from the crowd. He was leaning against the bar several feet down, but as Gabe slowly worked up the courage to make an approach, some guy sidled up and swung his arm across the man’s shoulders. The infiltrator leaned in to speak right into the man’s ear. There was clearly an intimate familiarity between the two. Figured. Gabe should have known better than to think a guy like that would be unclaimed.
He got his refill, and after a couple swallows decided to hit the dance floor. Why waste the opportunity to have a little fun? Gabe weaved his way into the crowd. Bodies rubbed against him, and he closed in on an attractive guy who was dancing alone. Feeling a little bold, Gabe snagged the waistband of the guy’s jeans and pulled so their bodies collided. He wrapped his arm around the trim waist of his partner, and a pair of long arms wrapped around his neck. Their hips moved to the beat, and Gabe found himself smiling for the first time all evening. Gabe’s hand slid up his partner’s arm then down his back. The smooth skin felt nice, and he closed the gap between their bodies. Gabe looked over the shoulder of his dance partner to see Phil, who’d moved on to someone new, smiling at him. Gabe’s gaze worked its way back to the man in his arms when a flash of blue laser cut a swath across the dance floor, and a red light swung from the ceiling to land directly on the man from the bar. He stood with his feet braced apart and arms crossed, staring directly at Gabe. In the lights Gabe could have sworn the man looked like a swimmer Gabe knew, but that was impossible. Nonetheless, Gabe’s cock inflated faster than the Goodyear blimp at the intense scrutiny of such a virile man.
He jerked his eyes away from man across the dance floor when a hand, obviously not one of his own since they were accounted for, cupped the bulge behind his jeans.
“Let me help you with this?”
Gabe’s fingers threaded through those trying to take his measurements and lifted the hand back up to a safer zone.
“Appreciate the offer, but no thanks.”
“Come on. I give great head, ask anyone here.”
“If that’s true then I hardly want to go where everyone has gone before.”
His dance partner stepped away, and his fists landed on a pair of canted hips. Eyes of indeterminate color glared at him.
“What’s your problem?”
Gabe barely heard the guy’s voice over the music. He raised his, hoping it would carry but not broadcast to others packed around them.
“Look, I came here for a few dances and to unwind. I’m not looking to hook up.”
“Well, I am. Can’t believe I wasted my time with a cock tease. Fucker.”
The thin man spun and huffed off, presumably to find another target. Gabe ran his hand over his hair in disgust. This had been a bad idea. He worked his way back toward the restrooms. As the hallway got deeper Gabe heard some distinctive moans, a few gasps, and at least one “fuck me.” What he would find when he actually got to the bathroom was anyone’s guess, but there was no hope for it. When you had to go, you had to go.
Gabe took care of business, thankful that the restroom hadn’t been the den of inequity that he’d feared. Gabe pushed the door open and stepped back into the dark hallway. He’d only taken a couple steps when a hulking shadow slammed into him.
The side of his face and palms hit the wall. Gabe pushed against the partition and tried to buck against the unknown mass.
“That’s it, pretty. You’re hot for it tonight. That little boy should’ve known you needed a real man to crank your engines.”
“Get the fuck off me!”
He knew there were others in the hallway, but not one person attempted to intervene. Gabe increased his struggles when the distinct weight of a hard cock pushed against his ass.
“That’s it. Fight me, baby. It only makes it hotter.”
Rancid alcohol breath wafted toward Gabe’s nose, and he nearly gagged.
Gabe used the break in his attacker’s attention to push away from the wall. He whipped his head to the left as someone wrenched the amorous asshole away from Gabe’s back. A deep voice sliced through the dark hallway, and the low throb of the music still pounded away a mere thirty feet from them.
“The man said to fuck off. I believe that translates into ‘he’s not interested’.”
Gabe couldn’t see more than the outline of his savior, but at that moment he couldn’t care less if it was the freakin’ Easter Bunny. The hulk straightened. Gabe saw that he had a shaved head and lots of muscles.
