Today I’m interviewing L.A. Witt who has released a dozen gay romances in less than 2 years, with another 6 books in the can ready for release later this year. I think it’s amazing how productive she has been in the short time that I have been reading her books. So I’m trying to find out what’s her secret and what can we expect from her over the next 6 months.
Hi L.A. and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.
Thanks for having me! I promise I won’t get crumbs everywhere.
This is your first visit to the site and I was wondering if you could tell us a bit about L.A. Witt – what turns you on, what doesn’t, and what does writing have to do with it?
What turns me on? You mean besides Jared & Shannon Leto? (As anyone who’s visited my blog/website probably knows, I’m a die-hard 30 Seconds to Mars fan) Okay, to be serious…sort of…
When it comes to romances and such, nothing turns me on more than an intense emotional connection. I mean, when I’m watching a movie or something, a simple lingering look between two characters can be hotter than a sex scene, and that’s what I try to put into my books. I want that intensity between them when they share a look, and I want that intensity to carry over into the sex scenes. Incidentally, probably the one saving grace of the film Alexander was the chemistry between Hephaistion and Alexander. I mean, seriously. The looks those two exchanged? Holy…OMG. Even if I didn’t have a horrendous crush on both Colin Farrell and Jared Leto, those looks? NOM NOM NOM.
*cough* Sorry, what was the question?
Anyway. I think those looks and connections are sexier than anything, and I try to translate that into my books.
What doesn’t turn me on? Emotional manipulation. BDSM stories that lack things like consent. Anything that makes me feel like I need a hot shower (as opposed to a cold one).
What do you want us to know about L.A the writer and how does Lori the person fit into her life or vice versa?
They’re pretty much one and the same. Writing—namely, whatever story I’m working on at a given time—is nearly always on my mind. Even when I’m snorkelling, hanging out with friends, paintballing, working on something else, it’s always there. I’ve always been that way, but it’s become much more…consuming since I became a full-time writer. That’s not to say I can’t concentrate on anything else, or I’m not engaged when I’m interacting with other people. It’s kind of like being able to see something out of the corner of your eye. You know it’s there, you’re aware of it, but you aren’t necessarily concentrating on it.
So, in short, I’m obsessed with my stories. I have to be dragged away from my work to do things like “socialize” and “shop for groceries”. If I wasn’t married to someone who likes to cook, I’d probably starve to death. Seriously. I mean, it’s 2:48 pm as I’m typing this, and I just realized I haven’t eaten since last night. When I say I live and breathe my work, I’m not kidding…and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ve been waiting for a book from you with a plot based in Okinawa where you live currently. I would have thought that would be a slam dunk by now, but maybe that’s too predictable? No pressure, but is there an L.A. Witt “Okinawa” book coming soon? (Maybe I missed it among the thousands you released last week)
It’s coming, don’t worry. I’ve been toying with a few ideas, but haven’t quite settled on the one yet. The culture and setting here are simply amazing, and I want to do them justice with a story, so I’m sort of letting it all percolate in the back of my mind for now. But yes, there will be an Okinawa story. Eventually.
Update …. Well, this is all Wave’s fault for asking this question and getting the gears turning in this little brain of mine. YES, there will be a book set on Okinawa in the very near future. Keep an eye on my blog/website for news about Conduct Unbecoming — not sure where that one will be published yet, but I’ll be writing it as soon as I’m done with my current work-in-progress. Wave, I DO hope you’re pleased with yourself… (I am so happy – I can’t wait) lol
I love realistic locations in books (Like you can’t tell) 😎 and I was really impressed with the level of detail about Maui and Molokai in Infinity Pools . How much research did you have to do for the locations to seem so authentic, since I understand that you have never visited Hawaii?
Thank you! And no, I’ve never been to Hawaii. Well, that’s not true. I spent about 12 hours on Oahu in between military flights. I’ve seen Diamondhead from a distance, but that’s it. So for Infinity Pools, I spent a lot of time poring over websites and talking to people who’d been to Maui and Molokai. Google Maps was a lifesaver! The climate there isn’t much different from Okinawa, so I used that, plus my husband has spent a fair amount of time in Hawaii (that butthead…), so I picked his brain.
The three hikes that Derek and Elliott take are real places, including the pool where they had to throw the leaf in before swimming. To capture the setting, I looked at lots and lots and LOTS of photos, watched a few videos people had taken on their own hikes, read comments people had posted, etc. I really wanted it to feel authentic, so I’m glad to hear it worked.
You seem to have been on a writing binge lately because every time I turn around you have a new release or two out from different publishers. What’s your secret? Do you have little worker bees stashed away on your computer who do all the typing?
LOL I do all the typing. I write about 5,000 words a day, and can usually turn a novella around in a week or a novel in 3-6 weeks. The secret is just to sit down and write (almost) every day. I do take days off, of course, but my default setting is to get up, check my e-mail, and start writing. Ideally, I finish at least one book a month, though that doesn’t always happen.
