In Gwenna Sebastian’s World, Real Men Wear Combat Boots

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy writing schedule to be with us today, Gwenna. Why don’t we begin by having you tell us a little bit about your background?

Well, during the day I’m a medical biller and coder which pays the bills if nothing else! I’m a wife, mother of an Army medic and keeper of three cats. I’m also a military war buff, which sounds crazy I know, but it’s fascinating to me, especially the Vietnam War.

Was there a defining point in your life when you realize that storytelling was what you were meant to do?

I know I was fourteen and I had a teacher tell me that he thought I had the coolest ideas and that I was a fun story teller. It stuck with me and I’ve been writing ever since.

To date, how many books have you written?

I’ve written five novels over the years, but never published the first three. So for now, I’ve got two published.

How long did take for your first book to be published?

About a year from when I actually started to its actual release date.

What interests you most about writing in historical setting as opposed to a contemporary?

I write about gay relationships. Put that in the context of say the military and then set in Vietnam or WWII and it’s something all together different. The word “gay” wasn’t even used then and often, if you got outted, you got killed by those same men who considered you a buddy the day before. It was dangerous to be a homosexual during those times and to me, that’s extremely compelling to try and write and explain.

How long does it generally take for you to finish a manuscript?

It depends on the manuscript- my new release took me two years but I had kept putting it aside for other things. My first novel took me about four to five months, but it’s a novella in length.

How much creative input do you have in the cover design for your books?

In both cases, I filled out a form that had a lot of detailed questions. And in both cases, I got what I considered stunning and sexy covers. But outside of the questionnaire, I wouldn’t say I had tremendous input, just a vague idea of what I’d like to see.

When did you begin writing in the Male/Male genre? What about the genre interests you the most?

I seriously started writing it about three, maybe four years ago. What interests me? That it can be so incredibly hot and sexy and appealing to women. When I started combining it with my love of the military, it became a huge win for me because I found myself writing in a bit of niche market as it were.

Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you try to dedicate to your writing?

Oh, I wish I could write full time- that’s a dream I have almost every day. But because I have a full time job, and up until recently, a part time one as well, I carve out, ideally, an hour a night and all the time I can on weekends and holidays. I also carry a notebook with me and you can find me on my breaks and lunch hour writing down bits and pieces.

Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?

I’m a big believer in outlines. I want to know where I’m going how I’m going to get there.

What has been the most difficult topic you’ve ever tackled in your writing?

The actual sex scenes. Here I write about gay relationships but I tie myself up in knots writing those! They just don’t flow on the page for me like a fire fight in the jungles of Vietnam does.

Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have one in particular who stands out among the others as a favorite? If so, who and why?

I have a couple actually. Mark Connor who is this really damaged Vietnam vet who gave up on life when his lover was killed back in Vietnam. He’s damaged and flawed and angry and misunderstood and he’s a fascination to me when I write him. My other would be Doc Callahan, called Cal for short. He’s this quiet medic who misses nothing and is not the least bit afraid to speak his mind when he’s pissed off. He was a POW and the experience left him with a different outlook on life he didn’t have before. He’s sweet and he’s gentle but he can slit a man’s throat in a second and not think much about it.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, do you have any routines or exercises you use to get beyond it?

I do when it comes to a scene but never just in general. I usually have more than one novel going so when I do get tied up with one, I can work on another. I also walk three miles every day and when I do, I can almost always work out the problem in my head.

When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they take away from it?

A better understanding of what it means to be gay and in the military.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to the art of writing? How did it change the way you approach your craft?

I was told once to write for the sake of writing, for the sake of telling the story. Not for the money or so I can show people I’m an author, but for the sheer joy of story telling. When I understood that, I found I could write what I really wanted to write about and not apologize for it.

Will you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?

Trust your editor and that they want your manuscript to be the best it can be. Make sure you meet your deadlines. And get your name out there as much as you possibly can.

If you were to offer a word of advice to a new author just starting out, what would it be?

That ePublishing is an awesome place to break into the craft. The possibilities are more open and there are presses out there for everyone no matter what you write.

Do you generally have the titles of you work planned before you begin writing, or does that occur later on in the writing process?

Not titles, no. Just a rough story idea that I attach a title to when I get it.

What is the question you’re most frequently asked by your fans?

Why the military and Vietnam in particular?

What is your most memorable fan experience?

I haven’t had one yet. I’m still pretty obscure at this point.

How much of yourself, your life experiences, and the people you know manifest themselves into your characters?

Not as much as you would think. I have a lot of military in my family, including my son who is a medic in the Army National Guard but I personally have not served.

When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase awareness of your work?

