Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us today, Xondra. Why don’t we begin by having you tell us a little bit about your background?
I started writing seriously back in 2006. My first novel was rejected and in the end it ended up trunked. I stopped writing for two years, and in 2008 started up again, this time with focus on romance.
Was there a defining point in your life when you realize that storytelling was what you were meant to do?
I always wanted to write books. Even as a kid, I adored the library and everything book related. But three years ago something changed. I decided that if I wanted to make this work, I had best get serious with it. I haven’t looked back since.
What was your first book, and how long did it take for it to be published?
My first published book was a m/f historical novella written under my other pen name, Vivian Kees.
To date, how many books have you written?
To date, I have written seven. If you count the trunked novel, it’s eight.
Beyond Friends is a friends-to-lovers romance starring Jack and Rain. Will you share with us how you came up with Rain’s very unique name and what inspired the story?
Rain’s name comes from his dark and quirky personality.
The story itself was inspired by people I have known and interacted with. I’ve spent a great deal of my adult life living within the gay community and being very observant, I drew from that.
I’ve always been intrigued with the friends to lovers scenario. I thought I would explore it.
How long does it generally take for you to finish a manuscript?
This varies. For a short novella, it can be three weeks or even less. That of course is if I have the idea, a vague outline and the extra time to just sit and write.
I’m working a full-length m/m historical at this time that’s set in the 1930s. And with the research involved, I estimate it will take me at least six months to write, edit, and perfect.
How much creative input do you have in the cover design for your books?
Usually, I have to fill out a cover art form for every contracted work. So far it’s been great. I have yet to have a cover I’ve disliked.
When did you begin writing in the Male/Male genre? What about the genre interests you the most?
I love everything romance related. I started reading m/m out of pure interest and thought that it would be fun to write. So, I went with it and loved it.
Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you try to dedicate to your writing?
Right now I write full time. I took a year’s leave from my day job, which will be up this coming Fall.
Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?
I write more freestyle with just a basic outline that isn’t much beyond the characters and a vague storyline.
What has been the most difficult topic you’ve ever tackled in your writing?
I think realism has been the most difficult. Staying true to your characters can often be trying. Especially when they take over, and start writing for themselves.
Are there any topics you consider taboo and that you’d never write about?
Just the basics that most publishers specify they don’t take.
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?
Thus far I would have to say, Rain. He’s different in so many ways, and I always smile when I think about him and his crazy quirks.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they take away from it?
I would like for them to come away entertained. That’s my hope for everyone of my readers.
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?
A famous romance author once told me to just have fun with it. And to write what I wanted. After hearing that, I took myself much less seriously.
Will you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
1. Have patience.
2. Always conduct yourself with grace when in any public forum, no matter what the situation.
3. Learn to take a bad review.
If you were to offer a word of advice to a new author just starting out, what would it be?
Again, have fun with it. If you lose that, then there’s something wrong.
Do you generally have the titles of your work planned before you begin writing, or does that occur later on in the writing process?
Sometimes I do. But other times it can come to me at any point throughout the story.
What is the question you’re most frequently asked by your fans?
What is your most memorable fan experience?
I had a lady who after reading a bad review I’d received, tell me that she actually bought the book because of it. That made me smile.
Do you have any new projects coming up that you’d care to share details of with us?
I surely do. I have a m/m/f historical menage coming out this summer with Siren-Bookstrand Publishing, called Menage on the Prairie, and a m/m romance coming out this summer with Total-E-Bound Publishing, called Star Treatment, along with a three book m/m series to be announced at a later date, also with Total-E Bound.
How much of yourself, your life experiences, and the people you know manifest themselves into your characters?
Much of it for me is pure fantasy and what I think will entertain readers. At times I will inflect a bit of people I know into my stories as needed.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase awareness of your work?
I maintain the usual blog that also doubles as my website. I am on Facebook and Twitter, and I participate in interviews and giveaways when I can.
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 don’t have much of an opinion about this, only that I think it’s a positive thing, and I can only see e publishing growing more over the next few years. I own a Kindle. It’s wonderful!
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 enjoy romance, horror and some literary works. I’m a huge fan of Anne Baker. Her books tell great epic tales of families which span generations.
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, Bentley Little, and anything zombie related.
Of course, I love m/m. My current favorite authors in this genre are, Amy Lane and Marshall Thorton.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’m in healthcare by trade. So I guess…that!
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy quilting and photography, along with gardening and keeping fit.
Now some questions just for fun
What’s your favorite dessert?
Any kind of cheesecake.
If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit? Why?
I would travel back to the Victorian era. It’s a time period that sticks with me.
If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, either past or present, who would you choose and why?
I would pick Bette Davis because I think she kicked ass when alive. She lived her life the way she wanted, with little regret.
If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?
You’d find a half eaten one pound chocolate Easter bunny, a NYX Cosmetics blush, a tube of hand cream, my favorite coffee mug, and a half written manuscript printed out.
What’s your favorite movie?
Gone With the Wind.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Vain people and general nastiness.
How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
I’d say I’m a little sarcastic and out there. I like odd things. Odd things make me laugh.
Who are your favorite actors, both male and female?
I don’t have any. *hides*
Do you have an all time favorite fictional character?
Currently, it’s Natalie from Facts of Life. She makes me laugh with her nutty behavior.
Who’s on your iPod/MP3 player?
I don’t have either.
Without getting up to look, what’s under your bed?
Of all the modern conveniences, which one would you most likely say you couldn’t live without?
Thanks again for spending some time with us, Xondra. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
You can fine my on Facebook, Twitter and on my blog/website at http://writeoutsidethebox.blogspot.com/
And we’d love if you’d share a favorite excerpt from one of your books with us.
This is from my latest, The Blood Between:
He was confident and downright invincible. Nothing could
touch him now, not even death.
“I see you’ve gone ahead and done it.” Jordon entered the
room, arms folded across his chest.
“It was the only way.”
“That’s rather obvious and goes without saying.”
“We’re leaving. There isn’t room for all of us here. I need to
break free from everything that has bound me for so long.”
Jordon slammed one fist into the wall, plaster falling to the
floor. “You would leave me just like that, for him. I’m the one who
made you. I’m the one who cared for you all these years. Without me,
you would have withered away long ago. You would have grown old
in that inn and died. Right now you would be nothing more than
“Perhaps.” Luca stayed calm. “But you have Lily and now I
have Kyle. I’m forever in debt to you. This chapter has to end. I’m
telling you it has ended.”
“Then go,” yelled Jordon. “I’m not stopping you, but I refuse
to wish you well. It’s not in me to do so. Get out of my sight and take
him with you.”
“As you wish.” Luca turned to Kyle and grabbed his hand.
“Let’s get out of here.”
Outside, the night was young, the moon full, and with one last
look back at the house, Luca pulled Kyle into his arms.
“I will love you forever and a day, this is just the beginning of
our time together. Nothing will ever separate us again.”
Kyle closed his eyes and felt Luca’s lips press against his.
They kissed hard and fast, and then together, fled into the night with