The rapidfire releases are partly a result of a productive few months, but also books that were written last year and just had later release dates. Out of Focus, for example, is out August 3rd but was written last August, whereas Static, which came out June 26th, was written in January. So it’s partly a matter of my publishers’ release schedules.
That said, I am on a bit of a binge right now because I suspect my productivity will take a hit in October thru December while I move back to the States, spend a month or so in Seattle, and ultimately get settled in when we get to Omaha. So I’m trying to stay ahead of the game, since I don’t foresee quite as much writing getting done during that time. Plenty of editing and brainstorming, though…nothing like 10 hours on a plane to get me plotting. Random bit of trivia: Rain, the sequel to Rules of Engagement, came to me out of the blue during the night, and was plotted from start to finish on a plane the following day.
I remember the very first M/M book you wrote, Rules of Engagement, that I reviewed over 18 months ago, and you never looked back. I know you write het erotic romances under a different pseud, but what is it about M/M romances that get L.A. Witt’s mojo working?
I’m not even sure I can put my finger on it. I’d written several het romances before I wrote a gay romance, but as soon as I started putting two (or three) guys together on the page, I was hooked. I think part of it has to do with being raised in our delightfully progressive culture that still acts like men are sex-obsessed creatures who not only can’t talk about feelings, but lack those feelings altogether. Writing about two men falling in love means exploring something we as a society tend to brush off as non-existent, when it’s just as intense and beautiful as a man and a woman falling in love.
There are lots of stereotypical gay characteristics that I see in M/M romances, how do you avoid them in your books and make the characters seem real?
Simply put, I don’t treat my gay or bi characters any differently than I do my hetero characters. Of course there are things gay people deal with that straight people don’t – homophobia, limited rights, coming out, fear of persecution over sexuality, etc – but they’re people. That fact that a guy is attracted to other guys doesn’t mean he has to dress, speak, or act a certain way any more than if he were attracted to women. I mean, haven’t we all had a friend or family member who came out, and we caught ourselves thinking, “Really? I never would have thought.” So just like my hetero guys, my gay guys are…just guys.
From time to time I ask the fans to come up with questions for the authors.
Here’s one from Jaime who wants to know:
Who is L.A Witt’s favourite character from her books?
Ooh, boy. You want me to pick ONE?? Even if I just stick to my M/M stuff, I can’t decide. Brandon from Rules of Engagement and Rain, Liam from The Best Man, Nick from Cover Me, Angel from Out of Focus…do I really have to pick only one?
Okay, if I really, really have to choose, I’d probably pick Angel from Out of Focus. He’s a Dom, which I love, and he’s shamelessly snarky and outspoken (seriously, this man has no shame), but he also has this neurotic, insecure side that makes me adore him. So, under duress, I would say Angel is my favourite. For now. (I’m reading Out of Focus now and I agree about Angel. He’s SO hot.
Since you started writing M/M romances what has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Besides all the wrinkled noses and snide comments from people who don’t get why on earth I write that? (I have a pre-prepared arsenal of comebacks for those who need a little education in romance and sexuality…people don’t ask twice)
The biggest challenge is probably balancing my M/M with my hetero work. It’s incredibly easy for me to write like half a dozen M/M books in a row, then stop and realize I haven’t written a thing for my other pseudonym. About 2/3 of my backlist is M/M, so I have to remember to let the girls play too. It’s not that I dislike writing hetero—not in the least!—I just really, really enjoy playing with the boys.
I love your sex scenes (I mean those in your books) 😆 Very few authors can write sex scenes that keep me interested, but yours are very hot and I must say I enjoyed Infinity Pools, Rules and Engagement as well as With the Band which I just reviewed. What’s your secret?
The secret is the little details—the way someone’s breathing, a tremor, a subtle touch. Basically: watch a sex scene in an R-rated movie. Not NC-17, not a porno, R-rated. Meaning they can only show so much, and have to make up for all the graphic bits they can’t show. Focus on what they do show. All those unmistakable little tells that leave a lot to the imagination about what their bodies are doing, but leave nothing to the imagination about how they’re feeling, responding, etc. That’s what I try to put into my sex scenes.
What’s funny is, a lot of people assume writing erotica was a natural progression from my previous job as a porn video editor. Quite the contrary. By the second day as a porn editor, I was so desensitized, I didn’t respond at all to what was on the screen. It barely even registered that I was watching people have sex. Three years and 30+ books as an erotica writer, and I can still get lightheaded writing a sex scene. Porn was all about the physical. It was all mechanical, even when the people on the screen were actually longtime lovers (I worked for an amateur company that used only real couples). They were performing. Characters in erotic romance are connecting.