Doing blog interviews like this, fan conventions, book conventions, having friends at conventions I’m not at take bookmarks and book plates for me. I’ve recently sucked it up and now have a Facebook page! Believe me, that’s a big deal to someone like me who thinks social media is the root of a lot of evil. I’ve also started going to used book stores and asking if they would put my bookmarks and bookplates in their bags.

Digital media—the e-reader/tablet computer/Android apps—is changing the way people access and enjoy books. What pros and/or cons do you see surrounding the business of e-publishing? How do you see digital media evolving in the years to come?

I happen to be a huge fan of e-publishing. I was saying years before it was popular that I felt it was the wave of things to come. And it’s just keeps getting better and better. And for an author like me who writes gay military romances, it’s not like a traditional house publisher is eager to pick up my particular genre of books.

When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?

I like a lot of things and as long as it’s well written, explores the characters and entertains, I’m all over it. My favorite authors are JD Robb, Suzanne Collins, Suzanne Brockman and Jacqueline Cary. I also collect books on the Vietnam War.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I’d love to own a knitting/cross stitch shop in the Outer Banks. I could see myself doing that. Although I’m told by everyone that I should make and sell my cheesecakes since I seem to have a knack for those!

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?

I knit (not very well), I cross stitch, I fanvid and I love to travel, especially to places with beaches.

Do you have any new projects in the works you’d like to share with your fans?

I have several, actually. I have one that is prequel to my first book that tells Mark Connor’s story of when he was in Vietnam and met his lover- Ryan. I also have a WWII story I’m working on about a captain and his crew chief of a B-17 called Melody Blue that takes place in England.

What’s your favorite dessert?

Oh it changes but right now it’s lemon and raspberry cake.

If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit? Why?

The sixties because they were such a turbulent and amazing time in our history. The music, the war, the peace movements… can you imagine?

If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, either past or present, who would you choose and why?

Anne McCaffrey because I think she’s got to be one of the most fascinating authors out there.

If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?

One of my three cats sleeping- no, really, on my desk. Two or three small cast models of B-17s, spiral pads with tons of notes, the occasional spider I have to smash (damn trespassers!) a picture of Stephen Caffrey as Myron Goldman, a small picture of the cast of Hawaii Five-O, a stack of DVDs and the usual assortment of bills to be paid.

What’s your favorite movie?

Right now? Mercy. I’ve watched it three times. But I love the Mummy movies- yeah I know, but I get a huge kick out of them.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Politics.

How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

Probably inappropriate would be my sense of humor. And I laugh at just about anything!

Who are your favorite actors, both male and female?

I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite actress but I have two favorite male actors. Stephen Caffrey and more recently- Scott Caan, who has become this total fascination for me. It’s embarrassing!

Do you have an all time favorite fiction character?

Lieutenant Myron Goldman and Detective Danny Williams.

Who’s on your iPod/MP3 player?

October Project, tons of Vietnam era music by the likes of CCR, the Mamas and the Papas, The Who and the Rolling Stones. Gordon Lightfoot, 10,000 Maniacs, Pink, Rascal Flats, Abba, the B-52s, The Beatles, Evanescence. You can see I’m pretty eclectic. Also, several episodes of Hawaii Five-O.

Without getting up to look, what’s under your bed?

At least one cat, probably a spider (damn trespassers!) and dust bunnies the size of watermelons!

Do you speak more than one language? If so, which one(s)?

I mangle this one pretty well, so no.

Of all the modern conveniences, which one would you most likely say you couldn’t live without?

Email and the Internet!

Thanks again for spending some time with us, Gwenna. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
www.gwennasebastian.com
Blog: http://gwennasebastian.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100002124574734

And we’d love if you’d share a favorite excerpt from one of your books with us.

This from VN2- my newest novel releasing on July 29th, 2011

He found himself staring at a young officer backed against the wall, head up, shifting his weight from foot to foot. He had a split lip and judging by the way he favored his left side, some bruised ribs. On the floor between him and four Regulars was a fifth man, face down and, Nathan had to assume, out cold.

Doc appeared at Nathan’s elbow. Sweet Christ, Nate, that’s the unbonded!

Nathan shook his head, trying to ignore the buzzing in his ears. He glanced over to see his team was all safe and waiting at the entrance for him. He should be there too, but something drew his attention back to the skirmish.

You sure he’s an unbonded, Doc? He’s a Truebred. What the hell he’s doing down here anyway? Nathan couldn’t take his eyes off him.

He’s a mess is what he is, Doc shook his head. A wildcard of talent and he ain’t got no idea what he is.

The Truebred was tall and lean and from what Nathan could see, pretty well put together. And why that suddenly mattered to Nathan, he wasn’t sure. The buzzing was still in his ears, joined by a tingling along his skin. Nathan raised his head, watching the Truebred with a fascination he couldn’t explain.

Nate, Christ Jesus, you recognizing this guy?