“Who the fuck are you?” the hulk exclaimed.
“Doesn’t matter,” the savior responded.
“You his boyfriend?”
“Nope, just a concerned citizen.”
The hulk looked like he was trying to decide between starting a brawl or finding another unsuspecting victim. He jerked as if he were about to attack Gabe’s savior, but the other man didn’t budge. Feet braced wide, arms crossed, the darkened features stood resolute.
“Fuck it.” The hulk turned to stare at Gabe. “You’re probably a lousy lay anyway.”
He stormed off down the hallway, and Gabe let out a breath. His hands shook, and he shoved them in his pockets to hide the sign of weakness.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to help me,” he said softly.
Gabe’s savior came closer a couple of steps, and the door to the bathroom swung open. The light from inside cut a swath across the man’s features, and Gabe saw that it was the man from the bar and dance floor. Dark wavy hair, chiseled bone structure, and a pair of familiar blue eyes looked back at him.
“Now that’s where you’re wrong, Gabriel.”
Gabe couldn’t believe it. Before him stood Nick Jackson. NCAA and PAC-10 champion, member of the national team, and the school record holder for fifty, one hundred, and two hundred meter backstroke and freestyle. He was on the US team in Beijing and successfully swam in the prelims for the gold medal relay team, thereby earning himself a shiny disc.
Gabe managed to drag his jaw up off the floor and swallowed a few times. “Nick?”
“You remember me?”
Truth is, when Nick was a junior and senior at CAL Gabe had had a bit of a crush on the amazing athlete. It didn’t hurt that Nick was gorgeous and his six-foot-six, two hundred pound body filled out a Speedo like the manufacturers could only have dreamed. The gods had blessed Nick with a good heart as well, and despite all his success, Nick never developed an inflated ego.
“Well, yeah. You only graduated two years ago, and there was that whole national and Olympic champion thing.”
Nick’s face was once again in shadow, and Gabe wished the door to the bathroom would open again so he could see Nick’s features. Gabe heard a soft laugh aimed toward him. The outline of an arm raised, and Gabe took hold of the hand. Nick turned and started walking toward the main club area. The moment they stepped back into the insanity, Gabe squinted because of the flashing lights.
Nick led Gabe over to the bar, and ordered them a couple drinks. Gabe was surprised when Nick handed him a cranberry juice.
“I saw you earlier. Quite frankly I was a little shocked when I recognized you.”
He probably didn’t know Gabe was gay. It’s not like they’d spent any time together outside the pool.
“I didn’t really take this to be your scene. You always seemed like more of a laid-back kinda guy.”
Oh, not the gay thing, then?
“It’s not really. I came with my best friend. He was determined to get me out of the library and pool for a few hours. So what are you doing here?”
Gabe winced at the stupid question. That was pretty obvious. Although he’d never known that Nick was gay, men generally came to these places for a specific purpose.
“It’s my buddy’s birthday. I brought him out to have a good time, but apparently he’s having a very good time because I can’t find him anywhere. That’s why I was searching the hallway. Figured if he’d found a guy to take him home tonight, then I was going to take off.” Nick leaned in, his lips touched the edge of Gabe’s ear. “This isn’t really my scene either.”
Had Gabe read Nick wrong? Was he straight, and only brought his friend here to show his support? But Nick had held Gabe’s hand, and that wasn’t a typical gesture for a straight man, especially one inside a gay club. And those lips against Gabe’s ear definitely busted through the personal space barrier. There was only one way to find out for sure.
Nick’s head went back, and the sound of his laughter sent butterflies fluttering around inside Gabe’s stomach. Nick moved in front of Gabe and caged his body back against the bar. Gabe looked up into Nick’s bright eyes but the man was staring at Gabe’s lips. He licked them unconsciously, and although Gabe couldn’t hear the sound through the pulsating music, he felt a rumble in Nick’s chest as their bodies touched.
“Oh I’m gay all right, and you, Flipper, are exactly my type.”