I know that writing is a full time or second career for many authors but I’m always interested in whether it’s still fun. Is it fun for you? Do you wake up and think, “I’m going to give my guys really big dicks today and hope they know what to do with them”? Kidding!!!
It has its moments, but it’s still fun. Even though I work more hours now than I ever have in my life and for less money, I wouldn’t trade this job for the world. I mean, I get to sit at my own desk, listening to whatever music I want, munching on whatever I feel like, with my kitty curled up behind my computer, and I get to write about snarky, sexy people doing snarky, sexy things. Plus, whenever my husband transfers (about every 3 years), I don’t have to quit my job and get a new one.
Yeah, there are days when it’s absolute word dentistry, or when I have to focus on boring things like paperwork and editing, but even the worst day of writing beats the hell out of the best day I ever had at my other jobs. It’ll be 3 years in November that I’ve been doing this full-time, and I have never—not once—stopped and thought, “Do I really want to keep doing this?”
And if I wake up thinking anything, it’s “Hmm, I’m going to put my characters in a really crappy situation and see if they can get from there to falling in love to burning up the sheets. And then I’m going to put them in an even crappier situation…BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
It appears that you’re releasing a book a month :bravo: so what’s coming up within the next 6 months for L.A. Witt?
What’s next? A lot. Trust Me, which is the sequel to Cover Me, will be out the first week of July, and the third book, Search Me, is due out in December. My BDSM ménage, Out of Focus, will be out August 3rd from Samhain, and the third Getting off the Ground/Infinity Pools book, On the List, will be out in late August from Amber Allure. All three of the Getting off the Ground books will be out as a collective paperback, Changing Plans, in September. Ex Equals, a contemporary novella, doesn’t have a release date yet, but is coming from Amber Allure in late summer/early fall. Also keep an eye out for some collaborative work and some steampunk.
My first vampire/werewolf novel, a ménage called The Given & The Taken, will be out in January from Samhain. This is book #1 in the Tooth & Claw series, and there will probably be news on the additional books later this year.
And for those of you who liked The Distance Between Us, especially everyone who’s hinted about wanting a sequel in which Kieran gets his own story, watch for The Closer You Get from Samhain in November. I’m turning Kieran loose on a virgin, and yes, the sparks will fly.
You seem to like sports including my favourite, baseball. Will you be writing a future story with a Major League Baseball player as the protagonist? Please say yes.
I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’ll make a note of it. I do love baseball, and I hadn’t even realized how much baseball makes it into my books until someone pointed it out in another interview. LOL But a MLB player as a character? Pardon me, I need to go scribble down some notes…
You visited British Columbia and Alberta, Canada some time ago and I enjoyed The Best Man which had your protagonists vacation in Vancouver, B.C. Are you planning any future books with Alberta as a backdrop? Maybe the Calgary Stampede which is quite famous?
I actually do have a book coming out in January that takes the characters through Calgary, Edmonton, and ultimately Saskatchewan, but the setting isn’t as detailed as some other settings have been in my books. The characters are on their way through in a hurry, so I didn’t have time to detail everything. I’m also working on a steampunk story right now that takes the characters through northern British Columbia and into the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush. Needless to say, I’m having a lot of fun with that one. I visited Calgary myself about 12 years ago. I would definitely like to revisit it in a book. So, in short, yes, you can expect to see more Canadian settings in the future.
Now that I’ve exhausted you, what do you miss the most being away from Seattle?
Probably my family and friends. Living in Virginia for five years made it difficult to see people on the west coast, but Japan? Even with military flights, it’s hard to get home, (You’re looking at 24+ hours of traveling versus 12, when you figure in layovers and such) and I can’t exactly call home once a week like I did before. This was especially hard during the first year when both my parents had cancer; even though they were both treated quickly and without lengthy, rigorous battles, it’s hard to be this far away during something like that. I’ve been able to go home three times since I’ve been here, but going weeks or months without communicating by phone is still tough. Even with Skype, the time zones make it tricky…so, it’ll be nice to be a little closer to home.
What do I miss about Seattle itself? Probably having everything in English! I still can’t read Japanese to save my life, so I do miss being able to read street signs, menus, etc! It is fun wandering around and trying to figure things out when everything’s in Japanese, but sometimes, dammit, I just want a simple sign I can actually read. LOL
Also, I love the food in Japan, but OMG, there are some days when I am just itching for a steaming bowl of Pho.
What the hell is Pho? It sounds gross. lol
Pho is Vietnamese noodle soup. The stuff is like crack in a bowl, I’m telling you. There is ONE Vietnamese restaurant on this whole island, and it’s a pain in the ass to get to…so I don’t get my fix as often as I’d like. lol
Tell us one fun thing about yourself that you’ve never revealed before.
I am Keyser Söze.
Thank you L.A.
L.A. Witt’s Contact Information