Stay outta this, medic… Nathan shook his head, shoving back down the sudden bout of anger and possessiveness. Where the hell had that come from?

Sean showed up on the other side of Nathan, touching his arm lightly. “Sergeant, this ain’t our fight, don’tcha think we should be moving along here?”

Nathan somehow managed to pull his attention away from the young Truebred and stared at Sean and Doc. The buzzing in his ears got worse, threatening to drown out the roar of the restless crowd. Damn, it was hot. Sweat crawled down his back. The rest of the team now joined Sean and Doc, their faces a mixture of confusion and concern. Under it, Nathan could hear Doc talking to Sean through the temporary Bond he still shared with the medic, but the words weren’t making any sense.

Something sang under his thoughts and Nathan found himself staring at the Truebred again.

The four remaining men who had cornered the young officer were pacing back and forth. All of them showed signs that the Truebred was quite a fighter. One of them, the blood still dripping from his chin, had a broken nose. Another had a smashed cheekbone, the color already filling in to a livid bruise as he cradled his left wrist. A third kept his balance off his right foot, and sported what would later be a hell of a shiner. The fourth also showed signs of taking a fist in the eye.

And all of that from one cornered Truebred. Well, Christ. Nathan had to admire the young officer, however stupid he’d been to get himself in this mess in the first place.

The guy with the bad wrist made a charge at the Truebred. The officer moved easily, stepping into the man and letting his momentum do the work for him. In a move almost too quick to see, he stepped back on one foot and drove his knee into the man’s groin. The wind and sense knocked out of him, the Regular doubled over. The Truebred drove his fist down into the man’s face, dropping him like a ton of bricks to the deck.

Everyone watching winced. The ground pounder groaned and rolled over onto his back, knees drawn up to his chest as the Truebred danced back and waited for the next attack.

“Truebred’s got a pair, that’s for sure.” Rory shook his head in respect.

“He ain’t gonna last much longer.” Sean glanced at Nathan. “You want to help him?”

Nathan wanted to say no, that this was none of their business. The guy got himself into this mess, he could pay the consequences. It was too dangerous and Nathan had enough to worry about with his own men. But as much as he wanted to tell them to get the hell out of there, something else refused to let him do so.

Doc? Can you talk to him, let him know we’re here to help?

I can try, Nate, but right now I’m just one more voice in his head. He’s unguarded, wide open, in pain and completely untrained.

Joy. Nathan signaled to the twins to get behind the three Regulars still standing. A mob started to gather behind them. Try to reach him any way you can, Doc. These guys take him down, he ain’t gonna survive the experience of being handed around to a couple hundred drunk ground pounders looking for a chance to fuck a Truebred.

He felt the medic flinch beside him and regretted his choice of words, however true. “Sean, stay close to your partner, it’s gonna get ugly in here.” Nathan signaled for Noah and Scott as well as Rory and Ali to get themselves positioned in front of the growing mob. If they could get the officer’s attention, they could help him make a break for the entrance. Once out there, it would be up to the guy to get his sweet ass topside to the Transfer Center.

And Nathan could forget about him.

Nathan circled around, hoping to catch the notice of the young officer. The lieutenant kept moving and shifting, making it impossible for Nathan to get his attention. He didn’t think it was a good idea to approach him, not yet anyway. And there were still three Regulars who were not going to simply step aside.

Doc? You reach him yet?

He doesn’t know who I am. I’m just more noise to him. He needs help, Nate.

Working on it, Doc. Nathan shook his head, the buzzing in his ears starting to annoy him. He felt flushed and hot, his skin still tingling. The room was way too crowded for his comfort as he rubbed the back of his neck and considered their options. He circled back toward the medic, again hoping to draw the man’s attention to him. “Come on, we’re just trying to help ya…” he muttered under his breath.

The fight at the back of the room was dragging more men in by the moment with shouts and the sound of furniture being smashed. Nathan realized they were running out of time as the room started to come apart around them. Worse than that, the officer showed signs of exhaustion. He wouldn’t be able to hold out much longer.

Doc spoke to him, trying to get his attention, but Nathan ignored him. He had more important things to worry about and they centered around the young Truebred. The officer still shifted, keeping the wall at his back, trying to keep an eye on everyone even as he shook his head.

Something that had died with Ben six months ago woke anew in Nathan. The Bond whispered at him, insistent, nudging him with the realization that the young officer would be his new mate.

And that made Nathan pause as he realized what was happening. It had been more than eighteen years but he could still remember when the Bond had recognized him and Ben for each other.

Now it recognized two incomplete souls that were meant to be a whole, the Bond singing along Nathan’s nerves. In the blink of an eye, everything changed, and he would no longer be alone.

This could not be happening—he couldn’t, shouldn’t be Bonding—again.

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